Friday, August 23, 2013

Quick Review: Craftsy Class "Sew Better, Sew Faster" featuring the Jacket Express

Craftsy fascinates me, both as a learning tool and a business venture. It is always amazing when an idea   or product finds just the right audience, often for something we didn't even know we wanted. I signed up for a class last year, mostly to check it out, see how it worked and was impressed with the marriage of craft learning and technology. Presumably they are a business success story based on their continued expansion of offerings and venture capital investors.  My former sales/marketing corporate self is so curious to know about the numbers and earnings which may come to light if they are ever gobbled up by some other entity. But that is another detour from my summer quest to sew the perfect lightweight denim jacket.

The title for this class is "Sew Better, Sew Faster" so they got me right there. Faster is something I am always interested in.

Craftsy class Sew Better Sew Faster image

The instructor is Janet Pray of Islander Sewing Systems and the class included their Jacket Express pattern. Note that all sizes are included, XS - 4XL and I think this style adapts to that size range very well. I made the size Small and it was a bit roomy, I prefer a more fitted jacket and the sleeves were very long.  If you are very petite the XS may still be too big and I would suggest a quick muslin or pin fit of the pattern. 
Jacket express pattern photo
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the style is really not something I would pick out but it is a nice basic jacket with useable pockets so it is perfect for a variety of fabrics. 
Here is my finished jacket made with a soft red denim. It turned out to be a lucky choice and the perfect weight. 
Red denim jacket front view
So what about the class?  Here are few of my impressions:
  • This would be a great class to sew along with at home. She goes through every step and there are logical places to pause, do the steps that she mentions and then press play again. I think if you do it this way you won't have a single error. 
  • Her tips on using the sewing machine and how to sew without pins are very good. I do a mix of pin and no-pin on most of my garments, and this jacket has such short seams that no-pin is easy to accomplish.  (not something I do on a wool plaid designer Vogue, then it is porcupine time :)
  • Yes to pressing!  She shows you when and how to press, and consolidating the pressing and sewing to maximize efficiency.
There are two different pockets on the jacket, an upper hidden pocket and a welt pocket. I liked the way the pockets went into the jacket, and the steps were very clear. I can confess that I watched about 4 of the lessons while I was doing something else and then cut out and sewed up the jacket, using the instruction booklet as opposed to sewing along with the video, but I did watch the rest of it this week - I  didn't want to miss any tips. So I made the pockets and then later when I watched the video I realized they would have been easier had I seen her method. 
                    Red denim jacket pocket 1       pocket      pocket with flap

Here is the inside so you can see the pockets. I used some quilting cotton for the upper pockets but used the red denim for the yoke. She makes a big point about the construction method for the yoke which I have seen on many other patterns. But hey, it works !

Red denim jacket insidered denim jacket inside back view

Most of the seam allowances are 3/8" except for a few that are sneakily 1/4".  If I had been following along that would have been fine, however I zoomed ahead and sewed a few things (the upper pocket flaps and the hem facing) at 3/8" however it made no distance. She did something that I do all the time, which is mark the stitch line with a pen or pencil. For tiny fiddly parts and pieces which have interfacing I think drawing the line is a no brainer. That makes sewing faster and no-fail. You can see here that I marked with pen. The blue painter's tape is marking the 5/8" seam allowance. This new machine is really great but the seam allowance markings are a jumbled mess, because they have both the metric and inch measurements. The lights on the new machine are just a bit harsh to me and make a glare in that area so the blue tape is on the 5/8 line which helps and cuts down the glare.
red denim jacket sewing

Here is a look at the back. I guess seeing this angle it is less boxy than I thought. If I just shorten the sleeves it might be perfect. 

red denim back on me
In summary, there is so much to recommend on this class, particularly if you are looking for ways to streamline your sewing. Lots of the techniques can be used in any garment and some really helpful explanations on topstitching and pressing.  She shows lots examples at the beginning of different jackets in a variety of printed fabrics and those kind of put me off, not really my style but the suggestions about fabric weight are interesting. Also she is a bit obsessed with topstitching so if that thrills you there is plenty to see. 

Here is the link to my previous post with photos of the finished jacket. 

Coming soon - my search for the perfect lightweight summer jacket has ended with success. And the pattern will be a bit of a mystery and a surprise so stay tuned. 

Happy late summer sewing, Beth

Here is today's Sunnygal garden photo. Not much blooming now in the August heat but here are some pink snapdragons. I think next year I will plant lots of these, they have done really well.

pink snapdragons


  1. Thank you for a thorough review. I do like that pattern and the jacket is cute on you. I am intrigued, though, about the mystery jacket!

  2. Great review, thank you- I was curious after your last post but hadn't expected an even more thorough write up. Really helpful, thank you. And I do love this jacket, so am eagerly awaiting the next chapter!!

  3. Reviews as detailed, and truthful, as yours are so valuable to all of us. Thankyou...J

  4. Interesting post! I've done only one Craftsy class, the sewing with knits class. And admit I skipped around for the bits I wanted. And got 5 nice patterns from it! Mostly it gave me more confidence going into my sewing journey with knit fabric - I had always sewn wovens. Good class.

    What a cute jacket. This is so funny. I read another jeans jacket review last night on PR - and just finished one of my own, all 3 are different patterns. Must be the weather!

    My garden is panting, a bit tired from the August heat, even with all our wet season rain. Me too! Looking forward to your mystery jacket...

  5. I completed a Craftsy Class-Sewing the Perfect Fit with Lynda Maynard. I truly enjoyed it and I like that you can view at your own pace, skip forward, go back and even make notes. Also post questions for the instructor to answer. I have not seen the one you took and will have to go look it up. Your jacket turned out nice and not looking so boxy IMHO. I always like learning something new when it comes to sewing. Enjoy your jacket.

  6. Thank you for such a detailed review of the class. I loved your jacket when I saw your review, and even more so now after all the process shots. Really cute!!

  7. Lovely review and even lovelier jacket. I am enamored with the Craftsy format and like having easy access at any time. But I will admit that I have purchased many and have yet to watch one entire class. I hope they continue to grow and succeed.

  8. Thank you for such a thorough review. I understand everything you are writing, and the pictures are very helpful, too.
    We're doubly blessed to be able to enjoy your garden with you, too. The snapdragons are marvelous!

  9. Great review and great jacket. Looks like it will be perfect to wear when the weather cools down a little for you.

  10. Beth I really like the jacket on you! Actually, I made one similar a few years ago and wish I still had it! (Guess it's time for a new one!).

  11. I would wear your jacket constantly, such an easy piece to combine! I really need to start having a better look at Craftsy courses, I signed up long ago, but never really gave it proper attention. So much potencial :)

  12. Very cool jacket -- and of course the details look perfect. Yes, I think the Craftsy phenomenon is very interesting -- an example of the right idea at the right time. Your short hairstyle looks great!

  13. Love your jacket. Great color choice.

  14. Hi Beth- why am I just now finding your wonderful site? Your work is lovely and very professional. I look forward to following and being inspired. I also took the Craftsy Jacket Express class and made a red jacket too! I agree with you about the sizing being on the generous side. I hate to hurry Fall along but am anxious to get to wear mine.

  15. Thank you for your detailed review. I had commented on the post where you first wrote about the jacket that I was going to sew this up in time for the ASE so I could show Janet. Then the purple denim I had in stash was not enough! and I couldn't find any non-stretch denim that I liked. And I wound up sewing the Thurlows instead. I would like to make this jacket though!
    I also think Craftsy is really interesting--I have bought a bunch of classes I haven't watched but I watched all of the jacket class and took copious video notes and already used some of her techniques, like pressing on the point presser. I took the Islander class at the ASE and that was pretty cool! The class covered inserting zippers without basting or pins, very cool to see it actually work (though the invisible zip was not covered in class, and I'm an invisible zip snob now....) but I bought the book that includes how to insert invisible zips without pins or basting...

  16. I keep rereading your posts about this jacket. You always provide such good details.
    I now have the class and I'm looking forward to learning from Janet now that I've learnt lots from you Beth.
    - Maria