Friday, October 11, 2013

The black denim jacket, final version in time for fall, Part 1

Have you ever felt like Goldilocks with your sewing?  I have been feeling a bit like that lately in my quest to make a lightweight jacket from an interesting black denim because nothing has been "just right." For my first version I tried a Simplicity pattern which seemed interesting and you can see the result here in this post. I even tried a new sorta fancy half-lining technique which was fine but not really worth the trouble. In the end I just didn't like the style or fit on me so I gave that jacket to my good pal Alice and it suited her very well.
Then I made the Jacket Express from Islander patterns, which is available via a Craftsy class. While I liked how it turned out that was mostly due to the red color and super soft denim fabric. You can see that jacket here in this post. I also did a review of the Craftsy class here.
But I still wanted a black denim jacket and every time I put on my old blue denim jacket I thought why isn't there a pattern just like it? That question bugged me and then one night around nine o'clock the proverbial lightbulb went off in my head and I realized the answer had been there all along. Right in my closet. So I grabbed that jacket and made a pattern from it.
Here is the original which is a Ralph Lauren dark blue denim jacket I bought at Macy's ages ago, maybe 7 years? and have worn so often. I like it because it is a shaped like a blazer, not a western style in the traditional Levi's blue jacket look (although I have one of those which is even older and I cannot part with, something so great about an old perfectly worn out Levi's jacket).
Blue denim jacket front buttoned
The fabric on on this original jacket is a little bit stiff, so you can see it holds its shape very well and give a nice curve at the waist. I realized that the latest version is much lighter fabric so doesn't have that shaping on the dress form but when worn looks just about the same. 
Here is the pattern I created using mostly the method described in this post. I use a combination of the rub-off method and a some educated guesswork, particularly for the sleeves which I find tricky but not impossible. You can see a fold in the main sleeve part where I had too much fabric on my tissue pattern piece so I folded it out.  Now can I say it, "Look Ma, no muslin". Yes, I confess I was in a giddy mood after I made this pattern and went directly to my fabric and cut it out. No testing at all :)
I do NOT recomend this but I just had a feeling it would be OK. Plus I did walk all the seams, and flat pattern measure against the original to check dimensions. At this point in my sewing life I can look at a pattern and judge that the dimensions look right, checking if the shape of the armhole or collar, the sweep of the princess seam seem correct. That is why I do a lot of adjusting on purchased patterns, in particular my pet peeve - dress patterns with a sleeved and sleeveless version, the sleeveless version is often so clunky and needs refinement. 
Self-made denim jacket pattern

When you make a pattern from an existing garment it is really important to give yourself a lot of guide marks for placement of things, all those notches and dots that we frequently ignore on a printed pattern are sorely missed when you do a self-made pattern. But it is easy enough to create them. Here is an example of the two front pieces and the collar.
Detail view self made jacket pattern

And this is the shoulder seam, I marked a dot where the front princess seam matched with the back shoulder seam, which may seem unnecessary but every little bit helps.
For interfacing I used Pro-Sheer Elegance Fusible, not sure if it was the lightweight or the medium weight but either way that stuff is the best and pretty much all I use now.
My sewing tip for this jacket is to press all the seams open before you press them flat. I hope this photo shows what I mean. That is the collar where I have trimmed the seams down to about 3/8 inch and then press open before turning right side and pressing the flat collar. If this were a wool jacket I would grade the seams but on this type of thin denim it is not really necessary. 
Pressing collar seams
OK, I am going to do it again, leave off here with a sneak peek. I just looked at the clock and need to get moving. I will try to post the finished jacket tomorrow.
Front pocket with buttons and hem

happy sewing and I hope you can stay out of the fabric stores - Halloween is just around the corner and their are some frantic costume makers shopping this weekend and next!

Today's SunnyGal garden photo is the lonely apple. Just three or four on the tree this year, it barely bloomed which was a complete mystery. And there is the colony of bees living in it so it should have been covered in apples. However it is a good thing because the apples are terrible and make a big mess. Thus I can admire the lonely apple and appreciate its pretty color knowing there are not hundreds to pick up!

the lonely apple


  1. Your inspiration jacket is lovely, I can see why you would want to copy it. The sneak peek is looking good too! You've given me an idea to use a blazer type pattern for a more casual jacket...hmmmm.
    Fruit trees are funny things, when I was a kid we had a pear tree and in 10 years nothing ever grew on it, then one year we had a million pears then nothing ever again. Probably just as well, we were all sick of pears by then!

  2. That's going to be a very smart jacket :)

  3. Cool! I'm working on a jacket but it's not as cool as yours!

  4. This is going to look fabulous. Can't wait.

  5. It sounds like the apple tree worked to your advantage this year.
    This year I had 4 mini-pumpkins grow; last year I had 7. The weather just wasn't conducive to it this year.
    The idea of copying a garment is fascinating to me! I can see why your inspiration jacket is worth the effort of copying. I like your sneak peek!!

  6. Looking forward to seeing your finished jacket! The sneak peek looks great!

  7. Oh, this looks like it's turned out beautifully! Your original jacket is such a great shape. Looking forward to seeing it! I just love all your garden photos too. You make me want to move out to the other side of the bay someday...