Saturday, December 27, 2014

Plaid wool blazer jacket with velvet collar

This is the time of year when blog posts about new sewing projects get a bit thin on the ground. Not that I can blame anyone, it is a good time to step away from the sewing machine and devote oneself to all the other fun things that the holidays bring. But the day after Christmas is definitely downtime for me, perfect for a snooze on the couch or wrapping up in a blanket with a screen propped up on my lap. Time to scroll through my blog list and catch up on reading. But where are the new projects? Not so many yesterday and completely understandable. And I include myself in that group - not as many new projects this year which perhaps is a good thing.
So here is my latest project which I had thought about waiting to post until next week, but it is all finished and I have the urge to use some knits + new patterns so this will probably not be the last item sewn in 2014.

Now that it is finished I am not all that sure about it. I love the fabric, the pattern, the collar, but on the whole it leaves me less than thrilled and I can't say why.

plaid jacket front

Although I do love the fabric, which I bought (where else) at the sale table at a sewing guild, for I think about 2 dollars. Is this plaid called Black Watch? Tartan enthusiasts please let me know. I might be second to no one in my admiration and desire for all of Duchess Kate's gorgeous coats, and she has worn a McQueen coat in this or a similar plaid. 
In my previous post I showed a couple of construction details, with the interfacing in the collar which is all from Fashion Sewing Supply. For the under collar I used Pro-Weft lightweight and then Pro-Sheer Elegance Medium for the upper collar/lapel. Once I had the whole jacket sewn together but for the sleeves I gave it a try on (didn't need to prior as this is version 3 for this well-fitting pattern) and I was slightly disappointed in myself for not interfacing the rest of the front. I don't know what I was thinking as I was making this, just sewing very quickly and not really paying attention except when doing the velvet collar. (Where I used my velvet needle board, see this old post for details on pressing nap fabrics such as velvet, which by the way is the same Simplicity pattern as this jacket).

Plaid jacket inside front
So this is me being super-picky but if I had my thinking cap on when sewing I would have interfaced that princess portion you see there partially covered by the shoulder pad. Why? because once I tried it on it sunk a little bit and made a hollow in the upper chess that I didn't like. I thought about slapping some interfacing on it but it was all sewn together so decided I could live with it. But then I rummaged through my shoulder pad drawer and found these you see above which I think are more for a man's suit than a woman's. Very wide, I had to trim and grade them near the neck edge to fit into that shoulder area but they extended down along the chest and do a perfect job to prop up the fabric in that area. They are thin, so don't really add any height at the shoulder but just do the job to support the shoulder seam. I put a sleeve head of bias lambswool sewn in by hand. The sleeves on this pattern are so easy to insert, no ripples or extra ease but they fit perfectly. Interesting, although thinking back I have not had any problems with sleeves on Simplicity patterns, perhaps that is an area where their patterns are just right. 
Here is the pattern envelope, Simplicity 2455, and based on that styling it is kind of frumpy (what else is new?). I chose this ages ago because the jacket has the hint of peplum without being too ruffly or full, plus shoulder princess seams.

And so far I have ignored the real elephant in the room for this project, Plaid Matching! And I am quite satisfied. This pattern has the front lapel piece continuing down to the bottom and then extending out to the side seam creating the peplum portion, so the matching started in the front and then matching the front bodice pieces to the lapel. Then I continued around to the back pieces. I did do the "cut and flip" single layer method to get mirror image pieces.

plaid jacket under lapelplaidjacketback

Since I was working with barely 2 yards it was a bit challenging and I cut the sleeves out last. In fact I thought I might have to piece them, maybe with a velvet cuff but thankfully  - ha - I have very short arms so there was enough fabric. Note that the sleeve doesn't match exactly at the top of the shoulder but as your eye travels down the sleeve it matches the horizontal rows across the body. That was my goal, I like a plaid that matches across the body and sometimes you have to sacrifice the top of the sleeve matching. I would love to know how Burberry does it, I have seen plaid coats that match everywhere - I suspect they design the pattern and all the ease to utilize a specific plaid and it is one system - or their special tailoring magic :)

Someone mentioned in a previous comment that they like to see the insides so here you go. This lining is something I found in the upstairs sale section at Stone Mountain, it says "Guess" in the pattern so we know where that comes from. I think it is acetate which I like to use for cold weather jackets, as it is nice and slippery over sweaters and presses well. The lining is sewn in by hand and I pleated the peplum portion to reduce bulk in that waist seam. I added a patch pocket on the lining big enough to hold my slim new phone (my holiday toy). Note that I generally sew the lining in by hand because I am not a fan of the bagging a lining method and I like to tack down the lapels to the jacket front so they can't shift. Here is a link to a previous post where I show this step.

plaid jacket full lining

And the hem with interfacing along that edge (more Pro-Weft) plus a little pleat in the lining to allow for movement.

plaid jacket hem

Another pattern repeat for 2014. I have made this jacket twice before and wear both versions all the time. Perhaps because they are made with slightly casual fabrics and fit well into my day to day wardrobe. Food for thought...

Link to olive green corduroy version                    Link to blue uncut corduroy version

     Olive cord jacket frontBlue cord jacket front

And a look at the velvet collar. Which I added not for any style or fashion choice but because wool can be itchy but velvet is not!  So a velvet collar makes this jacket more wearable and eliminates the itch factor.

plaid jacket velvet collar

So this is the last jacket of 2014. But I am sure there are more to come in 2015. If I get organized I will try to take a photo of this jacket on me and add to the post. 

I hope everyone had a great holiday and is enjoying the long weekend. Nothing to do in the garden this week other than watch the leaves pile up and notice a few daffodils starting to peek out of the ground. 

Happy almost New Year,  Beth

today's garden photo - the oranges are just about ripe. I was worried about a this year's crop as the drought made them look kind of forlorn but the welcome rain seems to have done wonders and they have plumped up nicely. Valencia oranges, not great for eating but just right for juice. Plus they don't have to be picked like navel oranges, so can stay on the tree all year round.



  1. I think it looks fab Beth...very English country lady. No pics of you modelling? And yes, I am no tartan expert but I think it is black watch. Happy new year.

  2. aww i think this jacket is so lovely!! must see this on you! I am always so jealous of your constructions with jackets- so professional looking!

  3. Beautifully made! Maybe the jacket is a bit too English country lady drab, but if styled right could look fab and funky.

  4. Plaid Perfection!. I love plaid garments accented with velvet. Because I first sewed, and wore velvet trimmed plaid jackets about 20 years ago, they often remind me of that time. But then I remember examples of this fabric combo from many different era's. I think your jacket is definitely a modern version. I have a similar jacket in my closet that doesn't get much wear. Your post got me thinking about how I could style it to give it a modern look. I am going to try it with fitted dark jeans, a short ankle boot and coordinating scarf, and see how it looks. If that doesn't work I will Google plaid jacket and see if I can't get some inspiration from the pictures that come up.

    Happy Holidays!

  5. You make the most beautiful blazers! I love the idea of a velvet collar to reduce the itchiness of wool. I'm slightly sensitive to wool and always try to layer something between a wool collar and my neck.

  6. I have always loved this tartan ( yes, no expert here but I think it's black watch too). The black velvet collar works so well. I hope you get lots of wear out of it! It would look fabulous with dark denim, as Audrey suggests.

  7. Have you read this post about matching plaid across a sleeve cap? Or this?

    Your jacket is lovely! Have a great New Year!

  8. This is a classic. And I'm mighty impressed with perfect plaid matching with only 2 yds. Straight legged black jeans/pants, a white shirt silk patterned scarf tor colour and lift - then stroll around your estate.

  9. The first 2 jackets made with this pattern are solid and very nice. Making this in a plaid was certainly a challenge and with only 2 yards of fabric...WOW! But maybe what is disturbing you is the fact that the plaid has to be broken up for the peplum area and the eye is drawn up and down and then left to right and up and down again. The plaid will not let the eye rest anywhere except the solid collar. Even if the sleeves matched from the top down, the lines would still distract from the design which I think is meant to be made from solid fabric or maybe a tweed. After all the work and thought you have put into this and cleverly adding an enlarged shoulder pad...just enjoy wearing something so cozy and enjoy the compliments too...we sewers have to relax and not be so hard on ourselves. As Ruth says...get out your black pants and white blouse and accessories and have a ball in the New Year!

  10. Beth- the jacket is so beautiful you got me to post for the first time! It's a bit more sedate than usual for you, maybe that is what bothers you. But give it a chance!
    I learn so much from you specifically about use of interfacings and building a good base. I love sewing jackets and am applying your lessons to my new projects. Thhanks!

  11. You are a plaid-matching professional! The velvet collar is a nice detail. Plaids can look conservative, so perhaps you are reacting to that -- I love the styling ideas from the other commenters. I have a piece of plaid I'm thinking of using for a skirt, and have been toying with mixing straight grain and bias to mix up the plaid and give it a different look. Happy new year!

  12. Oh, wow, this is so lovely, especially in plaid! I'm absolutely adoring it!

  13. This is gorgeous! I think the contrasting velvet is wonderful . . . give it a chance, and perhaps you will fall in love with it. Can't wait to see what you do with that Burda coat!