For the CIAM patternmaking course that I have been taking over the last year, one of the requirements is to make a fully lined jacket, drafted from your own pattern (of course!) A few weeks ago I finally came up with a sketch of what I wanted to make, having been mulling it over for months. The jacket will be made in a highly patterned satin fabric, with a contrasting binding down the front edge of the opening.
I drafted the pattern and made the toile. Last class, I took my sewing machine with me so that with my teacher, Bel’s, guidance, we could make adjustments and sort out any of the fitting issues. I was quite pleased with it. It wanted it rather short, which presented some problems with the back darts (what to do when they disappear into the hem at the bottom? Solution: make the jacket just long enough so that they finish on the surface of the garment!) I also wanted it to sit quite firmly at the bottom of the jacket – not much extra ease, so that it sat on me, rather than “floating” nearby.
I took it home with me, determined to have the jacket mostly made by the time of the next class, two weeks later (not tomorrow, but the next Saturday). And then I decided I wasn’t happy with the fit at the waist. Because it is quite fitted at the bottom of the jacket, near my hips, it almost looked straight down the sides, and created a very unpleasing, boxy look. To counteract this, I nipped it in a little further at the waist as there was still quite a lot of ease there. It is now going to be a very fitted jacket, and I’m quite happy with that.
I also tried on some jackets at the shops, and discovered that their sleeves were much narrower than mine at the wrist. Mine was drafted to about 28cm circumference, and theirs seemed to be more like 25. So I decided to slim down the sleeves as well. I had seen photos of a couture jacket that slimmed down from the elbow. Was that going to work, or should I just taper from the top of the underarm? Because I have a toile, I tried both out, and decided in the end that I preferred the version that was tapered from the top of the underarm.
So yesterday, being happy with my toile, and having completed all the other things around the house that needed doing, I finally had to bite the bullet.
BUT, then there was the issue of the fabric. You see, my fabric is completely and utterly beautiful, and I don’t want to wreck it! It is also highly patterned and as I bought it over a year ago, in another city entirely, there’s no chance to get any more if I get it wrong. I did deliberately buy way too much at the time. It is 90cm wide, which is narrow, so I bought 4m because of that, and also for the pattern matching.
So, with all that pattern, can you see why I might be daunted?!
Bel gave me some excellent tips on working with patterned fabric. Start by deciding on your centre line, and place the centre front, and centre back along those lines. Fortunately the pattern has very definite vertical lines in the pattern (axes of symmetry) which is helpful. But then the question was, should I put the dominant motif centrally (top), meaning that the next repeat sideways would be under the arms, or the non-dominant motif centrally (bottom), so you see more of the dominant motif on the torso?
I asked my friends on Facebook. They were most helpful! The general concensus was the bottom option, though there were a few who suggested the top option. I really could go either way, but I decided to go with the bottom option in the end.
Once the centre line had been decided, then I needed to also match up other important points, like making sure the pattern aligned along the hem line, and across from the torso to the sleeves. It’s the torso to the sleeves one that I really think is going to be my downfall! On my toile, I pinned a line horizontally across the bodice front, and then continued the line onto the sleeve. I drew these lines onto my pattern pieces. Hopefully they’re right! I’ll cut the sleeves with extra fabric around them so that if I have to move the pattern up or down, I can.
Bel got me to draft the pattern with no seam allowance. I positioned the first pattern piece – a front bodice – onto the single layer fabric, and because there is no seam allowance, I can see exactly where the motifs fall at the edge of the patterns. There was a bit of screaming and head scratching while I tried to square up the fabric (pulled thread, long ruler and a large set square!), and successfully line up everything with various lines on the pattern. Eventually I decided I’d managed it.
I very carefully pinned the pattern piece on the fabric, and then with an old thread that breaks really easily, I loosely tacked at the very edge of the pattern, right on the seam line. The fact that the thread breaks very easily will mean that it is easier to remove it later. Where there was an important point or line on the pattern, such as the waist, I tacked a stitch out to the side as a marker. The darts are marked with the same sort of tacking also.
I’ve never done this method of pattern transfer before, and it is very time consuming, however it will be extremely accurate when I come to sew everything together as I’ll just be matching tacked seam lines. By the end of yesterday, I’d managed to tack one sleeve, one front, the back, and one front facing.
Today I will do the matching sleeve, other front, other side facing, and back neck facing. And of course I will make them match their counterparts if they have one! I might start sewing together at this point, or I might then cut my linings. I won’t be able to get very far without the linings, so probably I should get them done sooner rather than later!
Now, I am still wondering about the fastenings for this jacket. You’ll see on my original sketch that I drew buttons. I am not convinced about using buttons, but if I do, I would use fabric covered buttons, to match the pattern of the fabric where they will sit. (Nothing about this jacket is going to be easy. The Reader has referred to it already as The Jacket That Nearly Killed Me.)
However, I have also toyed with the idea of rouleau loops out from the edge of the contrast binding, to small rounded, self-covered buttons – the sort of effect that is sometimes used on the back of wedding gowns. I wouldn’t have as many as that though, more like 5 or 6.
And then a friend also suggested a completely concealed idea – using snaps, but not the horrible plastic clear ones! She said that snaps are very IN at the moment, and are available in myriad colours and shapes. She referred me to Vogue pattern 8932 as an example of a pattern that uses them. Hmm… I’m not sure this fad has reached Australia (she’s British), so I might have to do some internet searching. My concern with snaps is that they might pop open rather easily, especially when I sit or bend, as this is going to be a very fitted jacket.
What do you think about fastenings? I’m very open to ideas!
Whatever option I use, I want to be able to sometimes wear the top of the jacket open, sitting as wide lapels. Because of that, I need to make sure that the fastenings won’t look too awful like that. If I can’t think of any way where that will successfully work, I can resign myself to the fact that I will always wear the jacket completely closed.
I have a feeling you’re going to be hearing more about this jacket in the next little while, as it is definitely going to dominate my life, though hopefully not for too long!