French designer jacket project update

French designer jacket project update

It’s actually not so hard to believe that this Chanel-style jacket project has been sitting on the shelf for, hmmm, let’s see… just about 1 year! It’s complicated and ambitious. I don’t need it, but I would like to someday make it. The planning is done so there’s nothing but grinding work ahead.

Nevertheless, some progress has been made quite recently (read: this week). And all because the Chanel Jacket Club at work is now going to do a personal fitting session with the designer of the pattern we’ve all chosen to work with. Yay! This is too good of an opportunity to pass up. Fitting was always going to be the most painful part of the process.

But before I get into that further, there’s been a change. The Claire Shaeffer-designed pattern for Vogue that I was going to use (with its, like, 50-bajillion pattern pieces) was so overwhelming that I couldn’t even make myself cut out the pattern pieces. Then the club decided it would be better to make our first designer jackets with a simpler pattern, so we switched to this one designed for Susan Khalje’s Classic French Jacket web video class:

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Susan is a Threads magazine contributing editor and couture expert. She collaborated on the design of her pattern with a well-known fashion draper in Paris.

It has fewer moving pieces than the Vogue pattern and the princess seam goes into the shoulder, not the neckline, which will make bust adjustments easier. It’s designed without an overlapping closure in front; instead the jacket edges meet at center front and close with hooks and eyes. I’ll have to hack it to create a front button placket and a stand collar, because I still want those features. However, the rest of the work on this jacket, particularly fitting, promises to be surprisingly simpler than I expected.

That’s because when I made the muslin and tried it on, the bust apex level and waist level appear to be correct for my torso. This NEVER happens! (Well, unless it’s a petite-proportion pattern.) I don’t have any photos to prove this, so take my word for it. Some fitting changes will have to be made to the circumferences to accommodate my full bust, pudgy waist, and broad hips/bottom. The muslin ran long on me, too, hitting me about mid-thigh–which I actually really love! It looks much more modern than if it hit me mid-hip or upper hip as designed. I may want to make one to that shorter length, but for my first one, I’m going with the longer length. It’ll look killer with skinny jeans/leggings or tapered trousers. The sleeves were also too long and need some more circumference, but otherwise, the first muslin is a really good starting point.

What was not simple about this pattern, however, is that the sizing chart on the envelope gives the finished garment measurements–not body measurements–to choose your pattern size. This isn’t a bad way to do it, actually, because it makes it easier for you to decide how much ease you want to start with. But unfortunately, it is not explained anywhere on the pattern. There are no instructions at all, because it’s intended to work with Susan’s video class; but I don’t recall her mentioning the sizing system in her video, either. If she did and I missed it, my apologies, Susan!

Otherwise, the rest of the details of my jacket plans are the same. Same white-flecked black wool-blend fabric and charcoal-grey silk charmeuse for the lining. Same beautiful enameled pewter buttons with thistles on them. Same overall design concept.

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My design sketch. But now I’m thinking I’m going to extend the length to mid or upper thigh for a more modern look!

Now I can’t wait for my personal fitting so I can actually start making this jacket!

 

Night-blooming Garden Dress

My Upton dress party dress project is thisclose to finished! I installed the zipper and finished the back seams last night. All that’s left is two hems, hand stitching the lining’s waistline down, and adding a hook and eye to the top of the zipper opening. Here’s a preview of the finished dress, which I’ve dubbed the Night-blooming Garden Dress.

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The color rendering in my sewing room is strange because the walls are lime-juice green.

Upton dress progress!

Holiday weekends can be lifesavers when it comes to making steady progress on projects. This Labor Day weekend I spent mostly in my sewing room working on my hand-printed Upton dress, and I made great progress. Which is good, because my friend’s wedding is next Sunday. Eek!

I did quite a bit of hand basting, rather unexpectedly. I hand basted all the bodice darts, because I suck at aligning dart legs without this special ladder basting I learned from Threads magazine. This technique works perfectly, and I use it every time I have to sew a dart.

 

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Hand basting darts is tedious. But it works every time!

Assembling the bodice and the lining went pretty quickly after I got all 16–yes 16 (8 for the lining, 8 for the shell)–darts sewn. I’m not sure whether I like the method the Upton pattern uses for preventing the lining from rolling to the outside better than I like understitching, but it certainly was faster and it seems to do the trick just fine. The method, in case you’re wondering, is simply trimming the neckline and armscyes on the bodice lining by 1/16 inch so that the lining is a tad smaller in those spots and the outer shell rolls to the inside a bit.

 

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You can see along the back neckline how the shell rolls just slightly to the inside because the lining is a smidge smaller. Loving that custom label, especially how it coordinates with my dress!

 

Sewing the side seams of the front and back together went okay, but could have been better. I’m pretty sure it’s my fault that the pattern is longer through the front along the side seam–by about 1/8 inch–because I graded out and lengthened the front a bit. That doesn’t sound like a lot of excess, but easing it into the back side seam, especially on the lining, was a pain. AND it made getting the waistband seams to align properly much harder, even though I basted the side seams before sewing! I had to redo the first side seam I sewed 3 times before the waistband seams aligned even close to properly. Apparently I suck at this, too. But the second side seam went much better and worked the first time. At least I learn.

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Baste, baste, baste. It’s time-consuming, but so is ripping out seams and redoing them.

 

With the bodice prepped as far as the instructions have it to this point, I started on the skirt.

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Skirt front section and its lining pleated together.

 

I made some additions here. The pattern is for an unlined skirt, but I wanted a bit of extra floof; plus I prefer lined skirts, especially if they’re full. I used the same cotton lawn as for the bodice lining. I pleated the lining and shell skirt sections together, after basting along the upper edges. I left about 1 inch free at the side seams, because the shell and lining side seams will be sewn separately to place the pockets between the layers. Once all 3 skirt sections were pleated, I sewed the lining side seams. Next the shell side seams and pockets will be sewn, then I’ll baste the final bit of shell and lining waistline together, and it’ll be ready to be set into the bodice.

Thank goodness I still have 4 days to work on this dress!