I finally finished my jacket! As usual, I spent way more time on it than any reasonable person would have, but the 2.5 muslins I made (two muslins and adjustments to the second one so I didn’t have to make a third) yielded a very good fit, and I am hopeful that this will serve as a base for future garments with princess seams originating at the shoulders, such as dresses and other jackets. Yes, this is the jacket I had hoped to complete in March for the April fashion show. There were a few other things on my plate–making a prom dress, making things happen for Sew Chicago, and, oh yes, making a living.

The pattern is Vogue 7975. I followed the Palmer-Pletsch book and DVD Jackets for Real People (Marta Alto’s voice is now very familiar to my little feline helper, Oreo). I bagged the lining following Marta’s instructions. I got the “tricky bit” for the lining-facing intersection right on one side, but not the other. My attempt to convert the sleeve pattern to a vented sleeve didn’t work out (I put the extension on the wrong side of the pattern). Oh well. Next time.

I’m glad I practiced the welt pockets on a scrap of fabric, because my first attempt was upside down. Once I got the hang of it, I think I did pretty well. However, the pattern for the welt is too narrow. I had to shorten the pocket bags so I can reach the bottom with two fingers and at least use the pockets to tuck away a coat check or business card. The next time I make welt pockets, I’ll be following the minimum measurements Kenneth D. King gives in his book Cool Couture, which is 6″ to 6/5″.

The major stumbling block I encountered was in getting the sleeves to fit into the armscye. I made the adjustments I needed to accommodate my bicep (some of which is actual muscle) in the sleeve pattern, following Sarah Veblan’s step-by-step instructions in her online class, All About Set-In Sleeves and Armholes, which she offers through patternreview.com. (This is a great class, and by following her instructions I got a sleeve that fits my arm perfectly.) I measured the stitching line of the sleeve and the armscye, and I spent a lot of time worrying there was going to be too much ease. The sleeve was already cut out, so it was too late to use Sarah’s suggestion for making curved seams that allow for extra room in the bicep area while reducing the size of the sleeve cap. I didn’t want to lower the armscye, so I tried to manage the amount of ease required. It didn’t work.  The silk and linen tweed simply wasn’t as forgiving as I needed it to be.

I tried to use Kenneth D. King’s method of attaching a mohair sleeve head to pull up the amount of ease I needed in the sleeve cap. After four attempts, no matter how hard I pulled on the sleeve head, I couldn’t get enough shrinkage in the sleeve cap. Again, I think I was asking too much of this particular fabric. (When I demonstrated the method in our steam tricks meeting, I used a wool sample for the sleeve and it worked beautifully.) I then followed Sarah Veblen’s instructions for guiding extra fabric through on the machine by making a channel with my hands. This is a method that works well, and I’m sure improves with practice, but I was simply trying to put too much sleeve into the armsyce. I ended up with one actual pucker I couldn’t smooth over, and the sleeve is a bit wavy instead of falling smoothly. I managed to improve the look by sewing in the nice sleeve heads that Susan Khaljie sells on her web site. Before I use this pattern again, I will redo the sleeve using the curved seams to reduce the cap. And, I will make the vented sleeve pattern the right way.

Then came the dreaded buttonholes. No, not bound buttonholes. Machine buttonholes. The kind the sewing machine manufacturer swears can be done perfectly with the automatic buttonhole feature. Right. After practicing on an exact mock-up, complete with the same interfacing, the same number of layers of the same fabric, and the seam in the same place, the buttonholes I attempted to make on the jacket sewed the first side then got stuck before changing directions and made a giant knot. Twice. After ripping out the second one, recalling the buttonhole nightmare I had experienced on a shirt using the same machine, wishing I had never purchased this brand of sewing machine and almost abandoning the project, I got an idea. I turned the fabric around so that the seam faced the back of the machine. I lined up the toe of the presser foot with painter’s tape instead of the seam and I was able to complete the buttonholes. Done!

5 thoughts on “Ta-Dah!

    • Thanks so much Pati. I don’t know if you remember, but we spoke while you were getting ready to leave for the airport at Novi last September. I’m the one who told you that Marta’s videos and your books got me back to sewing, and that I showed clips from Jackets for Real People at our Neighborhood Group meeting. You and Marta have lots of fans here in Chicago. If your travel plans ever bring you our way, please give us a shout.

  1. Beautiful work, Wendy! The welt pockets are perfect. Congratulations on persevering to complete this beautiful jacket. You will be very smartly dressed in New York.

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