Here is my latest creation, a jacket I started at Sarah Veblen’s fabulous jacket workshop in December. The fabric is a silk and wool blend from Sawyerbrook. (It was a selection from Fall 2013, too beautiful to hang out in my stash as long as most fabrics do.) The buttons are from Soutache here in Chicago and the lining is Bemberg Ambiance. (I know it would have been better to use silk with a silk blend but I had the right shade of gray Bemberg lining in abundance so I used it.)
The workshop was three days with an optional fourth day for extra sewing at Sarah’s home studio. Liz C and I went together and we met some of Sarah’s long-time students as well as some who were working with her for the first time. There were seven of us in all. Each of us got the individual attention, guidance and encouragement we needed. Sewing in such a nurturing environment did wonders for me. I was amazed at how much progress I made in the time I was there.
I arrived with a pattern drafted from the basic fit block developed in prior workshops and private lessons with Sarah and an idea for a collar, plus fabric and sewing supplies. Never mind that I was supposed to have arrived with a completed muslin.
Developing the collar was more involved than I imagine and so I was convinced I wouldn’t get very far in the four days I was there. To my great surprise, I left with the body of the jacket fully constructed, including the sleeves. I would have progressed even further had it not been for the fact that I had to set the sleeves in twice (still can’t tell my left from my right) with a pattern adjustment in between.
Sarah’s approach to jackets is one of soft tailoring, which gives lovely feminine results. She used my jacket as an opportunity to walk the group through the process of choosing interfacings. I ended up with two different interfacings for the collar and a fusible weft insertion for the front facing. In the back, Sarah encouraged me to interface the lining in the shape of a facing to give support for the collar.
As I was setting the sleeves, I joked about wanting to engage in all manner of avoidance activities. Had I been at home, the issues with the sleeves would have stopped me in my tracks. It’s amazing how much I can find to do when I’m worried about making a mistake.
When I got home I set the collar fairly quickly. After that, things slowed down to a crawl what with the holidays and work and other commitments. Were some of the things that interfered actually avoidance activities? Absolutely. I worried and fretted about making machine buttonholes for weeks. Then I practiced making buttonholes on a sample “fabric sandwich” consisting of fashion fabric, interfaced facing and a seam holding them together. In the end, I decided that the fabric was fraying too much no matter how much I tightened the stitch length. I should have listened to my instincts in the beginning which were telling me to make bound buttonholes (something I still haven’t done in an actual garment). My solution was to sew on non-functioning buttons and nylon snaps underneath – another anxiety-filled process because getting those suckers lined up is always a bear.
One thing I found very helpful after I got home was to watch several of the videos in Sarah’s class Expert Sewing Techniques for Jackets on patternreview.com. That got me through putting in sleeve heads, securing the lining at the armhole, hemming and finally mastering the jump hem for the lining.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the result. Yes, there are things I learned from this project that I’ll do differently next time, but this is a garment I feel good in and I’m proud to wear. What more could I ask?