Friday, 12 June 2015

Jacket Wrap

My last post - and all the lovely drapey jackets I keep reading about on people's blogs - reminded me of another drapey jacket, a much lighter jacket, one that I made last year and never got around to blogging.

I think this one's a pretty nice shape, though the fabric I chose to use wasn't right for the jacket. More on the fabric later, but the pattern looks OK doesn't it?  Don't answer; that's a trick question!

Before you commit to an opinion have a look at the jacket from a couple more angles... it was a windy day when I took these photos, but I thought they showed the drapey, fluid nature of the jacket quite well!

OK, enough photos for now!

Let's move on to the pattern, shall we?

The pattern is one I tested last year for Rosie Martin of DIY Couture fame. And yet... And yet if you know anything about Rosie's approach, you'll know she's all about liberating sewers from their patterns! So when I say it's a pattern I tested, well it wasn't a set of pattern pieces so much as a set of gorgeous, clearly illustrated instructions for sewing a drapey wrap top WITHOUT a pattern. I don't want to give the game away, but basically with this pattern Rosie shows you how to work with a top you already have and use it as a template for a a drapey wrap top - which can of course be a jacket if you so desire :).

The particularly cool thing about this sort of pattern is that it lets you make a whole range of different tops (or jackets or dresses) - you choose the fit you already like, and you choose the lengths and widths and hem shapes, and you choose what seam finishes you want, and so on. That probably sounds so broad that you're wondering what's actually included - well, there's still plenty to cover:

  • tools needed for the job
  • fabric information 
  • diagrams of the wrap top design and of variations to the design
  • easy drafting instructions 
  • suggested order of construction and construction tips, with a LOT of photos and diagrams to make all steps very clear

OK, over to the fabric now. The fabric is really interesting; it's a double sided fabric I bought from Tessuti fabrics ages ago on a whim. It has a matte blue side that I've used as the outer or "right side" of the fabric, and a cold slippery black side that I've used as the lining or "wrong side" of the fabric. Unfortunately it turns out I don't like the cold feel of the black side on my skin, and the 3/4 dolman the sleeves I chose to make feel too narrow when I wear them over long sleeves (in these photos I'm wearing a 3/4 sleeve t-shirt underneath, and you can see those t-shirt sleeves are doing a bit of bunching under the jacket sleeves). So this jacket has ended up something for layering over sleeveless clothes - I'm thinking my lovely full length bias cut dress in layers of black chiffon - when my arms are up for it :).

Most of the wrap top examples shown in Rosie's instructions have a collar band and a waist tie, and all of her examples had finished edges - but this is the shape I was after, and although I generally like a finish to my jacket edges, in this case I couldn't think of anything that would look as neat as carefully cut edges. And I have to say, this fabric has not frayed in the slightest since I made it.

Of course you have to take my review with a grain of salt, as the pattern testing experience just necessarily results in bias, BUT I think this "pattern" (or the book it's going to be in) would be perfect for an adventurous beginner - someone with lots of ideas, but without a clear idea of how to get there. No advanced sewing knowledge or skills are required, so really anyone with a reasonable amount of attention to detail could use the instructions and make something from them. 

And for sewists with a bit more experience? I can't speak for everyone, but for me Rosie's approach was exciting and inspiring.  I guess I normally tend to think of sewing projects in terms of available patterns, plus I'm quite risk averse, so to be honest it took me a little while to work up the courage to cut into my fabric - but once my scissors had started cutting I relaxed and started thinking of all the possibilities!  

See you soon

- Gabrielle

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Chilling: V8930

Back in October of last year, I fell in love with a coat. This one! Oh, Yoshimi - I want to come to Japan and steal your coat - is that too evil of me?

Well, probably yes.

I don't really have plans to travel this winter, so for now I've had to make my own jacket from the same pattern, Vogue 8930. Yoshimi used an amazing double faced wool that I imagine was a real challenge to finish along the long edges of the jacket, but I used a boiled wool (so much easier! so much quicker!) in a lovely berry colour.  My fabric came from Tessuti fabrics, and while they don't look to have this colour in stock any more, they do have boiled wools in grey and black. Oh and the dress I'm wearing is this one in merino wool, made back in 2011.

# V8930 : drapey in boiled wool
The V8930 pattern comprises a front pattern piece which extends into the ginormous collar, a cut-on-the-fold back pattern piece and a sleeve piece. There are two options for jacket length and hem shape, and there's a choice of patch or side pockets, depending which view you sew.  The shoulders are dropped low and the jacket is a loose fit, which makes it easy to throw on top of other warm clothes - although I should mention due to a purchasing error I sewed the size L here, and normally I sew a size M, so I guess mine is looser than the designers intended.

My jacket is basically view A of the pattern, with the length from view B and the side pockets from view C.

# Side pockets for cosy hands in V8930
View A is the single layer of fabric version of the pattern, and it has a raw edge finish that's refreshingly quick to sew. The pattern suggests a single line of stitches set in from the edge, but I added a second parallel line of stitches about 0.5cm further in - I thought the single line of stitches was disappearing in the fabric, and that a second line might make the stitches look more intentional. Plus boiled wool likes to fray, and two lines of stitches seemed safer than one.

# Close up of edge stitching and mock flat felled seam, V8930
Speaking of simple modifications, the sleeves as drafted on this pattern were a bit short for my liking. Looking at the line drawings, the sleeves are apparently intended to be 3/4 length and to show sleeves from the layer you're wearing under the jacket, though this isn't mentioned in the pattern description. I really didn't want cropped sleeves on a snuggly coat, so I cut my sleeves 1.5 cm longer, and later trimmed the edges back by 0.5 cm instead of the 1 cm in the instructions.  I also gained a few centimetres in sleeve length by having narrow shoulders (finally, a narrow shoulder win!!) and by making a larger size than usual. So all up the resulting jacket sleeve lengths are perhaps 3 or 4 cm longer than the standard lengths, and exactly as long as I wanted.

I also took the opportunity to cut out the jacket with a few extra centimetres of length in the body - I figured it's easier to subract than to add length later!

# Very dropped shoulders on V8930
And one more change, a small detail. Given I don't intend to wrap that huge collar around my head, in step 8 for views A and B, I lapped the right side of the front sections over the right side of the back. The instructions tell you to lap the wrong side of the front sections over the right side of the back, but this results in an exposed seam when the collar lays flat on your back, and I wanted instead to have the neater right side of the collar uppermost when the collar was laid flat.

In the interests of fabric frugality (and now I have some left over!) I cut the back of the jacket as two pieces and sewed a mock flat felled seam on the centre back. [I used 2.6 m of 150 cm wide fabric, but the pattern suggests I should have needed 3.9 m; I'd bought 3 m.] The majority of the seams on this jacket are exposed seams where one piece of fabric overlaps another, and I know that sort of seam is trendy but I think I prefer the look of flat felled seams, and they're not too much harder to achieve with a well behaved wool.

# A back view, V8930
Did I mention how easy this pattern is? It's rated Very Easy, and that classification is absolutely spot on. Sure, you could pick a tricky fabric to up the challenge level, but with an easy fabric - and specifically, something that doesn't fray much - this is the sort of jacket you could whip up in on a quiet afternoon.

# V8930, draping like a waterfall cardigan

I'm really enjoying the way this lighter fabric drapes and folds... it's a bit like a waterfall cardigan. Having said that, I'd still really like to own this jacket sewn up in a luxuriously thick fabric, just like Yoshimi's...

Thanks for reading, and see you soon!

- Gabrielle  xx

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