Thursday, 18 August 2016

Donna Karan Drape Jacket: V1129

I started this jacket back in 2011, before I owned a serger (or an edge stitching foot), back when I was very cautious sewist, still finding my feet.  I wanted to sew designer Vogue patterns like this one, Vogue 1129 by Donna Karan, but I was really concerned that a mistake at any individual step might be ruinous to the final garment (I'm so not like that now). So I took the sewing slowly, with tailor tacks at every possible marking and the neatest of precision notches... and it was going beautifully till I got stuck on a step that was beyond my experience and skills. 

My sticking point related to the way the drape is sewn and where it's sewn. It's basically supposed to be sewn onto one side front of the jacket in a curve, with the stitches hidden inside the drape, then attached to the rest of the jacket neckline, ending at the other side front.  Vogue provided a guide for the curve, but I wanted to adjust the placement of the curve - when I pinned it all in place the fit didn't look right, and I didn't know how to make it look right. Argh! What's more, I wasn't sure I'd understood the way the drape was supposed to be joined to the neckline...

In the months after putting it aside I took it out periodically, reviewing the pattern instructions in case they "clicked", examining the jacket, then putting it away again because I still couldn't work out how to sew that curved drape on neatly. And then it stayed put for a long time, because I had the idea in my head that I was stuck on something very tricky indeed.

Anyway, fast forward to the week before last and this time the challenges didn't seem that great - hooray for having better skills than 5 years ago!

I pinned the drape in place again, tried the jacket body on, moved the fabric around a bit and took out some excess at the armhole - easy :).  The curve I've sewed isn't perfect but isn't normally seen, and the fit seems good.  And the way the drape connects to the neckline is actually straightforward, but I'd made a small mistake in an earlier step that had made my garment look different to the diagrams, and I guess that had thrown me.  I hadn't finished the seams a few years ago (as I mentioned earlier I had no serger, and my zipzag stitch looked messy) and the fabric wasn't unravelling so I didn't finish the new seams either - consistency is the thing! 

You can see in these photos that my fabric is a dense wool - it wasn't labelled because it was a random op shop find (and only $8 from memory!) but it has a distinct wool smell and feel.  I'd say it's from the cheaper end of the wool scale because the fabric also feels quite scratchy on the skin.

Here's what the pattern envelope photos look like - and yes, I accidentally copied the colour (except of course I didn't; random op shop finds don't allow for colour choice):

The pattern is described as follows on the back of the pattern envelope:
Unlined, fitted jacket with pockets, drape, two-piece sleeves and topstitch trim, above mid-knee length.
There is a bit more to it than that though... princess seams, faux flat felled seams, in-seam pockets and clever concealed snaps in the front (as well as a nifty hidden hook and eye that holds the drape in place on the shoulder, though I haven't yet sewn mine in).

I cut this jacket out as a size 12, adding length to the sleeves and body at around hip level.

These days I think I would have cut it out as a 12/14, but I don't mind the fit of the 12 - and I think the finished jacket looks pretty similar to the pattern photo.

I like the length and fit of the jacket overall, though the sleeves feel a couple of centimetres too long on me (and I have no recollection how much length I added to them, sorry).

This pattern is out of print and Vogue are no longer selling Donna Karan patterns, but if you do come across it, it's a good one - the jacket has the clever design lines you'd expect from Donna Karan, and I think it also makes a pretty useful layering piece for those sunny winter's days where there's just a bit of a chill in the mornings and evenings; so pretty and practical if your weather is mild.

I don't normally give my garments a test run before blogging them because I'm clumsy and a messy eater, and I don't want to show you food stains when I'm trying to tell you how happy I am with a pattern, but it dawned on me that my typical delay between taking photos and finishing a blog post actually gives me ample time to wear a new garment out and about, without the risk of nasty stains in the blog photos. So this time around I have tested the jacket - and found I like it more than I expected :). I thought the itchiness of the wool was going to make this jacket borderline unwearable, but it turns out it's absolutely unnoticeable in a long sleeved top and a scarf (that is unless you try to cuddle me - sorry kids...).

There's not much more to say - but when I was taking these photos a darling little fellow called Charlie wandered over and became my new best friend (sadly he had to scamper after a few minutes). He does a good job of looking like he's with me though, doesn't he:

So, to conclude, I love the shape and fit and drape of this jacket, and I'm impressed with past me for doing neat top stitching without any specialist sewing machine feet to help keep me at the same distance from the seam edge.  I don't love the fabric, but I like the colour and the fabric is absolutely wearable so long as I wear a scarf with it (not a problem!).

I think this jacket would be divine in a soft cashmere wool - something smooth and luxurious and drapey - but I don't need another jacket this shape, so I'll leave that one for someone else to make :).

See you soon

- Gabrielle x

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