Tag Archives: Jacket

Patchwork Denim Whale Jacket

Long time no update! But I have a few old makes to share and lots of plans for new makes so hopefully I’ll be around a bit more this year than last year!

A while ago, at the beginning of the pandemic when I was furloughed, I sewed a bunch of pairs of jeans (have a look at my archive page for deets). This means I ended up with lots of denim scraps. I decided I wanted to make a patchwork denim jacket from these scraps. I was mostly inspired by Raph on the Sewing Bee when they did the reduce, reuse, recycle week and he made a patchwork denim dress with a whale on it.

The jacket went through a couple of iterations – at one point I was going to try to make a picture from the denim, but my skills are not good enough for ‘painting’ with fabric! But then like a lot of the world I watched the first series (and there has since been a second) of Young Royals on Netflix and became a little obsessed with this jacket that Edvin wore a good few times. And it was like destiny! I did buy a pair of white jeans from a charity shop to help break up the blues.

I decided to use the Friday Pattern Company’s Ilford Jacket pattern (which I made once before for my brother in law) and I made the chunks of patchwork according to the size of each pattern piece, so I didn’t waste as much fabric by making one massive sheet of patchwork! The below is the back. I cut random pieces and just tried to assemble them in a way which meant no 2 pieces of the same colour were next to each other. I did have 2 quite dark blue denims but they look a tiny bit different.

I actually finished this jacket at the end of 2021 and never got around to photographing it. Oops. Anyhoo. This is how it turned out. And I LOVE IT!

I did the patch pockets and chose fabrics based on what would contrast in each section they belonged in.

I did both sleeve plackets in white, but the cuffs in different colours, again based on which colour would contrast best on each sleeve. I did the basic construction and then cut out the cuffs and pockets. I also underlined the whole things because there were SO MANY SEAMS on the inside!

At this point you may be thinking ‘where is the whale I was promised?’. Weeellll…..

I didn’t necessarily intend to copy the whale from Raph’s dress but I’ve always loved whales, ever since I did a project on them since I was in the Brownies! I especially love blue whales. Because they’re the biggest! So my whale is based on a blue whale. Seems fitting colour-wise too!

As you can hopefully tell, I also cut the collar in 2 different colours and added seam allowance so that it would be super contrasty and I actually really like it as a design feature.

This was a stash only make, which seemed in keeping with the idea to use up my scraps. The buttons were in my stash – I feel like I took them off a rtw garment at some point but I don’t now remember when or from what. The fabric I used for the underlining was the leftover fabric I used to line my By Hand London Victoria coat hack.

I have worn this jacket a good few times (when it’s not quite as freezing as it is this week in Britain, brr!). I even got a compliment when I went to the Shakespeare Birthplace museum in Stratford Upon Avon – one of the tour guides told me she loved my style and my jacket specifically. I love getting random compliments from people – I want to try to do that more myself, because who doesn’t want to be told something nice?!

I don’t know if you can really see (I forgot to take a close up photo, sorry) but the whale has a little eye. I used a tiny bit of the black denim and zig-zag stitched all around the edge. It might be my favourite detail. And now I’m just going to spam you with loads of photos. Sorry not sorry.

Some homemade Christmas Presents

At the end of last year I was doing some (last minute, of course!) sewing of 2 Christmas presents for my brother in law and my aunt. I made my brother in law a linen Ilford Jacket. When I lived with him and my sister last Summer, he mentioned that he would like a worker-type jacket for fulfilling his full Monty Don style vibes. I didn’t get around to making it before I moved out and then I thought making it as a surprise for Christmas would be a nice idea. Thank you to my sister for sneaking around and measuring his clothes so we could figure out what size to make.

I made the size large so he would definitely have room for a jumper underneath – his measurements were kind of between the medium and the large. I lengthened the sleeves a little (can’t quite remember now by how much, maybe 7cm?). The sleeves did end up a little long, but I think they look kind of good rolled up. The fabric was linen & cotton mix in the colour denim from Fabric Godmother and it was a dream to work with.

Because the Ilford is an unlined jacket pattern, I decided to bias bind all of the seams on the inside to make it look nice, and be more durable (as linen can fray quite badly). This was the first time I’ve done this technique and it was pretty time-consuming, I have to admit! I made the binding from the same fabric so that added to the time. But I’m honestly so pleased with how it turned out that I don’t regret the extra time I put into it. And I always kind of feel like if I make something for someone else, it has to be more ‘perfect’ than if it’s for me – I’ll still wear makes with little mistakes, but I don’t want someone I’ve given something to to feel like a mistake annoys them when they wear the garment, or they don’t want to wear it at all (even worse!).

I added a bunch of the square pockets and a pen pocket, and did the non-placket sleeves. The Ilford is kind of a modular pattern so you can mix and match various details to your own taste. I had actually sewn the pattern before, for myself (though I haven’t got around to sharing it here yet) and I’m glad I didn’t just dive in making this one without knowing roughly how the jacket came together. Having said that, the instructions are great and there are extra video tutorials for some of the steps if you’re more of a video-learner than a text-learner (I find I need a combination, depending on how complicated the technique is).

The second gift I made, for my amazing Aunt, was Helen’s Closet’s Sam Apron and thankfully she loved it! I asked what she would like for Christmas and she said an apron – I had no idea that she likes aprons and uses them all the time, and therefore needs a few on rotation for when they’re in the wash (she may or may not be getting a new apron for every Birthday and Christmas from now on!). The pattern is excellent and free, btw!

Sorry for the lack of photos, I was making it so last minute that I wrapped it as soon as it was off my machine and then thought ‘doh, I didn’t take any pictures’. The fabric is, of course, the Strawberry Thief by William Morris. It was too late to order fabric online and make sure it arrived by the time I decided to make the apron so I went to John Lewis in Oxford and was pleasantly surprised to find this gem! I don’t usually use John Lewis for fabric as I think it’s overpriced for the quality but needs must.

Can you spot the pocket below, btw?

Blurry photo to demonstrate the completely invisible, pattern matched pocket – I was pretty proud of myself, I have to admit. Pattern matching has never been my forte and I had only just enough fabric to make this work but I’m so glad it did!

The Sam pattern also has loops to hang your tea towels through – genius! I also love an apron because there are no fastenings!

It’s been a few years since I made any Christmas presents, I think, and I actually enjoyed it this year – I actually did start the jacked in plenty of time and I had a whole weekend to cut out and sew the apron so it wasn’t quite as last minute as it could have been. I think for me only trying to do a couple is going to be the way I do it from now on – trying to make things for everyone is where madness lies! Unless you start in, like, March I guess….

Did you make any Christmas presents this year or do you not like the pressure?

Houndstooth Richmond Blazer

When I was thinking of making my suit for the Sewcialite Soiree, Nina Lee mentioned that she was releasing a jacket pattern. It was released later than made it possible for using it for that jacket, but I snapped it up as soon as she did release the Richmond, so that I could make a copy of this jacket Claire Foy wore.

I was on the lookout for the right fabric for ages. I eventually settled on this fabric from Minerva Crafts. I also bought the lining from Minerva. The scale of the houndstooth is obviously smaller than on Claire’s jacket but it still kind of works. The fabric is super synthetic, though, so I probably wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone else as it’s difficult to iron into shape.

I made the size 8 and didn’t make any fitting changes as it’s drafted to be a relatively loose fit. The sleeves are a little tighter than I anticipated, though, so I definitely wouldn’t get a thick jumper underneath – not that I was planning on that anyway.

The pattern has 2 welt pockets, with pocket flaps and the instructions were really clear – so if you’ve ever struggled with this before, you won’t struggle with this pattern.

I think if I made another jacket, I would use this pattern rather than the Joe Blazer (which I made for the suit) as I prefer the way it fits. I also made the super wide lapels, which I liked for the suit, but I think I like the lapels on the Richmond better.

It doesn’t look like it, but I have pressed all the seams and the collar but it doesn’t really look like it – this is because of the super synthetic fabric.

I didn’t bother adding buttons or buttonholes as I figured I wouldn’t wear it done up. I might change my mind once I start wearing it though. I think I’d go for black buttons like in the inspiration pic.

I thought about putting some shoulder pads into this jacket to add a bit more structure but the fabric is quite drapey and it’s meant to be a slouchy fit so I decided against it. I do kinda want to make a proper tailored jacket with shoulder pads and stuff one day though.

I’m hoping to get a lot of wear out of this jacket once Spring finally arrives, as an alternative to a jumper or cardigan.

Sewing another jacket has also made me kinda want to make another suit…..

Have you made a jacket/blazer?

 

 

My Sewcialite Soiree Outfit

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Sewcialite Soiree, hosted by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing, Jen from Gingerella and the Stitch Sisters Rachel and Nikki and it was a brilliant night. 

And of course it was an excuse to make a new outfit. But I thought about the fact that I have a few party dresses which I’ve only worn once or twice, and decided to make a suit instead of another dress, since I would then wear the trousers and jacket separately and then I’d have a suit too! I do have the suit I refashioned from one of my dad’s suits, but I’ve not worn the jacket since I took the photos to be honest – I have higher hopes for this jacket though as it’s a bit less formal because of the fabric I think.

My initial plan was to make a tuxedo but I didn’t really need another black jacket or black pair of trousers in my wardrobe, so I went for corduroy instead. I have a pinterest board of inspirational bright coloured suits. The fabric was this mustard corduroy from Fabricland (and I have loads left so expect a whole corduroy wardrobe in the future). I ordered a few samples from Fabricland and some crepe ones from Sew Over It – it’s really amazing how many different colours are called mustard! 

And the lining is this adorable bird print cotton lawn from Sewisfaction – she posted it on her stories and I immediately fell in love with it. 

 
The patterns I used were the very popular Persephone Pants, which I feel like I’m the last person to make! and the Joe Jacket by Ready to Sew. I searched for quite a while for a jacket pattern I liked and this was the closest to the boyfriend fit I was looking for. Plus it has 2 lapel variations and I went for these super wide ones! And I love them. 

This was the first Ready to Sew pattern I’ve made and I have to say the instructions were excellent – this is the most tailored item I’ve made I think, maybe apart from my Honetone Coat

There are 2 welt pockets with pocket flaps over the top, and this was the only place I got a bit confused by the instructions – which is surprising because I’ve done welt pockets before. There was a great youtube video I found, which really helped as the pocket in the video is the same as the ones in this jacket. 

They were meant to be double welt pockets but since the corduroy was so thick and tricky to iron, I did single welts instead. 

I love the flash of lining fabric behind the flaps. 

I bought these lovely wooden buttons from John Lewis – they were a pack of 3, so there were 2 for the jacket and one for the trousers. 

When I’d finished the jacket, I was worried it was a bit too long, but actually I think it’s fine – because it’s a loose fit, I think it’s fine. And I looked at other suits and just below the bum seems to be a common jacket length. 

Yay lining!

I made the size 36 in the jacket and made no fitting changes. I did, however, have to redo the sleeves as I was in a hurry when I was cutting it out and didn’t put any of the notches and markings on the fabric and sewed them in really twisted. So my advice for this  pattern (and obviously all patterns) is to transfer all the markings!

I made the size 4 of the Persephone Pants as they exactly matched my waist and hip measurements and, again, the instructions were great. I didn’t make any adjustments, but the next time I make them I will take them in a little on the back seam and the waist, adjusting the waistband too so it still fits. 

I love the hidden pockets, and I used the same lining as the jacket. 

I took 7cm off the hem (4cm cut off and 1.5cm twice as the hem) as I wanted the trousers a little cropped – as I think they’re supposed to be. I then, however, had to take another 3cm off as they were still a little longer than I wanted. 



I wore the suit exactly like this to the party, with my white Archer shirt and with these light coloured trainers. I like the look of heels, but I end up wanting to take them off about 10 minutes into any party, so I decided to be comfortable instead. 

I learned a bit about dealing with corduroy in the making of this suit – namely that you have to iron it on a towel and on the back – or sandwiched between 2 towels if you have to iron something 2-sided, like the lapels. 

I definitely want to make both of these patterns again – there’s a photo of Claire Foy in a pink suit, which inspired this one, and in a houndstooth blazer with jeans and I want to fully copy that. I also love the trousers and with the little tweak to the fit, this could become my go-to pattern for work trousers.

I also had a slight epiphany while making this suit- namely that if I don’t watch Netflix which I sew, I can sew really quickly and needed to unpick a lot, lot less than normal – on average I probably unpick every third seam I sew, but with this whole suit I only unpicked the sleeves on the jacket (because I sewed them on wrong) and a couple of other tiny things! 

Have you every made a suit or just a jacket? Do you like tailoring as much as I do?

   

Refashioners: making a suit…..into a suit

As I mentioned in my October makes post, one of the makes that took up quite a lot of time was my suit refashion, which is my entry for the Refashioners 2017. I joined in 2 years ago and refashioned 2 men’s shirts (1 & 2) and wanted to join in last year but family events took over and I didn’t get around to it, so I was very keen to take part this year. When I was at home in August, I suddenly had the thought that it would be nice to use one of my dad’s suits rather than a random suit from a charity shop (though perhaps I would have been more adventurous if the suit had been more anonymous?!) so I asked my mum if she still had any of my dad’s suits (he was in a care home at this point). She had one still in the wardrobe – she had got rid of most of them quite a few years ago, when he stopped having a job that required wearing a suit every day. It was a St Micheal’s one (which I think is a Marks and Spencers brand) and it was apparently made in Israel.


Although my Dad had been ill for a long time – he had a rare degenerative brain disease called Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD) for quite a few years, I obviously did not think that by the time I refashioned the suit he would no longer be with us. So this refashion became even more poignant to me than it would have been. I’m a little sad that he won’t see me wearing his suit, but c’est la vie.

My Dad wasn’t a huge man, so I was a little shocked by just how big the suit was on me – though I am small I suppose.

 

The first thing I did was to unpick the vast majority of the seams – and man did it take a long time! It was my occupation while watching TV in the evenings for about 2 weeks. I even took a picture of all the thread I removed (with pin cushion for scale)!

And this is the pile of pieces.

I unpicked everything from the trousers – side seams, inner leg seams, the fly, the zip and the waist band. I even managed to pry off the metal hook above the zip to use again later. The only things I left were the pockets and I wanted to use them in the new trousers. With the jacket I similarly unpicked everything – I removed the lining, the took the sleeves off both lining and shell, unpicking the underarm seam; I unpicked the side seams of both lining and shell; the shoulder seams; and I unpicked all parts of the collar. I also removed the shoulder pads and removable canvas around the shoulders – most of the interfacing and the like I left as I was remaking a jacket, so it saved me a job!

And this is the finished suit! I’m pretty pleased if I’m being totally honest. And I think I’ve been bitten a bit by a tailoring bug and would like to make a proper jacket from scratch to see all the processes I was able to skip by virtue of them already being done.

I thought I would go into detail about the trousers first, then the jacket, as that’s the order I re-made the suit in.

I used the Simplicity 1696 pattern as I knew I would be able to just about get them to fit me as I have made the pattern once before. As you can see below, I did extend them a little higher in the waist as I wanted to keep the full pockets, and although the trousers were quite big on me, I couldn’t bring the pattern piece to the top of the original trousers as the crotch curve wouldn’t have fit. After taking so much off the legs of the pattern the last time, I decided to narrow the legs at the pattern stage – though I ended up taking them in too much, so I had to reduce the seam allowance to 0.5cm to make them not skin tight!

I made the size 14 as before, and did quite a bit of fiddling with the crotch curve. I took 4cm in total off the back seam, including the waistband (which is the original waistband of the trousers, and the original waistband facing) and had to take 2cm off both crotch curves (front and back) – I think that’s what they’re called? I kept basting the seams, then trying them on, then unpicking them, then repeating the whole process until I thought it was good enough. They’re not perfect, but I didn’t want to over-fit them and make them uncomfortable to sit down in, which is always a worry!

Men’s pockets are soooo huge! I’ve got other ready to wear things (and probably things I’ve sewn) with teeny tiny pockets – pockets too small to fit an iPhone. But I can get half my arms in these pockets! I’m very glad I kept them. Also it’s so quick to sew a pair of trousers when the pockets are already done!

I did do a totally new fly, though I used the original zip. I had to slightly fudge the fly piece and the fly shield as because I had made them more high-waisted than in the orignal pattern, the pieces weren’t tall enough to reach the waist band. The original fly and fly shield were much thinner than the ones for this pattern, so I used the pieces I had cut off the bottoms of the trouser legs to make new pieces. It pretty much worked, and you can’t see any of the McGyvering on the outside.

One of the things I’m proudest of is managing to keep this metal clasp – I bent the prongs that went through the waistband facing to get it off, then poked it through once Id finished the trousers, when I knew it would be in the right place. The hook part of the clasp stayed where it was from the original waistband – I just made sure I used that end in the right place and trimmed the excess off the other side (and from the back seam too) so I could keep the metal thingy.

The original waistband facing (and the pocket bags) are made from this weird cream fabric, as shown above. The facing must be interfaced as it’s quite thick (unless they’re 2 different cream fabrics). Anyone know why it would be so contrast-y? Also there was a gusset from the same fabric in the seat of the trousers, but I did not put that back in as it looked a little worse for wear (gross!).

I also managed to keep the one back pocket, though I definitely think it could have been placed better! I cut out the 2 back pieces at the same time, for speed, but didn’t really take into consideration where this pocket was and made it so I was worried it was going to disappear into the side seam. Luckily there’s only one, so it’s not like one is perfect and the other one is around the side, so hopefully it isn’t as noticeable as I think it is!

Even after cutting off a chunk of the length of the trousers when I trimmed the legs to match the Simplicity pattern, I still had to shorten them by 8cm to get the ankle length hem I was after. I cut off 6cm and left myself 2cm for a double folded hem. I hemmed them on the machine, but I’m temped to unpick it and sew it invisibly by hand as a machine hem doesn’t fit with the style of the trousers. But they’re wearable for now.

And now onto the jacket.

I was going to use the Great British Sewing Bee Hacking Jacket as a pattern to base the jacket on, but I could not get the pattern pieces to fit. Boo. I do want to make it one day as I like the style of it, but for this jacket I decided to slightly wing it and take it in on all the seams where I had unpicked – I maybe shouldn’t have been so hasty to unpick so much!

I think it might be easier to just list all the places I took it in and by how much (in case you’re interested):

5cm off the shoulders
3cm off the side seams (initially I took off 5cm but the pockets were too much to the side so I changed it)
3cm off the back seam (in 2 chunks as I kept tweaking the adjustments)
3cm off the shoulders of the jacket (to bring the shoulder seams up from part way down my arm)
3cm off width of the sleeves
8cm off the top of the sleeves (I traced the shape of the sleeve head and moved it down the sleeve by 8cm to try to keep the button detail on the cuffs of the sleeves, but this didn’t end up working
6cm off the back of the collar

Phew! As you can imagine, this took a loooot of time and a lot of trial and error. The only new things I put in were new shoulder pads, made from wadding. The ones that I took out of the jacket were really past their best and starting to disintegrate. Also they were much too big for my re-sized suit, so it seemed easier to start again.

I made all the same adjustments, above, to the lining. I thought about fiddling with the lining first, so I only had to sew the shell once, once I knew what adjustments to make, but I figured the wool could withstand more unpicking than the lining, which isn’t the most expensive lining in the world.

I made sure to keep the front of the jacket as untouched as possible so I would be able to put the lapels and collar back, without having to know how they work! I sewed a new seam in the back of the collar piece to narrow it so it fitted between the 2 lapels. It was also an advantage to have kept the lapels as they are still pretty well presses, so they don’t want to flap so they’re flat. The notch of the collar/lapel is maybe a little high, but there wasn’t much I could do about it to be honest!

It took a lot of fiddling to get the sleeves right – that is definitely a tailoring skill that I don’t have. I kept the original sleeve head shape and size as I feared making it so small the jacket would have to shrink to fit it, and not the other way around. At one point one of the sleeves was pretty twisted, because there are 2 seams on the sleeve (only one of which I unpicked and took in) and I had lined up the wrong one with the seam on the jacket. It did not feel right! As I mentioned above, I was hoping to keep the button detail on the cuff, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it – and, to be honest, I was running out of time for the deadline! It would have taken a lot more brain than I had at the time to figure out how to re-attach the lining to the button thing, so I got rid of the whole thing and just did a normal hem/lining seam.

The back is maybe the least successful part – but maybe it just needs a good press? I tried to shape the back so it wasn’t quite so straight, but each time I basted it, it looked wrong, so I reverted to a straighter shape – and I’m glad I did as it’s more in keeping with the original style of the jacket. I also managed to keep the 2 vents at the back, which was, again, a headache to work out how to put the lining back in. I wish I had taken photos as I was unpicking as then I would have know how various bits looked before and would have had an idea of how to put it all back.

I’m glad I managed to keep all the pockets – on the outside and in the lining – as they keep the jacket looking quite like the original, and I didn’t have to sew any pockets! Hurray!

The final change I made was to shorten the jacket by 6cm, leaving a 3cm hem (which is how much hem was on the shell before), then the lining was shorter and neatened the whole thing. I was slightly shocked when the lining actually fit the shell, when I went to sew them together again. I bagged it out, unpicking a seam in the side of the lining, then stitching it back by hand once the jacket was turned around. I used this tutorial from Grainline for attaching the lining at the cuffs.

I have resewn the buttons since I took these photos, by the way – you can see below that they absolutely do not line up! It was very late and I was rushing to finish and take photos before the deadline of midnight on the 31st October!

I even managed to reuse the same hook for the back of the jacket. And this is the original hanger the suit was on – I assume my Dad stole it at some point! 🙂

These are all the scraps I have left over after all of the changes I made. It doesn’t look like too much, but I will try to use these up at some point to make the refashion a little lest wasteful. No idea what I’ll use them for, though!

I definitely want to have a go at a proper tailored jacket, from start to finish. Maybe I’ll see if there is an online course or something, so I’ll learn some tricks of the trade. I’m pretty please with how this turned out and I’ve already worn the trousers to work a couple of times. I think the jacket will be a nice warm layer now the weather is getting colder! I have some nice thick jumpers but most of my cardigans are pretty thin, so I think this jacket will see quite a lot of wears when it’s too cold for a cardigan, or over a jumper when it’s really cold.