Tag Archives: dressmaking

Jacket Finally Finished

I’m writing this sitting in the sunshine on the deck at my friends’ house in New York. And I’m happy to say that my jacket was finished in time for the trip. Just.


Overall I enjoyed making it, but I have to admit that I’m not altogether pleased with the finished product.

The real problem came when I tried to put the sleeves in. It had all been going so well up to that point! The stripes across the body were matched up beautifully across the seams, and the shoulder seams were chevronned to perfection. I was feeling pretty darned smug about the whole thing!

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But then came the sleeves, and it all started to go wrong. No matter what I did, however much I eased them, they just wouldn’t fit in without puckering and tucking and wrinkling. And as for matching the pattern up – forget about it! In the end I put them in, unpicked and redid them about 6 times. And each time I unpicked and redid them, it got worse and the fabric got increasingly stroppy. The left shoulder drooped and no amount of steam would encourage it to behave.


Eventually I decided to call it a day and just live with it. After all, it was my first jacket. And maybe, just maybe, I am too much of a perfectionist.

It was at that point that I realised I didn’t have enough sleeve lining to cover the seam inside the jacket.


Many Bad Words were uttered, and a Not-Insubstantial Amount of Gin and Tonic was consumed.

I decided to sleep on it and come back to it the next day. A good decision, I have to say.

The next day, feeling slightly calmer, and less inclined to burn the damn thing in frustration, I sat down and looked at it again. The only fix I could think of was to dig out the minuscule scraps of lining I had left from the rubbish bin, and attach them to the sleeve head by hand to try and extend the sleeve lining enough.


So that’s what I did.


It was a bugger of a job. But the sleeve lining finally was big enough to cover the seam, and I could finish the lining.

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All that was left was to add the patch pockets and the trim, and sew the chain into the bottom hem of the jacket. All of which went like a dream.



 I was ecstatic! It was finally done!

But when I put the jacket on I realised that the problems inserting the sleeves had affected the fit across the chest. It didn’t lie nice and smooth any more. I’m going to live with it, wear it with pride, and take it to my Couture Sewing Class next week to get some expert advice on how to avoid this next time. Because there will definitely be a next time.

After all, it was only the first jacket I ever made, not the last.

Making My First Jacket

Guess what? I’m making my first ever jacket!

I’ve been wanting to make one for a while now, but for oh-so-many reasons I’ve only just got around to doing so. Firstly, the thought of making a jacket always seemed so much more intimidating than making a dress or a skirt, then there was the matter of finding a pattern I liked and fabric that would work well. I kept telling myself that there was no point in investing time and energy in making something that I wasn’t going to wear a lot. And so the jacket-making idea kept on being put on the back burner.

Then I went shopping with Mum a while back, and I finally found a jacket pattern I liked. Actually, let’s make that a pattern I loved! It’s what I’d call a cardigan style jacket, but what my lovely sewing teacher Sabina calls “une vraie Chanel”- it has no collar, no cuffs, no lapels, no buttons, and it’s not particularly fitted. I think this style of jacket can be really elegant, but can easily be either dressed up or dressed down depending on your mood. And, for a first foray into jacket making, it looked reasonably straightforward. So I bought it, with plans to make a summer-weight jacket at some point.


Soon after this, I saw a class on Craftsy to make a classic tweed jacket. I love Craftsy classes, because you can follow along at your own pace, as and when you want, and everything’s always really well explained because you can actually see what’s going on. So I signed up, and found that the class pattern was the one I’d just bought with Mum. Now this was a good sign 🙂

What’s more, the lovely RR had bought me this book on making this kind of jacket as a Christmas gift (aren’t Amazon Wishlists wonderful!). Serendipity indeed!

But what fabric to use?

Well, as it turned out, I actually already had the fabric for this project sitting in my cupboard. I’d bought it on a whim at our local fabric store,where it sat languishing in the remnants bin at half price. There was about  1 1/2m of it and I had no idea what I wanted to use it for, I just liked the colours and the weave and the texture, not to mention it was a pretty good price (well, for Switzerland, in any case!) For the lining, I used some beautiful vivid blue silk dupion – I do so love a bright coloured lining.


And so it all finally came together. Spurred on by the success of the grey shift dress I made for Ms S and Mr E’s wedding, I decided to jump in at the deep end, and use the beautiful but inexpensive fabric to make My First Jacket.  To tell the truth, I was kind of hoping when I started that it would be ready in time for said wedding, so that I could wear my two creations together, but it took me ages to put together the toile, and make the necessary adjustments to the fit. Well, suffice to say that I only actually got round to cutting the fabric out the day before we left, so wearing it to the wedding was a bit of a non-starter. But it is now underway nonetheless.

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I’ve been working on the jacket for the past few weeks, and slowly but surely I’m getting there. I know it’s not going to be perfect, but I’ve already learnt a lot, and I’m hoping it will be finished before my trip to the US in June, and my week at Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing School. I’m going to be making a jacket while I’m there, so this one is partially a trial run, as well as something I hope I can wear during my trip.

Fingers crossed, eh?!

A Spring Wedding Outfit

I know, I know, it’s been *ahem* quite a while since I last posted on my blog, but that’s not to say that I haven’t been busy. Oh no indeedy! It’s just that what with one thing and another – Easter, lovely friends visiting, Patchwork in the Peaks quilt retreat, RR’s cousin’s wedding, and visit to Mum amongst them – blogging seems to have fallen off the radar recently. But having been so busy lately also means I have lots to write about – and I thought I’d start off with the dress I made to wear to Ms S and Mr E’s wedding.


I saw the pattern for this dress in the catalogue in my local fabric store in Lausanne and loved it so much that I bought it straight away – I just couldn’t wait to get started, and the thought of waiting over a week to get the pattern shipped from England was just too much to bear! Sadly this meant that I got instructions in French, German and Dutch, rather than in English, but, hey, it was good for my French and I picked up the odd sewing-related term in German too 🙂

I already had the ideal fabric for this dress sitting in my cupboard, a lightweight grey wool I had picked up at Beckenstein Fabrics when I was in New York over Thanksgiving. It was an offcut, just 1 1/2 yards, but I knew immediately I saw it that it needed to be made into an elegant shift dress – and so, several months later, (French) pattern in hand, I got cutting and stitching.

The pattern came together really quickly, and over the course of a couple of weeks my wonderful sewing teacher Sabina helped me fit it and showed me how to create a proper facing and attach a lining. Shoes and bag had already been purchased, so everything was ready to go, and I was able to concentrate on the quilt I was making as a wedding gift for the lovely couple.

Then, one week out, disaster struck – I tried the dress on and it no longer fitted! With the benefit of hindsight, this was Not Entirely Unsurprising as I had been scoffing chocolate over Easter like a crazy woman, but it came as a bit of a shock when the dress barely zipped up (well, I got it zipped up, but breathing then became a problem – oops!) Cue an entire week of eating nothing but salad, combined with some judicious seam alterations and – Ta Da! Still a little tighter than I’d like, but all things considered, not bad at all…

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I absolutely love this dress (despite the not-doing-up trauma!). I’ve already made a second version in a gorgeous light blue linen I bought in Paris – and I have plans to make several more. It’s a simple make, nice and flattering and very elegant. Perfect, in fact, for a wonderful spring wedding.

Dress pattern – Burda Style 3477

Shoes – Russell & Bromley Smoothie 2 in Sky Blue

Bag – Le 48-50 de Lancel in Sky Blue

Dreaming in Turquoise

Over the winter months, I tend to do less dressmaking. In the summer I love wearing flirty skirts and pretty sundresses, both of which are fun to make, but during the winter I usually feel less inspired. I’ve been working on the same dress for a couple of months now. It’s a simple shift dress, made from an off-cut of beautiful grey wool which I picked up for a song in New York back around Thanksgiving, and I’m lining it with a gorgeous turquoise coloured satin. The dress is coming along well – all that’s really left to do is line and hem it – and if I like the end result, I’m planning to use the same pattern to make a dress to wear to Miss S and Mr E’s wedding in May, using some glorious pale blue French linen I bought in Paris a few weeks back.

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Shift dress                       Lining

But as February is coming to an end, my thoughts have once again been turning to the warmer months ahead, and, in particular, to our upcoming holiday. In two weeks’ time, RR and I are flying away for some summer sun in the Caribbean. We’ll be spending 3 days relaxing on Barbados, followed by a week-long cruise aboard a Clipper ship. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to it immensely! We’ve never been to the Caribbean, and we’ve never been away in the winter to some place sunny, and we love Clipper cruising, so we’re both very excited! But what to take to wear??? Back in January, I had a massive re-organisation of my sewing room, and since then all my dressmaking fabric has been moved from the top shelf of the spare room wardrobe. It’s now temptingly on display in my glass-doored fabric cupboard, bang in the middle of my sewing room. I see it every time I’m in there or walk past it (which is most of the time, to be honest!) And sitting on the top of the stack of dressmaking fabric are some beautiful prints, ideal for making pretty, summery skirts and dresses. DSC00644 So the combination of our upcoming holiday and having all my fabric on view has got me inspired with my dressmaking again. So far, I’ve made two summery skirts, and I’ve earmarked some fabric to make a sundress to take with me on holiday (which is also turquoise – my new favourite colour, it seems!)

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              A-line skirt with wide yoke and box pleats      Panelled straight skirt with flared hem

I’m back in the UK at the moment (hopefully the skirts will still fit by the time I get back home!), but now I’m absolutely raring to go with the sundress and my wedding outfit for May. And I’m pretty sure that when I do get started next week, I will have plenty of ‘help’ from my chief sewing assistant, Mr. Boy. Whilst Mimi Bubba likes to help me quilt, usually by plonking her not insubstantial bulk on top of whatever I happen to be piecing or quilting, Mr. Boy prefers to help out with dressmaking. And his favourite activities to help with are stealing tape measures and lying on top of crinkly-sounding  pattern paper. DSC00665 What a helpful boy! It’s a good thing I love him, isn’t it?!