Thursday, January 3, 2008

First Project of the New Year

Somewhat of a UFO, but only just - I had the fabric, the zipper and the pattern together, but scissors were not yet involved.
This jacket is going to be an exercise in slow sewing. One of my resolutions was to to take my time and do more quality work on my projects. So what if I don't make as many garments in 2008? If they turn out better, and I feel good wearing them, why should I trade that for more that feel less good? If I wanted that, I'd buy retail.

This jacket is technically a muslin. I bought some black lamb leather at LSS during PR Weekend in November and I want to make it up as this jacket, but no way was I cutting into that leather without a trial run in real fabric. So far, this is behaving well.

The fabric is a lightweight wool/silk blend from my local fabric store. The owner said it was a roll-end from Burberry. Whether that's true or not, the quality is way better than his usual fabrics, and I bought the last 2.5 yards (this was in October, so it doesn't count against my Fabric Fast). My problem was that I loved the color and the look of this fabric, but the weight was all wrong for what I had in mind. And yes, it would have been easier to just find the right weight fabric, but what's the fun in that?

I had some fusible web in the workroom for no apparent reason, and 2 yards of cotton flannel bought as interlining for a project that hasn't happened yet, so I block fused the three together and came up with a fabric that had approximately the same body as my leather. I didn't just want to use the flannel as interlining; I wanted the hand of a heavier fabric, and this worked surprisingly well, despite being a royal pain to do. I did like that I could write all my pattern markings and fitting adjustments on the flannel. It made the fitting process much easier. I haven't decided whether I'm going to use regular fusible interfacing on the facings and the sleeves - I don't want the sleeves floppy, but I'm not sure if I want them in as structured a fabric as I had concocted for the body of the jacket.

Leather being what it is, I wanted to get it right the first time, so I chose this pattern because I thought it gave me the best chance of getting a good fit. There are 3 side darts on the front, back shoulder darts, low back darts and a center back seam. If this jacket doesn't fit, it's not because there weren't a dozen different ways to alter the pattern. That being said, I didn't make too many alterations. I lengthened the low back dart by about 1" and took in the CB seam toward the bottom because the jacket seemed particularly spacious in back (front fit fine, which just proves my dress form and I have entirely different breasts). I sloped the shoulder a bit at the outside and ended up taking in the side seam at the very top, but only a little, and altered the sleeve accordingly.

Something I'm pleased I took the trouble to do: when I finally sewed the main pieces together, I pressed all the seams open. (Hey, I even used a pressing cloth - going all out for the new year!) I peeled back the fusible and the flannel and trimmed them to the seam line, then I hand-sewed the seam allowances to the flannel backing only. I also did this with the back darts, which are pressed open. All the seams are completely flat. It really made a difference in how the jacket felt when I tried it on, and I like knowing that the seams aren't going to rumple up once they're under the lining.
So this is where we are right now - darts sewn, back and front sewn together, zipper in, collar and shoulder seams done (contortionist sewing at its best; it was one of those hellish pivot-on-the-small-dot moments that we all hate. Sleeves and facings are interfaced, they just haven't met the jacket yet. I want to work on taking some ease out of the sleeve head because I'm not going to be able to ease the leather.
Right now I'm also thinking about linings. I don't have anything in the lining drawer that works with this - except the silk scarf square print that I bought from Kashi, which was intended as the lining for the leather jacket. Or maybe not. What if I never get around to the leather? That silk shouldn't sit, unwanted and unloved, in a dark drawer. It should probly sacrifice itself to be sewn into this jacket - if the jacket continues on its current path of worthiness.


Berry said...

That's an ambitious project to start the year with and I vote for the silk (silk cannot sit unloved ;o).
I'm also completely with you regarding slow sewing, I should try that too...

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

This is going to be a great jacket when finished. Your post made me laugh in spots - know some of those feelings. The time that you've taken will definitely show up in the finished result which I can't wait to see!