Saturday, January 24, 2009

The fabric made me do it.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

At the beginning of the month, I entered Patternreview's Recycling/Refashioning Contest. I've already made a vest out of two old skirts, and really enjoyed the process. I like recycling projects because it really jumpstarts my creativity to look at one thing and force myself to see something else. Besides, it justifies my thrift shopping of things that don't fit me. Take these pants.

They're wool tweed, 34" waist, 36" inseam, with the cuffs picked out. They had pleats. They had pockets, both front and welt. They had a few stains. They called to me in the thrift store last year, and they've been in the recycle bag ever since. A few days ago, they called louder. They wanted to be a jacket.

The hunt was on. Sometimes the fabric is the jumping off point for the project; sometimes it's the pattern. Occasionally - as in this time - it's the limitations of the fabric that drives the pattern choice and the eventual style of the finished garment. In other words, I had to find a jacket pattern with lots of small, narrow pieces, or else do a lot of fairly discreet piecing. I chose the former.

This is the reason I have a BWOF stash. I had to go through all of them, 2006 through January 2009, but I found a jacket I liked. It looked nothing like what I had in mind, but the pieces were right - not only was it a two-piece sleeve, it was a narrow two-piece sleeve with an inserted piece that ran over the shoulder. The back was easily split at a center seam. The front was the only issue, since the piece as originally drafted had an interesting diagonal dart that ran from the bottom corner up to the bust. Nice, yes; interest, definitely. Big piecing seam in the middle of the front of my jacket? No.

I pivoted the dart so that it appeared in the usual place, sacrificing a little style for practicality - but the new piece fit nicely on the thigh portion of the pants front.

The rest of the pieces: back (no longer on fold), 4 sleeve pieces and facings, were cut from the rest of the pants. I had to piece the facings on one side, but they're inside and it really doesn't show. I didn't want to have to piece the shoulder/sleeve pieces since they're such an interesting part of the jacket, so I sat back and thought about it for a while and the answer appeared: leather.

There's a small stash of that, too, and I debated briefly between black suede (pants), dark brown suede (long skirt) and just plain leather (a small 1/2 skin remnant picked up at Metro Textiles) in an interesting brownish color. Plain leather won out, and actually because of the color - though truthfully I wasn't looking forward to dismantling a full leather garment just for a few strips. But I would have. Honestly.

BWOF's instructions for this jacket were even more unintelligible than usual, and that's saying something. I read the instructions for both versions, and I never did figure out how they wanted me to do the sleeves. So this is what I did, and it made for a beautifully set-in sleeve: first, I sewed the front and back together at the underarm seam, then I set that partial sleeve into the bodice. It lined up nicely (BWOFs fit together well, even when they don't make sense) and then I sewed the front band to the front/sleeve and the back band to the back/sleeve. Once that was finished, I sewed the two bands together (shoulder seam and down the sleeve). Pressed, it looked great.

Maybe a little 80s, but I still like it. I didn't do shoulder pads, so that should eliminate some of the 80s-ness of it.

One thing I did add to this jacket that I certainly hadn't intended in the beginning: welt pockets. You may or may not remember, but I suffer from severe FOWP (fear of welt pockets, an actual disease). But this jacket wanted them. It needed them. It was very insistent on the welt pocket thing.

It eventually relented and agreed that since it was a short, boxy jacket, maybe it didn't require complete pockets. It settled for faux welts - like the welt part isn't the part that makes my stomach turn over to begin with.

The funny thing here: I've read instructions on how to do this so many times that I just ironed interfacing to the back of the pocket area, marked it off on both sides, and went to it. And they worked. One is a little better than the other, I grant you, but they look like welt pockets, and that's what's important.

Oh, and just to make it more complicated, they're slant welt pockets. And they're leather.

I'm happy with this jacket. I'm not quite finished yet - lining still to come - but hopefully by Sunday night I'll have a new jacket to wear on Monday.


wendy said...

FOWP!! This now my newest favorite acronym. ;-)

I can't believe you got a whole coat from that, but it looks fantastic!

cidell said...

Whee!! You conquered the welt pocket! I'm so impressed (and jealous)! I also love how you recycle clothing.

Lori said...

Way to conquer the welt pocket. Great job on the recycle, the jacket is fantastic.

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

Okay - this is hands down one of the kewlest recycled projects that I've seen! Not only are you the Queen of the Thrift Stores but you are also the Queen of Recycling and making it work! Please, please pick a bright print for the will just add to the awesomeness of this jacket!!!

Tracy said...

From one Philly girl to another, I too suffer from FOWP's, you did a great job faux or not!

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. Gosh! What a fabulous jacket. And fabulous welt pockets. Amazing!

Sherril said...

That is a great jacket. I love the pockets and leather down the sleeves. Leather and tweed. What a great combo.

Little Hunting Creek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Little Hunting Creek said...

I have FWOP too - maybe we should start a support group? Your jacket looks awesome. That you recycled it makes it even more awesome

Connie B said...

Brave girl! Talented Brave Girl!!!

Maryissewfast said...

Nice pocket!!! I nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger award. You can choose to honor other blogs or just bask in the glow of my appreciation! Thanks for sharing your sewing journey. Mary

Meg said...

Add FOBB (fear of bound buttonholes) to my FOWP. I love where this jacket is going, Karen!

Berry said...

I love the idea of recycling clothes. But converting pants into a jacket, I would have never dared. I am amazed by the result !

Kat said...

The details are super! You are an amazingly creative woman, Karen.