A few weeks ago I finished one of the most challenging school project so far: a lined women’s suit jacket. Since I realized I haven’t really posted about my school work before I thought it might be nice to post about the process of this jacket.
(This post will be very photo-heavy and the photo quality is poor, so apologies for that!)
My client wished for a jacket that was casual, modern and flattered her hips. I had designed a few alternatives of which she liked best a design with a shawl collar and decorative princess seams. In hindsight the decorative seams remind me a bit of Edwardian corsets, but I didn’t think about that while sketching.
The pattern drafting stage was my favorite bit of the process. I like working with patterns: it’s a very pleasing combination of logical puzzle solving and creativity. The shawl collar was probably the hardest part of the pattern-making as I hadn’t done it (properly) before.
Here’s the first muslin. I used a woolly fabric with a similar weight to my actual fabric. In this fitting we decided to take off one button from the top to make the neckline lower. The fit was also bit on the loose side: the jacket had to be taken in and the hemline lengthened so it sits properly on the hips. The hips factor gave me a lot to think about – I don’t think my client’s hips are at all prominent, and my instinct usually goes towards accentuating hips rather than trying to hide them. I find it annoying (and slightly insulting!) how so much of the dressing advice aimed at pear-shaped ladies emphasize how you can best hide your curvy hips! In general a lot of the “how to dress to flatter your figure type” kind of advice tends to focus on the negative – hide your flaws rather than flaunt your assets! Argh!
Anyway, ranting aside, after I was done with fitting the muslin I was ready to cut the main fabric. Notice the economical cutting plan! I never bothered with those before the sewing school and it seems completely obvious to me now. The things you learn!
I chose a lightweight wool that turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. This cheap wool wasn’t a lucky find, it was just… cheap. It started pilling slightly already when I handled it when sewing. The lining fabric however was a lovely turquoise good quality rayon.
More blurry pictures! The jacket is supported with fusible Raschel interlining and the neckline and armholes with fusible cotton tape. Above I’m setting the sleeve, then I attached the sleeve header.
Now here things got a little interesting. You see, to mu surprise my client passionately hates shoulder pads. I tried explaining that they look very non-eighties when on a fitted contemporary jacket and we tried on a few different types of pads in the fittings, but her mind was made up. So what we agreed to do was to use regular shoulder pads and remove the middle layer to make it thinner. I tore the pads open, took out the foam padding and needle-felted the pieces back together. This way the garment got at least a little support and didn’t end up looking like a flimsy cardigan.
After fitting the jacket made out of the actual shell fabric we decided to get rid of yet another button, leaving on ly one on the front and make the sleeve vents buttonless too. The back seams were taken in a little more too.
By this stage I was quite a bit late from the schedule, so I took a few shortcuts when drafting the lining. I couldn’t think of a way to eliminate the decorative seams and keep the shape of the garment, so I included the seams on the lining. To be honest the actual sewing of this jacket was hell, but mostly because I was suffering from bad insomnia during the process. Nobody wants to try figure out the concept of lining a jacket after a week of few hours of sleep per night, I tell you! When the iron spat out water stains on my lovely lining I was almost ready to give up on the whole thing.
But in the end I did get it done, and despite its faults I’m very proud. It was definitely worth the effort, and I feel that the next jacket I’ll embark on will feel infinitely easier! At least I hope so.