The Sienna Maker Jacket, by Closet Case Files, jumped all of my queues. It was the jacket of my fantasies and at first I couldn’t get View A out of mind. But, do I really need a long-line, but lighter weight (it’s unlined) jacket?
Not right now. Hence, maker’s guilt was high.
One morning in the shower I shouted out “Yes! I’ve got it!” And, in case my boyfriend finally thought I’d lost all my marbles, I confirmed: “Joey, I’ve worked it all out!”
I’d realised that if I made the short version of the jacket (View C), it would replace my working jacket for non-work wear, as the work jacket is becomingly increasingly tatty (I work outside most of the time). Not only that, but I’d realised I had the perfect fabric. A medium to heavy-weight cotton twill I purchased from Minerva Crafts several years ago. It was on sale, and the whole length (3m) of it came to about £4. Bargain! I’d had it earmarked for some Sasha trousers, but it wasn’t stretchy so while I’d been looking for the perfect jacket fabric, I really needed to change my direction and look for the perfect trouser fabric. All was suddenly clear.
I was straight onto Textile Garden that morning, and ordered my slightly military-themed buttons, ordered dark green bias-binding from myfabrics.co.uk, bought the pattern and got going.
Now came the difficult bit. I wanted this to be perfect, or as close to perfection as possible. But the sizing was making things tricky. My measurements, including the bust, put me into the size 12, but when I compared the finished measurements to my working jacket (whose fit I love), the measurements of the Maker’s Jacket were much bigger – the ease on the pattern was extreme. I am tall and thin, and if I followed the size recommendations, I would have been drowned in fabric. The pattern twelve was vast in comparison to my working jacket, although it looked good at the shoulders.
I decided to keep the shoulders as a 12, but draft to an 8 at the bustline and below, keeping the armsyces and arms as a 12. I also decided to lengthen it by 1/2″ due to my height, and although the arms are drafted long, I wanted to keep that length as be able to roll them up, so I added an inch there. It was nerve-wracking deciding on these changes, but I am so glad I took the time and thought about it.
Cutting out took place over a wet Sunday. The fabric turned out to be an absolute delight to work with. It presses well, keeps a crease, and although I use a pressing cloth to prevent shininess, it seems very tough and hard wearing. Perfect for a Maker’s Jacket.
I decided the bias binding that arrived wasn’t quite right (read, dull), so made my own out of some flowery cotton. I also decided to use this same fabric for the arm pocket interior, and the under collar too. This little flash of colour is precisely what making our own clothes is about: that wee big of individuality that makes the ordinary something so much more.
The making of this jacket was wonderful. It’s been great to experience sewing something that’s challenged me a bit. The fabric, as I say, has been a joy, and the bias binding is just spectacular. Such a great use for a colourful, crisp cotton fabric that I never really knew what to do with.
I’m relieved that I took the time to make the adjustments to the size.. As it is, I am really pleased with the fit around the shoulders, and find the body width more than sufficient. After sewing them up, I did have to make major changes to the sleeves to get them to fit right. As I’ve already said, I lengthened them by an inch. I really wanted to add a cuff, but couldn’t work out how to do so until, and this is no joke, I dreamt the solution, waking up one morning knowing how to do the cuff. I think I might have a serious sewing addiction.
Anyway, dream-solution in place I drafted cuffs out of the same flowery fabric that is highlighting so much of the jacket, and sewed up the sleeves. I flat felled the first seam, added the cuffs (that only had one seam) and sewed up the next seam. Putting my arm in, I discovered that the sleeve was humongous. Fine at the top, and plenty of ease through the bicep, but so wide throughout the lower arm that I knew I needed to make an adjustment. I decided upon the following:
4 and a half inches down from the seam top, I curved in, until 13 inches from the sleeve top I had reached the maximum of 7/8th of an inch to be taken out from the seam allowance. Note, all reductions were taken from the actual seam, not the edge of the pattern piece. I carried these changes through the cuff, trued it up using my French curve and sewed it up. The changes made the sleeve almost perfect!
I then caught up to speed with the other sleeve before I forgot my changes, did a simple zig-zag stitch to prevent fraying, and pressed that second seam open, pressed in the seam allowance at the unfixed edge of the cuff, turned it up, and sewed it on the inside of the jacket, from the outside. Now, this bit was really tough as the sleeve was too tight for my free arm, so I’m not best pleased with this stitching, but I don’t think anyone else (except for you all) will notice. If I feel I need to correct this at any stage in the future, I’ll be able to remove the stitching and invisibly stitch it in place, but for now I am mostly content.
Setting the sleeves in went extremely well. I did it on a Friday night in front of a film, which was extremely relaxing. Hand basting is definitely the way to go for these slightly fiddly parts, as there was no problems at all during the sewing in. However, because no sewing project should ever go too simply, I then had a panic as I realised that I was fast running out of thread! I got out my topstitching thread to flat-fell the armsyce, using a not-very-good colour in the bobbin, and luckily the topstitching behaved this time. Phew – I’ve never managed to get my machine to behave with the topstitching thread, but this seems to be a common problem in the sewing community.
By this stage in proceedings, I was literally trying the jacket on after every step, having a wee dance around, showing my boyfriend and encouraging a suitable compliment out of him, prior to moving on to the next part. It does make things rather slower when I’m working like that, but how could I resist: I’d just made a jacket.
Anyway, I managed to eke out just enough thread for the three button holes, used fray check for the first ever time, and then it was done. It was now just a case of sorting out all the gnarled threads from the top stitching, sewing in the thread ends, and sewing on buttons. And giving it all a really good press.
Overall, this has been a really fun make. It’s been good to expand my skills (really chuffed with my first ever notched collar), and take the initiative in terms of contrasting details and the fit, and I really love the finished article. It is a great replacement for my work jacket, that’s got paint splotches and doesn’t really pass it for a smart jacket. This is smart, but useable, and extremely handy. Bit enough to fit a woolly jumper underneath, but not so oversized that it will look odd with fewer layers on spring and autumn days. My only gripe is how low the armsyces are down the body, and you can see the drag that this creates in some of these photos. I will adjust that for the next Maker’s Jacket I make (View A is in my future, I just know it!), but now, despite that niggle… I think this might be love.