Here are the professional pics of the jacket I made at the same time as the dragonfly jacket. For each step, I watched Janet Pray on Craftsy, and then took the plunge with both jackets. By the end of the process I was getting a little loopy. I would catch myself wondering why Janet only had to sew two cuffs when I had to sew four. Ummm......Perhaps because I was making two jackets?
Both jackets are getting a lot of wear. I love the fit of Jacket Express. My only alteration was to lengthen the sleeves by two inches. Janet's instructions on Craftsy are great, and so are the written instructions that come with the pattern. Islander Sewing Systems patterns each come with well-illustrated instruction booklet with clear drawings and an innovative order of construction.
The temperature has barely risen above zero degrees fahrenheit for the past few days, which I have taken as a clear signal to stay inside and sew like a maniac!
I am making two Islander Sewing Systems Jacket Expresses while following along with Janet Pray's Sew Better Sew Faster class on Craftsy. I love this class, and I made my first Jacket Express a year ago. Although Andrea Jones was able to make my jacket look good in photos, it did not stand up to close scrutiny. The cuffs were not securely connected to the sleeves, and the facing did not lie flat.
I had some Cloud 9 dragonfly fabric and some Moda linen sitting in my stash, waiting for me to have time to make jackets out of them, so I had the “brilliant” idea of cutting them out together. I wanted to cut out the dragonflies as a single layer to improve the chances of pattern matching. I laid the dragonflies on top of the linen and cut them out on the floor, constantly smoothing along the way. It took FOREVER! Cutting out on the floor with scissors is terrible compared to cutting out with a rotary cutter on a lovely Martelli cutting table! Next time, I will cut things out separately on my table.
While making these two versions, I followed along with Janet’s industry techniques up to a point. The way Janet starts construction is brilliant. Preparing and top stitching most of the pieces before constructions works great. Plus, I now have two sewing machines, so I threaded one with thread for construction and one with topstitching thread (I used the same color for both makes). It worked great!
Janet makes the entire jacket without pins or basting. I was able to avoid pins and basting through the construction of the yoke, and even the sleeve insertion and the welt pockets. I knew from experience that the cuffs would need some pins, and the facing would need to be basted from the wrong side so I could topstitch it from the right side and keep it lying flat. I also basted the upper front pockets from the wrong side so I could see where to topstitch from the right side.
The weather promises to remain face-stinging cold tomorrow, so I’ll get the buttons and buttonholes done before it’s time to go outside again!
During my recent weekend of selfish sewing, I was saved from my own tendency to rush by my Sew Confident 2012 thumb drive. Every year, Linda Lee at The Sewing Workshop issues a new Sew Confident thumb drive. They are amazingly helpful. With great photography, Linda walks you through the construction process for 5 or 6 of her patterns in multiple (and frequently tricky) fabrics.
As you can see, the Nine Lives Vest is a very simple pattern. It is the kind of project I am tempted to breeze through without reading the instructions. Not a good idea. Luckily, I remembered my thumb drive and followed it for each step. Even a simple garment needs to be well made.
I decided to add to the beauty of the vest by using fabric covered buttons and making bound buttonholes.
Linda recommends making this vest out of linen. I used a beefy batik instead. I will definitely use linen next time. The batik is a little too flow-y and loosely woven. As you can see in the photo of the back of the vest, it is asymmetrical. I worry that the flow-y-ness of the batik will make it look like I just didn't cut out the pattern correctly. I used some SewKeysE one-inch stay tape for the hem, hoping it would get stiffer, but I'm not sure it helped. Of course, SewKeysE stay tape is "extremely fine" meaning it should not add stiffness, I just thought I'd give it a try. Silly me.
I can't wait to make another Nine Lives Vest out of linen. It is so comfortable, and it adds fun to every-day outfits.
I now have some great pictures of the gray jacket I made during Marta Alto's last jacket class in Portland, Oregon, this fall. I discussed the learning process in a previous post. My jacket turned out to be more of a coat (not that I'm complaining). I think I will make a shorter version next time. I always forget that my torso is not "tall" even though the rest of me is.
The construction went so smoothly, thanks to Marta's guidance. I am looking forward to my next jacket project! I have a great blue/brown/black boucle from Portland.
I had yet another wonderful trip to Portland this fall – two weeks at the Palmer/Pletsch School of Sewing! Palmer/Pletsch is the brainchild of Pati Palmer, Susan Pletsch, and Marta Alto. They aptly call themselves “the fashion sewing authorities.” They have devised their own method of fitting commercial patterns, and they have perfected all aspects of sewing garments at home. I have a large library of their books and DVDs at home, and I am always referring to them.
I took a jacket tailoring class the first week. It was Marta Alto’s last jackets class ever! I feel lucky and honored to have been a part of it. I don’t have a ton of photos or stories about the class or my classmates. We were all concentrating so hard that we barely spoke. The classroom was strangely silent.
The Palmer/Pletsch Fit class was a prerequisite for the Jackets class, so we had all taken at least one class from Pati and Marta. We were expected to arrive with our tissue pattern altered to fit. Both Marta and Pati were on hand the first day to check the fit of our tissues and give us tweaking advice. After the first morning, Marta taught all of us herself. Since we weren’t a rowdy bunch, she seemed to handle it with ease.
Every morning, Marta would demonstrate the steps we should complete that day. She sewed her own jacket while helping all of us with ours. Many of us (like me) sewed up the basic McCall’s 6172, but others challenged themselves with interesting patterns, such as Vogue 1320.
We learned a ton about interfacing, pressing, linings, turn-of-cloth, collars, and welt pockets. We all left with new skills and new friends. I can’t wait to sew my next jacket! I will hear Marta reminding me to sew each seam perfectly.
As I’ve mentioned before, my Dad gave me a few yards of beautiful Chinese silk he bought in Japan in the 1950’s. I wanted to make a jacket with it, and I needed assistance. Next thing I knew, I received an email from Craftsy alerting me to a new class – Sewing with Silks with Linda Lee. Perfect! I bought the class on the spot.
I love Craftsy, and I have enrolled in many Craftsy classes, but not all of the classes are perfect for me. The Sewing with Silks class was one of my favorites. Linda is an amazing seamstress and an amazing teacher. I sewed along with every step and created a beautiful silk jacket. I then grabbed a black and white silk-like fabric from my stash and followed along with Linda to make a flowy shirt. The class comes with The Sewing Workshop’s Liberty Shirt Pattern. In her class, Linda not only teaches her students how to sew with a slippery fabric, but also how to top stitch like a pro, how to do French seams, and how to make perfect mitered corners. If you want to make a blouse that looks like it cost $500 inside and out, I recommend this class!
Thanks to the recommendation of Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch, I decided to buy the Craftsy class: Sew Better Sew Faster with Janet Pray. The class comes with Islander Sewing’s Jacket Express pattern. The pattern came together so well and fit so nicely that I was able to concentrate on Janet’s instructions and method of sewing without pins. Yes, I sewed an entire jacket without pins -- cuffs, collar, sleeves, everything!
I made a medium and I would usually make a large, so I would suggest sewing a size smaller than your usual size.
I purchased a black and brown Moda twill from my local quilt shop and got to work. With Janet’s guidance, I double top-stitched all the seams, and created my first welt pockets.
I am thrilled with how the jacket turned out, and I now have some denim to make a true jean jacket. The only change I will make to the pattern is to lengthen the sleeves. I will also use a contrasting topstitching thread. Thank you, Janet Pray!