Sunday 25 June 2017

Foxgloves and tees

After finishing two time consuming projects in a row, a winter coat and a French jacket, I felt the need to change my sewing pace. I wanted to make something quick and easy. Around this time of year the garden is seriously eating up my spare time so it was not just a matter of looking for instant gratification. When there is little time even simple projects can take ages so I steered away from my usual habit of overthinking and overcomplicating things and went straight into the sewing room to look for inspiration.

I found a piece of jersey in my stash that was just waiting to become a Cashmerette Concord tee. Number six, or seven, I lost count.

As you can see the Concord Tee is an essential part of my gardener's uniform. I've already made all views: high neck, scoop neck, v-neck, short, medium and long sleeves, cropped length, mid length and long curved hem. This time around the length of my fabric did not give me many options: short sleeves and then hoping for the best regarding pattern matching.

Although I liked the idea of a short sleeved v-neck tee I was worried the angle of the triangles in the print would look weird with the different angle of the v-neck. So scoop neck it was, meaning it was an exact remake of this Concord. Shoulder adjustments, size 18 G/H and a bit of extra ease at the waist.

The jersey is rather thin and clingy, which means it works better as a layering piece. Or for showing off those biceps, after carrying around watering cans....

Now that this pattern is still on my sewing table I'm making a few adjustments to try a different shape. Giving the bodice some flare and doing a front and back v-neck. We'll see how this ends!

Friday 9 June 2017

Vogue 7975, finished French jacket

Two years and nine months after I first mentioned my plans for this French jacket it's finished. I loved every minute of the quilting and hand sewing. I love the lining, the trim,.....I'm just not sure I like it on me.
Actually I finished it a month ago (does two years and eight months sound marginally better?) but I needed some time to collect my thoughts before writing a blog post. But let's save the reflections for later and continue with the construction details.

This is where I left in my previous post. Ready to add the trim. (More details about the trim can be found here) I hand stitched the ribbon to a double layer of 5 cm wide fringe, cut on the straight grain.

I hand stitched the trim along the neckline and front before closing the lining. Last step: threading strips of lining through the horizontal ribbon stitches.

After careful consideration I decided against adding trim at the hemline and sleeves. I preferred the vertical line as a focal point.
So far, so good!

Pretty insides! Now let's put in on me:

Hmm. A rather dull outfit on someone who loves colourful clothes.

These pictures were taken during the first outing of the jacket. Mr Foxgloves took me out for dinner in a lovely orangerie. Wonderful occasion to wear something new!
Confession: this was before I added the chain and it definitely affected the hang.

I already knew the jacket was going to be too big. Even after a delicious four course meal I could easily take out 10 cm at the hip and slightly less at the waist and high bust. I did try to open up the seams before I added the trim but using a seamripper with bouclé that's falling apart when you just look at it? Mission impossible.
Well, too small would be worse. I'm so grateful to be in better shape than I was when I started this project while recovering from a back injury.

Now is there anything else I can do to improve the look of what I now consider a wearable muslin of a French jacket?

Add colour? I usually wear my jackets open. When I don't use the hooks and eyes it is less obvious the jacket isn't as well fitted as it should be (at least in my mind). One of my daughters suggested rolling up the sleeves to show more of the lining, it also enhances the more casual look. I'm thinking of making a pink bow blouse and slim white pants for a smarter summer look. As you can see in the various pictures this jacket easily picks up colour from the environment and looks rather different in a sunny garden than on a cloudy day. I'll try a scarf, necklaces and different coloured tops underneath. Not giving up yet!

Regrets, I have a few.
The fit isn't one of them. The original muslin had a good fit and so did the basted jacket when I checked after quilting and before sewing the seams. This could not have been avoided. Even if I had finished it sooner it would now be too big. That's life.

My biggest regret? I wasn't sure about buying the bouclé until I paired it with the lining. The lining was love at first sight. But hey, it's LINING. That's on the inside when you're done!!! Lesson learned. Ouch.
In hindsight, I think I lost my enthusiasm at this stage:

Although I didn't put my finger on it at the time I don't think it's a coincidence that this was the moment the focus shifted from working on the insides (quilting, finishing all thread tails) to working on the outer shell. Red flags were neglected. I even took a fifteen months break whereas my usual modus operandi for an exciting sewing project is more like order pizza and spend long nights in the sewing room till it's done. If only I had chosen a red bouclé, or royal blue...

So what do we have so far. Too big, wrong colour.
But..... Did I already tell you how divine this jackets feels?
Those of you who felt the magic of quilting two fabrics to become one know what I'm talking about.
So soft, so luxurious.

This jacket may have some serious flaws but it's such a joy to wear. And I often do!
Had it turned out better it might have become 'special occasion' wear, as it is I wear it as my new favourite cardigan. To the grocery shop, to the pub, to the vet's.

It's been a long journey and an interesting one. I've learned new techniques, read many couture books, visited exhibitions and met new online sewing friends from all over the world working on similar projects. Thanks everyone for your helpful and supportive comments and special thanks to Leisa of A Challenging Sew and Inna of Thewallinna for starting the Little French Jacket Sewalong with special contributions by Susan Khalje. If you're ever considering making a French jacket make sure to check those sewalong posts for inspiration, resources and tutorials. I know I will when I'm starting the next one. Which I most certainly will. I didn't spend 100+ hours on this muslin to stop here!