Well guys, this is it.
We’ve worked our last Friday in employment.
From now on, Fridays are going to be ours, to hopefully push the Etsy store forward and one day get out of the rat race that is expensive commuting and office life. Exciting times. I’ve got a huuuuuge bundle of new fabrics to use (eeeep! Super excited 🤩), and just as many new patterns for products to add to our range. We’re gonna be BUSY. I saw this article on the BBC News website last week which talks about 37% of the 25-34 generation having a side hustle, and several people pointed it out because they thought of me. I never considered that I would ever be one of those people – believe me, NEVER, I thought I was destined to work full-time for someone else until I retire – but it just goes to show that you never know what’s around the corner. Seemingly unimportant things could actually be a chain of baby steps that are oh-so-subtly carrying you onto a new path, and you never actually realise that you’ve taken a detour until you arrive. Well, I’ve arrived. It might not be my final destination, but I’m definitely somewhere new.
I want to say thank you for your overwhelmingly positive response to last week’s post about the worth of sewing to mental health. So many of you commented to say that you feel exactly the same – that is, you don’t give a damn what others think. And that’s AMAZING. I hope that in some way, every person that says ‘screw you’ 🖕🏻to these so-called rules is a little encouraging extended hand to those out there that are maybe a bit apprehensive about stepping outside the lines.
You can be whoever you want to be. Step over that line and be the lion.
I know that my Mum, bless her, would say ‘who’s going to give you a job when you’ve got pink hair and a sleeve tattoo’ – like getting a job was the most important thing in life. I mean, for her generation, it probably was. There was none of this side hustle business in her time, nor the variety of creative industries that we have nowadays. And the people who produce the best work in these industries are the people who can’t be restrained by rules. Creativity has to flow. It has to be free. Which means you have to let people be themselves. Even though a lot of the jobs that we have nowadays weren’t around when I left school, I’m glad that we have them now, because I can still benefit from them indirectly and work in a creative environment that allows me to be me.
So normal service is now resuming here on the blog – with another one of the NYC photo shoots! We found a little spot with a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge, but man it was freezing. And windy. With brief periods of glaring sun. So not the ideal conditions for taking photos… but you gotta take what you can get 🤷🏻♀️
The cropped jacket that I’ve made is the Victoria Blazer from By Hand London. It’s the first of their patterns that I’ve tried (although I also have their Rumana Coat pattern – which was on my 2018 #MakeNine but didn’t actually get made – and several dresses of their as well that I haven’t got round to sewing yet).
I’d had my eye on this blazer pattern for a while, but hung back on buying the pdf because, well, I couldn’t be arsed to tape together the pdfs (this was in the days before I had discovered Patternsy). The By Hand London paper patterns aren’t printed anymore – designs are available as pdfs only now. By chance, I saw on Facebook that the lovely Heather of Dresstoration was having a pattern destash and I managed to snaffle her paper copy of the pattern – and I took it as a sign that now was the time I should make my blazer.
I waited eagerly for the pattern it to arrive… but the days went past and the pattern didn’t drop onto my doormat. It seemed it had been lost to the depths of the mail sorting office. Then eventually, the envelope found its way back to Heather… It transpired that there had not only been an initial mix up with the postcode, but a postman with good intentions had then corrected the already incorrect address to yet ANOTHER address that wasn’t mine 🤦🏻♀️ That eventual recipient must have returned to sender and it landed back on Heather’s doormat… to be sent out to me again. This time it found my letterbox 🙌🏻
The Victoria Blazer was one of those patterns where I knew already in my head how the finished item would look and what it would be paired with – a high-waisted skirt, in a matching fabric (just like the photos that they have on their website, funnily enough… 🤔) There was just no other way. It was its destiny and I was in no position to challenge it.
The skirt it was to be matched with was my Republique Du Chiffon Charlotte skirt that I made last year:
You get three variations of the blazer in the pattern envelope:
- Cropped jacket + sleeves
- Long jacket + sleeves
- Long jacket without sleeves
I chose the one on the left, the cropped length.
I made the jacket from the leftovers of some awesome leopard print wool I scored from the Great British Sewing Bee Live show (ahh, that show was SO good – you can read my review of it here).
The fabric is red with black spots on one side, and black with red spots on the other. I’m not sure whether it’s wool or wool-blend – to be honest, I’m not particularly bothered. Usually I would be – I prefer natural fibres to synthetics – but the print is just so nice! I could do a burn test, if I realllly wanted, but meh. The main jacket outer is red with black spots (the same as my skirt) but just for lolz I used the reverse side for the collar and cuffs. You have to really look hard to notice that though as it all looks pretty similar. But hey. The thought was there.
Doing this gave me grief when constructing it though – I had to make sure I was proper paying attention to the whole wrong side/right side thing, remembering that the ‘wrong side’ of the cuff looked the same as the ‘right side’ for the sleeve… confused? Yeah I was too.
The blazer is quite a simple make, no fiddly buttonholes or anything – perfect for a beginner, or someone that’s new to jacket-making. I might have been in holiday-countdown-panic-mode at the time, but there was one part of the instructions I JUST. COULD. NOT. get my head around:
No matter how I tried it, I could not fathom what I was supposed to do with those cuffs – every single way I attempted it turned out wrong. In the end, I just went with my own way. I think now I can just about get my head round it – but who wants to do thick french seams with three layers of wool?!
Before making my blazer, I did some research into other versions of this pattern that had been made – and discovered that there would be a big adjustment that I would want to make.
The lining as written joins to the jacket without facings – so, at the very edges of the jacket (the hem and the front opening) you would see both the lining and the outer fabrics. I followed this tutorial from Marilla Walker of how to alter your pattern pieces to add a facing. It was actually quite easy and worked out fine – when the jacket is open, you see a little bit of the facing rather than immediately being smacked with the lining. I understitched the facing just to help keep everything in place.
The main details of the facing adjustment are over on the tutorial through the link above, but the first picture below shows the original pattern piece (with my pencil lines in prep for the new cutting lines) and the second picture shows that same piece on the left with the two new pieces on the right. You use these new pieces to cut your facing and lining.
On wearing the jacket, I discovered that I should have put a hem facing along the bottom as well, to make it look neater 🤦🏻♀️ That’s not the only problem with the hem though – we’ve got bigger issues going on here. The lining pulls the back of the jacket upwards, in a very bad way. Not even it’s-slightly-pulling-and-no-one-is-really-going-to-notice-unless-they-look-closer, it’s more like HOLY-MACKAREL-WTF-IS-HAPPENING-HERE-I-CAN’T-UNSEE-THIS.
It’s like an unintentional bubble hem 😑
Not actually sure what *is* going on, but the most likely explanation is that there isn’t enough ease in the lining. Due to cutting the jacket and the lining from the same templates, there’s no wearing ease – which might go some way to explaining the pulling. I think I could have done with adding 1cm all round on the lining just for some wearing ease, and maybe even a pleat at centre back as well. Thinking about it, 1cm wouldn’t cut it, based on the shambles of that hem. I’d say an inch.
It’s totally ruined the jacket for me, unfortunately.
I also added in a sleeve lining. There’s no sleeve linings included in the design – body lining, yes; sleeve lining, no.
I wanted to have a full lining because my jacket was going to be more of a winter garment than a light summer one, which meant I’d be wearing sleeves of some description under it. And we all know that sleeves and an unlined wool jacket is going to result in some serious arm-sticking. To make the sleeve lining, I just cut the outer sleeve piece again. I never actually got round to finishing the lining and attaching the sleeve hem lining to the cuffs – which is just as well, because I imagine that the pulling at the hem would have been a whole lot worse if I had.
I used this blazer as an opportunity to try out a new-to-me lining company – unsurprisingly called The Lining Company – as I have my eye on one of their skull print linings to use in a future coat for the husbeast and wanted to see what their quality was like.
Cool, huh? Also almost £30 a metre 😱😱😱
I bought their plain black cupro viscose twill lining, to use in this blazer and also my DP Studio Le 809 coat (to be blogged soon!). I was quite pleased with the feel of the lining, BUT – it’s not so great for pockets. The pocket bags on my Le 809 coat came apart at the seams (the ones at the bottom of the pocket) within a few weeks of use – despite being stitched, overlocked AND bound with bias tape.
Talking of pocket linings – the Handsome Husbeast has a RTW coat that has lasted him several winters, but the lining now has a few holes. And when I say holes, I mean that the lining has basically just worn through. I’m loosely debating replacing the lining myself – because the outer wool is still in perfect condition – but let’s see. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to that. Annnnnyway, the lining on the inside of the pocket flaps was ripped and hanging off, and he kept getting his fingers caught in the ripped tails every time he put his hand in the pocket.
So like a good wifey, I mended them for him at the weekend. As I was mending them, I started investigating the innards of the coat. It’s a Hugo Boss coat, so you’d expect it to be good quality – I was hoping to pick up some tips from it. What I noticed first was that the pocket bags are NOT made from the lining fabric. They are made from a woven cotton fabric – very much like a flannel. Why does every sewing pattern tell you to make the pocket bags from the lining fabric, only to have them fray and wear through? Lining fabric isn’t up to the job of pockets that actually get used, but it never actually dawned on me to use something else. The cotton flannel in the husbeast’s coat is much stronger, and much nicer to touch. It’s soft and fuzzy. I’m now thinking that I’m gonna buy a couple of metres of black flannel purely to use for pocket bags – there will be no more lining-pockets. I can’t believe I’m only now making this decision, but hey – sewing is a lonnnng learning process.
So if nothing else comes out of making this jacket, at least I now might have sturdier coat pockets in my future 🙌🏻
Overall, I’m underwhelmed. I like the idea of a cropped jacket, and I actually kind of like the way this one looks with the skirt, but I feel like it’s perhaps just a *tad* boxy for me. If I made another, I’d probably take it in just a smidge – you can see that it really does stick out quite a bit from my body.
What I felt like I wanted to do when wearing it was cross over the fronts and pin them, like this:
Which I know totally defeats the point of having a boxy cropped jacket 😂
I still do like the idea of the style, but I haven’t quite nailed it with this particular pattern. If I was to try again, I’d choose a different pattern – one that has a full lining already, and one that has full length sleeves. I have a weird thing about non-full-length sleeves – I feel like if it’s cold enough for sleeves, then have full sleeves. Don’t half-ass it. Plus, if I make a jacket that has three-quarter sleeves, I can only ever wear it with short sleeve tops – otherwise the sleeve of my long-sleeve top will extend past the end of the jacket sleeves. Which, funnily enough, is exactly the problem I had for these photos – the black top I’m wearing is long-sleeved, so I had to push the sleeves up my arms otherwise it just looked downright weird:
I’m attributing my failure to the fact that I’ve tried to morph what is essentially a summer jacket, into a winter jacket – you wouldn’t need that sleeve lining for a summer cover-up, because you probably won’t be wearing long sleeves. For all it’s faults, I do actually love the look of the matchy-matchy set though 😍
I mean it’s good to try things and experiment and see how they turn out, but yeah, this one was a bit of a flop! 😂
I really can’t be bothered to go back and unpick that hem, but I do still have some leftover fabric – maybe enough to make a different jacket. One day.
Next week’s post is going to be another it-didn’t-quite-turn-out-how-we-thought make – but the husbeast looks particularly awesome in it so be sure to check it out! 🤘🏻
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