Blaze(r) of Glory

Well guys, this is it.

We’ve worked our last Friday in employment.

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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.

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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 ??‍♀️

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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).

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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 ??

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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:

Red Leopard wool Republique Du Chiffon Charlotte Skirt

You get three variations of the blazer in the pattern envelope:

  1. Cropped jacket + sleeves
  2. Long jacket + sleeves
  3. Long jacket without sleeves

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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?!

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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.

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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.

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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 ?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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What I felt like I wanted to do when wearing it was cross over the fronts and pin them, like this:

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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:

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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 ?

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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.

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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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18 Comments

  1. January 27, 2019 / 8:21 am

    Good luck Sarah, I am sure you will enjoy the new challenge.

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 29, 2019 / 8:47 am

      Thank you! I’m excited for what the extra time can bring ?

  2. Cindy
    January 27, 2019 / 9:23 am

    Morning my cyber buddies,

    I’m sad to say I was a little , only a tiny bit pleased that you too have “you must be joking” makes, makes you wont wear that end up at the charity shop, and then they throw it away a few weeks later in the “rag bag” as ” who would wear that” comes to mind .. I spend hours making rags….. but have made 2 dresses I’m proud off , wont mention the 4 I’m not.

    Fab news , you can start putting in real time on your business, you will never get rich working for some one else, I was self employed as a chef for 25 years , never got “rich” but could choose after 10 years hard work what and where I cooked. But get those pensions sorted, your in finance, know better than me , but main man insurance too is a must.

    Good luck and enjoy.

    Cindy xx

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 29, 2019 / 8:54 am

      Hi Cindy!
      Haha, yep I have those makes too! I’ve got better, over time, and the success rate has got higher, but I still make clangers ? It’s all part of a learning process I think, we are all constantly learning and always will be, so I guess I will always have projects that don’t work out – and that’s OK ??
      Two dresses you like is still a good achievement – you can look at what was successful about them (and what wasn’t about the ones you didn’t like) and apply that to future makes, and hopefully you will start to make more things you love and less things that you don’t ❤️
      I’m excited for my first Friday off! Excited that the time we can invest might grow us something that can support us in the future ☺️ And yep, don’t worry I’m on top of the pensions, tax and insurance! ?
      A chef, hey? Sounds fabulous – I wish I could cook!!
      Hope you had a lovely weekend ?

  3. January 27, 2019 / 11:34 am

    Almost a really nice suit, you’re right [I noticed you avoided the word suit throughout you little rebel, opting for ‘matching skirt and jacket’ lol. IT’S A SUIT YOU’VE GONE CONSERVATIVE!!!]
    Anyway
    Put it aside, then unpick the hem, and how about fixing the hem and the boxiness in one go by putting on a little band, with a stud fastening, so it becomes a teeny smart bomber jacket?
    Much more wearable. I like pics of people wearing these teensy jacket things but they always look to me as though they’re hand me downs that have been outgrown…lol I’m feeling evil today can you tell? It’s because I have to tackle those Japanese instructions for my hat…karma will get me don’t worry

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 29, 2019 / 8:57 am

      Haha… It’s not a suit… it’s a coordinating set ???‍♀️?
      I’m not sure I can bring myself to go back to it, to be honest ??‍♀️ It’s not just the hem, it’s also the weird length sleeves, and the non-closure issue. I’m just gonna chalk it up to experience and move on, and see how much of the fabric I have left – I might be able to make something else to go with the skirt.
      Good luck with the hat making – looking forward to seeing how it turns out! ❤️ (hopefully better than my jacket, lol)

  4. January 27, 2019 / 11:53 am

    You describe so well what it’s like to have this brilliant vision of a garment that looks so fabulous in our imagination but morphs when translated into the manifested world is annoying just off – love the match to your skirt and the length of the jacket is perfect – I wonder if you wouldn’t like Liesl’s new jacket pattern? I don’t know if you’ve seen it? https://oliverands.com/community/blog/2019/01/introducing-the-new-lisette-for-butterick-b6641-blazer.html I don’t know what would be involved re cropping it? but the notched colour is nice and it would be a great pattern to get a good fit (Liesl’s patterns are great for fitting!)

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 29, 2019 / 9:03 am

      Hi Kathleen! I hadn’t seen this jacket, but I do like it – that notched collar is an interesting little feature ? I’ve not sewing any Liesl patterns so am going to check out their range now!
      It’s just so frustrating that the jacket has these little niggly things going on with it… I mean, looking at the photos it looks really lovely, but it’s the hem, and those awkward length sleeves, and the boxy-ness that would just put me off actually wearing it day to day. I don’t think it’s worth spending time salvaging it, so it’s going to be donated. I’ll add that style to the ‘things I must not sew’ list which includes V necks and drop waists ?
      Better luck next time, hopefully!

  5. Bren Holmes
    January 27, 2019 / 5:31 pm

    Wow, Sarah. You are already a prolific stitcher; you’ll really take off now you have an extra day a week to sew. It’s disappointing when garments don’t turn out as planned and can feel too much hassle to go back and rework them. It’s more exciting to get on with something new! Personally, I couldn’t leave the jacket like that, I’d have to unpick it and sort out that lining and hem, even if I left it for a while before doing so. It seems such a waste of fabric and effort otherwise. Enjoy your Sew Fridays.

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 29, 2019 / 9:06 am

      Hi Bren! I’m hoping that this extra day will allow us to push the shop forward so that the next step will be dropping down to working three days a week! ? It would be absolutely amazing to be able to grow something that could support us, so fingers crossed.
      I think I’m gonna donate the jacket… there’s just too much going on with it for me to want to wear it, and I can’t correct all of it. I don’t like three quarter length tops and jumpers so I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to make a jacket with shorter sleeves ??‍♀️ At least I can learn from this though and firmly stay away in future!

  6. The Wise Sprowl
    January 28, 2019 / 11:00 am

    I am with you on three quarter sleeves, and the same with supposedly popular boat necklines. Ugh, I like my neck to be warm. I’ve made so many things over the years that never turned out right – but some I wished I’d kept to remind me what went wrong!
    For the jacket hem you could try leaving the lining loose at the edge and fixing a broad band of lining fabric say 3 or 4 inches to the main fabric. Hand stitch the top edge of the band in place. That way the lining won’t pull the jacket up and it will just overlay the separate band. Also you won’t see the ‘wrong side’ of the jacket when it’s taken off.
    Good luck with more sewing adventures!

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 29, 2019 / 6:05 pm

      OMG YES! Boat necklines! I *hate* those. V necks too, just don’t get ‘em. I’m glad it’s not just me!
      That’s what I find quite helpful about the blog, when things go wrong I remember them rather than just chucking them out and moving on… when you have to photograph yourself in something no matter what, and write about it, it sticks in your mind! Plus it’s a kind of visual reference for me, so that I can see what looked good and what didn’t ?
      That’s an excellent suggestion for the hem, thank you ? I might store that one for future reference, because I don’t think I can bring myself to unpick it ? Even if I spend all that time unpicking the hem, that doesn’t fix the stupid 3/4 length sleeves ??‍♀️
      Just think I’m gonna move swiftly on from this one… Onwards and upwards! ??

  7. January 29, 2019 / 9:17 am

    As a fellow 4-day-week-er CONGRATULATIONS!! Don’t forget to take some of that ‘free time’ off though! ????

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 6, 2019 / 8:41 am

      Ahh, you do four days a week too? Awesome! And yes, I hadn’t thought of taking that extra day off sometimes so thanks for the tip! ??

  8. Ellen
    January 29, 2019 / 2:04 pm

    Thanks for the Patternsy link! Taping together PDFs is not my favourite…

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 6, 2019 / 8:42 am

      Ah, you’re welcome! I’ve had nothing but excellent customer service from them so far – and the price of the printing is well worth not having to tape together pdfs ?

  9. February 1, 2019 / 6:38 pm

    I agree with your other commenter about boatline necklines!!

    For pocket linings, I’ve only made one coat, but I used the coat fabric (Melton cloth) to make the pockets. I found them ok, plus it means if I make them gape a lot from use they match the outside of the coat! However, my professional proper winter coats have lovely fleecy pockets that are nice and warm! No-one uses actual lining fabric, it’s a total con!!

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 6, 2019 / 8:44 am

      It really is a con isn’t it!! I’ve started using the outer fabric for the side of the pocket bag that gets attached to the back of the coat (ie the side that you can see if the pocket gapes a bit), so at least they are sort-of hidden if the pocket gapes ? I used lining for the other side of the pocket bag though, so that’s gonna get swapped out for some flannel from now on I reckon. I mean, sure, lining pockets look ‘pretty’ (espesh if you have a cool lining) but they are just THE MOST IMPRACTICAL THING. ?

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