StyleArc Ziggi Jacket (x3)

I’ve had my eye on this pattern for a while now, but hadn’t quite pulled the trigger and bought it. I was consistantly drawn to the seamlines and versatility that comes with them – and the large variety of ways that you can play with colorblocking or mixing fabrics, as well as places to adjust fit for different fabrics without starting from scratch with new pattern pieces. When the multi-size patterns on Amazon were 25% off early/mid-October, I knew it was time to stop stalling. And, by the time I got the fitting worked out, I knew I needed more than one. This is a great, versatile pattern that, once the fit is adjusted, can be used for everything from a classic moto jacket to a short coat, to a casual jacket.

I used size 6 of the Amazon multi-size pattern, which includes sizes 4-16. I raised the armscye and made it smaller, and took a bit out of the princess seam going into the front armscye. I thought my muslin was a bit short, so I lengthened the jacket by about two inches, but when I hemmed the final version(s), I think I removed a lot of that length. I also narrowed the lapels a smidge, adjusted the collar (making it a smidge longer and narrower), and left off the decorative sleeve zippers, as I can’t stand when the zippers/buttons on sleeves clang on my desk, keyboard, etc.

I have to admit, I read the directions when I first got the pattern, and they were pretty basic. Easy to follow if you’d made jackets before, but I’d imagine not detailed enough for a beginner or someone who hasn’t made a jacket and/or zippered pockets before. I think they could have benefited from some small illustrations and found that as I was making the jacket, I referred more to the internet and other tutorials than to the instructions that came with the pattern.

1-suede-knit
This is the version I made that is most true to the pattern’s original line drawing/cover image. I used a heavy black sueded double knit, lined with a lightweight ITY knit. Even though I used a knit, I did not want to rely on the stretch of the fabric and therefore didn’t make adjustments to the base pattern pieces. For this version, I followed the suggestions in the line drawing and quilted the upper sleeve head and shoulder yoke, and also quilted the lower back piece using straight lines spaced about 3/8″ apart. I was originally planning on doing vertical zippered pockets with the same style metal zipper, but when it came time to do the pockets, I didn’t like the contrast zippers, so instead made regular in-seam pockets.

1-multicolor
For this version, I used a multicolor felted wool-look poly blend fabric (no stretch) lined with a bemberg lining. Changes that I made for this version were to cut the upper sleeve as one piece (by overlapping the seam allowances of the pattern pieces as I placed them on the fabric), leave off the upper collar and pockets, and swap out the zipper in the front closure for three small frog/knot closures.

1-grey-colorblock
This was the third jacket that I made with this pattern, but was actually the first version that I wanted to make when I bought the pattern, inspired by this White House Black Market jacket that I stumbled upon on Pinterest and fell in love with. I found this great reversible/double-sided cotton/acrylic knit, which I knew would be perfect for a not-so-in-your-face color blocked jacket. Because the fabric was two-sided and I was cutting two mirror images of most pieces, I was able to basically cut all of the pieces and work out the color blocking aspects as I sewed. The biggest changes from the base pattern that I made for this jacket were cutting the upper sleeves as one piece, adding an extra seam in the side back pieces (creating center, middle, and side back pieces like in the front so that I could mimic that color blocking), and adding another seam across the upper back for color blocking purposes. I really liked the lines created by the color blocking, so I left off the pockets so as to not disturb the lines. It is lined with the same lightweight ITY knit as the suede jacket.

My Uniquely You Dress Form…

…and a blazer, because the two go hand-in-hand.

I’d been wanting a dress form for a while when I found a decorative-type dress form at a discount store last year. It looked smaller than any dress form I’d seen, and seemed close to my measurements, so I grabbed it up, thinking it would be “the one.” Well, of course once I got it home and started using it, I realized that close wasn’t good enough and that it was really too big all around, but particularly in the shoulders and bust, for me to use for any sort of fitted or draped garment. It quickly became a glorified, decorative coat rack where I tossed any project that didn’t seem to be coming together the way I wanted at any given moment.

And all the while, I researched dress forms whenever I had fitting issues with a project or got tired of trying on a piece-in-progress on a million times. Lots of research showed me that most dress forms, even those in small or petite sizes, weren’t quite small enough. Despite knowing back in November/December that I was going to be budgeting all of my holiday gift money toward a dress form, I couldn’t find “the one” and didn’t make any purchases until early February.

I ended up going with a Uniquely You dress form, which came close to fitting everything on my wishlist (and a few things that I hadn’t thought to consider but love now – it’s pin-able and “steam-on-able” in addition to being small enough to fit my clothing). These dress forms consist of two parts: a foam “base” and a fabric cover (which you buy separately to suit your sizing needs). You fit the cover to yourself, then squish the foam form into the fitted cover, giving you a finished form that more-or-less mimics your body’s measurements, if not shape.

I got the petite sized form, with the size 2 cover. As many of the other reviews have shown, she does indeed come with two torpedoes (my mom was with me when I pulled her out of the box and was ready to name her Dolly). I couldn’t resist putting the cover on her immediately, just to see how it worked with no adjustments, and then let her sit like this for a few weeks while I got up the nerve to fit the cover. Of course, I didn’t take a picture of her with the cover, but did take one as soon as she came out of the box.

It took a few tries for me to get the cover/form to match my measurements, even after very snugly fitting the cover to myself. Note: this isn’t exactly how the directions say to do it, but my way seemed to make more sense to me at the time. First, it was too big all around, so I figured I must not have fit it snugly enough and took out a smidge from each of the main seams. Then it was too small all around, so I let out the side seams. At this point, it was the right size/shape through the underbust, waist, and hips, and my mom was asking me if this was really something I was enjoying as we squished the form back into the cover for what seemed like the hundredth time (and it is definitely a two person job…I would probably still be trying to get that cover zipped onto the form if I hadn’t had help). I decided that rather than risk messing up any of those measurements that now looked right, I would use an old bra and pad out the bust to get the right shape and measurements.

Uniquely You Dressform - WithNeedleAndThreadUnlike many of the reviews I read, I didn’t need to perform surgery on the torpedo boobs to get them to fit into the cover – though I have to admit that they weren’t pretty before I added the bra. Nor did I cut off the shoulders, as I have seen others do, to reduce the shoulder width. Instead, I went with a slightly less permanent fix, by sewing a band of muslin to match my shoulder measurements and using that to reduce the shoulders from about 15.5 to 14 inches.

To give the fitted, padded, and banded form a more finished/polished look, since it would be sitting out a lot of the time, I used less than a yard of super stretchy swimsuit knit to make a final cover for the form. I draped the fabric wrong side out over the form, and working in somewhat equal increments, stretched and pinned the fabric along the sideseams and shoulders/neck of the form. Then I carefully eased the pinned fabric off of the form and used the pins as a stitching guide. After sewing along the pinned lines, I flipped it right side out and put it back on the dress form, and handsewed the bottom (so it’s easily removable, which is the one thing I’d change somehow if I were making another).

As a test, I put my just-finished jacket on the dress form and took a picture. Then had my mom take a picture of me wearing the jacket so that I could compare how the jacket hung on both. And, I think it fits both of “us” pretty similarly, so I am calling project dress form a success.

Lekala 4162 Coral Blazer - WithNeedleAndThreadThe blazer is Lekala 4162, a classic princess seamed blazer with a notched lapel and single button closure, which I’ve made a few times and seems to have become my go-to pattern for both dressy and casual jackets. This one is made with a textured jacquard knit from Fabric Mart and is lined with a coral and black polka dot ITY knit, also from Fabric Mart.

I’ve worn the blazer several times between when I finished it and when I got around to writing this post, and I’ve noticed that the lapels naturally want to break slightly higher than called for in the pattern. Since the fabric doesn’t hold a crease very well, I decided to go with it and added a second button above the first.

 

Lekala 4298: My New Little Black Coat

Lekala 4298 Seamed Coat Detail - WithNeedleAndThreadSeveral weeks ago, in the middle of a small heat wave, I had the crazy desire to make a winter coat. Out of wool. Heavy, cozy, black wool. In 80+ degree weather. It was a bit of an odd time for this fabric to start speaking to me, but I decided to run with it and get a jump on my winter sewing.

I picked up this great wool fabric when it went on end-of-season clearance at FabricMart last spring, with the goal of making a classic/traditional black coat, but with no plan or pattern in mind other than knowing that I want to make just another black coat. I used Lekala 4298, a knee-ish length coat with princess seams in the back, and decorative/shaping seams in the front. I was drawn to the interesting and unique seamlines on the front of this coat, which I hoped would give a bit of subtle visual interest to a black coat (and I think it worked out exactly as I hoped).

The pattern seems to have been …inspired… by this Burberry pattern. Which apparently sold for around $3,000 when it was in stores.

The shell Lekala 4298 Seamed Coat Front - WithNeedleAndThreadof this coat is made up of eighteen pieces, six of which make up the front. None of those six pieces resemble traditional coat or jacket pattern pieces, at least none that I’ve encountered in the past. I nicknamed this my “jigsaw puzzle coat” fairly early on in the process, as working with the oddly shaped pieces was a bit like putting together a puzzle. The instructions did help with the construction order for the strangely shaped pieces, but I could have used a few diagrams in with the writing – it took me a few more tries than I care to admit to get the front of the coat correctly sewn together. After I solved the pattern piece puzzle, I colored the seam allowances of the various pieces in different colors so that I have a color coded guide for if/when I decide to sew this pattern again.

The fact that Lekala patterns are custom to your measurements gave me a great starting point on this coat, and I didn’t have to make many alterations. The only alterations I made were to raise and make smaller the armscye and narrow the sleeves.

The pattern calls for all of those fancy seams on the front to be topstitched, but seems to ignore the back of the coat (save for adding the tabbed belt piece). I decided that if I were going to be spending all the time on the seaming and topstitching on the front of the coat that the back deserved some, too, and added topstitching to the side and back seams.

I knew from my muslin that I was going to make several substantive design changes, as well, mostly do to my lack of height. I shortened the coat by several inches to get a car or walking coat length, as the original pattern’s hem fell at a funny spot on me and made me look shorter than I already am (and I aim for my clothing making me look taller, if anything). Since I shortened the pattern, I didn’t feel the need for the back vent, and left that off.Lekala 4298 Seamed Coat Back - WithNeedleAndThread

The pattern called for, if I recall correctly, seven 3/4″ to 1″ buttons on the front, not even carrying the buttons through to the hem of the coat – seven buttons all on a smidge more than half the length of the coat. Which I guess would work on a super tall model, but I thought that felt way too crowded on my coat (again – I’m short), and only used three.

I left off the huge (on me) angled pocket flaps, then went ahead and also left off the pockets themselves as I felt they broke up and distracted from the great seaming details on the front, which, to me, were the main attraction of the pattern. I contemplated adding in-seam pockets to the side seams, but decided that wasn’t the most comfortable place for pockets and then managed to convince myself that I didn’t really need pockets as I almost always have a purse with me and can shove all of my stuff in that rather than in pockets. And use gloves if it gets that cold here. But, really, where I live, the coat should keep me warm enough.

 

A New Fall Jacket: the “Moto-blazer”

WithNeedleAndThread-MotoBlazerI’d been wanting (to make) a moto/biker-style jacket for a while, buy hadn’t found a pattern that spoke to me, so the project kept getting bumped further and further down my “to make” list. Included in my list of wishes for my jacket were that it: have an asymmetrical but mostly straight zipper (versus a diagonal zipper), have an actually collar (not just the lapels), have traditional two-piece sleeves with no gussets, zippers, buttons, or extra seams, and that it be fitted rather than boxy, ideally with princess seams.

In other words, I wanted a cross between a classic moto-style jacket and a traditional blazer. Once I came to that epiphany, I decided to set about making my own “frankenpattern” (an oh so technical term for when you combine two or more different patterns to create one new pattern…think Frankenstein). I debated between several different moto jacket patterns before deciding on Simplicity 2056, which had the collar, lapels, and straight-off-center front that I had envisioned. For the blazer portion, I used Lekala 4162, a classic blazer pattern which I’ve made before and know fits well.

I traced the front of the Simplicity pattern onto the front piece of the Lekala pattern, lining up the shoulders and center fronts. When I cut the traced pattern out, I kept the center front part of the moto jacket and blended into the armscye princess seam lines of the blazer. In the photo below, the purple is the Lekala pattern, the teal is the moto jacket, and the red should be ignored (I traced two sizes of the moto jacket and ended up going with the smaller one – this is the larger one).

WithNeedleAndThread-MotoBlazer

In addition, I used the side front, side back, back, and sleeves from the Lekala pattern, and the collar and pocket pieces from the moto jacket pattern. About halfway though the project, I started calling my jacket a “moto-blazer,” and I think that name is going to stay with it.
Based on the pattern envelope images, I thought that the moto jacket collar may be too big for me, so I basted it on before sewing it for real. And it did turn out too big; I would up narrowing it by increasing the seam allowance along the back seamline, taking 1.5” from the corner, tapering to .75” at center back, then back out to 1.5” at the other corner. I probably could have made it smaller still, but decided to embrace the slightly oversized collar to give the jacket even more of a different look from the other jackets in my closet.

WithNeedleAndThread-MotoBlazerSince I had changed the fit of the moto jacket and was changing the pocket style of the blazer pattern, I added the pockets after I’d sewn most of the jacket, but before attaching the lining. This allowed me to determine the ideal length and placement of the pockets as they would fall when I was actually wearing the jacket. I think my pockets ended up being a bit smaller than a traditional pocket, but they work on me. And I don’t really intend to use the pockets for much, so going smaller with the pockets wasn’t an issue. This was the first time I’ve put zippered pockets in a jacket, and I initially found the idea of cutting a whole in my jacket slightly terrifying. Of course, in reality, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d built it up to be in my head and I’m glad I went ahead and put in the pockets/zippers.

After the jacket shell was mostly finished (and pockets mentioned above inserted), I decided that I really didn’t like the look of the partially exposed zipper that I was originally intending to use (the left zipper piece had no seam to be sewn into…which I hadn’t fully taken into consideration when combining my patterns as the Simplicity pattern originally called for buttons rather than a zipper on the view I used). Luckily, I had enough wiggle room (or extra ease that could be un-eased) that I was able to taper the top edge of the zipper tape, and fold the jacket fabric over the edge of the zipper tape to create a faux-seam. If/when I make this pattern again, I’d probably draft a real seam into the pattern here as I like this look much better than the exposed zipper look.

The fabric is a wool blend coating that I got from Fabric.com a few years ago. Though it’s hard to see in my pictures, it is a blend of cream/tan, olive, purple, and mustard yellow threads. I lined the jacket with purple Bemberg lining.

Zipper issues aside, I am happy with the way my new “moto-blazer” turned out and am now anxiously waiting for the weather to cool down enough so that I can wear my new jacket.

 

Summer Sewing Roundup: Part 2

After all of the tops I shared in my previous post, I knew I needed something to wear with these tops. Now, living in California, most people would think that my mind would jump to shorts and/or skirts for summer. Well, I’ve never claimed to be like everyone else, and the first thing I thought to make was a jacket. Which isn’t as crazy as it sounds because my office does run cool and most people there wear some sort of layering piece through the summer. Some of us like to joke that we can dress for summer for the drive to/from work, but that it isn’t summer in the building. Since all of the tops I’d made recently had shades of blue, I decided to draw on that for my jackets.

WithNeedleAndThread - Lekala 4268

On the jacket front, I’ve had my eye on Lekala 4268, a short-sleeved jacket with front and back princess seams, a darted front, welt pockets, and a shawl collar with angled front corners, since I first discovered Lekala patterns, but I never bought it because of the short sleeves. It finally dawned on me while watching a Peggy Saegers/Silhouette Patterns webcast that all I had to do was take a long sleeve that I liked the fit of and transfer that armscye/armhole onto the other pattern to use the long sleeve. I ended up taking a two-piece sleeve from another Lekala pattern and had to make virtually no adjustments to the armscye, even for fit, which I’ve had to do on a few Lekala jacket muslins.

Even though this jacket looked somewhat complicated, and Lekala is not known for its great directions, the only problems I ran into were the welt pockets, which I had never done before. I read some tutorials online, and ended up just going for it. They aren’t perfect, and I ended up making  them faux pockets, but in such a busy/texture fabric, I think (and/or hope) that I’m the only one who sees the flaws.

For this jacket, I used a textured knit that I got from FabricMart Fabrics and a coincidentally matching button that I took off of an old raincoat back my freshman year of college when I used the rest of the raincoat to make a waterproof bag to put in my bike baskets, and kept knowing it would come in handy at some point. Though I found a matching button easily, I had a hard time getting a buttonhole to look good on this fabric, so I wound up sewing a snap closure in, and putting the button on as a non-functioning decoration.

WithNeedleAndThread - Lekala 4162

Still thinking of summer-style jackets, I also tackled another blazer pattern that had been on my mental to-make list: Lekala 4162, a classic blazer with princess seams, a notched collar, and a single button closure in front. I used another textured knit from FabricMart, this time in a slightly sparkly light blue. I didn’t make any fit adjustments to this pattern, either, but in the future, I may raise the armscye a little, as there is a little too much room even with the shoulder pads. I left off the welt pockets, thinking that the fabric was busy enough on its own, and pockets would just make it look a little less clean. I also chose to serge the seams and leave off the lining. With no lining, this jacket came together fairly easily. Finding the right button may have taken longer than most of the sewing of the jacket. I do love this jacket, and have plans to make it in several other fabrics, both classic blazer type fabrics and a few fun colors/fabrics.

I’m loving textured knits for jackets/blazers and cardigans lately. At some point, I’m thinking that I have to tell myself that I have enough textured, colored jackets, but I don’t think I’ve hit that point quite yet.

Burberry Brit- Inspired Outfit

Since I’ve started making my own clothes, I’ve found that I enjoy browsing catalogs/websites searching for inspiration. Back in the beginning of March, we got a thick Bloomingdales catalog in the mail (they were advertising some upcoming sale, if I recall correctly). Out of the entire catalog (which was close to an inch thick), I tore out about 6 pages of things I liked – either in color, silhouette, or style. Apparently I liked one complete outfit much more than I realized I did because it kept popping back into my head off and on for the next few weeks. Even through I’ve never been a huge fan of stripes or polka dots, these fabrics started catching my eye – in other garments, in store windows, and in fabric shops (the most dangerous place known to woman). When I saw the Barganista Fashionista challenge on Pattern Review, I knew that I had to make this outfit that had so constantly wiggled its way into my subconscious.

At the time I began this project, I couldn’t find photos of any of the three pieces online. About midway through the month, they did appear on Bloomingdales’ website. However, the blazer has the stripes going in the opposite direction (vertical rather than horizontal) and the pockets are a bit different. I like the horizontal stripes much better, so I decided to stick with the original magazine photo rather than the photos from the website.

These pieces are:
Burberry Brit White and Navy Striped Blazer: $465
White and Navy Polka Dot Sweater: $350
Navy Highcross Skinny Trousers: $325
The total cost for this outfit is $1,140

With Needle And Thread - Burberry Inspired Outfit

For my outfit, I started with the blazer, which seemed like the most time-consuming piece. Since I’ve never worked with stripes, it seemed like darts rather than princess seams would be the better choice. So, I started looking for a pattern that would suit these needs. I ended up using Lekala 5018, a classic darted blazer and making a few tweaks to make it look more like the inspiration blazer, The fabric is, I believe a cotton canvas type home decor fabric that my mom picked up at a flea market several years ago. She got a bolt that had about 7 yards for $5 ($.072 per yard). While the inspiration jacket claims to be navy stripes, the first time I saw the photo, I was sure they were teal stripes, and a perfect match for my fabric. I still like the teal stripes.

As far as the pattern goes, it fit well “out of the envelope” and I only had to make a few fitting tweaks: removing some ease from the sleeve head and narrowing the sleeve by about an inch. I also lowered the break of the lapel and curved the front hem rather than using the straight lines of the pattern. I decided not to line this jacket, and instead drafted a back facing to attach to the front facings/lapels. Even after washing, this fabric is rather stiff and bulky, so I decided to simply serge all of the raw edges around the hems/sleeves/facings. I opted against shoulder pads, going for more a dressy jean jacket type feel, and used random white buttons from my stash. This was my first time working with striped fabric, and I am fairly happy with how the stripes lined up throughout the jacket.

I had planned on making patch pockets with flaps, as in the inspiration photo, and even cut them out, but didn’t like the way they fit on my jacket, so I decided to leave off the pockets. Yay for making clothes yourself and being able to do whatever you want with the finished look.

Cost: $1.94
Fabric: $0.72 x 2 yards = $1.44
Notions: 2 3/4″ buttons from my stash, $0.55

It was harder than I thought it would be to find a white with dark dots polka dot fabric. I finally found a white polka dot cotton jersey at lowpricefabric.com. I ordered the fabric (1 yard at $4.00) on a Saturday and had the top finished the following Friday. I did deviate from the original inspiration a bit in this piece. The Burberry top was a long sleeve sweater, and since Summer is quickly coming (and it’s a relatively warm Spring), I went for 3/4 length sleeves. I used my tnt knit top pattern, NL 6735, in which I have made the armscye smaller, changed the angle of the shoulder, removed ease from the sleeve head and sleeve, raised the neckline, and removed some ease from the sideseams through the waist area. I gave my top a banded neckline, and used my coverstitch machine to hem the sleeves and bottom hem.

Cost:$4.00
Fabric: $4.00 x 1 yard = $4.00
Notions: none

In the inspiration photo, it looked like the model was wearing dark skinny jeans, so that is what I decided to make (coincidentally, dark skinny jeans have been on my ‘to make’ list for several months, so that is one thing to cross off). When the pants finally appeared online, I realized that they actually aren’t jeans, but decided to stick with my jeans anyway. The jeans were easily the most expensive undertaking for this outfit, though that’s not saying much. I used a dark denim that I bought last year from Fabric.com. The pattern is my tnt jeans pattern that I made using Kenneth King’s Jeanious class on Craftsy, and have used many times before. My pattern is a cross between straight and bootcut legs, and I wanted tapered legs. Since all stretch denims seem to stretch differently, I baste the legs on every pair before stitching the inseam/sideseam, which provides me with the perfect opportunity to tweak the seam allowances all along the leg for a custom tapered fit. I’ve found that I like a skirt/slacks zipper better than the traditional jeans zipper because the pulls are typically less bulky and are less likely to create ridges along the fly.

Cost: $11.86
Fabric: 6.98 x 1.5 yards = 10.47
notions: basic 7″ zipper and jeans button from my stash, both of which I bought in bulk several months ago, $.039

Total cost for all 3 items: 17.85
Total percent savings: 98.4%