Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Blazer Bits and Bobs

Yesterday I completed the August installment of Blazer-a-Month.  Just in time! 

This is a blazer that ought to have been made earlier in the summer, but I was busy with house guests  from the beginning of July til mid-August, and didn't have time to sew.  I'm really happy it's done now - this project fulfills a long-held desire for a patchwork madras blazer.  Years ago, J.Crew had them, and I wanted one so badly but the fit was terrible on me.  I love it that I can now make whatever I want, and make it to fit me!


This jacket is McCall's 6172 again - what can I say?  It's my favorite!  And since the fitting is already done, part of the work is eliminated.  I've been working my way through the techniques in Tailoring:  The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket.  This project was the perfect opportunity to try out the machine tailoring method.  I posted a fair number of in-progess shots on Instagram, but a lot of the details were hard to see there, so I've taken lots more pictures to share here.

I mistakenly thought that the machine tailoring method would be quicker than hand tailoring, but it really wasn't.  It still takes a lot of time to cut all the pieces, cut the interfacing, mark everything, and then do the stitching.  And although the hair canvas is attached by machine, there is still a fair bit of hand stitching to be done.  I do a lot of hand-basting when I sew, and all the hems are hand stitched.  So all told, this jacket still took a total of about 22 hours.

The fabric I used for this blazer is Robert Kaufman Nantucket Patchwork, which I purchased from Fabric.com.   I realized that I'd need to match the squares as if matching plaids.  For my size (10), view B takes 2 5/8 yards of 45" fabric.  I ordered 3 yards, thinking that would be enough extra.  When my fabric came, I got a 3.5 yard piece because it was the end of the bolt.  Thank goodness - I used almost all of it!!  Starting at the center back, I matched pieces left and right, working to the sides, and then did the same for the fronts, as much as possible keeping the horizontal squares in line.  I think I did a pretty good job :-)



The fabric is actually much nicer quality than I was expecting.  All the seam allowances on the back are serged together, and the squares are all edgestitched down from the front.  Needless to say though, that makes quite a lumpy fabric!  So I underlined all the pieces with a very thin cotton voile to give myself a smoother surface to work on.  I like to hand baste my underlinings on, to keep everything as flat as possible.


With the machine tailoring method, hair canvas is still used for the under collar and fronts, and the roll line is taped.  But these are all stitched to the outer by machine, so the stitches do show through on the outside, unlike with hand tailoring.  However, all the stitching is on the underside so it doesn't show when the garment is worn.  Here's how the roll line looks from the outside:


And here's the under collar.  On the second picture, I've drawn over the stitching lines to make it more clear.  Between the busy fabric and the white thread, none of this stitching is very easy to see!



As I was working on this jacket, I updated my pattern by cutting out all the markings (easy to do because my pattern is on Swedish Tracing Paper), so that the pieces work like stencils for marking.  So glad I did this, as there is a lot of marking to be done!


The hair canvas for the under collar is pretty well stitched down to the fabric, but the piece on the front is hanging free between the layers of fabric.  I really loved the method for attaching it:  you cut "carrier strips" of muslin, which are 1.5" strips the same shape as the jacket front.  The hair canvas is cut all the way to the front and neck edges, then stitched with a zigzag to the carrier strips at a 3/4" seam allowance.  Then the canvas is trimmed close to the zigzag on the back, and the muslin is trimmed close to the zigzag on the front.  Thus, the hair canvas is attached to the outer via the muslin and remains 1/8" inside the seam allowance.  Genius!


The roll line is taped in the normal way, but sewn down with two parallel lines of stitching, stopping 2" before the break.  That last bit is sewn down by hand only through the canvas, so it won't show from the outside. ( I just realized that this picture is the side I sewed wrong!  The tape should be sewn to the jacket side of the roll line, not the lapel side.  I realized it in time and unpicked, then fixed it.)


I used muslin for the back stay, like usual, and wigan for the hems.  Here is the jacket completely assembled up to the point of adding the facing/lining unit.  I just love looking at the inner structure of jackets!


This time, I decided to do topstitching around the outside edge.  On my previous jackets, I didn't do topstitching because I felt it didn't suit the style.  To me, the topstitching gives the jacket a sportier look.  I really had fun doing it this time.  I made things easy on myself by lining up the edge of my fabric with the edge of the presser foot, and then moving my needle all the way to the right for stitching - it was easy to maintain an even distance from the edge that way.




The lining is rayon bemberg in a lovely shade of teal that I think looks quite nice with the outer fabric.


Making the buttonholes was a bit problematic because of the bulk of the quilted seams.  My first one didn't work and I had to unpick it.  I used some buttons I had on hand; I like them, but I'm not sure they're the right choice for this jacket.  They're awfully shiny since they're glass.  I may change them out in the future.


And there you have it!  One last pic of the completed jacket:


I really, really like it :-)

And now, a question:  I've been getting a lot of requests on Instagram to do a sew-along for blazers, and I've pretty much decided to do one in October.  If you are one of the people who is interested in this, what are the kinds of things you're interested in seeing? I haven't decided what type of tailoring to show - fusible, hand, or machine.  It's not realistic to show all three in one sew-along, because I'd have to be making 3 jackets at the same time!  And I do have a life outside of tailoring :-)  So I'm hoping to be able to tailor the sew-along to what people are most interested to see.  (See what I did there?)

51 comments:

  1. This jacket is just amazing.

    And yes please to the sewalong! Any technique you wish to share I'd be happy with; perhaps the one you prefer/think most versatile?

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! And thanks for the feedback.

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  2. You really are quite gifted Gail. I love your blazer.

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  3. This blazer is so great! I hope you'll share pics of you wearing it! I would love to join in the sewalong. I have absolutely zero knowledge of tailoring so I'd love to learn whatever you think is best for a complete beginner.

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    1. Thanks, Teri. I am planning do take some pics - probably not today though as I've been doing lots of messy cleaning! Thanks for the sew-along feedback.

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  4. Beautiful work. I will watch your sewalong with interest but I don't want to promise I will find time to join :-)

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    1. Thank you! No need to join in - the info will be there if and when you need it. Isn't the internet wonderful?!

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  5. This is awesome. I don't usually think of blazers as having a fun, summery look, but this one really does.

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    1. Thanks, Cari. Blazers for all the seasons! (Yes, I have a problem!)

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  6. You are amazing. I wish I could learn by your side. I'm still wanting a blazer.

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    1. Thank you! How fun would that be?!

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  7. I love all the blazers you've made! This one is amazing as well! I would love to join the sew along as I've been meaning to make one! But October! It's my busiest month for traveling. I'll catch up some how. I'm a big fan of hand sewing.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! No worries about being "on time" for the sew along. It will all be there when you want to look at it :-)

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  8. Oh my this is beautiful! Yay for end of the bolt extra yardage :D And it is so much easier when all the fitting work is done already.

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    1. Thanks, Kristin! Yes, thank goodness! This blazer wouldn't have happened (well, at least not with matching) without that extra half yard!

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  9. Wow, Gail ~ this is a stunner!

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  10. It's a work of art! And you can wear it with so many colours. Makes me think that I could make a summer jacket for my warm weather too. Hopefully I'm brave enough to follow along in October, anything with too many seams looks intimidating to me! I'll go look for some linen that doesn't require pattern matching for the newbie me. What might be good lining fabric for my heat? Voile? Cotton? Rayon? I don't mind if my jacket is floppy, I just need to be able to wear it in the heat!

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    1. Thanks, Erin! You can certainly make a blazer for your climate; you can even make one unlined or partially lined! And I think it's wise to avoid pattern matching on the first go :-) I like to use rayon bemberg lining because it's breathable. Being a lady of a certain age, I get overheated easily, LOL!

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  11. Gorgeous! I'd join in a sewalong. I've been working through the tailoring book as well but not used all the techniques yet so I would be happy for you to feature any of the methods, whatever gets the most votes is fine with me. I'm keen to try any of them in a proper blazer - I've made a number of coats but never a blazer. Now that I am finally on instagram I'm loving all the progress posts too.

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    1. Thanks, Janelle! I was also glad to see you pop up on Instagram! It is so much easier to keep up with everyone's makes that way. I have been having a blast trying out different techniques. I find tailoring completely absorbing!

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  12. Gorgeous! I'd join in a sewalong. I've been working through the tailoring book as well but not used all the techniques yet so I would be happy for you to feature any of the methods, whatever gets the most votes is fine with me. I'm keen to try any of them in a proper blazer - I've made a number of coats but never a blazer. Now that I am finally on instagram I'm loving all the progress posts too.

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  13. Wow, this is stunning Gail! One day I will find the time and the patience to make a tailored blazer... maybe during your sewalong? Who knows!

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    1. Thanks, Sam! It would be so fun for you to join us. No pressure though!

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  14. Wow! Thanks for sharing about this blazer, I enjoyed reading. Machine tailoring would be amazing for a sew-along and it's not something that I see often. You've done such an amazing job.

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    1. Thank you so much, and thanks for the feedback!

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  15. Thanks for all the detail pics. It inspires me to get out my tailoring project, which has been sleeping for a bit. For the sewalong, I would suggest whichever method you think is the best, weighing up the time required versus the result achieved.

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    1. Thank you, Kathleen! Yes, do use it as a motivator to finish your projects! Some friends and I did a blazer sew-along last fall, and it was so much easier to be motivated knowing we were doing it together.

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  16. Beautiful blazer, so inspiring. I just learned how to make tailored shirts, and I would love to learn how to make a tailored blazer as well. I would be interested in joining your sew-along.

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  17. You did an amazing job of matching that complicated plaid. My brain can barely focus on the other beautiful details, it's so stunned by the perfect plaid and the gorgeous teal lining. Nice work!
    -- stashdragon

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    1. Thanks, Gretchen! Yes, it sometimes makes me googly-eyed if I look at this too long! It's a LOT of plaid :-)

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  18. This is a serious blazer! Wow! Totally my style... if I could get away with madras. You leave me in awe xx

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    1. Hehehehe, I think it's a frivolous blazer, not a serious one ;-) You could totally pull this off!

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  19. Your blazer turned out fantastic! I never knew I needed a madras blazer, but apparently I do! The muslin-edged hair canvas is such a great idea. And I think I'm most interested in seeing the machine tailoring. I'm not in love with fusible, but not sure I'm super interested in hand tailoring at the moment. I also feel like nobody really does machine tailoring, so you'd be contributing some great information. At any rate, keep the blazers coming! I could look at those guts all day :)

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  20. Hmm, Lisa - for some reason Blogger won't let me reply to your comment, so you get a brand new comment :-)

    Thank you - and I think you probably do need a madras blazer :-)

    Thanks too for that input about tailoring. I'm leaning that way, based on comments I've received so far, and had also come to the same conclusion as you.

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  21. It's unreal! You're a clever lady!

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  22. Beautiful! I would enjoy reading your sewalong but I don't know if I'd have time to participate. Hmm!

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    1. Thanks, Jo! What, you mean you can't set everything aside and make a blazer with us? ;-)

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  23. I love the blazer! I'd also really love a sewalong. I can't decide which technique I'd be most interested in seeing, however--wish I could help! My mind just keeps cycling through--"fusible, no machine, no, HAND!" :-D

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    1. Thank you so much! I know exactly what you mean, which is probably why I've made a gazillion blazers in all different techniques!! I'm planning a post in the next day or two explaining the advantages of each, so that may help people decide what to use.

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  24. I'd love to be part of your sewalong! I have a blazer waiting to be cut - I've already done the muslin to check for big fitting issues :)

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  25. Gail, this is beautiful! Your workmanship is truly amazing! October is looking like a crazy month for me, but I will try my hardest to play along! I was supposed to be taking Ladies' Tailoring III at FIT this semester, but couldn't quite swing it, but the whole semester is spent on one jacket. I'm bummed I couldn't take the class, but your blog posts are a pretty sweet replacement!

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    1. Thanks, Sonja! Wow, that class sounds like my dream come true! Maybe someday . . . In the meanwhile, we can all support each other in our blazer-making endeavors :-)

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