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?)