The expression on my face in the above picture captures the scary-bit really well!
And then, bit more confident but starting to realise photographing dark blue velvet is ridiculously hard.
And even harder to do a back-view-mirror-selfie of dark blue velvet.
So uh, just what are these pictures supposedly showing? Well, glad you asked!
The Bolivian Milkmaid Jacket in dark blue velvet, (oh yum! *dies of happiness*) the bottom view, which is the ‘traditional’ version, adapted to my needs in a jacket – well what I fondly hope are my needs.
Why is jacket-sewing scary?
I have made a grand total of two jackets in my entire life. One from this cat-eaten Style pattern (I adore Style patterns) in a bottle green, that I took with me backpacking, and used for three years and yet have no photo of me in it. Go figure eh?
(I also made the trousers for my sister once in a soft crepe of a dark background with little green flowers on it, that draped like a dream. She looked fabulous in them if I do say so myself! Anyone that tells you 5 foot nothing is too short for wide-legged trousers is using the wrong fabric.)
The second was a lovely little bolero jacket out of black silk noir. Simple and beautiful. And very easy!
I’ve tried to do a few more and they became UFO’s for various reasons like the one I explain about below. I think the Scary Bit is partly because I have so little experience making jackets, and partly because the only jackets I have made were made when I was young and knew everything 😛 However, the technique I employed with both jackets, was to gather my courage up and jump in the deep end – and do something I rarely do – follow the instructions exactly. It worked! (And those are double-welt pockets lurking under those innocent-looking flaps) So I’m doing the same again. So far so good…
What I need in this jacket:
- Look good (yeah of course, right?!)
- Be able to be worn with anything at any time, anywhere. Kinda like The Goodies 😀 (Seriously though, I’m not asking too much. I have a black woolen coat I bought from Max 17 yrs ago in Auckland, (Italian wool because it’s somehow better than either NZ or Australian???) It fufills these needs, except for the minor detail that it’s a coat and thus a bit hot for like ooh say my upcoming trip to SE Queensland. I want all that but in a jacket that is more about cutting out cold wind in a Brisbane winter, or a temperate climate spring or autumn, than suitable for a NZ or southern Australian winter.)
- Scrunchable. Looking after jackets isn’t my forte – I’ve got almost zilch experience!
- Something I can actually sew in the tropics without getting either heat exhaustion or prickly heat rash. (Mmm prickly heat rash, such fun. *shudders*)
I know from sewing a couple of pairs of cotton corduroy trousers for mum that I can sew that fabric without dying. I have the most divine red boiled wool from the then Global Fabrics in Wellington 10 yrs ago. It was to be the fabled go everywhere do anything jacket. But I couldn’t do more with it than sew up the main seams before I got so hot and bothered and prickly and irritated by little bits of red wool dust that I scrunched it up (see what I mean about not knowing how to look after these kinds of things?) and threw it in the back of the top cupboard behind all my winter gear. (It’s still there. It’s too beautiful to get rid of and too hot to sew. Impasse.)
Just to explain why mum and I have winter gear when we live in a climate where 18C is a freezing cold night, I have a brother, sister-in-law and a gorgeous little nephew who live in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Fellow Aussies will know that has very cold winters. If we visit from late Autumn through to about mid-spring, I need every soft warm fuzzy thing I own, and then some! Same with Mum. My nephew’s birthday is late August; a few years ago mum and I went down for it, and Oh My GOD I almost died of ice-blockedness. I swore that no matter how much I love my nephew, I’ll have miss his birthdays 😦
Anyway, cotton velvet is very similar to handle and sew as cotton corduroy, and I’m not overheating! And what is more, I’m actually enjoying sewing it. Nice huh?
After looking at reviews on sewing pattern review I decided the jacket was too short for the look I wanted, so I lengthened it. I also felt the amount of flair over the hips created by godets set into the seams and darts was just too much with the longer length. In the pattern, each seam has two godets in it, so I simply only used one. This also meant I only had 7 godets to sew in, not 14. Always a bonus 😀
This is the godet set into the centre back. Wow, appreciate for a moment you can actually see something in this photo!
Here’s the one set into the front dart. It was actually harder to do than setting the godets into a seam. Technically it shouldn’t have, but in reality it was just harder and more fiddly to get right. Fortunately, I’ve discovered, velvet is fairly forgiving of things like a bit more or less fabric in a seam allowance than is supposed to be there. I hadn’t expected that, but I’m happy to take it!
To line or not to line?
Originally I wanted a lining, one of those nice slithery things that make putting a jacket on extra-easy. I’m not that good at putting heavy clothes on. Yes, a velvet jacket is heavy! But I didn’t want acetate. Sticky. Doesn’t breathe. I tried to track down some rayon bemburg lining in a dark blue, but just didn’t find any, either in my local Spotlight (though they had signs up for the price of it. Typical Spotlight huh?) or online anywhere. I wanted dark blue because it’s BORING. Yes boring but will mean the jacket is more likely to still be in use in 17 yrs time. (I didn’t think of silk till it was too late to get any sent here)
I gave up on trying to line it, and bought some navy bias binding (yes yes, BORING, I know) to do hong kong seams.
However… after trying it on for these photos, the silly thing stuck to my clothes and seemed more to resemble velcro than anything else. So that’s it. I’ve just gone and got the nicest dark blue lining I could find in my local Spotlight, a thick viscose/polyester affair that is apparently both Italian, and anti-static.
Well, I supposed I’d better go and sew some more 🙂