It seems like awhile since I did some serious tutorials here on the blog and so I think its high time to get back to that. My life has been crazy and I really miss not always being able to keep you all up to date on what I’m doing – not because I don’t want to but only really, because I sometimes just don’t have enough hours in the day. So this little journey is a big one for me as I’ve decided to try some new ways of doing tutorials – namely video. Please, please be kind in your comments. I’m still getting a handle on video, how to take it, how to record myself and how to edit and it is not the easiest. There’s a pretty big learning curve and one that I’m willing to learn, but still need to better my skill with. So, here is my intro video to the Plaid Jacket Chronicles! Yay!
This little sappy quip includes some of my thoughts on plaids and some moving shots of me in my jacket. Conquering a plaid jacket is one of the harder plaid garments to make, but hey, that’s never quite stopped me before. Gulp. Hopefully, this makes you a little itchy to try your hand at a plaid jacket or even a plaid garment. I’ll be walking you through my process, thoughts, tutorials and info that will help you out on your journey. I’ll be back in the next few days with the first of several tutorials. Enjoy!
PS ~ Thank you all for your great comments on my plaid jacket! I’m so excited to be making another one and sharing it with you!
For a little while, I guess (fine fine, for a quite awhile, I admit) I’ve had an obsession with finding, fitting and sewing a perfect jacket. If you don’t know, for me, this is like trying to turn the sky pink. I have an upper body that is a rather hard fit. I have a fairly broad upper bust and it makes purchasing woven tops and jackets from the store a very dismal affair – so dismal, I don’t even bother trying stuff like that on anymore. Anyhow, let’s move on with this little story here and find out why I became obsessed with creating a clearly fall-like jacket in the middle of summer (as I type this, we’re hitting 100 degrees farenheit today!).
I’ve been working on several projects behind the scenes here. Behind the scenes sounds so…. secretive, when really, its not. I just haven’t been up to my usual blogging pace. This is McCall’s 6172. Its a Palmer Pletsch pattern that was one of the best jacket patterns I’d seen in awhile. I love pretty much every single thing about this jacket. I picked up this pattern sometime in January and have been slowing hacking away at it since. I know, weird. My obsession for projects can come and go and that is exactly what happened with this pattern.
Before my initial muslin, I decided to read some pattern reviews of this pattern. Always, always a great idea. It runs big. Actually let me correct that. This pattern runs big for normal folks, for me it was only really really big in the waist and hip area but for my upper bust, shoulder and upper arm area it was practically perfect. This is a first for me, for sure. Taking in the waist and hip was a cinch. Additionally I made some cosmetic changes to the jacket too. I raised the welt pocket to hit more at my waist area rather than in that weird in between the waist and hip space. I also reduced the size of the lapels and collar which were quite large and I also hacked off some length too. Thinking for the next jacket, I’ve decided to also raise the buttons upward too as I feel that the button placement on this jacket falls a bit low.
The jacket started out in a completely different fabric. After working on it for several months, it still looked pretty bad. There were so many things that just kept going wrong and finally, I just decided to let well enough alone and start anew. I decided once and for all that after many many sewing fails (in addition to the jacket I just described) I was not going to stand for it anymore. To place even more faith in myself, I decided on a plaid.
Friends, let’s talk plaid for a minute. I don’t know about you, but even the word can strike absolute fear into my heart. Thing is though, I’m such a sucker for plaids. In fact, I have several in the stash that have been languishing away in hopes that I would be able to get my nerve up. Most are ear marked for a jacket because seriously, what is more bitchin that a plaid jacket? I think nothing! I’m a regular freaking Nancy Drew in this thing. So friends, when I tell you that tackling a plaid jacket is not for the faint of heart, it truly is, not for the faint of heart. And for all you mad plaiders out there, this was an unbalanced plaid to boot.
The fabric here is from Yellow Bird Fabrics and it has kind of a sad tale. It was such an unwanted fabric. Apparently this particular plaid had been there for a few years. Seriously, this kind of thing makes me sad. Oh little sad fabric, why does no one want you? Its a beautiful wool, quite soft and the plaid is very old school. Like it reminds of 1950s college cohorts or something. So after some cute girls came in and bought a couple of yards, I decided to nab up the rest and tackle this sleuthing, college chumming number. Surprisingly, since the pattern was all figured out, this jacket only took the better part of 4 days stretched out over a 2 week time span.
The plaid matching was not too horrendous. May I point out a few things here? Again the plaid is unbalanced. Looking at the plaid you’ll notice that the stripes that stand out the most are those red and yellow ones. And if you look at the jacket fronts you’ll notice that on the right side and left side the vertical red and yellow stripes are not mirrored. Where there is a red stripe on one side it is a yellow stripe on the opposite side. When working with plaids, this type of thing seriously intrigues me. Plaid fabrics can be a really fascinating journey to work with – kind of a weird thing to say, but true. For the most part, I’m really really happy with the plaid match up. We’ve got matched plaids all around the bodice and look at the front sleeve cap? Isn’t it beautiful? I’m not particularly happy with the under sleeve though. As you can see, the front part of the under sleeve did not match up with the upper sleeve at all and that’s because I was thinking it would be more important to have the back part of the sleeve match up. While the back matches up quite well at the hem and up to the mid upper arm pretty well, I think overall, the under sleeve would do better cut on the bias instead. I’m not sure though, thoughts anyone?
To boot, I’ve decided to make another plaid jacket and I thought I would document my journey of the whole process as planning a plaid garment is not a topic of much discussion, I find. And if you, like me, have a love affair with plaids, you’ll want to know how to work them. Especially in a ridiculously awesome jacket. Are you game?
Ever made a plaid jacket? Or a plaid garment? Do you love plaids as much as I do?
Everyone, thank you so much for entering the Sew Better, Sew Faster Giveaway. Lisa G – from notes from a mad housewife won! Yay! Congratulations Lisa. An email is on its way to you.
And now, back to the business of sewing. A little while ago, my iron was on the outs. This is a common problem that seems to creep up about every two years or so. The hand held irons on the market today are pretty much crap. Seriously, crap. I’ve been through too many to be in the dark about this and I’ve been through the gamut of makes and models too. Irons ranging from $10 – $200 and they all give up the ghost at around the two year mark. Its more than inconvenient, its down right ridiculous. But as you know, such is the way of things these days. Everything is made with plastic and only lasts a few years before its time to replace it with more plastic and blah blah blah. Talk about planned obsolescence.
So its no surprise that I’ve been coveting a gravity feed steam iron. When Peter posted about this back in April I was very interested in what his readers had to say. Many were all for him purchasing one for his birthday but then I read a comment from Phyllis (CoudreMode) and knew that I was not yet in a situation where this iron would be the right purchase. I live in an apartment and like most apartments, I barely have room for my current set-up, let alone something that I wouldn’t really be able to take down and move and the whole she bang. So the gravity feed iron will remain on my list of sewing desires for now.
Instead I decided to give a vintage iron a try. When I was younger, I remembered going on a trip with a friend of my mom’s to a cabin in Colorado. Whilst at the cabin, of all things, I found a vintage Black and Decker iron (I think it was a Black and Decker, but I could be wrong) that was simply amazing. The thing still worked like a champ and the steam that it produced was nothing less than miraculous. It was like no other iron I had ever used or have ever used since. So remembering that, I decided to take my search to ebay. I found a refurbished old General Electric iron, from a reputable seller who stated that it was in working order, so I ordered it up.
The day it arrived, I put the thing to the test. The iron worked. More than that, it produces effortless steam and its something that you can always rely on having if you’ve got the button up for the steam and the iron is in the down position. I find this absolutely, without a doubt, amazing, because with irons that I’ve purchased in the past, I don’t always get steam, even if I push those stupid “burst of steam” buttons and even if the iron is in the down position. If the iron is heating up as it does often (you know, when the light is on) the steam is off (with the newer irons). Additionally, I’ve been having problems with my more modern iron not producing steam because its been plugged in for too long – like long after the “auto-off” has shut it down and then you have to shake the iron to get the “auto-off” to turn off and turn the iron back on – AAARRRRGGGHHH! You might have guessed that my vintage GE doesn’t have an auto-off. This is AWESOME! Now, of course, you have to be careful and not leave it plugged in, but at least you don’t have it shutting off every 8 minutes.
What else can I say about this iron? It has a full metal base with, what I’m pretty sure is a bake-lite handle. The cord is wrapped in fabric – the old school way. I really don’t have any idea as to how old it is. I was looking on Etsy at similar irons and several of the ads said that it dates back to the 40s, but I’m fairly certain its not quite that old. Definitely before the 80s. I daresay, it might even be from the 60s – definitely not sure though. The only thing that I would say is kind of a pain is that the iron gets really really really hot. I’ve never used an iron that gets this hot. In fact, the “linen” setting is too hot for linen! So I always do a little patch test on a corner of the fabric before I start really pressing or ironing away. And really, having an iron get too hot is better than not hot enough, which has more or less been my experience with modern day irons. You know that plastic, it just can’t handle too much heat. This vintage GE is also a good weight. It’s got just the right amount of pressure for tailoring, in my opinion. Plus with the steam factor, its a dream, a DREAM to press with.
I plan to give you an update on the iron every now and then, just to see how this old tessie holds up. I’ve been using it for about three weeks now – still running like a champ! What do you think? Do you think she’ll hold up or conk out at the two year mark? Do any of you work with a vintage iron?
This giveaway is now closed. Thanks so much for entering!
Friends, today I have a special giveaway! If you were here yesterday when I posted about my jacket, you’ll know that I just finished this jacket from Janet Pray’s Craftsy class Sew Better, Sew Faster. Janet contacted me last week and agreed to allow me to giveaway a free pass to her class, which includes not only her brilliant sewing techniques in action but also a copy of the pattern Jacket Express.
During the class, Janet utilizes wooden pressing tools and since I was so happy to see this (since its not something you see that often these days) I decided I would throw in a tailor board from the shop. That’s right. If you win this, you’ll win the free pass to the Craftsy class and the collapsible tailor board from my shop! Additionally, this giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere so don’t hesitate to put your name in the hat for this one.
To enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment and I’ll be back on
Friday Monday, June 24, to announce a winner chosen at random! Giveaway closes at midnight on Sunday, June 23. Yay!
Whoops! Sorry about the class link everyone, here is the correct link for the 20% off Sew Better, Sew Faster.
When Janet Pray’s Craftsy class landed itself in my email inbox, I immediately enrolled. For those of you who don’t know, Janet Pray is the niece of Margaret Islander of Islander Sewing. Additionally Janet is the founder of the American Sewing Expo which truly is an amazing sewing conference and expo held every year in Novi, Michigan. I was fortunate to attend and teach a little at last year’s expo and of course, I met Janet. Janet is one of those rare people who are unbelievably supportive of the sewing community so for me, it was a no-brainer to enroll in her course.
So, let’s talk a little bit about this class and the jacket pattern that comes with it, shall we? The Craftsy class itself, Sew Better, Sew Faster, is based off of the Islander Sewing System, which is all about bringing industry techniques and tips to the home sewing masses. This is something that Margaret Islander came up with and Janet continues on with today. I had heard about Islander Sewing and I’ve been meaning to purchase a video or two from the website and just hadn’t gotten around to it, so I felt the Craftsy class would be a good jumping point. In the class you learn about sewing pinless and nothing is hand basted, meaning that you don’t pin the pattern pieces together first and then sew them together and everything is sewn by machine. Additionally, Janet talks about sewing ergonomics and how to best achieve a workstation that resembles that of something in the industry, which in turn means better posture, less stress on certain body points and well, faster sewing. Janet shows how to correctly utilize wooden sewing tools like a tailor board and a clapper (this was awesome!!!) and she utilizes the serger and a gravity steam iron (I’m green with envy for that tool). She talks about topstitching and shows techniques and tips for getting better topstitching results. When all was said and done, this class was right up my alley!
Then there’s the pattern, Jacket Express. I was skeptical at first about using the pattern only because as I started to cut out my size, I got a look at the small manual that came with the pattern. I noticed that there were different seam allowances for different pieces and at first, I was kind of put off by this because I usually don’t even read pattern directions when it comes to sewing. But I forged on and I’m glad I did because this pattern is expertly drafted. The fit, for me, is spot on too. I didn’t make a muslin and look, this pattern fits me right out of the envelope!
Deets on the jacket: I made the x-small, which is kind of sad because the pattern itself doesn’t go any smaller and really I’m an average girl size, I think. I made it up in some great italian linen from Yellow Bird Fabrics and I used a heavy Coats and Clarks thread for the topstitching. And actually, can I just say that I loathe topstitching thread? If you get the heavyweight or denim kind its such a pain in the butt and its hard on my machine and its hard to gauge the tension with and I’ve pretty much decided that I’m never using it again. Yup, I hate it that much!!! I ended up unpicking a bunch of topstitching throughout the jacket and it was no fun! Anyway, back to the jacket. The jacket went together wonderfully except for a few places where I wasn’t paying attention, which was my own silly fault. I sewed the entire jacket without the use of pins – can you believe that? I can’t. I’m terribly impressed with myself. Ha ha! The welt pockets were awesome!!! as were the sleeve cuffs (which I’ve folded up and out of my summery way). Then of course, I’m sure you noticed that my version is collarless. I opted not to put in the collar as I loved the look of the collarless version so much. Instead I drafted a back neck facing and added it to the front facing before attaching it to the jacket.
Verdict: The class and the pattern are well worth the money. This jacket has a long and wearable life in my closet. Its a mite too warm for the summers around here, however on a cool night I’ll be good to go. Since I went for a basic color, it will work well in the fall and spring as well. I’m pretty sure I’ll be reaching for it all the time. Its that comfortable and its that good.
On a final note, Janet contacted me and gave me some goodies to give to all of you. First off, enjoy 20% off the class when you click through this link. Additionally, I was able to procure a free class for one of you, so I’ll be having a giveaway of Janet’s class tomorrow! Stay tuned for that!
So, what do you think? Do you sew without pins? Ever tried the Islander Sewing methods?