Sunday, 28 August 2016

Kwik Sew 3531: my new favourite tailored jacket

Kwik Sew patterns are the quiet achievers of the pattern world, in my humble opinion. Most of the pattern envelopes are rather dowdy, and apart from using photographs now instead of just drawings they haven't changed much over the years. But their drafting is solid, they offer the essential basics and every now and then one of their patterns will really catch my eye which is the case with this one. Behold my new favourite work jacket:

Kwik Sew 3531 asymmetrical jacket in peach tweed wool www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

This is Kwik Sew 3531, an asymmetrical jacket in two lengths:

Kwik Sew 3531 asymmetrical jacket www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I chose to make the shorter length jacket mainly because I like cropped jackets but also because if you look at that photograph on the pattern envelope there are drag lines from the side seam down towards the centre front which I figure had something to do with the length.

The fabric is the real superstar of this project though - it's a vintage wool tweed piece I bought from the remnants table at the Remnant Warehouse earlier this year. The base colour is a beautiful peach shade, with flecks in varying colours. It sewed and pressed like a dream.

Kwik Sew 3531 asymmetrical jacket in peach tweed wool www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

The jacket is rather boxy as there are no darts or shaping in the back. I was tempted to add a centre back seam so that I could do a sway back adjustment, but I figured that because the jacket is cropped it would still look ok, especially when worn with a well fitting pencil skirt:

Kwik Sew 3531 asymmetrical jacket in peach tweed wool www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Kwik Sew 3531 asymmetrical jacket in peach tweed wool www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

The other feature I used is a vintage button I bought from an aptly named shop called Buttons Buttons Buttons down in The Rocks (a tourist district in Sydney) - I bought three of  them years ago for a failed project (another *cough cough* UFO) but I decided it looks better on this project. It really is the centrepiece of the jacket front, and acts like a brooch so I tend to keep my accessories with this jacket very simple. 

Kwik Sew 3531 asymmetrical jacket in peach tweed wool www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

The other feature I really love about this pattern is the inseam buttonhole which you can see in the photograph above. It's such a neat finish and of course saves the stress of doing a neat buttonhole.

The pattern is for an unlined jacket, but I drafted a lining for mine as I really dislike jackets without linings. It's much easier to put them on if the inside is slippery, and I also lack the patience to do fancy seam finishes such as Hong Kong bindings. I found a perfect colour matching piece of China silk in my stash picked up from an opshop a long time ago, it was like it was waiting for this project it's so perfectly matched:

Kwik Sew 3531 asymmetrical jacket in peach tweed wool www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

The only other change I made was with the button placement on the front. I chose the button placement when I was wearing the jacket and just where the fronts sat best - my buttons are a bit lower and more towards the centre than where they are indicated on the pattern. And looking at these photos I can see that I've put the outside button on the opposite side to the pattern, oops! I'm sure there's some convention about which side women's jackets are supposed to button up, but since I made this and no one else will be wearing it, it suits me just fine! 
Kwik Sew 3531 asymmetrical jacket in peach tweed wool www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Although my fabric has a weight suitable for a jacket, I used some iron on interfacing on the neckbands, facings, part of the fronts, upper back and sleeve heads for extra structure. 

Kwik Sew 3531 asymmetrical jacket in peach tweed wool www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

So overall I can highly recommend this pattern if you're looking for a simple and easy to make jacket. Because there isn't a traditional notched collar needing traditional tailoring techniques such as pad stitching along a roll line or welt pockets it comes together very quickly. I've already worn this jacket several times to work since I made it a few weeks ago and I've received quite a few compliments on it - clearly a winner!


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Completed UFO#4: possibly the last sewing blogger to make the Sewaholic Pendrell?


Some long time readers may be a little surprised at seeing me sew an indie pattern given I've barely disguised my disdain for the majority of indie patterns in the past. But this project was a long term UFO, and I didn't even buy this pattern in the first place so I can reassure you that I am not about to become an indie pattern fan girl anytime soon.

Back in 2013, a lovely reader (who in one of those isn't it a small world kind of coincidences lives close to where I grew up) sent me two Sewaholic patterns that she no longer wanted (hi Reona! thanks again!). I had plans to make the Cordova jacket immediately, but couldn't find a separating zip in a colour to match my chosen fabric and then I used that fabric for something else so as result I still haven't made that pattern.

But I thought I could make the Pendrell top pretty quickly - it's a simple enough pattern and a bajillion other sewers have made it and praised it highly. But I did not like it at all - I found the pattern as I originally made it quite frumpy, shapeless and frankly rather ridiculous with those sleeve caps:




Admittedly, a bright yellow colour probably didn't help but this fabric is lovely - a lightweight wool that drapes wonderfully and for some reason I'm really drawn to yellow. This fabric actually came from a maternity top I made back in 2008 that I couldn't bear to get rid of so I decided to refashion it into this top (hence the uneven hem in the photo above).

I really should have known better about those sleeves before I started making this pattern - I have narrow shoulders and prefer a neat and close fitting garment, anything too wide or fussy around the shoulders makes me feel like I'm wearing something too big. So I did what I normally do: unpicked half the seams, got annoyed and stuffed it into my UFO box to marinate until the time was right.

So the first fix was to those ridiculous puffy sleeves. I thought the top looked too plain without a sleeve, so I cut the original sleeves in half horizontally, keeping just two pleats. This way I kept a pleated cap sleeve but without the excess volume.



The second fix was to get a closer fit. I know everyone else seems to like their versions, but I seriously do not understand why a pattern would be designed with princess seams front and back but instead of using those seams to achieve a close fit it instead needs to be loose because there is no opening in it. It may as well as been a single piece for the front and back with a few bust darts instead. Rant over - I know I prefer a closer fit than some other people do.

So I cut the top open along the centre back and inserted an invisible zip. I had a perfectly colour matched zip in my stash but it was a bit too short, so I left a sort of keyhole opening at the neckline above the zipper to make it work. I think it looks deliberate and I quite like it actually:

yellow Sewaholic Pendrell top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

And now that I had an opening in the back, I then took in each of the side seams and princess seams gradually until I got the closer fit that I was after. I didn't make it too tight though because this fabric has no stretch and obviously I still needed to move in it.

yellow Sewaholic Pendrell top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

So after all that work am I happy with it? Mostly, but it's not my favourite. I'm not a fan of using bias bindings at the neckline, I think a facing is a neater finish. I also have lots of other closely fitting shell tops that I wear repeatedly but I do like the yellow with black and white and grey outfits so it will definitely get worn. And that's another UFO out of the box and into my wardrobe!

yellow Sewaholic Pendrell top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Resurfacing...... and winning

Finally all the mundane but necessary things going on in my life are easing up and I hope to get back to my normal easy going, non stressful and placid life! To celebrate, I bought myself three pieces of totally unnecessary but pretty fabric when I was at the fabric store a few weeks ago buying more gold sequin fabric for the school sewing project I've been working on. But not only have I already sewn one of those three pieces into a finished garment already, check out my little blackboard that hangs above my sewing machines keeping track of my sewing statistics:


Can you see how much fabric I've used this year compared to how much I've bought? That's what I call winning! Of course it doesn't make a dent in the extensive fabric stash I already have, but I'm slowly edging ahead in my twisted fabric stash mathematics. And those statistics do not include the 39 metres of gold sequin fabric I've spent the last few weeks making into 28 jackets.

After putting in many many hours I have now finished sewing all those jackets for my daughter's school dance group. Sewing this project was a major pain in the neck and far from enjoyable - the tips of my scissors would always catch the fabric, the sequins would stick to each other and the needle kept getting sticky so the thread stuck because the sequins are actually foil dot stickers. Pressing the fabric was nearly impossible, and there are no facings or linings - the edges are simply turned under and topstitched, but since they are costumes that will be seen from afar and worn two or three times I figured it was good enough and it was the only way to get through it quick enough:

gold sequin top coat with tails pattern pieces www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I used Burda patterns as the basis for the jackets, and then altered the pattern to have the pointed cropped front, the long tails at the back and the shawl collar. I think they turned out ok:

gold sequin top coat with tails jacket www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

This jacket looks a little large on Anna because the jackets are made for the older kids in her school - I have no idea how well they fit the kids I sewed them for though, and frankly I don't care anymore!

And now let us never speak of gold sequin fabric ever again.....