Saturday, 15 November 2014

Pattern Testing: The Chloe Blazer from Jolie Marie Louise (and giveaway winner!)

So I'm going to start out by introducing project as a garment I completed quite some time ago now, in fact I made this back in April when I tested the pattern. I got a fair bit of wear out of it in the spring but putting it on again today to take photos has really highlighted for me how much my sewing has come on in the last six months. Don't get me wrong I'm still really proud of this garment as my very first blazer style jacket and these thoughts are in no way any reflection on the pattern or instructions, I've just learnt a lot about how to achieve a more professional finish and fit recently.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

This is the recently released Chloe Blazer from Jolie Marie Louise. I had a choice of patterns to test and was instantly drawn to this one because of the classic style and feminine lines. I was really excited to test this pattern from the point of view of someone who had never sewn a garment of this type before. I was a little daunted by the task of a structured garment but the instructions for it are fantastic. My favourite part is the 'Quick Guide to Adjusting Your Pattern' which includes instructions for shortening or lengthening and on how to do an FBA. I was really impressed with this as soon as I opened up the pattern instructions as doing alterations like these is something I used to breeze on past as, not knowing how to do them, I was quite intimidated by the thought. With instructions for how to alter this specific pattern included (complete with really clear diagrams) it seems much more easily achievable. Having said that I cut a straight size 2 but next time I think I'll go down a size and do a slight FBA as there's quite a lot of room through the lower front. I do like the cut and fit of the back on this as it is though. I'd also shorten the sleeves to be three quarter length when the cuff is rolled back.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise
I'd like it to be a little more nipped in at the waist

It was quite an intensive project as there are simply so many pattern pieces to deal with once you have your main fabric, underlining, interfacing and lining cut out and there are many steps to work through (including basting all your underlining pieces to the main fabric to begin with!). If you like an involved project though this would be a great first step towards full on tailoring. Although many elements of this construction process were new to me each step made total sense and it was a really enjoyable journey. The part I was most apprehensive about was the welt pockets. Thanks to the clear instructions and plentiful diagrams these came together without any frustration. I'm pretty pleased with the final pockets although I definitely think I need some more practice at them to get all the corners nice and crisp.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

As well as my first attempt at welt pockets it was my first attempt at using sleeve heads; in fact I didn't even know what they looked like when I went through the supplies list! I bought mine in a length off the roll from Kleins in Soho and cut them to size. They were surprisingly simple to put in. I lined up the ridge along the edge of the head itself with the seam line of the armhole and sewed them in along that line by hand.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

For some reason I could not get the idea of a polka dot blazer out of my brain when first thinking about fabric choices for my jacket. After visits to Goldhawk Road and Rolls n Rems in Lewisham came up with nothing similar to what I had in mind I turned my search online which is pretty unusual for me. At first when it came to polka dots all I could find were endless options in quilting cotton then I came across this beautiful linen look cotton from Fabrics Galore. It comes in quite a few different colour ways and I went with the smoke grey. I bought 2.5m (it's only 44"/112cm wide) and just about squeezed the jacket out with scraps to spare.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

The lining is a duck egg blue 100% cotton poplin which I'm having a hard time remembering the source of, it was either A-One Fabrics or Rolls n' Rems! As it was before the time I started keeping a good record of each project I also have no idea how much I used... I probably bought just over the recommended amount and I do know I had no trouble getting it out of that. For the underlining I used the recommend cotton muslin (which is known as calico here in the UK, muslin is an entirely different thing!).  The combination of these three fabrics I think has ended up a little thick and crisp for some elements of the design. I don't think any one of them was the wrong choice but that each was just a little on the heavy side and I should have altered my choice of underling and lining to compensate for the hand of the main fabric. Next time I'd like to line it with a soft and fairly fine silk and I'd look for a lighter weight of calico or heavy poplin for the underlining.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

The lining has a pleat at the centre back and was super straight forward to install. I love the way it looks inside with the duck egg lining next to the soft grey facing. It's an unusually girly combination of fabric choices for me but with this tailored silhouette I don't feel too twee. I even stitched the button holes in the thread to match the lining to bring and element of that colour to the outside. Being able to make little design choices like this it one of the things I really love about sewing my own clothes.

I used a couple of pewter metal buttons I had in my stash as they were the right size but I've never been entirely sold on them. Buttons in the same colour as the lining was too much, and also restricts what I can wear the jacket with as at the moment I can wear the sleeves rolled down and hiding the colour. What kind of buttons would you choose?

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

Now I've got a bit more complex sewing experience under my belt I'd really love to make this pattern again with a better choice of materials and better technique. As well as making the fit adjustments I've already mentioned I think my jacket would benefit from taking more time and care with pressing and steaming throughout the construction process. There is no underestimating the difference a good press of each and every seam can make which it comes to a crisp and professional finish is there?! I love the way Anto has styled the sample version and the brocade fabric she has chosen, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for interesting jacket suitable fabrics from now on!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

To finish up on a slightly different note I've got a giveaway winner to announce! The lucky recipient of the copy of 'Hollywood Costume' by Deborah Nadoolman Landis is Amy Gallagher from Made in a Normal Person's Kitchen. Congratulations Amy, I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have! If you could send me an email (address on my about page) to let me know your address I'll get it in the post this week

25 comments:

  1. Gorgeous jacket, I love the colour combination and those welt pockets are yummy. And I am soooooo excited to win the book, thank you so much. I actually finished making a dress today that no word of a lie, I started 6 months ago, so it's as if karma said oh well done, here win a book ha ha. Emailing you now!

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    1. You are very welcome, I sent it off today so it should be with you on Thursday! Congratulations on finishing the dress!

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  2. That is one gorgeous jacket and I love the fabric and polka dots and that smoke grey with the aqua linings peeping out. I only wish I were so talented. It looks great!

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    1. Thanks ever so much, it's been so long since I made it now that all I can see are the flaws but I should remember that making a jacket (however badly it may now fit!) is quite an accomplishment!

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  3. That's a lovely jacket and a great pattern recommendation when the tester wants to make further versions!

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    1. Thanks Vicki Kate! Yes I really enjoyed the process of making it and it's got me inspired to try some full blown tailoring. The instructions gave great guidance so I'd love to give it another try

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  4. I think this jacket looks lovely. And it's great that you can see such a difference in your sewing over time.

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    1. Thanks Megan! There is a lot that I like about it and I am proud of it, just wish I'd done some things slightly differently! It has made me feel really good to discover how much more I know about sewing now!

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  5. This is already a very professional looking jacket Fiona, but I think if you were to make it again with the fit adjustments you mentioned, it will look super polished! It was really interesting to read about the process. I'm almost tempted to give the pattern a go just to get a bit of practice with tailoring techniques. I've made a couple of coats/jackets but they've always been simple patterns with me adding a few 'tailoring' flourishes of my own! Would be nice to do it properly! x

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    1. O yes give it a whirl Jane! This pattern, although including underling e.t.c doesn't include a huge amount of tailoring (there's no pad stitching or anything) but I think it's a great first step and it would be easy enough to incorporate more tailoring if you wanted too. I've definitely got plans for another before which I'm going to do some more research into tailoring

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  6. Love the jacket, it really suits you. I recently read that silky linings for coats and jackets are best because they help you to slip that on and of easier, love your lining colour though!

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    1. You know what. I've read that before too but of course that nugget of information completely escaped me when it came to choosing my fabrics. After making this one I can definitely confirm that that would be a good route to go down!

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  7. This is gorgeous, Fiona. I love your fabric choices - who could resist a polka dot blazer? It already looks professional and great first attempt with welt pockets. They can be tricky things!

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    1. I was a little apprehensive about them Claire! But I'm really pleased with how they turned out for a first attempt, practice makes perfect! Thank you

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  8. I am really impressed with your jacket, especially as you said it's the first time you've attempted such a garment. I had been thinking that my new year's resolution might be to pick a more difficult garment and spend more time on it to learn new skills, as it's so tempting to churn through the next pattern and the next... your post confirms my feeling that it's worth taking time over something more challenging. well done!

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    1. Thanks ever so much! Yes I can wholeheartedly recommend getting your teeth stuck into a big project, I love them! Especially the planning and researching new techniques. I think one of my goals for next year will be to learn more about tailoring. Keeping a mixture of straightforward and more involved projects going is what keeps me interested and inspired to sew I think

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  9. I think this is amazing and can hardly believe it was your first try at tailoring. I had made a couple of "proper" jackets way back before I took a long hiatus from sewing after making my wedding dress in 1991..... got back into a few years ago and have made a few jackets but mostly of the bolero type. I remember being taught by my aunt, who was an adult during WWII and an amaaaaazing sewist ( rich big sis used to say that when she wore designer stuff to work in the UN in New York, nobody commented, but when she wore Bibi's work they all did) to use a strip of soft fabric cut on the bias at the sleeve heads to make the sleeves fall better. Whether one was using shoulder pads or not. Is that what you mean by a sleeve head? Anyway, if so, be aware you can make them yourself this way... Just to tell you a bit more about aunty Bibi, when I got my Claire Scaheffer books, I was schocked to see that most of the techniques were things Bi used to do. Where did she learn? no idea.

    My only other comment is that I would only use cotton poplin as a lining (or cotton anything for that matter) for a summer jacket to wear on top of sleeveless stuff. Otherwise it won't slide on and off easily and can grip what you're wearing. I underlined the body of a cropped linen jacket with some leftover liberty poplin - worked a treat - I didn't underline the sleeves as I wanted it to be fresh. I didn't line it but hong konged the seams. It is lovely on top of slippery sleeveless tops but the cotton ones - no. So I think you are totally right to go for china silk.

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    1. That summer jacket sounds lovely Francesca, I really like the idea of the bound seams instead of a lining in the sleeves. I'm definitely going with silk lining for my next one!
      Thanks so much for sharing about your aunt, I love stories like that, just fascinating. It's clear to see where your inspiration to sew comes from! The bias strip sounds like it perhaps could function as a sleeve head. The sleeve heads I used were sort of like a cotton batting folded over, with the fold forming the actual 'sleeve head'. It's all very new to me so it's really interesting to hear about different methods used. I'm wishing for Clare Schaeffer's Tailoring Book for Christmas so fingers crossed that may shed some light!

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    2. Thanks Fiona, sometimes after I type something like that I wonder if I am being boring, so it's nice to know you liked hearing about aunty Bi:) She was amazing. I really miss her. She was adorable - a tiny ball of fire who lived in very high wedges and heels "to look better proportioned":). At 80, she used to swim when it was too rough for most people including the young ones!

      How interesting - I have to check out what these sleeve heads look like on line! Thanks for the info:).

      Update re lining:) - I asked Anne W (she's on kollabora) - she has the most amazing blog called Vintagebelle, and makes loads of beautifully finished clothes from vintage patterns - including loads of jackets - and she told me that she finds that so long as the sleeves are lined with slippery fabrics, she finds jackets work well with a batiste or lawn lining. Anne's my sewing hero so if she says that I'm sure she's correct!

      I just got an amazing book - Vintage couture tailoring - by Thomas con Nordheim - which is all abotu p roper tailoring for ladies' jackets. Have a look at that if you can, as it is really brilliant. I am still gearing up to try to tackle one of those and this book is going to be my bible.

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  10. Love it! My two favourite colours and polka dots!!!!

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  11. Wow, this is really cute! I love the polka dots on you! It's kinda crazy to see how quickly our skills increase... I feel the same way about the anorak I made in January. By the time I pulled it back out in September or October, I could think of about five things I would've done differently if I made it now! It's a sign that you're really learning and gaining experience quickly.

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    1. Thanks Sonja, I'm trying to take it as a positive that I could see so many improvements I'd like to make but it's hard not to be disappointed that I didn't do a better job in the first place! But then again I'm super excited to learn more and make it a thousand times better next time!

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  12. Love the idea of a spotty blazer. You've done a great job. For the pockets it is better to use the lining fabric on the welt rather than the jacket side. That way it won't show. Hope you don't think I'm being nitpicky.

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    1. O not at all Gail! I really appreciate any tips readers share and that's a great one! The pocket bag for this pattern is cut as one piece which is folded in half and stitched down the sides so the thought didn't cross my mind to use anything but the lining. I'll definitely be cutting it as two or creating a kind of facing at the top out of the jacket fabric on the visible side next time, thanks!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!