Friday, 16 March 2018

A Tartan Lined Harrington Jacket for my Dad

I did a fair bit of unselfish sewing before Christmas and for some reason when we ticked over into January I couldn't stop. To be fair some of the things I've been making have been long promised as birthday gifts...sorry you had to wait so long for this one Dad! I think I've been getting a lot of satisfaction from sewing things for others recently for two reasons. Firstly it fulfils my desire to keep on sewing when I don't really need a huge amount of clothes of myself anymore. Secondly it means I get to challenge myself by making things that I don't wear; I get to utilise some new skills and construction techniques which is one of the things that really motivates me to sew. I particularly enjoy sewing for the men in my life for that reason!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

The idea for this jacket came when we were talking about my sewing a long time back and Dad made a flyaway 'could you make me a proper Harrington with tartan lining?!' comment. He has a real love for the seventies and eighties (particularly when it comes to vinyl records but thats another story...) and yes he's really cool. I think he was half joking but I squirrelled the idea away and set about finding a pattern that could work. I wrapped up the pattern for his birthday with a promise to make it for him so I could properly find out the details and kind of fabric he wanted. He wasn't very specific but showed me a few pictures I could take my lead from.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

I had initially purchased Kwik Sew 4017 as it looked like a fairly straightforward mens jacket pattern without too much fuss going on. However on closer inspection of the details on a proper retro Harrington jacket I realised I was going to be better off with a pattern which included a lining and had a ribbed hem and cuffs. Indie pattern designers I beg you to make a pattern for a proper Harrington! The closest I could find was McCalls 7637 (using view A) which is really more of a bomber and I had to play around with it a bit to turn into what I wanted. I used the collar from the Kwik Sew view B to achieve that classic Harrington look. To choose the size of collar to cut I measured around the neckline on the McCalls pattern pieces and subtracted the seam allowances. I then measured the length of the neckline seam on the collar piece, again subtracting the seam allowances and chose the closest size match. Weirdly although I cut the medium in the jacket the size small collar was the perfect fit so I'd say if you are making the Kwik Sew there's probably a generous amount of ease in that one!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

The next step was finding the fabric which (aside from a complete lack of sewing time) is what really slowed up progress on this. I wanted to find just the right red tartan and eventually stumbled across it while shopping for work one day in A-One Fabrics on Goldhawk Road. I bought 1.5m as it was wider than listed on the pattern and had about 30cm left over. The shell fabric was much tricker than I expected it to be for a solid black. I figured a cotton would be best but all the twills I found seemed too stiff and anything else too lightweight and drapey. I wanted something soft to suit the relaxed style but with enough structure for an item of outerwear. I finally found just what I was looking for in my local fabric shop of all places! Rolls and Rems in Lewisham had this lovely cotton gaberdine which was soft especially when washed but had a crisp finish. It sewed and pressed beautifully. As always with black telling the right and wrong side apart was tricky but there actually is quite a difference in depth of colour between the two sides and I think two adjoining panels using opposite sides would have been quite obvious. I'm usually quite tight with my fabric buying and try to get away with as little yardage as possible but for some reason I bought 2 metres of this. In the end I was incredibly relieved I did...you'll find out why later!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

I inserted the lining slightly differently to the pattern instructions because I was using a different collar. The instructions have you attach the lining by machine along the hem and around the neckline right sides together, before turning it through and slip stitching by hand along the zip. I attached the lining by machine along the hem and up the zip before turning it through, then basted the lining and shell together along the neckline. I treated them as one when I attached the collar so it ended up neatly sandwiched between the outer in and inner collar. The collar I attached following the Kwik Sew instructions which have you slipstitch the bottom edge of the inner collar by hand. The lining is also slipstitched by hand to the ribbing at the cuffs.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

I interfaced the outer half of the collar with a mid-weight fusible interfacing and the whole of the pocket welts with a lightweight. The collar stands really nicely and I'm pleased I opted for the slightly heavier weight than usual for a bit more structure in this area. I really love the shape and style of the collar and the finish I have achieved where the zip meets it. These kind of separating zips are surprisingly straightforward to install!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

To ensure the lining sat well inside the jacket I added a few hand-stitching steps to the construction inside before I turned it out to the right side. Firstly I stitched the seam allowance of the shell and lining together where it meets the ribbed hem band at the side seams, centre back and where the ribbing turns into cotton at the centre front. This was to help the ribbing sit neatly at the hem; I was worried everything might sag and the lining would slip down. This has definitely helped but I did still wonder about stitching in the ditch all the way along the hem. I also made little swing catches/thread loops to attach the pocket bags to the centre front and to attach the lining to the shell under the arms. Again this is to keep everything sitting nicely in place and swing catches are good for this as they allow a little bit of movement still.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

I had some problems with the ribbed cuffs. I had enough black ribbing left over from my black Rigel Bomber for the hem band and this stuff (which I think I got from UK Textiles on Goldhawk Road) is great. I picked up some more in Rolls and Rems for the cuffs. It was inexpensive which should have warned me about the quality. It has awful recovery and as it has to be stretched out quite far to be attached to the slightly blouson sleeve I just ended up with a huge stretched out cuff which wouldn't ping back to wrist size. I wound up buying some ready made acrylic ribbing cuffs from MacCulloch & Wallis which turned out great. These were much smaller than the cuff pattern piece included with the pattern so that makes me question the size of that. The ready made cuffs are not a cheap option but perhaps slightly more resilient and better suited for this purpose than ribbing on the roll.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

None of the pocket options on either jacket pattern were quite what I was after and the images that Dad gave me to refer to looked like simple pockets with large welts so I made them up! I would never have even attempted that a couple of years ago. I used the markings of the zip pockets from the McCalls pattern as a guide for placement and size as I knew that would work with the pocket bags that come with the pattern. To construct the welts I roughly followed the instructions from the Papercut Patterns Rigel Bomber which I've made for myself twice (here and here) and love. Before sewing the pocket lining to the front I sandwiched the welt in place between the two so it would be caught within the rectangle of stitching. When I pushed the lining through to the wrong side the welt flipped up into place and covered the opening. I then assembled the pocket bag behind before topstitching the ends of the welts down to secure.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

This makes it sound pretty straightforward and it should have been but I actually had a complete nightmare! The first pocket turned out beautifully and I was really proud of myself for figuring it out. But when I was cutting into the corners of the stitched rectangle to create the opening on the second one I managed to slice right through the end and almost a centimetre past where I should have stopped! It was a real nightmare moment! I thought about the ways I could rescue it but with the pocket bags being bright red tartan in contrast to the solid black exterior it was impossible to hide my mistake. Luckily I had way too much fabric in the first place and I could cut another front piece and start again. I was much more careful second time around!

The McCalls pattern is great and really enjoyable to sew. As its unisex I'd actually really like to make myself one, although I'm not sure how successful the sizing would be for ladies proportions. The sleeves in particular set in beautifully. The drafting is lovely and instructions thorough although this is one of those patterns that there are so many variations included that it makes following along with the instructions a little bit confusing as they are so many steps not to do with the view you are making. I'd complicated this for myself even further by doing my own thing with the pockets and collar of course.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

Aside from the size of the cuff pattern piece the only issue I encountered with the pattern is that it calls for a 24" separating zip for all sizes. Of course the length of the jacket varies a bit depending on the size you make so the length of zip you require does too. Its not the first time I have encountered this issue with the notions list on the back of the envelope and is incredibly frustrating. Luckily I waited until I had my jacket part assembled and could measure the length. For reference this jacket is a size medium and a 22" zip was spot on. I imagine the recommended 24" fits the large size. My zip is a YKK with metal teeth from Goldhawk Silks & Trimmings in Shepherds Bush but if you're wary about the length I'd recommend getting yours from John Lewis as you can return them. They're a little more expensive but worth it if it turns out to be the wrong size!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

I think men's clothing is a little less stressful to sew for others as the fit tends to be more straightforward. As this style is quite relaxed I just went for it, cut the relevant size and sewed it up. A little risky as it could have turned out way too small or big after all that work but I don't live near my Dad so it wasn't easy to get him to try anything on and I didn't want to keep him waiting any longer. I did make sure to measure the pattern pieces before I started to checked there wasn't a ridiculous big four sized amount of ease included but it seemed about right. Thankfully this really fits like a dream! It has just the amount of slouch I hoped for while still looking quite neat and Dad can get a jumper underneath if needs be. The only thing I did note is that the sleeves look a little short despite Dad not having usually long arms, so I might go back in and reduce the seam allowance on the cuff seam at some point to give an extra 1/2". That's if I can pry it off him...he wanted to wear it straight out when I gave it to him despite it being freezing cold here in the UK at the time! I'll have to try and catch him off-guard to get a modelled pic for you at some point.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7637 Tartan Lined Mens Harrington Jacket

The requests my Dad put in for the jacket really pushed me to play around with the pattern in ways I probably wouldn't if it was for myself. I love that it took me out of my comfort zone! Nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment as you give a garment a final press but now that I've been sewing for a number of years some more familiar projects and garments don't feel like such a big achievement. Finishing something unique like this was a real high and obviously being able to give one of your favourite people something you made just for them gives an extra buzz! 

15 comments:

  1. Wow! This turned out so professional looking. You did a great job, especially with all the modifications you made. Really impressive!

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    1. Thanks very much! I'm really delighted with how well it turned out as I felt like my modifications were going to look a bit haphazard!

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  2. This jacket is amazing Fiona. It's awesome that you turned your dads dream into a reality. Great review of the pattern and tip about the zip. I'm just about to make a size medium and have a size 22 zip.

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    1. Thanks so much Emma, that's a really lovely comment! It is so nice being able to be creative with my sewing now I have some confidence in my skills.
      It sounds like you made the right zip choice! How did you get on with the jacket?

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  3. Beautiful jacket and such a loving project! I'm sure it's not just the jacket your dad loves but that feeling he gets every time he puts it on that his talented daughter actually MADE it for him. It makes it SO truly his - original, hand made with love - what's more special than that? I can't imagine :)

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    1. Ah that comment has really warmed my heart Kathleen! That is the joy of sewing things for other people isn't it?!
      I hope he gets a lot of happy wear out of it

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  4. Absolutely wonderful job -- I bet your Dad will show off what a superb job you did (and that you MADE it just for him) every time someone comments on his terrific jacket. Congratuations! Deb E / Oregon

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    1. Thanks Deb, it sounds like he has been showing it off to a few people indeed! I'm so pleased that it turned out well and I could make it for him

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  5. Nice work! Really need to see a picture of the dad in the jacket though!

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    1. Thanks Shelley Lou. I'm going to try my best to get one! Unfortunately my family aren't very willing models! If I get one I'll put it up on my Instagram!

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  6. Wow that's fabulous. Such a neat finish. I really like the way you did the collar and lining, clever.

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    1. Thanks so much Mags, I'm especially pleased with how both the collar and lining turned out. It was a relief to figure out a way to achieve such a clean finish! The red and black combo mean any mistakes would really show!

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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!