Tag Archives: Jean Jacket

Apparently I am learning how to sew

Finally stitched!

In particular, when it came time to stitch up the “waist” band on this cropped little jean jacket, I was able to topstitch along the entire length, from the outside, and successfully catch the underside along the whole length! Cue bugles, triumphal marches, and possibly even choirs of angels.

Of course, the nice, crisp hand of my denim and the straight edge didn’t hurt, but still, I feel like I was very careful feeling my way along, making sure the fabric was where it needed to be on the bottom and all that. I felt like I knew the little tricks the fabric was likely to pull, and what I had to watch out for—and how to watch out for it. Woohoo!

Back view

Which is not to say that this jacket is anything like flawless (I did mention the collar points before, didn’t I?), but on the whole it came together pretty well. The fabric was thin (for denim) and crisp enough that my machine did the buttonholes with scarcely a whimper.

If I decide to do another such jacket, I’ll increase the bust shaping in the front, as it’s a bit minimal—not that it doesn’t fit, mind you, but when your assets are, ah, modest, a bit more shaping that nature strictly requires can be a fine thing. Also the “waist” band is pretty loose—not problematically so, but it could have an inch or so less ease without even beginning to feel snug.

I’m a little regretful that I didn’t topstitch the front sleeve seam… I suppose I could still do it if I really wanted to, I’m just a little doubtful of my ability to do it neatly.

The buttons look as snazzy and shiny as I had hoped. I had two sizes available; I used the larger ones for the front and the smaller size for the pockets and cuffs.

Cuff (linked)

For the cuff buttons, I linked two buttons together with thread and blanket-stitched along the little length of thread between them to make a short bar. This was kinda a pain as the thread kept trying to miss the button, but while the end result was a bit messy, it doesn’t show, so I shan’t complain.

I went on about the construction at fair length here, so I won’t belabour it too much more. Incidentally, as you can see in the interior shots in the other post, there really are little pockets under those chest flaps, although they’re so tiny (and in such a location) that I probably won’t actually use them much. I’m still glad they’re there. Flaps without pockets would annoy me—but apparently flaps with vestigial pockets are fine.

Now, I just need the weather to shape up enough so I can wear it. Today is the first day in over a week that it hasn’t snowed, so that’s a good sign!


In Me-Made March News,

MMM day 29

I can’t believe that Me-Made March is almost done! I’ll try to spare you my requisite freak-out about time passing… it’s not that I’m that messed up about growing older, but when every month is one less of funding you have left, looking forward to the future is a bit hard. I’m sure everyone who’s ever done contract work knows the feeling.

Today I’m wearing my skinny jeans and this blue short-sleeved Lydia top (pre-dating many of the tweaks that made this pattern actually fit me), which incidentally is the exact same outfit I started off the month in. But I have my cropped jacket, so that’s different, at least (even if the denim of the jacket and the denim of the pants don’t match at all)

I have to admit, I find these cropped jackets surprisingly nice for wearing around the house. Someone commented that their tummy would get cold, but I really find that having the extra layer around my upper body is warm enough—and anything that gets me out of my bunnyhug* is a plus in my world. If I could just train myself to wear slippers, I’d be snug as a bug.

*Central Saskatchewanese for “hoodie.” And no, Saskatchewanese is not a word.



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The Great Thread Crisis of 2011

Cropped Jean Jacket---progress report.

It is with some difficulty that I am refraining from titling this post “The Great Snow Crisis”, since it’s snowed, I think, every single day this week. But since I’m trying to keep this blog about sewing, rather than the weather (something it can be very hard for a Canadian to do…), I’m instead going to restrict myself to lamenting about thread.

In particular, my lack of it.

Not just the lack of red thread which is preventing me from

Cropped jean-jacket, rear view

finishing my cropped jean-jacket—that was almost to be expected, since I started the project with less than two medium-sized spools and the triple-stitch topstitching I’ve been using is extremely thread-hungry—but I’ve also run out of basic black, of which I always have at least two and often three or four spools kicking around. So naturally I figured, when I used up my last one, that I must have one somewhere. Apparently not. Even worse, I’m completely unable to rectify the situation as I’m home carless today as the hubby is working, and retaining the car on a day when he’s working requires getting up at an obscenely early hour and driving him halfway across town to work. OK, it’s not halfway, but in any decently-sized city (as opposed to this monstrosity of urban sprawl we inhabit) it would be halfway. Were I in full health, and feeling masochistic, I could bundle up the children and walk down to Zellers, which is my nearest likely source of halfway-decent thread*, but the two-block walk to the grocery store the other day still almost did me in, and the thought of trying to wrangle children all the way to Zellers, in the snow… well, let’s just say it’s unpleasant. Times like these are the only ones where I miss the stroller days, although I never had a properly snow-worthy stroller anyways. Anyway, jean jacket. Frustrating to be so close—although really, I’m getting to the point where “close” becomes “annoying finishing details”… buttonholes etc.

So, details…

Collar attachment

I used Sherry’s technique for putting in the collar, which is very lovely and saved me from hand-slip-stitching the interior, which is my usual fall-back. My only complaint is that her method for tacking the facing to the shoulder-seams didn’t really work with how I was trying to finish the shoulder seams on mine, so I’ll have to tack those down by hand. Otherwise, it’s a treat, though.

See how cool my cuffs will be?

I decided to go a little whimsical for the cuffs because, well, I could, so I’m going for a sort of flared, cuff-linked look. This actually went together better than I thought it might, and the sharp, pointed ends on the cuffs came out much better than the ones on the collar.

The sleeve-caps have a bit too much height for denim (which doesn’t ease for shite), but I think what will be a very reasonable amount of ease for normal fabrics. I did end up taking in the shoulder about 1 cm, which suggests that the original shoulder-length is fine after all (I had increased it by 1 cm when I graded up the pattern after my first muslin). Armscye depth and range of mobility seem to be good. There are a few wrinkles forming to the front of the sleeve, but mild enough that I think I’ll leave them be at least for the moment.

Jacket closeup, with interior shot.

The collar still needs some work. I think the height of the stand is about right as it’s folded (in the upper images), but as you can see in the rear shot the roll doesn’t quite cover this in the back. And I need to give up the dream of sharply-curved front points and just have sharp points… I’m not capable, even with severely shortened stitches, of making such a narrow curve neatly. Not twice, anyway (and certainly not the six times including topstitching on the jean jacket).

One little fact that slipped my mind when I was drafting the front band/facing is that

Interior closeup

since I didn’t subtract anything from the CF for the band, I actually added 3cm across the front. In my head I thought of this as overlap, but of course, only half of it is. My bad. It doesn’t seem to mess with the fit, particularly, so I’m not going to bother with it this time, but it’s something to keep in mind next time I want a jacket with a front band. I imagine you learn this sort of thing in pattern-drafting classes, as opposed to when you just decide to jump in without having a clue what you’re doing.

I’m going to use some of my haul of vintage metal buttons from last week, which should give a nice added bling.

In Me-Made March news,

you can see I’m wearing the 70s dress today. I can get away with this because I’m going nowhere at all, and was hoping to photograph the cowl-sleeved jacket at some point today. I haven’t because I’m still lacking a really good place to take pictures (as you can tell by the poor-light shots of the jacket) and there’s no point in taking a second round of half-ass photos. I will just say that I love, love, love how this dress looks with a cropped little *something* on top—be it the cowl-sleeved jacket, the 50s shrug, or even the jean jacket, which is completely the wrong sort of style for it.

*I find it a bit disturbing that I can buy a sewing machine at at least three different places within walking-distance, but fabric at none of them.


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Lots and lots of little bits of paper

Playing with paper (MMM day 24)

As I continue to try and fail to shake off the dregs of this cold, I’ve been messing with paper, seeing how far I can push my blastula-stage pattern-drafting skills. As part of the greater goal of the Springy Coat, I wanted to test a two-piece sleeve and a tall-standing collar. For whatever reason, I find it more satisfying to try this on an (at least attempted) actual garment.

I’ve been considering making a cropped jean-jacket for myself pretty much since last summer when I made my children jean jackets and discovered that I could, with a little wriggling, actually get into Tyo’s. At the time I had considered just trying to grade up (and shape) the Burda kids’ pattern I was using, but, now that I have this fitted, cropped jacket bodice, well, why not use that?

Of course, jean-jackets aren’t traditionally princess-seamed. So I needed to approximate the darted block that the princess-seamed version would’ve been derived from. This was not a particularly scientific process, which mostly involved tracing out the pieces adjacent to each other, using the gaps as the legs of the dart, and estimating an apex which may or may not turn out to be in anything like the right place. Ah well. Once I had that estimated, I should’ve made a muslin of the darted bodice (which would be useful for all kinds of things…) but I didn’t—I skipped straight ahead to marking off the seam-lines for yokes and panels and doing my best to incorporate my darts into the taper between the panels. I even drafted a front-band/facing (granted not until after I had all the other pieces pinned on my fabric and realized it was missing, but still.

I don’t think I want to admit too much about my process for drafting the two-piece sleeve. There’s plenty of instructions on how to do this out there, and Claire was even generous enough to email me hers, and I still just went ahead and winged it. The finished product looks kinda generally similar to the sleeve I used for my winter coat, so I’m hopeful that it will work.

Jean-jacket pieces

Hopeful enough, anyway, that I went through my denim stash, and eventually settled on the same light-weight, sparkly denim I used for the kids’ jackets. There was just around a metre left, which as it turns out is just about enough to lay out a cropped jean-jacket pattern on, leaving enough left over to make the bottom band which I haven’t actually bothered to draft a pattern for yet (I still have trouble with rectangular pattern pieces… it always seems easier to just measure. Except for pieces to be cut on the bias, anyway…)

I settled on some red bias-tape from stash for binding the seams (I know a jean-jacket should be flat-felled, but I like the flash of colour from the bound seams), red thread for topstitching, and the last remnants of red cotton from my very first JJ blouse (which in tun was the remnant from a dance skirt a few years back) for the under-collar and pocket lining. I probably could have squeezed the undercollar from the denim, but I like the contrast of the coloured undercollar. Since the red is basically a cotton gauze, I interfaced with some super-light knit interfacing, which gave it a better body, except for the pocket-lining part, anyway.

And I started merrily sewing away. Seam were bound, tops were stitched, and I would probably be there still, rather than writing this post… except that my pocket flaps have gone AWOL.

So until they surface, I guess I’ll be tidying my kitchen.

In Me Made March news,

MMM 25, with accessory.

more unglamorous shots from a singularly unglamorous week. Yesterday, pictured at the top of the post, and was another day of not-leaving-the-house-trying-to-keep-my-lungs-in-my-chest. Today the children have no school (boo) but student-led conferences (which is like parent-teacher interviews but less fun), so I had to make myself a wee bit more presentable.

Not especially successful cowl top

Ellen Pants

Winter Coat


Oh, yes, and in the photo from yesterday I’m wearing my very first Jalie Jeans, which just shows how far down the wearables list I’m getting ;)… they’re stubbornly refusing to disintegrate on me, but they are definitely off the A list, mostly due to poor topstitching, although the fabric (which I never liked, but it was cheap) doesn’t help. And of course my Kimono Lady Grey, which you’ve already seen umpteen-bajillion times. I really need to make myself more sweaters. Don’t worry, that’s in the works too, but first I need to get all these little jackets out of my system…


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The kids’ jean jackets are done! In all their pain-in-the-butt imperfect glory. Be amazed. Be awed. Rejoice (with me) that my fingers survived all that snap-setting.

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Second Kids' Jean Jacket

As usual, I can’t wait until the thing is fully finished. Sorry. Also I ran out of topstitching thread, so I’m not going to be able to finish it until tomorrow.

This project has been such a brat, and it’s all my fault. It’s like my brain was broken; I was incapable of

Second kids' jean jacket---back

thinking logically about the order in which it had to be constructed. Not looking at the instructions didn’t help, but I didn’t really look at them last time and it went much better. I have no excuses. It was simple incompetence, with perhaps a dose of hubris. Hopefully I’ll learn my lesson, o great Sewing Gods.

I figured out my problem with the collar being too big, by the way. I had been trying to fit it on only the jacket part. It is, of course, supposed to extend to the centre front on both sides—that is, about halfway across the front placket. The collar on the JJ blouse is exactly the same (except its button placket is cut on, not sewn on). Heck, pretty much any collar that doesn’t have a stand is done like this.

Inside---pocket linings and bias binding

And it took me two tries to figure this out (too late). In my defense, the illustration shows the inside (facing) so you can’t really tell where the collar should end relative to the band, but still. My bad. My stupid.

Ok, let’s look at the positives. The lace worked out surprisingly well. I might have used a bit more, but I ran out (seriously, I bought two metres. Who could imagine a jean-jacket could use up two metres of lace??). The pearl snaps are very cute, and much easier to put in now I have the proper tools. The topstitching is relatively flawless. The wider bias-binding inside

Snazzy under-collar

worked very nicely, and there’s only one seam I proceeded to fold and topstitch the wrong way (can you spot it?). I like the touch of colour and pattern inside, and on the under-collar (I should probably have interfaced the undercollar, too, rather than just adding a second layer of the seersucker. I am reasonably confident that my seven-year-old will not give a crap at all about my various booboos.

I may still give in and get some crystal iron-ons or something equally twee for both jackets. Even with the lace, this one’s very plain, and the other even more so.


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My new Button Stash

Yes, I am weak. I think we’ve established that. Today, I gave in to the lure of the Bag of Mixed Buttons. These things call to me. You see, my mother has a button stash. My grandmother has a button stash (two or three, actually). In fact, a good chunk of my mother’s button stash used to be my great-grandmother’s. Me, I have no button stash. And my forebears are not yet ready to part with theirs (they get real squirrely when I ask, too.)

So today, when I was at Zellers to buy thread, they had big mixed bags for five bucks, and I caved.

Now, this is not the way to acquire a button stash, I know. Ideally one should be accumulated over the years from buttons snipped off of worn-out garments, or at least bought at a garage sale or thrift store from some old lady’s accumulation. Added to here and there with truly magnificent finds, like a fabric stash. Doing what I did is kinda like buying a garbage bag full of random fabrics to create your stash. But I couldn’t resist any longer. I’m sorry. There are lots of fake pearl ones, which I love. A few big funky ones that might be worthy of a Lady Grey coat some day. Some brightly coloured ones that would be good for kids clothes. And some that are just butt-ugly and cheap looking. A fair number of sets of six to twenty matching ones, which was one of my fears of buying a bag like this. I don’t know if this will actually curtail my project-related button buying, but you never know. At least this way any extra buttons I have left over will have company.

On the sewing front, as you may have guessed, I’m struggling along with the jean jacket for my younger daughter. This got off to a really good start last night.

Today, not so much.

I really should read pattern instructions. Even the second time round. It’s not that I don’t know how things are constructed—I just forget steps. Or do them out of order. Like forgetting to attach the front button placket/facing before I sewed the shoulder seam. Or forgetting to leave the gap for the sleeve placket when I stitched the two pieces of the sleeve together. And then topstitched them. And then sewed the lace down over that. Frankly just a lot of stupidity that could have been avoided by actually thinking. Or, failing that, reading the instructions. Also some of the same issues from the first version are occurring—the front yoke was a smidge too wide. I did manage to get the front band/facing fitting right this time, so my issues last time around were presumably user error. And, most distressingly, the collar is too big. This was not such an issue last time; I just shortened one side. The difference isn’t noticeable.

This time, I had lace sandwiched between the upper and under collar, so that its edges would just peek out when it was folded right-side out. No shortening that. I managed to get the undercollar side sewn on (with a few tucks… fortunately, it’s made oft the same seersucker as the pocket linings, so it was much more amenable to easing than the denim would be) and I’ll sew the denim upper side in by hand, which should let me fudge it. Pooey. Possibly this is also user error—I’m not the best at collars—but I haven’t had this much trouble with the other collars I’ve done this year, which is actually at least eight. Eight collars! Wow, I’m a pro!

Anyway, bedliness beckons. Here’s hoping tomorrow brings smooth sailing, or at least smoother sewing. Once I get this one done, I can make something for ME!!!


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Do YOU see what's wrong?

I would be less ticked if I hadn’t broken my seam ripper last week, and forgotten to get a new one when I picked up thread this morning.


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Isn’t it amazing

2nd kids' jean jacket, under way.

how having the right tools at hand makes all the difference? You may (or may not) recall how nuts I went trying to install these pretty pearl snaps on my older daughter’s jean jacket. I never did get any put in that actually functioned. The one at the link above looks cute but doesn’t stay snapped to save its life. I couldn’t get any other ones to even attach properly.

So, last weekend, I put on my big-girl panties and  bought the little tool (along with a bunch more snaps, since they had a colour they hadn’t had before, that I liked better… I know, I know). And last night I cut out and got started on the construction for the younger daughter’s jean jacket.

So far, it’s going well. I like the lace around the pocket flap; hopefully I’ll remember to put it in a couple of other seams so it doesn’t look totally weird.  I get to use up more of that damn seersucker fabric (featured here and here) for the pockets and bias binding. Actually it’s a perfectly good fabric, I just didn’t realize how far 2m would go when it’s not really suitable for anything but clothes for little girls. I made the bias binding much wider this time (a whole 5 cm!) and it’s much easier to sew evenly. I think I’m slowly getting a bit better at cutting bias binding. The amount I have to trim off kills me, though. It’s almost as wide as the entire binding I used in the first jean jacket.

There is one problem, however. When I was purchasing this denim, I didn’t have the envelope with me. I had written down about 1.5 m for each jacket—actually 1 5/8 yards, but of course fabric is sold by the metre. I figured this was a good, if slightly generous, conversion. I forgot that this was the yardage for 45″ wide fabric, and the denim I got is more like 60″. I bought 3m.

Each of these jackets took less than a metre of fabric. I have at least a metre and a half of sparkly denim left over.

I guess I’m going to be sewing more kids’ jeans.

Just not right now.

And, on that note, I should really get to work. Also, I’m out of white thread.

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OK, you get the idea.

Nearly done!

Sorry. Once again, impatience gets the better of me. It’s still missing the decorative snaps, but I’m showing it off anyway. In all its flawed glory. I did not include closeups of the places (cry) where I accidentally snipped the fabric with the scissors while trimming threads.

Kids' jean jacket---back

So… pattern? Nice. The front yoke seemed too wide and the front facing width was a little wonky in its width as well. Perhaps related? Perhaps due to flaws in my tracing or my failure to read the instructions carefully. I didn’t, by the way. Read the instructions, I mean. I’m not really such an advanced sewist that I should skip that, I

Front snaps!

know. It’s a bad habit. Otherwise it all went together very nicely.

As mentioned before, my bias bindiing on the inside is not the greatest. However, it is a nice flash of colour! You can see where I added in the pockets.

Today’s big experiment was the snaps. I went out and picked up two kinds, the plain silver heavy duty ones, and some cute little pearl ones. Unfortunately, I assumed that the hammer/punch tools that came with the heavy duty ones would be adequate to attach the pearl ones. (and if not, I’ve got a bunch of other punch/hammer/dies from grommets—surely something would work). Foolish, foolish me. I did manage to get one

Cute snap! Too bad it's broken!

installed on one of the waistband tabs (after cracking the pearl in two others). It looks good. But it doesn’t snap—it won’t stay shut. And I didn’t


have enough of the big silver ones to do the decorative snaps (tabs, pocket flaps). So I’ll have to go back to the store. For more heavy duty snaps, or for the right hammering tools? We’ll see.

The sleeve shoulder topstitching was a pain in the butt.

Ooooh… look at how nicely I managed to get the undersleeve seam to match up to the back yoke seam!:

Back yoke seam matches sleeve underarm seam!

Too bad I didn’t manage to do it on the other side!

I am thinking of entering it (or the second one, which may be a little less imperfect) to the PatternReview children’s sewing contest this month. Exciting, no?

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Burda 9610 jacket

On Burda 9610.

Have the body and sleeves mostly constructed; just need to add cuffs, attach sleeves, add the waistband, and of course get a bunch of snaps, since I’ve decided to go with snaps. The trickiest part so far was figuring out how to insert the pockets, as the pattern itself

Inside---showing pocket inserts and Hong Kong bindings on seams

doesn’t have any. However, they are in, mostly correctly. I’m using Gigi’s tutorial on Hong Kong seam bindings to finish the inside seams. I’m not as good at it as she is. I think part of my problem is that I don’t cut my bias strips wide enough. Anyway, Hong Kong binding + topstitching means each seam in this jacket (and there are a lot!) is stitched 4 times! Crazy. I found myself trying to adjust the construction process to minimize number of times I had to re-thread the sewing machine. Oh, I also figured out a workaround to increase my machine’s tension so the topstitching thread isn’t (or is less) loopy on the inside. You know how when you’re winding a bobbin the thread goes from the spool around that little doohickey on the top before it goes to the bobbinator? Well, (at least on my machine) that doohickey has a bit of a spring on it for catching the thread and adding some tension. I found that by winding my thread around that thing before threading it through the rest of the machine, I got a LOT more tension. No more

Front side pocket. On examining my RTW jean jacket, these pocket linigns are cut as part of the jacket pieces, folded to the inside. Not a bad idea. Ah, well---next time.

loopiness underneath! Unfortunately, I didn’t think to try this until I was about two-thirds of the way along, so there’s a lot of loopy topstitching. Ah well. Live and learn. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to use the darker (right) side of the fabric or the lighter, shinier (wrong) side. So I used both! Keeping track of which was which was a bit of a pain, though.

Sleeve seams and bindings

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