Jacket Weather–Sewing a Tailored Jacket

This is the perfect time of year to sew a tailored blazer or sport coat (I recently learned the difference between the two…a blazer is associated with school jackets having patch pockets and solid color fabric, sport coats evolved from jackets worn for hunting, etc. with many configurations of pockets, flaps and tabs, usually in a tweedy wool fabric), and here in Chicago, the jacket days are dwindling, made more unmistakeable by our recent snowstorm.  Jackets are perfect for days when a sweater isn’t quite warm enough but coats are overkill…sunny days that begin cool and end several degrees warmer. You can layer a T-shirt under a button-down shirt under a sweater under a jacket and remove pieces as the day wears on.

Example of tailored school boy blazer
From Ralph Lauren, king of prep, a classic blazer


Example of a tailored sport coat type jacket
…and typical tweedy sport coat











I decided I need to sew a sport coat type tailored jacket and my fabric stash has plenty of tweedy wools. I was attracted to this jacket by Joie from fall/winter 2017:

Tailored jacket from Joie Fall and Winter line
from Joie 2017 fall/winter

Love the black and white herringbone with those blush pink cords! If I’m going to spend the time to tailor a jacket, no way am I going to make a shawl collar or black elbow patches, or anything that will make it look dated in a couple of years. I want a fully lined, notch-collared, welt pocketed challenge, something that will send me on deep dives into the internet for ideas and tutorials, something that will get every sewing book off my shelf and opened. And it has, it has…

Finding the Right Pattern

The first challenge was to find a pattern. I’m showing my age, but I long for the days when Vogue Patterns offered complicated, tailored, designer patterns…the Oscar de la Rentas, Calvin Kleins, Geoffrey Beenes and yes, Ralph Laurens. Patterns that had details that were worth the time and effort and produced couture quality clothing. Today, it’s hard to find a truly tailored jacket pattern, with design lines that set it apart from dumbed-down jacket patterns, not that I don’t like to sew a simpler jacket sometimes. I looked through my pattern stash…lots of nice tailored jacket patterns… pre-1995…with huge shoulders, I did try to re-cut a pattern with big shoulders once, but it was a nightmare and did not produce good results.

Finding the Right Fit

Then I found Michael Kors Vogue 2986 (discontinued) and, according to my notes on the pattern envelope, I had made it before, how lucky I thought, I can try it on and see how it fits. Wrong. It seems in an effort to keep my life pared-down, I must have donated it. Then I remembered, I blogged about making this jacket way back in 2008, how the years go by.  My post (aka my diary), reminding me that I made lots of changes to this pattern to recreate a Phillip Lim number (tastes change), http://Phillip Lim 3.1 Knock-off Jacket. It helped me undo some pattern changes, easy ones, like adding length back on, but one was hard, I trimmed-down the lapel (hard to change back) and raised the roll line, easy to change but not sure it would look ok with the narrower lapel. A muslin was in order, here’s how it turned out:

my muslin of tailored jacket pattern Vogue 2986
Ill-fitting jacket muslin

Do you see the folds, one in the chest area near the shoulder, the other at the waist? Do you see how the shoulder hangs down my arm? Do you see the befuddled look on my face? This jacket is too big! Even with a long-sleeved T-shirt and sweater underneath. Time to get those fitting books off the shelf…

Fall Front Door Decoration

My favorite Fall colors are burgundy and purple. Not sure if that came about from the Fall asters in the fields where I walk my dog or some beautiful fabric I ran across one time or another. Sure I like to add some orange and maybe yellow but rarely brown. I wanted burgundy planters to decorate either side of my front door, I had some metal ones bought at IKEA and not used, so I decided to paint!

I made a little enclosure before spray painting so I wouldn’t paint the grass:

painted planter

To make the planter look more interesting, I sponged on a darker color with a metallic sheen: Voila! Perfect planters for my fall display. I bought the coleus at half price when annuals were on sale in August, planted the pots and put them under a tree in my back yard and they grew like weeds! (Can’t even see the planters, but I know they’re there!)   



A Shirt Dress for My New Teacher


Plaid Flannel Shirtdress

Plaid Flannel Shirt Dress

I always sew a lot of Christmas gifts. All year, my kids, husband and friends ask me to make things for them and usually I say “no”. Sewing is time consuming and I don’t have enough time to sew what I want for myself. After Thanksgiving, I devote the weeks until Christmas to making gifts. I’m rarely finished in time and often give a box of wrapped fabric with a promise to sew something. This year was particularly bad because we threw a graduation party for my daughter on December 20th.  The party was great but it put me even more behind than usual and I’m just finishing my gifts now.

Donna Karan shirt pattern
Donna Karan shirt pattern

For this dress, I used Vogue 1462, by Donna Karan. It’s a shirt pattern that I lengthened a little and I added a belt. The pattern went together very nicely and it has an easy, full fit.

On a trip to Germany last summer, I bought a shirt with a very small collar that looks so cool to me. Most blouse patterns have huge collars but this one looked small in the sketch on the back of the pattern envelope. It turned out to be quite big, but I like the rounded shape. I have given her the dress, so I can’t take better pictures, but she promised to send me a picture of her wearing it, which I will post.

I ordered the flannel from Fabric.com, they don’t have the same plaid anymore. It was nice to work with, I meticulously matched the plaids, so it must be a pretty well woven fabric to be able to do that.

I used a new method to attach the collar band, it turned-out well. Found it on a cute blog, Four Square Walls. Instead of constructing the collar band first and then attaching it, you attach the underside collar band to the neckline and then construct the band. It makes it easier to end the collar band at exactly the edge of the front band. Always love to learn a new technique, thanks Andrea!



Dancing in the Streets!


Graduation!After 12 years of tuition, room, board, books and extras, my 3 children are all graduated! And, they’re all working! Celebrate!

This is Jana, number 3, and her boyfriend Cory earlier this month. She started a long-term substitute position in a 5th grade classroom a couple of weeks ago. She’s going to be a fantastic teacher!

I’m proud of all of my babies, they are working hard and are wonderful young adults, whom I call my best friends.

Yippy! Time to sew!