I love menswear–tailored jackets, slouchy pants, crisp cotton shirts. The current styles are about as far away as you can get from menswear. I want to stay true to my look, but I hate feeling like I look dated. I have a fear of looking like I’m wearing my mother’s clothes (or that I have my mother’s haircut)! So I weave a few pieces of what looks new this season in with the tailored clothes I really love.
It seems like cropped, full jackets are everywhere! There are but a few long, fitted jackets to be found. If I tone down the fullness, this is a look I can live with. I found this jacket from Piazza Sempione (a line that I love) that combines the “new” elements of a short jacket and bright color. I think the bracelet length sleeves are attractive and current looking. I’m going to put it on my list of things to make, sooner rather than later because it will be a good topper before it gets really warm.
I just purchased a bright orange silk and cotton fabric that has good body–it will be just right for this design. I went to Saks to see the details of this jacket, it has wide elastic at the cuff and a small rather pointed collar. It should be fairly easy to find a pattern that I can adapt to this style. I think it would look better with longer (ankle) tapered pants. I always prefer long and slim under short and full.
I’m outside, rain or shine for my job and I’ve been wanting a jacket with a hood so that I don’t have to carry an umbrella unless it’s pouring. There are soooo many great anoraks out there (see one of my favorites in Spring Wardrobe ’08 part 1) and once I found this Neue Mode Pattern it was easy to come up with a great design. (You can find this pattern at My Notions.com)
I used a black silk shantung I had in my stash. It was super easy to work with and has my favorite fabric quality, it presses beautifully with nice sharp creases. Neue Mode patterns don’t have seam allowances included 🙁 and I’m just too lazy to draw all those seamlines, so I added seam allowances only where I had to–around the hood opening, the center front, the armseye and sleeve head. Then I used one size larger than normal. This worked out fine, in fact the pattern is so over-sized that I still had to take in the side seam allowances about 1 1/2″ on each side side (for a total of 6″!).
The pattern does not include lining, but I used the pattern pieces to cut a lining from a heavy satin. This gives the anorak a nice, hefty weight and it will be quite warm. Because I lined the jacket, I formed the casing by stitching the lining to the silk. I used elastic and sewed a 2″ wide belt to the ends of the elastic.
I used View A for length and added a 2″ band to the bottom to give the jacket a nice finishing at the hem.
I used the pocket from View C, but instead of regular zippers, I used invisible zippers for a sleeker look.
I wanted to use 3/4″ silver snaps, a la Prada, but I tried a sample and they just don’t work! I’ve never had luck with the snap kits available at the fabric store. Next time I’ll try to find a source online for commercial snaps. So I used covered buttons instead and I like the look, they go well with the dressy fabric.
Here’s a picture of the hood pattern piece. If you can see, I added a 1/4″ seam allowance around the front opening. I didn’t even draw it on, I just added it as I cut-out the pattern. I also added an overlap for the buttons and button holes. I added plenty (around 3″) and trimmed it to fit as I was sewing.
I added a cuff and pleated in the fullness of the sleeve to fit the cuff. I used a method for constructing the cuff that gives a nice square finish:
1. Interface cuff
2. Sew cuff to sleeve bottom, right sides together
3. Fold seam allowances to inside, fold long edge first and then the short ends
4. Fold cuff on fold line and topstitch into place
This works especially well on fabrics the press nicely.
I just ordered a dressform so I can take better pictures of my creations. It’s about time I had one, I’ve been sewing for over 30 years!
To achieve the best results in tailored jackets and coats, know your limitations! Don’t try to make a fully tailored jacket in a light weight, light colored fabric; the inside structure is sure to show through. Fabrics with texture and subtle pattern are most forgiving. Natural fibers are easiest to press and that is half the battle of a beautifully made garment. If you have trouble with welt pockets, make a “fake” flap and skip the pocket. If you can’t topstitch straight, skip it. Some details are worth the extra time they take: Understitch seams wherever you can. Add mitered corners to reduce bulk. Hand tape roll lines so lapels fall correctly. Grade each fabric layer in seam allowances. Use a damp press cloth for crisp seams (use a seam roll to prevent seam allowance show through).
My favorite tailoring book: Easy, Easier, Easiest Tailoring by Pati Palmer and Susan Pletsch
I know fabric in ready to wear garments is not preshrunk, so I never preshrink. So far, I’ve never had a problem. If this makes you nervous, have fabric steam pressed or dry cleaned before you start
Steam fusible interfacing before fusing– place interfacing, resin side down on fabric, hold steaming iron 1-2″ above interfacing for 5-10 seconds. Watch it shrink!
Use Easy Knit to underline all pattern pieces; this keeps edges of interfacing and hand stitches from showing through. It adds body and some bulk to fashion fabric. Mark darts on the Easy Knit, cut out the dart, and fuse. This marks the dart perfectly on the fabric and reduces bulk in the dart
For a softly tailored garment, a la Armani, use the Easy Knit method above and very lightweight interfacing
For a perfect sleeve cap: Cut a bias strip 1 1/2″ wide and 12″ long from lambswool (the lining in neckties) or from a soft, loosely woven fabric. Stitch the lambswol to the wrong side of the sleeve head, from notch to notch, just inside the seam line, pulling slighltly taut as you sew. This adds a little ease so sleeve fits into armhole and gives the sleeve head a nice, rounded shape. Always stitch the sleeve into the armseye with sleeve against feed dogs and the jacket side up. A sleeve head is still needed!
I like to use rayon twill lining to add some body
Topstitch from 1/4” to 1/2″ from edge. The bulkier the fabric, the further away. Use a long stitch–6″ to 8″ per inch
Use a felt, suede or ultrasuede undercollar. My favorite method comes from an old Butterick Pattern magazine. (See instuctions in Tutorials) Miter the corners of the uppercollar when turning under the edge
Pressing is important, but too much makes a garment look old and worn out. I take my jackets and coats to the dry cleaners for a final press. Or, hang a jacket in the closet, sandwiched snugly between other clothes to “press” the lapel
NEVER press on the right side without a press cloth
Creases can be set by spraying with a solution of 25% vinegar, 75% water, covering with a press cloth and steam pressing on cotton setting
I’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of planning my wardrobe a day or two before I’m in need of something and then sewing it with a pattern and fabric I have on hand (no time to shop) and finishing it an hour before I’m leaving (when I could be taking a leisurely shower and carefully doing my hair and make-up), this spring I’m going to sew a little in advance.
This has some advantages:
1) I’ll feel organized because I’ll have what I need hanging in my closet, ready to go
2) I’ll have time to find the perfect fabric (usually online), pattern, buttons, etc. to create exactly what I see in my mind’s eye
3) I can poke around the stores for the perfect accessories and coordinites for my outfits (shopping at the beginning of the season when the selection is best)
4) Hopefully I can inspire you with plenty of time to create similar fashions for yourselves
and some disadvantages:
1) I work best under pressure and when I have an event in mind it’s easy to plan exactly what I want to wear
2) What if I finally lose that last 10 lbs.? My clothes will be too big! (ha, ha–I’ve been using that excuse for years)
3) My stash will probably grow instead of shrink, after all, you have to grab it when you see it because great fabric is hard to find!
So, to start my experiment I will first look for inspiration. I’ll start by perusing the photos from the spring fashion shows on Style.com. In addition, I have files of pictures I’ve torn from magazines and although some are from previous seasons, sometimes the styles have caught on and feel more wearable than when they were brand new. And I have the current fashion magazines which will help me find the most wearable trends. When I’m out, I’ll stop by my favorite stores to see what’s new and pick up a piece or two to get me started.
So far, this is what I’ve found:
This is from the Brian Reyes’ 2006 collection. It would be good for early spring when the temperature is still cold, but you’re ready for lighter colors and fabrics.
This jacket is from my archive of pictures, I don’t know whose designed it. A jacket like this is one of the first things I’ll make–it will be warm with a sweater in early spring and then a good rain jacket.
Another good season spanner, this jacket and pants can be made in light weight wool that will feel less wintery when it’s snowing in April. It’s from my picture archive from Spring ’07. It’s hard to see the details in the jacket, but what I like is the silhouette, pulled in at the waist which creates a peplum look. I can see it in wool crepe or something with some stretch, like heavy wool jersey or double knit.
This outfit looks so modern–it’s from the Badgley Mischka Spring ’08 RTW collection. I always feel like some bright color and pattern in the early spring when it’s usually bleak and cloudy.
Finally, I have to put this green trench coat on my “to do” list as I’ve been craving it since last year. I don’t know the designer, but something about the color makes it wearable with anything from jeans to dresses in any season.
I’ll start looking for fabrics for these designs and in the meantime, I’m going to make the Nanette Lepore knock-off top to go with the black silk skirt I’m altering.