I got your Christmas miracle here. Mario's jacket is done. As am I.
Now, the burning question - what the hell am I going to wear for Christmas?
Here's the review:
Pattern Description: Our slim-cut sport jacket will catapult his outfit from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds. Flapped patch pockets are eye-catching details. That sounds interesting, but it doesn't really tell you much. It's a 4 button, front-darted jacket with side vents and a center back seam, with two piece sleeves.
There will be photos of Mario wearing the jacket, but not until Christmas Day. I didn't want to wait until then to get the review up, because I still can't believe it's done!
Pattern Sizing: BWOF men's sizes 46-52. I made a blended size that basically runs the gamut from 46-50. Since he is 5'6", I shortened the pattern at several places throughout the body so that he didn't look like he was wearing his dad's jacket, which is always an issue for him in suit jackets. I also shortened the sleeves accordingly.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? The general shape is the same, but I did change some details, such as swapping the pleated pockets for plain ones because of my fabric.
Were the instructions easy to follow? It's a 3 1/2 dot BWOF pattern. Since the instructions on 1 dot patterns can be convoluted, we won't even talk about these.
Well, okay, I'll talk about them. They were pretty bad, but by reading ever. so. slowly. I was able to understand now to put the collar together, and I was completely lost when I tried it last time. It's one of those techniques that makes absolutely no sense when you read it, so you just have to take it on faith that they know what they're talking about, and follow along. If you've made a few jackets before, you'll be able to puzzle these out.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I've been wanting to make DBF a good jacket for a while. He's been resistant, mostly because he doesn't like how he looks in suit jackets. That's because, since he's shorter, they're never the right length on him. Altering the pattern to fit his height made all the difference - the hem of the jacket hits where it should, instead of 1.5" lower.
I liked the styling of the jacket - a little bit edgier than his usual taste, but because of the fabric I chose, not as out there as it could have been. I like the slim fit and the 4 button front, rather than a more conventional "suit jacket" cut.
In the beginning, I really liked the pleated pockets. I made them and pinned them on, and I no longer liked them - in the check, they just seemed too . . . something. I didn't like how the checks looked when the pocket was folded. I made up one plain patch pocket and gave him the option, and so long as he could still have the button flaps, he agreed that the plain pockets looked better. Here's what the final pocket looks like.
Fabric Used: Wool houndstooth check purchased at Paron's in NYC with brown lining from Jomar. THe wool was on Paron's $5 per yard remnant table, so the fabric for the jacket cost less than $15. Lining, interfacing, shoulder pads and fusible hair canvas, well, that took the price up a bit. Buttons were from stash - I gave him a choice, and he picked the safest buttons out of the lot. That's what I get for offering options!
Of course, I also offered him a choice of thread colors for the buttonholes, and he did well there, picking the tan that matched the background color.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Very minimal changes. My original idea, back when I first got the magazine, was to do the upper collar and the pocket flaps in leather. I attempted to make this jacket back in September, and I used leather for the upper collar, and flaps, but I also messed up the collar so spectacularly that I chucked it out and started over. I would have liked to use leather this time - it would have jazzed the jacket up some - but the only leather I have right now is too heavy and I didn't want to put off working on this until I got up to NY for the right leather; at that point, the jacket would have been for Christmas 2011. I decided this time to take it slower and make it in a fabric where I could pick stitches if I needed to.
Things I wouldn't necessarily call changes: I cut the under-collar in two pieces and on the bias because that always makes the collar look better. I cut the collar band on the bias as well, and it went together very smoothly.
BWOF doesn't really get into things like interfacing or using hair canvas, but this struck me as a more tailored jacket than they were giving instructions for, so I used a variety of interfacings from light to fusible hair canvas to give my jacket the structure I wanted. I used 2 layers of interfacing in the collar and along the button placket and hems for the required crisp edge. I interfaced the entire jacket front with a layer of light weight interfacing, and, following BWOF's intructions, I interfaced around the armhole on the back and side back panel. I also added a panel of interfacing covering the entire upper back, because I hate it when I can see the shoulder pad line through a man's jacket.
Shoulder pads were standard men's pads that I'd picked up a while back and have been holding onto until I got around to this project. Before I tacked them in, I also added a strip of mohair around the shoulder area to help them look smooth.
BWOF recommends topstitching on the collar and pocket flaps, but I didn't want visible topstitching on this. Instead I top stitched by hand while watching TV, and while it barely shows, it adds a bit more body to the edges of the jacket, which was my intent.
The sleeves required minimal easing, which was good. I'm not a big believer in ease, but (a) this was wool, so it would ease beautifully, and (b) I wasn't being too adventurous in my construction of this jacket so I ddin't want to tamper with the sleeve draft - I wanted to finish this in time for the holiday. I pinned them in first and tried it on him, and was pleasantly surprised at the fit. (He was unpleasantly surprised at how much pins hurt). Then I inserted them properly and steamed them over my pressing ham, and they came out nice and smooth.
For the lining, I attached the sleeve lining to the sleeves according to Sandra Betzina's method that I learned many, many patterns ago. I always have to pull out the pattern instructions because I can't remember what to do next after I pin the lining to the sleeve and then pull both sleeves out through the open bottom of the jacket. And every time, I read them and smack myself in the forehead because I forget that the pin attaching lining to sleeve isn't permanent; I'm supposed to overlap the lining over the sleeve, right sides together, and sew close to the edge, and turn it out again. Since I hadn't ever lined a vented jacket before, I was a little iffy about how to line around the side vents, but I just bagged the sides and neck area of the lining the way I normally would and left the bottom open. When I turned the jacket right side out, I pressed the lining in place and hand-stitched it in those areas, making sure to reinforce the tops of the vents.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I'm not sure if I'll sew this particular jacket again, but you never know. I've finally conquered a man's BWOF jacket pattern, and I only stopped patting myself on the back long enough to type the review.
Conclusion: This pattern had several firsts in it for me, which I always find interesting considering how long I've been sewing and how much I've sewn especially in the past few years. The collar method was completely new and different, and the result was even better than I'd hoped (considering I didn't do a muslin). I've also never lined a vented jacket before, and I was a little nervous about that, but it worked out well in the end. All in all, I feel really good about this project - it really stretched my skills, and he's thrilled, so how can I not be?