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A Tartan Jacket for my Daughter

During a recent browse of the Minerva website, I came across this gorgeous tartan jersey fabric.  As soon as I saw it, I knew that my daughter Jess would love it as it features tartan, but it is not a standard tartan fabric which is in all of the shops, it is something a bit different, exactly what Jess would love!

I showed the fabric to Jess, she also loved it and immediately asked me to make her a jacket in this. (Its unfortunately since sold out, but you can find many other check patterned jersey fabrics here).

Knowing that I am a beginner having not tackled a jacket before, I thought this would be a good challenge!

Jess wanted a casual jacket so she set about looking through the pattern books and chose this ‘easy’ pattern from ‘Kwik Sew’, opting for the long sleeve version.

Having chosen the fabric, pattern and got my cotton, I was excited to start this new challenge!

Sewing for my daughter brings challenges of its own.  She is a head strong 15 year old with her own personal sense of style, who will not wear anything that she does not love!  Hence, many projects made but not worn (and many clothes bought and not worn) ... no pressure!

The very same night, I set about cutting out the pattern.  I measured Jess and opted for the smallest size (XS) but she asked me to make it shorter.  I measured where she wanted the hem of the jacket (26.5 inches) and after looking at the measurements on the pattern (31.5 inches), I knew that I needed to take 5 inches off the length.  I decided to cut the pattern to the actual length (in case I wanted to make it again in the future) and then cut the jacket down to the desired length later.

The paper which this pattern is made from is much stronger than the usual tissue paper and it made it much easier to cut.  I enjoyed working with this pattern for a change.

I decided to wait until the following day to carry on as I did not want to attempt this and make any mistakes due to being tired!

The following day, I laid my fabric out and got all of the pieces which I needed to cut on the fold. 

The tartan of the fabric brought even more challenges!  As I have mentioned before, my mum Annette is a sewing enthusiast and seen within our family as an expert!  This is great and I have my very own mentor but I am also aware of her extremely high standards and I need to work towards these.  Whilst this has seen us over the years examining every seam, hem and pattern matching when buying shop items that very rarely match up to mums standards, it has installed into me the need for perfection which I am trying to bring into my work ... matching a tartan fabric up on the seams whilst also ensuring that the ‘stripes’ of the fabric stay straight.

With this in mind, I checked that the ‘lines’ of the tartan matched when it was folded.

Next, I laid my pattern out, pinned the back along the fold and then put the piece for the two front next to the back; again making sure that the back and front pieces were lined up to ensure that the tartan checks were lined up to give me a chance of matching them on the seam when sewing the fronts to the back.

Once I was happy that I had lined up the pieces and the checks, I set about cutting out the two fronts and the back.  I always use a good quality pair of scissors which cut through the fabric with ease, avoiding damaging the fabric in any way.

I carried on and cut out all of the pieces, following the pattern’s recommendations until I had all of the pieces cut out.  I then made sure that I had snipped all of the pieces as showed on the pattern (darts) to help match the pieces up, ensuring that they are in the correct place when they are sewn together.

What I forgot to mention was that I usually have my mum on hand to help when I need it or provide any advice but my mum was out so I was all on my own, tackling a jacket!

I thought that mum would have been back by the time that I had cut the jacket out but she wasn’t.  I was in two minds; should I start it ... but what if I did something wrong?  Or should I wait but how long would mum be?

I decided to be brave and start it!

I set the sewing machine up and knew that I needed to use a stretch stitch to sew jersey ... but I couldn't remember which stitch setting this was!!  I got some cut offs of the fabric and had a play with the two stitch settings that I was choosing between.  I knew the feel of the stretch stitch as the machine seems to sew ‘forwards and backwards’ as it moves along rather than just sewing forwards as with a normal stitch.  To double check that this was the correct stitch, once I had sewed the length, I gave a gentle tug on the stitching to make sure that it did not break.

I read the pattern instructions, pinned the shoulders together and sewed them.  Quite proud of my work, I admired the seams as I pressed them open and then laid the first part of my jacket out (inside out of course!).

I again checked that the tartan was lined up!

Next, the pattern said to fit the sleeves into place.  The thought which went through my head was ‘Eeeeek’ .... ‘Should I wait for my mum?’ I told myself to ‘get a grip’ and have a go ... I can always unpick it if I go wrong.

I have fit sleeves before but with my mum watching me and pointing me in the right direction.  I remembered what mum had told me and laid my sleeves along the armhole area of the front and back.  I lined up the darts which I had snipped and pinned the sleeves into place.

Nervously, I sat at the sewing machine and started to sew the sleeves in place, constantly checking that the darts were lined up.  I also made sure that the pressed hem from the shoulder seam remained open and ‘flat’ to make sure that it didn’t pucker when I sewed over the seam.

Once I had sewed both in place, I sat back and admired my work!  I ‘tried the jacket on’ so far to see if I could get the effect and I was sure that Jess would love it ... but as I am sure many of you, especially with teenage daughters, are aware ... you never can tell until they start to wear it – if she wears it, she approves, otherwise it is ‘lost’ in the wardrobe!!!

Now to sew the side and arm seams up ... definite ‘eeek’, this is where I needed to make sure that I had got the sides lined up neatly!

I pinned the fronts to the backs checking the line up of the tartan and then the arm sleeves – I tried to line up the tarten as much as possible but this isn’t totally possible due to the shaping of the sleeve.

Whilst sewing, I sewed the seam slowly, constantly checking that the tartan was lined up.  I finished these seams, pressed them open and excitedly turned them around to the right side to check out the lines in my tartan;

Looking at the inside of the seams, I have done very well but when I turned the pieces the right way around, the lining up isn’t as successful but nevertheless, I still think that it is better that some seams in some shop bought items!  I know that you can always improve and I hope that with more practice, I will get better but I am proud of my pattern matching.  

And here is Jess wearing the finished jacket!

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