Blades Giverney Blazer & Staple Skirt
Posted in Projects on Thursday the 9th August 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello again! It's Paddy from Dragon's Flame Designs here! I had been looking for some plain but lively fabric to make a casual blazer, and couldn't resist this Blades Linen and Cotton Fabric
. Because the pattern I had chosen had an option to use contrasting colours, I picked out the Loganberry Purple for the main colour, with Lilac as the contrast.
Incidentally, the fabric was a perfect match for the thread spools I had sitting in my sewing bag – I used Coats Moon thread M0221 (purple) and M0024 (lilac). I guess you can tell that these are my favourite colours!
I'd always thought that linen had a slightly harsh feel, but this feels surprisingly soft; I'm not sure if that's just down to the mixture of linen and cotton, or simply the quality of the fabric, but it has a lovely feel.
I will admit I rarely prewash my fabric (I know, I really should!), but because linen and cotton sometimes shrink, I thought I'd better do this properly. It was washed at 40C and dried flat. When I removed the fabric from the washing machine, I realised it might have been an idea to have zigzagged the edges before washing – the ends frayed quite easily, and there was a lot of thread caught up in the washing machine!
I forgot to measure the fabric before it was washed, but after it was ironed and the fraying ends trimmed up, I had 108 cm in length, and 145cm from selvedge to selvedge in the lilac. Given that this is a greater size than the website says for the width, I'm assuming that the fabric had relaxed a bit, and effectively grown a little. The fabric doesn't have any stretch, but the looser weave means it has a slight amount of give: 10cm 'stretched' to 11cm in width, and 10.5cm in length.
I decided it would make a perfect casual Giverney Blazer
. Before I dived into making the blazer, I wanted to test out how the interfacing would feel. It adhered really strongly to the fabric, but it made the fabric a little too stiff for my liking. Because I wanted my blazer to have a more casual feel, I omitted the interfacing on the facings and collar. The fabric holds a crease surprisingly well, so I was able to iron the fold on the lapel rather than relying on the interfacing to give that appearance. The only real difference is that using interfacing would result in a crisper fold to the lapel, allowing it to hold its shape slightly better. But for a casual style jacket, I think not interfacing it is perfectly fine.
Because of the potentially delicate nature of the raw edges, I used Wonder Clips
instead of pins when holding the pieces together to sew. The clips give a much better grip without the risk of the ends fraying past them as you're sewing.
Although I was wary of how much the fabric could fray, given the amount of thread in the washing machine, it wasn't as fray-happy while sewing. I did have to unpick a couple of seams, and when the stitching was a little too close to the edge, the fabric did fray as I was unpicking, but as long as you don't need to unpick that close to the raw edge, it seems quite well behaved!
The Giverney Blazer's design includes bound seams; rather than attempting a colour match for the bias binding, I picked the 20mm sand Bias Binding
to make a feature of the binding on the inside. It was surprisingly easy to attach the binding to the seam allowances, although it did make the hem section slightly more bulky than my sewing machine was happy to handle. If I made this again, I would trim off the binding just at the start of the hem so it wasn't folded up at the base. It didn't take much longer to attach the binding than it would have taken to zigzag the seams, but it's made a much neater finish which should withstand more wear and washes.
The jacket only needs a single button, so I raided my Mum's tin of buttons and found the perfect match for the Loganberry Purple, which could have been bought with this project in mind! I tested sewing the buttonhole on some offcuts first, just so I was confident that it would turn out neatly. I used the manual buttonhole option on my machine, as it has previously struggled to feed certain fabrics through neatly. A small piece of interfacing under the buttonhole gave the fabric just enough stability for the buttonhole to be sewn.
I was a little uncertain about adding in the 'belt' and sleeve tabs, as they needed to be sewn right sides together, then the tubes turned right side out. When I'd tried this with other fabric which was somewhat 'fray happy' I ended up with a fraying mess rather than a neatly turned tube, but for the best review possible, I knew I would need to try it out! I needn't have worried though – turning the belt went really smoothly. I didn't zigzag the edges before turning the belt, and none of the edges seemed to fray as I was turning it. As that was successful, I decided the sleeve tabs would be the finishing touch. These were slightly trickier to turn, but I tacked a small piece of ribbon into the closed end to enable me to pull the sleeve tab through to right sides out without too much hassle.
I think this was the perfect fabric choice for this jacket. It's listed as "heavy" but the jacket doesn't feel too heavy and bulky to wear on warm spring days. I'm pleased I opted to use a contrasting colour for the facing and waistband. The lilac lifts the loganberry purple, and gives it a more casual feel. It would be perfect to wear with jeans or casual trousers, but I think it would also work well with smart trousers for a more formal style. Of course if I'd chosen a more 'formal' colour such as black, it would have ended up with a less casual, smarter look, but I am partial to purple!
Because I was generously sent an extra metre to what I needed for the Giverney pattern, so I could make the facing and waist band in a contrast colour, I had enough fabric left over to make a second item. I was torn between a skirt and shorts, but decided that the feel of the linen/cotton blend would lend itself best to a Staple Skirt
Keeping with the theme of contrasting colours, I used lilac for the back patch pockets, front pocket facings and the inner waistband. The Staple Skirt was originally designed for denim and requires a zigzag stitch to finish the seams, before topstitching. I've tried zigzagging fabric that frays easily before, and it wasn't a complete success, so I decided that zigzagging wasn't really ideal way of finishing the seams for me.
I had plenty of bias binding left from the Giverney Blazer (if you're making that one in a small size, you need more like 7 metres, not a total of 13 yards!), and used that to bind the seams on the Staple skirt. The front seam did have to be carefully zigzagged, because of the way the zip fly is inserted, but the rest of the seams look quite neat on the inside – which makes a change for me!
Top stitching is a novelty for me, and not something I would necessarily say I am talented at doing accurately. However, after adding the bias binding, I carefully topstitched the seam allowance to one side. It's not 100% perfect, but it's a lot more accurate than I thought it could be. I had added some 'sketchy' stitching to the back patch pockets, which I'm hoping will detract the eye from any wonky top stitching. The fabric lends itself to top stitching, especially when using contrasting colours with matching threads. I tried hard to use the opposite colour when topstitching, so the contrast stitching was a feature.
I used a medium iron-on interfacing for the waistband, which feels suitably stable without being stiff and restrictive. The Staple Skirt suggests using a jeans button, but I wasn't convinced that would look right on this fabric. So heading back to my Mum's tin of buttons, I was able to find another perfect match, this time in lilac!
While the Giverney Blazer is designed as a smart casual jacket which can be dressed up or down, the Staple Skirt is more casual in its style. However, when made from the Blades Linen and Cotton and worn together, they look surprisingly smart, and could even be worn as a suit. I'm really pleased with how both items came out, and I think they will be getting a lot of wear, both individually and as a smart-casual outfit. The Blades Linen and Cotton was a dream to sew and even more of a dream to wear! I would definitely recommend it.