Once in a while something unexpected and magical happens, and that’s how I feel about this Sewing Pattern
. On first glance the pattern envelope shows a drawing of a rather ordinary looking jacket, but once sewing commences it quickly becomes apparent how complex and interesting this pattern is. I would say that if you have some sewing experience and if you are prepared to follow the pattern instructions and not go “off piste” then fantastic results are very achievable. Do include the pleated back and resist the plain back as it is mainly the back view which adds magic to this garment.
I found that size medium fit me perfectly except I had to shorten the sleeves by three inches – I am a ready to wear size 12.
However as seems to be the norm these days there are no finished measurements or indication of the ease allowance anywhere on the pattern. I do find this annoying and it is something which most pattern houses are guilty of.
Cutting out is where the fun starts! The pattern pieces are all cut on a single layer of fabric apart from the sleeves. I had to be very inventive here as I couldn’t find anywhere large enough to use as a cutting surface. So, the floor it was and yes my knees did complain.
The design is totally A-symmetrical and no two pieces are the same. The pattern pieces themselves are very interesting shapes and there are rather a lot of them.
has a very large design on it and I knew that pattern matching would be extremely difficult. I decided to concentrate on the front and try to place everything else around these pieces. Do take your time here and remember that it is the centre front lines which need pattern matching not the cutting lines. Take your time with cutting out and work on one area at a time.
There are a lot of pattern pieces, especially for the jacket back and they are very unusual shapes. You will not be able to match a large design accurately, so you need to decide where you can make compromises. Where it was impossible to pattern match I at least managed to line up the elephants in their rows. Of course a smaller design would perhaps be easier although I do feel that perfect pleats and seams are more important than an elephants head travelling around to the inside of the pleat and perhaps him losing his tail. Go through each pattern piece methodically and only when you are happy should you reach for the scissors.
The pattern relies on accurate matching of pattern markings so it is vitally important that every single dot or line is transferred to the wrong side of the fabric. I use tailors tacks. You will really struggle to make up the garment if this is not done accurately. Cutting out and transferring pattern markings took me two evenings so be patient. Preparation is definitely the key to producing a beautiful garment.
I suggest that now you tack the fronts and backs together, ignoring the pleats and underlay for now and try it on. This is where you can make any adjustments although the design relies on specific shapes so bear that in mind.
The instructions are very easy to follow so proceed with making the fronts. The pattern suggests finishing each seam allowance before stitching it in place but apart from the back vent and pleats I overlocked some of the seams together after stitching. For some of the seams I made some bias binding in a contrast fabric and made Hong Kong seams. You can of course purchase readymade binding but it is cheap and easy to do so why not make your own? You need to cut your fabric on the true bias, cut it into strips and feed them through one of these bias binding makers , pressing as you go. It really is that simple.
To make a Hong Kong seam press one edge of the binding flat then stitch the folded side to the seam allowance, fold it under, press and stitch-in-the-ditch. It’s much easier to do once it is in front of you I promise.
The back has a vent and double pleats which look amazing. This time I did finish the edges of the pattern pieces before stitching the seams .This is where you will appreciate all those pattern markings which you made earlier! The pattern instructions talk you through the process extremely well and even state that “it is more important for the pleats to be centred and to lie flat than for the finished edges to line up perfectly”. Remember though that the pleats are meant to swing out during wear and they are not designed to lie flat against the body.
During construction I thought about emphasising the A-symmetrical seams, because they really are a huge feature in this design. I have some red Top Stitching Thread
and setting my sewing machine to the longest stitch it does and using a top stitch needle, (top stitch thread is too thick for an ordinary needle) I stitched along the sewing lines of the darts and side front and back. I chose a colour to match my binding. It really adds to the look of this jacket.
The jacket has button plackets which are very easy to do, so don’t be frightened of them. This garment is not something you should make quickly anyway. I think sometimes we are all guilty of making something very quickly and not enjoying the construction process. We complain about our landfill sites becoming full and so we are making our own clothes more, but if we make too much we end up with a wardrobe full of clothes that we cannot possibly wear. It’s a funny situation, but I feel that the answer for me is to take my time more and produce quality garments which are a joy to make and to wear. It’s worth thinking about.
Some of the hems at the back have already been done and the rest is hemmed with a facing. This is a lovely way to finish a curved hem. I stitched the hem in place using my red top stitching thread. I also used the same thread to hem the sleeves. There is no need to change your bobbin thread by the way, as long as your tension is correct it will look fantastic.
Still using my top stitching thread I hand tacked the placket together between the buttonholes using just three stitches. This again adds a designer touch to the garment. I stitched three red and white buttons in place, ensuring that my elephants were matched as well as I possibly could.
I also decided to add a bar tack at the back at the top of the uppermost pleat. It just added a nice finishing touch.
I cannot find sufficient words to tell you how fabulous this pattern is, I definitely want to make more. The jacket was challenging yes, but I thoroughly enjoyed every second it took to make it. The results are beautiful, and it is so different from anything else you see around.
As you make your next garment whatever it might be do take your time a little more and enjoy the process. Think too about how you could incorporate your own personal designer touch, be it special seam finishes, top stitching or a different fabric to what you normally use.
I know of one or two people who are longing to get their hands on this jacket!
A point here is that you could make it easier on yourself by choosing a plain fabric like this plain Canvas Fabric
, which is very similar to the one Ive used here and really going to town with the top stitching and Hong Kong seams!
Thank you so much Minerva for this utterly incredible fabric and pattern. This is my most favourite make EVER!