With a lavish Indian wedding to attend in eight days, the realisation came late to me that I have (seriously) NOTHING TO WEAR! I don’t wear a suit often and when I started sewing I got rid of my tatty old black suit (over) confidently declaring that I’d make myself one before I needed to wear one again… I’ve managed to avoid wearing a suit (except when I got married) for two years!
(I like to call this our Downton Abbey shot… although this staircase was also used by the Spice Girls to film their first video for ‘Wannabe’… That is not the reason we chose it!… although I did go to musical theatre school with a Spice Girl (2yrs below me!) can you guess which one?)
That’s not to say I haven’t dressed up occasionally. MrA & I went to a couple of weddings this summer but I only went as far as making trousers, waistcoats & a shirt. I’ve made a couple of jackets from Kwik Sew K3485 before. The first one has never been worn outside by anyone, the second one I wear on cool sunny days as if it were a denim jacket. I’m happy with the fit for how I wear it, but if I’m to makes jacket for this wedding I think I need to tweak the shape.
As part of my recent birthday-fabric-haul from LadyP I got metres and metres of black duchess satin. It is absolutely gorgeous. It is ‘shot’ (is that the right word?) with green which doesn’t show much but gives a really luxurious depth to the colour. I fell in love with it and knew that I’d have to make someone a ball gown out of it. The more I looked at it, the more I loved it and wanted to make something out of it for myself. Then I had the idea, a smart dinner jacket of duchess satin and black trousers with a satin strip down the side, like a soldier (or bell-boy).
I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing by this beautiful fabric, or even if it’s really suitable for the project. I really would like to take the time to make this jacket as perfect as possible, but I am going to have to cut a few corners. I just hope I choose the right corners to cut. I don’t trust any of my interfacing, or myself with an iron enough around this fabric. And I’m going to leave it unlined for now and use it as an exercise in retro-fitting a lining at a later date… overlocked seams and no lining then.
So please don’t judge me if I’m breaking a thousand sewing rules, but please do help me so that I can avoid committing any crimes in the future!
I’m still gaining confidence in fitting and pattern manipulation, and with no time to muslin I tried to keep my adjustments to an effective-minimum. I put on the last jacket, eyed it up and pinned out a little from the centre back seam. Then 2cm (1 each side) from the side seam and sleeves, shortened the sleeve 1cm and shortened the jacket by 5cm. It didn’t seem very scientific but should improve the shape for me.
I got out of work a bit early on Friday and managed to make these adjustments and cut out the fabric before heading out to a tasty dinner at CousinA’s: home cooked food, great company & a few hands of cards. Perfect.
I work on Saturdays, but finish at 6. MrA was working late so I had 3 1/2 hours to get started. The light is bad, as are the photos. It seems the fabric doesn’t photograph well, which had me a little worried as I was sure to be photographed in it at the wedding… still, no turning back now.
- Front darts…
I stuck a pin in the marks & chalked them on before sewing them with a lockstitch at the beginning & end.
A welt on the top left front. As you can see, it needs a good press… Which I gave it… I fear it may now be ruined… any tips for getting shiny marks off duchess satin? I turned the iron way down, got a cloth, and only pressed the bits I absolutely had to from here on.
Double welt pockets with flaps. Again, the pictures aren’t great. Hopefully it’ll be one of those makes that looks hideous right up until the moment it’s finished…? Here’s hoping…
- Back seam and vent…
The insides aren’t going to be pretty, I knew that from the start. But the outsides are shaping up, and it’s off to bed.
MrA went off to work & I got down straight down to it… 2 cups of coffee, scissors round my neck & Sunday started with the collar.
As I wasn’t even half-lining it, the collar went on a little differently to the pattern instructions. I stitched the under collar to the back, the collar edges to the facing, the facing to the shoulder seams, snipped the collar seams & stitched in the ditch to tuck it all away. There was a bit of head-scratching but once I could visualise what I was going to do it went pretty smoothly. Dare I say it was a bit like doing a Pyjama collar.
I’d hoped to ‘cheat’ & sew the sleeves in flat before the side seams, but, like so many jacket patterns the flat-shape looked like a rollercoaster, so setting-in it was. I dread this. I have a massive (& justified) fear of ending up with snow-white sleeve heads. So I took a deep breath, did my two rows of gathering stitches and eased the sleeves in. It turned out a lot better than I’d imagined. There is a tiny one-stitch pucker on each sleeve. They’re so small that I might actually unpick them and fix it. I’m thrilled.
HEMS & BUTTONHOLES:
I switched to a finer needle (I was on 80 and changed to 60) to keep the hem stitching fine. I folded the hem & cuffs, carefully pressed them, folded them back, a couple of pins in and I used the blind-hem stitch on a 5mm stitch length… Now, that, I’m really happy with.
The button holes were a disaster. My last buttonholes were a disaster too… and some of the ones before that. Either I’m doing something really wrong or my machine needs some attention. I have been hammering it for the last 18 months or so… perhaps a service is due? Probably… I’ll look into it. I started with the cuffs; remembering a Coco Chanel quote I’d heard… ‘never a button without a buttonhole’ I set to making 3 functioning buttonholes. I caught the underneath in the first one & spent 20 mins cursing & unpicking. I should have stopped, but the others came out erratically and I packed it away in a huff.
MrA came home, said it was looking great. I practically had a whole jacket, but was in quite a huff about those buttonholes. (There will be no close ups) We went out for a beer and a Chinese, I let it go & we watched the ‘Strictly’ results show (poor Tamika… robbed).
A day off with MrA today. No sewing. I’m looking at my jacket and starting to love it. I’d really like to iron it, then I might love it some more, but there’s no way.
Ive decided to stitch the buttons over the cuff buttonholes and ignore them. I’m going to get the front buttonholes done at D.M.Buttonholes. Have you been there? I’d stumbled across the website once before, ages ago, and thought it sounded like a very enjoyable outing. Now it seems like a very necessary one. I’ve also decided to unpick a bit of the back seam to give myself a bit more ease across the shoulders. I think I over did it a little there. There’s enough seam allowance so it’s easily remedied, thank goodness.
This is it, everything has to happen today!
- Adjust jacket backseam.
- Get trouser fabric.
- Adapt trouser pattern.
- Make trousers.
- Shirt……?? (Is there time for the pintuck shirt from the Sewing Bee book? … I need more fabric…!
… but it didn’t happen quite how I planned.
I did get a very exciting trip to DMButtonholes. Where a machine like this…
…Gave me three lovely keyhole buttonholes, in no time at all and for a very modest fee.
I also got trouser & shirt fabric but spent the rest of the afternoon fixing the bathroom light switch & tidying up for LadyP who was coming to dinner that evening. So not much sewing activity but we had a lovely evening & it was great to get some words of encouragement from LadyP regarding the jacket.
WEDNESDAY/ THURSDAY/ FRIDAY/ SATURDAY:
Back to work. I managed to get the trousers finished in stolen moments & a couple of late evenings. It was a big night on Thursday as we were finishing our routines in both of my tap dancing classes. Forgive my shameless self promoting (but isn’t that sort-of the root of social media..?) I’m so proud of my tappers in both classes, so here’s the intermediates combination if you fancy a break from YouTube-ing sewing videos…?… Fun huh?
Anyway, I made the trousers the same as my recent Chinos so I’ll try and speed things along with a montage section…
I saved time cutting out the satin stripe by using duchess satin ribbon instead. (I sneakily picked up a roll while shopping on Tuesday). I pinned right side up to the back leg, basted in the seam allowance and edgestitched at 2mm down the exposed side, holding my breath the whole way. In the pictures it looks like shiny pvc, thankfully not in real life, although I must be sure to always stand straight on when getting photographed in these trousers.
I got them (practically) finished and took both jacket & trousers in for pressing on Friday and picked them up on Saturday. I’m pleased to say the burnt jacket pocket looked a little better after a professional steaming and the whole look of both jacket & trousers had been elevated.
One bit of bad news: I also had to buy a plain white shirt on Saturday… it killed me… the first item of clothing I have bought in nearly two and a half years. Hopefully the last!
Up early & sewing on a hook & bar to the trouser waistband. Then getting dressed. This was the first time I had put the whole lot on together and so it was a bit like the reveal on a makeover show when I got my shiny black shoes on & finally saw the outfit, head to toe.
The trousers were immediately comfortable. The jacket felt good, but after about 15 min it seemed to warm up and kind-of mould to me a bit. Does Duchess Satin do that? It felt amazing on, like a second skin. And all the little imperfections just melted away. Who was it who said ‘I never did mind about the little things’?
After all that excitement I’m off to Normandy for a week now. I’m hoping to find a fabric shop or two… and I’m only taking one small empty bag with me. Maybe it’s time for my own wool coat…
Notes to self:
- Do not be afraid of set in sleeves. Approach them calmly.
- Plan in advance and don’t panic sew.
- Get my machine serviced.
- Carry on with Christmas sewing!