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Like many people, I have trouble sticking to a new year’s resolution for 12 months. Last year, I was quite vociferous about my new year’s resolution which was to make ALL my own clothes. Needless to say, it was pretty unrealistic and although I did make many new things for myself, by about June or July, I was (less vociferously) back buying store bought items. I think the problem was that I aimed too high and expected too much of myself. Some of the things I made last year do get worn regularly, but there are other things that I will probably never be happy with and will likely end up back in my fabric scraps pile because I didn’t take enough time to finish them perfectly.
I am starting 2012 with a new resolution and more realistic expectations; I intend to make myself one essential wardrobe item per month. My emphasis will be on creating some timeless, well- fitting pieces that I will be able to wear for years to come, not just the current season. By the end of the year, I aim to have 12 beautiful, handmade items in my closet.
Whilst I consider myself to be an intermediate level sewer, I am self-taught so there are many gaps in my skill and knowledge. With each pattern I complete, I find myself learning something new; a new trick or technique that I can store away in my brain for future use. This is one of the things that I love about sewing – it is a challenge, I have to work hard at it, and for every perfect, easy seam I sew, there’s a tricky zipper or impossible pocket just lurking around the corner. So, as well as some new clothes in my closet, I hope to end the year with some new skills under my belt!
Southern California doesn’t get very cold in winter but I did want to make myself a new lightweight jacket for my January project. I wanted it to be smart and tailored but casual enough to wear on the school run, so when I noticed the coat pattern in the new Burdastyle Sewing Handbook. I knew I could adapt it to fit my requirements.
First and foremost, I wanted this jacket to fit me well, so I bought a roll of Swedish tracing paper and traced the coat’s pattern pieces. Swedish tracing paper is a thick, fibrous material that can actually be sewn together using long basting stitches.
This was extremely helpful to me since I wanted to make some changes to the original pattern. After cutting out the pattern, I was able to baste the tracing paper pieces together and easily make my adjustments before cutting out my main fabric To save time, I only sewed one half of the jacket together with the tracing paper.
I chose to make my jacket in a green/gray corduroy with a light stretch and an eye-catching cotton print for the lining. When pinning my pattern pieces to my fabric, I made certain to align them with the grain of the corduroy. It is also important to remember that this pattern has not been drafted with a seam allowance, so you must add that in by hand before cutting.
I found the pattern and instructions very easy to follow, which ultimately gave me the confidence to make my alterations. I lengthened the top bodice by 3” because I am tall and I shortened the bottom section and added gathers at the back.
I also made a band around the waist instead of making a belt as the pattern suggests and I sewed long sleeve cuffs because I prefer the look of them over plain sleeves.
Once the outer part of the jacket was complete, I then needed to work on the lining. Having kept a written record of all the seam adjustments and measurements I made, I could easily make the necessary size changes to the lining pieces.
The last step was to sew the button holes and add the buttons. I decided to use the same corduroy to cover some buttons myself.
I am so very happy with this jacket and because I took my time beforehand to think about how I really wanted it, it came out as beautifully as I imagined and even better than I hoped.
It is extremely comfortable because I took them time to get the fit just right and I am glad I had the confidence to customize the pattern to suit me. This jacket is sure to have a permanent spot in my closet.
Burdastyle Sewing Handbook – coat pattern
Pins and needles