Project: Vogue 4036 Jacket, (1959), Part 4

Readers,

I made another sample for this jacket, Vogue 4036, from 1959: the pocket and flap.IMG_5195 (345x460)I’m so used to misunderstanding instructions, making goofs, and starting over that I was surprised–shocked!–that the pocket and flap turned out so nicely on the first try.

Here are the printed instructions:IMG_5321 (460x226)

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And here’s what I did:

Here's the part of the jacket front showing the dart, pocket, and flap placement.

Here’s the part of the jacket front showing the dart, pocket, and flap placement.

I didn't cut a whole jacket front--only a part. I underlined with a crisp cotton to give this loosely woven fabric body and stability.

I didn’t cut a whole jacket front–only a part. I underlined with a crisp cotton to give this loosely woven fabric body and stability.

The pocket piece.

The pocket piece.

Detail: the stitching and fold lines of the pocket.

Detail: the stitching and fold lines of the pocket.

The pocket, with the lines marked on both sides with some wonderful old tracing carbon found at an estate sale.

The pocket, with the lines marked on both sides with some wonderful old tracing carbon found at an estate sale.

The pocket is pinned to the front, aligning the stitching box with the one I traced onto the front.

The pocket is pinned to the front, aligning the stitching box with the one I traced onto the front.

This is what I mean: the pocket's stitching box is lined up with the one I drew on the front. This plain white underlining shows markings beautifully!

This is what I mean: the pocket’s stitching box is lined up with the one I drew on the front. This plain white underlining shows markings beautifully.

The stitching box, stitched.

The stitching box, stitched.

Hmmm...why didn't my boxes line up better? Well, no harm done.

Hmmm…why didn’t my boxes line up better? Well, no harm done.

Slash through all layers, making triangular ends.

Slash through all layers, making triangular ends.

Pull the pocket through the opening to the back. I assumed I should press the opening like a bound buttonhole, but no. Also, the markings faded when I pressed them. Re-marking the lines with chalk was not successful. But--no matter.

Pull the pocket through the opening to the back. I assumed I should press the opening like a bound buttonhole, but no. Also, the markings faded when I pressed them. Re-marking the lines with chalk was not successful. But–no matter.

The long cut edges are pressed toward the cut, not away, in preparation for the next step.

The long cut edges are pressed toward the cut, not away, in preparation for the next step.

The pocket is folded on the fold line, and the stitching line is supposed to line right on top of the previous stitching--the lower line of the box.

The pocket is folded on the fold line, and the stitching line is supposed to line right on top of the previous stitching–the lower line of the box.

The view from the right side.

The view from the right side.

The line is stitched now.

The line is stitched now.

I used contrast thread for this sample. My stitching should not be visible in any case. Now I think I could have stitched in the ditch and avoided this unsightliness. (And that's what I can learn from making samples!)

I used contrast thread for this sample. My stitching should not be visible in any case. Now I think I could have stitched in the ditch and avoided this unsightliness. (And that’s what I can learn from making samples!)

Catch the triangular ends into the stitching of the pocket.

Catch the triangular ends into the stitching of the pocket.

Done. (My stitching is not always so wobbly. I'm blaming the slippery lining.)

Done. (My stitching is not always so wobbly. I’m blaming the slippery lining.)

Warning: this pocket is small!

Warning: this pocket is small!

On to the flap:

The flap pattern piece, folded to its finished dimensions. Is it too big, or is it in keeping with the generous-sized collar?

The flap pattern piece, folded to its finished dimensions. Is it too big, or is it in keeping with the generous-sized collar?

Using part of an old file folder, I cut out a window to the dimensions of the finished flap. I marked vertical and horizontal center lines. Then I previewed various plaid layouts.

Using part of an old file folder, I cut out a window to the dimensions of the finished flap. I marked vertical and horizontal center lines. Then I previewed various plaid layouts.

Another layout choice.

Another layout choice.

I'm going with this choice.

I’m going with this choice.

I laid the pattern piece on top of the preview window, aligning the vertical and horizontal pencil lines. Then I slipped the preview window out of the way, and cut the flap.

I laid the pattern piece on top of the preview window, aligning the vertical and horizontal pencil lines. Then I slipped the preview window out of the way, and cut the flap.

I interfaced the flap with the same crisp woven used in the jacket front mockup.

I interfaced the flap with the same crisp woven used in the jacket front mockup.

The flap is stitched, leaving an opening for turning. Then the usual seam-trimming, turning, pressing, and slipstitching the opening closed.

The flap is stitched, leaving an opening for turning. Then the usual seam-trimming, turning, pressing, and slipstitching the opening closed.

The flap is slipstitched right above the pocket opening. Be careful not to catch the pocket fold in the the slipstitching.

The flap is slipstitched right above the pocket opening. Be careful not to catch the pocket fold in the the slipstitching.

The flap is not meant to be centered over the pocket.

The flap is not meant to be centered over the pocket.

Done. I like it!

Done. I like it!

And it works!

And it works!

Another step closer to this.

Another step closer to this.

Project: Vogue 2461 (1990), Calvin Klein anorak, part 5

Readers,

The anorak is done, and it’s time to look it over.

Done at last!

Done at last!

First things first: the fit. The sleeves are the right length (I got help shortening and slimming them down), and the hood is the right size. And I like having some waist definition rather than the boxy look of many outdoor jackets.

But this is way too big for me above the waist in the front and especially in the back.  I could loosen the drawstring a little to reduce the difference between the roomy upper and more defined lower areas, but I wouldn’t be able to reach the bottoms of the pockets.

I think I could wear a backpack underneath this anorak.

I think I could wear a backpack underneath this anorak.

I tried pinching out and pinning 3 inches of fullness, and you can see the difference. I might want even more fullness taken out. If I make this pattern again, I’ll consult a fitting expert about how much fullness to remove and still have a measure of roominess.

Here's the back with a conservative 3 inches pinned out.

Here’s the back with a conservative 3 inches pinned out.

Now, about the pockets. I glanced at the photograph on the pattern envelope and noticed for the first time how the model was displacing the flap to slide her hand into the pocket. Then I realized how I’d misunderstood the whole pocket construction. The original flap provides closure, as it should. I misinterpreted the instructions to mean that the flap wrapped around and reinforced the pocket opening.  My pockets stand wide open. Maybe I can stitch Velcro strips to the pocket and front to close them.

This anorak flap is probably an outerwear convention, not an innovation of Calvin Klein’s. I suppose now I’ll be standing in a checkout line or in the security line at the airport and noticing hundreds of such flaps and pockets.  Lesson learned.

The photo on the pattern envelope shows the flap covering the pocket opening. Aha!

The photo on the pattern envelope shows the flap covering the pocket opening. Aha!

I’m not happy with the stark white nylon cord and will look for a replacement in a color. The toggles I recycled from my old windbreaker.

I got a lot of experience by sewing this pattern:

  • Making flat fell seams using both a flat fell foot and a standard presser foot. I used David Page Coffin’s instructions from his book Shirtmaking and video Shirtmaking Techniques and succeeded right away.
  • Working with a stretch woven. I didn’t need the spandex for this project, and it interfered with getting a good crease, but it does resist wrinkling.

    I used the flaps to wrap around the pocket edges. Not smart!

    I used the flaps to encase the pocket edges. Not smart!

  • Looking for a 36-inch separating zipper, which I finally mail-ordered from Sew True, and then sewing it in with success.
  • Learning the difference between eyelets and grommets (eyelets are one piece; grommets are two); then opting for buttonholes for the drawstring openings.
  • Making a garment with casings, and using a bodkin to thread the cord through.
  • Seeing the point of an inset in a sleeve instead of a sleeve placket–to keep the rain out. But insets are more work to cut, assemble, insert and sew.
  • My first hood.

As I mentioned in my previous post, almost every step of this project took longer than I expected: finding the zipper, altering the pattern, sewing the pockets and the cuffs, and doing a mile of topstitching.

But now that I’ve tackled this anorak, I think I can handle another outdoorsy jacket.

Just not right now.

For traveling incognito I have my hood.

For traveling incognito I have my hood.

Project: Butterick 5542 (1930s), Jacket, part 7

Readers!

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Eureka!

You know those moments when tedious preparation gives way to visible progress?

Not only that, but what had started as, “I wonder if maybe I took those buttons, and that pattern, and that fabric…” is taking shape and it’s coming along as beautifully as you dared to hope?

I just had one of those moments.

And just in the nick of time. Earlier in the week I was painstakingly basting the silk organza underlining to my pattern pieces and muttering under my breath about how long it was taking me.

Moving toward completion.

Moving toward completion.

And before I was doing anything as active as handling shears or a needle and thread, I was frowning a lot, rifling through sewing books, Threads magazines, and binders of my notes researching construction techniques.

So yesterday’s and today’s visible progress was gratifying.

I considered writing a whole post on pocket flaps alone. I think I could give a seminar on them now.

More goes into a properly made flap than you might think.

More goes into a properly made flap than you’d think.

I spent far more time making them right than I ever imagined I would.  But my efforts were rewarded.

On the other hand, my bound buttonholes came together in record time.  Slashing my jacket front in five places? No problem!

The under collar is attached now, making it easier to imagine the finished garment.

The under collar is attached. Just a small lapel.

The under collar is attached. Just a small lapel.

I couldn’t resist previewing the jacket with the Art Deco-era buttons laid on it.  Which way should I position the buttons?  There’s no wrong answer: both ways are wonderful.

Or vertically?

Which way to position the buttons? Vertically?

Which way to position the buttons? Horizontally?

Or horizontally?

Coming up: Sleeves. Shoulder pads. The facing-lining unit with contrast red flat piping. Hemming. Buttons.

See you back here in a couple of days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project: McCall’s 8814, Coat (1952), part 3

Bound buttonholes in front are done now.  They look pretty good.

Bound buttonholes in front are done now. They look pretty good.

Readers,

A lot of my sewing projects seem to be like a Chinese stir-fry recipe.  Most of the work feels like prep before you even get to the main activity: the cooking, or, in this case, the sewing.

So interfacing the fronts and backs was prep, not worthy of photographing, but necessary to the final appearance of the outer fabric. The fashion fabric is along for the ride, to quote Kenneth King, and the interfacing and underlining are behind the scenes providing support.

Yesterday I did the three bound buttonholes in the right front. They turned out well.

Both patch pockets are done.  I machine-topstitched one to the right front at 1/4 inch.  I’ll slipstitch the edges, too, so they don’t stick out.

The topstitching looks slightly wavy to me.  But from the back it’s a smooth curve.  An optical illusion of the fabric?

Topstitched pocket

Topstitched pocket

At this point in the project I’m very critical of every step and notice every irregularity. I wish I’d used double thread in the topstitching.  I wish I’d gotten the lips of the bound buttonholes exactly even.  I ask myself whether I could have done better this time or could next time.

Then comes the point where I stop seeing the project in parts and start seeing the garment as a whole.  That’s later, though.

What’s next? All kinds of good stuff:

  • Stitching the fronts and back together at the shoulders and side seams.  Then I can see this is beginning to look like a coat!
  • Stitching on the under collar.
  • Stitching on the sleeves.
  • Creating a unit of the beautiful deep turquoise lining, the upper collar, and facings.

I am so ready to make great strides in this project.  The most labor-intensive parts are done.  Next time this should be looking much more like a coat!

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

Project: McCall’s 8814, Coat (1952), part 2

Readers,

Sewing is knowledge work.

Don’t leave anyone with the wrong impression that sewing is just about stitching things together.IMG_1973 (460x345)

Sewing involves a lot–a lot–of decisionmaking.

I thought this yesterday as I pondered interfacings for my coat. There’s only so much advice in sewing books and magazines that I can follow without further reflection.  I still have to determine what  I want to accomplish, test the advice, examine the result, and see if I like the effect.

I usually have to practice the new technique, too, to get it right.

This all takes time.

I thought this, too, yesterday–that testing and perfecting techniques take time–as I saw my ambitions for coat progress dwindle over the course of the day.

Of course, it also takes time to document my process–write notes and take photos–in order to blog about it.

On top of that, I’m a deliberative person.  I even have the test results to prove it.

“Craftsmanship,” writes Matthew Crawford in his book Shop Class as Soul Craft, “means dwelling on a task for a long time and going deeply into it, because you want to get it right.”

That’s just what I did yesterday.  I went deeply into making those lined pockets with the tabs and bound buttonholes.

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The first pocket: a respectable “B.”

I wanted to get them right.  They’re the highlight of the coat.  But even more, there’s something in me that exults in the process of getting the rightness.

The first pocket is pretty good, a solid “B.”  It will look better after a final press and topstitching. I followed the directions; even improved on them.

The second pocket is better. I learned from doing the first one.  The bound buttonhole is better.

And here’s something else that’s better about pocket 2: it has more dimensionality than pocket 1. It’s subtle but definitely there.  Really.

Here, look at this.

With pocket 1, I sewed on the button very close to the mark indicated on the pattern tissue.  And when I slid the button through the tab, that tab was pulled down and flattened.  It looked like it was straining to do its job.

Pocket 1: flattened tab. Sad.

Pocket 1: flattened tab. Sad.

Looking at the pattern illustration closely, I saw curves in the pocket that distinguish the design.

The illustration shows nice curves in the top pocket edge.

The illustration shows nice curves in the top pocket edge.

But in following the pattern piece for placing the button, I’d destroyed the character of the nice curves.

I didn’t notice all this till I’d made pocket 2. I saw how, if I moved the button placement a good inch, I could preserve the curves, and create a dimensionality. The tab wouldn’t be flattened. It, too, would have a subtle, pleasing curve of its own. The button could secure it without having it in a stranglehold. Tab and button in happy coexistence.

Pocket 2. The tab is not constrained. Happy.

Pocket 2. The tab is not constrained. Happy.

Two of Edith’s sayings come to mind: “What do you want to accomplish?” and “Don’t take the pattern instructions literally.”

In sewing you’re constantly making judgments and decisions depending on what you want to accomplish.  And the more you observe and understand, the more freedom you have, not just to do something right, but to achieve rightness.

And that is why sewing is knowledge work.

Pocket 2 (right) still needs a little hand-stitching. Both need a final press and topstitching. All in good time.

Pocket 2 (on right) still needs a little hand-stitching. Both need a final press and topstitching. All in good time.