Monday, 25 July 2016

Finally, a jacket! (Simplicity 2209)

Before I start, a big thank you to commenters on the post about the trousers I made last week -- loads of good suggestions/advice, all of which I really appreciated. I have already followed up on a few of them and will be doing more work on trousers now that I've got some new ideas. More about this soon, no doubt!

In the meantime, as a break from the horror of fitting trousers, I decided to make an easy unlined jacket.

Back in mid-February I had a mini brainwave about what to do with a piece of linen/mix fabric I'd bought back in 2012 that I didn't really like and couldn't imagine using. I threw it in the washer with a box of navy blue Dylon dye and the result was actually very good. The fabric didn't take the full colour of the dye, coming out a sort of denim blue rather than true navy. Most interestingly though the green lines, which are woven into the fabric, must be some kind of polyester or other synthetic because they didn't take the dye at all. As a result, the fabric ended up a really interesting mix of blue and green, with quite a lot of texture. I earmarked it for a lightweight summer jacket and added the project to the queue.
Pre- and post-dye fabric
Then, however, it took me absolutely ages to settle on a pattern. Although I had a good length of fabric (2.7m, or 3 yards) it was vintage and quite narrow -- something like 105cm (about 41"). I must have gone through my magazine and pattern collection about 20 times before I found a pattern I liked that would also fit on my fabric. (In the end I had about 50cm left over from making this particular pattern.)

Simplicity 2209

Somewhat unusually for me, I eventually settled on an envelope pattern. This is an OOP Simplicity pattern that I got on the front of a magazine when I first started garment sewing. It's one of the Lisette patterns from before the designer moved over to Butterick, Simplicity 2209, and both dress and jacket have been widely and mostly positively reviewed. I chose view C, which has a flat collar, little pockets set into the princess seams, and, as written, 3/4-length sleeves.

I made a size 16 based on the finished garment measurements. It actually felt quite risky because I didn't muslin (bad sewer! no biscuit!) and I don't make enough Simplicity to have a sense of how they fit me. The fit isn't TOO bad, but if I were to make it again I'd do a few things differently.

Simplicity 2209 in blue/green linen-and-something mix - front
First, some things I actually did change: I dislike 3/4 sleeves on jackets so I lengthened the pattern to full length sleeves. I added 2.5cm to the width of the bicep to accommodate my large upper arms. I also turned smaller hems on the bodice than written to give myself an extra ~1.5cm in length. I didn't do my usual square shoulder adjustment but I did leave out the shoulder pad, which has the same overall effect. Other than that though, I pretty much stuck to the pattern as written.

Simplicity 2209 in blue/green linen-and-something mix -back
Things I should have done: I think I need to look at doing some kind of high round back adjustment more regularly. It's not TOO bad, but the hem definitely rises at centre back which indicates some extra length is needed. Either that or I need to fix my posture radically.

By far my biggest problem is/was the armscye/sleeve. I had SO MANY problems getting these sleeves to look reasonable. As written the sleeve caps were very tall and pointy. I struggled to get the sleeve in at all without puckers because there was a lot of sleeve cap ease. I finally managed to baste one sleeve in neatly but when I tried it on, the point of the shoulder was fully 3cm down my arm. The shoulder position hadn't looked quite so bad when I measured the flat pattern, so that was a bit disheartening.
Better photo of the colour/texture of the fabric plus the button detail

I ended up doing multiple rounds of basting and stitching trying to get the shoulder in the right place and re-shape of the armscye. I took somewhere between 2.5cm and 3cm out of the shoulder width of the bodice, took in the back armscye and flattened the sleeve cap significantly. The outcome is... wearable? I mean, I'm happy enough with it, if I'm honest, even if the fit isn't brilliant.

As modelled by me -- note the twisty sleeve issue!
The other sleeve issue I have (and this is a recurrent problem, but clearly visible in this jacket) is that everything I make seems to end up with the sleeves twisting inward from shoulder to bicep. I can't quite work out if this is a fitting problem (from my reading, maybe a forward shoulder?), something to do with how I am doing my bicep adjustment, or something about the way I'm setting the sleeves. Or some combination of all of the above. Or something else entirely that I don't know about! At any rate, I've added shoulder/armscye/sleeve fitting to my very long list of Things I Need To Learn About. I feel like what I might need to do is develop a really good set of sleeve/armscye combinations for different situations and just over-write any pattern that is too far out from them with my preferred shape.

As modelled by me from the back -- rising back hem issue also visible!

Other than the sleeve/sleeve cap ease, this was a very easy jacket to sew. Originally I planned to Hong Kong finish all my seams, and I even bought some bright emerald green bias tape to do so. However, I did half of one seam and realized that though I loved the colour combination, the bias tape I'd bought was too stiff for the fabric, so I unpicked it and decided to just overlock all the seams instead. It's a shame because I think the bias tape finish would have looked nice, but it did speed up the construction process a lot.

View of the innards -- all the edges are just overlocked
Overall, I am quite happy with my little jacket and it will no doubt get plenty of wear since it fits in so well with the rest of my wardrobe now the fabric is this colour.

Next up: I made a double gauze top earlier in the year that I love to bits. I almost immediately I bought another piece of double gauze and my next plan is to turn that into an easy late summer blouse. :D


  1. Love the effect you've achieved with the dye! I'm so nervous about dyeing fabric in case it bleeds for evermore, but perhaps I should try it. I really like the style of this jacket and collar. The sleeve cap issue sounds v annoying - makes you wonder if they 'cheated' for the samole on the envelope. Interesting about how the sleeves swing in. No idea, perhaps the forward shoulder (it does look like the whole sleeve wants to rotate) but I hope wiser people will have advice. Enjoy the jacket!

    1. I have found a dye that I have found more or less stays put (they seem to vary a lot by country, but just in case it's any use to you: I use Dylon Machine Wash with Salt). I can't say I do a lot of dying but in this case the choice was between dye and never using the fabric so it seemed worth the risk!

  2. Thanks for sharing this jacket. The dye job turned out really well - congratulations!

    I'm having the same issue with my sleeves, and my current thinking is that there's too much fabric in the front sleeve from about 3" down from the sleeve cap to the underarm. When I experiment with folding/pinning this fabric out, my fit improves. I have no idea what this is called... shallow upper arm? flat upper armpit? lol

    1. I love the names we come up with for our adjustments! I think maybe though that might sometimes be described as a hollow chest? I'm not sure, but where your body is unexpectedly flat in the area above the bust at around armpit level, I vaguely think that's what the adjustment might sometimes be called.

  3. Gail who blogs (more infrequently now) at GKs Agenda posted an adjustment for the sleeve twisting. She's on Instagram too and may be able to point you to the post.

    OMG THE DYE JOB! That is so perfect! I would never think to dye yardage - I'm so not adventurous in that department. It turned out so lovely! And the inside is beautiful, as usual.

    1. I very rarely dye -- I wouldn't have done it in this case except that the alternative was really to never use the fabric as I disliked the murky yellowy-white that it was before I dyed it!

      I will definitely look into that twisting arm post -- I love GKs Agenda/Insta. I can only hope to be as proficient as she is one day at, well, anything!

  4. Jennifer Stern calls this a "forward rotating shoulder". I have this issue also and her alteration helps me. Look at JSternDesigns for info.

  5. In the Sandra Betzina book 'Fast Fit' the problem of twisted sleeves is clearly explained. She recommends a method for altering the placement of the dot at the top of the sleeve either forward or backwards to get the sleeve to hang straight on your body. It sounds like the sort of adjustment you might automatically make on all patterns if you have this problem.