Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Short Sleeve Summer Jacket and a happy self drafted skirt!

The design for this jacket was born from this lovely unique fabric that I ordered from Emma One Sock. I was only able to get my hands on 2 yards and there was no more available. In my head I had envisioned myself wearing this lovely French style jacket with a collar and long sleeves and maybe some extra left over to accent a skirt.
My final designs!

Well, 2 yards was just not enough to envision this look. So I had to come up with a different design.

What could I do? I started with doing some very focused research on Pinterest. (I don't use Pinterest that often because I find that it's a bit like going down a rabbit hole!!) I came up with several design options that could possibly work. 1- I could stay with my original length jacket and just do short sleeves and no collar at all. 2- I could do a crop jacket with sleeves with maybe enough for a collar. 3- I could do just a shorter length jacket (not cropped) with fancy short sleeves and maybe enough for a collar. Lucky for me that this fabric was almost a full 60 inches wide and since my pattern is a princess seam jacket there are more options in how to place your pattern pieces, more options for puzzling the layout.

My final decision was to make the design from my master jacket pattern by shortening the length by 2 inches so it would hit more at the high hip area. (This is the exact same master pattern that I used for my French jacket) I decided to shorten the sleeves and change them from 3-piece sleeves to 2-piece sleeves plus a design element. The last change was to change the neckline shape and possibly add a neckline. I decided up front that I would wait to decide what to do with the collar until after I had the main jacket constructed.

My design process consisted of me making up a new muslin of my master jacket pattern with the shorter length first with no sleeves. Since I have lost weight and have been exercising more my body is still slowly changing shape and I wanted to make sure  the fit was perfect. I made some slight changes to the upper side front and added in a front waist dart in the side front piece to give it more shaping.
Mock up of my master jacket in a shorter length plus 2 different sleeve options.

Next part in the design process was to develop a short sleeve 2-piece pattern. I did this by taping my 3-piece sleeve pattern together on my work table at the seam lines and redrawing it using my underarm notch as one seam and the shoulder notch as the second seam (this was an existing seam in my pattern) and picked an arbitrary length. I mocked this sleeve up and basted it into my jacket and made any necessary changes to length, width, etc..

With a good 2 piece short sleeve I then mocked up 2 more sleeve designs. One was a gathered poof at the hem and the second is a bell like shape from the bicep line down. This bell like shape was inspired from an old Vogue pattern in my pattern collection. I bought this pattern just because I liked the sleeves and here was my chance to incorporate a similar design.

With the full mock up in hand I was headed to Baltimore to take Design 1 class from Sarah Veblen. My good friend, Wendy- The Couture Counsellor, and I shared a day before the class of private time with Sarah. This was one of the muslins that I brought with me, I also brought my lovely jacket fabric, underlining choice and buttons with me. I wanted to be able to discuss the entire jacket that I had in mind not just the actual muslin.

Some top the considerations that I wanted to discuss with Sarah was thoughts in sleeve design with consideration to the fabric, construction considerations with the thought that this short sleeve jacket is meant to be worn always closed, more as a top in contrast to a traditional jacket. It was also going to be worn in the warmer portions of the year. 

The mock up of the jacket with the different sleeves was so much fun to make! With input from Sarah, I made the decision to use the gathered bell sleeve and she made some minor fitting changes to my armhole and sleeve to make the fit cleaner. 
Jacket construction in progress!

The final jacket is underlined in an imperial batiste purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics. The seams were all machine stitched and then finished with the serger. Due to the softness of the fabric I needed a good facing to support the upper side front and keep it from collapsing. (After discussion with Sarah the decision has been made to make a permanent change to my jacket constructions by always adding in an organza chest plate to that area to keep it from collapsing into that hollow area) In the case of this jacket I made a full facing that I developed by overlapping my front and side front pieces at the upper fronts and drawing a single facing. This facing was then serge finished into the armhole, worked like a charm!!
Jacket inside out on my dressform showing the underlining, facings, bias binding on hem.

For the facings and the under collar I used a small scale cotton print that coordinated with the large scale print that I used for the skirt. More on the skirt later!
Detail photo of the inside of the sleeve and showing how I attached the facings to the front armhole and back shoulder.

Once the main jacket was constructed, I worked on designing a collar using the techniques I learned in the Suzy Furer Patternmaking + Design: Collars and Closures Craftsy Class. I decided on a partial roll collar and after 3 muslins I settled on the final one. The roll in the back is higher and it comes around to the front and lays almost flat. I left a small space in the center front so that it would frame the perfect vintage yellow 1920's Czech glass buttons from my button collection. 
Top shows the final collar and my decision to have the stripe of the fabric go towards horizontal at the front. I felt this gave the collar dimension and set it apart from the front of the jacket. The bottom photos show the collar in the muslin stage and sleeve detail.

With the collar completed I moved onto the final step of making a final decision on the center front closure. I decided for using only 3 buttons with the bottom one at my center bust and then evenly spaced going up. Above and below the buttons are sewn in plastic snaps to keep the jacket closed. 
Detail photos of the three buttonholes and the clear large plastic snaps used to hold the jacket fully closed.

I am so very pleased with the final product!!

The skirt was self drafted from my master straight skirt pattern. I really honed in on my skirt shape and design from my sketching tools. First,I sketched out my jacket on my croquis to the correct proportions.
Sketch of my jacket

Next step was to sketch out several different skirt designs on separate pieces of tracing paper so that I could play around with overlaying them on the jacket to see not only what I liked most but also what would be most appropriate for the occasion that I was making it for. My ultimate decision was to make the center design an a-line skirt. I also plan on making a pencil skirt in a dark grey wool so that the ensemble can be worn as a work appropriate suit.
Sketch of 3 skirt designs. Princess line pencil, A-Line and 6 gored skirt.

 The skirt has 4 panels and all four seams are angled out in a soft curve to give some soft volume in a-line 'flip' type design. There is a full lining, 3 waist darts on each side back and 2 on each side front, an invisible center back zipper and some added elastic in the 2 inch wide waistband for stability and comfort. 
Here you can see me auditioning the fabric on the dress form and close ups of the jacket fashion fabric and the options for facing and undercollar fabrics.

The fabric for this skirt was actually from my collection of high quality quilting cottons that I purchased several years ago when the local quilting shop went out of business. I had this 2 1/2 yard piece of a larger stylized flower head print and the smaller cuts of coordinating prints to play with that I used in the jacket construction. 

The final look was perfect for my granddaughters baptism and second birthday! I also recently wore this outfit to the ASG national Conference in Indianapolis. This is a most comfortable and stylish outfit to wear! 
The final outfit and being worn at the church for Princess Victoria's baptism.


  1. What a lovely jacket! The sleeves are fabulous and the fit is spot on. How amazing you came up with that lovely design while adapting to your fabric constraints.

    1. Thank you very much Nancy! sometimes those fabric constraints can push us out of our comfort zone and into something very cool.

  2. This jacket is absolutely beautiful on you. The ensemble is the perfect showcase of your considerable design talent and formidable construction skills.

    1. Thank you so much Wendy!It helps that I have surrounded myself with such a highly talented group of woman, we keep each other motivated.

  3. I am so glad I got to see this pretty jacket at ASG. You look lovely in it.

  4. I saw your beautiful jacket on FaceBook and so glad there was also a link to your blog. You really knocked it out of the park!! The design, construction, fit, fabric choices - all work together to make a wonderful outfit. And so smart of you to make something versatile enough to wear for multiple occasions.

    1. Thank you so much Robin! Pencil skirt for this outfit is in progress on my work table.


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