Pink Wool Flannel spring suit
I purchased the fabric for this suit a year or 2 ago from Sawyer Brook. I t is a wool flannel with a small amount of spandex stretch in it. I had quite a bit of it because my initial thoughts were a pink pantsuit. Which I am glad I deviated from for many reasons.
The flannel was nice but I wanted something with a little more substance. So I took an 8 inch square and wash and dried it with other laundry twice and I liked how it fulled up a bit, softened and became just a bit loftier. I was very happy with it. It did shrink in the length so having the extra yardage really paid off for me. I figured out the shrinkage and cut the 5 yards into smaller lengths after playing with the pattern placement. I washed and dried it twice and had a ton of pink fluff in the dryer lint catcher!
The grey fabric is a faux leather, also from Sawyer Brook. This fabric sews up like a dream once I figured it out. I cut the lengths crosswise for the belting. You can iron on the backside as is or on the smooth front with an organza press cloth. To create the belting I folded over the cut edges to meet in the middle and heated it with the iron, using a press cloth, and then using clappers on it while it cooled. This meant it took quite a bit of time to get the faux leather belting pressed. For the top stitching I played with some test versions to figure out the best stitch length, needle, presser foot and distance from the edge. I used a 3.0 stitch length to show off the top stitching a bit more. In retrospect I should have also used 2 spools of thread for the top stitching for better definition. I also used a teflon foot on my machine which worked great.
I wanted to make this a spring suit so I decided to keep the body unlined and only lined the sleeves for ease of putting on and off and because of the wool, I didn’t want it to be itchy.
All this inside seams, facing edges and hem are hong king finished. The belting pieces are all for embellishment and are non functional.
Let’s chat about the design for a bit.
My inspiration for the garment came directly from several garments from Downton Abbey, The hunting garments for both the men and woman and day dresses from during the Great War persiod. I liked how the garments were simplified and the use of belting.
This design has been ruminating in my brain for several years and it wasn’t until last November when I was working on creating a pattern for an oversized blouse to be used as a light shirt jacket that I knew immediately what I wanted to make! It was such an overpowering feeling that I promptly put everything else that I was working onto the side and worked on a muslin for this jacket.
This pattern started from my darted bodice master pattern and was enlarged using the basic method from the book Patternmaking for Jacket and Coat design by Pamela Vanderlinde. This was a slow sewing process and I was not in a hurry. It felt so nice to take my time and really think about the steps and the different ideas that I wanted to play with. I knew that I wanted a cuff on the sleeve and played with designing this as a cut on folded cuff versus a separate cuff that is sewn on. I ultimately decided to do a sewn on cuff because I liked how the seam gave a fuller roll at the sleeve hem with the seams of the flannel. It also made it a tad easier to create the ‘windows’ for the belt loops.
The biggest challenge on this garment was creating the belt loops. Since these were not going to be functional belts I because I wanted a very clean and more feminine look I tested several ways to create these faux belt loops. I will not lie, this seemingly quiet detail took a lot of work and testing and then very carefull implementation.
I used a loftier fusible interfacing that did not squash the loftiness of the pink flannel and really did not change the hand of the fabric. I then cut 32 3x3 squares of silk organza. (Basically I was creating 32 faced windows or Spanish snap buttonholes or Chanel buttonholes, whatever name you choose the basic construction is exactly the same)
Each faced hole was 1 1/8 inch long and an 1/8 inch wide and were made in pairs that were 1/2 inch apart. The belting was then thread through these and it creates a belt loop that is seamless with the body of the fabric. I would not use these for functional belting but for embellishment it gave me the exact look that I wanted! I think all, with the test versions, I probably made about 40 of these faced windows.
The pockets are patch pockets that are sewn on by hand. They have a fun shape and are placed at an angle that follows the angle of the double breast darts as well as also including the belted embellishment.
To get the fullness at the center back in the exact area that I wanted was a little bit of work. I first used my fitted back master pattern with back waist shaping darts and at the center back seam I started several inches above the belt line and added width in that area starting from nothing and graded out to include and extra inch on each seam allowance by the time I reached the hem. Then when I did the belting I stitched the ‘loops’ down on the inside so that the fullness stayed exactly where I wanted it!
To keep the belting from being too heavy in the back I used a length of belting with grosgrain ribbon on each side that attaches into the side seams. This helps to support the back belting embellishment so that it wont sag. To protect the entire thing and keep it from catching on anything, I hand stitched a silk facing made of the same fabric used for the Hong Kong binding over the back belting.
The softness of the wool flannel meant that I used a pair of angel wing shoulder pads for just a little bit of structure. Since this is an unlined jacket I covered the shoulder pads in the light pink silk charmeuse using the directions from Sarah Veblen’s YouTube channel. Worked like a charm!
The buttons are from Fishmans Fabrics. I was not quite happy with the buttons I had originally picked from my button collection and with the amount of work that I was putting into this garment I just couldn’t put meh buttons on it. Not having the time to go to my usual button shop I just made a quick trip to Fishmans and was floored to find these perfect buttons. Simply perfect for the jacket and the right size!!
With the rest of the light pink silk charmeuse i made a sleeveless shell to wear under the jacket. I am honestly very happy to have that piece of silk out of my collection and used! It has been in the collection for a good twenty plus years and i just agonized over it because it just isn’t my color pink but it was one of my first purchases of good fabric and I couldn’t seem to part with it. Feels so good to have finally used it and put it to a very good use at that!
The skirt was originally going to be of a different design, a pencil skirt with belting embellishment running vertically. However, when I tried out the jacket with different skirt silhouettes it quickly became evident that this soft jacket required a softer skirt and not a structured pencil out of the same fabric.
I used what I call my master ‘flippy’ skirt pattern with some extra fullness added in to give it the soft look. It is lined to the edge with front slant pockets and an invisible zipper at center back. The skirt line is anchored to the main fabric with swing tacks at all four seams.
This was a super fun project where I really enjoyed the design process and the slow sewing. Seeing it all come to life exactly how I pictured it in my mind gave me a great sense of self satisfaction and of accomplishment. Yay me!! This is one of my garments that will be entered into the Annual Haute Couture Club of Chicago fashion show being held on May 9th at the historic Chicago Knickerbocker hotel.