Well, not exactly my first – I used some thrifted polyester to muslin the entire jacket. It was really a learning process…I tried every technique and even had hopes of wearing my first draft until I got to the welt pockets and had an utter fail.
I avidly followed the Craftsy class “Sew Better, Sew Faster” with Janet Pray. She is amazing! I learned so many things it boggled my mind! She taught me:
- Successful topstitching
- How to use a clapper and why
- Better fusing of interfacing
- The burrito method for collars, cuffs and waistbands
- Most important—how to hold the fabric as you sew to keep the sewn layers even!
The last two items I had been introduced to at the Sew Expo here in Washington a couple years ago. They had an Islander Sewing class that was great, but the teacher didn’t make me understand how their method of holding the fabric as you sew would help you be so much more accurate in the pesky top layer vs. bottom layer problem that plagues us all. That technique is ah-mazing! Worth the price of the class. And I know that my Bernina doesn’t pull fabric nearly as badly as my Brother, so if you use a newer machine with 5 feed dogs, this technique is vital. I felt like I had to use a walking foot to sew anything on my Brother. Does anyone know of this pain?
The burrito method I also learned at the Sew Expo, came home and practiced once, then promptly forgot. It is really helpful also and will make my turned under edges look so professional from now on. I am going to incorporate it into my sewing world right now!
I’d like to turn your attention to my welt pockets. I finally reached success! Such a scary process to cut into your project like that. What I did is I put those welt pockets in first, before I sewed the lower side front to any other piece. That way, if the pockets didn’t turn out I could just cut another couple lower side front pieces and go on my merry way without the pockets. With my Plan B clearly laid out, I wasn’t as nervous and they turned out fine. Perfect, in fact. Janet teaches you how a welt could go awry so you can be on the alert for those problems. She also teaches you to mark the hell out of your sewing lines before you sew. That way you know just where to start and stop, down to the stitch.
The “Express Jacket” pattern was not very “express” in my hands. I have been tracking how much time I spend in the sewing room with a timesheet app and it took my 16 hours to complete this baby. Whew! I must be the slowest seamstress in the universe. The practice jacket took 10, and I didn’t finish it since the pockets didn’t work out. But it was a labor of love, and an invaluable learning tool.
I knew I was going to turn my cuffs up, so I cut out some contrast cuff facings to add style. Another feature I love is how the top yoke is turned sideways and then the sideways print looks like it extends down the sleeve. My metal buttons are fun, too, but I did choose not to put buttons on my top pockets. I liked it without, so I left them off.
I love my jacket so! It is going to slip right into my MMM ’14 wardrobe project and pull everything together. I didn’t photograph it with the other pieces yet because I am waiting until May, but I know it is going to be worn to death. I do wish I could take the whole thing and shrink it down a couple sizes (especially the sleeves, they are wide!). I made the XS, but the fit is very relaxed, and that isn’t usually my silhouette. But I will take these jacket sewing tips and tricks and make more jackets. More, more, more!