Monday, October 25, 2010


Note styling differences: slacks vs. dress, bright vs. dark, sleeve length, open vs. buttoned, accessories. . .

Note what is the same: length of jacket! hair cut! glasses!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jacket with Red Dress

I made a red wool gabardine dress to go with the jacket. (S3673, a vintage pattern, TNT).

Finished First, Posted Last!

I finished the jacket several weeks ago, but wanted to give Maggie a chance to get hers done before I posted. Here is the completed shell, with precious little hand-stitching. I have an inflamed tendon sheath in my thumb (tenosynovitis), so hand stitching is much less enjoyable for me than it is for Maggie. Truth be told, she has always done much better than me at precision work of any kind . . .I'm such a slacker !

Monday, October 18, 2010


I enjoy hand-sewing, so I made time for the details. The cuffs have working buttonholes, so I lined the vent (top). This was not an easy task, since I didn't do it until after I had set in the sleeve.

The handworked buttonholes were incredibly time consuming but satisfying. It will take me another project or two to get the hang of it, but I'm slowly but surely learning how to keep them from looking like little caterpillars--i.e., too wide and too dense.

I bought the chain for this project several years ago. Because the jacket is underlined and interfaced, I wasn't sure it needed the chain's weight to hang well. But I like the sparkle, and it really does make a difference in the jacket's wearability.


I got a sneak peak at Mary's jacket last month. Her crochet trim is simply fabulous, and it made my idea for trim look cheap by comparison. The other big problem was that I couldn't imagine being able to dress my jacket down. It was going to be mostly a dress-up kind of jacket, for which I have little use. This baby's gotta go with jeans!

Finally, a photo of a fringed Chanel jacket in this month's Harpers Bazaar made me rethink my aversion to fringe. After a couple of experiments, I settled on controlled craziness. A one-quarter-inch black petersham ribbon defines the front and pocket edges, while the fringe is made from a 1 1/2 inch wide bias strip that's been gathered in the center and then folded in half. No fringe on the cuff edges--it ruined the lean line, and I could just imagine getting it filled with chalk dust.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Muslin Take 2

If at first you don't succeed. . . I recut the bodice after making an fba and reshaping the neckline by lowering and widening it just one-half inch. Voila! The shape is back. The shoulder pads are too thick--that's an easy fix. The photos make it pretty obvious that the 2-pocket option is the way to go.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Maggie's Muslin Misery

The muslin is mildly discouraging. It fits perfectly--except in the bust. I need to adjust for only one cup size, but my first attempt ruined the very slight hourglass shaping and left me with a perfectly boxy, ugly rectangle, not to mention other wrinkles and gaps. Sigh.

Even if I could get the fit right, the muslin calls attention to more important design issues. The biggest problem? The jacket's jewel neckline doesn't do anything for me. I'm going to try making the neckline slightly more of an oval framing the collarbone. Still, I wonder if that's enough. Mary's choice of a v-neckline may be the best way to break up the strong horizontal lines of the fabric.

The other design question: can my short torso handle four welt pockets, or would it be more flattering to have just two?

Taking the time to assess the fit and design at the muslin stage is luxury I may not be able to afford. I may rue the day I mocked Mary's TNT!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Maggie's Trim

The last big difference: no crochet hook for me! Can't imagine sitting down long enough to learn how. Knitting's no good either. So. . . at emmaonesock I found a lovely soutache bold enough to stand up to the tweed. At Digs, a totally cool shop in downtown Northfield MN, I found vintage rayon ribbon woven on the bias. After weaving the ribbon through the soutache, I embellished it with french knots (Mary says she'd leave off the knots. That's another difference: I'm buttoned down, she isn't). Here's how the trim looks with the fabric.

Mary's Trim -- Crochet

I tried a couple of different patterns, and several trims and yarns. I finally settled on a variation of Bonnie Triola's two-color trim design, which she demonstrated on Stitcher's Guild on July 7, 2010. I changed it slightly. Row 1 and Row 3 are single crochet. I like the one on the left best.


Black - DMC Senso Metallics (90% cotton, 10% Metallic). The metallic effect is very subtle.
Red - 4 strands of DMC Perle Cotton, size 8. 2 strands of true red (color 321) and 2 strands of blue red (color 498)
Metallic - Guterman Metallic Effects Thread, color 71. This is a slightly thicker machine embroidery thread. There are only 55 yards on a spool, and this project required 3 spools.

Size E Embroidery hook.

Mary's Trim

I am HOOKED (HA, Ha) on crochet. Who knew you could have so much fun with a stick and string?

I adapted one of Bonnie Triola's trim designs over on Stitcher's Guild, using Black cotton yarn, red perle cotton, and a metallic embroidery thread. Love it, love it -- a nice vertical line to balance all those horizontal stripes.

And yes, I applied this trim entirely by machine. Karl would too, if he had to sew his own designs!

Maggie's Pattern and Construction

At last a classic Chanel-style pattern appeared in burda style 2/2010. Here is where I begin to part company with DS Mary. I'll never be the designer she is, but give me a good pattern and I'll happily trace it out. The other big difference? I'll be following Claire Shaeffer's instructions for a Chanel jacket, even down to quilting the lining to the tweed. I may even begin with a muslin. As for shortcuts? No fusible underlining for me. And machine stitching the hem? Quelle horreur!

Mary's Pattern and Construction

I am using Nancy Erickson's 1945, with a v-neck conversion, edges rounded to make trim application easier. This pattern is ALMOST perfect -- there is still a bit too much fabric in the chest area at the armscye, but it fits perfectly everywhere and is comfortable to wear as well.

I'm sewing for several fall events, and am really busy with my professional association. I have to do this quick.

The fabric is loosely woven, with great big chunky rovings woven across. Snag city. I am hard on my clothes, and I need this tweed to be supported with fusible interfacing. All body parts are fused, but not the sleeves. I serge-finished the edges before putting it together. If you don't tell anyone, I'll tell you a secret: I even machine stitched the hem on the sleeves and the bottom! GASP!

Maggie's Take on the Tweed

Several years ago Mary acquired way too much of this red and black silk tweed and gave some to me. It's been a challenge: how to work with the horizontal stripes when I am so short? how to trim it when it is so bold on its own? how to find a simple pattern that won't need a fba?

I did want to find a silk print for the lining but ended up with a perfect match in a cotton-silk sateen.

It starts with the fabric

The fabric was a gift from a generous and dear sewing friend. I always loved it, but knew I wouldn't make a matching suit, and was happy to give Maggie a big chunk for her stash (mostly to make room in my cedar chest). Both pieces have been aging for about 5 years, and who knows how long my friend had it!

I decided to line the jacket with the fabric salvaged from my going away dress from my 1982 wedding to DH. This is a red silk crepe with little upside-down checks in horizontal bands. It is not a perfect match, but I love the idea of using it in this jacket. There was enough to cut the body of the lining. The sleeve lining will be Ambiance.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


One fabric. Twin sisters. Two patterns. Two trims. Two construction philosophies.

What will happen?

I've invited DS Maggie to join me on this blog to share our experiences with the black and red raw silk tweed!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Jacket is done!

DH snapped a couple of pictures on our way out to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra opening concert.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Button Choices

Crochet trim is done, Jacket is done. Which buttons should I use? The pearl buttons have a gold lion's head imprinted on them. To me, they say "spring and summer." The brown buttons are a bit more subtle, even though the gold is very bright. Here are detail shots:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crochet Trim

I've been following a discussion about crocheting trims for jackets over on the Nancy Erickson thread at

Here is one I finally settled on. This combines single crochet with a stitch that Bonnie Triola demonstrates. I'm planning to use this on an ivory cotton-rayon texture.

Blue: Lion Brand CottonEase (50% cotton, 50% acrylic) Color 110 Lake
Brown/gold sparkle: who knows -- from stash
Ivory: Louisa Harding Yarns "Merletto" ( 46% viscose, 34% polyamide, 20% linen) color 1
Insertion: Denim trim from Nancy Erickson (trim on right)

Crochet hook, size G

Chain blue & brown together for desired length(multiples of 3 + 1).
Row 2: Drop brown, single crochet.
Row 3: Change to ivory. Chain5. Half double crochet in ninth stitch. Chain 2, Half double crochetevery third stitch (Same as Bonnie Triola's pattern, except using a half double crochet instead of double crochet).
Row 4: Bonnie Triola's instructions for row 3, more or less. I am pretty sure I added an extra chain between cluster stitches.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Something new

At long last, I have finished some spring/summer sewing.
This suit is made from a linen-lycra blend. I'm not showing you the wrinkly pants!

The main pattern pieces of the jacket are Nancy Erickson's 1945. Pockets and sleeves are from McCall's 5817.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Starting a wardrobe for a new professional

My DD, a first year law student, started working in a professor's law office last week. I made this jacket for her from NE's 1945 pattern, shortened about 7-8 inches, and with no pockets or sleeve vents. The fabric is a very dark navy wool, with an ottoman-type texture. I got it in a bundle from Michael's about 3 years ago.