One day this week I sewed the final stitches on my wool suit. Yes, doing the skirt hem finished it off, and now it is ready to wear. For those of you who read my last post and ventured a guess on which pattern I used, you were correct if you chose number three. As a reminder, here it is.
However, I did not choose it for the reasons you might think. Here is how I made my decision:
1) With such a bold plaid fabric, I thought a shorter jacket would be a better look.
2) I thought the square tabs on the front of the jacket would compliment the windowpane check.
3) The kimono sleeves are such a classic mid-century look that I couldn’t resist trying them.
4) And, I love a challenge! Even though the sleeves are “kimono” type sleeves, which means while there is no sleeve cap to match plaids, they do have seams down the middle of them cut on an angle. Plus the jacket has side, front and underarm seams, a rounded collar which puts the plaid on a curve, and, finally, the skirt has six seams. And, I needed to make sure that the check also matched, up and down and side to side, from jacket to skirt. So, that’s a lot of matching.
The first thing I did was make up the jacket in muslin. From that I determined that I needed to add a couple inches to its length, and I decided to make the sleeves ¾ rather than below elbow length. Then I got nervous about the windowpane check looking good in kimono sleeves, so I got out my magic marker and “drew” the check onto the muslin, so I could visualize it. Okay, I liked it!
Then I laid out the pattern pieces, and oh my gosh, what a puzzle of matching notches and checks. I knew I couldn’t make a mistake, so after I laid it out, I let it sit overnight. The next day, after cogitating on it overnight, I realized I had not properly matched up the check on the shoulder seams. I made the adjustment, double and triple checked (pardon the pun), made sure I would have the same reveal at the hem of the jacket as on the skirt, and confidently (actually about 92% confidently) cut it – and the lining – out.
First, I made the skirt (except for the hem). I like to put my zippers in by hand, as I just think it makes a nicer look.
And here is how I finished the waistband inside:
By the way, have you noticed how it is now almost impossible to find a ready-made skirt or pants with a waistband? Another reason to sew!
The jacket called for five bound buttonholes: one at the neck, on the two tabs on the front of the jacket, and in the sleeve plackets. (This, of course, meant that I had to find buttons first. A trip to the local fabric/craft store produced some, which I immediately recognized as “perfect.” They are made by La Mode, an old button company still going strong after 125 years.) Whenever I am making bound buttonholes, I like to make a couple of “practice” ones. Every fabric handles differently, and with this fabric, I also needed to decide what part of the fabric I would use for the “bands”. Here is my practice piece, which will help to explain what I mean.
It always strikes me as being “out of sequence” when practically the first thing I have to do is make the buttonholes, but so it is with these bound beauties!
The rest of sewing the jacket was fairly straightforward, just time-consuming! The collar was a dream to do because there was a separate pattern piece for the two-piece, bias undercollar. A bias undercollar makes the top part of the collar finish up with a smooth and neat turn. Vogue Patterns – I love you!
I lined both the skirt and the jacket in a silk crepe de chine which I ordered online from fabrics.net/The Fabrics Network. This company, in Spokane, Washington, carries beautiful solid silks and other fabrics. I got swatch/color cards from them last year and have purchased several pieces of fabric from them, all of them lovely, excellent quality goods, quickly delivered.
So here are some shots of my finished suit:
So – why did I say this project was “kind of” complete? Well, wouldn’t a simple blouse in that same lining silk be lovely? I just happen to have enough fabric to make one (!) – and I’m thinking about using this pattern:
Also, when I purchased the wool, I bought plenty to allow for matching those checks, and the wonderful salesperson at Britex cut the piece generously for me as well – many thanks, dear lady! So – I have enough left to make a simple lined overblouse, which could be worn just with the skirt for a variation on a two-piece “little black dress.” Memo to self: move this idea to the top of my “sewing to do” list for next Fall!