Monday, November 7, 2011

A Blazer for Mom

My mom has always been the biggest promoter, sponsor and motivator of my creative undertakings, no matter what field they happened to be in. So it is no surprise she also gave me a little push onto the next level in sewing: making a tailored garment for someone other than myself... She also insisted on being my first "real" customer, wanting to pay for it. At this point Mom, I apologize for how long you had to wait for this!
She expressed her wish for a blazer in Spring, and I only now got done with it... But then again, we live 800 kilometers apart from each other...

I knew this project was going to stretch my abilities a bit, a blazer is a difficult garment to begin with, and to fit it perfectly, there have to be several fittings... First, we decided on a general shape and pattern to base the blazer on. I didn't want to have to make the pattern from scratch, as that would have probably taken me an extra 5 years...

We took the 50's blazer that some of you already know from my 1950's Travel Set as a first guideline:

There were plenty of adjustments to be made. I made a muslin for a first fitting, which went surprisingly well and we actually only needed one additional fitting after that.
We changed the sleeves from 3/4 to full length and I added a sleeve vent to it - which was a first for me and I struggled a bit with making the pattern for it...

We also changed the neckline and made it a bit lower, changing it from four to three buttons, altering the lapels/folding line just slightly to fit the new shape.

My Mom has a very classy, elegant style, but is an active, moving, working woman at the same time. So I was hoping to create something that she could wear for a lot of different occasions. The embellishments were chosen accordingly - not too frilly and over the top, but just to add a bit of class and "hand-made" to it...

The back of the pattern gave me trouble last time I made it, and it did again this time around. It looked so pretty before hemming, it fell beautifully, but the moment I hemmed it the seam allowances from the inset rectangle made it all stiff. I ended up hemming the pieces separately first, and then sewing them together at the hem by hand, basically only sewing together the outer layer. This is where hand-sewing really made a difference!
Uhm - though it DOES look crocked in this picture!
I love this back - it's a very flattering shape for women with broad shoulders and short torsos which is how my mom and me are built. It adds no extra width to the shoulders and enhances the waist. I'd have liked to make the waist even more tailored, but this is where the customers wishes came first :-)

By the way - have you heard of the BurdaStyle book yet? I am a contributor and made a coat - a post about it will come up soon. So I have made a lot of coats and a few jackets before, but I still say they are very complicated to make! One of the most important things is choosing the right fabrics, though I would say that is true for any type of sewing project. I used a wool fabric for the outer, and 100% silk for the lining.

Click on the RTW Tailoring sewalong button in the side-bar (or click the link right here...) to get to Sherrys blog: Pattern, Scissors, Cloth. That is the wonderful tutorial I used. I have already made a 1930's summer coat using those guidelines and they really are fabulous.

This is also the reason I didn't take any construction photos of this blazer or am not writing anything how-to about it. Sherry tells you EVERYTHING you need to know about jacket/coat construction. It's not really only for RTW construction, you can add as much couture and hand-made technique to it as you want. But she shows you how to get your paper pattern right, how to calculate the lining pattern so that there is no guess-work in the end and everything is just a breeze to sew together.

This is the first version I made from this pattern

It is also good to see for me that I actually really DID learn a lot in the past year or so. While the first blazer I made from this pattern looks ok, I definitely would have made it better this time around. One of the major things is learning how much interfacing/fusible lining something like that needs, and where. This is actually tricky on a blazer with cut-on sleeves like this one. And while on my first blazer I didn't use enough stabilizers (like on the sleeve cuffs, or also on the collar), I have over-fused other garments before. This is not something I can just put in a sentence so you will make it right from now on - it is something you learn from experience only, trial and error...

Also, on my older version I chose the wrong type of button holes. I wasn't aware then, that the finishing touches like button holes and hems could make or break your whole garment. While I am not sure the bound button holes were the perfect solution with this fabric, and the execution could be more precise, I am still fairly happy with it.

 There is also slight puckering happening on one side of the front bodice, and I don't really know why. Luckily, this is something that is more noticeable in photos than real life.

All in all I highly recommend you making something for someone other than yourself. Knowing that another person will be turning your garment inside out and looking at every stitch really pushes you to a next level of precision and sewing ambition. I am dreading and at the same time looking forward to the moment my mom asks me for a perfect pair of pants!

Still to come up - as promised before - how I try to turn old pants into a shirt....

Happy sewing!


  1. I bet your mum is soo pleased with the most fab blazer. well done.

  2. I actually love the cream coloured version too. It looks quite chic, and it's making me think that I may need a cream linen summer jacket....hmmmm....

  3. Oh, I've seen this blazer in and thought to myself "It must be Of Dreams and Seams creation". Well, I was right! :)
    You definitely have an unmistakable style (even if the garment isn't for you). And I am even more impressed with your sewing skills - I would never guess it's a home-made blazer!

  4. This looks AWESOME, that pattern has such neat details. And I agree totally about Sherry's sewalong. It's going to influence every other jacket I make ever again.

  5. Uiiih Katja ! Gerade wollte ich Dir ein Kompliment schreiben für Dein süsses Panda Cape (Deins ist viiiel schöner als das Original ) , da hast Du schon den nächsten Hammer post veröffentlicht : Egal wie lange dieser Blazer gebraucht hat um fertig zu werden - er ist ganz , ganz toll geworden ! Absoluter Respekt ! Und ich bin sicher , Deine Mama wird sich sehr darüber freuen
    Liebe Grüsse Dodo

  6. Your Mum's blazer looks fantastic - she must be so happy with it. I really love the design and all the details, like those piped and bound buttonholes - wow!!
    I'm so glad the sewalong is still helping too, even though you're a jacket pro now!