Monday, March 1, 2010

Burda 12-2008-116, Tuxedo Jacket of Doom

Burda 12-2008-116 Thumbnail

All right, it's done. The Tuxedo Jacket of Doom from Burda 12-2008-116 that I wrote about last April, having abandoned it in early March, is no longer wadded up on my sewing table as it has been the past year. I can't say it looks a whole lot better than when it was wadded up on my sewing table, but it will look fine on a lectern from 10 feet. I have a couple of speeches coming up so I will wear it to at least one of them. I made the dress way back at the beginning of last year (will try to review soon) and have the skirt cut out, which should be a nice, normal, easy project!

I had planned this for a conference I was running March 2009. I don't have to wear a suit too often at work (thank goodness), but I really hate wearing personality-less clothes even on an occasional basis. So I wanted a suit-ish outfit that reflected my style. Unfortunately, I just didn't leave myself enough time, nor did I have enough psychic energy, to complete the project while I was also doing the work for the conference. My final stumbling block was the welt pockets with flap. For some reason, I had in my head that you had to sew the flap on at the same time as the welt and I just couldn't figure it out and it seemed like way too much marking with basting thread, millions of times even.

I am not ready to switch to Spring sewing yet, because I have many Spring/Summer clothes but I am still not happy with my Fall/Winter wardrobe (though much happier than in years past). Once I go Spring, I don't go back so I need to capitalize on my Fall/Winter motivation while I can. However, I couldn't think of what project I wanted to do next. I took it as a sign (along with PR's UFO Contest that I should return to this jacket.

Homemade-y Looking WeltI happen to have Claire Shaeffer's Complete Book of Sewing Shortcuts out from the library, so I decided just to check and see what she has to say about welt pockets with flaps. And duh, there it was. You make the welt as per usual, and once it's completed you slip the flap inside and stitch it to the excess welt allowance. Well, I understand welt pockets so that was no big thing. I stitched the flap down when I stitched-in-the-ditch to keep the welt in place. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough fabric to make a practice welt; after managing to squeeze a dress, jacket, and skirt out of 3 yards there were no scraps larger than a few square inches. So I made the welt lips too wide and the ends are all squinched and it looks pretty homemade. But at least the placement matches up and I can keep business cards in the pockets.

Pink Silk Lining I hadn't cut out the lining before abandoning this project. I chose this nice silk from The Carol Collection but was dreading cutting it out as it is a slippery, fiddly silk. Actually, cutting and constructing the lining turned out to be no biggie and a quick part of the project. So that was a small mercy!

Let's talk about the sleeves, shall we? Wow. Easing in sleeves is a common sewing dislike/complaint, but it has never really been a problem for me. I have a fairly high tolerance for tiny tucks and wrinkles so I just don't get exercised over it. But this. This was a whole other level. The back sleevecap is just HUGE. The front sleeve eases in no problem, very smooth and lovely looking. The back sleevecap is about twice as large as the opening it is supposed to go into. Seriously. I attempted it three times, using various methods to reduce the size and the armscye kept getting more and more distorted, with attendant pulling along the back and discomfort, that I finally gave up and just gathered the sleeve. It does not fit with the style and it does not look good. I used a large shoulder pad to give even more emphasis to the shoulder, in the hopes of fitting into the "strong shoulder" trend, but really it is a disaster.

Back I cut the center back with a seam rather than on the fold to give me better swayback fitting. I should learn to take photos of the backs of projects before I finish them so I know what they look like! This seemed fine in the mirror but is pretty ick. I think eventually I will need to open out the lining (there was a reason I stitched the hem by hand) and take some of that bulk out of there.

And now let's talk about the rest of the sleeve, with the bagging and bunching at the inner elbow and the spiraling of the sleeve down the arm. It is so terrible!!!! Given my shortness of fabric, it is certainly conceivable that I did not cut the sleeve pieces exactly on grain. So perhaps the spiraling is my fault, although the back sleeve seam appears to run straight down the arm. But that bunching is a drafting issue. There is an elbow dart and it doesn't make a dent in that baggy mess. It looks like I've been wearing it for two weeks straight. If there is a quick-and-dirty fix to take out some of that bulk by taking in either the upper or lower sleeve seam, I'm all ears.

Covered Snap Closure I couldn't decide what to do about the closure. I didn't want to make a bound buttonhole because I just wanted it done. I didn't have a good button to match anyway. I finally decided on a covered snap. I used this tutorial from Threads Magazine (thank goodness I saved those tiny scraps). I interfaced the circles for covering the snaps because the fabric is not a tight weave and subject to breaking. I fray-checked around the post of the post side, and inside the hole of the hole side so hopefully they will hold up. I actually like this snap treatment.

Side View(At least the jacket looks cute in this view.) This project was about getting it done, not getting it perfect. It was a total nightmare and I don't think I sewed a single seam of the body jacket only once, and only a few of them a mere two times. It was two steps forward and one step back the whole way. I think even Tim Gunn would have abandoned "Make it work" for "I'm very concerned."

But I kept thinking, I'm never going to learn if I don't do it. It was my first successful notch collar in a jacket. My oldest UFO is a notch-collar jacket I started shortly after graduating college in 1996 in which the collar went horribly wrong; I finally threw that one away this year. Without sewing diagrams, I first sewed--and serged--the wrong edges together (you sew the widest edges together in a collar, right?). So I had to unpick that and use what was left of my seam allowances. Then I accidentally put it in upside down, with the undercollar on top. I had diligently trimmed the seam allowances a fraction to allow for a good turn of cloth, so the undercollar was different from the upper. I left the collar that way until the end, when I acknowledged that it just wasn't going to work. So I ripped it out and fray-checked the heck out of the spot where I had clipped the facings down to the stitching and put it back in. The entire unit is not perfect, but I will give myself that the notch on that collar is sharp.

I am, if I may be immodest, good at the sewing things I do. I'm good at dresses and skirts, my invisible zippers come out perfect 98% of the time, and I have an eye for prints and colors and styles that will flatter me. But I rarely stray from my comfort zone. I don't feel bad about this. Sewing is my hobby, not a test of my character. However, finishing a project like this, that is quite outside my comfort zone, is an accomplishment and I feel that the practice will help me expand my skillset. Whether I ever want to use those (rudimentary) skills again is a whole other matter!

All photos of this project are here and the pattern review is here.

27 comments:

Lisette M said...

I give you lots of credit for persevering, especially since you weren't happy on how it was coming along. I totally believe like you that even if it isn't perfect you have learned a lot and the next one will be easier. Congratulations!!

Marie-Christine said...

Harumph. It does sound all too much like a test of character. But you're right to feel accomplished, it is wearable at least. It's blah compared to what you usually make, but that's the point of a conference-jacket, right? Very hard to stay motivated though when something's so far from what you love. Maybe you should make the next one in fluorescent orange or something :-)?

Reethi said...

I made a jacket last year that was a disaster as well, but I was really glad I stuck to it and finished. You really do learn from it. And your notched collar looks really good, and that's a very useful thing to know how to do, so good for you!

I've always believed in BWOF drafting, especially compared to the big 4, so I'm glad you warned us about the fit issues with the sleeve. I loathe setting in sleeves, so I'll make it a point to avoid this jacket pattern, if I ever make another jacket, ie.

Eugenia said...

I can understand why you're not entirely happy with this because your garments are always so beautifully constructed. That said, I really do think that this is a nice jacket. You notice its tiny flaws because you have had a bad time making the jacket - I bet nobody else notices them. You might want to try taking it to be professionally steamed - that might perk it up a bit and make you look at it differently. It's a great style and the fabric is a beautiful colour that will complement lots of outfits.

Little Hunting Creek said...

Congratulations! I avoid projects that aren't working too, and they haunt me. Sometimes you have to finish them for mental health reasons. It looks good, too. The flaws you point out are only noticeable to you, because you know where they are. Now you have karmic permission to buy more fabric :)

Jacqui said...

It looks way cute with jeans! The fabric is too nice to have let it sit as a UFO.

AuntieAllyn said...

Well, I think this is a very nice looking jacket, and you get big kudos for seeing it through! But it doesn't have your marvelous style . . . it's a great, safe professional jacket, but I love seeing you in more vivid prints and colors!

beangirl said...

Wow. Congratulations! You have WAY more strength of purpose than I would ever have. Ever.

KID, MD said...

Yay for getting it finished! It certainly does lack your usual flair, but it will be good for boring business-y things, and it looks good from here! I love your expression in the thumbnail pic - it expresses your feelings about this experience very well!

Cennetta said...

Great you were able to finish the jacket and thanks for showing/telling about the details.

Pamela said...

Hey Trena, Hope you are well - as for the jacket fit - been there many times myself. I have always told myself it's part of a learning curve, but I hate wearing my "disasters" and hate throwing them out also. Just remember, you can't score a home run 100% (but your batting average is pretty impressive!) P.S. Thanks for showing the bad with the good - it gives the rest of us hope!

BConky said...

Hey at least you finished it.

Anonymous said...

You did well to finish it. I always finish my pieces (sometimes I then throw them out but I always finish them LOL). However, you should read Kathleen Fasanella on sleeve cap ease. It's bogus, a myth, or in other words completely uneccesary apparently. If men (who have bigger shoulders) don't need it, why do women? Next time - cut off all the ease (and raise, not lower, the armscye to give yourself room to move. Try it on a doll if you don't believe it.

Helen

Brenna said...

Yay for finishing the jacket! Maybe when you have some distance on the whole experience, you'll enjoy wearing it! I think you look great...plus, I envy your heels!

Venus de Hilo said...

A bushel of perserverance points to you! Congratuations on tackling a jacket. I want to push my sewing skills this year, try some more challenging garments and fabrics; this post was good inspiration to focus on the learning/accomplishing aspects and see that as success. Thank you!

Carol said...

My greatest disasters are always jackets. I've learned a lot along the way doing the same things you have, but I still hate notched collar jackets!

Faye Lewis said...

I commend you and am inspired by your diligence in finishing a year old project.

A. said...

If you take the sleeves out of the equation, the body and collar look really, really sharp. I'm not as worried about the bunching in the back as you are (maybe because I have a swayback too and all my clothes are bunchy?) That covered snap is perfection. Jackets are HARD. You did it. Nice work!

Lynn said...

Thank you. I had wanted to see a tuxedo jacket sewn up. Yours is really nice. You're a handy girl to have around.

Vicki said...

Mmm, I see what you mean. What a pain! Not sure what happened with the sleeves but it would appear that the upper back is too small - see the pull between shoulder blades? And maybe the hips too tight which is stopping the waist from flowing smoothly over your curves. It is still beautifully done (and love the lining) so wear it open and those back issues won't be visable. Well done on actually getting it done!! Oh, and beautiful notch collar too :)

Dana said...

Ditto what Beangirl said!

(Your covered snap is very impressive.)

senaSews said...

You did it and it looks so much better than my first sewn jackets! I think you learned a lot ... and now you can turn with a clean conscience to new projects!

Carole said...

Good for you for finishing and a couple of new tricks up your sleeve - a notched collar (sharp!) and welt pockets with tabs. Okay, you've inspired me. Job well done.

Clio said...

Kudos for finishing! I think it's a beautiful color and looks better than you think especially styled with jeans. Although, I am totally with you on the elbows - how bizarre!

Uta said...

It does look cute in the last picture! Maybe you could do something about the arms by fusing and recutting? On the other hand, you're such a productive sewer, I'm sure you'll finish another, perfect notched collar jacket in no time!

Lindsay T said...

Ooh, the whole fitting thing just takes me way out of my comfort zone. I love your line about sewing being a hobby and not a test of character. I'd fail miserably if it was!

eword10 said...

I agree with Lindsay T about you talking about sewing is your hobby. That's so true! We have to keep perspective. The next project will be easier. Keep workin' it!