Friday, March 2, 2012

The Jacket that Wears Me

You know when you make a pattern you think will look terrific on you, with fabric you really like, only to end up with a garment you don't wear? That was my experience with this jacket. I love the softness and color of the fabric and I love the design of the pattern. But the two are not a happy marriage, and I when I wear the jacket, I feel like it is wearing me.
The styling of Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8778 appealed to me from the very start. Asymmetrical zipper, dolman sleeves, and a gorgeous, huge collar. What could possibly go wrong?
Vogue 8778 Pattern Envelope Photo
What went "wrong" was my choice of fabric. It's a luscious organic soy and cotton french terry from Sawyer Brook. The color is *me*, the hand is soft, and I thought it would work great for this design. An email conversation with Katherine helped me realize my fabric was too drapey and clingy. The pattern needs a fabric with more body, like a fleece, so the collar will stand up a bit and lie smoother. Here's what Katherine wrote (posted here with her permission):

"My guess (without seeing and feeling the actual fabric) is that the soy/organic cotton/spandex is too soft for the collar to stand up. Probably fusing a lightweight knit interfacing would help if you do another one in a similar fabric. The rust fabric used on the pattern envelope was heavy and had a lot of body so it holds a 'stand'. The orange and grey fabrics are softer but when they photograph them the collar only has to 'stand' for a moment and in actuality probably looks more like yours in real life. If you overlap the ends and close with a pin (I do this with one of mine), or add a button and buttonhole (I've done this too) it creates more of a frame for the face which at my age I'm finding flattering."

In addition to being too soft, the fabric is also clingy. No more so than the RTW french terry hoodie I'm wearing right now, but just not the best choice for this pattern. My husband tried to straighten the jacket as he photographed me wearing it, but it still managed to cling to itself, the shirt I wore underneath, and my butt.
Katherine's idea of interfacing the collar is a great one. I think it would have given the terry enough body to hold itself up better. While constructing the collar, I decided to "favor the fabric", to prevent the edges from curling up. I trimmed just a 1/4" or so from the bottom edge of the undercollar. This was an unnecessary step that actually made the edge curl under, as shown in the above photo. (I'm not beating myself up about this, just mentioning it in hopes it will prevent someone else from making the same mistake!)

The pattern calls for a second fabric for the sleeves, but I chose to use the reverse side of the terry instead. I did this on the collar, too. It adds some nice texture to an otherwise smooth garment face. I found the pattern sleeves to be drafted too long. I wanted the seam joining them to the body of the pattern to stay above the elbow, as pictured on the pattern envelope. The seam fell below my elbow, so I cut off about 2". Even with that, I needed to shorten the lower sleeve an inch or so. I also added a bit of width to the sleeves, as they are drafted quite narrow.

Two details that were really fun to work with were the zipper and topstitching.
I knew I would be wearing navy or dark blue tops with the jacket, rather than black. Wanting some contrast, I chose a navy zipper and topstitching thread. To add even more interest, I used twin needle stitching throughout. I like the raised ridge it creates.
When it came to topstitching nice corners on the collar, I was puzzled at first. How was I going to turn the corner? First I thought I would drop one of the twin needles, but then I remembered they're on the same shank (this was twin needle stitching, not cover stitching). Knowing no other solution, I broke the stitching at each of the four corners, leaving long threads.
I removed stitches as necessary and hand sewed each thread to create proper corners. I'm pleased with the result.

 If anyone knows of another technique to achieve this effect, I'd love to hear about it! A front corner:
So, why don't I wear this jacket? Mainly because it just sort of hangs on me. I added a couple of inches too much to the length and the width of the jacket. That, plus the dolman sleeves, make it rather boxy in shape, which isn't flattering to me. Also, while I love the diagonal zipper when it's closed, the jacket doesn't look good at all when it's unzipped. I've worn it a few times, and on each occasion, I felt like the jacket was in control of me, rather than the opposite. I prefer garments that I can put on and forget about. This one demands my attention too often. I think it will end up being an around-the-house layer, as it's very comfortable and warm.

Having said all of this, I still would recommend the pattern to those who like the styling. Just be sure to use a fleece that will stand up on its own, and not wear you!

P.S. We've had a mild winter, but no way does my back yard look like this now! These photos were taken in early December. We had a storm yesterday that has the lawn buried under 6 or 8 inches of snow. No way is spring arriving early here in Massachusetts!


  1. So good to hear from you, Dixie!

    That is too bad! I do agree that it looks too big on you and I certainly understand the frustration of fabric that clings to itself.

    I bet it's super comfy to wear around the house, though. ;)

  2. Yay!!!! (that's for seeing a post from you) :)

    Thanks for this post - it's really very thought-provoking. I get what you mean by the garment "wearing you", and although I LOVE the look of the pattern on the model, your words make me see it in a very different light. I'm not so sure this pattern would be super flattering on very many people (although it can certainly be uber-comfy!)

    Great tip about the corner double-stitching too.

  3. Dixie,

    You have been awarded The Versatile Blog Award! Display the badge on your blog by using the HTML code below. I have removed the first left vee < and you will need to add it back in when you use the code. Go to for the simple rules. Congratulations, Mary

    img border="0" src="" />

  4. Thank you, Mary, for offering me this award. However, I am declining it, as I don't participate in this type of blog activity. It seems too much like a chain letter, which I abhor. I hope I haven't hurt any feelings. Thank you!

  5. You did good sewing on this jacket, so I'm sure it's disappointing that you don't care for it. I hate when a jacket is clingy. I don't like having to pull it down all the time. But, your sewing was great, and maybe you can consider this a muslin and make it again in a fabric more to your liking.

  6. Thank you, friends, for your helpful comments. I've worn the jacket a few times in the past week. I found it really comfy in my studio in the morning before the building heated up. I will definitely wear it there and at home, and in between. If I make it again, I'll use a stiffer fabric and possibly interface the collar. I don't consider it a wadder, by any means. Just a good lesson in fabric selection!

  7. I think it looks very nice, love the color and even the collar even in its flopyness. Nice work on the details, like the top stitching.

  8. Just read your post on PR. I do really like the details you show and the color is fab.u.lous! I wonder how it would work without the close-fitting lower sleeve pieces?

  9. Thank you so much for this post! I'm just cutting out my pattern now (with a heavy fleece) and I have a quick may not even remember at this point. Is the collar two layers of the fabric with interfacing in between? The layout is confusing me a bit. Thanks!

  10. Hi Anna,
    Thanks for your note. The collar is two layers, and there is no interfacing. With the heavy fleece you won't need to interface it. I hope it looks better on you than on me!