Completed: Elementary School Art Teacher Jacket

This jacket has been a long time in the making, mostly because it uses one of those precious fabrics that I don't want to screw up!  I have a lot of those now though, so I'm trying to be brave.  It all started on my fabric-buying portion of my trip to Thailand, when I went into a small silk shop, and admired this cool patchwork fabric made up all different striped Thai silks.  I started talking to the owner of the shop, who said she couldn't bear to throw away even scraps, since fabric is precious, so she sews them into these patchwork fabrics (and had some examples of jackets sewn in them in the shop as well).  We bonded over fabric preciousness, and then proceeded to jabber away about sewing in general.  She was really impressed that sewing was a hobby of mine, as it's not so much of a general hobby in Thailand.  Instead, it's very common for people to have clothes made for them, going to the many fabric shops, picking out their fabrics and patterns and having someone else make them.  This was a few years ago, but if you ever go to Bangkok, go to the River City Mall, and visit L.C. Design.  This is one of the few shops I actually have the name of, but it was a great one!  Someday I'll get back to Thailand, and I'll spend half of my time up north playing with elephants (that was one of the best days of my life, seriously) and the other half fabric shopping in Bangkok.

Anyways, fast forward two years, and the fabric was still sitting in my stash, because practically speaking, what can you make with striped silk patchwork fabric?  I wavered between some kind of tee or a dress, and finally landed on a jacket.  I originally was thinking about doing the Tamarack jacket from Grainline Studios, as I've seen some great versions, even if the quilting wouldn't show up at all in the busy fabric, so I bought a navy rayon challis for lining it from Cali Fabrics.  It is seriously one of the most delightful fabrics to have against my skin, even if it turned out to be a mistake for this jacket (more on that later).  So the pattern and fabric languished for another month or so, until I ran across Heather's version of the Wiksten Oversized Kimono Jacket, and I changed my mind.  I had originally discarded the idea of a kimono jacket, as it seemed a little obvious for the fabric, but I loved the idea it could be a reversible jacket, making my crazy fabric a little bit more wearable.

                                               Tamarack Jacket                                             Oversized Kimono Jacket 
                          (photo from Grainline Studio, link above)             (photo from Closet Case Patterns, link above)

Project Details
Pattern:  Oversized Kimono Jacket by Wiksten Patterns (in Making Zine No. 4)
Fabric:  Patchwork Thai Silk (2 m) & navy rayon challis (3 yd)
Size:  XS 
Modifications:  shortened body and sleeves, adjusted back seam, changed hemming method

Project Saga
So last week, I cut out all the pattern pieces, debated over sizing, and finally settled on the XS.  You may think that is not my normal size, which is correct!  The jacket as drafted is very over-sized (as is in the name), and I wanted it to be a touch more fitted, so it didn't overwhelm me.  After all is said and done, I think I might make it even smaller when I make it again (which I will, just with a little more careful selection in fabric).  I laid out my pattern pieces to make sure I could squeak by with my 2 meters of patchwork silk, as this pattern is a fabric-eater, calling for 3 yards each of main fabric and lining.  I had wanted it a bit shorter anyway, which was good, because I barely squeezed the main body (shorted by 4") and the sleeves (shortened by 3") out of the fabric, which meant no pockets on the patchwork side (which I was ok with) and the band would have to be all navy (again, this was preferable).

As I was cutting out the lining, I realized that the fabric was super light-weight and shifty, as opposed to the silk, which was very stable.  Hmm, maybe this isn't a match made in heaven?  I tried as hard as possible to stay on grain, but wasn't perfect in my cutting - oops!  I should have used my fabric stabilizer spray, which I usually do on shifty fabrics, but didn't want to wait for it to dry.  Lesson learned - if I think it's going to be difficult, deal with it, don't just plow ahead.

The instructions for sewing up the jacket are very straightforward and there are nice illustrations for everything, so the body came together nicely.  It was only when I tried to sew the lining to the main fabric that things started to fall apart.  The instructions have you sew the bottom hem with right sides together, and then flip it right side out and hem the sleeves.  I did the bottom hem, but then the lining was hanging out below the silk, and it was all hanging wrong and it looked super unprofessional.  The other weird thing was I essentially had a little duck tail action going on.  I'm still not sure what as causing it, but the back hung weirdly so that the middle of the bottom hem stuck out in the back.  So I unpicked it all and put on my thinking cap.  

I started first with the duck tail issue.  I basically just sewed out a wedge (like the biggest dart ever) with the widest part at the middle back of the jacket, tapering to nothing in my upper back.  I ended up taking out maybe 8" or so at the bottom, so it was pretty dramatic.  I examined the side seams, and it seems like they were tilting back quite a bit, causing the back to bunch like that.  I'm still not sure what the overall cause would be, but it might just be again the fabric choice causing things to hang weirdly.  I repeated sewing the wedge out of the lining, and they essentially matched up again.

I then stuck them wrong sides together (i.e. the way I would wear them), and hung it on my dress form.  I aggressively pinned the hem together and because of my ducktail wedge, I had to cut the hemline to be level again, as there was a large swerve up in the back.  This ended up making it even shorter than I was hoping, but live and learn!  I then basted the hem to make sure everything was in place, and then did a double fold, with the navy folding up onto the silk side.  I did the same thing for the sleeves, with a slightly bigger fold, to make them the right length.  The last thing was to add on the neck band, which again I had to modify the procedure slightly because of my weird hemming method.  It's all a bit cobbled together where the band meets the hem, but it works.  Because I already knew how shifty the navy fabric was and I was using it for both sides of the neck band, I interfaced both sides, instead of just one, which makes it a bit stiffer than I would like actually, but oh well.  Anyways, that is all, and the saga is complete!  Meet my new (entirely reversible) kimono jacket!  John's comment when he saw it is that I am slowly sewing myself the wardrobe of an elementary school art teacher, which I don't actually hate the idea of. :)

Notice how the patchwork angles to the center back - thanks to my duck tail!

Much drapey-er on this side - plus pockets!

Fun surprise on the inside!


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