So. I admit it. I have a bit of a girl crush on Amy Butler. I love her designs. Generally, I’m not a big fan of the floral chintzy girly type stuff, so it was something of a surprise to me to discover that Amy Butler can do no wrong. Cath Kidston, on the other hand, you can keep. She is the Kirsty Allsop of fabric designers. And I don’t mean that as a compliment (to either of them).
Anyway. Amy Butler. I went to a talk by her at the Festival of Quilts in 2011. And I bought a pattern for a long, fitted jacket. And I bought the fabric to make it. I got it home, I read the instructions, I got intimidated by the fact I had to know my bicep measurement – MY BICEP MEASUREMENT! – and I put it all away in a drawer.
But now I need to practise me some skills. A jacket would be one of them. Different types of hem would be another. Linings (that fit) would be another. And buttonholes yet another. So I got the Amy Butler out of its drawer, and decided it was just the ticket.
I got Freya, my 13 year old, to help me with my measurements – particularly my bicep. 12″, if you were wondering. Which is quite big. I blame cake.
One of the fabrics is a big, swirly, flocked design in acid lime green, on a pale turquoise background. The other is a pale green background with an oversized pink chintz design. The first thing I had to do was measure the centre of the big flock design. It didn’t help that the pattern thought the larger flock was in the centre of the fabric (Amy Butler Sandalwood) with the smaller designs down each side. In fact, it was the smaller design in the centre. So I got out my quilting ruler and my tailor’s chalk, and I drew a line down the centre of the small design. Right down the middle, the whole length of the fabric. And I resigned myself to the fact that the pattern wasn’t as accurately drafted as I might have liked it to be, and I was going to need to do some making it up as I went along.
The back piece was supposed to have a seam down the middle, to allow it to flare. I couldn’t see how that would work, so in fact I cut the back as a single piece. I made sure the centre back and centre front were aligned with the line I’d drawn down the centre of the design. Effectively, I was using my drawn line as the grain, rather than relying on the actual grain of the fabric. I lined the fronts, back, and sleeve pieces very, very carefully on the fabric to make sure the pattern was completely symmetrical on both sides of both the outer piece and the lining (I wasn’t entirely sure which would be which).
The actual putting together of it was quite straightforward. It pretty much flew together. I checked the fit a couple of times, but because Freya was so amazingly accurate with the measurements, the fit was fairly much spot on straight off the table.
I cut the citrus fabric last night, and the paisley this morning. When I did my first fit, this morning, my son told me the citrus made me look like someone out of Sgt Pepper. And so Sgt Pepper it became.
But it was far too nice a day to spend entirely in my shed. So I allowed Mr P to lure me to Baddesley Clinton for some al fresco dining and newspapers…
And suitably relaxed, and possibly a little sunburnt, I came home and put the finishing touches to the Sgt Pepper jacket. I couldn’t decide which fabric should be on the outside and which should be the lining, so I did what any mature, sensible sewist would do. I asked Twitter. Twitter voted comprehensively for Sgt Pepper to be outside. Here, just to show the beauty of a symmetrical, pattern matched cutting scheme, are the photos I gave them, to choose from.
The pattern allows for a tie belt – in the manner of a dressing gown. I didn’t fancy that. I decided to put a buttonhole in each side, and give it a chiffon tie. I had a piece of chiffon knocking around in the shed, and some Gutterman variegated thread for the buttonholes. And I needed to practice manual buttonholes. So I whizzed in a couple of buttonholes, and fished out the chiffon. which was a square. Inappropriate. I chopped it in half, slung a rolled hem around it (never used the rolled hem foot on my sewing machine before) and threaded it through one buttonhole.
And here’s the finished article.
Well, the cutting is good. The pattern is entirely symmetrical and the lining is as good as the shell. Big bonus points there.
The hem (hand stitched) is a little tightly sewn. You can see the line of it. I should, really, take it down and do it again looser. Maybe I will.
The chiffon idea doesn’t work perfectly. In fact, it barely works at all. I tied it in a bow to close the jacket at my waist, and Freya told me it looked poncey. Better hanging loose, apparently – although to me that’s a little bit New Romantic, but there you are.
The pattern wanted the lining and shell fabric both to be the same lengths all the way down, which makes for a bulky hem – particularly at the wrist. If I were ever to make it again, I’d make the linings a little shorter than the exterior to keep the hems finer.
Also. Big bum. What can I say. I blame cake.
And Freya asks me to point out that she took all the photos. And the bicep measurements.