Sometimes, most times, the things I make have been rolling around in my head for months, even years, just waiting their turn patiently to go from idea to garment. But sometimes, out of nowhere, a garment latches on to me suddenly and won’t let go until I make it happen already. That was the case with this blazer.
When I saw the announcement of Sewing Indie Month, I knew I wanted to participate, and I perused all the participating designers’ patterns, but nothing immediately called out to me until I was cruising fabric.com (as though I needed any new fabric), and a striped doubleknit practically jumped out of the screen and shouted “I’m a Victoria Blazer!” And that was that. I ordered the fabric (and a plain black ponte for the collar and cuffs), popped on over to the By Hand London site to buy the pattern, and… it was out of stock. But boy, that blazer had sunk its teeth in me and was not letting go. That ponte was going to be a Victoria, dammit! So I stalked the BHL site for a week or so, becoming more desperate each day, and I was about to put a plea out for someone to loan me their pattern when: poof, back in stock. I ordered it immediately and hoped the transatlantic shipping wouldn’t take too long…
While I was waiting I put together an outfit to go with the blazer, figuring it would be fun to enter the Indie Love Affair category. Surfing through all the indie pattern sites, I was reminded that I’d wanted to make Dixie DIY’s Movies in the Park Shorts since they came out, but back then I was afraid to make anything with a crotch. But not anymore! I knew I had a cool graphic black and white print in the stash that could work with the striped ponte. Then I had to find a nice colorful top to complete the look – enter the Kirsten Kimono Tee, colorblocked of course, because I can’t leave well enough alone. I’d finished the shorts by the time the Victoria pattern landed in my mailbox, and then I put together the top and the blazer in about a week. Outfit complete with time to spare! Deadlines are my best motivators.
I’ll start with the blazer. I knew I would have to make some changes to the way it was put together because I was using a knit. Initially I thought I would line it with a knit lining, but the one I ordered was both too thin and not quite the color I was imagining. So I hit on the idea (thanks to Dixie, actually) of sewing down the lapel/collar seam allowances with bias tape in a bright color. I knew no amount of pressing would tame those seam allowances. Luckily on the cropped version of the blazer the lapels go to the hem, so they would hide the line of stitching holding the bias tape in place.
After some not insignificant amount of consideration, I decided to unfold the bias tape and sew it to the seam allowances along its first fold, raw edges matched. Then I folded the bias tape around the seam allowances and stitched the whole shebang to the shell of the blazer.
It’s not perfect, but I like the little pop of color on the inside. All the rest of my seams I left unfinished, just trimmed and pressed open. I could have serged them, but somehow I liked the look of pressed open better – like a hong kong finish without all that pesky finishing. I also created a hem facing, because I wanted a deep hem – if I was going to topstitch the hem I wanted to make a statement with it – and I thought a facing I could understitch would make a neater hemline than a turned-under hem. The hem facing is just a strip of fabric as long as the hem and about 2 inches tall. I stitched the rest of my bias tape to the top of the hem facing; as a knit it doesn’t need a finish but I liked the extra line of color. I think the weight of the hem facing helps with the drape of the back too.
I narrowed the bottom of my lapels using the quirky peach’s tutorial – I like the more traditional blazery look of the narrowed lapels. I understitched the new seam that created to try to keep the sharp edge of the lapels. The collar is just folded as per instructions, but this ponte pressed fairly well and the collar behaves. However, as expected, in the knit these lapels have a mind of their own. I tacked down the corners closest to the center front (basically making little bar tacks the width of the bias tape on the inside) on the top and bottom of each lapel, but the middle of one lapel still wants to flop open. Ah well, let’s just say it contributes to the casual vibe of the blazer.
This pattern comes together really fast and easily (with the possible exception of my bias tape interior finish). I do think it works in a doubleknit, even if it’s a bit floppy. It’s probably the comfiest blazer ever. I made a straight size US8/UK12 based on my bust measurement and the knowledge that it’s got a lot of swinginess to it. At first I wasn’t totally sold on the voluminous back, but that’s the style, and the knit drapes fairly well so it’s not too tenty. It’s actually a really cool pattern, and while it’s not obviously my kind of thing, I’m glad my subconscious or whatever made me make it because I like it. I might even make another one, in a woven with a proper lining and lapels that stay put on their own.
Moving on to the shorts: I’d purchased this strange waffly woven fabric right when I started sewing, with the intention of making a pencil skirt (remember, early fear of crotches). I never got around to the skirt, though, which I’m starting to learn is my subconscious’ way of telling me a fabric is actually going to be more perfectly suited to a different pattern or type of garment in the future. As soon as I thought of making the MitP shorts, I thought of this fabric. And oh, I went back and forth for a while about using a crazy bright color bias tape to finish the edges, but in the end the fear of only being able to wear the shorts with one color of top made me opt for safe black trim, with white buttons.
The pattern is pretty fab. No fly means they go together in a snap (with the exception of having to sew on 12 buttons…), and the fitting can be fine tuned at the end when you overlap and sew the sides. This is my first non-Thurlow pant-type item, though, and I was worried they wouldn’t fit over my… generous backside. After comparing the pattern pieces to the Thurlow shorts, this was confirmed. The front looked okay, but the back center seemed way too low. So I made what is basically a big butt adjustment (BBA?) following this diagram from the Colette site. I slashed and spread the back piece as follows (I later filled in the holes with more paper, but I took the picture first to better show how I spread):
I cut a size large, except I cut the medium back crotch curve, as I have to scoop that curve out even in the Thurlow pattern. I probably could have made a medium all over, and there would have been less side overlap, but I was playing it safe (and I like my shorts on the roomy side). I feel like the back fit is really good – hooray for the BBA! The front crotch is not as perfect, but I’m not sure what I should do about it. Perhaps I need a deeper front curve as well.
The bias tape finish went on surprisingly easily. Before I bound the edges but after I made the pockets and attached the waistband, I fused a strip of interfacing to the back along the buttonhole lines to reinforce them. I made the buttonholes vertical as called for in the pattern, except for the waistband buttons which I made horizontal for durability and ease of use.
I can get the shorts on and off with just the waistband unbuttoned, actually, but I made the top two buttons on each side functional just in case. I left the bottom four buttonholes on each side closed, then stitched the front and back together with a straight machine stitch through the center of each unopened buttonhole before sewing the buttons on top. I felt like this was safer than having the shorts held on my body simply by my poorly-hand-sewn buttons…
Completing the outfit is another Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee. I had this teal fabric in stash, left over from this dress, but I didn’t quite have enough for a whole shirt – colorblocking to the rescue! The gray is a mystery remnant given me by Ms.McCall last summer (most of which I used to make a top for my mom for Christmas). I color blocked both the front and back pieces this time, again folding the pattern at the first paper seam to create the two pieces. I made the neckband in the teal because that fabric is so much stretchier than the gray, and also because if I have the opportunity to make a contrast anything, I will take it.
I’m pretty happy with how this outfit turned out. And as much as I like the pieces together, the best thing is that they are all pieces that I can, and will, wear with other things. Plus it was really fun to comb through a ton of indie pattern catalogs and see what all is out there. And I can tell you, it’s all of it more fun and interesting than anything the Big 5 pattern companies are coming out with lately. So even though the “official” Sewing Indie Month is over, I can say that I plan to keep sewing indie all summer – my desktop is currently littered with pdf patterns I’ve downloaded in the last month from all kinds of independent designers, not just the ones participating in this particular contest. Although I despise printing and assembling pdf patterns, there’s just too many good ones out there to justify avoiding it any longer. So thank you to all you designers out there, for taking the time to share your innovative ideas with us! If you’re interested in checking out more indie patterns, there’s a huge list of companies here and another here. Be prepared for a time-suck of massive proportions when you dive into these lists. But you’re sure to find something unexpected that will latch on to you and demand to be made!