Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Jewel Jacket: B6105 by Gertie

Here's a project I didn't expect to share so quickly. I knew I wanted something new to wear around Christmas but didn't want to create something that was limited to one month of the year. This focussed an idea that had been slowly forming in the back of my mind over the past few months but only took a day and a half to complete. 

B6105 by Gertie

The idea started with the fabric. I picked up this gorgeous teal with a black velour print while I was in Barcelona on holiday in August. I kept returning to it and knew I would leave with fabric regret if I didn't buy any. Of course I obliged by getting three metres as I wasn't sure what I was going to create. Slowly but surely my mind settled on B6105, the wrap around jacket designed by Gertie. What if I paired the fabric with a silky black contrast? It seemed like a win in my book so I set to it. 

I made a toile to check the fit across my shoulders and discovered that the sleeves were too wide. There is a lot of ease in them. I took out 5cm from the cuff, tapering to nothing at the sleeve cap, on the upper sleeve. This was the only alteration I made, although I probably should have moved the arm hole seam in a bit as I forgot this pattern was drafted for shoulder pads - which I didn't include. 

B6105 by Gertie

I recommend reading through the instructions before starting this pattern and getting familiar with all of the markings on the pieces. You will trace a lot of small circles to help the pieces match up and sew between as well as reinforcing lines and darts. Construction is logical and easy to follow but there is a lot going on. As the jacket is fully lined, you will follow nearly every step twice as you create two jackets. It is possible to jump ahead of the instructions and complete all of the stitching for the shell and then the lining before bringing them both together. This saved me a lot of time as I didn't have to switch needles and thread as much as I might have. 

B6105 by Gertie

I found stitching the collar particularly tricky. I find the technique of clipping to a point, stitching three sides of a square and reinforcing the corners difficult and haven't yet managed to perfect it. It is better on one side of the jacket than the other but I'm hopeful no one will notice! Be prepared for some hand stitching if you choose to make this. The lining is closed at the waist seam which requires slip stitching the entire width of the jacket. I also hand stitched the sleeve hems in place. We all know pressing is important in a project; but it is particularly important at two stages for this jacket. The contrast collar and lower front lining are only pressed into place and it is helpful if you take your time to press it very well. Under stitching would have been a useful addition but I didn't have matching thread for either (how do you run out of black thread?!)

B6105 by Gertie

There are two versions of the pattern. View A is a jacket and View B is a knee length coat. I was tempted to go all out and make B but sadly I didn't have enough lining. The lining is silk that I bought on Goldhawk Road while Lauren was in town. It is very smooth and a hell of lot easier to work with than my last lot! It shifted a little while cutting out but it withstood going through the machine with ease. I'm not fully certain what the teal fabric is. I'm starting to wonder if it is some form of knit. It is very stable, has some stretch on the cross grain and doesn't need finishing. Normal needles couldn't cope with it so I switched to a jeans needle (the only other one I had to hand) and it worked perfectly once I had lowered the tension a little. 

B6105 by Gertie

I'm delighted with how the jacket turned out. I had a strong idea of how I wanted it to look and was praying it would throughout construction. Thankfully it has mostly lived up to expectations (the collar being the exception). It feels like a little treat to wear this and I think this is down to how well the fabrics work together. It's reasonably warm too. I didn't get too cold while the photos were being taken - despite the look on my face in the photo above! I couldn't leave that photo out as it the one that most realistically captures the teal. I'm looking forward to wearing this more over the next couple of weeks and then to finding other occasions in the new year. I also need to decide what to make with the left over metre and a bit. I'm tempted by a pencil skirt, or a similar shape. What do you think? 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Simplicity can be difficult - a silk Belcarra

I finished this project this morning, after starting it in July! The Belcarra was supposed to fill a gap in my summer work wardrobe. I wanted something simple, cool but stylish. Sounds easy, right? I mean the pattern isn't a difficult one to stitch and it should have been completed in a day or so. 

Silk Belcarra

Why did it take me five months to complete? The fabric. I choose this delicious red silk with white stars. I picked it up in Zadar, Croatia on holiday last year. It is lightweight, drapes beautifully and feels like air next to the skin. Needless to say, it is incredibly delicate and this makes it difficult to sew with. You can't put much pressure or tension on it otherwise you're left with pulls throughout the fabric. 

I tried everything I could think of when putting this together. I cut the fabric single layered on the carpet which provided more grip and stopped the fabric moving. I used small needles and tissue paper over and under the fabric to protect it from the feed dogs and needle. Gently hand stitched the hem and neckline in an attempt to ensure that the stitches are invisible. Unpicking is extremely difficult as the fabric retains the original stitch marks. All of this required patience, which I only had in small quantities for this project. Thankfully there aren't too many pulls in the fabric but those that are there are along the neckline and the sleeve bands. 

Silk Belcarra

Construction of the Belcarra is relatively simple. I used French seams throughout as it provides such a delightful finish but this would look just as good if you used another method. Attaching the band to the sleeves was the most difficult part as the silk wasn't stable enough. In addition, I don't really like the method of leaving 1.5cm open at the edges as I find it hard to match up the seam lines neatly. I didn't make any changes to the pattern, except my usual grading between sizes although I probably should have moved the neckline inwards by a couple of centimetres so it doesn't slip to one side and reveal the strap of my cami. 

Silk Belcarra

While I missed the option of wearing this during the summer, the colours lend themselves very well to Christmas, don't you think? This was the impetus behind finally getting this top finished. I will definitely be wearing this a few times this month as the party season gets into full swing but I'll be honest - I'm not sure how long it will last. The seam lines and hem are causing some concern due to the pulls but still, it will be fun to wear it even if it is only a few times! 

Are you stitching anything fun for the party season? 

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