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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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?!)

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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. 

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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? 

A Bellatrix Blazer

I've often said that I have gaps in my work wardrobe and I finally have a make to share that goes a little way to filling it. Every now and then I need to dress sharply at work. I've wanted to make Papercut's Bellatrix Blazer for a while and a VVIP event on the horizon provided the perfect excuse to get going as well as filling a small part of the hole in my wardrobe.

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If you don't know this blazer, pop over here to see the line drawings. I love the sharp lines with the princess seams, the gentle curve of the collar and the cute sleeve detail where the back is longer than the front. I chose version one, which has the longer hemline as I am more likely to wear it over trousers.

I picked up the fabric at Barry's in Birmingham. It is a lightweight black brocade with blue "eyes" running in perfect lines throughout. I tried to keep the lines steady throughout the jacket but the curves boggled me a little. They are reasonably straight although no where near perfect. Ah, well. The lining is a plain black fabric that comes from the Fancy Silk Store. It has a lovely drape and will be able to withstand the occasional wear this blazer will get. It also feels good against my skin.

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I made a few alterations to ensure a good fit. As I have a slight swayback, there was a lot of excess fabric in the upper back, about 4cm from the seam line. I pinched out 2cm at the centre back and tapered to nothing at the side. The the front, I added an extra 1cm to all sides. I added an extra 5cm to the sleeves. I don't like sleeves which move substantially past your wrist when your arm is straight and this extra length ensures this doesn't happen.

Construction takes a while, this isn't a project you can rush through. To start with there are a lot of pieces (about 26 when you include the lining) and then there's the interfacing. Wow, you will spend a long time at your ironing board applying the interfacing! The front, lower front, lower back, collar, sleeve hem facing and the welt pockets (all x2) require this treatment. To save time, I blocked fused the pieces and then cut them out. You could fuse your fabric before cutting out your pieces but it seemed like a waste if interfacing to me. I chose a lightweight black interfacing from Minerva as I didn't want to stiffen the fabric. I was aiming for a sharp but soft look. 

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The most daunting thing about this pattern when looking at it is the welt pockets. Creating neat ones can take a lot of time and increased attention to detail. However, the difficulty vanished when I realised they were in seam pockets. It gives you the same effect but without the panic of cutting into your fabric with no going back! They came out perfectly first time! You also need to be careful to remember that the seam allowance is 1cm, rather than the standard 1.5cm.

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The instructions are very clear to help you throughout and are written as if you are having a conversation with someone. I was impressed with how Papercut packaged the pattern. The strong paper the pattern is printed on will last a long time. I found it a little annoying that the instructions are on the same sheet of paper. You do have the option of cutting them out and creating a cute little book (which I did in the end) but I would have liked to have kept the sheet fully in tact.

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You'll notice that I haven't added a button and I'm holding the jacket closed in the photos. I haven't found the right button to work with the colours yet so played safe and decided not to cut a buttonhole until I have the right button. I am considering adding a hook and eye at the front instead though, allowing the edges of the jacket to just meet at the seams. What do you think?

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Sadly, the first time I wore this blazer was for the photos. The morning of the event was one of the hottest of the year to date and called for a complete rethink of my outfit! It seems a shame to have out all the work into making it and then not being able to wear it. At least it is a useful addition to my wardrobe and I have no doubt it will get worn during the autumn - but I'm not wishing for that just yet!