I’ve completed two muslins on the blouse for 1213. But I never finished this post. I finished the jacket in December, and almost all of the skirt then too. I was unhappy with the waist treatment, so came up with something different last week. Better, but not great, still needs some work. This was the most challenging combo I’ve ever made, and I learned a lot. I’m happy/unhappy, and this exercise had many expensive lessons. I blogged the blouse here. I can’t believe this is already out of print.
There’s just something about this jacket – is it the challenge? The unusual shape? It doesn’t scream traditional suit, which I like. I decided to make this three piece outfit in parts, interspersing “quick hits” to give me a feeling of accomplishment. When I was finishing the Tilton raincoat, I kept thinking about this jacket, and found it distracted me from focusing on the raincoat. I also wanted to re-design the skirt entirely, which I did.
I started with a muslin. Some reviewers on patternreview suggested that the jacket ran small, and would fit a small back well. This was mentioned of the blouse, but the fit for me was fine. Still, I made the muslin not so much for the fit, for the techniques. The fit across the shoulders would be critical on this jacket (and something I think is problematic with the Tilton raincoat, even cut a size smaller). But I read the directions several times: with the unusual shaped pieces, slash to dot techniques, etc, I knew I needed a practice version first, to work out the kinks.
The muslin revealed the following: BASTE, BASTE, BASTE. Precision matters – I marked the dots, slashes, notches etc before even cutting. (I usually cut downstairs, carry up and mark later, but fabrics do shift). Mark with a color scheme (squares one color, circles another). Keep track of the pieces – face side, top etc. I also cut pieces as I needed them. The actual assembly of this jacket, wasn’t too difficult, once I got going. It made more sense with the pieces in hand than reading alone.
But when I did the muslin for the jacket, it wasn’t enough. I only did the one layer (outer) and discovered additional challenges working with both layers. In addition, because the jacket is self lined, it’s also a bit smaller than a single layer muslin. It’s close fitting.
One one level, I learned a lot working with this more complex design. I successfully applied a grosgrain waistband with an underlap in a way that is comfortable. I learned that with patience I can do a decent job of hand top-stitching. I feel more confident about tackling more advanced projects. But I also learned that fabric choices can lead to other things. Here, my fabric was a bit heavy, and nothing about this jacket is interfaced (it relies on the topstitching). My wool gabardine needed silk organza underlining at the very least. After hanging two months on my dress form, it’s sagging against those top stitches, creating drag lines that didn’t exist when I first finished it.
So here is the review, with some live action shots my assistant took of me delivering a lecture this morning. I do not like this suit with the blouse tucked in on me – it blouses too much, creating even more of a tummy than I already have.
The pattern: Vogue 1437, Ralph Rucci. Fitted, self lined jacket has front extending into back collar, side panels, no side seams, side front slanted pockets, back seem detail and sleeves shaped at lower edge. Semi-fitted partially lined skirt has yokes, insets extending into tie ends, left side front slit, very narrow hem.
Pattern Sizing: 6-12. I made the size 12. Mine looks both larger (longer) and smaller (tighter in the arms, and I’m skinny armed) than the model. I made no adjustments to sizing the jacket, and I normally add two inches in length. As you can see from the back photos, this cutaway style is long. For the skirt, I think I added to the side seams a smidgen, but I can’t remember. If I didn’t I should have. Or I should start exercising more.
The Fabric: I splurged. Not because I wanted to, but my preferred fabric sources weren’t offering colors in tropical wool that I wanted. And I couldn’t wait. I should have, though they still haven’t offered what I had in mind. The recommended fabric choices are tropical wool, linen, shantung. I went with a very fine gabardine from NY Fashion Fabrics, in a blue/turquoise and black. The lining for the skirt is Amsale black silk crepe de chine from Gorgeous Fabrics.
Look like the pictures/drawings: Yes and no. The jacket doesn’t hang nice like on the model (fit? fabric? both?) and I completely changed the skirt.
Pattern Alterations/Design Changes: For the jacket, I only made two changes. First, I eliminated the pockets. The instructions weren’t very clear, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like the finished look. The size was just big enough to fit a lipstick (the pockets are hidden in the front band). The bust darts were finished after putting the lining in, so if the jacket flipped open you would see them. I finished them separately, opened the darts and flattened them, and carefully lined the outer and lining up to stitch together.
I completely changed the skirt. I liked the inset, hated the high slit and didn’t like the idea of a narrow hem. It also seemed short. I started to play around with the color blocking – my original choice was to put the blue at the bottom of the skirt. In the end, I added three blue insets to the solid black and eliminated the ties. The blue insets are the same size as the original one inset (3/8″). The top two are separated by a black inset of the same size, while the third inset was placed in between the middle and lower skirt pieces. This effectively lengthen the skirt, and made it more a-line. I did have to edge stitch the black edges next to the insets to get the gabardine to behave.
Three other design changes to the skirt. I fully lined it. I faced the hem. And the waistband – the original simply had you sew the lining to the skirt, right sides together and flip the lining to the inside. No support for the waist – no band, no interfacing, no facing. Naturally, even with staystitching, it stretched out. I applied a black grosgrain with an underlap, which helps, but I need to take in the waist, because it’s too big now, and sags in a not-so-flattering way.
Instructions?: Not good. The illustrator and the copy writer were definitely not talking about the same things at some points on the jacket. I even emailed Vogue about some points and they said, yes, that’s wrong, but didn’t give me any clues to remedy things. It’s been a while since I sewed this, but I will point out some places that were wrong or confusing or could have been done better:
- The picture on step 7 appears wrong. The directions say to put the pieces right sides together, but that’s not what’s illustrated.
- I wrote error on step 11, but I don’t remember why. I think it has to do with the pockets, and one reason why I cut them out.
- Step 17 shows a non-existent notch, so does 20.
- Step 18 is not clear. Same with 22 – I think I basted farther than I needed too, as I noted that I needed to rip the basting out later. (Another note about basting in 23).
- I wrote wrong on the pattern for steps 25 and 26. I’m not sure why, but I remember wrestling to finish the sleeve edges and doing it wrong, trimming where I shouldn’t have and generally cursing when I don’t normally curse. I eventually managed it (using binder clips) but they are a bit wonky.
- Step 30 has the darts going in weird, but not necessarily wrong, just leaves them unfinished in a place that will show.
Recommend? Do it again? Maybe. I don’t like the blouse tucked in with this. I’m proud of my ability to tackle it and finish it, even if it is far from perfect. I will likely wear the blouse and skirt as a pair more often (and not the jacket). I may try the jacket with jeans. I’m not sure I’ll make it again, partly because it is so distinctive. But you never know. Maybe when my skills improve, and if I found the right fabric…
Action Shots (what better way to see an outfit and how it moves, rather than posed shots, though please excuse the microphone clipped to the collar and reaching under the jacket in the back):