A big project, not hard, but big: Vogue 1440, Donna Karan fringe jacket OOP

No really, this jacket isn’t hard, but all the detail requires a great deal of attention and patience.  Much of the work is tedious, such as making all that piping.  Still, I am pretty happy with the result, and the style is more relaxed and fun than my usual work wear (which is highly tailored, traditional).   I encountered various problems throughout the project, these problems are addressed throughout the overview.

To start, from the pattern (Vogue 1440, OOP, though a 2015 release): “Unlined jacket has fringe, shoulder pads, draped front extending into back collar, wrong side shows, seam detail, no side or shoulder seams, two piece sleeves, mock band on upper sleeve, and continuous bias for piping and finishing seams.”  Note, nothing in the description discusses fit. It’s got a fair amount of ease, but most of that is due to the drape; the fit across the shoulders and upper back is semi-fitted to fitted.  And note – there is no provision for adjustments above the waist (such as for a long waist).  This is definitely a more casual jacket – or really – draped open cardigan.

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Vogue 1440, fashion photo from the pattern.

By the way, for this pattern, I had to study the instructions, the line drawings, AND the photograph to figure out some of the details.

About the fabric:  The pattern calls for lightweight tweeds, cotton blends.  I concur.  This jacket could easily overwhelm many frames, so keep the fabric on the lighter side. It’s also going to show on the reverse side, so keep that in mind.  I used a no longer available lightweight cotton blend tweed from Emma One Sock.  I scooped it up right when the pattern was released, not realizing that the reverse was going to show, primarily on those big collar “lapels”.  My reverse is more vanilla and black and far less red than the face side.  No worries, I cut it so the “face” was the reverse.  The collar covers all of the front of the jacket and also functions as the bottom few inches of the jacket.  If you look carefully you can see that the bottom front is a different shade than the rest of the jacket.  My fabric was also loosely woven, which meant that it shed to look at it. To help manage this, I cut the pattern pieces out, but left a wider seam, which I trim down with a rotary cutter right before sewing the pieces.  You don’t want to use fray block, because you do want some of those edges to fringe later. But I couldn’t wait to clean my sewing room.  It also stretched a bit on some of the pieces, leaving the shoulders slightly out of shape, so consider stay stitching some of the edges.

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If you look at the bottom of the jacket, you’ll note the reverse shows, and is a different color. I preferred the big collar part to be more red than vanilla/black, so I attached it in a way that favored it.

You’ll also need a lightweight fabric for all the piping and binding.  All of the piping pretty much is visible – but so is some of the binding.  I was glad in the end that I chose a lightweight silk charmeuse from Gorgeous Fabrics in one color for consistency across the jacket.

Notes on the The Piping and the Binding: it’s tedious.  The end.  No really, you will make 10 yards of piping.  You could purchase ready made, but most of that is low quality and fairly stiff.  For the piping, I found that using a piping foot (instead of the recommended zipper foot) to make the piping resulted in a tighter pipe. I also found that a piping foot worked better to construct the seams – except in those several occasions where you’ll have crossed seams.  With the crossed seams, use the zipper foot.  In addition, you definitely want to baste the piping as instructed, but you’ll also find that basting the seams together help keep the fabric from shifting.   By the way, in a size 12, I used slightly more than 9 yards of the 10 yards I made.

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Ten yards of piping.

I don’t recommend using the pattern piece to make the one long piece of continuous binding.  It’s only one inch wide, and if your fabric is at all thick you won’t have enough width for turn-of-the cloth (and in places you’ll have multiple layers to bind).  Cut your own strips, and slightly larger, which is what I did.

Fitting:  I read all the reviews on PatternReview, and almost everyone spent a great deal of time on their muslin.  In some cases, the changes really worked, but the jacket lost the original soul (though they looked amazing!).  I originally trimmed the pattern pieces to a size 10 (two years ago), but decided the better of it.  I had kept the trimmed edges and taped them back on.  When I made my muslin, I learned two things. One, that construction was pretty easy (excepting attaching the collar), and two, my regular size (12) fit best between the shoulders and across the back.  Wearing it today at work, I’m glad I did the 12, because I didn’t have much wiggle room when lecturing/gesticulating.  I also didn’t feel the need to add my usual length in the torso for my longer waist.  Remember, the muslin fabric is different than the fashion fabric.  I find the shoulders a bit more extended than I’m used too (about 1/4 inch); they fit the model this way as well. The sleeves are very long and narrow/fitted, which I really like.

Making the toile helps you practice matching up all those seams.  If you look at the fashion photo, you’ll note that the front piping all lines up on one side, but not the other.  They should match up according to the line drawing.  I basted seams to make sure mine met.

More on seam binding:  The inside of the jacket is quite beautifully finished.  It really is, except there are times when the seams don’t extend far enough to be caught up in the next set of seams, and you have a raggedy edge (as in the photo).  I used some silk embroidery thread and hand satin stitched over this.

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note how the seams aren’t caught in the binding and are hanging loose

Okay, let’s talk about the fringe, seam binding and grosgrain:  I bought this pattern immediately when it came out, so Vogue may have fixed this later in later editions.  I don’t know because they don’t have an errata on their website. But you will NOT cut enough fringe if you cut using the pattern piece they provide.  It’s simply not long enough, by quite a bit (about 12-15 inches if I remember).  The first three are fine for the top of the collar and the two sides, but the fourth piece for the bottom band is simply too short.  I had to piece the bottom band using leftover fringe from the sides of the collar.  It worked, but I was annoyed.  I also meant that I didn’t have any fringe left for the sleeves.  Since I wasn’t crazy about that, I didn’t care too much.

I studied the instructions and photo for quite some time to understand how the fringe would work and look after construction and fringing.  You apply the quarter inch grosgrain (I used petersham) to the placement line.  It doesn’t say how in the instructions – centered, top of the grosgrain to the bottom of the line or on top of the placement line.  I chose top of the grosgrain to the bottom of the placement line.  This results in a shorter fringe, which I preferred.

Second, you place the grosgrain on the right/face side of the fabric.  This means that all along the front, on that beautiful draping collar, is not grosgrain, but binding.  For me, that was far less attractive (see photo). The bound edge is not stitched down, and due the grosgrain placement, left an opening of about 3/8″ inch.  So, I used my leftover grosgrain and applied it over the binding.  Better, but now I  no longer had any grosgrain for the sleeves.  I was okay with no fringe on the sleeve, but I had planned to keep the grosgrain detail on the sleeves.   If you don’t do what I did (cover the binding), you’ll use far less grosgrain than the 5 yards listed in the notions.

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This is the front of that big lapel.  The seam binding is not tacked down here and can flip up. You could either top-stitch the loose edge (not in instructions) or apply the grosgrain for consistency (also not in the instructions).  I chose grosgrain. (This looked worse IRL than in the photo).

Take a real close look at the photo of the collar in the fashion shot.  The fringe is not fringed all the way to the black trim – that’s because the grosgrain (on the reverse of the collar) is lower than the binding.

And finally, the finishing details.  These were almost completely missing from the instructions.  Oh, sure, fringe the fringe, hem the sleeves and go.  Nope. All the tails of the binding are mingled in with the fringe and they are ugly.  You can’t fringe near the seams (including the mitered corners and CB seam).  The photo on the left below is before, with both the binding and piping hanging down. I painstakingly undid the stitching up to the grosgrain and careful trimmed excess binding and piping out of sight.  No need to finish them any more because they are caught in the two rows of stitching for the grosgrain. The photo on the right is the trimmed and completely fringed edge. Finally, you may find that you’ll have to lightly tack down some of the seams on the inside, if they still don’t behave after pressing and a clapper.

Overall: I like it, I’ll wear it, but it’s not likely I’ll make it again.  Still, it looks great, and made me really think about my own sewing skills and how to improve them. I left for work before it was light enough for pictures, but here it is on the dress form before I finished hemming the sleeves (they are basted in place) or doing a final pressing:

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Front view.
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Back view, before final pressing.

 

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8 thoughts on “A big project, not hard, but big: Vogue 1440, Donna Karan fringe jacket OOP

  1. This is gorgeous. I have had this jacket on my list since it was released, but could never find the perfect lightweight fabric for it. Love your review. All the construction details are marvelous.

    1. Thanks! Definitely go lightweight. I almost switched to a heavy cream/black wool tweed I had in the stash, because it was the same on both sides. But I really wanted a cotton jacket, and I’m glad I stuck with it.

  2. Suzanne – you have made a masterpiece. Every once in a while, it is nice to make something so intricate. With all of the gorgeous colors, I’m sure you will be able to wear it with many outfits.

  3. Thank you for your thorough review. I especially appreciate all the warnings. Your finished result is superb!

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