ok, this one has been in the works since the week of february 14, 2012. yes, it was originally conceived for the “red” TSW challenge. obviously, life got in the way of TSW this year, but for a long portion of the year it was a great way to stay focused and motivated.
only i occasionally got a little over-ambitious. not that this project was hard, but that doing it properly and overcoming its hurdles required a lot more than a week. maybe it didn’t require 10 months, but it definitely was more of a challenge project than i would have originally guessed.
to begin with: awesome inspiration.
for a long time i had a major weakness for gossip girl. thankfully for my mental state, that ended during season 3 (and don’t get me started on last week’s finale episode, whose major revelation would have been actually brilliant if i could believe that the writers didn’t just come up with that two weeks ago). but anyway. i loved blair’s red jacket, worn out for a night of clubbing in episode 5 of season 1. i went straight for the burdastyle sewing handbook coat pattern.
i tweaked the princess curve in an attempt to make it fit, redrew the lower half of the jacket pattern to get more of a bustle effect – i even considered doing two layers for extra drama – and added a waistband to accommodate my bow. i knew i didn’t want a closure, but for the jacket to be open except at the waistband. no major issues…yet. i bought beautiful red silk taffeta at paron’s and found an awesome lining in the annex, with red polka dots. the lining was polyester, which definitely turned out to be an issue, but i was still blissful in my ignorance. i underlined the jacket pieces with organza, drafted facing patterns and an undercollar, and created a horsehair canvas interfacing layer for the collar piece.
i am not sure which was harder to work with: the taffeta or that polyester! the taffeta sewed beautifully but was a beast to press. the poly…well, ’nuff said, right? one of my major stopping points was the impossibility of getting the taffeta to look smooth and pressed without ruining the jacket. even with a press cloth it was prone to shine. also, the princess curves were too full, trying to accommodate a bust i do not have (bummer). then, i got lazy on the sleeves. especially after wrangling the poly lining for a few days….which turned in to months when i banished it to the closet-also-known-as-area 51.
the major hurdle was deciding how best to attach the lining, inner waistband, and bow assemblage. (not to mention pinning and re-fitting the princess seam without disassembling the jacket) the obvious answer, which was, of course, “by hand,” appealed to me not at all. but last weekend, inspired by the finale of gossip girl, i decided it was time to take it for the team and finish the damn jacket. and here again the taffeta bit me in the arse. my fingers are still sore and swollen from understitching, slip-stitching and fell stitching all of the disparate pieces in to place. all told, we’re talking about 5 hours of hand work to get everything settled. and after all of that…
i accidentally twisted one of the sleeve linings. and now it pulls at one of the (fitted and fixed) princess seams.
so what did we learn?
- i am so, so glad that i finished this piece. it’s actually a gorgeous garment, and the taffeta sort of broke itself in over months of being shoved in various out-of-the-way spots. it has a sort of soft patina now that makes it much prettier and less stiff, and easier to press because i don’t feel so precious about it.
- i hate the poly lining, but i love the way it looks. the polka dots are the perfect accent to the solid red.
- fabric glue can be your friend. yes, i confess, i used steam-a-seam to attach the bow and contact cement to attach the snaps. there was no way i was handstitching all of those layers of taffeta.
- i loathe armscye princess lines. something about the style does not suit me and i find them incredibly difficult to fit. the only reason i kept them was because i was trying to use the pattern in its intended form. next time, i will forget fidelity to the pattern and draft a shoulder princess instead.
- …triple-check sleeve linings when “bagging” that part of the jacket.
will i ever fix it? “that’s one secret i’ll never tell. xoxo!”