bonus jacket: butterick 5952 using “shortcut” method

if you think i am crazy i am pretty sure the cat would agree with you.


photo taken right before he knocked the scissors onto the floor.

this was his response to my morning effort two months ago to cut YET ANOTHER butterick 5952.

20140108-103528.jpgbut the results, i think, speak for themselves.  honestly, i am not sure if it’s that in jacket #5 i am finally getting into the rhythm of the techniques, or the fact that i altered my techniques using a so-called “shortcut method” billed by threads magazine, but this might be one of my best-constructed pieces to date.


i didn’t completely go for the shortcuts.  for example, i thread-traced my pattern pieces so that i could ensure accurate stripe placement.  i did a lot more fell-stitching than suggested.

20140108-102822.jpgmy main change was that i assembled the jacket (except for the shoulders) and the lining (ditto), sewed them at the hem and the CF seams WST, and then bagged it out.  i hand-understitched the lining, pressed the hell out of it, and then did my quilting.

20140108-102833.jpgthe result was the neatest quilting i have accomplished yet as well as a neater hem and CF seam.  also, great psychological boost when, after quilting, having the jacket be 3/4 done instead of facing the wooly mammoth.  the “wooly mammoth” is susan’s term for when the jacket is quilted and the side seams sewn, but the lining seams haven’t been fell stitched closed yet.


i assembled the sleeves the same way, after checking with a muslin for stripe placement, and again got possibly the best chanel-style sleeves i have yet managed.  having the smaller seam allowances actually helped a lot here, as did the fact that i had traced my sleeves using a tracing wheel and wax paper and had a guide on the wrong side of the lining.  (my printed lining was heavy enough that the markings did not show through).  i still haven’t mastered the sleeve insertion, but i did a pretty ok job here and am very pleased with them.  here again i deviated from the shortcut method – inserting my sleeves by hand and finishing the lining by hand.  at this point, i just feel that it gives me the most control over the process, even if my results are still a work in progress.


after that, i just finished up the shoulders and shoulder linings by hand, fell-stitched the neckline closed, and spent the typical 5 hours of hand-sewing to finish up the trim.  this jacket still needs a hem chain, which i have not yet attached, but other than that i’m calling it a winner.

as you may recall i started another jacket using this method and it, too, is near completion.  stay tuned.  and stay warm!  here in the northeastern US, it is hovering around five degrees fahrenheit today, and the heat in my office is broken.

i just noticed that i don’t have a lining photo here.  i will take care of that for all y’all, i promise.

Posted in Finished Objects | Tagged , | 5 Comments

pretty pretty princess, drape drape style



i had enough princess lace from clio to make two dresses for my future career as a reincarnated princess of a magical kingdom in outer space.



after having gone fairly traditional on the first go, i used the extra lace to continue exploring my way through the drape drape pattern books.  this number is #6 from drape drape 1.  original flavor drape drape, if you will.  the pattern is one enormous piece, asymmetrical in the extreme, with some complicated and (i daresay) very cool gathering in the exaggerated low back that completely complemented my desire to have a cool, gathered, bustle-inspired back on my princess dresses.


the asymmetry on this pattern comes from the fact that each side has a different system of tucks and gathers, causing the drape in the front and the bustle in the back.  many other reviewers i’ve seen have been displeased with the extreme low back, but i waded in with eyes wide open, making it in a sheer fabric with a complementary slip so that everything was a design feature.

i did temper the asymmetry in the hem just slightly.  mine is an even high-low hem instead of the wonky one envisioned by the pattern drafter.


i’m pretty happy with the fit, too, although people who actually have, you know, curves, instead of frontal flatness would be well-advised to go up a size.  the shoulder straps stay where they are meant to stay, and that is always awesome.  the hem required some shortening.

but this is definitely one of my top drape drape makes.  it, like most of my other attempts, admirable straddles the line between wearable and absurd.  now i just need the right accessories and i am good to go.

happy new year, all!  the second day of 2014 here in NYC dawns cold and snowy.  i am not yet sure what this year will hold for me.  i have a lot i would still like to do from the 2013 mood board, but feel ready for more complicated and wearable projects.  christmas week was spent eagerly tailoring a blue cashmere watson jacket that wants only its collar to be complete, and new year’s day saw the near completion of not one but two shortcut method chanel-style jackets.


Posted in Finished Objects | Tagged | 9 Comments

papercut circle top

20131228-155227.jpgso, this has been in various stages of progress for the better part of a year.  not completely sure why since it is a beautiful, easy make with loads of potential for excellent fabric choices.

20131228-155238.jpgit is also another piece inspired by what i call my “house collection” – i saw the missoni knit on one of my many trips to mood with some of the local ladies and snapped it up.  it’s like the missoni and the papercut were destined for each other and i was just delaying the inevitable by taking so long to finish it.

20131228-155248.jpgpapercut’s “circle top” is exactly that – quite literally a circle with two armholes in the middle of it.  i decided to make things slightly more difficult by using a renfrew sleeve (without checking the armscye circumference first – BAD MOVE) and also doing a little reverse applique a la alabama chanin.


really, my only issue was that the missoni knit is thick and lovely, which made finishing the edges slightly weird.  looking at the photos, you can barely tell that i finished the edges with a contrasting blue knit, because the thickness of the seams completely obscures it.


one other thing of note is that the shoulders don’t sit on the shoulder like a regular sweater.


what i mean by that is that the shoulder seam sits actually at the edge of where your shoulder meets the arm and not actually along your clavicle or whatever bone that is.  so it almost feels like the shoulder is dropped.  it feels slightly weird and takes some getting used to.


but not a bad make for finishing off the year, no?




Posted in Finished Objects | 4 Comments

la coco, elle est terminee (jacket #2 complete!)

from such humble beginnings as this photo:

935we come to the end of this year’s french jacket journey.

anyone need a pattern weight?

anyone need a pattern weight?

there’s not much left to say at this point, except a few finishing details.

the trim is secured across the hem, collar, lapels, sleeves and CFs with two rows of hand-stitching, mostly through the ribbon but with the occasional stitch taken through the pearls.  (we are talking 12 hours of handstitching here.  an entire round-trip train journey to boston and then some.)

those damn pearls.  KEPT.  BREAKING.  OFF.


the lapels, collar and CFs are fringed by hand.  it was both a design feature and a necessity, since i did not have enough fabric to allow for a proper seam allowance that would in turn allow me to fringe it more securely.  the roll line is taped with organza, and the lapels are a single layer.


were i to do it again, i would (against susan’s orders) cut a layer of lining to match the shape and size of the lapels and undercollar, and quilt those like i did on the inside.  this would give me both the extra seamline (to secure the fringe from unraveling) and a little bit of extra weight.  but neither susan nor i knew that then, when she gave me her look of dubious approval that was mixed affection and questioning my sanity.


the trim and camelia pin are both from M&J trimming in manhattan.  so are the buttons.  there are no sleeve vents on my half-sleeves, i just thought buttons would be pretty.


i left a generous seam allowance intact at the shoulder seam to form a sleeve head.  so even though the boucle is super-lofty, i really like the shape of the shoulder.IMG_0025

what do you think of the length?  i’m slightly on the fence.  it’s actually the perfect length for a miniskirt or a pair of shorts – but i am concern that the volume added by the godets is too much volume for that type of look.  discuss.

IMG_0013 IMG_0012 IMG_0009

a final interior shot provided by jennifer of workroom social.DSC_0763

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butterick 5952: cry hallelujah, it is finished


one down, one to go.


a few weeks ago i finished the first of two couture cardigan jackets i began in susan khalje’s workshop in march of this year.

oh, a few weeks ago, you say? then why such a long time to post photos?

oh, i don’t know, why don’t you go ask oona? crazy woman has been on my case for the better part of a year to update my camera situation. she argued, dear friends and readers, on your behalf, using every opportunity we have ever met, like, ever, to encourage me to up the standards a little bit. and by “encourage,” i mean endless mocking and the occasional broken dish. so at last, friends, i offer you this upgrade.

i hope you are satisfied, friend oona. just please don’t break my camera when next we meet.

but back to the good stuff, my jacket of awesomesauce.


just to recap, the pattern originally started life as butterick 5952, a vintage sixties pattern from a stash gifted me by an elderly friend. i fell in love immediately with the pattern details, the length options, the armscye princess seams and the dior darts. i prepared a muslin for it over a year ago and perfected it in march with susan, where she vetoed my attempt at armscye princess seams (shoulder seams provide a better fit and shape in the heavy boucle) but let me keep the dior darts.

for this particular version of the pattern, i chose a chanel haute couture boucle from mendel goldberg fabrics in New York City. i love the vibrant blue and the metallic stripes, and it reminded me of a vintage chanel piece i spied in a consignment shop in paris and have never been able to forgive myself for not buying. what i didn’t realize at the time of purchase was that the weight of this boucle would make fitting a challenge, especially in places that typically require ease. the shoulders were a particular challenge in this lightweight fabric and, in fact, the shoulders do not quite fit properly.

but as i have been known to say, WHO CARES LOOK AT HOW AWESOME MY JACKET IS.


because of the unusual number of fitting changes i had to make to this garment, i regret to say that my stripes do not line up as well as i would like them to, especially along the bust and shoulder princess curves.



i used a three-piece sleeve traced off of a chanel garmet. i borrowed this pattern from susan and have kept a muslin of it for this purpose. i prefer this sleeve instead of a pattern-hacked three-piece sleeve because it has a slight curve in the shape of the arm that i do not think i would be able to replicate. (for more detail on chanel sleeve modifications, make sure to check out the little french jacket sew-along hosted by leisa and inna) the one modification i made on my own was to make it a cropped three-quarter sleeve. i also prefer to leave the sleeve vent open. i think it adds an air of insouciance that i find extremely appealing.

and yes, i noticed that i accidentally used a black button.




pattern – butterick 5952
fabric – chanel haute couture boucle, lined with marc jacobs silk print from mood fabrics in NYC
trim: butterflies, buttons and sequins all courtesy of M&J Trimming in NYC


can i just say that finishing and trimming this took an entire day-long marathon of season two of person of interest? and of course i had help.



previous jacket work:

vogue 7975: seventy hours well spent
return to camp chanel: day two, day three; day four
forgive me, susan khalje, for i have sinned: “shortcut method” experiments


Posted in Finished Objects, Vintage | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

jacket progress continues! with photos

just a little note to say that i’ve continued to work virtuously on my french jackets.

DSC_0763 DSC_0762



but then i got distracted.

DSC_0760ombre jacket photos (and cat photos) courtesy of jennifer at workroom social.

previous jacket work:

vogue 7975: seventy hours well spent
return to camp chanel: day two, day three; day four
forgive me, susan khalje, for i have sinned: “shortcut method” experiments




Posted in In Progress | Tagged , | 8 Comments

WIP updates: little (or long) french jackets

have you been following the little french jacket sew-along?

Sew Along

it’s a blog event hosted by leisa the “sewing encyclopedia” of a challenging sew and inna of the wall inna. i have had the pleasure of working with both of these women before and i can tell you that they are jacket all-stars. inna, for instance, created the amazing lemon yellow confection here:

inna's yellow jacket

while leisa tackled the famous s/s2010 piece here:

with this result:

so you can see these women know what they are talking about. susan khalje is hanging out on their sideline, giving some additional advice in advance of the release of her french jacket class on DVD. so i encourage you to check it out if you have been curious about the in-depth technique of french jacket making.

since i hadn’t touched my own jackets since seeing leisa and inna in baltimore last march, and since both of them have finished pieces since then (leisa has actually finished 5 jackets, i believe, since i saw in her in march) i decided it was time to dust off my japanese hand needles and get back to work.

i started with the blue one, by finally doing up all of the interior seams with proper fell stitches and getting rid of the pin-basting. i also took the opportunity to secure the sleeves i had fitted. obviously, my helper was on hand, having studied the technique of sleeve insertion himself.



while i was cleaning up all of those interior seams i also started creating the perimeter of the jacket by pinning up the hem. it’s actually starting to look like something now.


…something like armor, maybe, or alien, but it’s a far cry from this.

IMG_2584then, while watching my tuesday night TV lineup, i went after the hems and godets on my ombre number. i got the second sleeve pinned and cleaned up as well. i don’t want to jinx myself, but i am in striking distance of the finish line here.


after i get those sleeves sewn instead of just pinned, i will be ready to stay-stitch the neckline and lapels and finally attach the collar. also, i may finally have cracked the issue of fringeing the lapel even without a double layer.

more as this story develops.


previous jacket work:

vogue 7975:  seventy hours well spent
return to camp chanelday two, day three; day four
forgive me, susan khalje, for i have sinned:  “shortcut method” experiments

Posted in In Progress | Tagged , | 6 Comments