103: self-indulgent sewing

This week has mostly been about resetting my brain, one way or another – as you’ll have seen in previous posts, it’s been a busy few months with various work projects and all the other things that go with being a mostly-functioning adult. I took a couple of days off mid-week, as for the first time in many years I was in danger of having too many days to carry over into the next leave year.

As these were days just for me, I took them ‘off-off’, as opposed to making a list of practical things I needed to do – you know, opticians appointments, running errands and so on – and planned a sewing project. Folkwear Patterns, one of my favourite companies for a good dramatic piece, have recently published a jacket pattern in their new Basics range which I liked the shape of. I do love a ‘statement’ piece, as fashion magazines would say.

“A collection of simple patterns based on the premise of folk clothing, these pieces are easy to sew, easy to fit, comfortable to move and work in, and are a great canvas for creativity.  Make these pieces simple and plain or embellish till your heart’s content.”

https://www.folkwear.com/collections/basics

Another thing I’d been keen to try after my adventures in patchwork during lockdown was to make a quilted piece of clothing, so with a straightforward pattern this seemed a good time to try it. Seamwork, which also has an excellent range of patterns, has a link to a tutorial for making on how to quilt fabrics for garments so I headed there for some help.

The first issue I ran into was fabric choice – the pattern, as the front and back are cut as a single piece, isn’t suitable for a one-way print. The fabric I wanted to use for the outer layer – a double duvet cover in a dark teal green, with parrots and leaves – was (of course) a one-way print so I had to do a bit of cutting and sticking before I could sew. Pretty simple – I found the shoulder line, sliced the pattern along it and cut the back and front separately before sewing them back together and treating them as a single piece. Next time, I’ll remember to cut out the lining pieces before I cut the pattern so I don’t have to stick it back together! I chose to cut two sizes larger than my actual size, as I wasn’t sure how much room I’d lose when I quilted it. For the bottom of the quilt sandwich I used a polycotton sheet, as it wouldn’t be seen and was pretty much the same weight as the outer.

Once I’d cut all the bits out I started following the quilting tutorial, and never have I been so relieved that a garment had a full lining. I didn’t use enough pins/clips/nails/double sided sticky tape to hold the ‘sandwich’ together so the sheeting moved around like mad, bunching up and generally teaching me not to be lazy with my pinning. Luckily the aforementioned lining hides the disaster inside. I didn’t have quite enough batting to use single pieces, so one side is very much pieced together! Another reason to be glad of the lining….

I chose to quilt in straight lines, but only did small sections at a time so I could change the direction of the lines. You can see the front and back sections above – the chalk marks on the back are where I changed my mind and decided to leave sections unquilted as I liked the effect. The angles marked on my quilting ruler were very helpful here. The pattern isn’t symmetrical across the left and right halves of the jacket but the patterns and lines are roughly the same. I really liked the vertical quilting on the front sleeves and the ‘V’ shapes on the back.

Having quilted the bottom half of the front it dawned on me that I hadn’t accounted for the pockets which would cover my lines, so before I added the pockets I lined them up, marked lines on them and stitched ‘mock quilt’ lines so they’d fit in. I decided to change the pocket opening as well, as the side opening pockets looked as if everything would fall out. They’d be great for hands but not so good for things like keys, phones, pet dragons, shiny rocks, emergency waffles and so on. I went for a top opening – they’re very generous pockets, too, which is always good.

Day two was about construction. I trimmed the lining to match the outer, to take account of the quilting. Sewing the jacket together was very straightforward with only three seams (underarm/side and back) on each layer. The lining was attached with a single seam around the neckline and bottom hem, and then the sleeves were bound and the pockets added. I topstitched all around the hemline, threw the whole thing in the washer and dryer to get rid of the chalk marks and to fluff up the batting, and then gave it a press.

Having convinced Thing 1 to take some photos for me, I was all done – two days of singing along to loud music (classic rock and ska punk, mostly) and sewing something that’s made me really happy. It’s great to throw on, it’s lovely and warm and has big pockets as well as being dramatic enough for stalking the galleries of the V&A – you know you’ve nailed it when a visitor asks where you got it from. I teamed it with a black skater dress (also made by me) and a pair of platform boots – and new earrings also made this week. You can see them below, along with the alpaca beret (from one of the crochet mags) and a rainbow tinycorn.

I’ve also finished the Mental Health First Aid qualification I was doing, and went for a long walk with friends that ended up with toasted teacake and hot chocolate with a mountain of cream and marshmallows at the market. Last night was a meal out with some girlfriends at the local Indian restaurant – it’s been far too long since we’ve done that!

And now I’m off for a long bath….

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

The Kept Woman – Karin Slaughter

The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce

Influential Magic – Deanna Chase

Doctor Who: Tenth Doctor Novels vol 2 (Audible)

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