Saturday, November 23, 2013

Winter Jacket Update

So, I've started sewing the final jacket. And about time, too - there is snow outside!

I didn't have the right needles for the ultrex right away (more on that below), so I started to sew the liner. Which was also a good idea, because it allowed my to practice putting the bodice and sleeves together on last time before sewing with the ultrex.

A few of the things I had to do while sewing the liner are:

Pink the Seams

The polyester lining I chose likes to fray, but pinking the seams works great.

Add a Small Sleeve Tab

On one of the sleeve seams, I added a tab that I will attach a snap to. This tab lines up with a loop on my polar fleece inner jacket. I will be able to wrap my tab around the loops, thereby securing the inner and outer jacket sleeves. That means I'll be able to put on and take off both jackets at the same time without the sleeves popping out.

Add Underarm Vents

I kept a portion of the side seams open. This is where my underarm vent will be.

That's it for the liner for now. I'm waiting until the main fabric bodice is put together before I add all the facings and zipper to the liner - that way I can make sure I put everything on in the right order and location.

  Needles and 'Fluttering'

I now have the proper needles for the ultrex, so I have started sewing that. The only needles that worked for me are Microtex 70/10. Microtex 80/12 sort of worked for me, but it skipped stitches.

I also had to switch my foot plate to the straight stitch plate. I had the zig-zag plate on before and the fabric was being pushed into the hole. This also caused the stitches to skip. Thanks to this nice blog post by Madalynne, I learned that this is sometimes called 'fluttering'.

Add Velcro to Sleeve Tabs

With all of that resolved, I was able to sew my sleeves. Before I put my sleeve tabs together, I added hook tap to one side. I then attached the loop tap to the sleeves where they would match up with the sleeve tabs. Now my sleeve tabs are adjustable!

Finish Sleeves

I topstitched on one of the sleeve seams. On the second seam, I sewed it twice. Since I can't topstitch this seam, I thought this would make it a bit stronger and help make it more water and wind proof.

More to follow!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

More Winter Jacket Muslins

So, I've bought more bed sheets and made more muslins. On Muslin #3, I went with a sheet that was closer to the final colour, so I could see if I liked the overall look.

I redid the collar and changed the neckline. I added the pocket flaps and sleeve flaps. I added some waistline flaps that I will use to adjust the waist.

I also redid the sleeves. The sleeves needed to be a little wider and less of a cap adjustment. I also redid my adding of gusset material to my sleeve - the sleeve seam and side bodice seam don't match up. So, I went back and added the ease to the sleeve piece where it matches up with the side seam.

I added the hood. I also did tons of small fitting adjustments. I also noticed that I still needed a swayback adjustment (notice the pins across my back). But, overall, I looked really good. I could probably wear it down the street and no one would notice that it wasn't a real jacket (except for all my pins, lol).

Since I can only sew my Ultrex fabric once, I made my swayback adjustment and made one more muslin. I wanted to be really sure that it would work. So, here is Muslin #4:

I remade the bodice without the sleeves. The front still fits well.

The side view is good. You can't see it from here, but I also tried making an underarm zipper vent (I'll show more on the final jacket). 

The back looks much better. I'm now happy enough to sew the final jacket!

TIP: One thing I found that really helped me with my fitting was making videos of me moving around in my jacket. It was much easier to see what needed to be fixed and what was just bad lighting.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Picking Outerwear Fabric

My next step with my winter jacket is picking the proper fabric. For a Canadian winter, something that can stand cold temperatures, sleet, and snow is necessary. It also has to be breathable, so you don't roast and then freeze in your jacket.

At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to use a fleece fabric or just a coated shell fabric. A fleece fabric can be nice and smooth on the outside and warm and fuzzy on the inside. That means, you don't need to make an outer shell and inner shell. If I decide to go that route for the future, Discovery Trek Outfitters and the Rain Shed carry such fabrics.

But, I liked the idea of having the outer and inner jackets, since that gives three different options for what to wear (just the inner, just the outer, or both together). Outdoor fabric has a lot of funny names, like 'ultrex', 'gore-tex', and 'cordura'. I was unsure of what I wanted for my project, so I got samples.

The type of fabric that is good for outer shell jackets is sold by the Rain Shed and by Seattle Fabrics. The samples I got from Seattle Fabric and it's fun to touch them all and look at all the colours.

In the end, I choose 2-ply Ultrex. I really like the nice, woven finish. The back is coated. This is what is called a durable water repellent (DWR) finish. Because of the coating on the back, the jacket will have to be lined to protect it. I will use a nylon taffeta or polyester lining for that.

I went with the burgundy, since I thought it would look best with my brown hair. Hopefully, this will make a nice outdoor jacket.

I really like touching and playing with the samples. I feel like I learned a lot more about outdoor fabrics. Now that I know what these fabrics are like, I think I can make a whole bunch of other projects for motorcycling, hiking, and my other hobbies.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Winter Jacket Alterations

So, it took me almost all day yesterday fixing up my pattern pieces. I did a lot of alterations to them and then traced them out on Swedish tracing paper. Without further ado, here are some of the alterations you might have to make when making a winter jacket.

Bust Adjustment

Even though I decided not to go with Simplicity 2149, it taught me how to figure out what size cup I am.

Measure your high bust and bust and see how big the difference is (see the handy instructions and chart here). I only have a 1" difference, so I am an A cup. Patterns are drafted to a size B cup, so I have to do a small bust adjustment.

Doing a bust adjustment on a pattern with princess seams is really simple. You take your front pattern pieces and draw a bust line across them. To go down a size, a 1/2" of fabric needs to be removed a the bust. So, you cut or fold the front center piece along the bust line and overlap it by 1/4".

For the front side piece, you cut along the bust line leaving it attached at the side seam end. You then pivot the piece so there is a 1/4" overlap at the bust and the side seam remains the same length. Tape the pieces in place and your adjustment is done.

Although it may be hard to see, I've made this alteration in the pieces above. Basically, I removed the extra length that is in the princess seam.

For more details, see this Thread's magazine post about Princess Seams and the Small Bust. If you need to make a full bust adjustment, there is a good tutorial with links to even more tutorials on Sewaholic.

Increase the Sleeve Cap

This adjustment was necessary to make it easier to fit my jacket over my inner polar fleece jacket. This is also an easy adjustment with slashing and pivoting.

Cut the sleeve piece down the centre from sleeve cap to wrist. Cut the sleeve from under arm corner to under arm corner. See the purple lines in the picture above.

Then you move the sleeve cap downwards and this spreads the sleeve open, while keeping all seams the same length and shape. I knew from my muslin that I needed about 1/2" of spread.

Because this shortens the sleeve cap, you should trace the sleeve cap on a piece of paper before you move it downward. This is so you won't loose the sleeve cap ease. I, however, did not do this, since I knew from my muslin that I had too much sleeve cap ease. So, I was able to fix two problems with one adjustment.

Adding Underarm Ease

This next adjustment allows for better movement in your winter jacket. It will also make it easier to fit over my inner shell jacket.

Attach a piece of paper to your paper to each of you pattern pieces at the underarm area. Extend the underarm area and grade it down into the side seam. Cut out the new piece. You should have a triangle shaped piece like this.

Make sure to extend the under arm seam by the same amount for each piece. This will keep the armhole seams the same size. I added 3/4" on each piece.

Here are my four pieces with their new gusset attachments.

I also went a size bigger on my bodice side seams, since I found out that I needed a little more room when wearing the muslin.

Reposition the Shoulder Seam

I also decided to move the front should seam downwards a little. This will keep the seam a little less exposed to moisture sitting on my shoulders.

I pieced together the three pieces and then cut it along my new seam line (note: I am using a Burdastyle magazine with no seam allowances included). I also thought it would look better in this position.

Make a New Collar

I enlarged the neckline and extended the collar. A short little collar will not do in the winter.

I walked my new collar piece along the neck line to make sure it would match.

I also took a look at my husbands winter jacket to see what other features I want to include in my collar.

His collar includes a zipper for the hood that tucks up into a pocket in the collar when the hood is not attached. It also has a pocket at each end of the collar for the hood ends to go into and attach with velco. Neat! So, I will have to make a few little pieces for that.

His collar also has a triangle shaped pocket on the inside of the collar. This is to keep the inner shell jacket's collar in place.

Zipper Facings

I also have to add zipper facings to the jacket. I will show more detail on this when I get to this step. For now, you can have a look at this post to see how the Mad Housewife added a zipper facing to her Sewaholic Minoru jacket.


Using the rub-off method, I copied my husband's jacket hood. Here are my two pattern pieces.


There are a lot of other little extras in a winter jacket. I'm just going to keep an old winter jacket and my husband's jacket near me when I'm putting my jacket together to see what I should incorporate into my design.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Winter Jacket Muslin

So, I last posted about picking a pattern for my winter jacket. In the end, I couldn't decide to make Simplicity 2149 or Burdastyle 08-2011-102.

Both jackets look good on the models, but I really wasn't sure what would look good on me. Since I've gotten much faster at sewing and I had lots of old bedsheet fabric, I went ahead and made both!

I made Simplicity 2149 in size 16. I made one alteration - I turned the sleeve into one piece with a shoulder dart instead of two pieces.

I tried the jacket on over my inner Polartec fleece jacket, which is how I'll be wearing it. The jacket is too big, as you can easily see from the side photo. I probably could have made a size 14. It is comfortable, but I think the overall look isn't what I'm trying to go for. It would probably work better for what it was designed for and not as a shell jacket.

I made Burdastyle 08-2011-102 in size 40 (which is equivalent to US size 14). Right away, I was much happier with it. So, I put a zipper in it and started making some alterations.

As you might be able to tell, the sleeve caps are a bit high, so I lowered the one on my right shoulder to get it to look better. I also let out the side seams a little - I somewhere between a size 14 and 16 with the polar fleece jacket on.

I think the style suits what I am looking for much better. I'll have to do a few other alterations, such as increase the sleeve width, increase the underarm gussets, do a small bust adjustment, etc. I'll detail my changes in a later post.

I also found that the Burdastyle jacket is the same as Burdastyle 08-2011-103. This version of it is longer and has less of the buttons and pockets on it. Overall, It looks a lot more like what I'm trying to achieve for my winter jacket.

Now I'm off to make my alterations!