Introducing….. Anise!

Anise is done!

I have to admit, this project was a challenge for me.  I had to add in a bust dart to a pattern that didn’t originally have one in order to accomodate an FBA.   I’ve never sewn a lined jacket before, and had never even attempted welt pockets or bound buttonholes.  The pattern was rated for intermediate, which intimidated me as I’m very much a beginner.  But I loved this pattern and was determined to push myself, and I think I did fairly well.

Welt pocket detail

I made more than a few mistakes with this project.  For starters, I chose a fabric that is heavier than recommended, which  added to my frustration level during construction.  My machine really had a difficult time with the fabric when contructing the finer details like the buttonholes and pockets.  But in the end, I really like the end result in the heavier wool.  I think it adds to the vintage feel of the coat, particularly when coupled with the faux Persian Lamb collar.

Collar detail

My type A personality really took hold with this project.  I am not a huge fan of hand sewing, and this pattern required a lot of it.  I got frustrated and sloppy with the lining hem, and had to unpick and redo the whole thing.  I had to remove and reattach three buttons to get them perfect aligned.  I had to unpick and reattach one of the sleeves to get it lined up with the other, and I still don’t think they’re perfect.  I spent so much time working on this jacket, and I found that as I neared the end of construction I was looking on my work with such a critical eye that all I could see were its flaws.  I had to walk away from the jacket for a few days, so that I could come back and look on it with fresh eyes to really appreciate what I’d accomplished.  This is something I really need to work on – I absolutely do not want my OCD perfectionism to interfere with my ability to enjoy sewing.  I think I’ll take the next week or so to whip up a few quick, easy projects to help me regain my sewing mojo.

Despite my frustrations, I really do love both the pattern and the jacket, and would definitely recommend it to others.  This was my first experience with Colette patterns, and I was very impressed with both the pattern and the instructions.  They were very clear and well written, and I really appreciate the step by step illustrations.  Having access to Sarai, the sew-alongs, and helpful tips in the Colette forums is also a HUGE bonus.  I am definitely a fan, and plan on picking up several more of the Colette patterns in the near future.

I think the jacket is a perfect compliment to my mini-tophat, don’t you?

(I really need a new camera – this one does not capture colors well at all!)

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Anise progress

Now that I have the fit right, it’s time to move along to constructing the jacket!  I found some really lovely fabric for this project: a wonderful burgundy novelty wool from Stonemountain & Daughter that has a very very soft feel to it – almost like a very nice quality fleece; some gorgeous multi-colored silk organza (I think it may be a silk/cotton blend, actually) from Fabric Mart that picks up the burgundy from the jacket body for the lining; and – the crowning glory – some wonderful faux Persian Lamb (not pictured) for the collar, which I think will really add to the vintage feel of the design!

Anise jacket fabric choices. Can you tell I have a thing for purple?

Originally I had planned to use the lambskin in the photo for the pocket welts and the bound buttonholes, but I decided against it as this is my first time working with those particular design elements, and I felt that adding leather to the mix might make it a bit too challenging.  Also, I really want the Persian Lamb collar to be a focal point on the jacket, and I think the leather might have detracted from that.

I think these add to the vintage look of the jacket.

I also found these wonderful metal buttons with a sort of gray mother-of-pearl looking accent in the middle.  They compliment the black of the collar very nicely.

I recently ordered a case of Dynarex Medical Paper to use as tracing paper after reading a thread on Pattern Review.  This stuff is FANTASTIC for pattern tracing!  It’s a bit more heavy duty so won’t tear as easily, but still lightweight and see-through, making tracing easy.  I traced the pattern pieces for the jacket front, lining front and front facing, and made the adjustments for a 2.5″ FBA (I nearly forgot I would have to make the adjustments on the lining and facing too – DUH moment!) per my earlier fitting, then cut my fashion fabric and jumped in to jacket construction!  This is the first time I’ve underlined anything, and I have to say that I really do like the way the jacket feels and looks with the underlining.  It adds a nice weight and drape that the fabric alone wouldn’t have.  As suspected, adding the 2.5″ FBA resulted in some ENORMOUS bust darts.  I trimmed these and pressed flat to reduce bulk, then used a loose catchstitch to attach the trimmed darts to the underlining.

I have planned from the beginning to do bound buttonholes on this jacket, but as I got further and further in to construction I began second guessing my decision.  I had never done them before, and I was really nervous about it! I had pretty much made up my mind to just go ahead with machine

My first ever bound buttonhole!

buttonholes when Sarai posted a wonderful Bound Buttonhole Tutorial on the Coletterie forums.  This was by far the simplest and most easy to understand tutorial I had ever seen for bound buttonholes.  It really helped to reassure me that I could do it, and I knew the jacket would look better with them, so I forged ahead and, voila!  My first ever bound buttonhole!  It really was an easier process than I had imagined it being, although time consuming.  The top two are not the best in the world, but you can tell by the third buttonhole I was definitely feeling more confident with them!

After adding the bound buttonholes, I also stitched matching faux buttonholes on the opposite side of the center line of the right front jacket piece.  I’ll sew my decorative buttons on top of these faux buttonholes.

After adding the buttonholes, I stitched the front to the back at the shoulders.  I was still on a high from the buttonhole success, and decided to sew up the facing and collar as well.  Here’s Matilda modelling my progress so far.  I think it’s coming along very well!  Hope you are all making good progress on your projects, too!

Stage one of construction on the Anise jacket – DONE!

Fitting the Anise jacket

I’m a little behind in the Anise sew-along, as I’ve had company the past week and haven’t had much time to sew.  I did find a few spare minutes here and there to cut the pattern, make a muslin, and check for fitting issues.  This is the first time I’ve sewed a full muslin and not just relied on a tissue fitting, so I was interested to see the difference it would make in fit.

I didn’t have a lot in my stash that was comparable in weight and feel to the wool I’m using for the coat, but I did manage to find some novelty fabric that I thought was close enough.  I cut the pattern according to my full bust measurements as recommended by Sarai, and sewed up a quick version in

First muslin. Seems OK enough so far….

the muslin fabric.  When the jacket is on and draping open, it seems to fit OK.  There are a few wrinkles in the shoulder area that indicate there may be a problem somewhere, but nothing major.  If I was going to wear the jacket open all the time, I’d probably leave as-is.  But, being this is a jacket and I want it to keep me warm, I’m not planning on wearing it open all the time!  You can’t see it well in the photo, but there is a chalkline on the front of the jacket marking the center front.  When I pulled the front pieces so that the centers matched, I got a very different result.

You can see that closing the jacket eliminated the wrinkles in the shoulder from the first picture, but if you look closely you will also notice that we now have a new set of wrinkles in the armpit.  The jacket is also very tight across my chest, despite garment measurements saying I should have 3 inches of ease.  When I stretch or move my arms in any way, the tightness increases and the wrinkles/draglines become much more obvious. 

Starting to get a little wrinkly in the armpit…

Yep, it’s as I expected – I’m not going to be able to get away without an FBA on this one :-/  In order to determine the amount of adjustment I would need, I let the jacket hang naturally and measured the distance between the center chalkline and my center at the bust apex.  The difference between the two was 2.5″, meaning I was going to have to add 2.5″ at the bust apex in order to achieve a proper fit.  There are a couple of different ways to do this – if I wanted to preserve the lines of the jacket I could slash and spread the pattern without adding a bust dart, which would add length to the overall design.  I really like where the

Ugh! Not attractive!

jacket hits me in the muslin version, and I don’t really want to do that.  I traced my pattern pieces and used the Palmer and Pletsch FFRP method to add in a bust dart.  I then redrew all the button markings to make sure they would still sit where they should.  I was concerned the FBA might interfere with button placement, but actually I think it looks fine.  After adjusting the front jacket pattern, I also adjusted the front lining piece in the same way, and made a length adjustment to the front facing so that it would match up with the jacket front.

I didn’t really have another suitable fabric in my stash to make a second muslin from, but I did have some Sewable Swedish Tracing Paper that I had never tried, and thought I’d give that a whirl.  I cut the pattern pieces from the paper, sewed them together, and tried on the new paper muslin.  I have to say, I’m fairly impressed with this stuff!  You definitely still have to be gentle with it (I got a little tear in the armhole when trying it on), but it is absolutely sewable and able to tell you if you’ve achieved a good fit. 

According to the new muslin, the bust dart did the trick!  Because I had to add 2.5″, it’s a pretty deep dart.  I’m working with wool, so that dart is going to create a lot of bulk.  I plan on trimming the excess, pressing, and catchstitching to the underlining to reduce the bulk.

Last night I cut in to my fashion fabric, attached the interfacing, and basted the underlining to the front, back and side back.  I think I’m all caught up and ready to go!  I’m hoping to begin sewing the real deal on Wednesday.  Wish me luck!  I’ll post an update on my progress later this week.

Colette Trunk Show and the Anise Jacket

Colette just released two new patterns, the Anise jacket and the Juniper pants. To celebrate they held a series of trunk shows along the west coast. I was lucky enough to attend a Colette trunk show on Saturday, where Sarai graciously signed my copy of The Colette Sewing Handbook , I had an opportunity to meet other local sewing enthusiasts, and I picked up a few patterns and some really gorgeous fabric. It was wonderful to see everyone there in their darling Colette creations! I haven’t sewn up any of the Colette patterns aside from the Sorbetto. Seeing so many of the designs in person was very inspiring, and I can’t wait to make some up for myself!

Speaking of Colette designs – I’m really in love with the Anise jacket! What a cute, classic little number! I knew I’d be picking this pattern up at the trunk show, so I stopped by one of my favorite local fabric stores, Stonemountain & Daughter, beforehand to see if I might be able to find the right fabric. Lucky me, I found a really gorgeous soft wool in a dark burgundy shade in the clearance section for 50% off. Perfect! I can’t wait to get started on this. I’m excited to try some new techniques, such as the welt pockets. While I was going through my stash last night trying to find an appropriate lining, I ran across a beautiful piece of very soft black leather that I’d forgotten about. I don’t have much of it, but there’s definitely enough to use for the welt pockets and some bound buttonholes on the jacket. I’d really like to use the leather for these details, but I’m not sure I’ll be brave enough – especially since this will be my first time trying these techniques at all!

I’m a little nervous about fitting the jacket, as I know I’ll need to do an FBA and the pattern does not have bust darts. I was hoping to avoid adding darts in since I really like the lines of the pattern as-is, but I don’t think that’s going to be an option. I’ve ordered some tracing paper and am going to make a couple muslins, one based on high bust and one based on bust, to see which gives me the correct fit. I’m planning on participating in the Anise Sew-Along on the Colette forums, which started this week. I’ll post my progress here. Stay tuned!

Anise Jacket Sewalong