NOTE: This review is part of my entry for PR's 2013 Mini Wardrobe Contest. Voting starts on Friday, October 4th. Please click here to cast your vote.
60 SECOND SUMMARY
My jacket entry in PR's 2013 Mini Wardrobe contest was inspired by the Burberry Brit Pebmarsh Wool Toggle Jacket. My largely self drafted pattern features: fitted side panel seams with waist fitting darts; back armhole princess seams; woven shawl collar with knitted overlay; two button closure; epaulettes, double welt pockets; back half belt and covered buckle, wrist straps; handmade shoulder pads, sleeve headers, and chest piece; and magnetic snaps. The jacket is made of black 100% camel's hair and bonded leather trim, and it is fully lined with black Bemberg rayon. The total cost of this "Chic and Cheap" project is $40 -- or less than 5% of the $895 original.
PHOTOS AT A GLANCE --
Back of Collar
Double Welt Pocket
Back Half Belt
Jacket on Me
Burberry Inspiration Jacket
I love classic jackets with playful details and when I spotted Burberry's Toggle Jacket with its fitted silhouette, eye catching shawl knit collar and military details, I knew I'd found the perfect centerpiece for PR's 2013 Mini Wardrobe Contest. Little did I realize on that mid August day that my quest to duplicate the distinctive knitted shawl collar would lead to a brand new obsession -- machine knitting. Since then, I've purchased three vintage knitting machines.
No-Sew Shoulder Pads
Magnetic Jacket Closures
Pattern Description: The jacket features: fitted side panel seams with waist fitting darts; back armhole princess seams; woven shawl collar with knitted overlay; two button closure; epaulettes, double welt pockets; back half belt and covered buckle, wrist straps; handmade shoulder pads, sleeve headers, and chest piece; and magnetic snaps.
Pattern Drafting Process: The largely self drafted pattern is derived from multiple sources using a variety of methods including draping and drafting.
The bodice, and only the bodice, was designed when I took PR's online bodice fitting class with Sarah Veblen this past spring. We were required to choose from a limited number of patterns, and I selected Butterick 5288. I spent over a month taking the pattern apart and changed the pattern completely including substituting waist fitting darts for the side panel darts in the pattern. Here's my final muslin. Note that one side shows the original side panel dart and the other side shows my self drafted waist fitting dart.
To draft the woven shawl collar I modified a wing collar I had originally borrowed from an OOP pattern, Vogue 7976.
I did not draft the knit collar overlay ahead of time. Instead I draped my knitted rectangles of wool directory on the jacket, noted where the excess was, and then removed it.
The two-piecce sleeves are based on a sleeve from an old Ellen Tracy RTW jacket that I took apart several years ago. This is my TNT sleeve pattern that I use on all my jackets and have continued to modify over time. It bears almost no resemblence to the original sleeve.
I drafted and positioned the diagonal faux double welt pockets so they would harmonize with the shawl collar and button closure.
Pattern Sizing: Not applicable.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?The two jackets are similar, but there are several key differences between my jacket and the Burberry inspiration piece. See the DESIGN CHANGES section of this review for more information.
Were the instructions easy to follow? When you draft and drape your own patterns and details you rely on your past experience sewing similar projects, RTW examples, and trial and error. Fortunately, once you've sewn a classic jacket a few times, you'll probably never want to look at pattern instructions again.
Whenever I need to refresh my memory, I turn to my three favorite jacket sewing books: Jackets for Real People, Easy Guide to Sewing Jackets, and Singer Tailoring.
I strongly believe that everyone who sews jackets should own all three of these classics because they're all different, and no one book covers all the essentials . Fortunately, used copies of these books can be purchased on amazon for very little money, as little as one penny.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loved the fitted silhouette and knitted shawl collar of the Burberry jacket. However, I felt the flap covered patch pockets wouldn't flatter my pear shaped figure so I turned them into diagonal patch pockets. See the DESIGN CHANGES section of this review for more information.
Fabric Used: Two years ago, I found the black 100% camel's hair fabric at my local Hancock's Fabric. It was hiding in the clearance corner at the back of the store for an unbelievable $5 per yard. I bought all they had. Similar 100% camel's hair fabrics with the same faint herringbone weave are sold on the Mood Fabrics website for $25 or $30 per yard.
The black bonded leather used as trim from fabric.com was another bargain. This is a highly realistic 54" wide fabric made from a thin layer of chopped up cowhide covered with a thin and supple polyurethane coating. The $15 per yard bonded leather is sold out now, but will be back in stock at the end of November.
The shawl collar overlay was machine knitted using the stockingette stitch with one skein of Paton's Classic Worsted Weight Wool Yarn.
The bagged lining is made of 100% bemberg rayon from WAWAK/Cleaner's Supply. I line all my jackets with bemberg rayon because it is attractive, durable, and cool to the touch (it breathes).
The large, black Navy Pea Coat Buttons came from wawak.com and cost just $2.65 per dozen. The smaller buttons came from pacifictrimming.com.
I fused a lightweight fusible knit interfacing to the entire jacket. I purchased this 60" interfacing for a bargain price of less than on ebay
I made my own 3/4" thick shoulder pads with an attached sleeve head using NO SEW SHOULDER PADS. To eliminate the hollow below my front shoulders, I added a chest piece using the directions in Jackets for Real People.
Design Changes: The first change I made was to raise the neckline by a couple of inches. I did this because I felt a higher neckline would keep me warmer this winter.
The next change I made was to substitute diagonal double welt pockets for the for the flap covered patch pockets of the Burberry jacket. I made the switch because I thought the original design would focus too much on the hips.
I also changed the back, eliminating the back yoke and peplum and adding a more interesting half belt based on a Marfy Sketch from their Fall/Winter 2006-2007.
The last change I made was to substitute two buttons for the oversized toggles of the Burberry inspiration piece. Note that I actually sewed oversized toggle closures. But at the eleventh hour, I decided my version looked "a little homemade" and switched over to machine stitched buttonholes. Fortunately, I had the perfect nautical anchor buttons sitting in my stash.
New Skills/Sewing Techniques
Whenever I sew a new jacket, I try to incorporate at least one new technique I've never tried before, and this jacket has several firsts for me.
The first "first" is the knitted shawl collar. My first impulse was to knit the collar by hand. I taught myself to knit and purl and actually hand knit a shawl collar overlay, but the hand done stitches lacked the regularity of the Burberry original. PR's Sarsez then suggested I get a friend to machine knit one for me, but since I don't know anyone who owns a knitting machine, I bought three fairly inexpensive vintage knitting machines including theSinger LK-100 Knitting Machine that I knit the shawl collar on. After a couple of days of practice, I knit the rectangles for this project in less than one hour.
If you're looking for a new garment related hobby to supplement your garment sewing, I highly recommend machine knitting. Inexpensive vintage machines can be purchased on ebay for under one hundred dollars. If you're interested, the Machine Knitting Group on the knitting website Ravelry has all the information you need to get started.
Another new technique is the between seam double welt pocket. I've sewn a few double welt pockets before, but I've never placed them up against two vertical seams. I've read you're not supposed to do this, but I think it worked out fine for me. If you're planning to sew double welt pockets I highly recommend the window pane method from Jackets for Real People.
Epaulettes and wrist straps were a first for me (not counting a practice garment I made last spring). These little additions take a surprising amount of time, but they add so much style to a garment.
As far as having a dependable machine for sewing buttonholes, last year I recently acquired a vintage Singer 401 which I've set up as a dedicated buttonhole station using an old fashioned buttonholer attachment. For regular sewing, I used my modern day computerized Viking 770 with many automatic features.
I will also have to put in a a special plug for the sewing machine walking foot. I believe a wallking foot is an absolutely essential tool when sewing a tailored jacket. It helps ensure the seams are smooth and pucker free.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Sometime next year, I'd like to sew a modified version of this jacket again to incorporate the oversized toggle closure. Over the next twelve months, I will search for the perfect, oversized toggle closures.
If you're an experienced jacket sewer, you might want to snoop shop on the Saks and Neiman's website to find the designer looks you love.
Conclusion: When I spotted an eye catching Burberry jacket with a playful knitted shawl collar a couple of months ago, I never dreamed it would lead to my latest obsession -- knitting. Two months later, I not only have a beautiful winter jacket, I'm also the proud owner of not one, but three, vintage knitting machines!