Fashion,  Sewing

Why Buy What You Can Make?


This week I’ve been dedicating my evenings to a new sewing project – it’s been a while since I’ve spent any time with my sewing machine but it’s been a happy reunion. I’ve made a resolution that I’m not going to buy any clothes that I couldn’t make myself (inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee) so this is project number one.

I had an idea for a biker jacket using luxe cream fabric for the body with leather sleeves so cast my feelers out on the internet for a suitable pattern. (Grandma’s vintage pattern stash doesn’t cater for rock chick chic!)

Never one to make it easy for myself, I couldn’t find a pattern that I liked in English but found this one on a Dutch site called Knip Modethat I could download for five euros – bargain. The problem here, I hear you point out, is that the pattern is in Dutch. I don’t speak Dutch. Luckily, Google Translate was on hand to help plus a little extra Googling for translations that weren’t like for like. I also downloaded the instructions to a Burda biker jacket pattern for free without downloading the actual pattern. Creative thinking, no?

Being honest, it took me much longer to prep for this than a normal project would – the pattern prints on A4 paper and took a while to assemble plus not some of the pieces have dividing lines for extra parts that need to be printed two or three times. I missed this so just used tracing paper to create the extras.

For this project I did something that I very rarely do and made a practice piece out of cotton first – with the pattern being Dutch I didn’t want to waste my material by getting it wrong. It was lucky I did as the pattern made a few odd bulges at the bottom and despite being cut to the size 10 requirements was too small. I have a dressmaker’s dummy adjusted to my size which helped me see where the issues were. I created a new pattern piece out of cotton and widened the front side panels by about an inch which fitted fine.

I then moved on to cutting the pieces from the real fabric. It’s upholstery fabric from Dunelm Mill – £15 per metre. The baroque design gives it a luxurious edge and it has a checkerboard outline that makes it appear quilted which I thought was cool.

After sewing the body pieces together the next challenge was the zip. I got the 46cm open ended zip from eBay for about £3 – I wanted the contrast zip to tie in with the black sleeves and keep it looking edgy and not too formal or grown up looking. I’ve never fitted a zip like this before but am pretty proud of my efforts, it fastens neatly without any distortion. To be honest, I doubt I’ll wear it fastened much (or at all) but I guess it’s just piece of mind that I’ve done it right.

The front seams needed a bit of extra work as they weren’t smooth enough over the bust – again the dummy was a god send for pinning – mine was off eBay for about £40. I’d definitely recommend one if you’ll be sewing a lot – I do wish mine was prettier, it’s not something that adds to my home décor that’s for sure, the cream ones add a touch of shabby chic – but it was cheap and it’s adjustable which is the main thing.

Next up are the sleeves and the hem.

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