My Sew for Victory project: first steps

I know I don’t frequently talk a whole lot of shop during the construction of the garments I sew or knit, but I was thinking of doing it a bit with my Sew for Victory project. It’s the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken, and I know a lot of you seemed excited by the idea of this project, so I thought I’d do more than simply show how it turns out in the end. And if you’re new to sewing coats or jackets too, maybe you can learn a little something along with me. Are you game?

As you may recall, I’ll be sewing Hollywood 1678, a jacket modeled after WWII battle jackets and very similar to a windbreaker style at the time.

I like the collared version of View 1 the best but decided to do standard buttons up the front instead of the fly front. It will look like View 1 but with buttons, looking more or less like my mock-up below.

I ordered two fabrics, and decided on this forest green wool flannel. It’s really hard to capture correctly, but this is as close as I could get. It’s a really deep, dark color.

For the lining I opted for a beige rayon bemberg. Rayon is of course a very appropriate choice for 1940s, and lots of people love this lining. Of course I managed to stain it within 2 minutes of it being in my possession so don’t ask me why I went with a light color…

The problem with the fabric is that it’s so dark green, the vintage buttons and the silk buttonhole twist I ordered are too light. The buttons might still work, but the thread… not so much. I’m going to handwork buttonholes for the first time so I really don’t need to call that much attention to them. Ha ha.

I ordered it from Britex and it was the darkest green they had (labeled Forest, but not really forest green in my book). Any ideas for an alternative? Maybe I should do black buttons and thread. (Wish I had thought to order black buttonhole twist too!)

Where am I so far? Yesterday I cut out my muslin pieces. I didn’t want to have to do a muslin but there was no way I was going to work my first jacket without one, especially as I want to make sure I work out the gathered cuff sleeves correctly and do my melding of Views 1 and 2 right. Just for fun, here’s the chart of pattern pieces for my unprinted pattern. I’m slightly boggled why the sleeve cuff band is taller than the band on the bottom of the jacket (when it’s clearly the opposite on the cover picture), but we’ll see how that plays out when I’m sewing.

Can you see the crazy deep dart on the Front A and B pieces? It ends inside the pocket. The photo below shows the dots for where to line up the pocket, with the center dot in the middle being the end of the dart.

By the way, see that pink pen? It’s a Pilot FriXion erasable highlighter and oh my goodness, I’m in love. My mom got me a set for Christmas, having heard that they work well on fabric and that the ink disappears when you press it. So far I’ve found that to be the case on every natural fabric I’ve tried it on (of course, I always test first). As someone who seems to be plagued by disappearing ink reappearing, chalk either rubbing off before I can use the mark or not coming off, etc… can I just say I love these for light-colored fabric!

Anyway, the only change I made prior to the muslin was to narrow the sleeve towards the bottom. Even though it’s gathered into the cuff I didn’t want it quite as billowy as the pattern shows. For everything else, I decided to leave the pieces as-is to see how the muslin fits.

My original intention was to construct the jacket and the lining as written in the pattern, in part to stay true to the pattern for the sew-along and in part because I’ve never made (or lined) a jacket before! However, I’ve been a good little study bug lately and have been reading everything I can get my hands on relating to constructing jackets, lining jackets, and tailoring. I’m going to change how the jacket lining is constructed. Mainly because I don’t want to insert the entire lining in by hand like my pattern suggests. But here’s an interesting historical factoid about that! I’ve had the incredible fortune of reader Nadine sending me tons of photos of an actual military Ike jacket she owns so I could see some of the construction details! (Nadine, I can’t thank you enough for that!) She owns more than one and the construction details aren’t all the same on each, but the one she showed me has the front lining pieces sewn by machine to the front facings, instead of being sewn by hand. Pretty neat!

Anyway, since this jacket business is new territory for me, I decided to take a cue from Liz, who showed the list of couture techniques she wrote out when she was sewing her Macaron Redux. I started notes on techniques and ideas that I plan to use in this project.

I know this list will get a lot longer soon!

Filed: Sew-alongs, Sewing

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Golly, 29 Comments!

  • It’s great to see the process of making a jacket. My table is always a whirlwind of fabric, interfacing, stray threads and a ton of unrelated items. My husband says a “sewing/crafting bomb” went off. It sure does. When my sewing muse calls I listen.

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  • Neat! I think those buttons are fantastic with that dark green wool. Maybe black buttonhole twist though? Or overdye this green?

    I just inserted the lining in the coat I’m making (my first) and sewed it by machine to the facings, then did the hems by hand. I enjoy hand stitching, but I think sewing the whole lining in by hand would have been too much for me.

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    • Ok, that’s two votes for the buttons! I agree black may be the way to go for the buttonhole thread. Glad to hear how you attached the lining and facing. I don’t think I could stomach inserting a lining all by hand!

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  • I looooooove those buttons! Definitely, definitely keep the buttons! But yeah, that thread is a bit light. Could you get away with black button hole twist for the button holes, and then some regular type thread that matches the buttons just to sew them on? Hmmmmm puzzling indeed. Have you seen Sunni’s guide for hand worked button holes? http://www.afashionablestitch.com/2011/inspiring_me/how-to-make-hand-worked-buttonholes/

    Good luck! I know it will turn out amazing no matter what :)

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    • Thanks Rochelle! That’s a good idea about the thread. I forgot I also ordered a medium navy blue buttonhole twist so maybe I’ll take it and the fabric outside during the day and see if it’s strange looking. I have indeed seen Sunni’s tutorial, that’s what I’m planning to use! I tried it once before but with not a great pairing of fabric/thread, so I think/hope I’ll have better luck this time. ;)

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  • I agree, I actually like the buttons with the fabric, and think the black twist might be just the thing :)
    You are making me want to break out my battle jacket pattern and make it- and I bought it initially because I had a pattern for my daughter then decided I wanted one too LOL

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  • Love the buttons! I like it when people give step by step construction, and am looking forward to learning more about sewing jackets. I’m terrified of sewing jackets/coats, pants, and dolls/stuffed animals, lol. Love the colors, too. Can’t wait to see how you do it :)

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  • I feel like you could dye your thread. It’s worth a try and I feel like a dark green would look better than black.

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  • I love the buttons on the fabric, so pretty. The design of the jacket is amazing, so much like the battle dress blouses we had over here in WW2. Really look forward to seeing the finished article :-)

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  • Another person here who just loves the buttons with that fabric!

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  • Yay! It’s so cool that you’re making a jacket! I started sewing last october and have since then made lots of skirts, a couple blouses and a dress. Jackets are so on my to-do-list! So I really love being able to follow your progress into jacket territory, I’m gonna learn lots :)

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  • I love your pattern choice and I’d love to find a pattern to make the same kind of jacket…once I’m not afraid of making a jacket anymore, that is! But it seems they are not so easy to find!Also, I’m very grateful to see that you plan to document your sewing…maybe it’s going to help me be less frightened of jackets!
    Can’t wait to see what yours will look like!

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  • That’s like the most intimidating blog post I’ve ever seen. :D I wish I could sew something like that. Good luck on your project!

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  • Maybe the cuff piece is folded and sewn, while the waistband is cut in two pieces that are sewn together? I know you borrowed the idea, but the list of techniques is so smart! I want to be better about documenting my projects off-line as well and something like that might just be the ticket!

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  • How exciting! I look forward to seeing the construction details. I’m not at the jacket making stage in my sewing career, but I love learning from other people. I have some Frixion pens and they are awesome. BTW, love your fountain pen! Can you tell I am pen geek?

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  • I love to see a work in progress!

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  • Tasha, you are an inspiration! I love the jacket ideas and look forward to seeing how it comes together.

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  • This is so thoroughly exciting! Not being a sewer myself, I absolutely adore living my passion for this marvelous art vicariously through immensely talented sewers like yourself, dear Tasha. It’s so fun to see your project come to life and can’t wait to hear more about it.

    Cheering you on all the way!
    ♥ Jessica

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  • Good luck on your project. Looking forward to seeing the finished jacket. I like those green buttons-I think they’ll work. If not, how about a warm brown (not too dark) or maybe leather buttons.

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  • Love it!! I, too am “Sewing for Victory” (name is Kinfauns and owls, I don’t mean to be anonymous!!) and love your choice of dark green for that jacket! The green buttons are adorable as well. Anyway, about your picture of the cuff being wider than the jacket band…I think the cuffs are probably folded in half and then sewn to the jacket sleeve (so you would be cutting 2 of these) and the jacket band is not folded, so it has to be faced with another piece of fabric so there would end up being a seam along the bottom edge instead of a fold at the bottom edge like the cuff… I too have been slightly miffed at times by these older patterns with things like that! I am sooo looking forward to seeing your finished jacket! Keep us updated!

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  • As intimidating as it may seem, I’m sure it is going to turn out just lovely! And I think the color will look stunning on you. This really makes me want to just bite the bullet and make a vintage “wind breaker” as you put it. Perfect!

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  • I’m so excited to see how this jacket looks! I bought this same pattern a couple months ago and wanted to make this same version, but haven’t found time to work on it. It’s great to see your steps in making it!

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  • Oh please keep those buttons! They are lovely. I was thinking, if your button hole twist is pure silk, it would take dye just fine. You could dip it down with some RIT dye until you got the green you’re wanting. Otherwise black might be the best option.

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  • what a great start, tasha! :-)
    keep the buttons – i love them with your fabric!
    i am so happy, i could help you a bit…and as i said: feel free to mail me anytime :-) i’m excited to see your next steps!

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  • Beautiful fabric, Tasha. I love the richness of the color and texture!

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  • Having made plenty of hand-braided buttonholes, I can assure you, a length of embroidery floss, usually separated out to about half thickness and well waxed and ironed works just as well as silk buttonhole twist. I used this substitution on my customers garments all the time. It’s much easier to ensure a good color match this way

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