Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


Helicopter Parent Jacket

You may have noticed the hiatus in my sewing posts. I was convinced just before Christmas that I only needed a couple more evenings on my jacket and it would be finished. Then, disaster struck! All right, that was a bit over-dramatic, but I found that neither of my two regular sewing shops had any more stock of black top-stitching thread. So there I was stuck with a thread-enforced break in my sewing. I couldn’t believe that there had been a rush on top-stitch thread for Christmas; could it be a highly desirable last minute Christmas gift? (Thank you. Guttermans top-stitch thread! Just what I always wanted, you really shouldn’t have, darling!)

Anyway, searching further afield, I managed to mop up all stocks of the coveted black top-stitch within a twenty mile radius and I finally managed to finish the jacket.

Finished 5

I’m very pleased with it. I’m particularly happy that I stuck with all that helicopter matching. Although, I did think that perhaps I should even have matched the two sides at the front. But it’s not a shirt and therefore won’t be worn buttoned up much. And seriously, there is only so much of the matchy-madness that I can take!

I’m glad I took my time with this project as well. I think, in terms of construction, it is one of my best executed projects. It shows how just thinking and slowing down can make a big quality difference. I’m also pleased with the fit. I’m very adverse to making toiles. I don’t want to waste fabric and I thoroughly believe that a healthy application of maths will fix most problems. I made my usual adjustments – extra room across the back and a little more “belly” space.

It’s a shame it’s still January and I’d die of hypothermia if I wore this outside. But, what better jacket for waiting around in, in the playground at pick-up time?


Jordan Jacket – Progress Report 2

I’ve had a break over the last few days with visiting relatives, but before that I had managed to make some progress, albeit slow, with the Jordan Jacket.

After I added the pockets, the next step was to sew the front and back sections together at the shoulders and then at the sides. It was great to get this far as it meant that I could finally check the fit. I had actually made the jacket a little looser than the pattern advises. It states that the “pattern has a small amount of ease and is meant to be worn fairly close to the body”. However, I thought that a looser fit would make it more versatile in what I could wear underneath it.

The next step involved finishing the front of the jacket. The jacket is designed so that no facings have to be added; rather the front is folded to make the facing.

Jacket without sleeves

Next, I added the collar. I actually quite like the placements of the helicopters on the collar even though it wasn’t exactly intentional! The collar also involved lots more top-stitching. My favourite! If I was going to nit-pick here, I would say that because my fabric is quite different in colour on the right side to the wrong side, when the jacket is open at the front it is really obvious when you are looking at the wrong side of the fabric. I do wonder whether a lining would have added a more polished touch to the jacket. I don’t think I’ll worry too much about that for this jacket. After all, it is my first attempt and it is a learning experience. The pattern doesn’t have any instructions for a lining, so I’d be sewing off piste. I can see a future make for a warmer version of this jacket with a lining.

Now that I’m back home and have some time off work in the next few days I’m hoping to make some progress on this.

Close-up of collar

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Jordan Jacket – Progress Report 1

Slowly, but surely – that’s the way I’d describe my progress on the Jordan jacket. In the last couple of weeks I have concentrated mostly on sewing the pockets for the jacket.

The upper pockets were fiddly, but only because I cut the pocket flaps so that the helicopters match and then had to sew them exactly in place so that the helicopter synchronously moved in a right to left direction.

I was very pleased with how the single welt pockets came together too. When I first received this pattern in the post, I perused the instructions sheets while dreaming of my yet-to-be-made jacket. Does anyone else out there, read the sewing instructions for fun on the train, or am I just weird? Anyway, I digress. When I first saw the instructions all I noticed were the hand-drawn sketches and somehow my techie side just thought that they were quaint and old-fashioned. But now I’ve been using the instructions, I can’t praise them enough! Just nothing, and I mean nothing is left to chance. They are a complete breeze to follow. I really liked the use of freezer paper to help transfer the pocket placement marks onto the fabric. In fact, it made things so easy that I did used the method on both sides of the jacket in exactly the same way, even though the instructions suggested that it wasn’t necessary.

So here are some pictures of the beautiful pockets:


This is definitely a summer jacket, so at least I’m not trying to rush it in order to wear it. Even so, I’m desperately trying not to get impatient with my progress. It’s probably the most complex thing I’ve sewn and don’t I know it!


Matching Helicopters – Are you hoping for a miracle?

This week I had one of those dreaded moments in my latest sewing project. The moment when I realised that I’d bitten off more than I can chew. Perhaps I should have known that this project would be difficult, when I folded out the instructions and discovered nearly 80 steps!

Jordan Jacket

I’m currently sewing the Jordan Jacket from Sew Serendipity. It’s a jacket that reminds me of a denim jacket I loved wearing when I was at university. Perhaps that was the attraction, when I saw the pattern. However, my choice of fabric is certainly a departure from Kay Whitt’s suggestions. No back panels with roses for me! Oh no, I’ll be going for an antithesis of this charming, floral item. Yes, I purchased a canvas echino fabric in grey with helicopter print! I was obviously in a “I can sew, but I don’t have to be girly” mood when I bought this from modes4u, but I think it will look rather chic in a maverick way.

Anyway, my initial enthusiasm for this fabric is now beginning to wane. The Jordan jacket has lots of panels and for this jacket to look even half-way decent I need to at least match the print across the front panels and across the back panels. Needless to say I’m beginning to regret the dastardly helicopters. In fact, they dance mockingly before my eyes as I try to drift off to sleep. I still haven’t cut all my pieces out yet (even though I’ve started sewing). I’ve always been impatient to get on with sewing, cutting out is my least favourite part of the process.

Front panels - helicopters

Now, I have to admit that before I started writing this post, it didn’t really cross my mind to search the internet to find out if I was doing my pattern matching the best way. After all there is nothing worse that giving yourself extra grief when there is an expert out there in the ether. There’s an excellent guide to matching along the seams by Tasia at Sewaholic. However, I had been doing something a bit different, which I thought might be worth sharing.

I start out by doing pretty much the same thing as it the Sewaholic tutorial. First of all, I folded the fabric along its length selvedge to selvedge. I then took an already-cut piece that I wished to match and measured the seam allowance from the edge. I folded this seam allowance to the wrong side of the fabric and pressed.

Next, I lay the piece on the fabric, matching it to the pattern. I marked this line on the fabric, just so I didn’t lose the positioning.

Pattern Match 1

Then I took the pattern tissue, and folded under the seam allowance.

Pattern Match 2

I then lined this up with the already cut piece on the fabric. They should line up with the folds touching.

Pattern Match 3

I pinned the pattern in place with just a few pins and then unfolded the seam allowance on the pattern tissue.

Pattern Match 4

Finally I pinned along the edge. It was then ready to cut out.

Now for the bit I do differently. Because the fabric has been folded exactly in half with the selvedges together, the fabric on top can match for the panels of the right of the jacket and the fabric underneath can match those on he left-hand side. This means I don’t have to match every single pattern piece. Wahey! It’s a little time saver with so many pieces to match.

By the way the post title is an obscure reference to a song and witness to the time I waste surfing the net…..just in case you were wondering.