Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


Tai Chi Uniform: The finished jacket

I’ve been writing a series of posts about my progress with this self-drafted jacket that is part of a Tai Chi uniform. Here are the previous posts:

First thoughts on designing the pattern

Selecting the fabric

Cutting out and first sewing steps

It’s all coming together

Since my last post, I have completed the collar and the sleeves with their contrast cuffs. I have also finished the mitred corners and jacket hem. These were relatively easy steps given that I had worked out what I needed to do in each case. I did have to redo the collar, because I decided that I needed to work with white bobbin thread to make my slightly wobbly stitching less visible. I am now reasonably happy with the collar, although it isn’t particularly neat. I have even attached a special Kylie and the Machine “Ta Da” label.

Finished Tai Chi Jacket: worn unbuttoned

The last month I have mostly been finishing off the Chinese ball buttons. These, along with the button-holes that complete the frog fastenings have been extremely time consuming. I also managed to replicate the very fancy top button and button-hole which are finished with spirals. I found finishing buttons and button-holes very tricky. I am left wondering whether the materials I have been using were actually the most suitable for such a fiddly job. The video I used is in Chinese and although I could follow it very easily, it doesn’t tell me in English what materials they used. I used some shiny polyester bias binding, but would silk bias binding have worked better? Is this actually easy to get hold of silk bias binding. Then at one stage some “starch” is used, presumably to stick and stiffen the frayed ends together. I purchased some starch that looked similar from the internet, but again I have no idea if this was a good approximation of that used in the video. The buttons are also quite a different navy blue, but I am trying to think of that as a “feature”. This is very noticeable in all the photos below, so I expect given time I’ll stop noticing it too.

Finished Tai Chi Jacket, worn buttoned

On Tuesday the jacket had its first outing at the Tai Chi class and everyone was very complementary. I took it as a compliment (as was intended), but I do wonder why people say “you wouldn’t know it was home-made”? I mean, essentially every sewn garment is hand-made and there isn’t a huge difference between the fabrics, equipment and construction techniques used at home and commercially. Why wouldn’t it look like something you’d buy in a shop?

A bit of a Tai Chi pose!

I was pleased with the fit of the jacket. I definitely made the right choice changing the design so that the sleeves came out horizontally, rather than at a slant. I talked about that design change here. I do notice that the jacket rustles a bit when being worn and I felt a bit conspicuous because of the noise it was making. I bet no-one else noticed, though!

Finished Tai Chi Jacket: Really easy to move and I think it does look the business!

At the moment I am still in the mental phase of seeing all the “faults” with this jacket. But I’m sure that in the winter I will really appreciate wearing it. Our teacher is a bit of a fresh air fiend and with COVID still circulating, even in January I bet the doors and windows in the hall where we practice will be fully open!