Sewing Vloggers

Sunday, June 9, 2024

On Making a Guayabera

I haven't forgotten you, lovely sewing friends. I have been straight out with sewing for our vacation which is coming up soon. Add in gardening demands between the constant rain and blogging has been hard to work in to the priorities right now. But here we are and it's wonderful! 

When I think of a Guayabera shirt on a man, visions of Antonio Banderas showing up on a wide cinematic screen in crispy white linen, on the beach with the wind blowing through his dark locks arise. There are also memories of my attending parties  and events during the years I lived in Puerto Rico where gentlemen were at evening cookouts dressed in theses crisp white shirts with their beautiful embroidery, looking so comfortable and sharp. I was only ten or eleven years old but they struck an image for sure. 

Old men, young men, they looked polished. 

As we planned for vacation, my husband mentioned various times that he needed some "nice" shirts. Well, go get them. I made my husband a beautiful shirt years ago and he never wore it. He said he didn't get to pick out the fabric. I got off that horse pretty quick and here we are today. A couple weeks ago he said he wanted to go shirt shopping, online or whatever, but wanted a linen shirt. Where did that come from? I told him I could make him one. He seemed amenable. Then he started explaining it to me. Lo and behold, it was a guayabera and I said,  "I could make you a nice one." I quickly looked them  up in images online, called him over, and he said , "THAT'S WHAT I WANT.".    Alleluia!  

Now, I have had some very good luck with linen from Joann's, shopping late season for bargains and never being disatisfied with the quality. Off we went. He saw the linen, loved it and bought enough for two shirts! I bought a couple patterns later on. As we were walking to the cutting counter he spied the Red Sox fabric. He went crazy. Could I make one of those as well? This was all new territory for us, after all these years, and we were loving it.  Throw the Red Sox into the cart as well. It will be my muslin!

I had the clerk cut this fabric first and because I went auto pilot, told her my standard 2 1/4 yards. When I got home I realized my mistake.  It was not enough but I was able to make it work. I made no attempt at matching but hey, I think it's fine, just this once. I also came short on the sleeve width and had to futz with that. 

I pieced in a wedge under each arm and trust me, no one at Fenway Park will ever know. 

But I made up for it with my flat felled seams on the armscyes. 

Now, with Ernest Hemingway and Gary Cooper being all comfortable in the Cuban heat in their Guayaberas, let's get back to my Guayabera effort. 

The fit worked out well on the Red Sox shirt other than the sleeves. We played with the length and while it was good enough, I found the sleeves baggy. The pattern I had used was Simplicity 9157.

I went looking for another pattern.  When I went to cut out my linen I used Simplicity 8180. It looks like a slimmer fit. 
Tissues were compared. It really isn't but the armscyes are a bit smaller and the the sleeves less wide. As always, flat pattern measuring was done before cutting. Hubs was taking a size 44. I did add an inch by putting in a pleat in the back to reach the same bodice width of the muslin. 

At this point all is cut and fused and collar made and now the embroidery. I do not have an embroidery machine. But, I do have embroidery stitches that are quite nice on my Pfaff. I gave this a lot of thought. Before I start explaining my method, here is a well writen, very fascinating article that I think any sewist would love, all about Guayaberas. Their look and the  incredible construction of the best is clearly discussed and shown. Fabulous photos. 

The Guayabera Shirt-A  Report from our Man in Mexico

Since I have changed the pattern to have a yoke and plan to do a burrito construction, I had to rethink the sequence of construction. With the help of Karina at Lifting Pins and Needles and her vlog on the Donny Shirt Camp Collar. it should go well. To pull this off the first thing I have to do is the embellishment of the front bodice. Now, I made my mental plan before reading the article I just alluded to above. Reading that, I now know what artisan level Guayaberas look like and how they are made. But I think mine will be a combo of some decent skills, imagination, and what will please my husband after much discussion over pictures. 

My plan is to make strips of embroidery that will then be sewn to the bodice of the shirt.  The artisans would frown totally on this. No strips allowed. 

These are some of my stitching samples. Samples taught me a light interfacing and a stabilizer would be needed. Below was my winner. Hubs really liked the darker, contrasting thread. Me, too. 

To proceed,  I first block fused a 36 x 9 inch strip  of on grain linen to the lightest Fusi knit interfacing I could find. It is called EK130 Easy Knit. It is barely there and just right for this application to hide any ridges. Once fused I cut it down to two strips, 4x36. These where then folded to the middle and pressed firmly and clappered as you see above. 

When doing work like this on linen, I revert to my heirloom sewing ways. This meant bringing in an ultra fine mechanical pencil, #2, for marking.  I first flipped the strip over and had a ruler there to determine the exact middle of the strip. I used the mechanical pencil, #2, and  placed the clear ruler on the strip and went down and placed one little dot every one inch. My touch was subtle. It gave me just enough for my machine to follow a straight line as I stitch the embroidery first. This is the only marking I did and it worked perfectly.  Once that row was stitched down both strips. I used the markings on my presser foot to measure from the center of the embroidery to stitch a straight line down the strip. Those tiny pleats of the artisans were beyond me! I used the triple stitch to get a nice heavy line. I made lots of samples to get it just right. I will say I barely touched the strip as it sewed and let the machine just feed. It was amazing how straight it went. 3/4s of the way down the  first strip I ran out of thread, my brand new spool emptying. I am off to the store to get lots more as soon as I am done here. What is done so far is looking really nice. Fingers crossed and more to come!  Enjoy reading that article. It is quite interesting for any sewist. Happy sewing!.............................Bunny

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

A Vintage Top


It was a windy day! Hair fail!

If you are a fan of Threads Magazine , and any passionate sewist should be, you will recognize this top. It was featured in their most recent issue, Spring 2025, Issue 225. As soon as she got her's,  my sister called me to let me know about this top and what did I think? Before we knew it we were collaborating on the pattern, it's fit, vintage linens and were sharing. She sent me the pattern, one you had to go online and down load, but quite simple. I sent her trims and hankies from my generous resources of vintage textiles, most inherited from friends and family. We were on. She finished first and it was lovely. Now I had to get hustling! 


This pattern was in Issue 225 of Threads Magazine, a design by Joan McGowan-Michael. McCowan-Michael's philosophy is that it is better to bring these heirlooms out of the back of the closet for the rest of the family and world to enjoy rather than have them "deteriorate under the beach towels". She does stress making use of those with stains and tears, thereby extending their lives and the possibility of appreciation by others. 

I knew I had tons of these, having been blessed with inheritance of a hoarder spinster great aunt and also the legacy of an elderly sewing friend who was dear to me. These items, and there are many, are preciously cared for and appreciated. Their line of accession is planned. 

The author/designer gives great guidance in choosing your textiles, prepping them, and working with the variations of print and designs. She makes it easy. There is a tie in the back of the top which I chose not to add. My Sis loves the tie. 

There is a schematic of the pattern in the magazine but no measurements other than for elastic for shoulders and cuffs.  You can scan the QR code offered in the magazine to access the pattern in more detail. This will bring you to the magazine site and a "Size Medium (38-40 inch bust) with half inch wide seam allowances." I could not find a size Small or anything Larger anywhere on the Threads site. I was frustrated.  My sis, who uses a 12 or 14 Big Four pattern, used the design with no changes at all. Being a size 4 in tops, 6 in patterns, I took out four inches from the bodice. I did this by bringing in the side seams and placed the shoulder seams in much closer. I figured that out with a try on. I was happy with my fit in the end and so was Sis. I think the fit here can easily be played with by utilizing a center fold and a base fabric to work on. You could place your linens on top of that as desired. The forgiving sleeves can be made longer and placed in or out as needed. Then again, maybe there are other sizes somewhere that I don't know about. 


 Everything in the top is cotton or linen. It was really fun going through my goodies to pull the sleeves together and then the hankies  and embroidery to work with that. Or did I do that the other way around???  It was fun. The top sleeve fabric is a micro-check, then a classic quilting cotton bought in the 90s by moi and finally some gingham.  When I had the top all done, it seemed like something was missing, like the cherry on a sundae fell off and rolled away.  I went thru more trims and laces trying to find something to finish off the bottom hem. Nothing seemed right. Then it ocurred to me that I could bind the bottom edge with more gingham. Bingo! It pulled the design all together. 

Here on the back of the shirt is one delicate hankie of the finest cotton(?) blue roses, so very ladylike. I cut it on the diagonal not quite in half and lined it up so the cut was the top edge of the back bodice. I had a ton of the vintage lace you see and used that to trim off the top edge. I think it is tatted lace. 

On the front of the top you can see a former "table scarf." It is made up of the teensiest cross stitch, with  an Asian theme, stunning hand work. Edging the neckline is the only half I owned of a beautiful lace collar. It still had its half of the snap left on it.  Never found the other half.  The bodice pieces are backed with white voile. 

Below is running yardage of a crosstitched border that I had about 7 yards of. It's about 18 inches wide.  I split it and mailed the other half to Sis for her top. 


Making this top was really quite simple. The designer thought out of the box with the sleeve installation which added greatly to the charm of the top. It also facilitated the ease of construction. While it did that, I felt that the area where the sleeve corners connected to the bodice had vague directions and felt a bit clunky. It was one of those situations where you move things around till they worked and then sewed them together. In the end, it all looked good. I did go back and do a narrow satin stitch where the elastic ended on each of the sleeves and  met the bodice. It just seemed more secure and looked fine. I liked the bound hem on my version and think this is an idea that could be added to the directions. The repetition of the fabric enhances the overall design, IMO. Will I make it again? Not sure. I have many more vintage linens, including some lovely tablecloths calling me. I may leave this one as a unique expression of upcycling and look for another type of expression for the next go round. In the end, it was a really fun make, particularly collaborating with my Sis. 

Would I recommend this pattern and design? Somewhat. I like the design. It is creative and out of the box. It really utilizes the vintage linens well. I feel the directions, at least where you are directed to the Threads website, could be a bit more logical and clear. But, that's me and how I like things presented to me. Others may feel otherwise. For a true newbie, well, I think they might need a little coaching. I am also disappointed in the lack of sizing other than the offered Size 8. Not everyone has the chops to move out from this.  But, in the end, I felt this was worth it and recommend it for those with patience who appreciate creativity and upcycling. You won't be disappointed. 

When I originally went out this morning to set up my camera, this is how I was dressed. It is how all my neighbors currently dress outside. We wear net suits to save us from the scourge of black fly bites. They are heinous, truly heinous. Net suits get very hot, even on cool days. Once the camera was all set up, I went back inside and changed into my little vintage top. You don't want to visit NH in May, you really don't........Happy Sewing!.............Bunny 

Monday, May 6, 2024

The Dila Dress


Not quite sure how I would describe this design. Monastic? Faux angelic? I can tell you it is very comfortable, cool and flow-y,  and I like it. I think it will be great for summer days when I am in cool air conditioned areas, like the market or for summer evenings out. It is the Dila Dress from Notches patterns. 


This pattern, the Dila, from Notches,  is very versatile and a great value for the money paid. It comes with 27 design options. What I made and you see here is what we call locally, "the full boat", the long dress with the v-neck and long sleeves. You can make a short dress, and even a blouse with this pattern. You can vary necklines and sleeves on all.  I look forward to making a sleeveless blouse with the Dila design as I really like the shape of the raised waistline and the hidden seamline of that waist under the band. That shorter top  may look a bit prego but I can get away with that and would suggest that it would be great for ladies in waiting.  The waist gracefully dips from front to back. 

A bit about the designers at Notches: One, Evelien, is an architect, publisher of numerous sewing books in Europe, and was a designer/pattern maker for the Belgian sewing magazine, "La Maison Victor" for several years. 

Britt, the other half of Notches, has a degree in journalism but also studied design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. She wrote the "Big Sewing Guide" book for Maison Victor and developed men's and children's patterns. This is a really strong team here! I love their designs. I found their directions very clear and logical, the logic being often the issue for many indie patterns. I recommend. 

Just a reminder to research your sources with indie patterns. There are hundreds out there today, some good, some not so much. Remember, anyone can call themselves anything so do your homework when plunking down your cash. 


This dress was made from my favorite: Kaufman Essex yarn dyed linen/cotton blend. It is a pale lilac warp with an ecru weft, very soft in color. I always have a stack of Essex colors on my shelves, ready to sew. I buy them on sale whenever I see them. They are now being carried at Joanns. I've always paid around 12.99 or close at local quilt shops or online. When they hit the floor at Joann's they were priced at 6.99 a yard for one week. I stocked up. Watch for the sales. This is a great basic for pants, tops, dresses, you name it. I sew with it all the time. I pre-wash it and throw it in the machine on cool delicate after construction. It holds up beautifully and requires little ironing. 


The magnificent detail on this dress is it's sleeves. Please go to the website to get an even better picture. Here is why: my short arms don't do them justice. Every pattern I make, I end up taking out two inches of length. After making a mockup of this sleeve in muslin I knew i had to do the same here, but where and how? Starting at the top, the sleeve consists of blank space, then two big pleats, more blank space, then 3 big pleats, THEN a circular section , all bias, then the cuff. 

If you look at the garment on the website, you will really appreciate the importance of the circular piece next to the cuff. It turns the sleeve into a lantern shape that is quite distinct. I did a half inch tuck above the first group of pleats at the top and then another half inch tuck above the next group of pleats. This gave me my two inches to remove. I know I could have gotten all mathmatical with resizing all the pleats but I just wasn't up to that. So, I sort of missed out on the drama of the lantern effect, but it is still a beautiful sleeve. The sleeve has a strong cone shape. 

I did no other adjustments before construction. I did go in after the fact and reduce the waist by a couple of inches. The bodice is very wide and boxy but you know I am very narrow there so for most of you it may be just fine. I like boxy bodices but it was just a bit too much for me so I pulled it in. Next time I will reduce the width by a couple of inches before cutting.  I made the smallest XS size. For comparison's sake I normally take a size four in a top.  I really like the way the band covers the gathering on the bodice,  very pretty. 

In Conclusion:

Bottom line: This is a fun dress. I think it may have its own time and place but will look great once there. Every year my daughter and I like to go to the giant and wonderful Sunapee Craft Fair in New Hampshire. This will be perfect to wear for that, also for family cookouts and such. I will fill the neckline in with some jewelry. It all just makes me feel rather festival! In reality I am off to replace another zipper for a client. Do give the Notches designers a try. They have some really lovely designs that are very well made, with that definite European vibe. There will be more Dilas to come............Happy Sewing... Bunny

Monday, April 29, 2024

An Imby Plus Chiffon Upcycle! Can you translate Mandarin?


                 Pardon no makeup and eye puffs. Still dealing with blefaritis. 

This top had  a story, as most upcycles do. First, I love the results. My base came from Goodwill, a couple of years back. More on that in a moment. I never knew what I would do with the resource, just that it was beautiful and one day, inspiration would strike. It did, in the form of a competition. Being from a large family, competition is part of my DNA, and I always enjoying upcycling, I finally moved on this textile beauty. Inspiration? One of the various monthly competitions that is held by Pattern Review. It involved upcycling a pre-existing garment/s  into something for an adult, no kids or pets. It could be an accessory or garment. Immediately my resource came to mind but what to do????? Let's get this story and review going and fill you in. 


For this top and it's ethereal fabric, I immediately thought of the Imby Flowy Top from Karmme Apparel.   It is a FREE pattern. The pattern is designed by Imby Lagenbach. She is not, and stresses this, a pattern designer. She designs handbags and fabrics, gorgeous ones. She has less than a handful of garment designs to motivate you to purchase her fabrics, which are beautiful. She apologized for directions, which are fine, and sizing, which is one size fits all, sizes 8-14 Australian. Oz sizes run two numbers larger than US sizes. On my second and third efforts I removed one inch from across the bodice with a simple slide over. I figure this gave me a size four. I did not adjust the bodice length. You could easily adjust this pattern either way with a muslin effort and simply sliding. I believe the sleeves and bodice have so much volume that they will fit anyone. My skirt was 76 inches wide when completed. This is not a difficult pattern. 


I was doing my semi-monthly visit to GoodWill a couple years back. I often head straight for the more formal dresses in the plus size area.  This dress, which sure did not look plus size, was on that rack. I checked the size tag, not that it mattered. I was desiring the fabric. All tags were still on the garment and in an Asian language. The only thing in English was "3XL". I don't think so but again, didn't matter. 

There were massive amounts of fabric in this beautiful border print. The colors were amazing. Was it silk? Turned out to be poly but no problem, still beautiful. 

You can see the waist and sizing above on me. I would guess maybe a size 14. The waist measured 36 inches. The skirt, 76.  I got it home, stared at it a few weeks, machine washed it, and hung it away. Then the upcycle contest arrived 2 years later and I knew it's moment had come. It was made for the Imby top. 

My only problem was the lack of fabric for the entire top. I didn't want a total chiffon top, anyway. I thought and thought and then decided to make this top more wearable I would make the yoke have a strong contrasting presence. It would be denim! I went to my stash of cut up jeans and was able to salvage the yoke, with pieceing from a couple of thighs, thanks to some jeans my husband could not fit into any more, too big! I don't think he ever liked them anyway. He hardly ever wore them and gave them to me a couple  years previous to use for mending. 

I measured my pattern pieces and  would JUST BARELY make my plan with the skirt fabric. I would make my ties from the waist band. It was all a go now. This is what I had left. 


This pattern is pretty straightforward.  There are two things to point out about the Imby top. There is a unique and very clever way to do the slit with tie on the Imby. 

The bodice/yoke has no facings or bindings, yay. It is two layers, being self-lined. First you make your ties. This is ONE long piece. Do not cut into two ties. Set aside. Next lay your bodice lining and bodice together,  then right sides facing and stitch the circular necklines together, NO SLIT SEWING, JUST THE CIRCLE. Trim and grade as normal. Don't understitch yet. With wrong lining side facing up, draw in the slit as directed. Now,  I drew the slit an inch shorter due to my height issues. Lift up the lining. Take your tie and place the center of the tie across the area directly below the neckline stitching at center back. Pin into place. That tie is tucked right up to the neckline stitching. Place the lining back down.  Baste or pin the slit area so it won't slide. Starting at the neckline edge with a 1.5 stitch length for an inch or so then back to normal length, stitch down to the point, two stitches across, then stitch back up the other side of the slit to the neckline edge again. When you approach the bottom of the slit click down the st length to 1.5 again an inch before and after. When you approach the neckline, do the same again. At the neckline edge you have sewn across the tie without even trying. Now cut down the center of the slit and grade, press and understsitch the neck and slit as much as possible. Don't force here.  You will have a tie on each side when done, sewn in with the 1.5 stitch length. It will turn the corners out beautifully. 

The only other challenge here is the meeting of the three pieces at this corner above.  This is not a pattern with a square skirt and square sleeves. There is definite shape to both, curves. There is also an angle where the yoke, sleeve and skirt meet. It is VERY, VERY important to sew only to the dot, not the edge of the fabric. Don't sew across the seam allowance here. You won't get the clean corner you see above if you do. This makes it very difficult to serge ahead and/or use French seams.  The seams are finished with serging after they were machine stitched together. Trust me on this. 

Being petite, I knew I would have to reduce the length or all this fabric could overwhelm. I removed 2 3/4 inches from the length at the hem. I first hemmed this top with a deep hem but found it flared and disturbed the drape of the fabric. I cut it way back and did a serged and machine stitched half inch hem. It draped better after that. So what you see on me is shorter than what you will see from the designer. The sleeves are the same. 

I did a bit of topstitching and decided it really added nothing to the party. I did no more. 

In Conclusion:

This is my third Imby top. I really like this pattern. It is a great fabric show-off-er. It works best with drapey fabric. I've seen it made beautifully with recycled saris. The yoke is just aching to be embroidered or painted, or to just be a foil to a wonderful border print. I think it was a great choice for my Good Will fabric. I never wanted to make that pretty dress into a dupe for me.  I just wouldn't need it. This I will wear a lot. I can see it fitting in well with my life. The denim really made the difference. Contrasts are good. We need more contrast in our life.......Happy Sewing, Bunny

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Had to Refurbish This One!


About  6 or 7 years ago , during the dawn of the Zipper Trend,  I bought one of my rare retail items. It was a blush pink and black border print georgette blouse. It had a 9 inch metal zipper at the back of  the neck  The rest of it's style was completely plain as you can see in this pic:

I loved this top. The fabric was what hooked me. In all these years, I wore it twice. I could not stand the zipper. First, I never liked the zipper trend to begin with. Second, the weight of the zipper pulled the ethereal georgette up and back and choked me the  rare times I wore this top. The length did nothing for me but I sacrificed proportion for my love of the fabric. You know how that goes. When purge times came around, I could never rid my self of this top. I knew I would somehow remake it one day, even it it was just part of a scarf. Well, that day recently arrived. 

I removed the zipper and turned it into a button loop slit. I gathered the sleeves for a nice little pouf and my preferred shorter length. Then I tied a black grograin ribbon quckly around the waist to alter the length proportion. I hope to improve on the belt situation, but you get the idea. I also added bra keeps to keep the wider neckline from exposing my straps and in place. 

(Pardon the poofies. I didn't fuss.) Here is how I did it. I love it now and will be wearing it a lot.

First, I carefully removed the heavy zip. Then I  went to the ironing board and spray starched the zip area and pressed. This allowed me to neatly meet all the cut edges together. This is wrong side up. I fused a strip of near sheer fusible tricot interfacing to the zip area and a bit beyond. The orange lines indicate where the xip was cut out. 

On the front I laid down what would soon  be the  facing. It was  a poly mesh, pink blush color I had on hand. This was then topped with tracing paper on which I drew out my stitching template for the slit. I proceeded to sew the slit with a 1.5 stitch length. Once done I ripped off the paper and cut the slit down the middle and into a triangle slits at the bottom corners, classic slit cutting. This was then turned to the inside and carefully pressed, presscloth, steam and low heat. 

Above it is complete. The facing was carefully stitched down around the slit about a quarter of an inch back, with a simple running stitch and single thread. It does not show on the front The same poly mesh was used to make a new binding on the neckline as well. 

The zipper you see above is in the dress form so just ignore it. The forms print is so similar to the top that it is hard to distinguish, So sorry.  I did my button thread loop by placing 3 strands of embroidery floss on a piece of  Stitch and Ditch. They were about 8 inches long. this was so I could later thread them and sew them to the top. I lined up the strands on the paper and did a tight small zigzag stitch on my  machine over the  strands. It makes a really nice thread for the button loop. You have to carefully measure first exactly how much length you need to make the button loop function and get around the button. I drew that out on the paper. You stitch this in the very middle of your strands. This leaves you with floss on each end to put in a needle and sew on to the blouse and secure the loop. Hope that is clear. I thought of this one day and it worked out well. Give it a try. 

For my sleeves I simply zigzagged over 1/8th inch elastic. I also took the moment to try out the ban roll techique for the hem. It worked out well. The hem edges discolored, I assumed from hanging out in a storage unit for about a year. I soaked to no avail so I just cut off and rehemmed which was fine. 

I love my pretty pink and black top. I think it will be great for Easter dinner.  I have never been able to part with great fabric, whether in a garment I made, bought, or thrifted.  I believe it can always find some sort of second life. Happy Sewing, all................Bunny

Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Velvet Bomber Jacket, V1877




I absolutely love my velvet bomber jacket. I have worn it almost constantly since I finished it, with jeans, joggers, turtlenecks, you name it. I've worn it "out", to the market, and everywhere else. It is so versatile and so warm. There were times I thought I would throw it across the room and never look back but I am so glad my persistence won out, once again. I just can't walk away from a project. There is ALWAYS a way thru!


Bomber jackets seem to be all the rage right now but truthfully, they have always been in fashion. This design was usually seen on the testosterone filled side of the runway but like much in fashion, today it is universal in regards to gender. Yay, for that! It's comfort and versatility are certainly to be enjoyed by all. Being sewists,  we can make our bombers out of any fabric we want, a great opportunity for expression! I had a specific vision in mind and took to Google images for more inspo. What I found were two versions, one being just what I wanted, a shorter, fuller, version with a more defined waist. Most versions, and this definitely applied to patterns, were cut stright down from the chest to the hips, had no shape definition other than being rather closely fit, like this. 

What I had in mind was more of an "urban" look. These were fuller sleeves that were either dropped or raglan and ribbed hems that were closer to the waist, more like this:

I apologize in advance if the images disappear from their vendor sites. I searched patterns all over and could not find what I wanted. I settled on Vogue 1877. a unisex pattern, and did adjustments to achieve my look. Of course, half way through my jacket sewing, I happened on the perfect pattern, so I offer it here for you if you like this look: TCP4 The Bomber Jacket from Trend Patterns.  I found it with a search on The Fold Line. 


This was the interesting part! I've been doing a lot of reorganizing of my fabrics lately, mostly because of those labels I purchased that let me write down the yardage and other info on each piece of fabric I own. I have some really lovely pieces, some for a life I rarely live. I bought this beautiful cotton/rayon velvet online a few years ago with intentions of making a blazer type jacket for the holidays. My blazer days seem to be gone. If I made it, it would probably be a one and done.  Lately, fashion changes have given me permission to use more formal fabrics for more casual clothing. As I measured  out this piece for its label, it occurred to me that I could make a bomber jacket with it and could get a lot more wear out of it and it would be beautiful. I proceeded! 

The outer shell is a cotton/rayon velveteen. It has been machine washed and dried, no shrinkage and looks fine and lush. Washing velvets is something I have subscribed to for a long time. It makes them practical and changes their hand to a deep lushness. Don't  believe me? Wash a good sized sample on warm and dry. You'll see. 

I needed warmth and was not going to rely on just the velvet for that. This was a transition piece for 30 to 50 degree weather. It has worked out beautifully, very warm. It is lined with my favorite Kasha, a flannel backed Satin, perfectly luxe and warm. 

The rib knit was my issue. I am not experienced with rib knit other than on a long tee shirt or two. I've only used what I picked up at Joann's. I went to Etsy for nicer, heavier offerings and ordered what was for jackets, "great for varsity jackets".  Sounded good. It came in and damx, it was thick but I figure this was what I was supposed to use and proceeded. One of the first things to do on this jacket is install the zipper. Between the zipper, the rib knit collar layers, the Kasha layers and the velvet layers, this was incredibly bulky to sew. I pressed my velvet and clapped it down!!!  A stiff brush brought the nap back up pretty easily, which I owe to the prewashing. It was just a  very unpleasant experience all the way through, sewing all those heavy layers felt like stitching a rubber tire. I had to do a lot of the finishing by hand and that stunk as well. I was not excited to work on this so it happened in bits and pieces while I worked on alterations for customers in between to keep my sanity. Once done, I tried it on and was sooooo very happy. It was worth the aggravation. Then I wore it out on a 45 degree day and was overjoyed, wore it with jeans and a turtle to the supermarket. It felt so warm and nice. Persistence won the game once again.


First there was the zipper. A facing of the velvet was attached to the Kasha lining. The coil zip was in between the outer velvet and the the velvet facing. At the very top it met the corner of the rib knit collar. I set the collar back about a half inch and was glad I did. It gave the end of the zip a little extra space for all the bulk involved there. 

This pattern had two collars, one a big camp collar and the other a high stand up collar. I wanted a real rib knit bomber collar. No pattern!  I pinch hit and it came out OK. I just folded the rib knit and cut out a crescent. Fingers were crossed and whew,,, it worked. Every seam was bulky. The next thing that was a bother were the shoulder seams, a definite pattern issue. I have seen this on more patterns, both indie and the big guys. The pattern gives you a clear dropped shoulder. Then it has you attach a sleeve with easing. There is no bump, lump or bone for the fabric to go over where these seams meet and therefore no need for ease. Well, you've got it and you are left with unsightly easing puffs in the middle of your bicep. I steamed the bejeepers out of this seam to rid the sleeve of this easing puffiness which would have been fine if the sleeve had to go over a shoulder bone. Someone behind a computer, at some point, stuck a regular sleeve on a dropped shoulder, never having the knowledge that no enlargement would be needed as the sleeve draped straight down the bicep. Trust me. Take a look at dropped shoulder patterns. You will see this mess everywhere. Check any dropped shoulder patterns you do so you can eliminate the extra before sewing this area. Luckily, my velvet took the abuse well, as you can see above. 

The jacket had welt pockets. While I like welt pockets, these are uncomfortable to use. They are set too high and in just a weird spot. Having looked at other such pockets in my research, they were also set in the same weird spot. They don't look bad. They just feel bad. You can't lower them because the pocket bags have no place to go. Nature of the beast, I guess. They are pretty, though. It had been a while since I had done welt pockets so I watched a lot of vids and did many samples before committing. If you do a mockup for your bomber jacket, make a pocket, just one, and make sure you like it. If you don't, just do a faux pocket, a lot less work.  Also, just look closely at the pockets in the pics above and you will see what I mean. 


Lately, in my body changing journey, my shoulders have started to slope down. This jacket really emphasized that. I added 1/2 inch raglan shoulder pads and it GREATLY inproved the fit. These are tools that are out there for you to use, not just laughable objects from another era. This pattern specified a lot of topstitching. I did the yoke first and did not care for the look. I did not do any more. 

I reduced the length of the jacket by 2.5 inches. I tightened up the rib knit hem band by to be closer to  my natural waist rather than hip size. To make the jacket bottom fit the smaller band, I did tucks in the back and front. It was all too heavy for gathering. It worked out fine but added even more bulk for sewing in those areas. I shortened them an inch but kept the fullness in the sleeves as I saw that fullness a lot in the versions I liked. See the brown jacket above. There is a lot of ease in this pattern as I have often found in unisex patterns. I kept it and did no FBA or petiting.

In Conclusion:

I love this jacket and foresee getting a lot of wear from it. All parts have withstood my  prewashing so I can see it giving me years of joy and warmth. It is so comfortable and warm and just perfect for when our temperatures are not brutally winter but still chilly. It can also be casual or dressy. I love it and highly recommend the pattern as well as being a little daring and making it up in a bold fabric, perhaps a brocade or velveteen or how about a beautiful organza? I hope this inspires you. Happy Sewing........Bunny

On Making a Guayabera

I haven't forgotten you, lovely sewing friends. I have been straight out with sewing for our vacation which is coming up soon. Add in ga...