Might I suggest reading this whilst sitting in a sunny nook with a nice cup of coffee and a good album on – this could take a while because I am enamored with my most recently finished article and am going to tell everyone about it!
This creation was a very long time in the making, yet somehow, somehow, I don’t hate it. Having a go at the cardigan jacket seems like a rite of passage for many a seamstress, and I can definitely vouch for having the desire to make one in order to “give it a nudge”, “knock the bugger off” or any other kiwi colloquialism for attempting something difficult.
The requirements are the stuff of lore:
■ The lining and outer fabric are sewn together in a series of vertical lines that need to be parallel;
■ Buttonholes are made twice, or even three times: hand sewn, bound and then slipped stitched;
■ Trim is attached by hand before the jacket is completed;
■ Pockets are made completely by hand and sewn on with tiny invisible hand stitches;
■ The simple design belies the extensive list of notions required: buttonhole twist, multiple types of trim, potentially two types of buttons (or buttons and fabric covered loops), beeswax, stay-tape, chain etc etc
■ The “real” ones cost thousands of pounds and take H-O-U-R-S to make.
These are all true, and I definitely have more understanding/compassion for the commercial cost now. It almost makes me want to save up and buy one too, but that would be r i d i c u l o u s for my life.
I bought the fabric, a lovely woollen plaid (predominantly mossy green, cream and silver in colour) at the Creative Stitches and Hobbycrafts fair in March 2012. Yes, that’s right; two and a half years ago.
The pattern was already in the stash (I think) or followed swiftly afterwards. The next step was to purchase the lining: silk charmeuse. Ladies at various fabric stores looked at me as if I was some sort of mentalist: “silk? For a lining? Surely not” they seemed to say with their quizzical stares. I’m not really sure why it’s not a good idea for the lining of a jacket though: it’s durable, warm and feels amazing. Granted, there are cheaper options, but linings often don’t require huge lengths and the extra cost would be eradicated to minimal in a cost per wear scenario I reckon because it feels far superior so it would be worn more often. Anyway, I’m OFF TOPIC.
So, without finding any options in Edinburgh I went online. I was after something silk, something charmeuse-y, something with a pattern but in tonal colours. It was quite a tall order. However, persistence beats resistance and I found some wonderful silk on Ebay. I crossed my fingers and clicked add to cart.
The silk arrived and it was gorgeous. Cue cutting everything out: wool, silk, and very fine interfacing. I am ready to roll. Things progressed a-pace, well, a-snail’s-pace. The pockets alone took me a solid afternoon to make. I only made two.
These "lovely pockets" took 1.5 hours to sew and press. Know that #couture is worth every cent! #GBSB inspired pic.twitter.com/jT1weoRhgE
— Rachel (@craftytraveller) May 6, 2013
The sewing is not difficult, and in fact it is quite restful and lovely. I sewed this in all manner of places – on the train to Manchester, in hotel rooms, in front of the TV.
Missed my train to Manchester so doing some sewing in the sun whilst I wait for the next one #silverlinings pic.twitter.com/CPrTYlcElj
— Rachel (@craftytraveller) July 24, 2013
It’s possibly the ideal sewing project for me. What did take a long time was deciding on the trims and buttons. I went through at least four options for trim and despaired about them all, before deciding to just stick with one and get on with it. Two types of buttons were bought and I had no faith in either.
I decided to go with my initial instincts and use the first options. The decision was made very much in the “I’ll just finish it and if I like it, bonus, if I don’t I’ll focus on the learning process”. I was turning a blind eye to everything invested in it at that point (fabric yes, but the time spent more). I finally finished the cardigan on Saturday last weekend and instantly loved it. To the point that I planned numerous outfits around it and wore it in 20°C weather (a veritable heatwave in Scotland) because I am infatuated with it.
My Mum was the first to see it, via Skype. She approves, noting that it looks very posh. Which I only mention because that is the only problem I foresee with this creation (after all those hours, toil and anguish it surely can only be termed a creation?!). I need to be careful when wearing it that it doesn’t a) look like a costume (I’m pretty sure the pearls are out) or b) look too dressed up (a neck scarf on Sunday was touch and go). So I’m sticking to wearing it with denim and t-shirts, like the cool kids do.
|Poor Gwyneth, she looks so deep in thought/glum here. It must be rubbish not being able to edit photos!|
In terms of critique, I have only one comment: it feels a little big. Yes, the pattern is boxy, but there is also a lot of room around the bust and hip and through the sleeves. I reckon I could’ve made the smaller size (full disclosure, I basically mirror the measurements for a Vogue14 and made that size. Sometimes they are too small, sometimes too big). Having said that though, the jacket is already starting to mould to my body – after three cuddles (which is what it feels like when I wear this).
PS. I am considering buying a new handbag because none of mine quite work (too dark, too severe, too casual).