February 10, 2013


... NOTE TO READERS:  Heavy Post.  If you don't want to read all of this I understand! Just look at the pictures - it's quite a metamorphosis

...I started my Fearless February project on January 19th because I knew I needed a head start.  But really, what does it matter - After all I'm not in a speed race.  But I have to continuously remind myself to CHILL and just ENJOY the process of what this project is all about:
  •  shaking up my regular sewing routine by stepping out of my comfort zone
  •  practicing and thus improving my tailoring techniques
I actually do not get in as much sewing time during the week as I would like to.  Lets face it I'm pooped at the end of the day.  Sewing a little on Friday evening and all day on Saturdays has been progressive though.  Had I made this jacket straight by the pattern instructions it would have been finished by now.   But it wouldn't be as special as it's going to be after plugging numerous tailoring techniques into it.

There have been other eyes (people) involved in this process.  My sister Pat and my niece Brenda came for a visit at the beginning of the muslin fitting stage.  They helped me critique my fit as much as they could but most importantly took pictures of the back of the muslin while I was wearing it.  I emailed the picture to Smoking Needles, who suggested that the sleeves needed to be raised because they extended far too much over my natural shoulder; and that it was too big in the chest area.  And after studying this picture I also knew that I also needed to make a sway back alteration.

Glad I already knew how to make the sway back adjustment.  I also made an adjustment for the pulling at the top of that center back seam.
Eight pairs of eyes lead to a much better fitting muslin,  but it was at this point that I was almost ready to throw in the towel because I really wasn't sure how to go about raising the sleeves or taking the excess fullness out of the chest area.  But instead I took a deep breath and decided to press on.  After all, it's not a Challenge unless it's a Challenge, RIGHT??? 
Much too over extended in the shoulder area

I'll admit, not a pretty sight!
Ahhhh, much better!, but also found that the sleeves were much too big overall
My corrections made for a much better fit. You can see from the picture that even on the dressform it was too large in the lower armhole area.  I could have taken the excess out of the side seams, but nooooo, I had already jumped the gun and completely installed all 3 pocket flaps (lining, topstitching and superb pressing).  There was no way I was taking them off because as far as I was concerned they were PERFECT!  Taking up the side seam would have thrown my pocket flap alignment off.  So instead I decided to make the adjustment in the back princess seams, which I think worked out very well.

I insert the majority of my sleeves flat before the side seams are sewn.  I JUST LOVE THAT METHOD OF CONSTRUCTION!  But of course this jacket has a two piece sleeve so there was no way around setting it in.  If anyone out there knows a way to sew a two piece sleeve in flat, please let me know!
The sleeves were the #1 area that caused me fear - I'm a-scared (new made up word) of sleeve cap puckering.  I received advise from two different sources and help from a video tutorial.  Ebony said that although pattern instructions tell you to ease the sleeve cap between the notches, instead start your easing far beyond the notches.  This was good advice, except it was impossible to pull up the ease stitches in this thick fabric!  I used three rows of ease stitches and it wouldn't budge.  It was now time to pull another weapon from the arsenal - the bias strip sleeve cap easing method.  I'd used it before a long time ago and used this You Tube Video as a refresher.  It worked like a charm!

With the sleeve cap eased, I still needed to get the sleeves inserted flawlessly.  It was then that I heard Rochelle's voice in my head from a previous conversation say, "have you ever thought about hand basting the sleeve in first?".  Let me tell you, that really did the trick.
1" Bias strip taken from the inside of an old thrifted necktie
Not a pucker - IT'S FLAWLESS!!!
I think it's beautiful - I DETEST PUCKERING unless of course it's a pattern design.

Gratuitous picture of the back of the jacket. 
 I am extremely pleased with my project at this point, but still not completely out of  woods.  The pattern calls for 1/2" shoulder pads, but I'm not sure that will be enough.  I'm toying with making headers for the sleeves.

When I get to this point of a big project I make a list of what's left to do.   I guess it helps me feel like I'm moving and making some progress.
It's been rough sewing this thick wool fabric.  I had to pull out the big guns to get this done.
I purchased this machine about four years ago at Hancock's used machine sale for $35.00; all it needed was a needle thumb screw.  I use it for "hard" to sew fabrics and boots so it rarely sees the light of day.  But I'm discovering that I really like it.  No bells or whistles on this machine at all but it purrs like a kitten.

In the meantime, I was one of Brenda's pattern give-a-way winners.  Thank you again Brenda!
To end this short novel of a post I must show a couple of pictures of my students.  We participated in the Veteran's High School Prom Fashion Show for the second year in row and they did marvelously.
My 2013 Dream Team


  1. You patience and dedication to getting these sleeves to look perfect has paid off! Not a pucker what so ever...can't wait to see you showing this beauty off...J

  2. Congrats to u and your students!
    Your jacket is looking lovely and i just love the color. I'm cheering you on! ~ Far

  3. The jacket is really looking great!

  4. Fabulous project. I love the colour. Decisions decisions. How I understand you. I wish you good luke and thanks for the You Tube Video.

  5. Looks great so far! I can't wait to see how it turns out.

  6. Your jacket is looking gorgeous, Faye. I made this one for my2009 Swap but it didn't look any where near as good as yours!
    I'm on a quest to challenge myself too and am working hard on solving fitting issues so I found your post interesting.

  7. Gorgeous sleeves, Faye. Can't wait to see the finished garment.

  8. That jacket is definitely a challenge, however you are tackling it and applaud your gusto.. the sleeve insertion is flawless.

  9. Marvelous, simply, marvelous!!! This jacket is so beautiful. Not out of my comfort zone just yet! The cape I've chosen is kicking my brain into another zone. I bit off too much to be in a hurry, I think.

    1. I love that cape, and can't wait to see yours Brenda!

  10. Wow! Your attention to detailis really turning this into a fabulous jacket. Beautiful job on those sleeves!

    1. Just wanted to add: Your girls are beautiful!

  11. What a great looking bunch of students! This is looking very nice! Fearless indeed! The sleeves look superb not to mention the front flaps! Yes... that unintentional puckering is what separates the women from the girls :). Looks like you are conquering this challenge quite nicely!!

  12. What a pair of gorgeous sleeve caps! You did it, Faye! See, there was nothing to be a-feared of (another new word...lol)!

  13. It is looking really gorgeous, Faye!!

  14. That jacket is looking fabulous! The alterations have really moved it up a notch. Well done to you :)

  15. p.s. it looks like a labor of love!

  16. Keep pushing on! You jacket looks fantastic so far. I am so glad I was able to be of help to you.

  17. Great post! I am loving your jacket. Sleeves are perfect. The color is very pretty.

  18. The jacket is looking great...I'm so looking forward to its completion.

  19. Looks gorgeous! Great job on the sleeve cap. I haven't yet conquered jacket sewing *at all* but I have heard that sewing in the round with a sleeve head makes a pretty result. The bias linen strips help ease in difficult fabric jsut like you used so beautifully. That being said I read Armani RTW used 3/8" armscythes to ease in faster. The fashion designer whose atelier was ont he ground floor of my old apartment told me she sewed her designer jacket sleeves in the flat, with 3/8" or 1/4" seams to economize, and sewed two-piece sleeve seams first then sewed them in flat to speed things up. Overall I think your results look more high quality than hers did, but hers were still pucker-free and acceptable. As a home sewist I think you're making the right choice to go the higher quality route.

  20. The sleeves are PERFECT! Hooray!

  21. Hooray for having all of that muslin fitting assistance. It's great to see you making another purple coat - my second daughter loves purple, too, so she'd love your coats! I'm really impressed at how nice it is.

    And I'm always impressed at the things you have your students doing. They must just love you!

  22. Hi Faye, You did it girl! I know you will be very proud of this beautiful jacket that you put so much into. Looks like a pro! Beautiful color and this is a very well made piece that I'm sure you will find many uses for. Can't wait to see the next one.

  23. Wow Faye, your jacket is looking fabulous, I just did a similar post on my blog, I hate the puckering too. Great job

  24. Oh Faye I can so relate about being too pooped during the week to find time for sewing. You've done a fabulous job with the setting in the sleeves and loved the video about using a strip of bias fabric... very clever... I've added that one to my sewing tips list. Can't wait to see your jacket finished as it's going to look gorgeous and I love love love the colour too :)

  25. Oh, Faye, this jacket is stunning. I still think back to a few years ago when one of your sewing goals was to add more colour to your wardrobe. Look at you now! Can't wait to see the finished product and how you style it.

  26. You are taking the challenge serious! The jacket is looking great.

  27. Faye you're realy making progress with you jacket and it's looking beautiful! I plan on completed a jacket too for the Fearless February sewing and I haven't even started yet! I have to get my (you know what) in gear! Good luck on completing yours!

  28. Hello Faye, I've joined the Fearless February challenge as well, and am saying hi to everyone I can find in the challenge. I admire how you have altered this jacket - it is so hard to fit yourself, I have the same problem. My challenge is not so advanced in progress yet - like you, I get tired working. Looking at your blog you have made some beautiful things that suit you so well.

  29. Your jacket is looking really good. The sleeves are perfect. The work you have put into the construction is really paying off. Congratulations on the "givaway" win.




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