June 17, 2012

From The Vault: First Sewing Pattern Adventure

I committed.  I decided to try to make something.  I'd always wanted to sew my own piece of clothing, but I pretty much just always assumed that I didn't know how.  Well, this is one of the reasons I love the internet.  I found the Minoru Jacket pattern back when my hand was in the cast and I bought it with the good intentions of making it one day.  Then it sat and sat and collected dust on my nightstand.  I finally took the plunge and ordered the supplies I would need to complete the project.

In an effort to keep costs way down (read: as a reflection of how little confidence I have in myself and my sewing skills), I ordered muslin, dye, and one of the cheapest lining fabrics I could find.  I figured it will be good practice (read: I still don't have confidence in myself or my sewing skills).  I did order what I hope is a good and solid front zipper on the off chance that the jacket turns out to be semi successful.  I was so very anxious to get my supplies and to get started.  As soon as I started cutting the pattern I was seriously jumping out of my skin with excitement. 

So I ordered and received the materials, pre-washed the fabric, dyed the muslin a dark greenish color, and washed and washed again.  The color was pretty much underwhelming.  It was not as strong a color as I had hoped and when I tried to dye it again I left it in overnight forgetting that with the kind of dye I was using needs constant agitation.  Oops!  I sucked it up and went with the store bought cotton duck fabric.  I've pressed the fabric and the tissue pattern, and now it is time to cut and mark the pattern pieces.  I am so nervous about this project because, of course, I would ideally like it to come out perfectly.  I know, however, that I lack experience, so I am prepared for the good, bad, and ugly.

I went into this project knowing the colors I'd like, that if I can I would like to add elbow pads (something I've always wanted to own), and that I will try to add front pockets.  Lucky for me there had been tons of people who made this coat, and tons who have made variations, and tons that are documented on the wonderful internet.  Not to mention the sew-along blog series that goes through the process step by step.
Some of my favorite versions of this jacket:
Miss Jackson
Kristen Makes
Dessine-moi un bouton

Well, I'll be... I'd been trying to challenge myself to be a more patient crafter and maker.  In a past life I was notorious for cutting corners, not reading directions, winging it, but now it stops.  Or, at least, slows.

This pattern would have been way too fancy for me to even think twice about not too long ago.  Thankfully, Tasia hosts informational and photo filled blog posts going step by step through the process.  The sew along for this project took place at the beginning of the year, so I am able to go at my own pace and use all the guidelines for reference, tips, and tricks.  It's perfect!

I made sure to be very thoughtful of every action I took and to take my time, especially when doing all the things I'd never done before (which was almost everything).  Well, a certain zipper didn't quite agree with me, but it doesn't look too horrible.  I'm glad I went ahead and bought proper fabric for this jacket after my dye job went wonky.  This will certainly be a sturdy coat when all is said and done. 

The sewing was nerve racking.  This luckily took significantly less time than I would have imagined (If someone asked me how long it would take me to make a jacket before I started this I would have guessed at least a month).  Before I started, I wrote out all the sew along steps, and added a few of my own, just to keep me on track and make sure I didn't get stubborn and skip ahead like my former self probably would have done.  I color blocked the steps by days and hoped I would finish within a week.  I found that I get so excited that I want to keep going and going.  That, and the fact that I kind of get terrified to step away because I'll lose my place or forget a step when I come back to it.  I know this probably wouldn't happen, especially since I was hyper-aware of it because I'm afraid of it, but still... too exciting to stop.
Helpful project tips and tricks:  Along with the sew along wisdom, I read Kate's sewing tips and learned more about ironing and top stitching, and I checked a roundup of finished jackets from the pattern and tried to see what variations people did and where they had trouble in the process.  I also tried to snoop around for anyone that looked like they might match my size so I could better figure out which pattern size to use, but in the end just decided to figure it out on my own.  I was hoping this thing  would fit in the end!  I think I'd cry a little if had turned out to be impossibly snug.  Oh well, I figured one person's impossibly snug is another person's future giveaway loot.
 Come one, come all, feast your eyes on this!  I have finished my first ever wearable sewing adventure!  I am beyond excited that I left my impatient, corner-cutting, stubborn self behind and actually managed to display patience and attention to detail for this project.  My final Minoru jacket is my current pride and joy.  I seriously can't believe I made it, and can't wait to wear it everywhere.  I also already want to make one in every color, fabric, and make one for everyone I know and everyone I don't...  When I get back from France I hope to find the time to make another variation.

I am oddly picky about clothing and usually have an idea of exactly what I want, but never really find it.  This jacket came very close to one that I've been wanting forever, but never quite found the right one for me.  When I came across the pattern on the internet my hand was still in the cast and I bought it as something to look forward to once my hand was ready for making.  The day I got out of physical therapy I looked at all the photos of people who had made the jacket, and immediately ordered the supplies I needed to make one of my own.  I saw that many people had added small variations, and I immediately had my heart set on a lined hood, front square pockets, and elbow pads.  I've always wanted to own something with elbow pads.  (I also added in the side seam pockets.  I figured I would go all out and I am glad I did.  I love pockets).

I had very little faith in my abilities, but I'm glad I went ahead and jumped in.  I ordered my supplies in the middle of May and had a goal of finishing before my trip to France.  Success!  I hope at least one person comments on it when I'm wearing it out and about and asks where it came from... I can already picture myself blushing and screaming "I DID IT!" with a big, goofy grin in a failed effort to stay cool.


  1. Replies
    1. It is my pride and joy right now! I literally have to give myself a talk before I wear it in an attempt to remain subtle and not shout that I made it to anyone who will listen... but every time I've worn it I put my hands on my hips, stand up straight, and do the least subtle bragging and boasting in the whole wide world. I love this thing.

  2. Megan, I am blown away! I some how missed the finished jacket shots until this very minute and I am seriously so impressed! Truly, this looks incredible and I love everything about it, the color, the elbow pads and the little details! It's a lovely lovely coat and I am sure you will be many compliments, either way, a handmade coat like this is totally worth bragging about. Heck, when you get back I might enlist you to make me one! (:

    1. Ah, thank you! I am kind of blown away myself, still. I might just be enlist-able when I get back! Though, if you have ever had an inkling of a feeling that you ever wanted to try and make your own clothing... I highly recommend the Sewaholic patterns! They are a wonderful place to start and have such a good support system with the blog and sew-alongs. I never thought I'd ever be able to make something like this, especially not on my first try at sewing something wearable. It practically made itself!

  3. Megan, I'm sure you now have confidence in yourself and your sewing skills!!!!! This is a difficult thing to sew for anyone, let alone someone who is new to sewing. Congrats on making an AWESOME jacket!!!