Friday, 29 April 2016

Starlet Suit Jacket - Craftsy Class

I had loved this jacket since the class was first released, but didn't buy it then because I was pretty new to sewing.  I did manage to get it during a Craftsy sale, which is just as well as it doesn't seem to be available any more.  The teacher is Gretchen from Gertie's Blog For better Sewing, and if you like the look of the jacket, there is a similar pattern in her book, Gertie's Book For Better Sewing.


I finally decided to have a go at making it after buying this lovely lilac herringbone fabric on ebay for £33 for 5 metres.  It's 65% polyester and 35% wool and was a lucky find, and I knew I'd have enough fabric to re-cut if I needed to.  In the end, I didn't need to re-cut, and the jacket only took 2 metres of fabric.  I made a toile before Christmas, and then spent some time gathering together all the other bits and pieces that I needed.  I had planned to start it over Easter , which I did by cutting it out on Easter Sunday.


I'm delighted with how it turned out, and have a lot to say about it, so I'll break it down.

Hand Tailoring

I did all the hand tailoring when I was off work on Easter Monday and Tuesday.  It was enjoyable, although it did get a bit tedious towards the end.


This is both fronts with the pad stitching done on the lapels, and the roll line and edges taped.  I think the bit that turned out best was the under collar.  I didn't take a photo of it by itself, but it stood up beautifully after it had been shaped!


I think I will investigate some different hair canvases for my next coat.  I got this canvas on ebay, but if anybody has any recommendations, please let me know. 


The lining is some lilac peachskin.  This is what I had planned to use, but I couldn't find any on the interwebs.  I know!!  So I got some white instead.  Then I considered using some cream silk that I have, but it turned out that the hair canvas showed through, and there was a minor panic.  The good old Spinning Wheel in Belfast came to the rescue with two different shades of lilac peachskin.

Welt Pockets

I have come to the conclusion that I do not like sewing welt pockets.  They are fiddly and time consuming.  Also, my tablet computer threw a wobbly when I was at the crucial stage of sewing down the little triangles at each end of the cut into the jacket front.  It just refused to play my Craftsy class, and I ended up having to watch the rest of it on the tiny screen on my phone.

The right pocket turned out well, but I'm not so happy with the left one, and I'm fairly certain that I couldn't be bothered to sew welt pockets again.


Bound Buttonholes

These are made using the patch method.  I think next time I will use the welt method as I think it would give more even horizonal edges.


Shortened sleeves by 1/2" above the elbow dart to raise the dart a bit - and that was it!!  It turns out coats are more forgiving in fit that dresses and blouses!  That said, if I made this again, I think I would go down a size at the shoulders and underarms.


The way the collar is attached is different to a dress or blouse, and unfortunately this bit of the class wasn't very clear.  It did reference an artical from Threads Magazine, which I found here, but predictably I didn't bother looking at it at the time, and just winged it!  It turned out ok though, and then I found some more references to this method in a couple of my books.  I'll know again though.

The under collar is cut on the bias, and the top collar is cut on the straight grain.
Setting in the sleeves

The class shows a method that I hadn't heard of before, which is to gather the sleeve heads using a strip of bias cut fabric.  It suggests using hair canvas or the coat fabric.  I was a bit sceptical about it, so cut out two sleeves heads and practiced on them.  I tried both hair canvas and the coat fabric, and ended up using the coat fabric.  


The strips are cut 2" wide and 12" long, and then you line the long edge of the strip up with the edge of the sleeve head.  Starting at the top of the sleeve head (the bit that lines up with the shoulder seam), you sew it in within the seam allowance - I think it was 1/2".  You stretch out the bias strip as you push the sleeve head under the foot.  I pushed the sleeve head a bit too much on one and got some puckers, but just unpicked and did it again.

I really wasn't sure how this would fit into the armhole, but it did!  There is a little bit of give if you need to stretch it out a bit, and I was delighted with how the sleeves looked.   

This was taken on my phone, but you can see the strip around the top of the sleeve head after the sleeve has been set in. 

Shoulder Pads

It wouldn't be me if there wasn't some overthinking involved, and with everything that's involved in making a jacket, it was quite a surprise to find out it would be on the shoulder pads.  I had bought some shoulder pads, but when I pinned them in I thought they showed though to the outside.  So I remembered this great post from Manju, and basically copied how she made her shoulder pads.

Then came the sleeve heads which fill out the very top of the sleeve.  I would have sworn there was a bit about sleeve heads in the class, but it turned out there wasn't!  After a lot of doubting my own mind, I realised that they were in another Craftsy class I have.  Then I couldn't decide if it was the right thing to do to add them.  Eventually (and be glad you don't live in the same house as me!) I thought I'd put them in because I could always take them out if I didn't like them.  

I forgot to take photos of all of this until everything was sewn in place, and even then this photo was taken on my phone.


I really enjoyed making this jacket, and it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, but it definately helped to have a class to follow along with.  I'm already planning more coats after finding these vintage patterns on ebay.


The one on the left was £3.99 and is a single size pattern.  I think it is roughly the right size, but will make a toile first.  The pattern company is Le Roy Weldon, which I hadn't heard of before, but my mum said she remembered her mum having some of their patterns.  It's from the 1960s, and the price sticker in the top left corner say 5/9'; my dad said that worked out at about 35p.  The green coat in View B is the green winter coat of my dreams, and also the lady wearing it reminds me of my mum.   

The pattern on the left is from Family Circle which was a magazine that I remember my Granny buying.  This pattern was £2.50, and is a multi sized pattern.  I can see this in a charcoal grey or charcoal purple, although I think I would add buttons and widen the skirt on the back a bit.

Apologies for the slightly wind-swept photos, it's been very breezy today, but yesterday morning we had snow, so I shouldn't complain!  You've got to love the British weather!  And Monday is the May Day bank holiday, so it will be a long weekend of sewing for me.

Enjoy if you're off too!



  1. I really enjoy tailoring and it looks like you do too Lynne. All that wonderful hand work covered up by the lining!
    Good job

    1. Thank you! I've discovered that I love tailoring too, and am looking forward to starting my next coat!

  2. I love reading your posts, you always go into so much construction detail! How do you remember it all?
    I love the outer fabric, you look very chic!

    1. Thank you! I tend to write posts in pieces as I make something, so I remember what I wanted to say. I know if I left it for a week or so, it would have fallen out of my head!

  3. You did so much awesome work on this jacket, and it looks great! I really want to do a tailored jacket, but I seem to have complete lost my sew-jo. Such interesting techniques, and the jackets always end up looking so gorgeous. I have similar problems sourcing the canvas etc for these projects. My local fabric shop isn't very good, and the staff never seem to know what I am talking about when I ask for things :D Oh well!
    I really enjoyed this post!

    1. Thank you! There is so much to learn with tailoring, and I really enjoyed it. Hope you get back to sewing soon!

  4. I've been following your progress on Instagram and am in total awe of you. So much work but it has been worth it to make such a gorgeous garment. Happy stitching this weekend!

    1. Thank you! It was a lot of work, and it helped to be able to do a good amount in the Easter holidays.

  5. You should be SO proud of this jacket after all the work you've put in to it. Great job. Theoretically you shouldn't need the sleeve heads if you have used the bias strip to set the sleeves. But it depends on the jacket. Anyway just lovely to see it finished.

    1. Thank you! Thanks for the tip on the sleeve heads. I invested waaaay more time than was necessary thinking about them!!

  6. Wow, this is a great jacket. All that tailoring makes for a great jacket you will love for years to come.

  7. Well done! I really love your jacket and can't wait to see the finished coats!

  8. I love it! It looks great on you - I'm sure that the time you put into the tailoring was worth it. Looking forward to seeing what you create with your vintage patterns!

    1. Thank you! I traced the Leroy Weldon pattern on Monday, but it's pretty long. I think it will need some work!


Thank you for reading my blog! I love reading your comments, so please feel free to leave a comment if you have the time :) Lynne.