Happy holiday season to one and all! I wanted to squeeze in another blog just before this strange year ends, and wish you all a happy new year. One more day and 2020 comes to a close. I hope that 2021 will bring us all an abundance of actual hugs from family and friends. I sincerely hope that sometime in the new year, the social distancing will end, and we can all gather and break bread with loved ones near and far. Most important, health and happiness to everyone. For a Christmas present to myself, I took a break from blogging and social media. But now I’m back!
Before the pandemic started, I cut up pieces for the Hampton Jean Jacket by Alina Sewing + Design Co. in some leftover denim that I had. It was going to be a toile but a series of events prevented me from sewing it up until 2 weeks ago. I was excited to sew up my first denim jacket but was distracted by a pandemic, then quickly lost my enthusiasm for it. I tried a few times (unsuccessfully) to get back to it because I really don’t like leaving cut-up fabric pieces languishing on a shelf. Every time I sat down to sew something else, these fabric pieces taunted me of unresolved desires and unfinished business, which in a way became an apt metaphor for all the disappointments that defined 2020 for me.
2 weeks ago, I finally decided that I will not enter into 2021 with that feeling. It is time to leave the feeling of un-fulfilment behind. Once that decision was made to clear the shelf of disenchantment, my Hampton Jean Jacket toile was made in a jiffy. What a relief! Procrastination can sometimes suck the life out of you. Technically speaking, this jacket took about 10 months to complete, which is ridiculous when I think about it. I basically lost my sew-jo for this particular piece. However, when I started piecing it together at the sewing machine, nothing could stop me. Immediately after finishing the toile, I raced through making the actual jacket, which took 2 breezy days.
The toile helped me decide the length of the jacket. I wanted something more cropped, and I took out 2.5 inches or 6.5cm from the original length. I also took out about 1 inch out of the sleeve length, due to recommendations from other bloggers, but that didn’t work out for me. I didn’t put in sleeves for the toile, but judging from the cut out pieces of the sleeves, I knew they would be too short, so I stuck with the original length. The toile also helped me practise flat-felled seams, and welt pockets. I also discovered that there’s a secret pocket inside the jacket that is created by the pocket bag of the welt pockets. That is a big bonus since I’m in the I-LOVE-POCKETS team.
I actually like the toile the way it is – as a vest with unfinished armholes and sans waistband with an unfinished hem. There is an upside to unfinished business after all! All I need to do is to add in the buttons when I get a chance to go to the haberdashery to get them. But I have to wait till this 3rd lockdown is over. Yes, we’re in another lockdown here which is keeping the small businesses closed. It’s a bummer. But hey, I now have a wearable toile! It’s so cool that my tween wants one as well.
Sizes for the jacket goes from 0-18, and I made a size 2 based on the bust measurements. I used a combination of the sewing instructions that come with the PDF pattern, and a full-on sew along on Alina’s website for the jacket. The latter teaches you how to bleach and distress your jacket if that is the look you’re going for as well. So I never felt lost sewing up this jacket. It made me feel confident sewing up something that I’ve never done before.
For the actual jacket, I was a little cheeky and used a stretch denim – a Lady McElroy in Barbie Pink. The pattern is drafted for non-stretch denim, but even so, I didn’t make any adjustments when sewing with a stretch denim. The fabric has 2% Spandex in it, and was gifted to me by Minerva. Huge thanks! I had already made some Wide-Leg Pants with it, and I was planning to complete the outfit with this denim jacket, in order to catch up with the monochrome trend. What better colour to rock out a monochrome look than this candy shade of pink! I would make a whole capsule wardrobe with this fabric if I had the yardage. I actually like that the fabric has some stretch in it, which makes the denim pliable. And the pants and jacket feel like they are moulded to my body. It also has a medium weight and it provides another possibility of wearing it like a shirt instead of a jacket.
If you’re using a medium-weight denim for the jacket, I do suggest interfacing the collar to give it some structure. It is not instructed in the pattern to do so, but I think it might be something I would do for my next Hampton Jean Jacket. For the Wide-Leg Pants, I used a semi-sweet chocolate shade of contrast topstitching, and for the jacket I used a darker bitter chocolate shade of brown. This meant that I had to pay extra special attention to the topstitching because of the starker contrast of colours. So I went really slow and it paid off. I am quite proud of the topstitching especially since I didn’t have an edge-stitching foot to help me stay straight and even. Well, at least most of the time.
The only ultra fiddly part about this project is topstitching the final seam of the sleeve from sleeve cap to the upper placket. I didn’t do my best sewing here, and I am choosing to forgive myself for the puckered seam and wonky lines. To sew these lines of topstitching, I had to sew into a tube, and suddenly my fingers felt arthritic trying to manoeuvre the fabric to reach this location at the start of the placket. It was a disaster even though I went really slow. I tried to fix this but it ended up worse than the first attempt, so I decided to just leave it and embrace this scar. One thing I recommend is to sew the bar tack immediately after the second line of stitching so that you don’t have to reposition the sleeve back in its impossible scrunched up place under the sewing machine needle. But who am I to recommend anything here with this botched up placket?
Anyway, there’s no more time for regrets. The year is ending and it’s time to celebrate finishing a most unusual and unforgettable year. Sure, it didn’t live up to expectations, but in other ways, it exceeded them. First, I got to spend real quality time with the family. Yeah sometimes the abundance of it became maddening, but we became closer because of it. It afforded me all this time to sew. Then I started this blog, and reached out to the sewing community on Instagram. That led to the wonderful experience of being in the company of Minerva Makers. I found a creative outlet and was able to be inspired by other makers. That is something to be truly grateful for. Thank you for being part of this journey with me this year, and for your support. Happy 2021!