Making a Jasika Blazer, Part 3: Fabric Prep and Construction

This post may get a little long, but hang with me! I’ll try to stay organized…

SUPPLIES

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, I purchased my grey wool coating fabric for my Jasika Blazer from moodfabrics.com. I’m very happy with the quality and the nubby textural weave!

I debated about whether or not to purchase the kits that Closet Case had available—I think they are a great value, but I also love the thrill of the hunt! And I thought it might be helpful to share where I bought everything.

The fusible weft interfacing, knit interfacing, and shoulder pads came from Mood Fabrics (I also purchased cotton twill stay tape from Mood, but I bought the wrong width and ended up folding it or cutting it in half for areas that required it—worked just fine I think!).

I purchased hair canvas from fabric.com. This was a little more challenging to source since I had no prior experience working with this stabilizer and wasn’t sure exactly what it was or which brand I should buy. After reading a few reviews, I noticed that some versions on the market are polyester, which is apparently not as nice. So I found this mostly natural fiber version on fabric.com and it at least looks like the stuff that is recommended and shown in the Closet Case kits! It is a sew-in stabilizer.

I planned to make my own sleeve heads, as those were hard to source, and I found a couple of tutorials for making them (and Closet Case also now has a blog post on how to do this). It looks fairly straightforward.

After all was said and done, my costs were maybe only a couple of bucks cheaper than the cost of a kit from Closet Case…so if you are feeling overwhelmed with sourcing, definitely get a kit and make your life easier! But maybe you already have a couple of things on hand and just need to buy a few items…then sourcing yourself is not too bad!

PRE-TREATING/SHRINKING THE WOOL

Wool coating fabric should not be laundered as it is vulnerable to massive shrinkage. However, it must be pre-treated to shrink the fabric a bit (I’m kind of an amateur at this, but my understanding is this will prevent additional shrinkage when pressing the fabric during construction and any environmental factors that may cause shrinkage down the road). I made the mistake of NOT pre-treating my Clare Coat fabric prior to cutting everything out and it definitely shrunk a little while I was making it. My coat is still wearable, but the sleeves ended up a little bit more snug than I would have liked!

I vowed to not make the same mistake with the Jasika, since I wanted a slim fit and shrinkage would definitely compromise my comfort while wearing it. A quick Google search informed me that there are generally three ways to pre-treat wool (oh, hey! These are also noted in the Jasika pattern instructions!):

  • press the fabric at home with an iron and lots of steam

  • throw the fabric in the dryer with a couple of damp towels

  • take the fabric to the cleaners and have them pre-treat it

I chose the dryer method—easy and quick is how I roll! I just wet a couple of bath towels (very damp but not dripping/soaked) and tumbled them with my wool fabric on high heat for about 45 minutes.

CUTTING AND INTERFACING

Once my fabric was pre-shrunk, I was ready to start cutting all my pieces. This part took a while! I used my altered muslin pieces to cut the main shell and sleeves (as opposed to retracing all of my adjustments, and this worked really well for me). I also made sure to transfer any length adjustments to the rest of the pieces that would be affected when tracing out the rest of the pattern pieces for cutting. By this time I was so ready to start sewing this thing already! But I tried to remain patient, knowing that all of my prep and planning would pay off in the end.

Marked new seams and adjustments on the muslin and trimmed the excess seam allowances

Marked new seams and adjustments on the muslin and trimmed the excess seam allowances

Altered muslin pieces used as pattern pieces.

Altered muslin pieces used as pattern pieces.

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Interfacing also took a while (as did cutting the interfacing). One thing I noticed was that my weft interfacing was really difficult to cut with my [ahem, cheap] pinking shears. For the pieces that required a pinked edge, I simply snipped into the edge at about half inch increments to soften it a bit and give it some flexibility to prevent an obvious edge from the exterior. This seemed to do the trick just fine!

CONSTRUCTION NOTES

FINALLY! It was time to put this baby together! The most labor-intensive part was preparing the front lapel and constructing the welt pockets. I chose View B from the pattern versions (welt pockets) and left off the breast pocket. I found myself constantly re-reading the pattern on this part to make sure I got it right.

Once the front panels of the jacket were assembled, the rest of the shell construction came together pretty quickly and I was able to start trying on the shell to test the fit. The only additional adjustments I made were to lengthen the front darts about two inches to reach the apex of my bust, and shorten the front of the blazer by an inch. I mentioned possibly shortening it in the muslin phase and once the blazer was on, it just seemed too long. The back was already short enough due to my sway back adjustment, so I gradually blended the shortened hem in the front to the original hem in the back.

When I reached the point of adding shoulder pads and sleeve heads, I decided that the sleeve heads were just too much for my liking. They were a little bulky (could have been the batting I was using) and I found that my fabric had enough structure to hold it’s shape at the sleeve without them. I can always go back and add them in later if I decide they are necessary.

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I took my time with some of the tailoring details and steaming. I wanted to make sure that everything had a professional finish and was symmetrical. I also left the stay stitching at the lapel in place until the moment I was ready to wear it out in public for the first time.

My last detail was the button/buttonhole construction. I decided to go with a pop of orange here and I think it is such a nice touch!

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FINAL THOUGHTS

I love this blazer! I have been periodically looking at my husband in surprise and exclaiming, “I made this blazer!?”. It’s such a nice addition to my wardrobe and I feel very accomplished for completing a big project like this. I have to say, this was probably the most mentally draining project I’ve done due to all the prep and detailing…but it was SO worth it!

My first time wearing it out was at a local bar/restaurant. Luckily, the cold weather stuck around in Michigan a little longer so I could wear it. Never thought I’d be glad about cold weather hanging around too long…

Click here to see the money shot(s) of my finished blazer :)

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Making a Jasika Blazer, Part 2: Making a Muslin + Assessing My Fit


TLDR: I made a muslin and decided to make the following changes to my Jasika Blazer pattern pieces:

  • Lengthen the sleeves and bodice by 1”

  • Increase the seam allowance at the waist seams—front and back—to slim the waist

  • Slim the sleeves, starting just below the armpit

  • Do a sway back adjustment (take out about 2” total from the back)

  • Rotate the sleeves forward at the shoulder approximately 3/4” (without changing the shoulder seam of the bodice) to accommodate forward shoulders.

The photos below show the muslin in three stages:

  1. Initial construction with only the length added to the bodice and sleeves

  2. Waist and sleeve slimming with initial slimming of center back seam (which made things funky in the back!)

  3. Rotated sleeve and did a proper sway back adjustment. Also slimmed the waist at the back.


I tend to be a jump-right-in kind of sewist (and maker, in general). Most of the time, this serves me well, and I get a LOT done in a short amount of time. Some call it impatience…I call it time management. Tomato, tomato.

At the end of 2018, I sewed up a Bellatrix Blazer from Papercut Patterns without making a muslin first. And while it looks nice, the fit is just a little off. I made a few modifications on the fly without testing the fit first. So, long story short, I have only worn it ONCE. And every time I look at it, I feel a slight tinge of shame for making something really nice in a beautiful corduroy fabric that I never wear.

For the Jasika Blazer, I decided I would not let that happen again! Closet Case made the construction process very approachable and fun by offering loads of fitting resources (which you can have access to by signing up for their email newsletter). AND they made it very clear that a muslin is simply indispensable. So here we go!

For my muslin, I used some basic cotton muslin fabric I had laying around (I never buy fabric like this but did one day a few months ago on a whim…possibly because it was on sale at JoAnn Fabrics?). The only necessary pieces for the muslin phase were the most basic body, sleeve, and collar pieces of the pattern—just enough to get the thing on my body for a visual reference of where I needed to make changes.

I have to be honest: I was kind of dreading this process, but once I got my size traced onto tracing paper, and then transferred to the fabric, I found it to be quite satisfying. I ended up tracing the pattern directly onto my fabric with a sharpie (a tip I picked up several weeks ago watching Closet Case’s stories on Instagram). So now I have these freaking amazing working muslin pattern pieces with all kinds of marks on them. My architectural brain is firing on all synapses.

(Did you know that I was an architect in a former life? Apparently, designing buildings and figuring out how they fit together didn’t really scratch my creative itch—but clothing? YES, PLEASE!)

All my muslin pieces marked and cut!

All my muslin pieces marked and cut!

My Sizing Details

First off, a note on sizing: It’s been a tiny challenge to accept my measurements, not really because I am ashamed of them, but because ready-to-wear sizing is usually numbered smaller (aka, vanity sizing), and most RTW clothing is a straight size that fits funny in at least one place (usually the hips). So I’ve grown accustomed to either fitting my hips and taking a RTW garment in, or fitting the rest of my body and having it be kinda snug in the hips to get myself into a smaller size. And all of this sometimes makes me second guess pattern sizing because it is always numbered “larger” than what I buy in stores.

When making my own garments, I’ve found that I usually have to take in a little more than the seam allowance for the sizes I measure off of pattern packaging (mainly in the waist and the transition areas around the hips). However, even knowing this, I always start with a size range that is indicated on the pattern even if it’s a little loose at first. I know I can keep trimming, but I can’t add that fabric back on!

My measurements:

  • High Bust: 36” (~ 91.5cm)

  • Bust: 37.5” (~ 95cm)

  • Waist: 30” (~ 76cm)

  • Hips: 44” (~ 112cm)

  • Height: 5’-9” (~ 175cm)

My measurements put me in the size 12 range in the bust and waist and size 16 in the hips (as a reference, I am usually in the size 8 to 12 range in RTW clothing). So I went with a 12 and graded to a 16 in the hips.

Constructing the Muslin

Initially, I lengthened the sleeves and the bodice by 1”, which I do for every pattern as a starting point because I have a long torso and arms. After sewing all of the pieces together, I’m happy with the length of the sleeves. Initially I thought the bodice length ended up being a tad too long, but you’ll see in my notes below that other fitting adjustments made the length feel more spot on. Overall, the initial fit was pretty dang good! Here’s my first go at the muslin with all the aforementioned sizing and modifications included (I tried on the blazer with shoulder pads inserted):

1a: needs more shape at the waist

1a: needs more shape at the waist

1b: back is mostly ok, but needs sway back adjustment to remove bulk

1b: back is mostly ok, but needs sway back adjustment to remove bulk

1c: lack of shape at waist/back

1c: lack of shape at waist/back

I decided to taper the back center seam to remove the little bit of bulk at the lower back—this did not really work. You can see below that there is still some “bagging” at the back and a proper sway back adjustment is necessary. I also took in the side seams at the waist at the front to give that a little more shape, and took in the front seam of the sleeves to get a slightly slimmer fit. I may slim the sleeve more once I sew it up in my tweed fabric, but I want to see how the fabric moves and stretches first and this is an easy enough adjustment to make as I go.

2a: happy with waist shape now

2a: happy with waist shape now

2b: tried shaping the center seam, but this did not reduce bulk in back

2b: tried shaping the center seam, but this did not reduce bulk in back

2c: profile is much better, but noticing tugging lines at the shoulder

2c: profile is much better, but noticing tugging lines at the shoulder

Tried shortening the hem length…too short!

Tried shortening the hem length…too short!

I took a photo with the length hemmed about two inches (pictured to the left) and felt that it made the blazer look too small for me. So I took that out in the next round. I just had to see! :)

For my last round of muslin adjustments, below, I rotated the sleeve forward about 3/4” (I noticed a some stress lines at the shoulder/arm in the above photos, apparently I have forward shoulders!). I didn’t want to alter the seam allowance on the top of the shoulder because I didn’t notice any tugging in that area, just the top of the sleeve. I think this alteration worked well!

I also decided to undo the center back seam, re-sew it at the original seam allowance, and do a sway back adjustment. Which worked like a charm (which is hard to tell in the photo, but it is much better)!! This adjustment always amazes me (I knew this, why didn’t I just start there?!)! I ended up pinching out almost 2” from the center back and tapered it to the front of the side panels. Then I slimmed the waist/side seams at the back. So much cleaner!

Also, a note on my muslin fabric: this fabric is a lighter weight than my jacket fabric AND since it’s not lined, it kind of sticks to my shirt underneath, making it hard to get everything perfectly smooth for photos. But the overall shape and fit feels great!

3a: No changes to the front for this round

3a: No changes to the front for this round

3b: sway back adjustment to take out a little bulk while maintaining original seam allowance at center seam.

3b: sway back adjustment to take out a little bulk while maintaining original seam allowance at center seam.

3c: side profile lookin good!

3c: side profile lookin good!

The subtle changes that I made to the muslin really make a difference in the fit! I took my time with the alterations and walked away several times when I started feeling lazy about making any more changes, or going back to what I started with to re-assess (“Oh, this is GOOD ENOUGH…I don’t need it to fit perfect!”). Usually after taking a break, I have a renewed stamina for sewing challenges! For the slimming at the waist and arms, I probably could have done these on the fly while making the actual jacket. But the sway back is good to know going in because I’ll have to alter the pattern piece before cutting my fabric.

What I am trying to say is: I’m glad I did the muslin!

And taking photos was a huge help in this process, especially for the back and sides—I highly recommend it.

Next, I will mark (with a new color) the new seam lines and take the whole thing apart to use as a reference for cutting the pattern. Closet Case provided a fantastic muslin fitting guide to make notes on that I plan to use to stay organized (sign up for their newsletter to get it!).

Woohoo! Almost time to cut fabric!

Making a Jasika Blazer, Part 1: Getting Started!

It’s no secret that I love Closet Case Patterns (don’t even get me started on my Ginger Jeans that I wear more times each week than I am comfortable admitting…)

(Jk, it’s every day.)

So when Closet Case announced the release of the Jasika Blazer, I knew it would end up in my queue.

Seeing the blazers popping up on Instagram has made me so excited to make my own. I especially loved Tessa’s (of @sewspoke on Instagram)! It is fitted and modern with a few details that really elevate the style. Judith Dee of @judithdeecreations was another fave…the tailoring and shape of her blazer is PERFECT! And I like that she went with the welt pockets—I plan to do the same. You can search #jasikablazer and #blazerofglory for all sorts of inspiration from the sewing community. Prepare yo’self for the rabbit hole!

Printing the pattern

My first step was to buy the pattern (I went with a PDF) and had it printed with pdfplotting.com. The order total, including shipping, was $15.33 for 8 printed sheets (I also printed a few copies of the Luna Crossbody pattern to meet the order minimum—half were 36x48 inches for the Jasika, and the rest were 24x36 inches for the Luna). This was my first time using this service and the shipping was lightning fast! My prints shipped the same day and arrived in two business days. I’ll definitely be using this service again.

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Researching blazer styling + buying fabric samples

I’ve been searching for and pinning blazers on Pinterest since before the Jasika was released (this pattern was an answer to my blazer prayers!). Below are a few examples of the looks I loved the most for ready to wear blazers with a slim, fitted style. I have a board dedicated to my handmade wardrobe inspiration and anticipated projects.

My go-to for coating fabrics has been moodfabrics.com. I bought the fabric for my yellow Clare Coat from Mood and was really happy with it. For the Jasika, I ordered 7 samples of tweed—I wanted something textural and sophisticated that could also be dressed down for a more on-the-go casual look.

I loved the textures and colors in pretty much ALL of these! But my favorites were number 6 and number 7. Number 3 , 4, and 5 were also beautiful, but a bit on the thin side (and a commenter on Instagram noted that they had tried number 3 for a jacket with not great results because of its thin, drapey hand…good to know!).

After much internal, type-a debate, I decided to go with number 7, the Gray Woolen Tweed. It was so easy for me to visualize this fabric in my wardrobe and fantasize about all the outfits I could put together with it for spring and fall weather. Visualization is key for me with any creative project!

Next up: making a muslin!

While I wait for fabric to arrive, I’ll be working on my muslin—this process intimidates me JUST A LITTLE BIT! I’m not sure why. So stay tuned! In my next post in this series, I’ll be sharing that process.


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