McCall’s 6436 shirt dress hack and Kibbe Body Type Dressing

Finally finished the project I started back in January but lost motivation for, due to the long dreary cold winter, until after the hottest and longest summer in memory in Sweden…! I needed to finish it so I could at least wear it once this year.

Last summer I was obsessed with owning a floral stripe shirtdress. There was a dress at Zara which might have fit the bill, except that based on the model’s height, it would definitely be too long on me. On top of that it was in viscose/rayon, and meanwhile I spotted a cotton lawn fabric (a bit of a splurge at 10 GBP/meter) on Minerva Crafts which would be much nicer! I could only buy the fabric by the meter, so I hoped 2 meters of the narrow 140cm/56″ fabric would work by hacking a shirt pattern.

I used McCall’s 6436, my 3rd shirt dress pattern. Previously I attempted a Papercut peter pan dress shirt, an unfinished UFO since I realised just before doing the buttons that the the quilting fabric probably wasn’t very wearable, as well as Butterick B5526 which I was not crazy about due to the size of the collar.

Based on what I read from other reviews of this pattern, I made a muslin, or attempted to make a wearable muslin in a poly cotton navy pinstripe fabric which I bought in the discount bin at my local fabric store. I ended up removing the sleeves, since the fabric was a tad stiff for this shirt style, and ended up being a bit too much STRIPES IN YOUR FACE. In the end, I never finished the shirt since I didn’t have any summer bottoms that went with a navy sleeveless shirt. A pair of white jeans would have looked amazing with it, but my summer wardrobe is seriously limited. Living in Sweden where summer is like a week long, it never made sense to invest in a summer wardrobe. Until this year. If only I had finished the shirtdress earlier I would have been living in it ūüė¶

So anyway, after finishing the muslin, I felt confident enough to dive into hacking the pattern into a shirtdress!… Well, if only I knew what I was in for… The number of design changes, fitting changes, and incorporating new methods that were not in the sewing pattern – well, I really didn’t make things easy for myself! (Read on for my full Sewing Pattern Review of what I changed) Though, the silver lining that I sewed my first sleeve placket! (well, actually, attempted it, ripped it out, practiced on a scrap, and then tried again). Thanks to the fabric, which was so easy to work with! I’m really seeing the benefits of working with higher quality fabric.

Though the pattern is a loose fitting blouse, I just can’t help myself from taking in patterns towards a more fitted silhouette. One of the frustrations I’ve had with buying RTW and with my early sewing projects is that everything is ill-fitting on me, making me look terrible. Parallel to my sewing projects during the past year, I’ve been trying to incorporate the principles from Fit for Real People, and just started fitting a Palmer Pletsch sheath dress learning pattern.

I’ve also learned a lot from my favourite Youtuber, Aly Art, about dressing according to Kibbe body types about what styles and silhouettes look best on me. I’ve often been confused/skeptical about dressing for body type, since it’s unclear whether I’m a pear, rectangle, inverted triangle – none of the traditional advice really seemed to apply to or be helpful for me… Well, according to the Kibbe body types, I’m a Gamine (more specifically, Soft Gamine), best described as looking a bit “teenager-ish”. Yin or rounded in the face, and Yang / angular in the body.

Gamine Do’s:

Small, sharp geometrics. Precision fitted and crisply tailored. Your outline should be sharp, straight and staccato. Many vertical lines and horizontal lines.Details should be small, sharp. Broken up, loads of crisp trim, outline, colors, cuffs, waistbands, lapels. Sharp angular necklines. Sharp and narrow waist definition

Avoid:

Oversized. Large or long geometrics. Unconstructed shapes. Soft edged or rounded shapes. Ornate, intricate or delicate shapes.

More tips on Gamine dressing (basically a reminder for myself!)

Some examples of Gamine celebrities are Mila Kunis, Audrey Tatou, Mary Kate and Ashley Ohlsson.

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Applying these principles on myself, I can see that tailored > loose. These photos are taken days apart (the pencil skirt and tie neck blouse I blogged about last time). Though I know the principles in theory, application of the knowledge takes a bit longer (and maybe I need to either stop wearing the blouse or try to redo it). ūüė¶

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Now, this advice has really clicked for me, since basically for the past decade, oversized, minimalistic, loose, boxy shapes have really been “in”, especially in Scandinavia. And I have never felt good in these types of garments (while simultaneously wondering how everyone else manages to pull it off). I feel much more at peace knowing, confirming and accepting that, really, I should be wearing tailored shapes with waist definition to look my best. Though this makes my sewing tasks harder, at least I have the power to create the garments that look best on me, irregardless of what is “in” at the moment or not. And that is amazing ūüôā

Finally, thanks for bearing with me for the photos! I was super proud on finishing the dress, but after taking photos, I’m a bit unhappier seeing the finished product on. The interfacing on the placket is rather bulky and interferes with the dress falling smoothly! Any advice for softening up the interfacing? My local store doesn’t sell thinner interfacing, so I’m not sure when to skip interfacing or not on my next project(s).

As well, I haven’t yet installed the cuff buttons. Advice about what to select?¬†I used some cheap bulk buttons I picked up on a trip to New York, but I don’t think that I’m very fond of it (see my close up photo of the buttons on the placket).¬†Also appreciate advice on my next version of this shirt. The buttons seem a bit too big?! (not sure if I’m just used to RTW, but my other dress shirts have much smaller buttons)

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My Sewing Pattern Review:

The shirtdress is my 4th attempt at making a dress shirt as a beginner (previously tried a Papercut peter pan dress shirt, also Butterick B5526 which I was not crazy about, and now this, a 3rd pattern). I think I finally found a pattern to continue building on for future.

I attempted to make a wearable muslin in a mystery fabric (navy pinstripe poly cotton most likely). The fabric was surprisingly nice, though probably better suited for a loose, drapey summer trouser than a shirt (still learning about fabric since I’m a beginner), so I ended up removing the sleeves since they were a tad too stiff.

Pattern Sizing:
Big 4 is known for having a lot of ease, so I sized down 1 size (size 8, grading out to size 10 in hips) and made fit adjustments thereafter.
This pattern comes in different cup sizes A/B, C and D, and I used A/B.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
I think so. The cover photo shows a lot of ease in the pattern, though I took in the darts considerably and reduced the sleeve cap.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, aside from challenges due to my own modifications to the pattern and methods. I think if I had actually followed the instructions I would have made my life easier, but then I would not have got the result I wanted.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The high armholes are very flattering!

Generally I like the collar, as I didn’t like the collar on Butterick B5526.
The collar is too tall for my short neck, although I attempted to shorten the collar stand (forgetting to shorten the collar itself).

The pattern uses a 2 piece sleeve, which would making finishing the sleeve placket easier for a beginner, though I made my life harder by sewing a 1 piece sleeve and doing my first sleeve placket! ūüôā

The cup sizes still seemed to be too large for me, although it may have to do with learning how to select and grade my proper size due to my body type (broad shoulders, narrow back and chest). Generally RTW that fits me in the shoulder is also too large in the body.

Fabric Used:
2m x 56″(140cm) wide Cotton lawn for the shirt dress // poly cotton for the muslin

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Oh boy! Quite a lot!

Design changes:
– Extended the length into a shirtdress. This was a great way to squeeze a shirtdress out of 56″/140cm wide fabric that I fell in love with, which I could only buy by the meter online (2m used)
– I reduced the sleeve cap height / shoulder ease (approx 1/2″ ease reduction) using Silhouette Patterns Peggy Sagers’ method on Youtube

– narrowed the sleeve width, using a RTW dress shirt I already own as a reference
– shortened the collar stand (forgot to shorten the collar height…)
– hidden shirt placket

Construction notes:
– 3/8″ seam allowance for armholes, 1″ seam allowance on cuffs to be able to skip over the step of trimming after sewing
– French seamed sleeves, so that they will look neat when I roll up sleeves

Fitting changes:
– shortened sleeves by several cm, and then shortened them another 1cm again between the muslin and shirt dress which ended up being a tad too short…
– quite a long, deep back dart, to try to compensate for my erect back and sway back. I learned during the process that I probably need a narrow back adjustment instead, since I thought I only had a sway back and erect back.
– lowered/deepened the neck scoop
– shortened bust dart, lowered by 1.5 cm
– added waist darts for additional shaping

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
It was quite a task learning to sew and fit a dress shirt, as well as make changes to the pattern and methods simultaneously, but I will definitely make this again, taking away all I have learned!

I recommend reducing the shoulder ease / cap height if you want to get a nice streamlined fit on the shoulders as I did.

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2 year sewing anniversary!

And a 1 year break from blogging, eeps! I decided to take a few months off from sewing, due to my frustration at selecting appropriate fabrics for patterns, learning how to fit, learning to sew, learning what garments I like wearing, all at once. So I took some time to really analyze what I wanted to wear and what I felt good wearing. Also have started a fabric stash of beautiful fabrics from Sri Lanka and Mood in New York from business and personal trips ūüôā

Still I was suffering from some sewing-perfectionism-paralysis for some periods. What broke me out of that was surprisingly, sewing costumes! Since I didn’t need to sew perfectly¬† for an outfit that only needed to hold up for a night, I could really just jump into sewing for pure fun! As a new employee at my workplace, I was a part of the party planning committee, and I insisted that we dress as clowns a la Clockwork Orange ūüôā

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From my workplace’s previous summer costume party as Gogo from Kill Bill, which I never posted. I ordered the skirt online from a Chinese eBay seller which ended up a tad short (eep!) though I figured I was well covered on the upper body at least.

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Pic of Burda cocoon dress just before finishing. Realised I don’t like dresses that don’t have waist definition, so I tapered and took in the sides a lot. Only to not be able to walk up stairs in it. I might put in a back slit, maybe, never.

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Burda tank (my detailed Pattern Review¬†BURDASTYLE MAGAZINE 04-2016-#118 (TANK WITH NECK PLEATS), with some modifications (left the pleats open). Wasn’t crazy about it until I tried it on with a high waisted skirt. The interfacing is a bit too stiff?! But I’m happy about the fit! At this point I learned that I have an erect back (possibly narrow back with “wide” shoulders, as in I need to size up from my bust size).

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My second version of this Burda Bowtie blouse 10/2011 128A (my detailed Pattern Review¬†10-2011-128A (BOWTIE BLOUSE). Obviously I needed to customise it ūüôā

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Self-drafted quarter circle skirt + the skirt just before hemming. Of course made mistakes during drafting and adjustments, and needed to put in a lining since I misjudged how thin the linen (bought in Sri Lanka) would fall. Worst of all, the hem is uneven, and I hand sewed the hem with a single thread while watching a 2 hour movie, so I’m dreading the thought of redoing it… Most likely I will just live with it. The matching top I had planned is a WIP since it ended up being more matronly than expected. Really trying to let go of my disappointment in the result not being as good as hoped for, and trying to see it as learning experiences.

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And the latest project, which I am super proud of! Finally, something that fits amazing and looks store bought! (Or, better than store bought, since I have never purchased a pencil skirt in my life, as pencil skirts never fit me right!) The fabric is from Mood, cotton twill marked with a designer whose name escapes right now… This fabric was an absolute dream to work with! Pattern is BURDASTYLE MAGAZINE¬†HIGH WAISTED SKIRT¬†04-2012-118 (my detailed review on Sewing Patterns). Oh, and of course I made a number of changes to the pattern design – I really can’t leave it be to follow directions exactly!

Currently trying to finish a shirtdress which I started back in January, and lost motivation for since it was cold… Now that we’ve had the hottest and longest summer ever, trying to rush to get it done before it gets too cold (omg!). I may need to learn to sew ahead of seasons. One¬†thing I realized about my sewing is that I sew like I cook – I almost absolutely cannot follow a recipe/directions without making my own modifications to it, haha!

Feels a bit silly(?) that I somehow feel compelled to blog even when it’s been a whole year since I last blogged, and that I don’t really have followers so to say. I guess I feel that I’ve gotten so much from the online sewing community, that I want to have some presence online, as well as share whatever I can, however little it may be ūüôā

Butterick B5526 – Black & white checked flannel

Posted very late after the fact… Wrote the review back in April but didn’t take photos until June, and then it was vacation time… Anyway, here comes the review!

I started sewing this in January, but I mentioned last post that I threw the shirt into a corner in a rage. After spending several hours pattern matching the pockets, basting, sewing, ripping out due to the super high placement, cutting out new pockets for better pattern matching, basting again, top stitching, the result looked like SHITE. (I ended up ripping them out at the end.) Anyhow, this long weekend I had the house to myself and I finally finished it up!

I purchased a plaid flannel all the way from US, fabric.com. My plan was to use it for outdoorsy activities. Generally I hate what outdoor clothing companies produce for women. Seriously Рwhy is everything pink??

I wish they made guys’ clothes in women’s sizes – neutral and classic. Anyway, I was having trouble deciding between a more fitted shirt and a looser shirt, and the boxier look below won out for me.

I washed the fabric before cutting and sewing and¬†it ended up¬†surprisingly rough and thin ūüė¶ Super disappointing. ¬†This was also part of the reason I have been procrastinating so much in finishing it up, just knowing that the fabric will not feel that nice on the skin. Though maybe I can tumble dry it to soften it up, hopefully not shrinking it either.

Now the photos!

 

But actually, now that the shirt is done, (with a few minor quibbles noted below) I’m surprised how good it looks! The effort I put into matching the plaids really paid off. I may actually wear this one, also considering that I’ll be using it mainly around the house and taking walks in the forest.

Fitting notes

  • Sewed size 10 (for a looser fit)
  • Shortened arms 4 cm

What I don’t like

  • Pockets are too high
  • The huge collar! Not helped by the collar stand… I should have realized by looking at other people’s photos that the collar (for me) resembles a shirt from the 70s… Or maybe I am just so used to fast fashion shirts where as little fabric is used as possible? In any case I will try tracing off another collar from another shirt or pattern
  • Other reviewers mentioned the excessive shoulder ease. I may try adjusting this next time.
  • Rather airy around the midsection… I actually feel a cold draft while wearing this shirt, even though the fabric is rather thick, making it too cold and too warm to wear at the same time… Maybe I will try taking it in at the waist?

Next time

Maybe, maybe I should sew this shirt again immediately. I have been frustrated at the quality of my sewn garments, and given the amount of time that goes into making fitting adjustments, figuring the construction, ripping out mistakes, perhaps it would be smarter to sew up the same pattern several times immediately after the first… The compulsive overachiever side of me wants to constantly switch to new, better, shinier patterns. Though the pragmatic side of me thinks, hey, aren’t you always looking for shirts for work, and modifications is what sewing is all about!.. (does it need to be boring?)¬†I have been hunting for a shirt to replace one that I have worn to death. Heck I still wear that shirt which needs replacing, even though I shouldn’t (have had several wardrobe malfunctions as the bust buttonhole opens by itself). Thinking¬†something like these, but in black (and not in that polyester material):

And I feel like I am so close to being able to make it myself, with a few changes like adding the shoulder epaulettes and flap pockets. (Hmm asking for trouble?) I don’t have the heart to rip apart the shirt I own and trace it off.¬†This also means I need to buy some fabric… Decisions, decisions!

A longish personal update

Whew! It’s been awhile since I last blogged or even sewn for that matter. Lot of reasons for that…

  • Started sewing Butterick B5526 over Christmas break. After spending way too much time trying to pattern match the pockets, ripping them out as the pockets are rather high(!), cutting out new pockets, and still having them turn out horribly, I threw the shirt into a¬†corner in a fit of rage. Sewed a simple Burda shell top as a palette cleanser which turned out kind of meh… ¬†And kind of lost of my sewing mojo for awhile.
  • Started a new job closer to home! Meaning no more 3 hour commutes when I would surf sewing related stuff to feed my obsession, instead focusing on adjusting to the over-stimulus of a new workplace while trying to start a healthier lifestyle with my newfound time.
  • Stress of my mother getting diagnosed with a serious illness, flying home for a week while simultaneously worrying about¬†the impression I was making¬†at my new job. Which probably contributed to myself being¬†sick for a month. Luckily my mom is well now ‚̧

I feel slightly guilty that I don’t really like wearing most of the things I’ve sewn so far, and that some of the patterns I picked up are probably not quite my style and may likely not wear. By wanting to reduce wastefulness in consuming, my own mistakes will also be wasteful. I realize I probably should let go of my perfectionist tendencies, that it will take time before the things I make will even get close to the quality of even fast fashion. (I have so much respect now for women¬†working as sewists.)

For awhile I have been trying to (re)find my style, thanks to the immensely helpful advice from¬†Anushka Rees aka Into mind. I realized I couldn’t continue on my goal not to purchase any new clothing as I simply can’t sew fast or well enough, and the few items that I actually liked wearing in my small wardrobe were wearing out after several years of use. So I went shopping. And miracle of miracles, I found 3 pairs of jeans¬†that fit and flatter me (2 of which were on sale!). Usually pants are hard¬†for me, as I have a “flat ass”, skinny¬†thighs and a “big” stomach, at least according to clothing manufacturers – so pants will be billowing off my backside yet strangling my stomach.

After that, it feels this year has been like a series of events where everything is falling into place. A new job where with every passing week I feel more and more excited that I¬†landed at¬†the right place. Biking to work everyday. Having time to lift weights¬†twice a week just a block from work, which has boosted my self image. Lost 3 kg, probably from leaving the stress of my old job behind me. Taking more time for skincare, while trying to change my inner criticisms¬†of how bad my skin is to instead¬†talking to myself as¬†“caring for myself”. Outlet shopping with my uncle while visiting home, finding a pair of boots that make me feel amazing. Even reflecting on the sewing mistakes I made during 2016 (technically, only August to December). All these things together, along with what has felt like a long time to rediscover my style – my¬†vision of my personal style has finally clicked.

I know it sounds superficial, and this was the inner dialog I had for the past several years. Though having gone through that I much prefer this version of myself. Taking time to take care of myself and do things for myself. Rather than feeling bad about how I am different and do not fit in, I can look at what makes me uniquely beautiful.

And I finally (nearly finished) Butterick B5526 this Easter weekend ūüôā Reviews coming soon.

 

 

Burdastyle 10/2011 #128B Tie blouse

Last make for the year!

Burdastyle 10/2011 #128 Рthis image is of view A, though I made version B where the tie neck is not fully attached to the collar.

Burdastyle 10-2011 #128 image

I don’t know why I feel compelled to apologize for the poor pics – it is my blog and I’ll do what I want ūüôā

Burdastyle 10-2011 #128 image
Burdastyle 10-2011 #128 image

I’m trying not to be so hard on myself – I’m not as happy with the shirt as I should be(?) For whatever reason I end up being slightly disappointed with everything I’ve made so far. I have made huge leaps and bounds in my sewing! The shirt is definitely wearable, and next time I make it (and there will be a next time) it will even closer to perfection!

During the last few weeks I have been reflecting over how I want next year to be different. And that includes being more kind to myself ūüôā 2017 will be my year of Self Compassion. Happy New Year!

Pattern Sizing:
I made size 36

Fitting/design changes made:

  • Raised depth of the V by 4.5 cm in order to make it more work appropriate
  • Shortened the sleeves by 3cm.
  • Shortened the body length by folding it up twice and sewing a blind-hem by hand

Next time I would:

  • make the neck band thinner
  • lower/round out the neck

Some inspiration for next time

Tie neck black
Tie neck pattern
Tie neck pattern
Tie neck beige

Burdastyle Short Sleeve Raglan Top 02/2016 #118

I was super excited to make this queue-busting top when I borrowed a Burdastyle magazine from the library:
Burdastyle short sleeve raglan top

Unfortunately I’m a bit disappointed in the result… I think it looks a bit unflattering on me so I won’t be sewing it again.

Burdastyle 02/2016 #118 Burdastyle 02/2016 #118 Burdastyle 02/2016 #118

This is my first Burda top (not counting the nightgown I sewed), so I was unsure whether to go with size 36 as recommended. I wanted a bit of extra ease and decided to play it safe by cutting a 38 – which ended up being too big, even after taking in the sides and raising the armhole as much as possible. I also know I have a rather short neck, so I shortened the height.

Fabric used
French terry, though the collar is rather floppy…

Fitting notes
– Took in the side panels 21mm in total each side
– Narrowed the arm width 16mm total under each arm
– Shortened collar height 1cm (2cm total)
– Hemmed 2cm instead of 3cm to keep length

The pattern is a fairly quick sew though, especially if you use a fabric that doesn’t fray, so maybe it might work for you?

Scuba cape jacket

Sometime last year, I saw a scuba cape jacket in COS which I fell in love with. But the price 1400 sek (~$200USD) and its impracticality (cropped sleeves), I couldn’t justify buying that jacket though I still think about it sometimes!

COS cape jacket

After seeing this pattern in a sewing book by a Swedish designer Jenny Hellstr√∂m called “Sy! Fr√•n hoodie till skjortkl√§nning” (Sew! From hoodie to shirt dress), I just had to try sewing my own cape jacket!

Fleur jacket

The line drawing of the jacket looked simple enough for an advanced beginner sewer (or naively ambitious complete beginner like myself!)
Fleur jacket line drawing

And it would have been easy, if I had chosen stable fabrics, but I didn’t make it easy for myself by using a hellish, slippery, form-shifting rayon lining.

All my problems challenges were a result of my inexperience in choosing fabric and not having a great selection of fabrics where I live (bought fabrics online and during a weekend trip to Stockholm). I found it pretty challenging picking appropriate fabrics, lining, interfacing (and interlining as I had chosen to do) to get the result I had in mind, though I guess that is the whole thing about learning! Closet case files Clare coat sewalong was really helpful for me.

What I had in mind was a navy scuba with hot pink lining using (non-polyester) fabric…¬†I purchased what was labelled as Medium/heavyweight Telio scuba knit navy¬†from fabric.com. The fabric color was much more near-black than I was expecting unfortunately ūüė¶ ¬†This made the jacket look a bit too vampirish as my boyfriend joked but luckily the ribbed sleeves saved the jacket from feeling too Dracula.

The scuba fabric was also more drapey than I had expected, so I debated between interlining and interfacing the fabric for more body. After sewing the jacket with an interlining, I would recommend interfacing it instead.

For the lining, I had planned to use Kona Cotton Broadcloth in Valentine from fabric.com, but when it arrived, I realized it wasn’t really suitable (not slippery enough and too stiff), and didn’t really look good paired with the near-black navy either. I ended up using it as interlining for the collar and front, but I’m not that happy with the result, and wished I had interfaced instead. For the lining I used a lilac rayon lining.

Review of the book and pattern:
The entire book falls short of providing an easy way for beginners to construct the pieces in the book, which is a bit disappointing given that the book is aimed at beginners/advanced beginners. And there were some issues with the pattern and instructions, such as that the collar was to be sewn with 2 identical pieces (my collar doesn’t quite roll under) – so next time I would grade the under-collar to be slightly smaller. I didn’t agree with their method for finishing the hem and cuffs for example. I do love how the back of the jacket “kicks” out. I’m a bit unsure whether the sides of the waist were supposed to be cut higher as in my resulting jacket, or if it was supposed to be a level hem, which I think would look better (hard to say if it is the pattern or my less than perfect sewing skills).

There are a few other cute pieces in the book though, and it was still worth slogging through the difficulties with this pattern.

Front Fleur jacket

Back Fleur jacket

Construction/design/fitting changes:
Added side seam pockets, using lining material, though I wish I had used the outer fabric instead. I would recommend welt pockets though, since the location of the pockets is rather far back.

Lengthened the body by 2″ (the jacket is a bit too cropped in its proportion, and I’m short waisted to begin with). I had to shorten the sleeves by 1cm in order to finish the cuffs on my lining which mysteriously ended up too short, though luckily I received 12cm of ribbing due to the salesgirl’s generous cutting. I used twill tape around the armholes and neck to stabilize the scuba fabric.

I skipped the topstitching as shown in the line drawing, but maybe others could give their opinion as to whether or not I should top-stitch?

Details Fleur jacket

I had planned to start sewing this project in September, but saw that Pattern Review was hosting an Outerwear contest in October, so I delayed my start to the project! This project basically took me the whole month to sew, and unfortunately it’s a bit too cold to wear it now. But I think this jacket will fill a hole in my wardrobe as I don’t have a suitable jacket for late summer / early fall transitional type weather. If you’re a member of Pattern Review, I would appreciate a vote for my jacket ūüôā Voting opens Nov 1st.

Outerwear Contest 2016