Sunday, February 27, 2011

Butterick 5423 - Felted Jacket

More pics

Wow, I feel like I haven't blogged in forever, but I haven't had much to share. February was a low-productivity month, between work and illness. I also have been working on more intensive projects, which forces me to slow down. However, I am glad to have finished jacket #3! Or mostly finished. I can't find the jumbo snaps I bought last week to complete this jacket, and the light was fading fast this evening, so I took the photos sans snap.

At last month's ASG meeting Ronda Chaney, head of the Fashion Department at Canada College, gave a presentation on FBAs and other bodice alterations. For February's meeting we were encouraged to work on a garment incorporating a technique that was presented.

I'd been mulling this jacket pattern over for some time. I like the big band that goes around the outer edge. I like the shaped front edge. I like the opportunity to use two contrast fabrics. I wasn't sure about the dolman sleeves - it's not my most flattering look - but the opportunity to needle felt the contrast, combined with an idea from Ronda, pushed it to the top of the pile.

My "twist" on the FBA was to convert the FBA dart to tucks (or gathers) into the front band. For my thick fulled wool, I converted it to 5 small external darts, and for the silk charmeuse lining, I used gathers.

Alterations and Modifications

  • Lengthened the jacket 3".
  • Added an unconventional FBA: Created the FBA after cutting the pattern in half (in prep for lengthening). I slashed up to the bust point, then up to the shoulder notch, then slashed in from the front to the bust point (NOT to the side seam). Added a second slash from the front to the bust point, as if I were adding two darts. Angled the bottom piece back, so as not to add any more width. Then I lengthened the piece 3".

    This may not make much sense, but I've been experimenting with FBAs that won't add to the overall width of the garment below the waist. The two slashes I created at the front can be sewn as either tucks or gathers, depending on the fashion fabric.

    I think you can see my alteration here. I sliced off the bottom before doing the FBA. The added width was tapered back to the original width and then the piece was lengthened 3". I created two slices in the front which can be sewn as darts, tucks, or gathers.

    Dart closeup

  • At the back, there is a pleat at the bottom of the band. This creates a very strange silhouette. Ronda suggested extending the tuck up throughout the band and this looked much better.
  • I added a flat piping on each side of the band at and the sleeve hems.
  • I did not shorten the sleeves and you can see they are quite long, which I liked for folding back. But the pattern calls to line the sleeves to the edge. Because I wanted the wool to appear when the cuff was folded back, I drafted sleeve facings and shortened the sleeve lining accordingly.
  • I added small shoulder pads.


  • Peacock blue wool from Fabrix, fulled in the washing machine/dryer. This fabric really thickened up, like a fuzzy wool blanket. I had been planning to use it for another project, but it was too thick after machine fulling.
  • Royal blue pebbled Vera Wang silk for lining. From FabricMart, this was left over from my Sandra Betzina Motorcycle Jacket.
  • Variety of merino wool batts, New Zealand corriedale fiber, dyed mohair locks, merino wool/silk blend fiber, and other exotic fibers and yarns, from Living Felt.
  • Giant 30mm brass snap (not pictured).
  • Small raglan shoulder pads from Britex.


Felting samples

Needle felting such a large area was intimidating. I started with the back: I sewed the darts into the back shoulder, then sewed the back together at CB. I made several samples using various fibers. I found that it worked best to tack the fibers loosely in place with a hand needle before taking it to the felting machine. It worked best to build the background in layers. Once the basic band and fronts were complete, I sewed them at the shoulder seams and continued layering. The curly mohair locks and novelty yarns were felted at the very end.

As I worked on the felting, I thought it looked bad at first, but I had faith. As I continued, my faith wavered as it appeared to become uglier and uglier. Finally, at the end, when I was adding the yarns, I decided it wasn't so bad and that I actually liked it. Being artistic requires cojones. :)

All my supplies, ready to go. Intimidated much? (Yeah, I should have ironed it first. ;) )

First layer complete. This layer consisted of wool batting in "blobby" shapes

This layer consisted of a merino/silk fiber in squiggly shapes. Not pictured is the next layer, which consisted of curly mohair, loosely felted. The final layer of novelty yarns was completed after the shoulder seams were sewn.

I love the contrast of the royal blue lining with the turquoise wool.

What's Next

Me-Made-March begins this week, so this weekend I moved my handful of RTW garments to a remote closet, so they won't be in my way. I'd like to create a few more pants/tops for this coming month, but we'll see how far I get. My goal of sewing coats/jackets has definitely slowed me down, as much as I love how they fill out my wardrobe. :)

As a total aside, today I spent 6 hours at a photo shoot for my daughter. I arranged for this as a graduation milestone and the photographer specializes in working with dancers in outside locations. It was fun, but WOW it was exhausting, partly because we got up at 4am to start in the dark. At the very end I asked him to snap a photo or two of my daughter and I, so I might end up with a decent picture of the two of us. We'll see. :)

I hope you have a great week!