Interestingly, this is the shortest lesson in the entire class but your fabric choices are probably your most important decisions.
Choosing fabric isn’t really all that difficult but there are some things that can cause you angst if you are not careful – and even if you are careful.
Choosing the Fabric
There are a number of considerations when choosing fabric for this project, Such as, what will I be wearing with the jacket? Will it be dressy or casual? Is this a seasonal jacket – should it be lightweight wool or heavier weight? What colors look good on me or should I go with a neutral? What is my skill level, how much time am I willing to spend on this project, and what is my budget?
When I say “suitable for the project”, I mean that you do not have to purchase tweed or bouclé. You can purchase a wool or wool blend. Regardless, whenever choosing fabric for this jacket (or any project for that matter), you need to consider the project.
We are making a classic style jacket with princess seams, a two-piece fairly simple sleeve, with no buttons. The jacket will be lined and the lining will be quilted to the jacket fabric but other than the fabric and the lining, there will not be any other type of stabilization to this garment.
Therefore, it is important to consider two things, fabric pattern and fabric weight.
If we choose a fabric with a pattern such as a check or a plaid, we know that we will need to match pattern lines when they cross seams. We also know that a princess seam is a very form-fitting seam so pattern matching will take some precision in these areas. Is this something you are ready to tackle?
ALERT: If your figure requires a full bust adjustment, meaning you have a large cup size (C, D, or above), you may want to consider using a different jacket pattern. The Vogue pattern we are using in this class has a princess seam right down the front of the jacket. Matching the fabric’s pattern through the princess seam line may be difficult or even impossible. Choosing a Jacket pattern with no princess seam or using a fabric with no pattern to be matched, may be your better option.
Because there is no internal stabilization for this jacket, you must also consider the weight of the fabric. Make sure the fabric feels like it will have enough support for a jacket. If you are going with a loosely woven bouclé you might also take a close look at how much it will unravel when it is cut. The thickness is also important for the quilting.
Quilting the lining to the fabric will give your jacket support but you also want your quilting stitches to be invisible from the outside of the jacket. If you choose a light weight wool, a linen, twill or brocade (all possibilities for jackets), you will have visible quilting lines.
I think that fabric pattern deserves a bit more discussion because it can sometimes be deceptive.
Ms. Knight’s class fabric has a very traditional pattern that looks very straight forward. She points out that the rectangular shapes in her check are not truly symmetrical and that is something of which you should be aware. I am guessing this is not uncommon.
While the fabric in the class is very obvious, you may find that the fabric you wish to use is not so very obvious in its pattern. Regardless of how perfect and straight forward your pattern appears in the store, when you get your fabric home I highly recommend you do the following:
First, be sure you have your best side up. Sometimes finding the best/right side is difficult but it will either be obvious or one side will appeal to your eye more so than the other.
Open your fabric up completely in a well lighted area and then spend some time just looking at the pattern(s). Walk around your fabric and view it from all angles. While you are doing this, you can also look for blemishes. If you run across these, you can mark them with a safety pin so that you are certain not to have a blemish on a really visible part of your jacket.
Once you identify a pattern, take note of the predominant threads. Do they occur every inch, every two inches, or do you see something different. For example, every third line is a double line.
Subtle pattern lines can be very misleading if you are giving your fabric a cursory glance so caution.
The other thing I want to point out is that the front and the back of fabric can be different enough to be deceptive as well.
I say this because in our next lesson, the instructor will have us use our right pattern pieces to cut our left pattern pieces. We will lay out our right side pattern pieces onto the fabric (fabric is right side up). We will then pin the pattern pieces in place and cut them out. Then for the second side, we will simply turn the pattern pieces, still pinned to our pattern, upside down and place them onto the fabric for our left side. At this point, we will be looking at the back of the fabric of the right pattern piece and matching it to the front of the fabric for the left pattern piece.
Yes, this is a time saver because the alternative is to cut both a left and a right for each pattern piece. So, while saving time seems like a great idea, it might not produce the best results – especially if the pattern in your fabric is tricky and/or the back of your fabric is deceptive.
In the photographs above and below, you are looking at the right side of the fabric on the left compared to the same position on the wrong side of the fabric on the right.
In the photograph below, you can see that close up, the pattern looks okay. But from a distance – not so much.
The last comment I want to make about pattern selection is that it is common to follow the fabric’s pattern lines when quilting. Every traditional Chanel jacket I’ve seen has straight vertical and/or horizontal quilting lines.
I have seen some fabulously made jackets that do not conform to this standard but have an interesting quilted pattern on the inside (remember, the quilting does not show on the outside).
This is personal preference and design aesthetic in my opinion. Plus it’s your jacket so you can quilt it any way you want! All I’m saying here is – don’t limit your thinking.
If you are ordering your fabric, ask for a sample. This will help you get a feel for the fabric’s true color, pattern, construction, and weight.
ALERT: If you are purchasing a patterned fabric, refer to the project materials (Downloadable PDF) for the amount of fabric you will need because you will need more than what is specified on the pattern package.
Choosing the Lining
Our class instructor has given us examples of linings in very conservative solid colors. She has recommended using Silk Dupioni because it has a crispness to it that will help with jacket structure.
Personally, I love a lining that is bright and bold, unexpected and perhaps a little unconventional. The lining you choose can be a solid color or can be something with a print – your jacket, your choice.
In reading about linings that are commonly used in these quilted jackets, Silk or Synthetic Satin, Silk Charmeuse, Crepe de Chine, and Silk Dupioni seem to come up as the most frequently used linings. Given this, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these choices as long as you are comfortable with the weight.
While researching, I found a really good blog post on linings by A Fashionable Stitch. I thought it was a really good overview of the types of linings out there and how they are used and she provides a number of on-line resources for these linings at the end of her post.
I discussed pattern matching for the jacket fabric but what about the lining? I read something somewhere that suggested pattern matching your lining as well. My apologies for not having that reference. I will say that to me, this would be Haute Couture and I’m not sure I want to even consider that at this time.
Since my fabric is quite light weight, I am probably going to go with the suggested Silk Dupioni. Hopefully I’ll have found something I like prior to my next post.
Ms. Knight suggests the use of two colors of thread for sewing your lining. If you even remotely have unresolved tension issues with your machine, you might consider buying a lining that is the same color as your fabric so that the top and bobbin thread can be the same. Or, consider it a “shopping opportunity” to get a new machine!
My jacket will be quilted with polyester thread but I intend to do all my thread tracing with silk thread which I will discuss in Lesson 4.
Stabilizers in this jacket will be applied to the neck, the center front, and the hems in order to keep everything “stable” and neat while the jacket is being worn.
For this class, the instructor is going to be using the selvage edge of silk organza. The class materials and class comments provide guidance for the amount of organza you will need if you are planning to do this as well. I have used the organza in my last two jackets and loved working with it. For this third jacket however, I am going to use hem tape.
ALERT: Ms. Knight mentions fusible tape but I prefer to put mine in by hand. If you use the fusible, I would recommend you do a test on a scrap before fusing to your highly visible center front.
Interfacing – The Missing Material
Lightweight fusible interfacing may be needed in your jacket. I say “may be needed” because in Lesson 9 on Pockets, Ms. Knight briefly discusses having some support underneath your pockets.
She suggests using a lightweight iron on that is thin but will give your jacket an anchor for the pocket. There are no references for this anywhere else in the class nor is there information on the best product for this project.
Support for the pocket would be for people who will actually “use” the pocket. I personally consider the pockets to be more of a decoration than a functional component of the jacket.
If you plan on putting your keys and cell phone in your pockets, you should consider interfacing.
If you decide to interface, whatever you do, DO NOT buy an inexpensive iron-on pellon from your local chain store. This is neither the kind nor quality of interfacing you want in this caliber jacket.
Also, make sure you have a good size piece of your fashion fabric as well as interfacing for testing. If you are ironing an interfacing onto bouclé, it may not look so hot on the outside. I found this forum discussion on Pattern Review that I thought was good.
The only other piece of advice I can give you if you do not know anything about fusible interfacing for fine garment construction, is to consult with someone who does.
Trims & Chains
The first jacket I made has no trim. I looked but never found anything I liked enough and since the jacket is a bit small, I never really continued looking. The fabric in my second jacket was easier to match but there again, I think what I chose is too plain and doesn’t give the jacket any oomph, if you know what I mean. Plus, I bought it at an Expo and didn’t buy enough so wasn’t able to trim the sleeves.
Waiting to purchase your ribbon and braid, or whatever trim you decide to use, until after the jacket is finished can be helpful in seeing the complete effect of the trim. If you do it this way, you can really see the finished garment before cutting the trim.
When I bought my lovely fabric, the store also sold me the famous chain. The clerk cut the chain and put all my notions in a small bag – where they sat until I made my first jacket. When I took the chain out of the bag, disappointment is an understatement. It was as light as air and itty bitty. That’s the chain on the purple and black.
Since my first jacket was a trial, I went ahead and used the chain (so I could get my money’s worth I guess). That first jacket was made in a class so I decided to be smart and buy a chain with the other ladies to have for my second jacket. The new chain arrived and it was a much better weight (it’s the chain at the bottom of the photo). Since gold didn’t go with my second jacket, I still have it for this project.
If and when I make another jacket, I will purchase my chain from Susan Khalje Couture. If you go to her site, you will see that the chains are beautiful. And she knows the proper weight so the quality will be good I am sure.
For my second jacket (trial two), I simply bought a $3 silver chain in the jewelry section of Joann’s. And before you say – well, for $3, that’s the chain for me. . . There are two major problems I’ll share with you – First, the packaged chains come in 36″ lengths (at least the ones I found). The second problem is that with the inexpensive chain, you don’t get a good closure to each link – meaning there is a thread-sized gap in each link. THREAD SIZED. So your “securing” threads will slip through said gap and you will have a sagging chain as a result.
My suggestion is that you make the investment in a good chain and be sure to know your proper measurement before you place your chain order.
Upcoming Post – Lesson 4 – Cutting
The jacket work begins in Lesson 4.
Until then, thanks for reading. V