Sunday, November 25, 2007

Simplicity 3631 - The Jacket

I probably should start this post with the statement, that a pattern is just a guide to me. I feel like I need to make this disclaimer because my jacket has some of the basic components of the Simplicity pattern but several changes that affect the silhouette of the jacket. So here is the jacket:

The first and most important change is the sleeves. To be honest, I noticed this pattern before it was used in the Sew Stylish magazine. I passed on it because of the sleeves...too trendy for my oh-so-corporate life. When the magazine came out in August and highlighted the changes to the jacket, only then did I become intrigued with the pattern.

I used the magazine's suggestion for changing the sleeves (page 72) which recommends removing 6" from the hemline. I started with the longer sleeve used in the coat version of the jacket. I thought a 6" reduction would still leave the sleeve hem too wide so I originally removed 8". It was still too big so I reduced the hem by another 2" ~ making my total change 10" at the hem line. I then put in a 1.5" hem so that the sleeves appear slightly bracelet length. This works well for me because I have very slim wrists and didn't want the finished hem to overwhelm my wrists. Yet it still has that "trendy of the moment" jacket I was attempting to make.

This pattern is designed for an unlined jacket but I wanted a lining in mine so I cut the lining from my third choice fabric. I ordered some of the polyester $1.99 fabrics from Fabric Mart's sale hoping they would arrive in time for this sewing spree - NOT! My next choice was a thin, ltwt. pretty white floral silk (also from Fabric Mart). My third choice was the black/white printed satiny cotton from Metro Textiles. The youngest DD took one look at the black/white and said use that! It's rare that she weighs in on one of my garments and when she utters the, "I would wear that" statement I know its a winner.

The lining was cut exactly from the pattern pieces. I trimmed some excess off the front piece so that it would match the foldover of the fashion fabric. Okay, if you are looking for exact measurements here I can't help you! *LOL* Sometimes when I sew I'm like the cook who uses a pinch of this and a pinch of that! And the reason that I was pinching this time was because the foldover on the pattern is extremely large...approximately 3-4". I was using a size 22 pattern but needed a little extra space in the hem for my hips. I took the extra from the foldover in the front after determining that this is a design feature for the extra large buttons that are shown on the jacket front. Since my button choices aren't that large, I deduced that I had some room to work with there...and I stole it! *LOL*

The lining insertion was a two step process. First, I sewed the lining and jacket together and had to rip it apart because I forgot that the front facings had to be folded back upon each other and stitched down then flipped into the jacket. I originally sewed the lining all the way down to the end of the no flipping back and sewing. I ripped out 3" of the lining fabric and then followed the pattern's instructions for the facing...following so far! *smile* After that the lining was basted to the yoked edge and the sleeves. There were a lot of pins involved because I matched the lining up to every seam in the jacket and the sleeves to make sure that the lining did not get twisted during its insertion.

I hemmed the jacket and the lining separately (hand hemmed with rayon hem tape on the fashion fabric ~ double folded the lining fabric and hand stitched it). I used thread chains at the seams to hold the two pieces together. I tried hand hemming the two together but didn't like the look. The thread chains act like a coat lining and work for me.

Did I mention that this jacket probably took 2 to 3 times longer than necessary because of the lining! *LOL*

I used a lightweight tricot fusing for the front & back neckbands. I blockfused the fabric before cutting out the pieces. And I used a silk organza for the front bands. I interfaced the entire front band as per the pattern, realizing that I was going to end up with the silk organza doubled in the front of the bands but it was deliberate. I wanted the stability for the buttonholes and the buttons (which are a little heavy).

From the previous post you know that I was a greedy little button buyer at M&J last week. I bought both because in the store I couldn't decide. When I got home I had pretty much chosen the vintage looking buttons (Cidell ~ I don't think they are real vintage. Just a good way to describe them.) because they projected more of a corporate air. Then I made the mistake of laying them both down on the jacket and produced a dilemmia...hence the voting. BTW, I asked that question in three places ~ here, at Stitcher's Guild and to some sewing friends. Here the flowered buttons were preferred but at Stitcher's Guild and amongst my sewing friends the vintage were preferred.

I went with the vintage because the jacket is corporate trendy but not too trendy to stand out as a "What was she thinking?" moment.

A few extra details:

1. I added raglan shoulder pads to the jacket because when I tried it on without them it was too limp. The shoulder pads balance out my hips and I try hard not to make anything without using shoulder pads.

2. The buttonholes are very dense. Since I've learned how to change the density of my buttonholes I have been experimenting. *smile*

3. The tucking detail on the jacket front is sewn as darts. After reading all of the reviews on PatternReview and looking at Linda's, Danvillegirl Sewing Diary's version, I decided I liked the clean look of the darts better.

4. I lapped my version left over right. I liked the way I finished the left side better than the right side and I wanted to lead with my best foot forward when wearing the jacket closed. Not that it will be worn closed often.

5. No belt. I don't have the overly large version of this jacket because all of the design ease was used as wearing ease. It is just a loose fitting jacket on me so I didn't see the need for a belt.

6. I hand stitched the inside yoke bands down. I know the pattern instructions tell you to stitch in the ditch but I wanted a cleaner, less instrusive finish and with the extra layers from the lining fabric I wasn't sure how it would look. So handstitching it was.

If I were to make this again...and I'm thinking about it...I would add a center back seam and a pleat in the center back to make the jacket more looser fitting for my plus size body.

I also cut out a 4-gore TNT skirt from this fabric and the Simplicity 3631 dress in a smoother, lighter weight black wool crepe as well as a pair of TNT pants to be lined. I won't make any tops to go with these pieces because I have plenty in my wardrobe and all of these pieces will mix and match with garments presently residing in my closet.

And that's my version of Simplicity 3631...if you are contemplating making this pattern, I hope some of the explanations of what I did encourage you to go ahead and make it your own. And if you are plus size thinking that this pattern is too small or wouldn't work for you, I hope you realize that there is room to play with this pattern to get your own version of it...

But mostly I want to leave you with the idea that a pattern is just a guide. There is no need to make it exactly as it appears on the pattern cover. That you can and should see your own vision for it and run with it...making something that is unique and uniquely you!


  1. I luuuuuuv it. I love the lining, I love what you did with the sleeves, I love that you picked the buttons I liked, I love that you used silk organza and other types of interfacing. I. Just. Love. It.

  2. Beautiful! I love your work, and this is so timely. I was trying to figure out how to narrow the long sleeves on this jacket pattern... et voila. Thank you.
    This is such a great pattern... and I'm trotting behind you taking notes!

    Connie (aka Bookish)

  3. I am LOVING this ensemble. You look fab, and as always, the construction and coordination of elements (lining, fabric, button) is perfection. Your weekend was very well spent, Carolyn.

  4. I love everything that I have seen you make and I have to say that this is the very best yet. It is beautiful and looks fabulous on you.

  5. Very nice and I agree with you totally that a pattern is just a guide...isn't that why we sew? To create a stylish garment that fits well and represents who we are? I enjoy your thoughts and musings...thanks for sharing...Mary

  6. I love what you did to the pattern. I feel an homage to Carolyn's interpretation coming on. I actually like yours better with the wearing ease than the design ease. Beatiful.

  7. Wow, you have been busy! Good choice with the lining - very nice. And I really like your sleeve ajustments. Great job.

  8. FABULOUS, love the sleeves, makes me what to make it again

  9. About the pattern just being a guide... that is my sewing motto! LOL I love the jacket! It turned out beautifully. That lining is gorgeous!

  10. Carolyn, you have come up with another winner. You are going to be so stylin' at work tomorrow!! Everything works so nicely together - fabulous.

  11. I haven't made this jacket yet, but it's high on my mental sewing list. I bought it after you posted about your New York snoop shopping trip but still had questions about the sleeve width. Your suit looks MARV! I love your detailed description.

  12. Beautiful jacket and lining. I love your explanation on the finishing details. Looks great on you. Congrats on another project well done.

  13. Carolyn you are working this pattern! I love what you did to this jacket. The wool crepe with the black & white lining is such a classic you'll wear again and again.

  14. Carolyn, I love, love, love your black jacket! The lining is absolutely wonderful. Do you happen to have enough of that fabric left to make your TNT tank? It would be so cool under the jacket!

    Sherry in Little Rock

  15. Wonderful! I have this pattern and am now inspired to make it for myself with your sleeve alterations. The whole ensemble looks very stylish and elegant! Linda M.

  16. Oh I love it and it looks so good on you. I like your version so much better than the pattern photo. Love the lining and the buttons too.
    Thanks for all the details about the jacket construction.

  17. Love the overall look and the lining is great-I'm certainly approaching more of my sewing these days with an eye to making it my own-your gently encouragement is always appreciated

  18. I love your version! I would have done the same thing with those sleeves. In fact, the sleeves made me pass over the pattern in the first place. Can you see my little arms in those really wide sleeves? LOL. Don't go there.

    Your lining is absolutely beautiful. I'm not sure how you're going to keep that inside!

    I agree 100% that patterns are guidelines. I almost always change something about the garment and/or the instructions. Most of the time I read in the instructions once (if that) and then proceed in my own way.

  19. Love your jacket! I have one cut out that is simliar to yours. You've given me motivation to get it sewn up this week. I, too, passed on that pattern until I saw the same article you mentioned in Sew Stylish. I hope my sleeves turn out as well as yours did. (I did do a muslin and everything looked ok.)

  20. Beautiful! I really like your sleeve version. I have this jacket on my upcoming project list and will most likely do the sleeves in a not so wide version also.

  21. Fabulous! I think you must have read my mind (if I had thought about this pattern more - your design changes are spot on) - Love, love, love your version. You look marvelous!

  22. Your jacket is absolute stunning. I have adored everything you have made, but this one is by far my favorite so far. I was not considering this pattern at all. But now that I see what you did, I'll have to put it on my list. I especially loooove the lining. Thanks for sharing.

  23. That lining is TOO cute!

    I'm still learning the ropes when it comes to professional looking finishes, I MUST learn the Thread Chain!!! That is soo cool!

  24. The lining really makes this jacket. One of my goals is to break away from the pattern make the garment my own. Thanks for the inspiration.

  25. This is the ultimate jacket pattern - it looks so awesome on everyone! I love your version.

  26. Sneaking out of lurkdom to say "I love your jacket"! It's fantastic!!I have this pattern because I love it but have been afraid to try it with my larger girls. You've given me the inspiration to go for it! Thanks!

  27. Carolyn, it's fabulous! And I agree with summerset -- you're going to have to find excuses to take off your jacket and flash the lining. :) Beautiful job and I love your adaptation of the pattern.


  28. Carolyn, sorry for my late comment... I want to congratulate you on a fabulous piece of pure art! It looks stunning on you! I think you did the right choice by modifying the sleeves to a more conventional width; it looks perfect!

  29. I like the change you made to the sleeve width - you will get so much more use out of the jacket now. What a fun coat!

  30. Love that jacket!!Love the color of the lining on the jacket.You did a wonderful job!!

  31. Carolyn, I love this jacket on you. Really like the sleeves and what you did to them. I am going to make another version of this jacket and may incorporate a lining as well. Love the buttons.

  32. Carolyn,

    This is so flattering on you! Thanks for sharing all the details with us. Marvelous!


  33. Fabulous! The lining was definitely a great choice, as were the buttons.
    Me personally, I love those projects that are involved and take a few sewing sessions to complete. Thanks for all the detail.
    and now, from someone who rarely makes a pattern straight out of the box - I'm about to go do exactly that. Right out of the envelope - no changes (we'll see if that really materializes).

  34. Carolyn, I am finally reading your great post on the Simplicity jacket... as you know I wanted to wait until I had a bit more time to make sure I could digest all the info... LOL!
    I think having a free swinging lining is a great idea and I will do this, too. Thank you *so much* for the tip.
    I "just" need to be brave and assemble both layers now... as soon as my foot allows me to walk properly.

    You have also inspired me to tack the collar by hand as well... After all, by that point we have taken so much care already... why not go the whole way, right?

    I love your lining.

    Oh, I can wait to be able to finish mine! I've been dreaming about it at night. :o

    Thanks again, this post is very motivating and encouraging to me!

  35. Carolyn,

    This might be my favorite jacket you've ever made. The fit, cut and shoulder pads all make such an exquisite shape for you.You will certainly enjoy wearing this jacket for many differy occasions. When I say it is my favoite, I am referring to how it looks on you. You look mega-perfect in it!!!!!

    Karen (aka Karendee)

  36. Greetings from Brooklyn,
    I was surfing the 'Net and ran across your blog. I love it!. I dont usually become a member but I loved your insight and clever sense of humor - so what the heck. Since I am not sewing I want to experience it just the same and I love what you have been putting out and your fabriholic goals. None of my friends sew or crafter (I am also a knitter) so I will continue to peep your show. Lovely work my sister. Keep up the great work and I will be watching. BTW have you become a member of Ravelry, crafters, including sewers from around the world share their work and share ideas - fantastic website.



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