Bolero jacket re-run

The jacket pattern is still at the working pattern stage, no turnings added, but I wanted to try it with a different kind of fabric and another finish to the flounce edge. I’ve chosen binding so as to be able to make the jacket unlined, in a light crepe – more of a spare set of sleeves to go over a sleeveless dress than an extra layer.

I love the look of binding, especially in a contrast colour, but am not a fan of sewing it. If there’s anyone out there who has the definitive set of binding tricks up her sleeve, I’d love to hear about it. Getting an ok finish on one side – the right side of the garment, is do-able.  Its getting a perfectly even coloured strip from both sides, with no wrinkles as you go round tight curves, no narrow bits where it had to stretch round a convex shape or too fat bits in the concave ones, and no iffy handstitching …….. not so easy.

I tried a bias binding foot, generic, on an adaptor for my Bernina. With some fiddling around and appropriate sacrificing to the sewing gods it was possible to get a passable binding about three inches from the starting point.  That was practising on a nice straight grain strip.

For the finish on this, which round the jacket flounce would be seen both sides, I elected to hand tack it round as a folded strip, and stitch through all layers in one pass. Not a bad result, still searching for the best method, preferably less tediously slow.

Assuming you’re making your own binding, my one and only sure fire tip is this one. It speeds making the stuff  and works much better than the little gadgets I also wasted money on. You start your turnings off the hard way, pressing them under each side for about three inches. Then you fix two needles into your ironing board cover over the binding, turnings uppermost, about three inches apart. Tug the end of the binding gently through – as if by magic it folds itself. The three inches measurement is about the width of the toe of  the iron, give each section a good press as you go, and if the binding is cut in something resistant to pressing, give it a press from the other side too when you’ve tugged through enough to flip it over.

I made this jacket with a dress –  would show you the pattern but its a total mess and screwed up on the floor. My go to shop for all things sewing had run out of papier de soie, my pattern is cut in garden fleece. Garden fleece is  fine for tracing patterns. The poor relation of Swedish Tracing Paper, its not great for drafting, you lose the lines you draw. That’s it for excuses, honestly you’ll see more from the dress picture how it is cut.The left bust dart was moved to the shoulder, so as to slash down it to create the opening where the collar piece turns back, and the right bust dart was swivelled into this slash, giving the gathers on the left side.  I kept the vertical waist dart  and the back is plain shift dress style, also with vertical darts. It needs a press in this picture, but the unpressed darts show up pretty well! 


The dress is lined, so the back neck facings were joined to the lining before its side seams were sewn. I have put a side zip in this dress. Back zips are a sewing convenience, but are they terrific in wear? You have to commit Gomukhasana to get into a shift dress with a back zip, and count it a good day if you don’t rip a tendon in the struggle or catch your lining in the zip teeth half way up.  If a side zip fails when you’re out, you only need to keep your arm by your side to preserve dignity, if a back zip goes you have to buy the nearest long cardi to cover embarassment. Sewing wobbles on a back zip show up mercilessly, a side zip, though a bit trickier, is pretty well hidden. I rest my case.

The only tricky part of construction is right at the bottom of the gathers, where they meet the lower end of the waist dart on the left side of the dress – its not possible to draft in a lot of turnings room without putting in a seam right through the dress, and I didn’t want to do that, as I was squeezed for fabric. It does work, but you have to watch out for fraying edges. I tackled this part first, to get the stitching and finishing in before the fabric disintegrated along the cutting line.  The element I really like is the collar, which also becomes part of the facing inside. It adds a splash of colour to the dress, but keeps an open neckline, and the construction is very simple – the undercollar is grown on the dress front.

Here’s the dress with the jacket.Constructing the jacket is plain sailing, binding aside. The back has princess seams, which get sewn first, then the front has just one tricky little seam, putting a very U shaped curve of the flounce to the front side bodice panel. I used a zillion pins in this, to keep things matching. I needn’t have bothered. The side of the flounce is attached to the side back, so no penal servitude with the seam ripper if its out by half an inch or thereabouts. Chop it off, no-one would know! 


About jay

I design and draft patterns
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5 Responses to Bolero jacket re-run

  1. prttynpnk says:

    I am so going home to make binding!! Love how your outfit is turnign out!


  2. Pingback: Vintage PJ’s Finished! « Fiddle Faddle

  3. helen says:

    Just used the two needle trick, I came across your comment via another site – but for the life of me can’t rememer which one. Thanks! And that’s a great flounce


  4. Pingback: Silk Blouse | cut it out, stitch it up!

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