01 January, 2014

Blue is the colour of the future

Other than a couple of seemingly trivial but very necessary projects such as warm fleece pillowcases for my  bald and thus perpetually cold head, I haven't sewn for myself since before I deployed to Kabul nearly a year ago.  Since my return, all my can-do efforts have been directed at others: home, family, friends, certainly not at me.  Why?  well, pardon the black humour, but dead people don't need new clothes; sewing for me struck me as the worst kind of wasted effort in a race against time.  Yet here I am, nearly six months since the Big C entered my home, and not only am I still standing, but doing pretty well it seems, and beginning to feel hopeful.  So when I was left with a sizable remnant of midnight blue cotton velvet left over from making a Christmas gift dressing gown for my eldest, I thought:  why not make something for myself?  A velvet jacket, wouldn't it be lovely?  Maybe I'll even get to wear it, who knows?   

I had to add another metre to what I already had, and buy a few buttons and some fabric dye for the lining, so I'm counting this one as a $15 jacket.  

My idea was a shawl or tuxedo collar jacket; I thought that a shawl collar would go nicely with the softness of the velvet, and be very feminine in a structured way.  I spent a little time browsing the web for inspiration, and settled on this Alexander McQueen blue velvet blazer. 

Not that I intended to copy it slavishly, definitely not, but it gave me ideas for a few extra touches I wanted my jacket to have so it could rise above the pattern I picked. 

And the pattern? New Look 6013.   Cute, I thought, with the single button just holding together the dropped angled fronts.  One thing I wasn't crazy about was the shoulder-pleated single piece sleeve:  first, it seemed to widen the shoulder area and I already have pretty broad shoulders as it is, and secondly the pleating could turn into a general fail with a thick fabric like velvet. I also don't think a stovepipe sleeve is the greatest idea in a structured, lined jacket.  So I substituted a two piece sleeve from McCall's 5395, though any other two piece sleeve you might have on hand would presumably work just as well. I'd used M5395 a few times already in some unlined summer jackets, so I knew it fit my arm just fine.  Below, you see the two patterns I put together for this project lying on the dark blue cotton velvet fabric I used.  The M5395, btw, is so out of print it doesn't even appear on McCall's web page.  Pity!  It's a great pattern:  the two front darts give an amazing fit to well endowed but small-waisted figures.  

Blue cotton velvet jacket:  New Look 6013 body, McCall's 5395 sleeves
The NL pattern is unlined, but since cotton is so grabby I knew this one would need to be lined.  Using the back pattern piece, I made a back neck facing and a back lining with a 1" pleat pattern pieces, and those, combined with the side fronts and side backs, gave me the lining. 

Per the A.McQ. inspiration, I notched the pattern up a bit with the following additions:  single-welt chest pocket; angled double-welt flap pockets at the hip; and vented sleeves with working buttonholes and buttons. And, of course, a lining, which is absent in the NL pattern. 

Speaking of the lining:  I had a substantial length of rayon (according to my burn test) lining from who knows where - its origins lost in the sands of time - but still a beautiful beefy twill weave rayon, much nicer than your run of the mill Bemberg (apologies to B....).  Only my piece was a nothing to look at light greyish beige: yuck!  So I dyed it.  

The dyeing exercise was quite the learning experience.  I started with a Jacquard acid dye that is completely unsuited for cellulose based fabrics. Of course it didn't take - but I twigged onto that early enough, ie., before pouring the dye solution away, that I could grab a bit of winter-white silk and dye that instead.  I then used Dylon dye on the rayon.  It took, though not as strongly as I'd hoped, and instead of a deep violet gave me a kind of pinkish periwinkle.  Still a nice contrasty match for my midnight blue velvet.
Left:  rayon lining dyed with Dylon Intense Violet.
Right:  silk jacquard dyed with Jacquard Acid dye, Sapphire Blue.
Original fabrics on the bottom, dyed on the top.
Those stage-setting steps put me well on the way to construction.  Which I'll cover in my next post.  :)


  1. My dear, you look fabulous and you definitely deserve a blue velvet jacket. L'chaim!

  2. i am glad to hear you are doing well. This is a beautiful jacket. The bright blue color and soft velvet fabric are super combo. I'll bet it will lift your spirits every time you wear it!