Here's the wool plaid jacket I sewed using Built by Wendy Coats and Jackets: The Sew U Guide to Making Outerwear Easy, by Wendy Mullin. I was able to use my early review copy to work from I wrote about it a bit back. It seems like ages ago now, why does February seem to move so slow?
This wool was from Grammie's stash from about 1976 or so. She never used it and saves all her fabric, unlike me. So I was very excited. I lined it, altered the collar shape, shortened the length and omitted the shoulder epaulets. I also used lovely vintage leather buttons from my Grandmother's button tin. The pattern I used I have marked in the photo below with the red circle and the arrow. You can see how different it looks— it was an army jacket style that I made into 1940s/60s kind of look. I wish I had enough fabric for a matching skirt. I'm so happy with how it turned out.
So, a book review. I decided to keep this brief because I can go on and on about sewing books and the details, format, patterns, directions, all that. Having written 2 sewing books myself (ahem), they are pretty close to my heart and I feel like I see them differently as an author than as a sewer and am not sure what is always the most helpful to write about. So, in this case I think less is more.
In a nutshell the book has 3 basic patterns and is very similar in layout to her other books, all of which I have reviewed, Sew U, Home Stretch, and Dresses. There are a ton of variations based on these 3 basic designs. Patterns are included, sizes xs-xl, and her sizes are pretty standard, her medium has a 29-30" waist, to give you a sense. I believe this goes on sale online today. So if you are looking in stores, it might not be there yet. Call first.
Some things to consider-
- *There are no seam allowances on the patterns. This can trip some people up and although she includes small diagrams showing exactly where you need to add your seam allowances—be careful, they are hard to read and not the same size, even though they are drawn that way, so pay close attention. This can be confusing.
- I noticed an inconsistency in the directions vs. the diagrams while sewing my jacket. Most sewers will just read it twice, note the error, and move on, but it might be frustrating for beginners. When in doubt using common sense will be the best guide.
- This book, unlike her others, is really for intermediate to advanced sewers in my opinion. Not because the projects are hard, but because of how this book is put together. It's more like a design book with very brief directions. For instance, you have to find the section on lining if you want to do that, it's not right there with each pattern. So, if you have made a few coats/jackets before, its not a big deal, just an extra step, but if it's your first time sewing a jacket, I'd probably suggest using a commercial pattern that really holds your hand and then use this book next.
Some very cool things about this book-
- The front matter is great. The chapters on fitting, alterations, linings, fabric choices, pattern storage, and basic jacket and coat construction make this book a wonderful reference guide to refer back to repeatedly, not just to use the patterns.
- No seam allowances are included on the patterns, which I find very useful* (I realize I also list this above as something to consider and the potential problems with it, but still, I do prefer patterns with no seam allowances included.)
- The designs, while leaning toward the 1980s in style can be altered very easily to achieve a lot of different looks. There are quite a few classic designs. It's look is basic preppy with some twists thrown in.
- If you like to design your own clothes, this is a really fun book because it breaks down the parts of a coat and jacket clearly, making it easy to imagine and design your own new creations.
Okay, then! A spring jacket is next on my project list, 'cause you know, it's supposed to snow here tomorrow.