Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Runabout Jacket: Finally Finished!

At long last, my Runabout Jacket is finished! 

I started this baby back in March for a sewing class that I was taking with my mom and a few aunts and cousins.  I had been making good progress but then a few projects got in the way and Slacker Me stopped doing homework in preparation for the next week’s class.  So here we are a  few weeks after this session of classes ended and I’m just finishing up my jacket.  Better late than never! 

This jacket included a ton of “firsts” for me:
  • Set-in sleeve
  • Lined garment
  • Hooded garment
  • Covered buttons
  • Gathered fabric (on the sleeves)
  • Darts
Not to mention that this is the first wearable garment that I’ve made!  Leave it to me to make a jacket before I tackle more simple projects like skirts.  This is not to say that my jacket is without fitting issues, but it’s wearable, and damn it, I am going to wear it with pride!  (Although I'll have to wait a few months for the weather to get cool enough to wear it.  It was about 90 degrees during this photoshoot and I was sufficiently sweaty at the end of it.)

Remember when I made up the muslin and I said that the armpits were too tight and my instructor was going to help me figure this out?  She said that part of fixing this issue was changing how the sleeves are attached.  The pattern calls for the sleeves to be sewn in before the side seams are sewn up.  Basically you attach the top of the sleeve to the shoulder while everything is still flat.  (There is a tutorial on What the Craft if you have no idea what I’m talking about). 

Instead, I was to use the set-in method to attach the sleeves.  This is where things started to get interesting.  I had never set in a sleeve before, so I relied on YouTube to guide me.  After watching the video (how does that woman sew with those long nails??), I understood the basics and felt comfortable attempting it.  I sewed up the side seams, gathered the sleeve, and set the sleeve in the arm hole.  I had a little trouble maneuvering the sleeve around the arm of my machine, but all went relatively well.  Until I realized that I hadn’t marked my pattern pieces correctly and gathered only half of what I should have on the sleeve.  Note to self: Double check that all markings are transferred to your fabric before you start sewing.  Out came my seam ripper and then I repeated the process and all went fine.  There’s only one problem: using the set-in sleeve method didn’t solve all of my fitting issues.  The jacket is tight in the armpits but not tight enough that I can’t put it on with clothes on underneath.  I’ll be limited to very light layers, but that was expected from the beginning.

Otherwise, I think it fits perfectly!  My measurements called for either the Extra Small or the Small, but I went with the Extra Small so it would fit in the shoulders, chest, and waist.  All is well except for the armpits, which I would assume is an issue with the actual pattern even though I only found a couple of other people online who mentioned having issues with the fit of the sleeves.  They commented on the slimness of the sleeve itself with no mention of armpit tightness.  Alright, I’ll move on from the armpits already!  I was glad to see that the hood has tons of room in it.  I don’t have a big head but I have a good amount of hair and it’s sometimes hard to shove it all into a hood.  If I make the Runabout again, I’ll probably make the Small instead so I can wear at least a light sweater underneath.  Hopefully moving up to a Small would fix my tight armpit issue as well (sorry, I had to say it).  Thankfully my instructor and I thought ahead and I used a slippery lining fabric instead of cotton for the sleeves.  My arms slide through so nicely!

All in all, I am super happy and proud that I finished this jacket and am able to wear it.  As with all of my projects, I learned some lessons and picked up new skills along the way.  I semi-mastered edge stitching in the process since almost all of the seams required edge stitching. 

I also became very aware of which direction I was placing pins.  In the past, I have pinned a garment only to realize that the way I would be feeding it through the machine would require all of the fabric to bunch up on the right side of the needle instead of flowing freely to the left.  During this project, I focused on being aware of how the fabric was going to feed through the machine so I could pin properly.  This made life a lot easier when it came time to sew.  I also switched the way I pin fabric together.  I used to pin perpendicularly to the seam line, and, upon the suggestion of my instructor, I now pin in line with the needle.  In fact, I place my pins where the seam line will go.  I found that by using this pinning method, the fabric shifted less, and it was nice to be able to test out how the seam was going to look.

I also learned how to sew darts that don’t pucker!  The trick is two-fold: make sure you angle your seam line so you end up right at the edge of the fabric fold about ¼ inch from the point of the dart and also lower your stitch length while you sew that last ¼ inch.  My regular stitch length is 2.5mm and I lowered mine to 1.5mm.  They turn out so nicely after they’ve been pressed!

Speaking of pressing, I also learned the importance of pressing and pressing tools (pressing ham and a seam roll).  I understood in theory why pressing was important and why pressing tools existed, but I always assumed that you could get away without them if you wanted to.  I was wrong!  Pressing after every seam became second nature and made my jacket look crisper.  I loved using my pressing tools and suggest that you hop on over to A Fashionable Stitch (formerly The Cupcake Goddess) and pick yourself up a set!  They are so colorful and make the pressing process so much more fun.

I am so proud of this jacket and, at the same time, so relieved that it is finished.  Hopefully the skirts that I'm working on will feel like they sewed themselves together in comparison to this project!  What is the hardest project that you've sewn?  Did it work out?


  1. Your jacket is fantastic! I'm so impressed. I'm planning to make a winter coat this year, so I feel inspired.

  2. Thanks! I'm sure yours will turn out fantastic. I have been admiring you Me Made June items--everything is awesome! I especially love your recent Sorbeto made out of the tablecloth. Brilliant!


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