Completed at Last! — The Covid 19 Blazer

Did you, faithful blog followers, give up on this? Was this going to be the UFO of the pandemic?

Truth be told, I totally ran out of steam on this project. Maybe you’ve been there? As many of you know, I love sewing for a special occasion. One of my nephews was going to be married in June, and I was sort of thinking that I’d wear this blazer to one of the events that were sure to take place over the weekend. After all, a navy blue blazer and khakis can take a guy just about anywhere IMO. But when the cancellation email eventually came, (thank goodness), this project deflated like a popped balloon. The only things standing in the way of completion were buttons and buttonholes. It’s crazy how much foot dragging was entailed. But it’s finally finished and in the closet, waiting for someplace to go. And I know I’m not the only person all dressed up with nowhere to go these days!

Here’s how it eventually got put to bed.

First up…. A construction issue.

In spite of pad stitching the collar with a layer of hair canvas and silk organza, its ends persisted in curling up when the jacket was worn. Grrrrr. This was so frustrating, having come so far. It also looked completely ridiculous. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I’d used a fusible as suggested in the directions.

The solution was to baste on a layer of stiff undercollar felt, and hand stitch the edges onto the backside of the floppy collar. This is NOT an established tailoring technique so don’t copy me, but sometimes you have to do whatever it takes. The result is a stiff collar that holds its shape. Finally!

I believe that the instructions called for topstitching the collar and lapels, but that’s not a look that I really like. (In general, I’m disliking topstitching more and more these days). It also seems to work against the texture of the seersucker, which I love. I’d rather let the fabric do the “talking” rather than some extra stitching that may, in the end, look pretty amateurish.

Construction problem solved…..On to the button dilemma….

I got a little obsessed with the idea of honey / caramel colored buttons for this jacket. It was all pretty foolish in retrospect since I don’t live near a big garment district, AND I wasn’t going ANYWHERE back in March or April. I ordered a set of Ralph Lauren suit buttons on Ebay which ended up looking nothing like the picture on the listing. And then I started to doubt whether it was a wise decision at all! As much as I might like this look, is it a liability? Does it hamper the ability of wardrobe staple, a navy blazer, to go anywhere…. to go with everything…any time?

In the end, I put on my N95, went to JoAnns, and bought the most basic dark blue / black buttons they had.

My gut tells me it was the right decision. (But I’m still crushing on those honey buttons a bit!)

If you follow me on Instagram you know that I decided to give handworked buttonholes a go. I think in the end I made about 25 practice buttonholes, with varying degrees of success. It did get easier with practice.

This is an excellent video. Oh to be as skilled as Issy! And his accent slays me.

I purchased some silk buttonhole thread on Etsy. Not a perfect match, but let’s face it…..I’m not going to find this at JoAnn’s. I’ve since learned that Gutermann silk topstitching thread can be found at Red Rock Threads. They stock a good range of colors. A sewing friend had sent me some buttonhole gimp several years ago, but I found it difficult to work with, and felt that I was wasting it. Instead, I made my own by twisting together 4 strands of topstitching thread. I’ll save the real thing for the day when I’m more skilled.

All the threads are heavily waxed.

I pulled the thread and gimp through the wax at least 4 times and then ironed everything between sheets of printer paper to melt the wax into the fibers. The silk twist becomes stiff enough to stand up straight!

My buttonholes certainly don’t look like Issy’s, but in the end I’m glad that I gave it a shot. I doubt that anyone will ever notice them. But I’m glad that I pushed my “sewing boundaries” just a bit. And next time I’ll hopefully build on what I learned in the process.

Time to pull out all that basting and take this blazer out for a stroll in the yard!

I made this linen tuxedo shirt years ago and have never worn it anywhere!
Feeling delightfully rumpled!

The recap….

Vogue 9262

A slim, shorter contemporary blazer by Ron Collins. Lots of details. (Many of which I skipped!) Still, It turned out to be exactly what I wanted. Would I make it again? Yes.

Blazer Fabrics

Merchant and Mills navy crosshatch seersucker from Oak Fabrics, Chicago.

Silk organza from Gorgeous Fabrics

Lining fabrics from AK Fabrics, NYC

“The guts” — canvas fronts, shoulder pads, sleeve heads from B Black & Sons, Los Angeles

Linen Tuxedo Shirt

Fabric from Gray Lines Linen, NYC

Trousers

Cotton twill from Metro Textiles, NYC

Necktie

cotton seersucker, designed and made by the talented Enrique Grenados, NYC

As always, I receive so much support and inspiration from the sewing community. Please, everyone, stay safe and healthy as we move forward.

 

20 thoughts on “Completed at Last! — The Covid 19 Blazer

  1. That Sir is a very fine Jacket , Thank you for sharing this garments journey over the past few months in what has been a very surreal 2020 to date . I am fortunate enough to be able to visit Merchant & Mills in Rye , East Sussex a few times each year . I am about to embark on a “Mac” for my Husband in their Dry Oilcloth , I will be trying the handmade buttonholes after seeing yours .

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  2. It can seem futile to finish something you may not wear for months or years. Even making ourselves a “coming out outfit” for say a first concert is completely confusing when we have no clue what season that blessed event might happen in. So good for you to have the fortitude to see this one through.

    If I were you I think I would still audition caramel buttons if I were ever in a place with buttons again. Buttons can be changed easily, that’s one of their virtues, and uninspiring ones are a sad way to finish something that took so much care. These ones will keep their good buttonholes no matter what. Funny how I haven’t mastered machine buttonholes at all, after feeling so strongly about the hand buttonhole torture I got in home ec, but there we are 😳, maybe I should be finishing a Japanese shirt with the machine..

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  3. That looks a great jacket which is certainly not an easy item to sew, looks great on and no doubt needed the extra concentration that you give to all of your sewing, like the shirt as well again pintucks need care. Thanks for the helpful sewing tips along the way as they do help.

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  4. You make un-tucked and rumpled stylish!

    The jacket is amazing, the shirt finally found it’s dance partner, the pants are perfection, and a neck tie (by that talented young man you wandered the Garment District with in 2018) brings it all together. It’s funny how time is needed to ferment and allow everything to converge at once.

    Late summer in Maine – wears well on the model, while being the ideal backdrop.

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  5. Absolutely fantastic! I’m so glad you got it finished—I get so frustrated with myself when my projects stall right at the very end, I imagine others do too. The texture of the seersucker is just divine, and the buttonholes are the perfect touch!

    Thanks for the insights into your process along the way, your blog posts are always a joy to read, and often lend a little creative boost.

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  6. I always feel my day gets better when I see you have posted. I have followed you for years and you do challenge yourself. Great job. I have a blouse that I need to miter corners and put on buttonholes and buttons. It has been aging like fine wine. Hopefully you have inspired me to finish. Anne Szabo

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  7. It’s so much fun to see your beautiful work! (Strolling in the garden is all well and good, but I think the outfit deserves a champagne breakfast in the garden, or a fashionable afternoon tea.)

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  8. Congratulations Duane, this is a beautiful blazer (& you already had the perfect shirt to go with it!). One day I hope to have some of your skill & patience to get a finish like this 👏🙏👍

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  9. Always exciting to get an update from you. I think I’ll get in gear now. Another fantastic garment and construction details. Miss seeing puppy! Hope all is well.

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  10. Your jacket looks beautiful. You perseverance is an inspiration for me to keep learning and tackle making a blazer this year. Loved the buttonholes! Definitely on my list to start practicing.

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  11. How did you punch the starter hole for the button holes? Did you use a punch similar to the one in the video? Great video by the way.

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  12. I’m so impressed: the shirt caught my eye immediately but the buttonholes: my Mom always made her own and I never realized it was a ‘thing’ until I was an adult. Another technique, used by a friend, was to ‘hand pick’ zippers. Mom never did that… Now that I’ve looked at the videos and your handiwork I guess I’ll have to start a project. Thank you.

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  13. Looks like the pad stitching on the fronts was worth the time and effort. I’m glad you found the right buttons for your project and the desire to push through to the end.

    I enjoyed that button hole video too!

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