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.
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!
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.
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
Cotton twill from Metro Textiles, NYC
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.