When I saw the Craftsy.com class "Sew Better, Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets" I knew I had to have it. I think I sew at an intermediate to advanced level but I'm trying to undo years of thinking home sewing methods are the best and learn industry techniques. Luckily I still had my 50% off coupon left over from joining Craftsy so I got a great deal on this class, which also included the jacket pattern. My favorite things about the class were no pins and no hand sewing. I watched all the class videos before my pattern arrived in the mail and prepared my fabric, a red cotton pique that I bought online a couple years ago. I ordered my threads (regular and topstitching) and topstitching needles from Wawak. I live in the next-day delivery area so they arrived before my pattern. I had just recently ordered some interfacing from fashionsewingsupply.com, so by the time my jacket pattern came in the mail (which only took a few days) I was ready to go!
I should have watched the videos again as I sewed the jacket but I was just too impatient. Not that I really forgot how to do anything, it just would have been nice to have the little reminders right there with me. I mostly followed the written instructions from the pattern but I thought the videos were much better. The only time I varied from the video instructions was with the buttonholes on the pocket flaps. I knew there was no way my machine could handle those buttonholes after the flaps were attached to the jacket so I made the buttonholes right after I topstiched the pocket flaps.
The topstitching was not exactly challenging, but a good exercise in taking the time to do things right. I had just bought a stitch-in-the-ditch / edgestitching foot for my machine a couple weeks earlier and I found that it was really helpful in doing the edgestitching. I moved the needle 3 positions to the left and aligned the flange on the foot with the edge of the fabric. That worked great on straight edges but I still had to be careful on the curves because the flange is far enough in front of the needle that a curved edge will throw off the spacing. I don't have a 1/4" foot (maybe my next purchase?) so the topstitching that's 1/4" from the edge was a little more challenging. Again, not too bad along the straight edges because I lined up the edge of the fabric with a line on my foot, but I couldn't tell where I was at on the curves. It would have made a lot more sense to move my needle to the right and line up the edge of the fabric with the edge of the foot, but I didn't think of that until later. I ended up having much more success when I marked the topstitching lines with chalk on the curves.
The only other challenge I had was with the buttons. I planned on using some nickel-colored jeans tacks that I had ordered from Wawak several months ago. I made the buttonholes on the pocket flaps to fit those buttons. When it came time to do the buttons and buttonholes along the front edge I decided to practice attaching the jeans tacks. The first sample was bad. I hammered the back onto the button and the whole thing was at a weird angle. I tried again, still bad. I was a little confused because the tack part of the button was longer than the shank, so how was it supposed to fit inside the button? Maybe I was attaching it wrong? I turned to Google for help and found this great You Tube video on jeans tacks. Turns out I was using a lower quality variety that was doomed to failure. The video suggested buying jeans tacks from GrommetMart.com, and after searching all over online for other options that's finally what I did.
I'm going to take a minute and vent about places that have good prices and high shipping costs. If I had seen that the cost of my jeans tacks was $30 with free shipping, or $25 with $5 shipping I would have bought them right away, but when they were $18.80 plus $9.17 shipping I hesitated for a few days. I finally placed the order and was pleasantly surprised when it arrived quickly, and the 100 pieces that I had assumed would be 50 buttons and 50 tacks was actually 100 of each. That's a pretty good price for each button if I ever figure out what to do with the 91 I have left.
The pattern for the class is Islander pattern #218, Jacket Express. I thought I'd put the "express" part to the test and I timed myself as I made it. I spent around 2 hours cutting and fusing, then another 9 - 10 hours of actual sewing. I don't sew particularly fast and of course this was the first time I made the pattern so I thought that was pretty good. The directions minimized switching back and forth between different threads, needles and machines, but still I found myself wishing for another sewing machine so I didn't have to change threads and needles at all. The jacket has a boxy fit which isn't terribly flattering on me, but it fit well in the shoulders (no straitjacket effect) so I'll probably make it again but add a little shaping in the waist.