Sunday, 17 January 2016

Happy New Year! Happy New Bomber!

Happy New Year 2016 everyone! I've had a super-busy Christmas season and loved wearing some of my favourite handmade garments for the party season.   I wore the berry coloured dress for a Christmas Eve family lunch out and thus christened it as my most favourite winter, me-made garment so far.  Now finally we've also got some cold weather befitting of the season so the full-on winter wardrobe is well and truly required.  I've actually spent the last few days repairing the pockets of my thick woollen peacoat, replacing lost buttons, and fixing a few other neglected winter garments that simply haven't been out of the closet since last winter. Having a cosy sewing studio to retreat into during the evenings has been such a treat, I'm so lucky to have the luxury of space and everything I need to hand whenever I choose.  Heater on, check!  Music on, check!  Cuppa tea and a sneaky bite of christmas cake or choc, check!  (It would normally be wine but after having quite an indulgent party season, I'm trying to give my poor liver a break this month).  At the moment I have a white hyacinth in full bloom in my studio, filling the whole room with perfume and looking very spring-like.  Gorgeous.

I'm straight into making another coat this year, a bomber jacket to be precise.  I'd already made another version of this Papercut Patterns, Rigel Bomber once before last year, and it's been such a fun and versatile little jacket.  So that's the pattern I'm plumping for again but in a totally different fabric this time and with a much more casual look.  Many of the clothes I made last year were quite smart, dressy or statement pieces that stood out.  This year I'm starting to think about wardrobe staples and easy going separates that still have a bit of interesting design or edge to them.

The pattern is tried and tested, already cut perfectly to my measurements and I plan to line this jacket too.  As you'll know if you've come across this pattern before, it doesn't include a lining, but most people have opted to draft one.  It's easy enough to cut the lining pieces using the same front, back and sleeve sections and there are lots of directions from other sewists on the webosphere to piece it together. This was the jacket I made early last year, bright golden yellow with lots of detail.  

If you read that post (my very first post back here in June 2015) you'll already know that the fabric was actually a bedspread that had been given to me but hardly used.  I love this crazy yellow jacket, but subtle it 'aint!  So this new version is meant to be much more low key and casual.  I'm aiming for something that will hopefully throw on and go with anything, including a bit of luxe but without shouting for attention.

The fabric I've got lined up is also entirely from stash (also a great start to the year given that I have an obscene amount of fabric to use up before I can justify any more new purchases in 2016) and I'm choosing a medium weight silk and linen mix.  I think this large piece of fabric was a suiting remnant from a factory shop that I picked up some years ago and it's lovely quality material in charcoal grey with a subtle sheen and handles beautifully.  The black cotton ribbing for waistband, cuffs and neck is left over from the previous jacket, as I bought more than I needed with the intention of using it again. I've chosen to contrast  with elements of black leather at the shoulder section, using a small piece recycled from another garment. The lining will be chosen from a stash selection on standby.

I have a drawer full of leather pieces that I squirrel away as I come across them, like this one above, which has a large seam running across it but still offers a good amount of usable material.  Even small pieces of leather can be used as embellishments, so it's worth keeping them whenever you wear out an old, soft leather jacket or handbag. I've even cut the tops of old pairs of boots before and used the leather for embellishing bags, making straps, button fastenings and hanging loops.  The top half of long boots rarely get any wear and tear, so can usually be lopped off, stripped of their lining, and recycled into something else that requires a sturdier thickness of hide.  Here's my re-used leather in its new form on my jacket.  You can see where it meets the charcoal coloured main fabric at the top and bottom of this photo.

The shoulder sections of each sleeve of this bomber jacket (using Version 2 of the instructions), are made up of small pieces pieces jigsawed together as a design feature, so you could use contrasting fabric or colours here.  Each piece is sewn together to make the complete shape of the shoulder. I've finger-pressed the leather seams open at the back and then carefully topstitched along both sides of the seam.  All this has required a leather needle, slow and steady peddle control and some careful trimming of seams at the back to reduce bulk, especially where all the seams converge to a point.  But it stands out really well and makes a nice geometric shape.  The welt pockets are done too now and I'm just in the process of sewing the back and front sections together.  It's at this point that I'll consider the lining.

Whilst getting back into making new things, I've also been enjoying using some of my Christmas presents to help along the way.  One of the top scoring gifts this year is this meticulously well made and fantastically useful table-tidy!  Made and given to me by my very clever Mum, who also knows how untidy I generally am, this has done a great job of keeping all my most used bits and pieces to hand.  As well as providing a place to sweep all those stray threads, snippets of fabric and balls of fluff that would otherwise be forming little tumbleweeds across my cutting mat.  Beautiful and useful at the same time.  Thanks Mum!


  1. It's a great feeling being able to make something lovely and new from fabric you already have stashed away - almost like getting it for free! A tip when sewing with leather - if seams won't lie as flat as you'd like, use Copydex to stick the seam allowances down (but not if you intend top stitching as the machine needle won't go through). Also useful for sticking hems if you don't want to stitch the leather.
    Like the sewing tidy - what a useful and acceptable gift!

  2. Thank you AWR yes that's a good tip. The more I work with leather the more confident I get with it and the more techniques I learn. Sarah