While late autumn sun still lingers but the nights seriously draw in I start to think about warmer fabrics, more decadent layering and perhaps .... just a little bit of sparkle to brighten things up? This is my first step into metallics this year. The jacket's inspiration came from some small pieces of fabulous pure silk brocade given to me by a friend.
One of the advantages of people finding out you sew, and that you occasionally use remnants, oddments and cast offs, is that sometimes they give you really interesting and, in this case, incredibly beautiful fabric. This sumptuous black and silver woven silk brocade came to me in two very long, slender strips which were an off-cut from a much larger piece that was made into a throw for an interior design project. These two pieces have therefore been stored away waiting for the right idea to emerge, as there was no opportunity to cut out anything more than a few inches wide. This fitted jacket design was taken from Simplicity 2341. Its narrow sections and princess seams were perfect to fit close to the body and was a good project to use up the strips of fabric. The pattern gives you a number of options for customising the look, either with military hardware, a more classic biker style in leather or simple fitted, zip fronted jacket. I used a mixture of these design features and then added and customised some of my own ideas along the way.
My version of the jacket features a stand up, mandarin style collar and shoulder epaulettes that layer across the front in two flaps secured by a button. The silk is a soft, aged silver colour with a low level sheen and a matt, woven leaf design in black. It's so unusual and almost glows without being too shiny. It also sews beautifully. I chose to use contrasting, plain black wool fabric and decided to make the arms out of the same black wool too that I picked up some time ago in a sale. I was working with extremely limited amounts of the metallic silk and so needed every scrap to fit in the main body of the jacket, front and back. By cutting with absolutely limited seam allowances and making the jacket quite fitted by bringing in the princess seams, I was able to just get the pattern pieces to jigsaw together. The sections are top stitched in black thread and I used a plain black open ended zip.
There is a band around each lower arm, a band across the centre back and button details front and back. The pockets are small but functional for popping in a phone or something, but also served as another place for some detailing and added luxe with some fabric contrast. In fact I just ran out of fabric for the second pocket, with only one tiny scrap left and so had to improvise with leather across the bottom section in order to complete it. I like the asymmetric look this gives the jacket and the extra element of detail it provides. There are lots of tweedy and brocade fabric jackets around again in the shops this season, with leather inserts, patches and trim to give them interest and a contemporary feel. Adding leather over the silk, and using it here on the pocket (to fix a gap!), gives the jacket a more modern look. Sometimes you can come across a problem, only to find it makes you use your imagination to fix the issue. As with sewing, so with life!
The leather trim is recycled from an old and much loved pair of black leather trousers that I refused to throw away when they tore across the thigh. I remember when it happened and was heartbroken to have ruined them so spectacularly! I love the fact that they now live on in another form. The top of the pockets are edged with the black wool and I've used the leather as piping and then topstitched. The bands I chose to add on each arm are again piped with leather also, simply by folding it and catching the edges underneath the arm band seam. It gives the sleeves a nice weight at the cuff and balances the look of the sleeve nicely with the rest of the jacket.
These buttons are quite old, found when rummaging in my Granny's button tin. I've had this tin of beautiful buttons for many years now, but I can remember being allowed to play with it at her house when I was very small. I used to spend ages sorting the buttons, choosing my favourites and finding the unusual shapes and colours. The black military style cameos seemed fitting for this jacket, but also they're incredibly detailed and beautifully made.
The front ones feature an anchor and crown. The ones on the back band look like someone standing by the sea, waving to a big ship with three funnels. The camera on my phone struggled to focus on these, you might be able to make out only some of the tiny detail, but I'm so glad I've found a place to use them as I think they're such beautiful little objects.
The front facings inside are black wool and the lining is a simple black satin. I realised when I'd finished inserting this that it should really have had a hanging loop on the inside. Always so useful when you need to pop your jacket off when out and about somewhere and you don't want to risk it getting dirty or crumpled.
It's lovely to have an outer layer for keeping a bit warmer, whilst also making an outfit more dressy. I'm wearing it here with a black, skater style wool dress, opaque tights and black leather boots. It's a change from my leather jacket, which I would otherwise have worn over this outfit, and I think it's quite an unusual mix of styles and textures. The first metallics of the season have arrived.