About 25 years ago I found a vintage Forstmann 100% wool bouclé jacket that was my husband’s grandmother’s. It was about to be thrown away and I saved it. I had it cleaned and I wore it a couple times, and it inspired me to want to make a more modern version of the jacket. It took 25 years but I finally made one.
One day while fabric shopping for another project, this beautiful synthetic faux Persian lamb jumped out at me. It came in three colors, and I fell in love with two of them. I couldn’t make my mind up which was the prettiest, so I thought, why not make a reversible jacket, then I can have them both. Here is the process in making this extremely soft and comfortable jacket.
I searched through all my patterns using the Sewing Kit HD app on my iPhone and iPad. Once I narrowed down the jacket patterns I looked at the actual patterns and chose Butterick 6825. I chose it because it would easily adapt to making the jacket reversible. It also didn’t overlap a lot in the front which would lend to the original jacket design that didn’t have any buttons or any type of closure. In another article I will show some of the steps I took to alter the pattern for a custom fit.
I wanted the jacket to be washable, so I could wear the jacket anywhere and not have to worry about getting it dirty. I wanted the jacket to stay flexible and soft, that was tricky when I was shopping for an underlining. I love to use silk organza as an underlining but combined with this faux lamb it didn’t give that comfy bathrobe feeling I was trying to achieve. At the store I scrunched up several different thin fabrics in my hand before deciding on a home dec polyester sheer fabric to use for the underlining.
Before pre washing the fabric, I cut a 3″ x 3″ square of the faux lamb so that I could see if it would shrink. I washed the fabric sample in warm water and dried the fabric in the drier. After it was dry I measured it again to see if it had shrunk and it hadn’t, so I knew I had a winner.
When I wash the actual jacket I will use cold water and only partially dry it on low heat in the dryer so I don’t take the chance of the faux lamb melting and hardening up like some stuff animals and faux fur throws I have washed in the past.
Before cutting out the underlining I needed to pull threads so that I could find the true grain of the fabric. This fabric grain was WAY off.After pulling the threads I folded the fabric in half, selvage to selvage and aligned the thread pull line. This is how much it was off – UP to 14″!!!
To help me with the grain aligning process my Fabric Weight assistant got into position. LOLI use painter’s tape a lot when I cut fabric out, it especially comes in handy when you have a fabric that is difficult to tell which side of the fabric is the correct side. I also use it to show which way is up, I put an arrow on it, to show the nap, or which way is up in the pattern of the fabric. You really have to watch out with some silks because the sheen changes depending on which way you look at it. In this case I used the tape as labels to remind me what each piece was.
When I purchased the faux lamb fabric it was pointed out to me that there was a flaw on the backside of the pink fabric. I knew I could work around it so I was okay with it. If you don’t shop at a reputable store that has a conscientious fabric store assistant that will point out flaws, or you purchase fabric on line, always make sure you look at both sides of your fabric before cutting anything out. It can’t hurt to always get in the habit of looking at both sides of the fabrics before purchasing and cutting. It may save you from a big mess later on. Especially if the fabric is going into your stash and you won’t be able to purchase any more of it, ten years down the road when you finally want to use it.
The synthetic faux lamb was extremely messy to cut out. It sheds!! It gets in your eyes, on your glasses, on your cats, table, scissors, everywhere. To help keep it contained, I would cut out one piece, shake it in a large clean trash bag and then vacuum the table. If you are extremely careful you can vacuum the edges of the cut out pieces themselves, but I don’t recommend it because the suction of the vacuum can distort the edge of the fabric.
In couture sewing when you hand baste the underlining to the fashion fabric, you baste it together on the sewing line. Then the basting becomes your sewing line guide. I had cut the pattern out with a 1/2″ seam allowance so I didn’t use the sewing line as my guide, therefore, I hand basted both layers together about 1/4″ from the edge.I used gray thread on the gray faux lamb and pink thread on the pink faux lamb. Really and truly no one would see it so you could use any color thread you want. I always use my old thread, that I have had for years, for basting.I did use the sewing line on the darts when basting the two layers together. This makes it easier to sew the dart in because it keeps both layers smooth and even, and you can see where you should sew. Sometimes, on larger darts, I will even baste down the center of the dart to keep the underlining in place. After sewing in the dart, I take the basting thread out.
After “finger pressing” the seams open I used a hand sewn running stitch to hold the seams in place. When you do this make sure you don’t go through all four layers (the fashion fabric, underlining pressed back onto the underlining, and fashion fabric) only go through three layers, stopping at the underlining that is against the outer fashion fabric. You don’t want stitches to show on the outside of the fashion fabric.
I sewed the pink and charcoal jacket together separately. I didn’t use any interfacing or facings because I wanted to keep that soft, pliable, cuddly, bathrobe feeling. I pinned both jackets together matching at each seam. Then carefully sewed the whole jacket together around the outer edge, again using the walking foot.
I left a pretty big opening along the hem line so that I could turn the jacket right side out and it would still give me enough room to hand tack the two jacket layers together from the inside at some of the major seams. One example was tacking the inside center seam allowance of the charcoal “jacket” to the inside center seam of the pink “jacket”. The reason I tacked it at some of the major seams was to make the jacket layers stay as one and so it would not be able to be pulled apart when taking the jacket off.
For the next step of hand sewing, I waxed some thread with bees wax, pressed it and hand wound it onto a bobbin. I put it on a bobbin because I knew I would need a lot of thread and I didn’t want to keep going back to the iron. The bees wax gives the thread more strength and it also keeps it from tangling up so bad. I needed the strength because I would be going through all four layers.
Not all seams could be tacked together from the inside, so I had to tack some of them from the outside. I had to put the needle in on the outside of the pink and push it through to the charcoal side and back down again. With the faux lamb being so thick and having so much texture I could hand tack using a pink thread and it wouldn’t show on the pink side of the jacket or the charcoal side. Of course I wasn’t taking big stitches, just little bites. I did this along the collar seams, shoulder seams and the armholes. I wanted the sleeves to stay sewn together so they wouldn’t pull apart when I took the jacket off, or when I wanted to switch the jacket to the other color.
Once the sleeves and the bottom of the jacket were hemmed by hand, I did a prick stitch all the way around the whole outer edge of the jacket. This stitch goes through all layers and about every 1/4″, hiding the connecting thread in between the jacket layers.
The reason you want to do this prick stitch all the way around the jacket is to hold all the layers together. This picture shows the left side of the jacket finished with the prick stitch and the right side is not.
Here are some pictures of me in the finished jacket, showing both the charcoal side and the pink side.
I hope this jacket will inspire you to make one too.
Don’t be shy, if you have a question feel free to comment and I will answer to the best of my knowledge.
Have Fun with your next creation!!