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Oct 26, 2010

Men's Western Jacket - PROGRESS!

Some classic styles shouldn't be tampered with.

Readers, I thought a lot about embellishing my velveteen jacket, a work in progress.  I still think about it.  But the more I look at jackets like these, the more I want my jacket to be simple.

Can you blame me?

I did try lining the inside of the pocket flap with the pebbled faux leather I showed you yesterday, but it was too slippery and I wasn't able to stitch the two pieces together properly.

There's an issue with my fabric I haven't mentioned: spandex. 

Why, oh why, wise readers, are so many fabrics woven with spandex today?  I know: it improves fit, makes clothes cling and mold and bend and all those good things.

I hate gratuitous spandex.  I really do.  I hate it in denim and I hate it in cotton velveteen.  It just causes headaches in a garment like this with lots of seams and structure.

Anyway, I'm making good progress despite the scourge of stretch.

I laundered my fabric and cut out my pattern pieces.

Then I started stitching.  Since this jacket won't be lined, I want the inside to look clean.  Even though the fabric doesn't fray I decided to serge my seam allowances before topstitching them to one side.  I take off barely 1/8".

Then I finger press the seam to the side I want to to topstitch (The velveteen doesn't require ironing).  Here's the left front with one line of topstitching (blue thread).

And with the second line (copper thread).

Next I work on my pockets.  Nothing works as well as white school glue to get those sides to hold until you're ready to stitch.  A little goes a long way and really holds.

My biggest concern is that the two pockets be perfectly matched.  I generally make the first and then use that as the template for the second, making sure the edges line up but being careful not to get glue on the right side of the fabric (it will come out in the wash, however).

Next I place them on my jacket front, again, making sure the two sides are symmetrical.

I pin them in place carefully, and stitch them on.

I try not to handle the fabric excessively.  No stretching, no tugging.

Because there's spandex in this, and it's a slightly pillowy fabric, I try to let the feed dogs do the work.  Both my Singers (15-91 and Spartan) handle velveteen beautifully without any need for special presser feet and without leaving indelible marks in the short nap.  I tried experimenting with my Viking zigzagger and the feed dogs had trouble with it.

So here's what I have so far:

I've also done the back (center, sides, and top yoke). 

With a slightly stretchy velveteen like this one (the stretch is in the width, not the length), I'm sometimes not sure where I might need interfacing and what sort to use.  The cuffs, waistband, and collar will definitely need something to stabilize the fabric.  I may use fusible or not.  The waistband in particular must not stretch.

I may also interface the extended facing, which lies under the buttons and button holes and extends upward to the collar, ending at the shoulder.  I will likely add a narrow back neck facing as well, which will make the collar easier to attach.  A lot of this is trial and error.

Friends, that's it.  Much yet to do.

Fans of monkey fur, sequins, and ball fringe will find themselves disappointed no doubt.  I just wasn't feeling it.  Perhaps you'll enjoy these unique creations:

Readers of refined taste, do you embellish your clothes?  Do you own a Bedazzler?

We have no secrets here, you know.

Do you think fringed Western jackets belong in the big city?  (Did you ever see Midnight Cowboy?  It didn't turn out so good for him.)

Happy Tuesday, everybody!


  1. Mmmmm, your western jacket is looking good.
    Just in case you didn't see the blue and white polka dot lining inside the red suit (food for thought for your cranberry jacket!) here is the link.
    It's all in the details ;)

  2. Good looking out! I was wondering where I could get some more 'dazzles' for the bedazzler. Thanks!

  3. Great jacket. Those tassles on the breast pockets were a little too much for my taste. And now bedazzlers in my house, though I admit, there was a time when I entertained the idea of having one .. maybe 25 years ago.

  4. Looking good so far Peter :)

    Re: interfacing - could you not just underline certain pieces with pre-washed/shrunk Muslin (or Calico as we call it here in UK ;) ) ?

  5. I own a bedazzler. I'm sorry sewing world, but I just couldn't give it up. I begged my mother for years in the early 1990s to get one. I envied all the other girls with their bedazzled hats and jeans and teeshirts. When I finally got one somewhere around 1996 bedazzling was on the way out, but that didn't stop me! I bedazzled tote bags, swim suits, and even my sleeping bag. Oh I'm so ashamed! And I still can't let it go. It sits in a box with all my sewing gear just waiting for another use. How could I give up something like that up? What if my future children want to bedazzle?

    Anyways, your jacket is looking great. I think you're right to stay away from too much trim and fur detail. I say make a simple version first and if you find it needs something more you can always add that later.

  6. It looks beautiful so far Peter! It must feel great to work dedicatedly on a project again.

  7. When my dd was maybe 2 I bedazzled her sweat shirts. It's languished ever since. Thank god! There may be some embellished jeans jackets out there that look good, but they sure are hard to find.
    I have to agree with you about lycra. It's really a pain in many garments, not a plus at all. Less is more where lycra and wovens are concerned in my book.
    Your jacket looks great. You have learned in a very short time many tricks of the trade and your sewing really shows it.

  8. One suggestion: if the stretch in the denim causes you grief, use a little spray sizing. That will help you stabilize it, and it washes out. Also, I like to make a pocket template of heavy cardstock. Here's how I make perfect pockets: Lay a piece of tissue paper somewhat larger than the template on the ironing board. Then put the fabric, right side down on the tissue. Then put the template on top, and using your iron and folding the fabric over the template using the tissue to hold it in place, press the edges. Voila! Perfect pockets, and they are exactly the same size.

  9. Well sure, Sue, if you want to CHEAT! LOL

  10. Way to go, cowboy! The jacket is looking good. I'm a fan of "Keep It Simple". I also am in the group that cheats if it works!

  11. Here's my cheater method for matching pockets. Cut them out at the same time, right sides facing, and then baste them together. Press seam allowances open/under all around. Remove basting.

    I use Wonder Tape or a glue stick instead of liquid white glue. Less messy.

    Your jacket is looking great!

  12. Oh, it looks good! I use the same template idea that Sue does :).

    To be fair, the more heinous of those jackets you posted above are designed for young girls, who can pull off all kinds of twee looks those of us over the age of 8 cringe at. Nonetheless, I think you made the right choice in going simple.

    Although, I really liked some of the touches of colour I got in the jackets I made my girls last summer, by binding the seams and using the same fabric for pocket lining, flap lining, and undercollar. :) But then, when you're starting with sparkly denim, you can't really go up from there ;).

  13. Your stitching is IMPECCABLE! Wow-so very impressed. I daresay Michael may be just a teensy bit jealous at the outcome, and sorry to have gone down the RTW road.....

  14. AS always, stitch perfection and impeccable judgment. I live in TX where everyone owns a bedazzler :) and I have a tendency to embellish (and not just my stories) but I agree: in most cases, simplicity = elegance. BRAVO, Cowboy.

  15. It's gotten tough to find a pair of women's blue jeans without spandex in them! I hate the way it feels. I know it looks good, but it feels awful.

  16. Spandex is heinous, and should be avoided in structured clothes, the whole point of which is precisely the lack of stretch. No blaming anyone else here: you buy the fabric, you decide what to do with it.. Shape up! If nothing else, spandex greatly shortens the life of your clothes, and you don't srike me as the type to throw out anything you've made :-).

    I'm disappointed that you're not going with the leopard-print panels. Very. Can't you put leopard in the lining at least?!?

  17. Jacket looks good! I do the pockets like San Antonio Sue, but without the sizing which is a very clever idea and going on the list. This is the only way I can get pockets exactly the same size and shape.

    I have a 50s version of the beadazzler but might need a new one as I can't get tiny gem settings. I use it for my pre-1960s dolls' clothes. All those flower embellished clothes from this year could look very retro with the odd tiny clear rhinestone tucked in here and there, just like back then: sparkle, not blinding flash.

    Speaking of flash, the first jacket needs buried with a stake through it's heart. There's good retro, then there's this. ouch. I like the idea of leopard lining. Perhaps jacket worn with a shirt with a little leopard piping? Nothing loud, just a little extra joy.

  18. I looooove spandex in all fabrics. I am willing to put up with it in annoying applications for the nice way it makes most things fit. But then, we all know I'm too lazy to get a perfect fit the old-fashioned way.

  19. Your jacket is looking wonderful! I'm off to find out what a bedazzler is now.

  20. It looks great!

    I've been sewing as long as I can remember, and this are my interfacing rules--always interface facings, button plackets, collars, and cuffs.

    Basically, if you put buttons and buttonholes there, you must interface it. It prevents buttonhole puckering and provides a bit of stability and strength behind buttons. Facings need to be interfaced just to add stability and keep them from stretching out funny. They lay better if they're interfaced. Collars and cuffs benefit from interfacing because it adds a bit of stiffening and body.

    And if it's any consolation--I hate stretch fabrics, too.

  21. Off on a complete tangent, how on earth do you get the school glue to wash off? I have school age children and the white pva glue never ever washes off their school uniforms.

  22. Alycia, soak it for a full day -- this will soften the glue -- and then try your normal wash cycle. (via the Elmer's Glue website!)

  23. Oh this is looking fantastic. Can I admit that I do have something like a Bedazzler? It is called a "Candy Cane" and I bought it to stick Swarovski crystals onto my corsets. However, they always fell off so now I just buy the non-stick ones and glue them on with Gemtack, which is fab and dries clear. A bonus for the cack-handed like me. I think that it would probably work if you felt like breaking out in chronic studs.

  24. pardon my bad taste, but I started sewing knits a couple of years ago. I got old and wanted something comfortable and in colors that are flattering to me. In my size, that is asking for the moon. Anyway, almost all of the knits I can buy are either some spandex or 99% polyester which I refuse to wear at all, or the ugliest colors you ever saw. I started with the mostly cotton and a little spandex and it is murder to sew. I tried every needle in the world, every thread, etc. It makes for skipped stitches like crazy. I think I have a method now that works, Poly thread, sharps needle, and sew the seams through a seam binding or other material. Odd, at least I think so. Damn Spandex!!!

  25. Yeah, yeah I own a beadazzler. There was a time when I couldn't get enough of crystal encrusted bustiers with my rubber mini or over-the-top bandage dresses for clubs and concerts. So many, many lifetimes ago and no, there is no beadazzling occurring presently and not likely to be. I just can't get rid of it - you never know when you've gotta pimp out for Halloween or, because.

  26. School glue: who'da thunk?! What a fantastic tip of the day. I'm raiding my son's pencil case rrrrright now!

  27. Peter - do you believe in reincarnation? Perhaps you already mastered sewing in a previous life? I am astonished at how quickly you grasp and apply concepts. And as far as posting those pictures of jackets, you enjoyed that, didn't you? A little skeery there.

  28. Regarding your previous post on where a man's waistline fell: I was just rereading Kenneth King's book on the moulage and he stated that a man's waist was usually 1 inch below the belly button. Thought you might like to know...

    Your jacket is coming along very nicely! I agree with a little sewing on the side. I am amazed at how you pick this up so quickly.

  29. Thank heavens you've given up on the different fabrics. I must admit I cringed when you said that you were thinking of the faux suede yokes, etc. KISS is a popular acronym for a reason.

    I must confess, however to owning a suede jacket very similar to Jon Voight's. It's an RM Williams female version from about 1988! I love it (and would still be wearing it if I wasn't too big) but not everyone agreed with me, even back then! Stylin'!

    This one is very similar!


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