The “50s Does 20s” Jacket
Fabric: Two yards x 60″ aqua double from an estate sale, $2.00
Pattern: McCall 1524 from SCRAP, $0.50
Year: 1950 pattern; vintage (1970s?) fabric
Notions: Ribbon $3.00; button supplies ~$0.15
Time to complete: I’m going to say 23 hours, but I’m sure it was more.
Sewing soundtrack: Dirty on Purpose and the Distillers
First worn: Today
Wear again: Maybe?
Total cost: $5.65
A few years ago, I was watching The House of Eliott. It’s a BBC show from the early 1990s. Set in 1920s London, two orphaned and (initially) broke sisters, the Eliotts, become couturiers. Someone must have recommended it to me, because while it sounds vaguely like something I might watch if bored, I’m really not at all into the 20s. Most of the clothing in the show is, well, not exactly ugly, but certainly not anything I would want to wear or make for myself. But there were a few things I liked.
One of those things was a jacket Evie (the younger of the two sisters) wears a few times toward the end of the first season. Unfortunately, by the time this challenge rolled around, I had logically forgotten what episode(s) the jacket appeared in (and since the show is so old, I suppose, there aren’t many pictures online, either). So I rewatched it all. The jacket wound up being in the 32nd of 34 episodes (I did the first season last; I was sure it was in season two), and I almost gave up so many times–especially since Evie, I had forgotten, spends about 98 percent of the show being an insufferable brat. It got really hard for me to watch at times.
Due to the unfitted nature of the garment, I was looking forward to cutting out my fabric without grading and redrafting all the pattern pieces for once. (No, of course I was not going to cut the original pattern, either. But a simple trace is a lot easier than all that other stuff.) But then I got out my intended fabric and realized I had a yard less than what the pattern called for. So I slimmed the pattern down quite a bit, especially the sleeves (I’m glad for this, honestly–if I’d left them as is, I think I’d be able to get my entire torso inside). It’s still pretty voluminous; while I do really like the finished jacket, I still can’t help but feel a little bit like I’m wearing a maternity garment. You see?
So, the construction was a breeze. (The fabric is knit, but very stable, and I didn’t need or want it to stretch at all, so I treated it just like a woven–worked a charm.) All the tracing and cutting and machine sewing took maybe three hours of easy going. But you’ll recall that I said this thing took twenty-three hours to complete (which is, I’m sure, a conservative estimate. I don’t even want to think about what it’d be if I included all the time spent rewatching the show so I could screencap the jacket). Yeah, those other twenty hours were all sewing on the ribbon trim. Just under three yards, all sewn with tiny, invisible stitches, by hand. This is what Evie would have wanted. (In fact, she probably would’ve insisted that the entire body of the garment be sewn by hand, too. Totally unyielding. …And, when I look at her jacket more closely, I wonder if that’s not actually embroidery adorning hers, rather than ribbon. I hope not. Nobody should have to embroider that much.)
I knew this would take a while, but I had no idea it would take such a while. Fortunately, the Dorset buttons–my first attempt–did take much less time than I’d expected, but still not enough. I thought I’d have this finished and ready to wear on Monday. I did almost nothing else in my free time this week, and I just wrapped it up last night.
I can’t believe I spent so much time on something I don’t know if I’ll ever wear again.
A couple more detail photos, because I am pleased with it. It’s just really not me.