Sunday, September 18, 2016

Epic Jean Jacket Post #1 StyleArc Stacie: Choosing the pattern, Cutting It Out, etc.

This has been a dream THREE YEARS in the making, and it has finally happened!
I sewed a jean jacket!!!
If you follow me on IG, you saw the progress of this jacket--thanks for cheering me along!!

Three years ago I watched Janet Pray's "Sew Better, Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets" class.
I watched the 3.5 hour class from start to finish TWICE.
I took copious video notes the second time.
Because of that class, I use an Elna Press, Chakoners, and clapper.
The class comes with her Islander Jacket Express pattern, which is only for wovens and not supposed to be used with stretch.  She sews a red denim jean jacket and of course this made me want to make a red denim jean jacket.
Cue the years of searching for the perfect red denim that doesn't where to be found.  Janet's response to someone else's question about this was to use Google.  I emailed Craftsy asking them to sell the fabric--their response was that it is tricky to find.  Beth from SunnyGal made hers out of red denim tablecloth--I started trolling ebay for red denim tablecloths, none to be found.  Every visit to Kashi--do you have red denim?  No.  Every visit to Mood or any other fabric store--either they didn't have it or it wasn't quite right.  I ordered some red denim from the Mood site, it was way too thick/stiff.  Ordered some red denim from Nancy's Notions, it was too primary red.

In the meantime I bought the StyleArc Stacie jacket in size 12 in Feb of 2014--yes, the physical pattern, shipped all the way from Down Under.  I had previously made a knit shirt in size 12 and just felt like the jacket was going to fit.  The sample of fabric that came with the pattern stretches slightly so....
I had a 4 day weekend for Labor Day weekend this year and decided NOW is the time to sew the jacket.  Meanwhile, Gertie recently released her cropped jean jacket pattern and I was left to decide which pattern to choose, like the Jean Jacket version of House Hunters....cue the HH decision music....

  • Pattern #1:  Jacket Express, which has full instructions (written and video) but is on the boxy side.
  • Pattern #2:  StyleArc Stacie:  minimal instructions, but fabulous style lines and  is more fitted than pattern #1.  I kept going back to Sew, Jean Margaret's post where she made this jacket and it looks fabulous.
  • Pattern #3: Gertie:  cropped styles look great on me, and I will probably make this sometime... but went with pattern #2, the StyleArc Stacie, since I had been wanting to make that one forever.  

So I visited my jean fabric stash.  Having recently done a reorg of VTL headquarters, I had all my stretch denim in one place and it was easy to go through.  I selected this dark eggplant/aubergine color in stretch denim.  It stretches ~15-20% on the crossgrain.  There was a short period of time where I labeled new fabric purchases, and this one was labeled as Pacific Denim from Haberman's, in Royal Oak, MI purchased in 2013.    It is the same denim I used for my red Jalie Eleonore jeans, just a different color.  Pacific Denim is still on the site, but not in this dark purple.  I had bought more of the red from after making the Eleonores, but somehow making the Eleonores made me not want a red denim jacket anymore!
I love how the Style Arc pieces are all FULL pieces, so I don't need to trace patterns that are to be cut "on the fold" to make them full sized.    I washed and dried the fabric,  cut out all of the pieces and pinned the pattern pieces to my dress form as I cut them out.  This is so I don't lose any of the pieces and so that I don't cut out any smaller pieces from larger pieces somehow thinking they are scraps.

I also love how the StyleArc pieces have the seam allowances drawn on them--that makes it really easy to know the seam allowances for each piece.
However the StyleArc directions are mega-minimalist (what you see above are ALL the instructions) so I mainly used Janet's class and the booklet that comes with her pattern to sew the jacket, as much as I could.  I watched some of her lessons for the third time for the parts I wasn't sure about.  For the bottom band, which Janet's jacket doesn't have, I used Gertie's instructions.

Also the StyleArc instructions say 8 buttons are needed but you really need 10 (their website seems to have been updated--it shows 10 but my pattern from 2014 said 8), the list of pattern pieces doesn't include the sleeve, and I think the amount of fabric the pattern calls for is too not enough.  I used almost 3 yards of almost 60" wide fabric, and did not have much left over.  That includes some samples I made, and I probably didn't maximize the layout, but still....

There were four modifications I made to this jacket:

  1.  Cut two of the back yoke to use the burrito method as per Janet Pray
  2.  Used the pocket facing piece from Janet's pattern to draft my own functional pockets
  3.  Drafted my own facing because my collar wound up being about an inch too short on either side somehow and I liked Janet's method better for this.
  4.  I took an inch out of the sleeve length, only to realize later that my understanding of how the "cuff" is constructed was wrong....and I probably should have added an inch!

Also I got out my three RTW jean jackets and brought them to my sewing room so that I would have an easy reference.

I have so much to say about the construction of this jacket, I'm going to break it up into a few posts which will have close-ups:

  • Topstitching
  • Making the faux pocket flaps into real pocket flaps with real pockets
  • Drafting a new facing
  • Fitting the sleeve/sleeve length
  • Buttonholes
  • Installing jean shank buttons

This is piece #9 in my #summersewingdreams series.  Fall officially begins this Thursday, so the official tally is I sewed up 9 pieces from my list this summer, (all blogged except for one bag and one dress), decided I didn't want to sew one piece after all, and I sewed one item (the cold shoulder shirt) that wasn't on the list.  Hurray for dreams turning into reality!

Be well!


  1. It's so good to see the finished jacket on you vs. all the fun progress shots on IG. It turned out great--it's a great fit, and the purple is fantastic on you. Your topstitching is just perfect! I have that class on Craftsy, and I too have wanted to make a cropped denim jacket for some time. I have a Burda envelope pattern set aside and I think I have a green denim in one of my greens too, but it may be too thick. Maybe come Spring I'll set that goal.

  2. I LOVE PURPLE! And your jacket came out SO NICE/PERFECT! I've made two jean jackets years ago and still have them both, BUT they don't see a lot of wear. Too hot in the summer and our winters are very mild. I do like them! I used an OOP Burda pattern. I also have the Janet Pray pattern and "intend" to get that sewn at some point. (?) Look forward to the followup posts. Great job!

  3. Your jean jacket is nothing short of fantastic! It fits you beautifully and the workmanship is superb. I love the beautiful color too. Everything about it is fabulous.

  4. I love your purple jean jacket!!!! I have been thinking about making a red one as long as you were contemplating this one. I am still thinking 😏 You did a great job with this, very inspirational. I look forward to future post on using jean shank buttons.

  5. I am also wanting a red jean jacket and I just ordered some red denim from emmaonesock. I'll be using the Stacie Jean Jacket too, I love that pattern. Yours looks just perfect!! Well done.

  6. Great jacket and perfect topstitching.

  7. Beautiful jacket! I have been following your progress on IG.Your topstitching is excellent!

  8. You did an absolutely amazing job on your jacket Kyle! Way to go! It is great when dreams come true.

  9. Your jacket looks wonderful!! I don;t do IG so I had no idea what you were working on. This is a beautiful color on you :-)

  10. Good things come to those who wait! You'd never get anything like this ready to wear - what a great make!

  11. Your jacket is simply beautiful and looks well put together. I can't wait to see the follow up posts.

  12. I too have that Craftsy class but yes the pattern is just too boxy but your Style Arc jacket uses the best of both worlds. I so appreciate you sharing the changes since this may have to be a future project for me as well.

  13. It is epic...epically fabulous! It looks SO good and so well made and it fits perfectly.

    Can't wait for the details.

  14. Yay! I really think you picked a winning pattern! It seems like the Style Arc jacket has a bit more shaping than the others without losing the jean jacket vibe.

  15. Great looking jacket. I love the unusual color, and your topstitching is excellent.

  16. Your jacket is terrific. I love the shapeliness of your pattern and the beautiful topstitching.

  17. Wow wow wow! I am so impressed with your sewing skills. Everything about this jacket is absolutely perfect. I have enjoyed following along on IG too. I'm so glad my post was useful to you. You have inspired me to make another Stacie jacket. I really need to up my sewing skills for it even to turn out half as awesome as yours.

  18. Yes girl! This is it. Never take it off, not even in the shower. LOLOLOLOLOL Your new magnum opus. Can't wait to see it in person.

  19. Kyle - you did such an amazing job on this jacket ! I have learned so much from your tutorial & IG . Thanks for great inspiration !!

  20. Super cute and I love the color. by the way - I also made the Islander jacket in a stretch sateen and it was fine. For most patterns designed for wovens I use woven or knit as I please and just interface more carefully. Great jacket for fall.

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