Wow, am I happy to bring you this project! It’s my first make as part of the White Tree blogging team, and it’s taken me four months from receiving the materials to completion. I did intend to have it finished earlier, as it’s really a jacket with more of a summer feel. But hey, sometimes life has other plans for us and there is no point worrying about not finishing projects as quickly as we’d like to. Apart from life getting in the way, it was a time consuming make for a number of reasons. The first was that I self drafted the pattern, and it took awhile to get it right. I also then wanted to create a prototype before cutting in to the gorgeous Tilda cotton. My practice garment was my tape cassette jacket, which I wore to Bestival festival. When I was happy with my basic pattern I hacked about with it a bit to allow for the lace insert. It was inserting the lace that made me feel nervous, and I needed to be in the right frame of mind to tackle this part of the project. (i.e not mind boggingly tired and driven crazy by a toddler who wants to watch Thomas the Tank Engine on repeat). I haven’t worked with lace before, yet alone such a stunning, special and expensive guipure lace. I really didn’t want to mess this part up. I had a vivid image of how I wanted this jacket to turn out, and I spent a long time working out how to achieve it. In the end I think I had to compromise my vision with what I could practically achieve. There were a few moments in this make that I wished for instructions to follow, but eventually my instinct got me there.
Tilda jacket stats
Fabric: Tilda Jane Blue Grey Cotton, Random flower guipure, A pink poly-cotton for the lining, Cotton elastane ribbing for collars/cuffs
Cost: The Tilda cotton and Flower Guipure was kindly donated to me by White Tree Fabrics, The poly cotton was £3.50 from Leeds Market, and the Cotton elastane ribbing was from Plush Addict and left over from a previous project
Pattern: Self drafted cropped jacket. My first version is the tape cassette jacket blogged here
Time: Could be completed in a day
Difficulty: Medium, because it involved some intricate hand sewing
Tilda Jane Blue Grey Cotton
I hadn’t heard or used Tilda fabric before, but as soon as I had it in my hand you could tell it was a premium quality cotton, which is soft and buttery to the touch. Tilda is a craft brand founded by Norwegian designer Tone Finnanger in 1999, best known for its whimsical and naive characters in the form of animals and dolls. The prints are delicate, with a county cottage / shabby chic style feel. They feature quaint floral designs, polka dots, stripes and are typically very feminine and pretty. Now this isn’t my signature style, but I thought I’d branch out a little. I can see the Tilda range of fabrics really lending themselves to a lot of home furnishing, toy clothing and dressmaking style projects.
Random Flower Guipure
Guipure lace is a firm, stiff lace, without a net background. The shapes in guipure are typically large patterns, that are held together by large connecting stitches. It’s perfect for garment cut outs because it has enough structure to hold its shape nicely. It cuts really easily without falling apart, and I’ve heard, but not tested that it also dyes well.
Did I already mention this pattern was self drafted? I did? Oh well, high fives anyway! It consists of a standard bodice back, front and sleeve pieces with rectangular strips used for the cuffs, neckline and hem. To create the lace insert I cut out the desired shape in the back bodice piece, which left a big hole to fill in later! When creating it I was certain I wanted to make a garment with a lace insert (White Tree have a great selection of fancy laces, and I couldn’t resist giving one a try) but I was toying between two ideas. The first was an elegant blazer, with a see through lace back, and the second was a more sporty jacket with a feminine lacy twist, like a mix mash of sporty and baby spice in one. Probably difficult to put in to words my vision but there you have it. I decided on the sporty option because I was intrigued if it would work or not.
Initially I didn’t want any lining behind the lace at the back of the garments, so that you could see through to skin. I couldn’t quite work out how to sew it like this though, and on reflection I would probably always wear something underneath it, so just decided to fully line it. I hope the lining I chose compliments and contrasts the lace successfully.
Guipure Lace Insert
This was the trickiest and scariest part. I couldn’t afford to make a mistake. I made myself a super charged vegan iced coffee (do ask if you’re interested) and got to work with a caffeine fueled bravado. You can see on the image below how at the selvedges the lace has beautiful teardrop shaped lobes. I wanted to incorporate these in to my triangular panel at the edges, but to do so would be a challenge that involved cutting in to the fabric and sewing back together again.
I took a long hard look at the lace and tried to visualise if I could cut it in a way that I would be able to sew up again, without it looking too obvious. This was the result:
I then delicately sat and hand sewed the two pieces together as invisibly as I could, trimming off any excess lace as I went along. I held my breath, without daring to think about what could go wrong. Luckily I seemed to be pulling this off, and ended up with one piece I was really happy with.
I needed to tidy up the teardrops at the point of the triangle, and had slight concerns about how it would fit with my other pieces along the neckline, but I’d winged it so far hadn’t I. Someone or something was on my side.
I hand sewed the lace piece to the back bodice, and then machine stitched the neckline piece to the top of the lace. At some point, my back bodice piece had become a little distorted, where the shoulders were different widths, and didn’t fit well with the front bodice piece when sewing together at the shoulders. To rectify this, I had to sew at the shoulders a little lower, and then re-shape the armholes by cutting in to the fabric, to replace the lost height at the shoulders. Oh golly, it all sounds a bit drastic, and it was, but I had no spare fabric so I did what I could.
On reflection – a better option would have been to complete the lace panel first, before cutting out any of the back panel pieces. This would have meant I could have cut out the exact sized shape, rather than try to fit my lace in to a hole that was too large and left the rest of the garment mis-shapen.
I continued to sew up the garment. The sleeves were tricky because I had *reshaped* the armholes and the set in sleeves didn’t fit properly. You can see on the photos there are a couple of puckers, but nothing so awful it would stop me from wearing it. Once it was together, I tried it on, and it didn’t look half bad. Hells bells. I then went ahead and put together the lining in a similar fashion.
I knew that the general rule of thumb is to cut ribbing 2/3 to 3/4 of the length of the piece it’s being applied to, depending on how much you want it to hug that area. With this in mind I worked out the dimensions for my rectangles and cut out shapes for the neckline, cuffs and waistline.
I attached the zip using my zipper foot, and sewed through both the lining and main fabric, so that you could see the stitching from the front. I then hand tacked the back of the zip to the lining of the garment to keep it flat.
General Happiness Rating
– I rate this make 3 smileys
Do I have something that looks handmade? Probably yes. But do I have something with an awesome hand-sewn guipure lace panel that I can be proud of? Hell yeah! I must admit I think it’s a slightly odd garment, that doesn’t match most of my wardrobe. Did I pull it off? What do you all think? When I wear it however, I feel proud, and that equates to lots of happiness in my book. It was a challenge to make, and one that I acquired some new skills and learnt from. What more could I want?
erm … easy! More beautiful guipure lace please.
Have you seen the other amazing creations from fellow White Tree Bloggers?
Jo’s chiffon red wedding guest dress
See Jo’s dress here
Louise’s Red lace dress
Well what can I say? Louise is an inspiration and she has really taken it to another level with this dress. The scarlet red really appeals to me and it’s a bold masterpiece of sewing.
See Louise’s dress here
Lucie’s honeymoon holdall bag
Hey, I’ve just realised all my top picks are wedding themed! Blimey, weddings really bring out our creativity huh. Lucie recently got married and made this bag to take on her honeymoon. It uses White Tree Fabrics bonded lace, which looks like a really interesting fabric to work with. Hope you are having a good honeymoon Lucie!
See Lucie’s bag here
Happy sewing everyone,
Oh, and the reason there are no pictures of me in this post is that someone took my tripod walkabouts … normal exhibitionism to return in due course.