Christmas Eve already! I can’t believe how quickly December has whizzed by. We are up early and on our way to Lancashire this morning. So what could be more appropriate than a Red jacket?
The Red Rose of Lancaster dates from 1485 and, when matched by Henry 111V with the white rose of York, became the Tudor Rose, which is now the symbol of England.
The Red jacket (referred to as a pink jacket) is also the chosen outfit of the Boxing Day hunt, which remains very popular in Lancashire. The issue of hunting is very contentious but most country people like it for the jobs it creates, their fondness for the horses and hounds, and the fact that following, on foot, is a good way to use up calories after an indulgent Christmas.
I managed to finish my “wearable toile”. The brooch, incidentally, is made with four small pom poms in maroon, orange, dark green and navy.
Unfortunately it is a big disappointment. I will take it with me, and I will wear it when we go out tonight to one of the best pub restaurants I have ever been to. In my Mother’s tiny village of Wiswell lies the Freemason’s Arms. It serves wonderful food and Christmas Eve will be very special.
I have not enjoyed making this jacket. And the problem was not the one I had anticipated. I thought shaping would be the real challenge, given the fitted nature of the garment and the fact that it was a small (32″ bust) pattern that would need alteration. The actual problem really came down to the fact that the fabric was not suitable for the job.
I bought the toile fabric it because it was obviously a “wooly” type fabric designed for a skirt, jacket or winter dress, I liked the colour and it was inexpensive (£4 a metre – barely more than calico). And of course it is possible to tailor in fabrics other than wool. My SWAP last year used a blue linen, and a pink cotton for the jackets, and my Chanel style jacket tweed is a wool-free mixed fibre (which would not shrink). But I had not used polyester/nylon before and I will not do so again. It doesn’t tailor well, mainly because it does not respond to pressing in the same way as a natural fibre.
With a classic wool (or wool with a bit of something else in it) you can use the iron, moisture and pressure to make the fabric take up a shape that fits the body. While this is not the case with cotton, linen or silk, they will all stand high heat and can at least be pressed and stitched to create a firm, shaped garment. I found with polyester that it stretches, and it doesn’t like getting too hot. What this meant was although I was able to press all the seams as we went, it kept getting creases in it, that became semi-permanent as I pressed in other areas.
Now we come to the key question. Should I drop this jacket because (according to my family) the style doesn’t suit me? The following feedback has been received.
- it’s too Mrs Thatcher
- nasty colour on you
- don’t like the pockets
- comes up too high at the neck
- you need to be taller with long legs for a jacket like that
- too tight
Or, is the style good, it is just that the fabric (being polyester or nylon) shows every flaw, will not lie flat and appears to have been through the washing machine? It has taken hours to get this far, so this is a depressing outcome.
The other problem area was the pocket bags, which are too obvious, as you can see above. I carefully stitched the facings to the seam allowances of jacket and pocket and you can tell this is what I have done. With wool, sweet forgiving wool, these “behind the scenes” activities would be practically invisible. I was in despair so wrote to Mrs Mole. She came back with excellent advice:
“Fingers crossed the toile starts behaving itself and soon you be happy enough with it that you can cut the real thing. Good things take more time. You know that!”.
I think that is the point. I don’t need to be happy with it, just “happy enough” to progress to the real thing. It was always intended as a dry run and trial outfit. It doesn’t have to be good enough to wear. Stop stressing about it, and move on. I feel making the real thing would get me over my disappointment.
However given the strong reaction of both my daughter and husband, and my own doubts about the jacket, I have to decide whether to make this suit – Simplicity 100 – in 100 per cent wool, or to go for a different style. I have at least half a dozen suit patterns that I like as much as this one. But I am keen to hear your views before I make a final decision (please be honest rather than kind).