Our good friend Samantha Ploch from South Carolina recently attended a class Linda taught at Mulberry Silks in Carrboro, North Carolina, and Linda was floored by her fabulous Liberty/MixIt combination jacket. Samantha had created a similar jacket after working on the pattern variations at a Sew Kansas workshop in our studio in Topeka. She was inspired by an Alexander McQueen garment, and put two and two together to make this fab jacket. We've asked her to share her creative process. Read on and enjoy!
I covet many high end designers, with Alexander McQueen being one I follow regularly. One recent trend utilized by many designers is embroidery. Many designers are adding heavy embroidery on a single piece. I find it fascinating that so much is being used, yet they always seem to find a balance. It doesn't look homespun or inexpensive which I believe is extremely hard to do with embroidery. My goal is to reach the ability to do my own interpretation - not copy - designer pieces that I find edgy, cool, and fun, and can tweak so they are appropriate for my age and lifestyle.
When I attended the February Sew Kansas workshop, Linda suggested that I make the Liberty Shirt with the MixIt Shirt neckline out of a nice cotton. I loved it. It was easy to make and fit well. Upon my return trip to Charleston, I was scouring my normal high end designers online - mostly on Pinterest, Net-A-Porter and FarFetch - until I came upon this Alexander McQueen sweater (that's what they call it - I think it's a sweatshirt) that I know I would wear. Instead of paying the hefty sum, I thought it would be fun to create my own using Sewing Workshop patterns.
Want to make your own Liberty Jacket with the MixIt neckline? Learn how in this tutorial!
I zeroed in and tried to figure it out how to recreate the top. I immediately thought of the Liberty/MixIt combination. I had made the pattern adjustments to my Liberty adding the Mix-It neckline and shortening the sleeves during my Topeka trip. I traced those general garment lines on paper and played with the design and colors. I started by roughly drawing the side stripe on my Liberty pattern until I thought it would work. I traced that off for a separate pattern piece.
Now what fabric would I use? What color embroidery? Not having the perfect white fabric to pair well with the black cotton that I ordered from The Sewing Workshop, I ended up using a silk menswear houndstooth as a substitute. I also sculpted the neckline into a v-neck as that seems to look better with my figure.
I cut out all the pattern pieces and sewed the front side strips on top of the Liberty pieces. Once that was done, I thought the back needed something so I added a 3"-wide band down the center. All of this looked great so far. What next? Embroidery designs? Colors?
Linda always talks about prep and how important it is. I find myself doing more of this and it really does help. As I was trying to find the right embroidery designs, I set up my embroidery machine to do a few mockups. In order to make a decision, I tried different colors on sample pieces pinned in the general location. My family weighed in as well. I was timid about doing all red but finally decided on mostly red, with some grey and black.
I scoured online to find embroidery designs that I felt were cool and edgy. Urban Threads has some very interesting ones. I purchased Painted Roses UT4079 thinking that I would only do a little on the front side strips. Once I did the first design, I thought it looked sparse so I added two more.
In hindsight, I should have completed the embroidery before sewing the piece together as there would have been no seams in the way and placement of the designs would have been easier to duplicate on both sides. I did my "paper doll" method of printing the design on paper and placing until I got the approximate location. Then I chalk marked it and tried to line up my hoop, which is difficult with seams in the way. (Note: the trim was not on yet - this is just showing how I placed the paper doll pieces.)
Once the front sides were done, the back looked unloved. I went online to find inspiration and found some beautiful embroidered jackets by Gucci, Christian Lacroix, and Alice & Olivia.
How could I try and pull this off with the piece already sewn together? I didn't want to go too far with the embroidery making all my hard work look gaudy or homemade. I went back to Urban Threads and purchased Flutterby UT1294 as a starting point. Once it was placed and embroidered, I used my paper doll floral pieces and figured out how to get a striking effect.
Before sewing on the trim, I tripled checked the fit. I felt the back should be taken in a bit so that the piece would lie more like a jacket without buttons. I pinched and pinned until I finally settled on doing two seams straight up the back on both side that tapered off right below the armscye. This way I didn't interfere with the interesting hem or the angle of the side seam. The black cotton fabric helps disguise this new seam/adjustment. Yes, I should have done this in the original pattern work and will do a few things differently on my next piece.
Now, do I line the interior? I think I will. More to come!