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Imperfect perfectionist

March 25, 2012

My waxed canvas jacket is coming along nicely, if slowly. I had wanted to finish it for this week’s Sew Weekly challenge, the spring sewing palette. Yesterday’s visit to the deCordova museum and sculpture garden was going to be the perfect photo opportunity, as well. Indecision, followed by a minor flub, has left me waiting for a little bubble mailer to arrive so that I can continue.

Mapping pattern placement for economical cutting, minimizing fold creases.

Remember when I said I’d forgo the sleeve zips on the final jacket, and that part of the reason was cost? See, I was having an existential sewing moment. We all get them from time to time. In life and in sewing, I can be so quick to come to a decision. Spontaneous. An instant assessment, and let’s go. That’s how I determined waxed canvas would be the perfect textile for my jacket to begin with, despite expert advice tsking me otherwise. (I link to that book often because it really is a gem in the library.) However, then come moments where I sit. And think. Over every option. Shall I topstitch the princess seams? In a featherstitch? If any stitching is used, shall it be only on the side panels? Or at each adjoining seam? Will this add to the jacket, or take away from it? Will it look too busy, or retain the polished minimalism and tough ‘tude I’m going for? To get out of my head, I decided to look up a few examples of motorcycle jackets.

It’s not just a motorcycle jacket. But a waxed canvas motorcycle jacket. Going for $450. Open new tab. Two YKK Excella zips in nickel, cut to size, add to cart. Buy now. Confirm. Because I’m making that mofo jacket, y’all. For a fraction. And it’s hott. I swear when I get excited about shit. (I swear anyway.)

Also, you know what zipped the deal? I remembered that I once owned a real life leather motorcycle jacket, it all comes down to placement. See, I wasn’t just being a tightwad. The sleeve zips on the pattern seemed extraneous and awkward, and aren’t exposed like I wanted. And this is because they are set in the seam. Seam zips don’t lend themselves to being exposed, and the seams are in a position that is difficult to reach. Especially if you’re zipping up and hopping on your ride. Or need to adjust your zip while speeding along. Not that I have a bike, which is why I sold my jacket. But I have my motorcycle license, and will have a bike some day. Because this is intended to be a lasting piece, it had better be versatile and functional. And hott.

Waxed canvas is a breeze to mark, as even the pass of a fingernail will show up. This is a rare occasion where I've actually notched outward, versus a snip inward.


I traced each piece once, then flipped and traced again. The canvas is thick, so a single layer worked best for me. This also minimized crease lines from folding. Marks automatically show through on the reverse side!


So that is the delay, waiting on the two extra zippers to arrive. Here is the flub:

Hilarious, no?! Check out that upside down pocket. That has been stitched, slit open, flipped inside, basted open, basted to zipper, sewn to zipper. I am so rad. And this was after I had to enlarge the opening, and therefore pocket bag, post-slashing. My zips were perfectly cut to length, but the width and chunky pull called for just a smidge all around. As there wasn’t a lot of SA at the top and bottom of the bag, I drafted replacements. And carefully attached them to the already slashed jacket. One of them, upside down. Ry suggested I just tack on a piece, but that wouldn’t do. Nobody would see it, but I’d know. I’d feel it in my pocket, and the seam would likely stress over time. So I did the right thing, put my thing down, flipped it, reversed it.

The new exposed zip openings are ready and waiting. I’ve moved them to fall by my thumbs instead of the outer/back side of my wrists.


26 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2012 5:11 am

    Nice, I’m interested in seeing how those zips work out. Is that (the inspiration jacket) a Belstaff? If not, you should go check out their site. They had a burgundy deer suede jacket (women’s) last season. I try to stay away from that site. It gives me palpitations.

    • March 26, 2012 7:54 am

      Holy hotness! Why did you have to tell me about Belstaff?! Palpitations is right.

      The brand is Perfecto (the image will take you there). I’ve never heard of them, and had begun construction when I discovered the jacket, totally justifying a last-minute “hope my crazy idea works” hesitation!

  2. March 26, 2012 5:27 am

    this is gonna be so good Lavender. I’ve got a nice green velvet languishing in my fabric chest awaiting similar treatment, just waiting until i have the time and head space to draft the perfect pattern and sew it up without short cuts. Looking forward to seeing yours :-)

    • March 26, 2012 7:57 am

      Oooh, green velvet moto style jacket? That is going to be delicious! I will commend this pattern – there was nary an alteration to be made, and fantastic instructions. Although I would like to make a similar version without the gathered waistband in back, shorter & more fitted.

  3. G.Petunia permalink
    March 26, 2012 7:39 am

    This jacket will be too, too cool. It’s hard to believe how easy to see the white markings are. Is that just the wax?

    “Waxed canvas would be the perfect textile for my jacket to begin with, despite expert advice”–I can’t imagine why not waxed canvas as a sub for leather. What did Sandra Betzina say about it?

    You swear? It seemed such a natural way to talk about sewing a motorcycle jacket that I didn’t notice. :)

    About the upside down pocket: As a sewer I have worn out many seam rippers. I can’t even remember all the different kinds of mistakes they have fixed for me.

    • March 26, 2012 8:03 am

      Yup, just the wax! It’s pretty awesome. Although I took my time laying everything out, the actual marking was a breeze!

      Oh, the book just said that it was too heavy/unsuitable for clothing. By the time I read that, I had ogled the fabric for months, purchased, cut and was about to start sewing. Instinct prevailed, as it’s working so well, and I love it! Maybe the advice was meant for someone thinking canvas would make a nice chemise :)

  4. March 26, 2012 9:24 am

    Oh its going to be totally rad!! Really truly! I love waxed canvas – this is going to wear so nice – and its easy to re-wax if the time ever comes for some sprucing.

    Oh sewing flubs!! I think you’ll be glad you did the right thing.. though I would’ve been sooo tempted to take the short-cut-make-it-work route!

    • March 27, 2012 7:23 am

      I was tempted, but am so glad I went to bed instead :) That reminds me… I should look up re-waxing methods. I think it’s as easy as getting something from EMS/REI/LL Bean

  5. March 26, 2012 9:51 am

    This is so very cool- you rae going to be so awesome in this. I’m gettign the popcorna nd a comfy chair for progress watching.

  6. Mommie permalink
    March 26, 2012 1:49 pm

    WELL, Lavie J.,one more amazing creative piece of clothing. I can not wait to see the real article when finished. Where was that darn informational book when I was sewing wearables? Sure could have used some of those ideas and informational knowledge!!! Happy to see that you take the time to correct any glitches that come your way. I’ve got some quilting ones to correct (maybe even a whole new recut) . Did I say that !!!!??? Yup.some what pricey goof time wise. Oh, well.

  7. March 26, 2012 3:29 pm

    You are awesome…. and I know you know you did the right thing by waiting. The extra inspiration and insight will be sooooo worth it when you’re wearing that thing and strutting around thinking ‘YEAHHHHH BABY check this out!!’ LOL

    PS. glad i’m not the only one who swears when I get excited… or anyway hehehe :D

    • March 27, 2012 7:27 am

      And the zips are sooo smooth, too! I keep trying it on just to run the pull up and down!

  8. March 27, 2012 10:42 am

    Oh wow, this is going to be amazing! I’m glad you went for the schmancy zips– they’re going to be rad! I’m super jealous of this waxed canvas business– it looks so cool! Oh, and I have a motorcycle license, too! One of these days I’ll get a bike… I can’t justify it at all since I already have a Vespa (love it, but sometimes a gal wants to go a little faster, you know?).

    • March 28, 2012 7:03 am

      I love your cherry red Vespa! Your avatar always makes me smile :) I had an Aprilia Mojito for a while (Piaggio bought Aprilia), but of course sometimes you just need speed :)

      • March 29, 2012 2:16 pm

        Yessss! I love the Mojito– my father-in-law has a baby blue Mojito that I LOVE to tool around on!

  9. March 27, 2012 11:25 am

    Good on you for figuring out the zips! I love those kind of moments when I realize what it is I’m going after. This is going to be an awesome jacket! The Belstaff jackets are wonderful. They have this lovely, crinkly worn in look after awhile. (My husband works on vintage bikes, so he likes those English jackets. Barbour is another brand.) I’ve collected all these links somewhere in case I ever get my hands on some waxed cotton. You might want to check this out for future waxing:

    • March 28, 2012 7:45 am

      I just spent ages on the Archival Clothing & Barbour sites Oh my! I’m afraid to show my husband the Steve McQueen jacket. Thanks so much for the waxing tip :) I have a schedule for shoe maintenance, and this is bound to become part of my upkeep dorkiness!

  10. March 27, 2012 3:49 pm

    oh. my. goodness.

    i am so excited to see this in all of its finished glory. i have a thing for leather and motorcycle inspired looks,(though not bikes themselves!) so i absolutely love your jacket.

    nice save on the pocket! i throw projects across the room and pout for days when that happens to me.

    • March 28, 2012 7:48 am

      Ha! I’ve thrown many a project across the room. This time I just laughed… utter foolishness! Making this really has me itching to try some leather, but I know I’ll definitely need a different machine for that.

  11. Chris permalink
    March 28, 2012 10:42 am

    I am impressed by your skills and patience!
    can’t wait to see it when it’s done

    • March 29, 2012 12:37 pm

      I think sewing has taught me patience! But still, there are times….

  12. March 28, 2012 4:09 pm

    Ooh – I was thinking about making a jacket out of waxed fabric so this is really interesting, thanks :)

    • March 29, 2012 12:38 pm

      I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I have to say, working with it is much easier than I imagined. That said, I haven’t come to any bulky seams at this point in the construction process.

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