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Sewing a jacket isn’t always a snap

Photos by Ariel Markus

Pattern: Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Patterns

Fabric: Outer – Robert Kaufman Hampton Twill from Matchpoint Fabrics 

Lining – Nani Iro Brushed Cotton & Navy Bemberg Rayon from Spool and Spindle

So I hopped on the Kelly Anorak bandwagon, and finally made my first ever handmade jacket.

I gotta say, I was pretty nervous about it. There were a lot of techniques I had never done before, but I really wanted the challenge. I figured, though, that if hundreds (thousands?) of people had managed to make it successfully before, then with the help of the sewalong I should be just fine. I made a trip downtown to the Leather and Sewing Supply Depot and picked up all the tools and notions I would need for the project (I was hoping to buy the kit from Closet Case directly, but alas, they were sold out).

I was really nervous about my fabric choices, especially since I ordered everything online and couldn’t get a sense of fabric weight. I wasn’t sure if the Robert Kaufman twill (Hampton) I chose would be heavy enough, as other projects under the Kelly Anorak hashtag had used the heavier-weight Robert Kaufman twill (Ventana, which Closet Case Patterns recommends for this project). Still, I had faith that along with some lining (and potentially underlining), all would work out fine.

I actually ordered some flannel to underline the jacket for warmth, but opted not to use it in the end, as the outer fabric and lining combined felt sufficient for the spring jacket I was going for. Even without the underlining, it took me two days to cut out all the pieces (outer, lining, and interfacing) – there are a lot of pieces, and the instructions recommend that you write down and keep track of which pieces you’ve cut (of course, I didn’t do this).

Now, I bought the printed pattern of the jacket, and bought the PDF of the lining expansion. I didn’t have paper at home to print the PDF right away, so I thought I’d be smart and cut out the lining later when I had more paper, so that I wouldn’t waste time waiting for the day I made it to the office supply store. Well, I cut out the outer fabric using only the printed pattern pieces, not realizing that the lining expansion included different sleeves! (These are quite a bit roomier and don’t have a cuff or placket) I had already cut the original sleeves out, and they wouldn’t match the lining sleeves (luckily I realized this before cutting my lining). So, I had to cut out the sleeve lining from the original pattern, with the cuffs and little sleeve placket. It was really difficult to line sleeves that weren’t meant to be lined that way, and I don’t really think I did it properly. (If you’re interested, I didn’t “turn” the coat as per the instructions, but rather slipped the sleeve linings inside the outer sleeves and basted them at the raw edge before sewing on the cuffs as usual). But you can’t tell looking at it from the outside, so it is what it is. It’s just important to note, if you bought the lining expansion, that the sleeves have to be cut from the lining expansion pattern pieces. Lesson learned.

I lined the jacket body with a lovely, thick Nani Iro brushed cotton, which is soft like flannel but kind of feels like a tablecloth in weight (I don’t mind). I’m very pleased with how the print on the Nani Iro coordinates with the slate grey twill. I chose Bemberg rayon to line the sleeves so my arms could slide in without the sleeves of shirt riding up to my armpits.

Sewing the jacket went pretty smoothly overall, but I found at times the sewalong gave wrong or different instructions to those that came with the pattern (for example, one or two times the sewalong tells you to sew fabric right sides together as opposed to wrong sides together or vice versa). It’s best to follow the paper/PDF instructions and turn to the sewalong for visual aid (especially when it comes to the many tricky and confusing seams).

The entire time I was sewing, I was dreading the installation of the snaps at the end. When I practiced, the snaps sometimes would get completely hammered out of shape or the awl would not make a large enough hole to fit the snaps into. The tool for installing the snap studs would smoosh the heads of the studs flat every time (they were supposed to be rounded) – visually this was fine, but it made it very hard to snap and unsnap them. Since I could not find a creative solution to this, and did not wish to go back to the store and complain (or possibly have to buy a new tool), I settled on installing the snaps as an aesthetic choice rather than as a functional one. The snaps are so difficult to pull apart that I’m afraid if I close them I’ll tear the jacket. Luckily, the zipper works well and I can open and close the jacket anyways. Since the snaps made me angry, I opted not to include them in the hood, since I had no patience or use for them there.

I think some day a long time from now I’d love to try making another Kelly, because I found it incredibly satisfying to finally make my own outerwear. It’s perfect for these in-between spring days, and the fit was fantastic right out of the envelope (though I did make a muslin first). I can definitely see why everyone loves this jacket so much! I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of it this season.

Have you made the Kelly Anorak yet? Have you been thinking about making it but just haven’t managed to jump in?

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Comments (4)

  • susan-jillian smith 5 months ago Reply

    Beautiful! I love the colour choice and the contrasting lining! Coats are the ultimate sewing journey… and this one is so professional looking. I would wear this!

    Rebecca 5 months ago Reply

    Thank you! Yes, I’m a sucker for a good contrast lining. A dressy wool coat is next on my list – it’s nice to have a challenge. Thank you very much!

  • Tamar 5 months ago Reply

    Love the jacket!

    Rebecca 5 months ago Reply

    Thank you!

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