Thursday, June 5, 2014

red ava jacket

Hi, little cuties. This is my third post since last Thursday, which surprises no one more than me. But I gotta show you this red-as-red-gets jacket. It's red enough that I could probably wear this as part of a Sarah Palin costume for Halloween, but that topical humor ship has long since sailed. Still glad I took off my glasses for these photos anyway.

This is the Ava Jacket, a new release by Bluegingerdoll Patterns, my first garment made from this independent company. FULL-UP DISCLOSURE: I was a pattern tester for the Ava jacket. I did not get paid, though I did receive a rough draft of the pattern for free. I then pored over the instructions and worked hard to determine whether the pattern came together well and if everything was clearly laid out. I made a muslin first, based directly on the original pattern and instructions, then made this red-red version based on the FINAL edited instructions she sent us, while implementing some design modifications of my own.

I'm blogging about it by choice, because 1) I have a new handmade garment to show you guys, and this blog is primarily about show-and-tell, 2) I want to help spread the word of the pattern release on behalf of a hard-working and relatively new designer I admire, and 3) I want to provide a helpful review of a new pattern on my blog so when others are deciding whether or not to buy it, I can be a reliable resource. I just want to be transparent about the pattern testing process, in case there are any doubts about my motives! (See here for more discussion.) This should be one of my last pattern test/blog tour garments for awhile, so if it annoys you at all (and I understand why it would), just know that the interbloggy promotion should be calming down for awhile.

The Ava Jacket is a fully-lined kimono-sleeved swing jacket. It features a full lining, a wide shawl collar, loose 3/4-length sleeves and turned-backed cuffs. The cuffs and collar can be made in the same or contrasting fabric.

Images via

Bluegingerdoll is known for her vintage-inspired aesthetic, which I admit isn't really my normal style. So for this wearable version, I omitted the lining, significantly reduced the width of the shawl collar, and narrowed the sleeves and cuffs (probably too much). I made it in a lightweight, drapey, poly crepey fabric so the flared back would drape gently and swish around. I was hoping for a more blazer-esque modern look with these changes.

Some things to note about this pattern. 

FIT: The jacket is easy to fit because it's built with generous ease and has kimono sleeves. I made a size 8 based on my bust and waist measurements, which seemed to work out fine. It was my fault that I narrowed these sleeves a bit too much which makes it hard to roll up the cuffs. I do find that as I'm wearing it, the shoulder seams slip backwards, so I'm often chucking the jacket forward to realign it.

CONSTRUCTION: There aren't many pieces to put together as far as jackets go, but there is a lotttttt of hand-stitching. The collar shell is hand-stitched to the facing, the cuffs are catch-stitched to the inside of the jacket, the hem is catch-stitched, and then the entire lining is hand-stitched to the jacket shell. Lordy lord lord. Believe me, I tried to get around some of it because that's not normally my thang. It may be yours, though! I machine-edgestitched the collar shell down for a clean finish, like you would normally do on a collar stand or waistband facing, for instance. You can kinda see that at the top of the photo of the jacket innards here:

I also left off the lining entirely, which was actually difficult to figure out how to do properly, since a lot of raw edges that you catch-stitched down, like on the cuffs and hem, are supposed to be covered up by a lining. I French-seamed everything and used lace tape to cover the raw edge of the hems, which I then turned up and blindstitched down by hand. I only had lace seam binding/hem tape, and it's white, and it looks terrible, so I almost plan to replace it with something red once I go notion shopping. With the dip of the swingy hem, the white hem tape is often flashed to the outside world. Ick.

With the test version, I struggled with the instructions for sewing the bottom of the front lapels; it gets confusing with all those corners of the collar shell, facing and eventually the lining. Abby did a good job working on that part and including more guidance for the final version. Still, it's a bit hard for me to wrap my head around how it's really supposed to come together. I made it work and it looks fine, but I'm not entirely sure I did it as instructed so I would like to see this demonstrated more in-depth with photos of a real garment versus the illustrations.

I like my red Ava jacket because it's unlike anything else I own. I'm a pear-shape so I often avoid jackets and tops with flared hems, but I think I like the silhouette of this one. It's a nice summer-weight garment to throw on for extra coverage or to add a knock-out punch of color to an outfit. I have a dreamy idea of an Ava in a silky floral, to keep up with the kimono jacket trend going on (right? Wut r fashun?).

The Ava was released along with the curve-hugging Betsy pencil skirt, which you'll find on many other testers' blogs. It's incredibly flattering on everyone I've seen so far and the little details -- like the button tabs on Version A -- are cute, so I'm actually tempted to splurge for the pattern even though I rarely wear pencil skirts these days! Abby of BGD carefully picked testers with different body types and with varying degrees of blog popularity, which I'm sure we can all appreciate. Check them out:

29th May – Tanya at MrsHughes (Betsy skirt)
2nd June – T at uandmii (Betsy skirt)
4th June – Mary at Idle Fancy
6th June– Tanya at MrsHughes (Ava jacket)
8th June - T at uandmii (Ava jacket)

Have you sewn a Bluegingerdoll pattern yet? What do you think of the new ones?