Sunday, October 7, 2012

la veste pavot

I studied French in school, which seemed cool at the time, but it turns out that's not the language you want to know if you're an American like me working in non-profit social services. "Does anyone here speak Spanish?! There's someone on the phone who..." But hey, it is the language you want to know if you're a home sewer determined to make pretty clothes. "Does anyone here speak French?! I have to attach this peter pan collar..." 

Thanks to Anna of Paunnet, we're all aware by now (right?) of Deer & Doe Patterns, a pattern line recently launched by French designer Eléonore Klein. It's all so frickin' adorable. I recently made a silent oath to never sew a rounded collar again, but then I saw the Veste Pavot (translation: Poppy Jacket) and I was completely taken by it, collar and covered buttons and all. The construction looked simple enough so I thought I'd take the plunge and see if I could do it.

As one of the first technically monolingual Americans (sob) to blog about one of these patterns, I feel like should try to give a decent overview of what these patterns are like, what the sewing experience was like, and whether or not I'm satisfied with the end result.

As with all the independent patterns I've sewn before, the graphic design aesthetics and packaging are lovely. The patterns come in large envelopes and are printed on sturdy paper (which--call me crazy--I actually don't like as much as tissue paper because they don't iron out or lay as flat). The instructions are written in a little booklet with simple drawings, like Megan Nielsen's patterns.

Ignore wrinkles.

Now let's talk about my language skillz and how this affected my ability to sew a French pattern. I may have studied French for a number of years, but every time I graduated to the next phase of schooling (middle school, then high school) I had to start over at French 101. Not a good system. So really the highest I studied was French 4 as a senior in high school. Seven years have passed since then, and in the meantime my brain has been muddled with studying Japanese and drinking beer, so mostly what I remember about French are these three key phrases: zut alors! (darn!), hyper chouette! (super cool!), and discotheque (dance club). Please note that our textbooks were published in the early 1990s.

So, with a very elementary understanding of French sentence structure and words like "right" and "front" and "sleeve," I was able to construct this jacket with some side help from the Internet. If you have made a button-up shirt and understand basic garment construction, you probably don't even need the instructions. The booklet includes technical illustrations, but they are not fully inclusive of every single step (which is of course fine for an intermediate sewer). The instructions tell you when to do things like attach the shoulders and sides, when to hem, and when to finish seams with bias binding, but those steps aren't illustrated. I think you can figure it out, though! Y'all are smart.

Please correct me if I'm wrong on some of these, but here's a little reference guide I created for myself so it was easier to spot what I needed to do during construction of the Veste Pavot:

les marges de couture :: seam allowances 
thermocollant ::  interfacing 
la parementure :: facing 
l'ourlet :: hem 
le bord :: edge 
surpiquez :: topstitch 
le fer :: iron 
epinglez :: pin 

I am pretty satisfied with the end result. I guessed at my size (in centimeters, oy!) and  it seemed to work out okay with zero alterations, except it's a little roomy in the bust area with the princess seams and the sleeves are kind of baggy. Of course, this could be a good thing if I want to wear this over thick sweaters and such. The changes I made were shortening the hem overall, making it a little less flared, not gathering the sleeve caps, and using interfacing on the collar to give it more structure.

The jacket is unlined, so I paid a teeny bit more attention to seam finishing than usual. I did a "clean finish," on all seams, which essentially means to hem the seam allowance 1/8" after stitching. If I make it again, I will want to fully line it, though. Jen of Grainline has a great tutorial on how to draft a lining for an unlined blazer/jacket pattern here.

I'm disappointed that I was too impatient to order/go out and buy matching thread. I settled for dark brown and I think the garment suffers somewhat from it. LIVE AND SEW AND BE BUMMED AND LEARN. As I always say. Here's how I feel about my mismatching thread:

Voila. Hyper chouette. Merci beaucoup. Allons-y. Bibliothèque. Bon Iver.  All in all, I'm happy with my jacket and hope I find ways to wear it regularly. Are you proud, French teachers of my past? Non?

Have you sewn a pattern in a foreign language before? Deer & Doe seems like a good place to start! Her other cutie patterns are here. Bonne chance, mes amis.