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A Handmade Birthday Gift

Square Armhole Tabula Rasa Jacket in Handwoven and hand felted fabric.

Gifting a friend for a milestone Birthday is a no brainer, but what do you do for a friend of over 30 years who is also your business partner?  You make her a Tabula Rasa Jacket (TRJ), of course.

The person in question is Carrie and the project had been sitting on my shelf for at least 10 years.  A lovely but small piece of handwoven fabric, 1 ½ yards of butterscotch washed wool and ½ yard of black washed wool double knit.  It was a great combination of fabrics and textures, made even greater with the addition of 6 painted buttons that added a final flourish.

square armhole Tabula Rasa Jacket in washed wool and handwoven fabrics.
Fabrics collected for this TRJ.

We collaborated on the design, imagining the handwoven as an extended yoke in the front and back and the butterscotch wool for the lower jacket and sleeves.  But, how would it be finished?  I decided the soft black knit needed to be a pleated neckband found in the Band Variations and Pockets pattern for the TRJ to complete the warm and cozy look.

Handwoven and Interfacing being cut for the jacket

Once I had cut the planned sections there remained a long strip of handwoven with a selvage edge.  It quickly found its place down the front of the lower jacket.  Then the puzzle of the closures emerged.  The buttons looked best on the black knit which did need to be used in one additional place for it to be naturally integrated into the jacket.

Sketches of my ideas.

I played with 3 ideas based on shapes found in the handwoven fabric.  Two involved mirror image button frames which would require all 6 buttons to be in front.  The third option alternated the buttons, leaving one to place in the back.  I sent Carrie these photos and the above sketches to let her pick the final details.

You can see from the photos, she chose the alternating button frames so there would be one button left for the back of the jacket.

Square armhole Tabula Rasa Jacket in handwoven and felted fabrics
Notice the back pleat and the side pockets

Additional coat details include pockets that cover each side panel based on the pocket directions in the Band Variations and Pockets for the TRJ.  The cuffs are pleated similarly to the collar using the black knit.  The extended yokes and sleeves are lined to cover the Soft Stretch interfacing that supports the handwoven sections.  It also just makes the coat easier to put on.  The back pleat-detail is found in the Rain or Shine Variations and lets the coat move easily.

Have you worked with handwovens or washed wools before?  This jacket was built with traditional seams but the Tips for Handwovens and Handcrafted Fabrics gives you an alternative seam structure that overlaps and topstitches the seams in place to reduce bulk.

Showing off her jacket during a Trunk Show at the Cincinnati OSQE.

If you are in the DC area and want to get started on your Tabula Rasa Jacket journey, consider joining me Thursday and Friday Oct 31-Nov. 1 at Capital Quilts for a two day jacket class.  Visit us Nov. 12-14 at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Novi, MI to see it in person during our Trunk Shows or in our Booth.

Happy Sewing, RAE



3 thoughts on “A Handmade Birthday Gift

  1. Beautiful!

  2. What a beautiful jacket! Perfect color for Carrie. Happy Birthday Carrie!

  3. gorgeous !! bravo ! very inspiring, thanks for sharing

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