At the Atlanta Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, my new Toile Spring Jacket stood out front of our booth beckoning new customers in. I promised I would write a blog post about it soon, so here is part 1. This charming upholstery weight toile fabric home was lugged home from an anniversary trip to France almost 5 years ago. I’ve had in mind to make a jacket similar to Rae’s show stopping It’s a Spectacle, and in February decided it was time to get it ready for Spring. This jacket incorporates many of the features of Rain or Shine Variations for the Tabula Rasa Jacket including a center front zipper, collar, detachable hood, pleated back, and inseam pockets.
I started with two toile fabrics I had chosen at Tissus Gregoire which are printed on the same ivory ground with shades of blue, black, and gray. My favorite, the blue balloon themed piece, would be the primary fabric, and the other toile featuring cherubs and medallions would be the secondary fabric. As you will see, this turned out to be the ultimate fussy cutting project!
The Pattern Work
To optimally position the romantic and architectural motifs, I divided the front and back pattern pieces with a yoke. To prepare those patterns, I split my Back and Rain or Shine Jewel Neck Front patterns at the middle HBL and added seam allowances to the upper and lower portions, incorporating my bust dart into the front yoke seam as Rae explained in Imagining a Spectacle Jacket.
I planned to create a pleat in the center of the lower back, as directed in the Rain or Shine instruction book, but wanted to insert the secondary fabric into the back pleat as a peek-a-boo accent. This would require 3 separate pieces joined to create the lower back. To create a 4” wide inner pleat, I drafted a pattern 5¼” wide (4” plus 2 seam allowances) and the length of the lower back. Then I modified the lower back pattern by extending it 2” from center back and adding a 5/8” seam allowance to attach to either side of the inner pleat.
Finally, I needed to draft off a right and left of each pattern piece to facilitate fussy cutting the blue toile: right and left front yoke, right and left lower front, right and left lower back, right and left sleeve, full back yoke, collar, hood crown, right and left hood brim. (Because of the directional print of the fabric, I would have to cut the brim in two pieces, rather than on the fold.) I figured that I could squeak one set of inseam pockets out of whatever was left over!
I anticipated that I would also need to cut the following pattern pieces out of secondary fabric: right and left side panels, hood lining crown, right and left hood lining brim, collar, another set of pockets, and front and back facings.
Fussy Cutting the Toile
After preparing all of my pattern pieces, I spread the entire piece of blue toile out on my cutting table and commenced moving the pieces around to decide which elements to capture for each section. After much puzzling and maneuvering, I ended up making a sketch of the jacket with each motif location indicated to ensure I didn’t place two of the same motif near one another!
After cutting the front, back and sleeve jacket pieces out of the blue toile, I pinned them together to assess the results. This also gave me an opportunity to try out the secondary fabric before cutting out the rest of the jacket pieces. Would the medallions and strong blue colors work for the side panels, front facings, inner pleat, or hood? I decided no, the blues would draw attention away from the primary fabric and didn’t blend well. I would use only the cherubs from the secondary toile and save the rest for another project.
Decisions made, I went back to the cutting table to position and cut the hood pieces, under collar and inseam pockets taking best advantage of the motifs left on the blue toile. Turning to the secondary fabric, again I fussy cut to ensure a full cherub motif would be included on each side panel and that a cherub would be visible on the inner pleat and each section of the hood.
The Flat Piping
After looking at the pinned together jacket, I decided that piping was needed to create definition between the upper and lower fronts/back and to set off the side panels. But what should it be? A search of my stash produced a leftover piece of black denim with white cross weave. The right side of the denim turned out to be too dark, but the color on the wrong side of the fabric was muted enough to bridge the black of the blue toile with the softer gray of the cherubs.
Since the fabric’s fold is what would show as piping, I tested and discovered that the denim looked very different when folded on the grain, on the cross grain, and on the bias. So many decisions! After seeking input from our community on Instagram and Facebook, I cut 1¾” wide bias strips for the piping.
As I was searching through my stash, I came across one other cotton fabric that could potentially by useful. It featured 5 to 10½” wide strips in several colors and textures, and one section (a strip of teal/turquoise blue) could work with my blue toile. I opted to use this fabric for the front and back facings and the upper collar for several reasons — it was less bulky than the upholstery weight toile; I couldn’t find a satisfactory way to position the motifs for the collar or facings; and it was a solid (more or less) color to relieve the eye from the toile busy-ness.
I am thrilled with my new spring jacket, but you can see how it mushroomed into a complicated project! In fact, too many details to cover in a single post, so look for a follow-up post about some of the jacket’s construction details and techniques. Find more detail photos of Carrie’s jacket posted to Instagram and Facebook!
Happy Spring Sewing! Carrie