Thursday, 6 February 2014

pimp your tweedy jacket... a tutorial

being an Upholsteress has many happy consequences above and beyond the joys of being absorbed in the pursuit of handworked excellence

take my wardrobe, for instance

it is largely made up of a combination of pre-loved skirts and frocks plundered from local second hand establishments (chosen for their quality and shed-dwelling practicality), nana knits, and interesting vests*. 
combined with odd former-office-dweller faves and a tendency to embellish pockets and cuffs with patches and crocheted frills, my whole wardrobe (which incidentally used to belong to doris) has started to take on the appearance of a dressing up box

this is a good thing. even especially hardworking upholsterers don't have a big fashion budget, so it's best to go off-piste

my favourite wardrobe staple is the Tweedy Jacket

Tweedy Jacket Number One

Tweedy Jacket Number One was begun about nine years ago, over several months and largely between late night baby feeds.
it teams up with jeans, frocks and skirts and indeed has become so important that, when it eventually started to show alarming signs of falling apart last year, Tweedy Jacket Number Two was begun. i still consider Number Two to be a work-in-progress.

Tweedy Jacket Number Two

Tweedy Jackets Numbers One and Two have inspired many curious comments, and i believe they have really helped establish my reputation as a 'creative soul'. indeedy, during important meetings with Lovely Ladies, much time is spent jacket-gazing. 

as explaining how to sew on a patch is daft, this tutorial is in the form of creative notes. 

Tweedy Jackets Numbers One and Two: A Tutorial  

me, right, wearing Tweedy Jacket Number One, with @theFarm soulmate Em modelling Number Two

start by gathering a little basket of vintage-y scraps of ribbon and fabric, odd buttons, sewing pins, needles and threads. keep this handy with the tweedy jacket by the sofa. note that jacket-pimping will take many evenings of pinning, planning and sewing.

Tweedy Jacket Number One

choose a tweedy jacket that fits beautifully and is as good quality as you can afford. be warned, it may be
 tempting to buy a vintage one but they can be a bit unyielding. this was brand new and already had button holes sewn at quirky angles and a jolly lining

start at the collar and begin by pinning a few pieces on to see what happens. the
trick is to avoid too much symmetry
TIP: sew through only one layer of tweed. this is especially important near pockets
the beautiful antique woven ribbon around the collar was bright and colourful when newly sewn on. it's now faded and looks even better. i bordered it with narrow velvet ribbon, which is a bit of a theme on Tweedy Number One. 

tweedy jackets are a good place for crafty corsages and brooches to live. while i would never sport a yellow
daffodil on a frock, it looks just fine on a tweedy lapel

don't scatter-gun patches just anywhere as they will look contrived and silly.
collars, cuffs and pockets are the best spots. this (now grubby) cuff has another patch of vintage frock 'butterfly' fabric as used on the collar, plus a length of pink velvet

pocket flaps are a joy. Number One already had contrasting button holes, so it got a snazzy button

cherry pick fabric motifs for small witty patches.
try layering up velvet in colourful non-matching patches.
and work by eye not tape measure for hand-sewn wonkiness is best
the little flap at the back is a great place for cheeky patching

Tweedy Jacket Number Two

Number Two also started out as a brand new jacket. it's a lovely fit, but hasn't quite softened into comfiness. i'm working on it...

unlike Number One, Two needed its browner tweediness cheering with bright patches of crimson and white. crochet, wooliness and embroidery all became themes

i started at the collar and covered most of it in a patchwork of random vintage scraps, the oldest being the black/red one which was found inside a little bedroom chair. i reckon it's 1920s
i made the heart to go on the sleeve (geddit?) but it was too big so it ended up inside

crochet a picot edge in fine silver grey sheeny yarn to outline the collar shape. it creates a lovely contrast against the black

a doodled embroidery patch found a home centre back of the collar

Number Two's pockets were less lovely than Number One's so i overlayed one with woolly jumper pockets...
...and a beady detail
and the other pocket got a collage of red linen, Liberty tana lawn bias binding and a hand-embroidered patch which was a gift from a very clever aunt
it's a joy
swap boring buttons for button-box faves. i reckon a few more faux buttons in between would work well here. i also snipped off a rather regimental black trim which originally went around the whole jacket and replaced it with teeny blanket stitch to help soften the look and feel
add cheeky back flap patches so it looks good from all angles

* i have a drawer full of colourful Molly & Isla vests and am rarely ever dressed without one. i'd recommend them to all shed dwellers. it's especially nice to know that this little clothing company is run by a very lovely and hardworking local lady called Julie

ps take a peek at Susan Penny Handmade Home sometime. it's a lovely new online magazine for lovers of stitching and dressmaking. 

pps one more thing… i love this photo of me and em building the @theFarm christmas tree, not least because both tweedy jackets got to be out at the same time


  1. Loving the photos - I need to get charity shopping!

  2. do. we've got some amazing ones nearby. heads up: some of the best are in Devizes x


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