Friday, August 24, 2012

so you think you can sew?

I did... and how wrong I was.

Meet the Luka Hoodie, from Sewing for Boys of course.  I probably wouldn't have thought to tackle this pattern if not for Boy oh Boy's sew-a-long.  Not because it's rated as an advanced pattern and I consider myself an adventurous beginner, but just because I didn't love the sample.

Now I don't normally put a lot (or any) stock in those "difficulty ratings" you find on patterns for sewing or knitting or anything really.  After all if you just take things one step at a time nothing is really that hard; it's all variations on the same thing.  That's what makes me an adventurous beginner (I don't consider myself an absolute beginner, but I've only been sewing since April so haven't felt that move to intermediate yet... though this jacket may be that stepping stone haha).

The pattern is written to use two contrasting colors, but not piping. Since I wanted to use one print for the whole jacket I thought I'd use piping to accentuate the cool details: raglan sleeves, pockets.

Of course I've never actually used piping before.  Can you see where this is going?

Yeah.  Not only did I want to use piping but I felt the need to make my own piping.  I feel like the sewing blogosphere gave me the (blatantly untrue) idea that adding (your own homemade) piping is easy.

Maybe that's a lie and I'm just hella cocky.  I'm not sure.  While this jacket has been lovingly dubbed amongst my family as "the jacket that almost killed me" and even though everything that could've gone wrong did, and even though it's got some glaring fuglies that I just can't bear to fix... I'm pretty excited.

It's soft, warm, cuddly, and it looks pretty good.  I made the 4/5 with some extra length for my 3 year old.  I'm glad I went with that size because it fits him bearably this year and maybe it will even see some wear next year.

And he likes it!  He doesn't like anything right now but I put this hoodie on him and you could actually see him start to cry and pull it off but then change his mind.  He hasn't even wanted to wear his store bought jackets for the past year.

His favorite part, of course, is the secret pocket.  Brilliant.  That's what you saw here and yeah, there's a big effing problem with this...

The problem with adding piping to a pattern that doesn't call for it?  You can't follow the same order of construction.  Or even method, in this case.  The top of that pocket should be prettily hidden beneath the top front of the jacket, but instead I had to top stitch it.  Of course, by the time I got to that point I forgot the fact that those diagonals are the other pockets and sewed the whole damn thing down, then had to go back and rip.

The outer fabric is a top sheet with a great animal print I found at the thrift for a whopping $5.  The lining is a penguin print flannel sheet that was also $5.  While I normally wouldn't spend so much on sheets when I have such a wide assortment of fabric already I didn't have anything that was fun, boyish, or flannel in stash.

I only used about half of each sheet, though, so there will be a matching backpack (hopefully).  I also found some self cover buttons for $2 of which I used 3 out of 7.  That brings the total cost of this hoodie to a whopping $6 (only counting half the sheets since I only used half).

Now that it's finished and it's on I don't think that the horrible glaring errors are all that noticeable, but I'd like to share anyway.  I like to think I'm normally less slapdash but I just wanted to finish this project before it killed me.  

Overdramatic much?  Yeah.

A lot of the problems could've been fixed but my lining fabric is too cheap and flimsy to hold up to a stitch ripper.  Some spots I tried to fix ended up with ugly holes.

Self cover buttons are hard and mine are poorly executed so I imagine I'll have some fraying

I added a placket under the buttons to keep the wind out but wasn't thinking too clearly (or planning ahead) and ended up having to cut the lining a little bit to make it functional.  Fortunately there was already a huge hole there between the lining and the outside  (inexplicably?) so I just kinda stitched it all down at the same time...  We'll see if it holds.

The button loops are backwards (just believe me) but I can't see undoing all that stitching

And just a word of advice: when it says make sure the sleeves don't get twisted, take it to heart.  I don't know what I did but I had a big jacket pretzel that was totally impossible to turn right side out.  You know those crazy brain teasers toys?  Like that.  I ended up cutting off the seam and finishing the sleeves like the bottom hem.  I lost some length, but fortunately I had added some length so they're just right.

Rooting around in the secret pocket
Fabric: Half of two queen size sheets (so one total?) and one fat quarter for the piping
Notions: 3 self cover buttons
Techniques used: Piping, my God, piping.  And covering buttons
Hours: I think days would be a more accurate assessment: 5 days total, a few hours a day (at most and never uninterrupted).  Let's say 15 hours.  It seems like so many more though. 
Will you make this again? Almost certainly; it's a great pattern.  Piping is not likely to make an appearance though
Total cost: $8 for half of two sheets, half a pack of buttons, and one fat quarter
Final thoughts: I want one of these!  It looks so comfy.


  1. I am SO impressed. I am currently ripping my entire project because I chose the complete wrong lining fabric and it was pulling at the outer layer. I love the piping detail and honestly, I can't see the flaws so I think you did a fabulous job. And don't worry about the loops and buttons. The diagram does not match the directions and so if you followed the directions, they ended up on the opposite side. Which makes no difference what-so-ever. Just figuring out how to get that lining sewn is a big accomplishment. I think you're ready to call yourself an intermediate sewer! Great job!

  2. Thanks so much! Embarrassingly enough the fact is that the button loops are... upside down? If there are instructions for that I must've skipped them. It makes it hard to get it buttoned but they function all right. Honestly it occurred to me I ought to go get some decent lining material and start over but I couldn't bear to rip the whole thing. The jacket almost ended up as a perma-UFO as it was so I just decided to plow through and I'm glad I did. It might not be perfect, but it's wearable! It does give me more confidence to tackle bigger projects, though.

  3. What a great jacket! I love the piping and I think you should reconsider not using it again :)

  4. Why thank you. I'm sure I will eventually get back around to using piping, just perhaps not with this pattern. Although the more he wears this jacket the happier I am with the outcome. Once I can step away from the process it's easier to appreciate the finished object.