I am really happy to report that I made it to Round 3 of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee! This was a “pattern” challenge – all of the participants received a copy of the Jalie Tania coatigan and had to find a way to make it unique.
This was an interesting challenge because we all are making the same pattern and have to find a way to make it really unique and special. My design ideas shifted about 20 times this week between getting the challenge, testing out the pattern, and finally starting construction. Overall I’m really happy with how it turned out and I’m glad I made the adjustments to my design ideas that I did.
I didn’t want to alter the starting pattern too much, so I focused on making it “my own” with fabric choice and embellishment. This is what I came up with:
I really love the embroidery details I added, even though the are subtle from a distance. It took a lot of time to get the designs to line up with the pattern, but I think it was worth the effort.
Pattern Description: From the pattern instructions: “Open-front, relaxed-fit unlined blazer that can be worn as a cardigan. Pockets in the diagonal seaming, special notched collar that lays flat against the neck. Very versatile, it can be made in a wool blend, a structured knit or linen.” The pattern notes that using the full bust measurement will result in a very relaxed fit whereas using an upper bust measurement will result in a closer fit. The pattern was provided to me as part of the third round of the Sewing Bee. I also bought and used the optional lining add-on pattern, which changes the coatigan from being unlined to lined.
Pattern Sizing: Jalie sizes for children from F-Q (approximately for ages 2-13) and for adults from R-GG (US sizes 2-24). I used my full bust measurement to start with a size BB at the shoulders, EE at the waist, and GG at the hips. This translates into a 18-22-24, which is pretty standard sizing for me right now. I used size GG for the sleeve as well. I did need to make a full bust adjustment (details below) but otherwise going with an intentionally oversized fit worked for me using these starting sizes.
Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions on the basic Tania pattern are fantastic and really clear and easy. The illustrations are also super helpful. I think the instructions on the lining pattern could be a bit confusing if you haven’t ever done a bag lining before. The lining instructions also tell you to complete up through step 14 (attaching the collar) from the original Tania pattern, but never tell you to also complete the steps to sew the sleeves and side seams (steps 18 and 19). However, the illustrations clearly show the sleeves complete before attaching the lining to the outer portion of the coat. Since I have made lined coats before I was ok with this and figured out how to mix and match the instructions from the different patterns, but I can see how it might be confusing for someone who has never done this process before.
Did it look like the photo/drawing when you were done with it? Yes! I think it really showcases the design lines of the Tania and emphasizes the seams with the contrast fabrics.
What did you particularly like/dislike about the pattern? I really love the in-seam pockets and how well the drafting works to get all the pieces to fit together. While the oversized boxy style isn’t what I’m typically drawn to, I actually think it works nicely here with the really graphic lines, and the oversized fit is super comfortable. If I had chosen to leave the pattern unlined, then it also would have been really fast to sew, and a great design for doing fancy seam finishes, which is also great!
Materials used: I used a ponte knit for the upper half and a poly bouclé for the lower half. Both of these were leftovers from previous projects. I was really excited to be able to use these fabrics again because they are some of my favorite colors and the original projects I used them for didn’t end up working out for me, but now these fabrics are in a garment I will wear a lot! I also used a black poly lining, black embroidery thread, and some fusible interfacing to complete the project.
Pattern alterations or design changes you made: When I first did a sample of the pattern I noticed some fabric bunching under the arm and that the pattern rode up in the center front because I needed a full bust adjustment. I’m sure it’s not the “proper” way to deal with this, but I basically slashed and spread the pattern at the bust line and added a wedge of 1.25” on the center front down to no additional length at the side seam. I needed to make the same adjustment on the front facing and front lining pieces. Because the back and side seams fit so well I didn’t want to make any other fit adjustments to the pattern, even though this isn’t the method for full bust adjustment that I’ve ever seen recommended in other places, it seemed to make the most sense in how to alter the pattern but keep the design lines intact. In terms of last-minute alterations of necessity for the Bee, I also added an “inner cuff” to the sleeve lining that is about 0.75” wide. I did this because I incorrectly measured the muslin and probably should have added length to the sleeves but didn’t, and the placed my embroidery too low on the sleeve pattern. In order to keep the embroidery design visible, I needed to add length to the inside of the sleeve pattern and used this simple workaround to keep everything the length I needed. As a minor change, I understitched the inside of the collar and did not topstitch the upper center front because I did not want to interfere with the embroidery designs.
How did you make this pattern your own? I really wanted to keep the original design lines of the Tania and challenge myself to make this pattern work for me in terms of other design choices. I thought the best way to make it “mine” would be to use colors, fabrics, and embellishments that would obviously be my style. Of course, I had to make it in a teal color. It’s almost become a joke that if a teal fabric exists, I probably have some of it in my stash somewhere. Even though I love lots of other colors, I think that this is certainly a signature color of mine. Another thing I love is fabric with texture. Even though I live in a warm climate, I have a lot of boucle fabric in my stash because I think it is so beautiful. I really love the mix of color and texture in boucle. It’s something I keep buying and “saving” for that perfect project. Mixing the boucle with the knit gave me the best mix of cozy comfort and a pop of colorful elegance. Trying to find that “elevated casual” style is something I’ve tried to achieve but struggled with in the past; I think this coatigan really achieves it though! I also added embroidery to emphasize the design lines of the Tania and elevate the style a bit. I think the embroidery really is the design element that makes it feel super unique for me. To top it off I also added a custom label to the inside back facing, which really makes the whole thing feel very custom and very special.
Special Techniques: I have never created a split-hoop embroidery design before, but I wanted to do something special for this project that would really showcase the design lines. I used two embroidery designs I had purchased off Etsy to create the embroidery, but created custom design files to fit the embroidery on my pattern pieces. I’ve been following a lot of historical embroidery accounts online, and was really inspired by the idea of completing the embroidery before cutting out the pattern pieces from the fabric. I took photos of my pattern (with 10cm scales drawn on them) to scaled them up in my digitizing software so they would be accurate representations of the size of the patterns. Because of the size of the pattern pieces, I had to split the front and back into 3 hooped designs each, and also 2 hoopings for each sleeve and the collar. Learning how to accurately re-position my pattern pieces was very tricky and getting everything done for the final garment took a lot of effort. I had to re-embroidery and re-cut the front right side, the collar, and also the left sleeve to get everything to line up correctly. I also had to play with a lot of settings to get my design to work well for being embroidered on the ponte knit. Ultimately, I ended up using a cut-away stabilizer along with medium weight fusible interfacing on the back of the embroidery design area to get the designs to stitch out properly without distorting the knit.
Would you sew this again? Would you recommend it to others? When I first saw this pattern, my thought was that it would be a great travel garment. It would be an easy pattern to wear while also being comfortable, looking put together, easy to take on and off for security, and it has pockets. However, I also prefer that my travel garments are a bit more subdued, so I didn’t think that this inspiration would be a good starting point for a challenge that was about making a garment “my own” style. All of which is a long round-about way of saying, yes, I think I will make this again, but probably with less flashy outsides and possibly more pockets on the inside. There are other pattern reviews for the Tania that have done this brilliantly (and I expect more to come with the other Bee entries!) and they are a great inspiration for this future project. I would also highly recommend this pattern to others. I think the unlined version would be an excellent first jacket pattern for someone, and that the lined version would be a great way for an intermediate sewist to level up their skills by learning how to bag a lining.
Conclusion: I’m so happy I was able to make this coatigan! Even though there were definitely a few points at which I wanted to rage quit (mostly when embroidery disasters necessitated re-cutting of pattern pieces), I am so happy I persevered. Without this challenge I don’t think I ever would have made this pattern, but I actually really love it and want to make another one soon. This challenge also pushed me to learn more about how to do multi-hoop embroidery, which has been a goal of mine since I got my embroidery machine years ago! I feel like I have learned a lot from this round of the Bee, and I am excited to learn more and improve my embroidery skills in the future. In terms of the garment itself, the in-seam pockets are probably my favorite detail that was part of the original design, and the embroidered collar is definitely my favorite embellishment add-on for my personal design. I’m also so happy I was able to dig these fabrics out of my stash and find a good use for them. While this project is certainly one that I have only made because of the Bee, I think it might have resulted in one of the most wearable garments I have! I can certainly wear this to work and look fabulous, but also be comfortable. For me it hits that perfect balance between elegant and casual, which is something I struggle with often when trying to pick out wardrobe items to make or wear. I’m so happy with my new coatigan and I can’t wait to wear it out and about soon!
Is this garment a “Triumph of Individual Style”? In terms of line, I don’t know if I would consider it a “triumph”, but in terms of color, texture, and fun it’s an unexpected win. I am happy I went with the oversized slouchy look – I think that actually really helps it work bette for me and my style.