Making of a “Fortuny” Fleece

I’ve always had a thing for unique fashion. I like pieces that evoke a particular era or are feminine, or artsy. Things that don’t end up being useful for everyday life. I have a 1920’s style dress that’s been sitting in my closet for years. Never wore it once. I don’t have occasion to wear it. I can’t get rid of it either. I like it too much. Maybe one day I’ll just say ‘what the heck’ and wear it to the supermarket.

I also like to think I’m creative and can make things. Sometimes my opinion of myself is much better than my ability. I have sewn in the past. There was a pocket of time when I had plenty of space in my schedule to buy patterns and fabric and spend whole days whipping out a simple skirt or costume. Then I got a life-consuming job and I am very rusty.

In the last 6 years I’ve simply collected all sorts of sewing magazines and Pinterest pins of projects I felt I could do one day when I got what seemed like a mythical regular schedule again.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to attempt it. One magazine, Altered Couture, had this awesome, long patchwork jacket on it’s cover.

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From Altered Couture Winter 2017

And I’d recently seen some deceptively easy circular pattern jackets on Pinterest.

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Of course, I thought I could do it.

Right.

First, I wasn’t going to have much time to work on it, so fancy patchwork was out. I also wasn’t going to have the patience–and I’ll admit ability–to make a lined circular thing with any kind of neatness involved. The next issue was going to be finding the material when I’m in the middle of the busiest season at my job and have no time to get to the fabric store.

I look in my closet and find this big piece of fabric from way back when I had the delusion to think I could create myself a Regency style fleece bathrobe with little more than an ancient drawing of a pattern and heart. Ha! I’m so glad I didn’t go there. Can you picture a floor-length, empire waist, back-gathered, robe in polar fleece? Um, nope.

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Anyway, this project seemed ideal for fleece. No having to figure out how to make nice circular edging or opting for what might end up being miles of bias.

Then the next challenge came along. The instructions given in the magazine were definitely for someone who had a little bit more skill than I ever had. Still, Google is my friend, and I felt able enough to cut a circle, so I went for it before I chickened out. I guess that the diameter should be from that bone that sticks out at the base of my neck to the length I would like it (to my calves), plus the width of the collar/sleeve I’d like.

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Next part in the process is to make sleeve holes that are really giant buttonholes. My best clue to measurements besides ‘bra height’ is the picture from Pinterest. Unfortunately, it’s from a Cyrillic language website, so I take my cues from the image. I measure my desired back length, find my bra height, measure shoulder to shoulder. Turns out to be very close to the Pinterest illustration. These huge arm buttonholes get reinforced with straight stitching, zig-zag stitching, and bias tape. The bias tape also conveniently hides my stitching boo-boos. Also, there’s no way I’m going to be able to tackle sleeves without a pattern.

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With the sleeve holes done–which don’t stand up to close photographic scrutiny, by the way–I decide to add some weight to the edge of the piece. I worry that otherwise, I’ll just have edges that curl in after a couple of wears. This turns out tedious because circumferences are deceptively loooong. And I’m out of practice. I can’t figure out a good speed for the machine that’s not too slow, but not so fast that I go off-track. Which I do. Which makes me back track and re-do a couple of times.

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Finally, it’s almost done, and all I have to figure out is how I’m going to wear it so I can add a fastener. Maybe I didn’t make it right, maybe it’s the material, or maybe it’s just the way I’m built, but I find the beautiful fold-over collar style in the original magazine inspiration doesn’t work for me. What’s great about this piece, though is that it could be worn in a few different ways. I’ve even made the collar long enough to convert into a hood. I finally settle on a scrunch collar overlap style, that flatters my figure a bit. A dart keep the waves in place, a fastener goes inside to hold up the inside flap, a large scarf broach will hold the front part down looking like a large button.

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And there you go, my first sewing project that brings me out of way too many years of crafting hibernation. Not perfect, but much better than should be expected from my actual talents.

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