Strangers UFO Jacket = complete!

Finally, after picking this project up and putting it down again several times, the Strangers UFO Jacket is now complete!

And yes, this was a Sew Weekly challenge creation – for last week’s 1970’s theme, although it turns out that it also fits this weeks Plaid theme quite nicely too. (Not that that’s going to stop me from making something completely different for the Plaid theme this week. I even know exactly what I’m making for it, and plan to start tomorrow.) Sadly I’m quite late putting my challenge creation up this week – I had an entire week where I didn’t get a chance to get to my sewing machine (and yes, I was suffering withdrawal pangs!) or my blog. Sometimes, life just gets like that. (And also explains why the photos for this post aren’t all that good – I’m aiming to have some nice ones again for the next creation, I promise!)

The Facts

  • Fabric: tartan wool that was already pre-cut when I got it (approx $3), and around 1-2 metres of purple lining (approx $3)
  • Pattern: Simplicity 7349, attached to the fabric when I got it
  • Year: 1976
  • Notions: five green buttons from my button jar
  • Time to complete: no idea, but I’m guessing around 6-8 hours?
  • Will I wear it? I plan to for Self-Stitched September, even though I’m not loving it as much as I would have liked to
  • Total cost: around $6

The Story
I quite like the story behind this one. It makes me smile, wearing a piece of some other seamstresses history. 🙂

A while back, I volunteered to help run a charity table at a fabric sale. While sorting out the fabric for sale, I unearthed a bundle of woolen tartan fabric, all cut out and with a pattern attached to it. Which I then bought myself, since the fabric was nice, I’d been meaning to make myself a jacket, it was my size, and I liked the idea of putting the puzzle together with no real idea of what it was meant to look like or how to construct it. (Yeah, turns out I like challenges.)

I did a bit of digging on the Vintage Patterns Wiki and found an image of what it should look like – an unlined smock style jacket with a detachable hood. Hmmm. ‘Smock’ style. Oh well, since I had it, I figured I’d try making it up and see what happened. I also found out that the pattern was from 1976 – the idea that some unknown woman may have cut this out, all ready to sew up, around the time my mother was pregnant with me appealed to my random sense of history quite a lot. I wish I knew more about who that mystery woman was….

The Making

Making up the jacket was simple enough, even without instructions. (Admittedly, I tend to ignore most instructions anyway. Which can be ok, and sometimes ends in, shall we say, interesting results for some seams and facings.)

I wasn’t too sure about the smock style though and had a feeling that would need to be changed. Sure enough, after stitching up the sides, I decided (unsurprisingly) that the smock style looked utterly dreadful on me, so I took it in by quite a bit and whacked around 8cm off the bottom. Much better. 🙂

The concept of an unlined woolen jacket didn’t really appeal much. So I used the pattern pieces I had and cut some lining. I ended up fully lining the jacket, which was a good learning experience and turned out a heck of a lot better than I thought it would! I attached the lining and the shell around the front and base, then turned the sleeves in through the neckline to attach the lining to them. The only part that wasn’t attached from the inside was a section of the hood, although since I had to top-stitch the edge of the hood to get it to lie flat anyway that all worked out fine. I’m really proud of my lining – done without the right pattern pieces, with no instructions, and with just a 2-second glance at a tutorial on the internet. It’s purple, I think it’s lined quite well, and it makes me smile. I’m no longer scared of lining jackets – in fact, I may have to do another one soon, just for the practice….

I don’t really like the concept of detachable hoods – it seems a bit pointless to me. So instead I did away with the jacket collar and fastened the hood directly onto the neckline. Yay, now the jacket has a permanent hood! Albeit a rather oversized one. Which may be helpful for wearing over vintage hair styles, so that’s a good thing.

Sadly the sleeves are too short, even with using the bare minimum seam allowance on them. Not surprising though – it was cut out years ago for someone else, and my arms are silly-long anyway, so I’m used to several centimetres of my wrists sticking out the end of sleeves. *sigh* The one issue with making up a long-sleeved pattern that someone else has cut out…..

I was originally planning on using the buttons that the lovely Meg sent me for the world travelling lace and notions swap. In fact, I’d decided to use those lovely buttons right back when I started making the jacket and had been waiting for the moment I could sew them on. But then, it turned out they were too big for my sewing machines button hole attachment. Argh!! The idea of this being a problem had never occurred to me, and it was too late to do bound button holes. 😦 So Meg’s lovely buttons will have to wait for another project, and I ended up digging through my button jar to find a set of (nearly) matched dark green buttons instead.

The Verdict
While I’m quite proud of myself for having constructed this with no instructions, and lining it fully, there are sadly a few things I’m not so happy with, most of which were out of my control. Firstly, the sleeves – they’re just too short. I’m wondering if I can take the collar pieces I didn’t use and somehow extend them. Although then I’d lose the current finish on them. It’s a bit of a no-win situation sadly, but I’ll see what I can do – probably having a seam is better than having my wrists sticking out and getting cold.

The fit isn’t quite right – I’m an hourglass shape, and the loose line of this just doesn’t really suit me. I’ve kept the 8cm wide piece I cut off the bottom of the jacket, and I’m considering making a belt to cinch it in with for when I wear it with things that aren’t trousers.

The plaid doesn’t match up perfectly. Not a lot I can do about this one, though – it’s just how the fabric was cut out many many years ago, so I’m just having to roll with that one.

It’s a comfy jacket though, and I like the colours (and the massive hood!), so I’m going to be wearing it during September and I’ll see if it grows on me or repels me by the end of the month. 🙂 I don’t think I’ll make the pattern up again though – it’s just not a good cut on me.

14 responses to “Strangers UFO Jacket = complete!

  1. I love it and the story is great! How cool to find somethign that has such great colors for you!

  2. Well I think it looks good on you and your styling is awesome, esp. the fingerless gloves. 🙂

  3. What a brave challenge to tackle, Kat! And it turned out really well despite all those things you couldn’t really do anything about. First dibs if you find you hate it by the end of September! 😉

  4. I adore this jacket – there are just no words for how fantastic I find it! I love how you styled it even though the sleeves are too short – I always add a sweater in situations like that, or some really fantastic gloves. Good call on the detachable hood – I like permanent hoods much better. I love your dark green buttons! They make the green in the plaid POP! And those buttons will always be available to you 🙂 I actually think you matched up the plaid quite well – in the last picture, it looks like the stripes are even across your sleeves and chest. Well done, I say!!!

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  6. Well, since I was a young adult in 1976, and an avid seamstress myself back in those days, I remember that the smock style of jacket always had wider and shorter than normal sleeves (three quarter length). I don’t think that the sleeves were cut for some short-armed person. You did a great job of putting this one together!

    • Thanks Anna! That’s interesting to know about the style – this is the first time I’ve come across the smock jacket style, so thank you for the insight! The sleeve length makes more sense to me now. 🙂

  7. Kat I agree with the other girls! It looks awesome! You have done a fabulous job with what you had. About the sleeves, what about a long cuff of black ribbing? That would make the jacket more casual, and would give the sleeves a kind of puff at the bottom though…

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