This is the Sundance Jacket from Greenstyle Designs. I can't remember how I found it, but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to make one up. It is such a beautiful design, with lovely, sporty seaming. I was a bit nervous about it-- you never know with a new pattern company, and there aren't many versions in the blogosphere who aren't pattern testers.
Let me tell you, this pattern is AWESOME. It went together like a dream. Well thought out, well drafted, good directions, and a pretty good sew along. I love the length in the back, and the slight flare from the hips.
The awesomeness started with putting together the PDF pattern. It was designed to go together with NO CUTTING. Sweet. I often put them together without cutting even when they are not designed for this, using the slight translucency of regular printer paper to line things up and tape them in place. But I just love a designer who sets up their pattern for fast taping with no cutting!
With all those pieces, I was worried about fit and also making sure things lined up. I seriously considered making a muslin, but I came to the conclusion that it would be pretty pointless since the stretch of any cheap knit in my collection would be quite different from the performance supplex I planned to make the real thing out of.
Instead of making a muslin, I painstakingly basted together my pieces before doing any real sewing. The fit was spot on, just perfect. Even the sleeves, which are often a problem for me since I have thick upper arms, were perfect. The length was perfect. The one thing the muslin told me, though, was that my lighter fabric (the scrollwork fabric) felt a bit too light on its own.
Let me diverge for a moment to discuss fabrics. I'm pretty picky about performance fabrics. I have a long history with performance gear-- it might be hard to tell with my life and interests right now, but I used to spend 3-5 hours a day and every weekend working out or engaged in outdoor related sports. I taught and competed. I was very into climbing, trail running, skiing (cross country and telemark), kayaking, mountain biking, and lately, road cycling and spinning. I lived in my workout and outdoor clothes, and it was pretty much all I bought. My last obsession, before I stopped buying RTW, was Lululemon, and I still have a great collection of workout wear that is still going strong, all of it at least 4-6 years old.
I hate slick, shiny workout fabrics... they feel cheap and yucky to me. Most of what I've seen sold as workout fabrics falls into this category. 2 way stretch is a no-go. The only stuff I've found that I like comes from Peak Performance Fabrics in CA, from their supposed Lululemon fabrics. It is entirely plausible to me that these fabrics are the real deal, they have a lovely cottony hand (and no cotton!), amazing recovery, and seem fairly durable (so far). This stuff is not cheap-- the black pant-weight supplex is CAD $27/yard. The exchange rate helps, but the shipping is killer.
For this jacket I had in mind the pant weight black Lulu supplex, which is nearly like a ponte, and a lovely green and burgandy scrollwork medium weight supplex. I knew the medium weight was a bit iffy for the Sundance jacket... and that seemed true in my basted together test. The other bummer for this fabric is that it was a one-sided print... the back side was white, which just looked pretty lame in an unlined jacket.
But, I just happened to also have a coordinating solid burgandy medium weight supplex... so I decided that I would underline the scrollwork fabric.
I cut out all the requisite pieces from the burgandy solid supplex, then basted the scrollwork and burgandy together so that I could treat them as one piece. The exception was the front panels. For the front panels, I used the burgandy as a lining, sandwiching the zipper in between the outer scrollwork fabric and the inner solid burgandy. Then, I caught the edge of the burgandy fabric when I topstitched the princess seams on the front of the jacket. That was a bit of a hope and a prayer-- and lots and lots of pins-- since I had to do the topstitching from the outside and catching the burgandy was totally by feel. It turned out pretty okay, just a tiny bit of a waver on the inside seam.
The other difficulty of the scrollwork fabric is that it definitely demanded pattern matching, especially down the back seam and around the center front zipper. I cut it out single layer, one piece at a time, making sure they would match when seam allowances were taken into account. When I put them together, I used Wonder tape to make sure I had the sides lined up before I stitched. The end result is pretty darn good! There are some places that irk my perfectionist self, but generally I'm pleased.
For the front zip, I used a Riri zipper. I'm so glad I did, I just looooove it on this design. I used a little circle pull, which totally says sporty to me. The finish on these zippers is just unlike anything else, and they are super smooth.
Speaking of zippers, the zipper insertion in the front is perhaps one of my best to date. The top and bottom line up perfectly (it is a bit hard to see with the zipper guard in place). The two sides are quite even. I interfaced like crazy... both the scrollwork fabric and the lining were interfaced with strips of light weight knit interfacing. The zipper guard is also fully interfaced. Lots of wash-away wonder tape was involved too. Interestingly enough, I did the top stitching without my zipper foot... it actually seemed to work better, and come out straighter.
Another detail I love... zippered side pockets. This was probably the hardest part, and involved the most seam ripping, mostly because the instructions didn't say to interface, and I didn't follow my instincts. So the first try went all wonky, and I painstakingly undid it all. Then I interfaced both sides with strips of light weight knit interfacing. The second time went much better! I still had trouble at the bottom of the zipper where it intersects with the side seam, so I did that last half-inch with hand stitching. That was the only way I could get it to lie perfectly straight. I used invisible zippers, which weren't what the pattern called for... but it was what I had on hand, and I'm not sure if that might be the cause of my troubles.
I made the pocket bag for the pockets out of a light weight black supplex, also from the Lulu fabrics at Peak Performance Fabrics.
I just loooove the pockets... just in the right place, big enough to put your whole hand in, and I love having a zippered pocket in my workout gear to keep my phone or key secure in.
The other super cool feature-- thumbholes. I've never made them before, but I love them on my workout gear. Greenstyle had a cute video to show you how to do it, it worked like a charm. The one thing I couldn't figure out was whether they thumbholes were supposed to line up with the inner seam of the sleeve, and in looking at my other workout gear I decided that actually, it would be more ergonomically correct to have the thumbholes about an inch turned out from the inseam, so that is what I did.
Another thing I love about this pattern is that it included a pattern piece for a bottom facing. What an elegant way to finish the hem. I ended up doing a double line of twin-needle stitching to secure the hem facing, which is probably and unsual choice but I think it looks rather nice.
When I was playing with color blocking possibilities, it occurred to me that I could have chosen to put some burgandy on the outside. But I think I like my design choice to have the burgandy just peeking out every now and then.
I think I'm really going to enjoy this jacket for spring workouts. It is just the perfect thing to throw on over a sleeveless workout top to take the chill off of the beginning and end of workouts. And should I decided to leave it on, it should breathe really well since it is unlined wicking fabric.
Oh, and if anyone knows other places to get really high quality wicking performance fabric in the US, please let me know in the comments. Greenstyle mentioned Zenith and Quasar, has anyone used their fabric?