Republique du Chiffon Bernadette Jacket (again!)
Well here we go AGAIN – just another tried and trusted quilted Republique du Chiffon Bernadette Jacket – to really shake things up.
Not that I’m counting, but this is the sixth Bernadette we’ve featured on these pages, and I can’t entirely promise it will be the last. What can I say, it’s a handy jacket. This one almost didn’t happen – I held out for ages after coveting this wintery check version that Klarissa made last year, and making these two small versions for my two small people. As summer approached I was keen to have a lightweight quilted jackety something in my cupboard for cooler nights (hey, it’s Melbourne). And I wanted a sweet floral fabric, inspired very much by this lovely jacket, with some sort of contrasting lining. But I struggled to commit because I decided it was just too lame to make a jacket that matched the ones my kids wore. Having matching daughters is one thing, but the whole matchy mother-daughter thing? For me, it’s a step too far (unless you’re Beyonce and Blue Ivy – who are exempt. From all rules for normal humans. Oh – and the Groovybabies, who are basically the sewing world’s equivalent of Bey n Blue).
So I carried my little jacket idea in my head, felt vaguely wistful every time my kids wore theirs, and kept on sewing other stuff. But then some work travel came up – to a country with a hot climate and a modest dress code. I’m always a bit stumped with this wardrobe brief as most of my summer stuff is sleeveless. There’s also the challenge of dealing with stinking hot outside and Arctic-level air-con inside, all while covering up. I decided I needed the jacket. After all, I could just wear it overseas, where no one would know about matching my kids….
Of course I tried to make the whole thing to a ridiculous deadline. Choosing the main fabric was easy, but I had trouble with the lining fabric as I wanted a big, fun contrast but couldn’t think beyond blue (I rarely can). Klarissa convinced me to go for something stripey and pink which I tracked down at Miss Matatabi. I ordered the fabrics online – the Nani Iro Lei Nani was from the Drapery (sold out now I think, but you can get it here) – and I grabbed the chambray on a quick trip to Tessuti. I hassled my local quilting shop to find the thinnest, least warm quilt padding possible. I harassed Klarissa for tips on quilting and full-size Bernadette construction (hint – when you ignore the lining, it’s the same as the kid size). And then I tried to quilt the fabric, sew a jacket, Hong-Kong bind all the seams and cut and hand-stitch metres of binding – two days before my flight. Needless to say, it was a big, fat fail. I didn’t finish the jacket and did the work trip with only a light cotton cardi for cover. I coped.
Maybe the whole deadline experience was too traumatic, because I didn’t pick up the project when I got home and it sat unloved and unfinished for months. It’s only recently as autumn’s crept up that I’ve remembered a lightweight jacket would be useful – coincidentally just as both my girls have decided they’re ‘too old’ for theirs (errr…what does that make me?).
Returning to finish this project in recent weeks has reminded me of the perils of deadline-sewing. I think all my construction methods were sound (I just copied Klarissa’s adjustments and process, which she outlines here), but I rushed and on close inspection, I think it shows a little.
My quilt lines don’t perfectly match across the front pieces (btw, a friend with proper sewing skills pointed out that the layers tend to react in a more cohesive way if you quilt on the bias. NEXT TIME). My Honkers binding is a little lumpy and uneven. And the denim binding is a little uneven across the curved lapel edges. But guess what? I have to report back from the field and admit I get compliments every time I wear it. Every single time. I suspect this is because most people I encounter in life don’t spend hours gazing at fabrics and have never seen a Nani Iro print as deeply gorgeous as this one*. With its lovely silvery metallic highlights and intense blue-ness it’s a praise magnet I tell ya, and clearly blinds passers-by to any little flaws in the sewing. This time around, I’ll settle for that. And next time? I solemnly vow to try not to deadline sew nearly as often as I do!
*If you’re looking for something in this fabric that’s truly praiseworthy – please sigh over this wedding dress, made by the bride herself. Gush away ladies.)