And so the Nutcracker project continues. There was a borrowed Prince jacket, however, it was about 3 sizes too small. (Measurements anyone???? That’s just me, I know. Obsessive with the tape measure. They think I’m crazy. I’m such a micromanager. Inches make a difference!)
The Coach really wanted a red jacket. (I sort of thought we could upgrade the blue sequin Elle outfit from “What You Want”, but I was outvoted.). My initial hunt for a red jacket came up short. I looked through women’s blazers, vests (add some white sleeves and a jabot?), then I considered a long sleeved (ideally turtleneck) velour shirt or dress, maybe even a sweater? I struck out on everything. I really didn’t want to take the time to sew from scratch, and besides which, I didn’t have any nice red fabric in my stash. It did get to the point I thought I might actually have to, gulp, buy full price fabric at a legit fabric store.
THEN . . . we went out to dinner with my daughter in a different town. Since Goodwill was next door, after dinner we popped in and not only did I find TWO possible jackets, I also found a dress, AND they were all 1/2 price. SCORE!
Now . . . I admit, this was Tuesday. We got home and I sat down to watch the Election results as I worked on the jacket. In my growing dismay (yes, I am a liberal leaning moderate), I forgot to take beginning pictures.
This is the jacket I didn’t use. It is actually reasonably similar to the one I used. The main difference is that this has a more open shawl collar (I have folded this one up to approximate the other one) and only one button vs three. It also has a somewhat more fitted shape and no pockets (I lay a pocket from the jacket I used on the left side of this one). The jacket I used also had some darts in the front for shaping. I chose the one I used mostly for color. This one would have worked as well.
One of the first things I did was to measure the jacket. The main measurements I looked at were sleeve length, back width (across the shoulders) and chest size. In adapting the jacket I also used the nape-to-waist measurement. Back width can often easily be made somewhat smaller with a tuck down the back. This will shorten the sleeve length, so be sure to re-measure after that initial alteration. Another quick fix for a too-big jacket can be to raise the shoulders. It sounds crazy, but pinch the shoulder seam up and pin, and then extend the tuck down the sleeve, either tapering out, or sometimes extending all the way to the bottom. It raises the armsyce and can really solve all sorts of fit problems.
To begin, I took the pockets off. This was easier said than done. They had used tiny, tiny stitches in a tight bar tack on the corners of the pockets. I ended up alternating between my scissors and an exacto knife to try and pick them out. I did make a few small holes in the jacket. Partly it was the stitching and partly my deteriorating patience and frustration with the course of the voting results. For this purpose, it isn’t really a problem.
To make a stand up collar, I folded the original collar down to the inside and stitched.
I removed the buttons. I was able to try the jacket on someone of a similar size (my ever tolerant daughter), and decided the back was a bit boxy. A quick tuck down the center back seam did the trick. I didn’t trim the seam as I don’t know if dancer wearing this will need that back when he dances. The seam is abov the scissors point.
I transferred then nape-to-waist measurement to the jacket and marked it with a horizontal pin. I folded the bottom up to a 2-3″ line below the wasit-line pin and secured this with pins for the time being. Eventually, I hand hemmed this in place. I opted not to trim the bottom and re-hem by machine, mostly because I was unable to try it on the dancer who would be wearing it. This will allow me to make alterations if need be.
Next I added gold braid to the collar and down the front. I did make a mistake here. I opened the top lapels and layered one over the other to just make a flat front. I ran the braid down the edge, and it is at an angle. At the time I thought I would like that look, but, in retrospect, I wish I had run the braid straight down the front or left it off the front all together.
I used hologram glitter “pleather” (found in the craft section of Hobby Lobby for about $1.50 for an 8.5″ x 11″ piece) to make the base of the epaulettes. I measured the distance from the collar to the shoulder seam, and then free hand cut a pattern (on the fold, like cutting out a heart). After verifying I liked the shape of the pattern, I cut out the pieces and sewed gold fringe around the edge. I love this gold fringe and will be sad when it is gone. It was a donation to the school, and I have used it (and the same gold hologram sheets) to make banners for the High School and Middle School marching band, and a few other little things. But I digress . .. .
Back to the epaulettes . . . .
Once the epaulettes were done, I sewed them with one line of stiching on the shoulder seam. I opted to shape them wider at the shoulder and narrower at the neckline. I love this glitter pleather. It comes in all sorts of colors. It cuts easily and can be sewn, glued and washed. It glitters wonderfully under lights and it doesn’t stretch or fray.
I cut another pattern for the front trim, and messed around with the sizing. I then cut these out of the pleather. The lower two are simply divided in half. The upper one I cut once it was pinned onto the jacket to accommodate for the angle. I finished by adding a couple rows of braid around the bottom of the sleeves. The decorations are fairly simple, but, I think they will do what they need to do on the arena floor.
The top two button holes are covered by the pleather, the bottom one is zig-zagged shut. The lines where the pockets were and those little holes? You don’t even see them.
The jacket closes in the front with velcro. The top part overlaps. Below the angle, the velcro is sewn on so that fronts butt up with no overlap. To do this on one side (the top) the velcro is sewn on like normal. On the other side (the bottom), the velcro is sewn on right-side-to-wrong side right along the front edge so that it extends out and under the other side of the jacket. I used a solid piece of velcro since it will be worn while dancing, which may put added stress on the front.
The jacket may need a bit of fitting. If this were for a show, I would definitely shape the back a little more to make it more close fitting, but, since this is for a dance, I was reluctant to make it too tight since it doesn’t stretch.
Cost: jacket $2.5o, hologram pleather $3, gold braid $2, velcro $1.
Time: Once the pockets were removed, this took me less than 2 hours.
Overall, I was pleased with this upcycle. This was an easy way to make a “Prince jacket”. It could also be adapted for a band uniform or majorette, military or a Steampunk look. Features to look for include a front cut that allows the jacket to close completely in the front and a collar that adapts to a stand-up look. Front pockets can also be an issue. It is usually easy to remove patch pockets. Slash pockets and flaps can be minimized by sewing them shut. Take a critical look at the fabric, and consider how it fits into your desired look. The nice red velveteen of this jacket really added to the rich look of the Prince jacket.