Why My Jacket Became a Vest- A Lesson in Pre-shrinking

I was anxious to try out the Colbert Jacket Style M1006 pattern from My Image magazine, and knew I wanted it to be black, after Dei at SewHotMommi blog wrote a post about every woman needing a LBJ (Little Black Jacket).  I had a pretty loosely-woven basket weave black wool in my stash that I could envision as a jacket.

So excited to make this jacket, I didn't want to take the time to preshrink the fabric.  After cutting, I decided that ALL of the pieces needed to be interfaced, as the fabric didn't have the substance it needed by itself, and would just be a wrinkly mess without completely interfacing every piece.

At this point, a little bell went off in my head.  "You better not use any steam to fuse this interfacing, as this wool is too loosely woven and is going to shrink like crazy."  So, I did "dry" fuse the interfacing, and could clearly see the interfacing bubbling where the fabric had already begun to shrink underneath it, even with no steam, just heat.
 In complete denial, I forged ahead sewing with the regular seam allowances.  After all the major seams were done, I tried it on.

HAHAHA!  The sewing gods were laughing at me.  This was now two sizes too small.  I thought about stopping right there and pitching the project.  But, the fabric was really beautiful, so I ripped out every stinking princess seam and sewed them back up again with the teeniest seam allowance that I could get away with.  The fronts now met.  There would be no overlap, but I figured I could put a jacket hook and eye for a closure instead.

The teeniest seam allowance on the sleeve was still not enough to get it to fit.  I could barely get my arms in it.  So, it was either cut a new sleeve out of a different black fabric (I had no sizable scraps from the original), or forgo the sleeve altogether and make a vest.

As you can see, I opted for the vest, and I'm actually really happy with it!  I don't own many vests, and now I'm wondering why.  It actually warms you up quite a bit, and isn't nearly as formal or restrictive as a jacket.  I'm wearing this one with the wrap top from the same issue.

Lesson learned- if in doubt, pre-shrink!  Most wools won't shrink this much, which is why I rarely do it, but from my experience, the more loosely woven they are, the more they will shrink.  Pendleton wools come "ready to sew", which is one reason why I love their wools so much- no worries.   There are lots of ways to pre-shrink wool, but unfortunately, they are all time consuming.

Closer view of notched collar.
I am going to have to go back and try this jacket pattern one more time before I can give an accurate review.  The only problem (not of my own making) that I encountered was that there were no markings for where to place the pockets.  I just placed them at the high hip level, as that felt comfortable to me.   I think that this is a great basic pattern that you could make a little different each time by substituting some pocket variations, as well as length variations. 

Here's a closer view of the notched collar, and you can see my fabric texture here better too.

In the long run, this all worked out, as I'm going to love this vest!  Have any of you ever had this problem?


  1. Oops! It sure turned out cute tho - great save.

  2. I can see why you worked to hard to save this fabric - it's lovely!! I think the vest was a great save. It looks very chic.
    Thanks for previewing this magazine for us!! A little birdie told me I might be seeing it under the Christmas tree, so I'm very excited, and seeing all the wonderful garments you are making is so fun!!

  3. Fantastic save, the vest is darling. I ordered this magazine a couple of days ago, can't wait to get my hands on it, looks so fun.


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