Tag Archives: Jalie

Why Sewing is like Architecture

I’ve been practicing architecture now for over 30 years which is quite a long time. I hadn’t realized I had hit that mark until I started writing this post! Periodically I think about how my profession is similar to sewing. They both have a combination of design, craft, construction, and accountability.

1. We start with a client with a need. For sewing the client is mostly me and I have a list of needed garments, but it could be my LH needing new PJ’s, or my son needing a sheep costume or cape.

2. We then figure out the program such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, or number of stories or apartments. For sewing we figure out what kind of functional requirements there are such as “mustn’t be itchy” or wash’n wear, or “must have iPhone sized pocket”.

3. Then the fun part, the design. We design within the clients’ parameters given above, but then we get to decide whether the jacket has a peplum or if the pants have cuffs. We can go wild or be conservative.

4. What materials will be used? Wood flooring and ceramic tile, or wool and silk? What will support that fancy cantilevered top? Is it a steel beam or steel boning? What is stiffening the skirt?

5. How sustainable will the project be? Will we be using reclaimed timbers, or Goodwill finds? Will we be using natural fibers or plastics that don’t biodegrade?

5. We build small scale models of our buildings to make sure everyone likes what we’ve designed before the real one gets built. This is similar to the muslin test phase where we might remove and replace different components to get the fit or proportions we are looking for.

6. We draw up the final plans and elevations, and draft up the different pieces so we know what size to build.

7. We finalize the design details such as the selection of door hardware or closures like zippers or buttons.

8. We spend an enormous time creating construction details.  These explain exacty how the parts and pieces get put together.  When constructing a garment I actually draw little sections and details to confirm the final number of layers of fabric in a seam or to determine the order of construction.

  Section at pockets of Jalie Denim Jacket

 So here’s the thing: These days I spend most of my work life with email, accounting, and meetings.  I don’t get to design and draw anymore so sewing brings me back to my creative roots whether it’s with a pen and paper or a needle and thread. 


Turquoise Jeans Jacket – Jalie 2320 Frankenpattern

This jacket has been in the sewing room for eight months now and I was on the verge of pitching it several times.   It’s not like me to have UFO’s hanging around. Things will often come back for changes or alterations, but nothing has ever sat here and taunted me, unfinished, like this one.


Wanted! Jeans jacket with curvy feminine fit, interesting style lines and details, a yoke, and fitted sleeves. There was an article in Threads #123 on jeans jackets and they compared the fit of several brands. This led me to make muslins of the following:

  • Silhouettes jeans jacket – too plain/simple, boxy fit.
  • Burda Young 7018 – too plain/simple, no pockets!
  • Jalie 2320 – nice style lines with inset front panel, welt pockets and pocket flaps, but a boxy fit with shallow sleeve caps.


For the final pattern I used BurdaStyle 02/2011 #127 (soon to be posted) for the two-piece collar, two-piece sleeves, and shaped fit.  I then redrafted it with most of the style lines and details of the Jalie. I also made a contoured waistband which none of the others had and I think that makes a big difference.

The fabric is an inexpensive home-dec fabric, a cotton twill with ZERO give. Mistake. I think I got it at Osgood’s in Western Mass.

Except for adding a matching lining, most of the construction techniques follow the Jalie instructions. I still wanted the pockets to be accessible from the inside like the Jalie pattern so I did some special sequencing and made it work with the lining. You can see I added a plaid binding to the pocket edge on the inside.  The buttons are typical metal jeans buttons.  I really don’t like the way the collar, cuff and waistband are put on.  It’s all traditional jeans jacket construction with all the visible stitching but I couldn’t figure out a better way.  I added a sleeve head too; I know, don’t say it….


What got me hung up for so long was the topstitching, especially at the collar and placket which was nasty. I ended up doing it four times and it’s still not up really up to my standards. My original plan was to find a heavy top stitching thread that matched the fashion fabric but it was nowhere to be found. I also tried a triple stitch and different needles. I tried a darker thread to see if it would be less noticeable and ended up with a cotton thread a shade lighter than the fashion fabric. Grrrr. My machine just doesn’t like anything over three layers of this stuff. I haven’t had trouble with denim in the past so I thought this would be fine.


Hmm.., looks like I STILL need to slope the shoulders some more, and possibly do a tiny FBA. I can still see some horizontal wrinkles just below the arm on the right side. I could take in the sleeves a bit and narrow the back.

I will definitely be making another one of these now that I have the pattern and fit mostly worked out, but I won’t be using the heaviest fabric in the world. (I think this one could stand up by itself!) I’ve got some linen and am thinking of quilting the yoke. I am also on the hunt for some brightly colored denim, or corduroy.

Lessons Learned: Don’t use heavy upholstery fabric for anything other than upholstery.

Have you had success with heavy upholstery fabric?