Friday, 28 August 2015

Sewing and Literature: A perfect match?

Stash-busting 2015:  Skirt and Jacket

I made this outfit for the Pattern Review contest on right now, "Inspired by a Book".

Inspired by this Book:

The book that I chose has to be my all-time-hands-down favourite read, Blindness by José Saramago. It was originally published in 1995 in Portuguese and translated into English in 1997. I first read this book in 1999 and during my first year of university there was an Honours level course offered on this novel. Sadly, at the time I did not have enough academic credits to take the class and it was never offered again--I didn't have the pleasure of discussing this novel in an academic setting.  

I do recommend this book if you are looking for a good read this summer and haven't yet read it.  Or if you're even looking for any book to read I would recommend that too. Saramago's books are widely available and Blindness is one which has received much acclaim. In 2008, the movie, based on the book, premiered as the opening film at the Cannes Film Festival--but the book is much more entertaining. Saramago uses breaks grammar rules in order to create a sense of chaos that does not translate onto the silver screen as eloquently as his writing. 

The book takes place in a nameless city with nameless characters who are stricken with a white blindness. The doctor who examines the first person to come down with the blindness believes that it could either be psychological, agnosia or amaurosis.  

Since agnosia means there is an inability to recognize objects I chose fabrics that have a distinct texture and could be found or identified by touch. With amaurosis the brain is unable to process images resulting in a loss of all colour. Therefore, I chose to play with two non-colours, black and white.  
White is not defined as a colo[u]r because it is the sum of all possible colo[u]rs. Black is not defined as a colo[u]r because it is the absence of light, and therefore colo[u]r (Mumson).  
I used two clashing prints to represent the coming together of the unnamed characters within the chaos as the blindness takes hold over society. Anyway, I don't want to give anymore of the novel away in case you haven't yet read it. Moving on...

The Patterns:

The skirt was made using OOP Butterick 5790, blogged about here. The pattern consisted of one pattern piece that I had to adjust for the fit. Otherwise, it was easy skirt to sew.

OOP Vogue 8916 provided the pattern for the jacket. I've made a few jackets using this pattern for Mama R and even though I didn't initially consider this as a project for myself, I grew to like it. I like the three-quarter length sleeves on this pattern but thought that having long sleeves would be nice as well. And even though the pattern instructions did not call for it, I chose to underline the jacket with organza and used hair canvas interfacing instead of regular interfacing on the front section piece.     

The Fabrics:

The fabric used for the skirt has already been blogged about here. So I won't repeat myself. There were several fabrics used to make the jacket. The fashion fabric is a tweed that I found at Mitchell Fabrics last year. The jacket is constructed with organza underlining from Mitchell Fabrics and the front is interfaced with hair canvas from Fabricland. The jacket is lined with a polyester lining fabric that I believe came from Northwest Fabrics.

I did find that my choice of fabrics presented a challenge.

The tweed required steam pressing but the cheaper quality of organza proved to be a poor chose at this stage. I thought since it would be in the interior of the jacket I could use up the nylon organza without any problem. I used it on this dress and it was scratchy against my skin. What I didn't anticipate was the challenges of pressing two distinctively different fabric until this occurred when the iron came too close the underlining.

I did anticipate the potential challenge of sewing the shoulder dart through the fashion and underlining fabrics. I chose to handle the darts on the two fabrics separately before basting the underlining to the tweed.

I pre-treated the tweed on the delicate cycle in both the washing machine and dryer before I cut it out. It handled the pre-treatment process well and during the construction process I pressed the seams on the silk setting without any issues. Just the organza (noted above) was a challenge to work with this tweed when it came to the pressing stage.  

The Stats:

Fabrics:   2 metres (Skirt fabric) already priced out here.  
                1.2 metres tweed $24.41 ($18.00 / metre + taxes)
                1.2 metres lining $6.78 ($10.00 / metre - 50% off + taxes)
                1 metre organza $9.04 ($8.00 / metre + taxes)
                0.6 metres hair canvas $4.07 ($6.00 / metre + taxes)

Elastic:    Already priced out here.  

Patterns:  Previously used and already priced out with other projects.


Would you believe that I purchased the fashion fabric for the jacket last year and shortly after this pattern (not in tweed) started popping up in the RTW landscape. Well, that was enough to make me put it away as I didn't want to look like I was copying RTW. I'm glad I'm over that irrational thinking because my jacket doesn't look like anything on the RTW landscape. Even with the minor sewing bloopers where will I ever find an underlined cardigan jacket with pockets hidden in the princess seam. Silly me. Besides this print is still found at the mall. Le Chateau has this print in a ponte knit sitting front and centre in their display case.


I haven't seen any ponte knit in this print at the fabric stores, otherwise I might be tempted to pick up a yard or two.

Happy Sewing (and reading)!


  1. You have explained how your sewing relates to the novel really clearly and the book sounds fascinating. Gorgeous jacket. I hooe we can see it with the skirt.

    1. Thanks. I really did enjoy the book and this was a fun project. What a cool contest idea that the folks at Pattern Review came up with. I do have plans to put up a picture of the jacket and skirt together (soon, I hope).


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