Last November (two months ago) I sewed up Claude Montana’s Vogue 2203, which I found on eBay in my size for about $10. This pattern wasn’t documented in the Sewing Patterns Wiki which is usually what I use to date my patterns because it’s from 1998 and Pattern Wiki has a 1996 cutoff. Here it is:
The description reads: “Misses’ Jacket & Skirt. Semi-fitted, partially interfaced, lined, above-waist jacket has collar, collar band, shoulder pads, applied right front, side front seams, side back seams extending slightly to side front, no side seams and long, two-piece sleeves. A-line, skirt, ankle-length, contour waist, self-lined yokes, pleats/underlays and side zipper.”
Which is a very extensive description, particularly for the jacket. This depth of detail makes sense because the jacket took an elaborate amount of seaming, very cut and sew. And obviously me redoing so much stitching (and ultimately ripping out a bunch of top-stitching that looked.. messy). I did a ton of interfacing inside this jacket, so of course anything I mentioned about interfacing in my last sewing blog post is completely 1) irrelevant and 2) inaccurate. This is okay. If I was right about everything the first time I would never learn. This made the jacket appropriately stiff and also warm because it was 3 layers of fabric: the lining, interfacing, and the wool outer/fashion fabric.
“Cut and sew” is a term I use generally to refer to clothes with high levels of construction, for instance a large number of separate pieces. In manufacturing terms it refers to clothing made of pieces that are sewn together, not constructed then printed on, like a printed tee shirt or a knitted object. It seems like an irrelevant term because technically even a tee shirt or sweatpants are of course sewn together, until you encounter a jacket like 2203 which has 16 fabric pieces, 15 of which are interfaced, and 5 unique lining pieces. This jacket has two piece sleeves, a doubled front piece, and a back with side panels – compared to a standard jacket which has a back, a front, a (one piece) sleeve, and perhaps collar and pocket pieces (and a couple facings).
Because I liked all the seaming in this jacket, I used a double faced (AKA two sided) wool fabric from Fab Scrap to create contrasting blocks of light and dark grey on the collar and collar band, side panels, sleeve undersides, and front piece. This jacket has no darting or shaping of any kind in the bust, sleeves, or back. All of its form comes from the interfacing that is applied to every piece, including the sleeves. I ran low on fusible interfacing and ended up using a cotton muslin for most of it which made the jacket even stiffer. I did not use shoulder pads, which I decided were too intimidating and too dated. I was totally wrong on them being intimidating as I used them very soon after in a jacket I made Adam and they were very easy and fun to put in.
The real killer on this jacket were the buttonholes. Because the buttonholes are on the front panel piece, there were two layers of wool plus any remaining seam allowance plus interfacing to fight with in order to sew in a buttonhole. This meant my machine was not able to sew through all the layers and would jam or sew too far. When I looked into this on a variety of forums everyone’s advice was largely “sew each buttonhole by hand.” More hand sewing. Or else to manually zig-zag stitch each side and then tack along the top and bottom to make a mock version of a machine-made button hole. Ultimately I went with a mix of both, hand sewing to finish any problem areas, and then on the opposite side of the jacket I just sewed buttons to the top front piece so it looks buttoned when in reality the buttons are just decorative. It’s always deeply painful at the end of a long project when the final touches end up being just as challenging if not more difficult than the rest of the sewing. I actually generally prefer the process to the finished result, because I tend to just agonize over minuscule details and failures once it’s done, so I am always putting off the last steps of hemming or buttons or whatever as long as I can.
Next I actually made the skirt of this project with the remaining grey wool fabric. Because it was remnants (and because I love mini skirts for winter) I made it in a mini length. The skirt was fairly straightforward, an interesting waist yoke which I think turned out pretty nicely and then some normal pleating. I did the waist yoke and under pleats in the dark grey face and the body of the skirt in the light grey. I raised the line of the pleat a bit so it looked more proportional for a mini skirt – so a shorter length between the bottom of the skirt yoke and the top of the pleat opening. I also got to practice neatly blind hemming the skirt which turned out very nice. It only took a couple hours.
Unfortunately, drum roll, I looked exactly like a vintage majorette from the Coraline universe once this set was done. The combination of the high collar, straight shoulders, and panel front jacket combined with the pleated mini was very “baton twirler” with the drab colors of the part of the movie when Coraline wanders around bored. I would describe my final look as “Mister Bobinsky’s e-girl gf” which is extremely embarrassing to me. I love the work that went into these pieces but between the color and the stiffness of the jacket I don’t really enjoy wearing it. The skirt is okay, nothing special compared to the work that went into the jacket. They definitely look better as separates. I’m excited to have completed this pattern, feels like checking something off, plus I love making very involved jackets.