#citronillechallenge Courtesy of: Sew Mama Sew and Fiddlehead Artisan Supply

This coat was such an amazing experience to sew. A few weeks ago, my husband took our kids to a friend’s cottage for the entire weekend – lucky me! – and I was able to luxuriously putter my way through making this jacket. It was calming to hand-stitch the hems and the back of the collar, tea at hand! Listening to the quiet… or whatever podcast seemed good at the time… Back to real life… I finally finished the buttonholes yesterday, of course!

This jacket is part of the Citronille Pattern Challenge sponsored by Sew Mama Sew and Fiddlehead Artisan Supply. I received the women’s Jackie pattern for this challenge and the children’s Solveig pattern to use as I’d like (Yippee!). Citronille Patterns are designed by Astrid Le Provost who has made a gorgeous line of clothing patterns for Women, Teens and Children. Astrid is based in France, and as a result, most of the patterns have been available only in French, until now! Fiddlehead Artisan Supply has had many of them translated and is now providing them for sale.

(Whew, I have a lot to say about this pattern! If you’d like the review summary, you can find it at the end of the post!)

The original paper pattern (in French) comes with a translation of the instructions and a key for the pattern pieces and glossary words you may use. I have to admit, it took me a few minutes to sort out how to best use the translation and original text together. I found it helped to trace the pattern pieces in the correct sizes first, and write pattern notations on the traced pieces in English. That got me used to using the translation key and it was simple after that! Plus, as a bonus, working in French makes you feel amazing – very chic and whatever I imagine “European” feels like!

The Real Story (or: In the beginning…)

This all sounds peaceful and amazing I’m sure – but it didn’t start that way! When I received the pattern I mentally started to regret saying I would make the women’s jacket. I was afraid to mess it up, not sure of the fabric choices, not super-loving the design (based on the pattern cover drawing). I started coming up with ways to change the style, since I didn’t want to “waste time” making a garment I would never wear. To be honest, I even emailed Kristin at Sew Mama Sew to ask if I could lengthen the coat and add a tie. To which she said “Yes”, though I didn’t end up needing to do this in the end.

Of course, since I said I’d make it, I decided to make the best of it. First I measured the length of the jacket and found it to be longer than I pictured. Then I saw there were back darts and elbow darts – clues to a well designed pattern. I decided to wing it and just make the jacket as is. No major changes! (Changes are noted in the summary below.) In the end I’m so pleased with how it turned out. Seems it was not good to judge the pattern on it’s cover!

How It Sews

Since I had time I concentrated on following the instructions slowly and thoughtfully. My garment sewing practice is finally paying off! The hard-earned knowledge (read: so many things I can’t/don’t wear, multiples of muslins and used-up practice fabric) paired with the careful lines of the pattern, working together at last! I was so excited when I graded the pattern – everywhere between sizes 38 (bust) to 40 (arms, waist) to 44 (shoulders and hips) – and the “muslin” fit great! Crazy, but most patterns require that much change for my body type.

This pattern requires at least an intermediate knowledge of garment sewing – ie. The instructions are clearer if you are familiar with garment sewing. There are no directions for finishing seams or tips included, like we’ve been spoiled with from the many indie pattern makers. That said, they are amazing base patterns – they have simple lines that can be used as-is or altered by an experienced sewer to create many different styles. I love this and would like to make the Jackie again, only with lots of top stitching and patch pockets, and maybe a zipper instead of buttons.

Simplifying the Pattern

I mentioned that I hand stitched a lot on this pattern. I was determined to make it “as per the instructions” and it requires the collar and hems to be stitched by hand. In the future I think I would use top-stitching in many places to make the construction faster. It also helps the mark the seam allowance on the collar to avoid guessing where the corner is when sewing. Lastly, I (finally) figured out how to ease in a sleeve properly! Quick tip, when sewing the sleeve seam, put the larger side of the sleeve so it is touching the feed dogs – this side will feed through slightly faster and ease in the excess fabric better!

The Fabric

I bought “boring and simple” navy twill for this pattern, so I had to add a bit of fun! The owl print that I’ve been hoarding for a few years was the perfect match. Plus I used some scraps of Rashida Print bias tape, leftovers from my Alder skirt, since no one but you will see it anyhow! One other thing that was added is the twill ruler-print ribbon under the collar seam, it’s my favorite!

PATTERN REVIEW SUMMARY: Jackie, by Citronille Patterns

Outer Fabric: Navy Blue Twill (from Fabricland), Facing: Japanese Owl print (from Sew Sisters 2 yrs ago)

Here are a few things I love about it: 

  • The fit! The fit! I have just enough room in this jacket to fit a long sleeve sweater/blouse underneath (if needed) and still move comfortably. This jacket is my “wearable muslin” and it turned out great!
  • The collar was so easy to construct. This was one thing I was worried about before starting.
  • The french “feel”, so chic! The hand drawn pattern pieces and scripty handwriting add to the fun of creating the garment.
  • It’s a great length for layering. In these photos I’ve matched it with my Loominous Bess Top.

The fit & my alterations: 

  • The front facing lies right over the bust line and the bias binding ends up showing through the thin twill when I wear the jacket. I’d increase the width of the facing by about 1 1/2″ to avoid this in the future.
  • I might add 1 or 2 more inches to the hem. This will require adding back darts or a pleat or slit on the center back to allow it to fit properly.
Things I changed from the original pattern: 

  • Grading between sizes for a better fit to my body shape.
  • An extra button and buttonhole at the bottom of the jacket. There are only five buttons in the original pattern.

Things I might change next time:

  • More exciting fabric! This twill is plain and boring… would be nice to find a fun plaid or fun floral.
  • I already mentioned adding a front zipper. I think a metal one would look amazing.
  • I’d love to try adding ribbing to the bottom, sleeve hems and in place of the collar – more bomber jacket style.

You can hop over to Sew Mama Sew for a chance to win a Citronille pattern of your choice between September 28 and October 8! I’m in such good company on this challenge, please check out the projects created by the other challengers:

Michelle Morris of That Black Chic
Sherri Sylvester of thread riding hood
Tenille Brien of Tenille’s Thread
Maris Olsen of Sew Maris
Ari Green of Max California
Marisa of thirtynine
Sara Johansen of the Sara project
Natalie Strand of Vegetablog
Diane Reafsnyder of Gator Bunny
Jessica Wright of Willow & Stitch
Sara Homer of Now Try This
Kelly Donovan of Craftree