This week for our #blazerofglory challenge we're focusing on gathering fabrics, supplies and making a muslin. To help you on your way, we'll be sharing posts this week on all three of these subjects, starting with today's post on sourcing fabric for your Jasika Blazer.
Choosing the right fabric for this project is probably the most important decision you'll make. Since blazers can be styled and worn SO many ways (as we showed in our styling post) I think it's worth the time to think about what you want out of your jacket. Do you want something for a fancy event? Something professional for work? A casual blazer you can throw on top of jeans? A bright or patterned statement piece? This can help narrow down what type of fabric you want to look for.
Before I break down the best fabrics to work with (and where to get them!) I want to take a minute to really stress how important it is to follow our fabric guidelines. We suggest medium to heavyweight suitings or lightweight coatings with surface texture such as wool melton, wool flannel, crepe and tweed, or velvet, medium-heavy weight cotton, seersucker and linen. When you think "suit" you probably visualize a very finely woven suiting fabric like wool gabardine and this is NOT suggested. Here's why: these types of very fine suitings have a very flat, smooth surface which makes it very difficult to properly fuse with a home iron. In an industrial setting they these use special fusing machines that precisely calibrate pressure, heat and steam to permanently interface the fabric. In my experience, it can be very tricky to do this at home with an iron. The more finely milled suitings have a tendency to bubble. In and of itself this isn't a catastrophe, but since these fabrics are so fine you can clearly see the bubbling. If a tweed or melton bubbles slightly, you won't see it on the right side of the fabric (it doesn't necessarily compromise the structure of the jacket, but it is rather unsightly when it's visible). If you're unsure about your fabric, I highly suggest fusing a sample piece and then try to press it with steam once it's cooled to see if any bubbling occurs, and to test the steadfastness of the fusible. If it very easily pulls away you may have trouble down the line.
I'll also say that those lovely Italian suitings don't always suit women's curves as well as something with a little more give and flexibility, and they are a little trickier to work with, especially setting in the sleeve. My first blazer was made with a very fine gabardine as a test and it ended up bubbling and I couldn't finish it. I just want you to have the best experience possible, so unless you have a tailor in your city who can industrially fuse your pieces for you (a service I can have done at M&M Textiles here in Montreal), stick to the suggested fabrics! They are much friendlier for first-time tailors.
In case you need a visual aid, here is ane example of a lightweight wool gabardine I would avoid at all costs. Hopefully it gives you a sense of how smooth and fine the weave is.
Wool: Choose medium to heavyweight suitings or lightweight coatings with surface texture such as wool melton, wool flannel, crepe and tweed. There are SO many gorgeous fabrics in this category so feel free to go wild! We suggest lightweight coatings and I think this is worth a try. Many coatings I encounter feel too lightweight for a Montreal winter, but would make a super cozy blazer. What you want to avoid is anything too thick or beefy. Since we're doing a lot of fine, detail sewing, you want something that won't be too bulky or tricky to work with when it's time to sew those welt pockets and collars.
Many suitings have a small amount of stretch. I've never used these to make a Jasika but I think they can work as well -- if that's your intention I would make a muslin with a fabric with similar stretch. A comment on weight: fabric is weighed by grams per meter and some fabric shops will list the GSM. For a wool jacket I would not go any lighter than 210 GSM. You may see suiting fabrics with numbers attached, ie Super 120. That refers to the thinness of the fiber used when weaving it rather than the weight. If you want to nerd out over that, there is a good blog post explaining that here.
Here are some examples of solid wools I think could work well.
Looking for something a little more graphic? Try a wool check, plaid or print.
Cotton: Crisp cottons with body will work well for this pattern. Think seersucker, twills, brocades etc. I am dying to make a cotton jacquard Jasika at some point, and cottons will work better for warm weather.
Linen: Choose a medium to heavy-weight linen. Anything too lightweight will not have the necessary body. These make the loveliest blazers for spring and summer if you don't mind a slightly rumpled look.
Silk: There are many gorgeous silk suitings out there all though they tend to be pricer. They are often blended with wool if that is a concern.
Here are some lovely suitings in the linen, cotton and silk family:
Velvet: Nothing is more glam than a velvet blazer but they are quite tricky to sew with. I recommend finding a cotton velvet with a low pile, almost an upholstery weight. This is what we used for our velvet sample and it took the fusible well. Note that anything with a deep pile will be hard to interface since the velvet will show the mark of the iron. Try interfacing a sample with low pressure on a towel underneath the velvet to protect the nap to test.
Synthetic suitings: There are lots of synthetic suitings on the market. Choose something with a bit of surface texture so it will adhere with the fusible. Protect your fabric with a press cloth at every stage since synthetics show heat marks from the iron quite easily.
Here are some examples of poly and synthetic fiber suitings appropriate for our pattern:
Most well-stocked fabric shops will carry fabrics appropriate for this pattern. The following list is not exhaustive (see our online fabric store post for that!) but these particular stores stood out to us because of the variety they offer. Here in Montreal I love M&M Textiles (a tailoring specific shop with TONS of fabric and supplies) and Goodman Textiles (they have an enormous room in the back with hundreds of bolts of wool).
FABRIC SOURCES - NORTH AMERICA
- Mood - tons of wool & linen - ordering swatches is a good idea if you want to check the weight or test fusible.
- Black and Sons - Wide variety of tailoring fabrics, supplies & tools
- Fabrics & Fabrics - suitings, tweed, linen
- Sultans Fine Fabrics (Canada) - tons of suitings!
- Britex - lots of wools and bembergs
- Fabric Mart - wide variety
- Michael Levine - wide variety of many types of fiber
- B&J Fabric - incredible selection, lots of silk and linen blends in addition to all the wool, $$$
- F&F Fabrics - lots of wool and high end tweeds
- Elliot Berman - lots of high end wools, some unusual options
- Hart's Fabric - good selection of wools & cotton
- Style Maker Fabrics - lots of options, including checks and non-wool alternatives
- Stone Mountain & Daughter - great selection of melton, crepe and rayon bemberg
- Emma One Sock - lots of designer fabrics & wool
- Fabric.com - good source for linen and synthetic suitings
- Denver Fabric - wide variety
- Vogue Fabrics - wide variety
INTERNATIONAL FABRIC SOURCES
- MyFabrics.co.uk (UK) - wide variety
- Dugbale Bros & Co (UK) - incredible selection of wools, supplier to Saville Row. You need to set up an account but I'm not sure about minimum orders.
- Ditto Fabric (UK) - lots of wool and designer fabrics
- Fabric Dreams (UK) - lots of wool options
- Joel and Sons Fabrics (UK) - gorgeous haute couture and designer fabrics
- Truro Fabrics (UK) - wide variety of quality fabrics
- MacCulloch & Wallis (UK) - high end fabrics and tailoring supplies
- M. Recht (AUS) - great source for shoulder pads!
- Tessuti (AUS) - lovely, wide selection. They also stock interfacing.
- Dress Fabrics (Ireland) - curated selection with wool, linen & cotton options
- Fabworks (UK) - tons of wool fabrics!
- The Fabric Store (NZ) - amazing selection of linens and specialty fabrics, curated selection of wools
** Feel free to let us know of any other online shops with great tailoring fabrics!
In addition to your body fabric, you'll want to source a nice lining. My personal preference is for rayon bemberg (breathable and it comes in tons of colours) or something a bit more luxe like silk charmeuse. You're welcome to use synthetic fibers, but note that they don't breathe as well and I find, particularly in the case of acetates, that they shred and tear more easily. You can also use smooth, fine cottons like voile or batiste, ideal for a summer weight linen or cotton blazer.
Rayon bemberg is wonderful but can be a bit tricky to work with. There are some great suggestions for working with it here, but my biggest piece of advice is to use a very small needle (ie. 60/8 or 70/10) to avoid pulled threads. It can be tricky to ease (especially around the sleeve cap) so I always hand basted my sleeves in place first to reduce puckers. A walking foot definitely helps, and cutting it with a rotary cutter rather than using pins and scissors is also suggested.
So that's it for my fabric suggestions today. All this fabric research has me hungry to make a dozen more blazers. Let us know what fabric you'll be using for your Jasika or any questions you might have!