The Avid Makers: Gemma’s Blazer

If you have read my last post for Avid Seamstress, you would know that lately, I have been trying to be more mindful with my makes, attempting to streamline my wardrobe by creating more ‘staple’ pieces – garments that can be worn in different ways (such as layering through colder months as well as wearing singly in warmer times) or that will go together with existing pieces. Although I may still be making lots of things, considering how they will fit into my wardrobe has impacted not only the garment type but the fabric choice as well, which has been quite productive. I wanted to continue this practice when it came to deciding on my next make for The Avid Seamstress, and looking at what I already have in my wardrobe, I noticed a gap when it came to stylish outerwear. Coats are quite an involved make and I have only tackled 2 in my sewing time – one was unlined and relatively simple (although not that practical) and the other was a full-on, fully lined beast of a coat, which I get so much wear from, but was so involved (with quite a few tears shed in the making process!) that it had put me off attempting any more. However, looking through the Avid Seamstress pattern collection, The Blazer really appealed to me – an outer garment not so major as a long length coat, that could fit in with my ethos of creating a staple piece that could go with a lot of what I already wear, whilst being practical and looking very stylish! And so I set myself a challenge – to make The Blazer, and work out how I can style it 7 different ways (yes, you read that right, 7 days worth of outfits!) to fully commit to the wardrobe staple challenge.

In terms of the pattern itself, I would say this is designed for a more intermediate-advanced level of sewist. It is a relaxed fit, but does have shoulder darts, panelled sleeves, pockets and is fully lined. It is definitely a more ‘slow sewing’ based project: mine took me the best part of just over a week to make, although that does include a couple of alterations. The instructions are pretty clear, so if you are looking to increase your skills then you needn’t be worried about taking it on!

Fabric choice was very important. As someone who loves colour and pattern, my first instinct is to go for a bright and colourful fabric, and although it would look fabulous, it certainly wouldn’t have gone with my requirements for something that goes with lots of outfits! So I really pared it back and having looked at some blazer inspiration online, I could see that ‘traditional’ style fabrics were very popular, and would go with so many outfit choices. I decided on a brown/blue herringbone wool for my main fabric, as not only would it have the ‘traditional’ look but be functional too – warm and sturdy whatever the weather (which came in handy when photographing!) For my lining I chose a navy patterned viscose as I still wanted something that made my pattern heart happy, and this was a good compromise match! It’s got a good weight to it: a little heavier than a standard polyester type lining, but still has a silky feel, which is ideal for being able to slip in and out of the blazer with ease, and not adding too much bulk.

As I wanted a roomy fit I did go for the largest size which is for a 48” bust, however trying it on halfway through it was too big, and so I ended up taking a couple of inches off on each side seam, as well as on the bottom of the sleeve (if you do make adjustments like this remember to replicate them with your lining pieces!) so perhaps could have gone with the size down. 

As I’ve mentioned, this isn’t a project you can whip up in an afternoon – although I didn’t find any of the construction too challenging, you do essentially make it twice by making a lining, and I fully embraced taking my time with it. I do have to admit that halfway through I was doubting my fabric choice, as I was worried it was looking a bit too ‘old man’ vibes, however, once I had added the lining it really pulled it all together and it looked wonderful – I even enjoyed hand stitching the hem which is something I usually avoid! If you’re new to sewing outer garments then you may not have come across the term ‘bagging out’ which is a way of constructing your inside and outside together, and pulling through an opening (which is usually left in the sleeve). It is a magical way of making something, and hides all of the inside seams, which is an added bonus! This is something to think about when considering the fabric, as I think that is what put me off from my last coat – I used a really thick fabric and teamed with the long length, it was an absolute nightmare to pull through! Luckily this one is so much easier, and making it was much less stressful! 

Once made, the fun part of picking outfits began! It was really interesting to see just how well it went with so many garments I had and made me very happy with my fabric choice. So, want to see the different ways I can style my new Blazer?

Outfit one: Casual ‘lunch with the girls’ look. Paired with simple jeans and a white top, it gives a stylish nod to a relaxed, casual outfit, making it look ‘dressy’ without much fuss, so definitely wins the ‘I just threw this on’ vibes!

Outfit two: maxi length dresses. These are very popular and on-trend right now, and have been for the last year or so. As someone on the shorter side, I didn’t instantly embrace this trend but have realised how good these dresses are (big lunch anyone?!) I am very happy to jump on this bandwagon. I think this was the style I was most worried about, as I thought the length of the Blazer may make my proportions look off, but paired with a cropped weather vest (also very on-trend right now) it definitely fits with the prairie-look vibe.

Outfit three: Date Night. This one was always going to be easy – a blazer will always look great with a stylish top and boots, and therefore great for a going out outfit. I’ve paired mine here with the Bakerloo Blouse by Nina Lee – another pattern that is very popular due to the on-trend big collar. Again, another look I didn’t think I would like, but once I gave it a go I was hooked – great for statement dressing! 

Outfit four: Occasionwear. Now that events such as weddings are back on the cards, having a statement outfit and being able to throw on The Blazer with it is great. This co-ord outfit I made is actually a two-piece skirt and cami top that I made especially for a friend’s wedding, and again, I wasn’t sure if it would work together, but would you look at that! The Blazer is magic, my friends! And for these kinds of occasions much needed, as coats don’t tend to work with your best flouncy outfits, but you always need some kind of outer layer, especially in the UK!

Outfit five: Smart workwear. This one was another done deal. I love wearing fitted trousers and tops together to make a simple yet smart outfit, and The Blazer is perfect for such a pairing, and really elevates the smart dress sense. Simple but effective.

Outfit six: Spooky vibes. Ok, let me admit, I love a bit of Halloween (and even prefer it to Christmas, sorry!!) and so I couldn’t let myself pick outfits without having a spooky number. This is another Bakerloo (told you I was obsessed) but the dress version is in an amazing Gothic girl print by Alexander Henry. Paired with chunky boots, The Blazer works well with the look, and adds that extra bit of warmth needed on a windy day!

Outfit six: Jumpsuits. Another passion of mine is a good jumpsuit. A complete outfit in one go with minimal effort, they look chic and comfortable, especially when made out of jersey like this one (It’s the Deer and Doe Sirocco). I love how the colour of this one really makes the blue tones on The Blazer pop, and really takes the outfit to a different vibe. Potentially my favourite look of them all! 

So there you have it: 7 different looks to style The Blazer. I am pretty happy that I managed to create something that meets all the requirements – a staple piece that is versatile, comfortable and looks very stylish! Even though I’m known for having very little patience, I really enjoyed being forced to slow down and focus on the making process, as having to concentrate and spend more time on this garment has really cemented my love for it. I would highly recommend giving it a go, and even though it is a more involved make I certainly want to make another – next time can I give in and make a bright coloured patterned one?! 

Gemma, we absolutely love your style! Thank you for your gorgeous outfit choices for The Blazer. The Avid Seamstress team x

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