Greetings from Oakland! It's been an exciting and sometimes heartbreaking few weeks here, with the protests that lead to the unleashing of teargas and flashbang grenades onto a peaceful crowd in late October and a citywide General Strike last Wednesday that brought together 100,000 people.
After the boy and I returned from the Port of Oakland, where the march ended, the office building next to where I work at a nonprofit was "occupied" by a comparatively small group of people. Dumpsters were wheeled out into the intersection I cross daily, lit aflame and another violent clash occurred with the police. I returned to work the next day, disheartened that the peaceful protests I saw and had participated in had devolved. Arrests and injuries racked up, including two veterans. Graffiti covered the walls and windows of offices that provide medical and youth services.
By noon, when I stepped out for lunch, Occupy volunteers were cleaning off the graffiti with steel brushes and paint. You gotta hella love Oakland.
I know this isn't the place to wax sentimental on my deeply populist leanings (though I'd argue my foray into handmade and living with less is, at least in part, a response to the society I live in), but I did want to make two points, the second which relates to our wardrobes.
First, as a media person myself, I'm disappointed how the events in Oakland have been reported. My experience was with an incredible group of people who cared about this country: A diverse mass of families, teachers, union men, and veterans. People after my own heart, the America I love. And those headline catchers are the minority, the rabble-rousers who came ready for a fight, with their shields and gas masks.
Second, I've been thinking about this quote from Linda Grant's The Thoughtful Dresser:
Clothes as the story of our lives. And if you were to gather together all the clothes you have ever owned in all your life, each baby shoe and winter coat and wedding dress, you would have your autobiography.When we think about our clothes, what will each one tell us about that particular moment in our lives when we made it or bought it or wore it and loved it?
What this finished object will remind me of is my pre-Occupation of what was happening in my city as I made it and a whole lot of hope.
Pattern Review: The Occupy Blazer (Source: J. Crew)
In a previous post, I detailed how I was copying this J. Crew blazer using the paper rub-off method.
|Source Jacket: J. Crew|
Fabric Used: Shell -- Black canvas in stash, very lightweight double-sided fabric (plaid/polka dot) for undercollar, thrifted emerald lining for sleeves
Age in stash: Blazer borrowed from a colleague, several years old. Canvas and collar fabric 1 year, lining new-to-me
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Shortened at waist by an inch
Shortened sleeves by one inch
Made patch pockets instead of welt pockets
Small bust adjustment
Added about an inch total to hip area
Instructions: I sort of just winged it, though it helped that this is my third jacket-like garment I've made. Lining the sleeves (for easy slipping on and off) was tricky, but I could do the back vent just by looking at the source garment.
Despite the fact that I hit burnout halfway through this project and would've abandoned it altogether if it wasn't my colleague's jacket that needed to be returned, I'm impressed that I largely pulled this off. The canvas is fairly heavy and stiff and the collar isn't perfect, but the fit is perfect and the details—especially the undercollar with tab—I would be hard pressed to find using a regular pattern. We've been in the midst of an Indian summer, but I'm hopeful it's such a basic piece that it'll get lots of wear.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Loved the details as noted above, and the lined sleeves are a nice treat. Because this was such a complicated garment to trace, the pattern pieces didn't line up perfectly at the armscye and the shoulder seam, but I fixed it during construction.
Also: I'm not convinced it's easier to leave a jacket unlined -- it takes just as much energy to make the facing pieces and the inside look pretty as it does to make a lining, in my opinion.
If I become a blazer convert because of this, then yes. In terms of sewing it again, I'll need to forget how much work it was (so many pieces!) before that happens, though. I'd likely use a fabric that has a bit more drape than this.
New details: Pocket flaps, darts emanating from front collar and shoulder seam at rear, back vent, lined sleeves.
This copying ready-to-wear technique really works! I also realized that, while I love J. Crew's styling and catalog, their clothes are really ill-fitting for me and frankly, poorly made for the price. This may have cured me from worshiping at their altar. Hooray for handmade!
Thanks for bearing with me through this looong post. I'm still in sewing burnout, but there's stitching afoot. More soon!