I'm currently designing and building costumes for the musical Little Shop of Horrors
, which opens at Eureka College Oct 1st. As usual in theatre, I have a small amount of budget to come up with many costumes, so I decided to create a quick bolero jacket for one of Audrey's costumes from things I already had left over from previous projects.
The sewing project is incredibly simple. The only thing about this project that is intermediate-level is drafting a pattern. It is a great starter project if you have never drafted a flat pattern- it's about as simple as it gets as far as sewing patterns go.
Firstly, here is a link to the free pattern I used.
It is about a 36" bust, or about a size medium. That is about perfect for the actress I am costuming. (If you need a larger or smaller size, well
... that's another blog post for another day.)
The free pattern must be copied and drafted from the image. That is pretty easy to do, you will just need 1-inch drafting paper. I didn't have any on hand- as you can see from my pictures I just carefully taped 6 pieces of printer paper together with masking tape and used a large ruler to draw 1-inch squares. Not gonna lie, it is a little tedious to get all the lines straight. (Tip: don't waste time erasing, I just redrew less-than-straight lines a little darker right over the first ones.)
Count out and plot the points of the pattern pieces, and then connect the dots. There are only two pattern pieces for this bolero jacket. Note that the only part of the sewing pattern that is completely straight is the long edge of the back piece. The rest of the edges should be curves. Some very gentle curves, some more extreme. It is helpful to have a dressmaker's curve, but these lines can be free-handed easily as well. (A dressmaker's curve is inexpensive and an essential tool to have around once you start drafting sewing patterns regularly.)
Cut out the two pattern pieces. Always label pattern pieces that you draft. Label what the sewing pattern is for, what sewing pattern piece it is, what size, and how much seam allowance is included. I always file away my drafted patterns and have reused many in my costume designs.
Use the sewing pattern to cut out two front pieces and one back piece. the back pattern piece is to be cut on a fold.
Next, cut out the two front pieces and one back piece (on the fold) from lining fabric.
Pin the front pieces to the back piece- right sides of fabric together- at the shoulder seams. Stitch together. Do this for both fashion fabric and lining pieces.
Pin the front pieces to the back, still with right sides together, at the sides. Stitch the sides. Again, do this for both the fashion and lining layers.
At this point in the project you should use a hot iron to press the shoulder and side seams open. This is an important step for all sewing projects. I, however, skipped this step because the fabrics I am using do not press.
Now we need to attach the lining layer to the outside layer of the bolero jacket. With right sides of the fabric together again, pin all along the neck, front, and bottom continuous edge. Be sure to line up the side seams and shoulder seams. Stitch along the entire edge.
Turn the bolero right side out by pulling through one of the sleeves. Press the edges into place.
The final step is to finish the edges of the sleeves. Fold the edge of the lining and the edge of the fashion fabric under and pin into place. Once again, be sure to match up the seams. Slip stitch the sleeve lining into place.
The front of the finished one hour bolero:
The back of the finished on hour bolero: