A while back I purchased a throw blanket with the intention of using it for the fabric at a later date. Now that I am on stash restriction, the time has come to repurpose that throw.
I've been looking longingly at adorable short or tunic-length lightweight jackets and figure there has got to be some way to make what I want from this blanket. Beyond the challenges of pile and direction that you face with minky and velour, the minky side is not actually a solid yellow, but ombré (shaded). So.....it's a bit more to take into consideration, and I am completely making this up as I go along. Please note this jacket is unlined, but experienced sewers should be able to work out a lining pretty easily. I really wanted to keep this tutorial as simple as possible, including as few supplies as possible.
If you decide to make your own jacket, obviously you will be using a different blanket, so please feel free to contact me for help if needed. My jacket and pattern were made to ladies' size XL; if you need a larger size, buy a larger or additional throw blanket. If you are smaller than I am, or have more blanket material, this should not be an issue for you.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Skills Required: Measuring, drawing, cutting, pinning, machine sewing, hand sewing, thinking
Step 1: What You Will Need
(Graph paper and pen if you want to sketch out your pattern pieces before measuring them out)
Roll of wrapping or butcher paper
Double layered throw blanket at least 48"x60"
12-14 yards ribbon at least 1" wide, and/or double fold bias tape
1 yard 1/2" elastic
2 large safety pins
Hand sewing needle
2-piece clasp, or frog, or large button with shank and enough round elastic to make a loop for it
Step 2: Creating the Pattern
My pattern for this jacket is going to be dictated by three factors: style elements, fabric, and measurements.
Style: I know I want a semi-loose, tunic-length jacket with a hood and pockets. If I have enough fabric, I want the sleeves to bell too.
Fabric: This is tricky. I've set myself the challenge of only using the one throw blanket I already have. One side is an ombré minky (view A), the other a soft solid velour (view B). Not only are the two pieces of fabric sewn together at all four edges, there is also a quilted frame a few inches inside the border. So, what I'm going to have to do is cut one fabric out from the other at the inside border. That will leave me with one large rectangle 48"x61", and another smaller rectangle 39"x51". When I draft out the pattern, I will need to take the direction of the fabrics' nap into account as well. For this particular throw blanket, I am going to use the minky side for my jacket bodice and skirt, and the solid velour side for sleeves and hood.
Measurements: I wear a ladies' XL and am making this for myself. However, take your own measurements carefully and you should be able to figure out how to adjust for your size. Also see note in Step 1 regarding supplies for larger sizes.
We will need 8 different pieces for this jacket: front bodice (x2), back bodice (x1), sleeve (x2), sleeve ruffle (x2), skirt side (x2), skirt back (x1), hood (x2) and pockets (x4).
Step 3: Draft the Bodice Pattern Pieces
Grab your measuring tape, wrapping paper, marker, yardstick and paper scissors. You're going to need them for the next few steps.
Take the following measurements for the bodice pieces:
A- Widest part of back from center armpit to center armpit
B- Width from top of shoulder to side of neck
C- Length from top of shoulder to underneath of armpit
D- Width from armpit to armpit across fullest part of bust
E- Length from base of neck (front) to just above natural waist
Now we use these measurements to draw out the patterns to scale. Unroll a couple of feet of wrapping paper on a large flat surface, pretty side down. (I buy wrapping paper that has 1" square grid on the back; this helps immensely.)
The back bodice piece is basically a rectangle with gently curved notches at neck and armholes. So, start by drawing a rectangle on the wrapping paper that is as wide as measurement A plus 3-4", and as tall as measurement E plus 1" (view A). At the top right corner of the rectangle, measure in 3-4" to the left horizontally, mark (view B). Now go back to the corner and measure down as many inches as measurement C, mark (view C). Draw straight lines into the rectangle from both marks (view D). Make a gently sloping curve into the bottom left corner of the new rectangle (view E); this is your armhole. Repeat in mirror reverse for the left hand side of the bodice back (view F). Starting at the top edge of the right armhole, use measurement B and mark (view G). Find the center of the top edge of the bodice back; drop down 1" and mark (view H). Draw a gentle curve between those two points; repeat/mirror for the left hand side to create the neck hole (view I).
Let's stop to talk about seam allowance. For this pattern I am using 1/2" seam allowance except in places where the finishing of the blanket allows me to do without. (Example: the front bodice and skirt pieces will be positioned so as to take advantage of finished edges.) On the back bodice piece, add 1/2" seam allowance to the long bottom edge (view J). Cut out the back bodice piece with paper scissors.
Here's some good news: the front bodice pieces are done using the back bodice piece as a starting point. Trace out a second copy of the back bodice piece. Draw a vertical line down the center of the pattern from neck base to bottom edge (view K). As the measurements used in drafting the back bodice piece include some extra room, measurement D should be less than [measurement A plus 3-4"]....so you should simply be able to use each half of your second copy of the back bodice piece, as each of your front pieces. (If this is not the case for you, please contact me and I will help you draft the solution upon request.) Because of how my blanket was made, I do not need to add seam allowance to the meeting edges of the front bodice pieces; you may need to do so. Cut out the front bodice pieces with paper scissors.
Step 4: Separate the Two Sides of the Blanket
Here's where things get a bit wonky due to the construction of the throw blanket I am using. One side (view A) is an ombré minky, the other side (view B) is a solid velour. Whether I like it or not, there is an additional inside border seam that would be impossible to pick out, so I have to work around it. My solution is to choose the minky side as my bodice and jacket skirt fabric, and cut the middle out of the velour side to use for the hood and sleeves (view C). That leaves me with a larger rectangle of the minky, and a smaller rectangle of the velour. If you are using two throws or a giant blanket, this will not be an issue for you.
Step 5: Place, Pin and Cut Bodice and Jacket Skirt Pieces
I wanted to make sure I would have enough fabric to complete construction, so I went ahead and placed the bodice pieces first (view A). (Probably could have graphed it all out, but I like touching the fabric!)
Let's pause for a second to discuss nap/pile and direction. I chose a fuzzy throw to use for my jacket: both the fabrics of the throw have nap, which is a word to indicate fuzziness or pile on the surface of the fabric. Examples of fabric that have nap are velvet, velour, corduroy and faux fur. Nap also has direction: when you pass your hand over the top of the fabric, it will feel smoother in one direction than the other (view B).
In this case, the minky side has downward direction when the bodice pieces are placed as shown in view A. That's exactly what I want, so that when I'm wearing the jacket I can run my hand down the fabric and smooth it. Any other direction would be annoying to me.
The placement of the bodice pieces determines the size of the jacket skirt pieces. The area of fabric below the pattern pieces in view A is reserved for the jacket skirt. If I didn't want pockets I could use the entire big rectangle remaining, intact, but pockets are really important to me. So, after pinning down the pattern and cutting out the bodice pieces, I have a large rectangle and a long tube-strip of minky and velour left (view C). The long tube-strip will become the ruffles/cuffs at the elbows of the jacket.
Take a look at view A again. You'll note there are only a few inches of space between the pattern pieces. This is because I am broad-shouldered and thick-chested; smaller people will have smaller pattern pieces. Due to the lack of extra fabric width, the skirt of my jacket will not be as full as I would like, but I imagine I'll live. To cut the skirt jacket pieces, match the appropriate front bodice piece to each side of the large rectangle. Using your yardstick as a guide, cut vertical lines in the large rectangle at the side seams of the bodice (view D).
At this point, we now have six pieces of fabric cut: right and left bodice front, bodice back, right and left skirt panels, and the back skirt panel.
Step 6: Draft Sleeve Body Pattern
Back to the wrapping paper and yardstick again. But first, take the following measurements using your tape measure:
A- The distance around the widest part of your upper arm
B- The distance from the top of the bodice armhole to its bottom, at the side seam, taking into account the curve
C- The distance from the top of your shoulder to the hollow of your elbow
Now roll out a couple of feet of paper. The base shape of the sleeve is also a rectangle (elbow length sleeves with a ruffled cuff). Start by drawing one out that is as long as [measurement C plus 1"] and as wide as [measurement B times 2] (view A). Find the centers of the longer sides and draw a dotted line between them (view B). Extend the dotted line 2" below the bottom edge (view C). Draw lines from the end of the dotted line to the bottom corners of the rectangle (view D).
This tent-shaped piece is your sleeve body pattern; cut out with paper scissors. Trace and cut out another one, or use this piece twice. Note that the peak of the "tent" is where the top of the sleeve will attach to the bodice shoulder seam. You also may have noticed that we did not use measurement A. You basically just want to make sure that measurement A is less than [measurement B times 2] by at least 3-4 inches, giving you plenty of room in the sleeve.
Step 7: Draft Hood Pattern
Pick up your tape measure and write down the following measurements:
A- The distance from shoulder seam to shoulder seam at neckhole of back bodice piece, taking curve into account
B- The distance from your forehead to the top, rear-most part of your head
C- The distance from the top of your head to the base of your neck
Roll out a couple of feet of wrapping paper and draw out a rectangle that is as wide as [measurement B plus three inches] and as long as [measurement C plus two inches] (view A). Curve the insides of the upper and lower left corners (view B). At the bottom left corner, add a small rectangle that is 2 inches long and as wide as [measurement A plus one inch] (view C). Draw a curve between the outside of the small rectangle and the lower edge of the hood (view D). Cut out hood pattern with paper scissors. Trace and cut another one if you like, or use the one piece twice when cutting out fabric.
Step 8: Draft Pocket Pattern
To make the pocket pattern, determine how big you want it to be inside, and draw out a rectangle that size (view A). Measure your hand (maximum palm width and length of hand from tip of longest finger to 2" beyond base of wrist) if needs be. For ease of construction, the pockets will be inset on the side panel seams and included in the front waist seam as well. Add one inch to the righthand edge and bottom edge (view B). I think I would like my pocket opening to start about 3" down from the waist seam, so I am going to add that amount to the top edge of the expanded rectangle (view C). Curve bottommost corners (view D). Cut out pocket pattern; trace and cut out 3 more unless you are comfortable using the same one four times.
Step 9: Place, Pin and Cut Hood and Sleeve Body Pieces
Remember in Step 5, we discussed nap, pile and direction? In view A here, my sleeve body and hood pattern pieces are laid out such that the velour feels smoothest when you pass your hand downwards, exactly like I did with the minky fabric. Since I elected not to duplicate paper pattern pieces, I'm going to cut each piece individually. I want to keep pattern pieces as close together as possible, maximizing remnant area. Once I use my fabric scissors to cut out the first sleeve body and hood pieces, I will reposition the paper patterns as shown in view B. Pay attention to two details: one, the sleeve is placed so that the nap direction is down again; and second, I have flipped the hood pattern piece over so the printed side is on top (view B). This is necessary in order to get the mirror side of the hood with fuzzy side out.
Save your remnants! We're going to use them for the pocket pieces next.
Step 10: Place, Pin and Cut Pocket Pieces
Barely, just barely, do I have enough velour left over to make the pockets. I will cut four identical pieces, making sure I am always cutting with the nap going downwards.
Step 11: Sewing Overview
At this point, you've probably figured out how everything goes together, and are wondering when we will finally start sewing. Now is good. All pieces of fabric are ready to go with the exception of the sleeve ruffles; I'll go back to those once I'm ready to start sewing on the sleeves.
Now is also when I mention that I am a stickler for nicely finished seams that will not fray. It's even more important to me with this jacket because I plan on taking it out to Burning Man and don't want to shed polyester fibers all over the playa. This is why we need the ribbon, and so much of it. Another good alternative is extra wide double fold bias tape; sometimes you would use it folded, at others, pressed open. I just happened to have a boatload of cute 1-1/2" wide bright camo print satin ribbon and decided to run with that as I'm working on actually using the supplies I have accumulated. Like bias tape, sometimes the ribbon will be folded in half to encase the raw edge of a seam, as well as used flat to cover a seam. If you're not as picky, use your judgement as to where you need to finish a seam. Bear in mind the ribbon will also serve as shape reinforcement, primarily on the hood, at the shoulders, and at the armholes.
As with any project instructions, it's a good idea to read through the rest of the steps before starting to sew anything. It's especially wise with this tutorial as I'd be absolutely shocked if you used the exact same throw I did. Some of the following directions are specific to my particular throw; I will do my best to point out those instances and how you should modify if using two separate blankets or one giant one.
Step 12: Assemble the Hood
Take each hood piece and match with right (fuzzy) sides together; pin (view A). Sew along top and back of hood, from front to base of neckline, using 1/2" seam allowance (view B). Trim seam allowance to 1/4", notching curves, and open flat (view C). Pin ribbon over center of seam, covering raw edges (view D). Stitch ribbon to hood along both long edges, as close to the inside edge of the ribbon as possible (view E).
Fold front edge of hood over towards wrong side by 1/2" (view F). Pin ribbon to front edge of hood on wrong side, covering the raw edge of fabric. Stitch ribbon to hood along both long edges, just as you did when covering the first seam (view G). Finally, stay-stitch 3/8" from outside edge along neck join edge (view H).
Step 13: Assemble the Bodice
Again with the covering of raw edges: place ribbon over raw edges of facing and stitch down along both long sides of each front bodice piece (view A). Pin bodice fronts to corresponding sides of bodice back at shoulders, right sides together (view B). Stitch bodice front to bodice back at shoulders, using 1/2" seam allowance. Trim seam allowance down to 1/4", open up seams, and cover seams with ribbon as we have been doing (view C).
Repeat this process with the bodice side seams (view D).
Step 14: Assemble the Sleeves
Take up one of your sleeve body pieces and fold it in half vertically with right sides together; pin at edges and sew up seam using 1/2" seam allowance (view A). Trim seam allowance to 1/4", then pin ribbon folded lengthwise around seam (view B). Stitch ribbon down securely as close to existing seam as possible while still encasing the raw edges (view C). Repeat for second sleeve body.
You may recall that in my case, I am using one long tube-strip of minky on one side and velour on the other to make my sleeve bells/ruffles. It just happens to be one of the long finished borders of the throw. What stinks is that the nap of the finished edge is in the wrong direction; I want down direction like the rest of the jacket. To avoid wasting/overuse of ribbon, I decided to stitch up the bottom hem by first cutting the tube along its long raw seam (view D), folding the edges in 1/2" and pinning them (view E), and stitching in place securely (view F).
Next, I cut the tube in half and matched the halves up to the bottom sleeve edges (view G). Sadly, there is no extra fabric for the cuffs to gather as I had originally intended, but the problem is solved with a bit of elastic. First, I need to stitch up, trim and cover the narrow edges of the cuffs (view H). Now I will create a casing for the elastic while attaching the cuff to the sleeve body. With wrong sides together, fold raw edge of sleeve body towards wrong side of fabric about 1/2" (view I). As the inner edge of the cuff is already finished, all that is necessary is to slide the cuff into the sleeve body about 7/8-1" and pin (view J). Make certain to line up the seam at the underarm of the sleeve to the seam of the cuff.
The casing for the elastic is made by first stitching the lower seam, adhering the cuff to the sleeve body, as close to the edge as possible (view K). Next, turn the sleeve inside out and sew down the opposite side of the casing, again as close to the edge as possible (view L). Be sure to leave a one inch opening between the beginning and end of the seam, to allow for elastic insertion (view M). Complete for both sleeves. Cut the piece of elastic in half and attach a safety pin to one end of one piece (view N). Insert the elastic into one of the sleeve casings, safety pin first, and draw all the way through, around the sleeve, and back out the opening (view O). Pin the elastic together after gathering the cuff to its desired fullness and trim the ends if necessary. Overlap the ends by about 1" and sew down securely (view P). Stitch closed the opening for the elastic (view Q). Complete for second sleeve.
Step 15: Join Sleeves to Bodice
OK! The sleeves are assembled, so the hard part is done. Now to join the sleeves to the bodice. Start by lining up the sleeve underarm seam with the bodice side seam, right sides together (view A). Carefully pin the sleeve to the bodice, working up both sides from underarm to shoulder (view B). Like all the other raw edges, we're going to bind this with ribbon as well, but create the join seam at the same time. Cut a length of ribbon the distance of the armhole plus 2". Fold in half, encasing the raw edges of the armhole, and pin in place (view C). Carefully sew down the ribbon, making sure to catch all layers of fabric and ribbon (view D). Repeat for other sleeve.
Step 16: Prepare Pockets and Skirt Panels
Take two pocket pieces and match them to the upper right- and left-hand corners of the back skirt panel, right sides together; pin (view A). Stitch the pocket pieces to the skirt panel along the outside vertical edges using a 3/8" seam allowance (view B). In my case, I am going to cover the raw edge on the inside of the skirt panel piece with ribbon as well (view C). And while I'm at it, I might as well cover the inside raw edges on the side skirt panels too (view D). After that, match a pocket piece to each side-seam upper corner of each side skirt panel, right sides together (view E). Stitch the pocket pieces to the skirt side panels as done for the back skirt panel.
Step 17: Stitch Pockets and Skirt Panels
Lay out the back skirt panel such that the right side is up and the pocket pieces are extended out (view A). Match each side skirt panel to the back skirt panel at the pockets, right sides together, and pin (view B). Sew pockets together from bottom to upper edges, using 1/2" seam allowance (view C). Stitch the sides of the skirt panels from 1" above the bottom of the pockets to the bottom edge of the panels (view D). Stitch again from the top of the side seam to 3-4" down into the pocket hole, still with 1/2" seam allowance (view E). Be sure to complete for both sides of the jacket skirt.
Again, my preference, but I need to bind/cover all the raw seams with ribbon or bias tape. Where I cannot, I will finish the seams with a zigzag stitch. Once the seams are finished, turn pocket pieces towards the front and pin (view F).
Step 18: Gather Back Skirt Panel
For ease of working with the large skirt piece, I went ahead and basted the pockets to the fronts of the jacket skirt, at the very top edge (view A). And just to double-check myself, I made sure the front bodice pieces line up with the front skirt pieces (view B). However, the back skirt piece is a few inches wider than the back bodice piece; I will need to gather it in some way. Given the thickness of the material, I will use tiny pleats rather than gather with a double basting stitch.
So! First I will center the bodice back above the skirt back (view C). I want a bit of fullness at the center back (view D), and perhaps a little at the sides (view E). Tack these pleats down prior to moving on to the next step (view F).
Step 19: Stitch Jacket Skirt to Bodice
Time to stitch the jacket bodice and skirt together. First, pin the two pieces together all along the join (view A). Carefully sew the pieces together using a 1/2" seam allowance (view B). Open the seam flat and pin ribbon over the length of the seam (view C); stitch the ribbon down along its edges to finish.
Step 20: Join Hood to Bodice
And now, the hood. Thankfully it's ready to go. Also, I intentionally made the original neckline small. You can always take away extra fabric, but adding some back in is a pain.
Pin hood to bodice at necklines, right sides together, beginning at the back of the neck and working out to the front (view A). Sew hood to bodice, easing fullness as necessary (view B). Trim seam allowance to less than 1/2"; pin ribbon around seam, encasing it (view C). Stitch down ribbon, being sure to catch all layers.
Step 21: Hand Sew Fastening to Jacket
Last step! I had originally planned to use a metal clasp to close the jacket, but worried that it wouldn't stay closed, so I decided to use a large button and loop of elastic instead.