Made by Me!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Snuggly Winter Rigel Bomber Jacket - Finished!

I am sorry for taking so long to write about the Rigel Bomber which I have made as part of the Rigel Bomber Jacket January challenge hosted by Ginger Makes - I didn't update you with my progress as to be honest I started a new job a couple of weeks ago and having had the luxury of a few months off the commute absolutely slayed me. I felt incapable of little more than sloping off to an early bed and sewing didn't even enter my head! But anyway enough excuses...and here she is!

I really enjoyed making this jacket I and would highly recommend it to others. By now you will have seen so many different versions out there to give you inspiration to make your own and even though I have now made mine up I still plan on making another one sometime soon - and I have my eye on something similar to this lovely quilted one from The New Craft Society. My boyfriend thinks I have enough coats now but surely you can never have too many?! The main plan for mine was to have a lining and a warm one as it has just got very cold here in London and you really can't be walking around in thin layers. I chose a very simple fleece fabric in black to co-ordinate with the outer fabric and it is super soft and snuggly. Perfect! This is where the downside of this pattern becomes apparent as there is no lining included or information about how to insert one. When you put together the jacket it is all relatively simple to construct and it wouldn't look awful if you made a feature out of the seams but the pockets are pretty ugly left out in the open so I was happy to hide mine. It may be that it's because these were my first ever welt pockets and I probably didn't do them as elegantly as I could have but I think even if I had done them perfectly I wouldn't want to see the guts of them - so in short even if I didn't want to line the coat for winter I would put a thin lining into it to make sure it covered any of my sewing indiscretions!!

Talking of pockets, the welt pocket was a new skill for me. Another part of my resolution skill list ticked off! The instructions were clear enough and I followed them to the letter but I am not sure they came out as well as they could. For some reason the tops of both pockets wouldn't lie flat and I had to slightly fold them under but the other sides were fine. I understood the principle of how to make them better than I actually made them I think.

The most scary thing about sewing them is when you have to cut into the fabric to make the pocket opening. I think that maybe I needed to cut the line a little longer or I needed to make the cuts a bit deeper on the v's at either end to help the welt lie flatter but I was too scared of messing it up after chopping into it already! I kinda felt I had one go at it and that's that. Next time hopefully they will be done with more finesse but having said that I think they still look pretty good for a first time effort.

The other thing that went wrong was that the pocket bags didn't seem to match up properly at the bottom and I have no idea what I did wrong here. When I first started this jacket I was intent on making them larger but suddenly thought it may be better to make them as they are in the pattern rather than play around with them so that I can study the way they are constructed and then make changes on future versions. Having never done a welt pocket before I deemed this the safer option and I am glad I did because I am not sure I wouldn't have made the pocket situation worse than I had already. I have to say though that this jacket really does require larger pockets - even if the bottoms of mine had matched up so they were slightly deeper they are still way too small for my hands and I don't have giant hands by any standard! I think having looked at other peoples this is a general comment that keeps popping up though so its not really anything new.

Coming on to the lining I decided I wanted to challenge myself to work out how to insert one myself without reading how other people had constructed theirs. I have made linings from scratch before and they worked out ok so I didn't think it was particularly ambitious to give it a go uninstructed. Generally I found the process pretty easy. I admit to unpicking a couple of bits when I made silly mistakes but generally it was all quite straightforward. These were the steps I took if anyone is interested to follow suit. The one thing I would do differently when I make it again would be to slightly lengthen the lining on the very front of the jacket at the bottom - the bits that dangle lower at the front - as I found them a little tight to sew into the jacket. It doesn't need to be anymore than a cm or two but I think it would be really helpful.

Step 1 - Cut out the main self fabric in all pieces and ribbing pieces in ribbing fabric. Cut out the lining pieces omitting the welts, pockets and ribbing.

Step 2 - Sew together the pattern as instructed using the self fabric and ribbing fabric only. Stop once you have sewn in the ribbing at the neck, waist and sleeve openings. Topstitch as directed.

Step 3 - Sew together the lining fabric as per the outer shell omitting the pockets and ribbing.

Step 4 -  There are two things you can do at this point. Because I wanted the bulk of the fleece all the way through the lining rather than the fabric moving obviously from thick to thin where the facings were attached, I sewed the facing pieces on the fleece fabric so that they acted as one. However, if your linings are of similar weight then you can measure the facings (remember to omit the seam allowance) and cut it away from the lining pieces. At this point you would sew the facing pieces together with the lining pieces to create one piece so that it comes out the same shape and size as your outer shell. I have to also point out that I sewed my lining with a slightly larger seam allowance than the outer body to allow the bulky fabric to fit into the jacket.

Step 5 - Pick up the pattern again and sew in the facing pieces with the lining attached, sewing all around from the bottom of the jacket next to the ribbing, up past the zip, across the top and down the other side. The only opening now will be at the bottom. Turn the jacket the right way round, put the arms through the armholes and pull the lining down neatly and put in place. You can now topstitch anywhere you wish to topstitch such as around the neck area or either side of the zip.

Step 6 - Sew lining in place at key points at the shoulders and underarms to secure it and stop it shifting. You can do this by hand or by machine by stitching in the ditch - or stitching in the seam line so you wont see it.

Step 7 - Fold under the jacket lining all around the bottom - clipping diagonally into the corners to fit around the 90 degree angle of the ribbing and hand stitch in place.

Step 8 - Fold under the lining of the sleeves and hand stitch it down around the ribbing of the sleeves.

You should now have a fully enclosed jacket with no open seams on show. Since making my jacket I have searched the web and seen how many other people have lined their jackets and the other good tutorials are on Kate and Laney's site where she seems to have done it the same way as me (but she's also got great pics to explain the process) and Sewn by Elizabeth. There may be better ways of doing it than this and with no hand sewing but I couldn't work it out and this way worked well for me.

Just a final note about fit of this jacket. I am really glad I lengthened the sleeves - it means they are long enough to hide my hands under. As for the overall sizing I am really in between small and medium on this pattern so I cut the medium and sewed up the jacket with a 5/8 seam allowance rather than a 3/8 as on the pattern instructions. This was great for my sizing but if the jacket hadn't had a bulky lining I think it would have been too baggy. I think in future - and when I don't need anything too heavyweight inside - I will go for a small and chance my luck!

The downsides of this make (and this has nothing to do with the pattern itself) are that the lining really is a little too much. I had worries it would be before I began but I had hope at the beginning it would work out somehow but honestly there were points throughout sewing it together where I kind of wanted to give it up because the machine strained badly through all the layers and it just became a little cumbersome and bulky. It works when wearing it with thin tops and so I can see myself wearing it with a few of my clothes but the fact is its just a wee bit too much. Coupled with the fact the lining isn't smooth so it doesn't slide it actually is a pain to get on and off as well. I knew this would be the case but I did think I may have more room for manoeuvre inside the garment. Really I shouldn't have lined the sleeves as you can get away with the bulk in the main body of the coat but its the arms where it is a little tight. The neck also really showed the thickness of the fabric layers so I topstitched the neckline. It looks ok on the outside but the inside is a little bulbous on the stitched section. Not my best work. You live and learn and at least I now know how to make it with a lining, and a summer version would be much better. Come spring I think it will be my go to pattern once again in a nice floral cotton. I just need a little break in between making it again as it has left me feeling mildly annoyed and frustrated with myself.

Overall its a beautiful pattern, it comes in lovely packaging and its a winner in terms translating a popular trend from the high street. I think my version is still good but not quite what I was hoping for in the end and I definitely will wear it. Have you challenged yourself to a Rigel Bomber yet? I would love to see your versions too.


  1. HI! I would like to include your Rigel in a roundup for Sew Mama Sew sewing trends. please contact me at great work! thank you.

    1. Thanks for including me on your winter trends blog round up Kelley - it's very exciting! For anyone thats interested you can see the page here -

  2. Just gathering supplies to make one of these....lining tips useful as I intend to add one too.
    Can you help.....where did you get material (specified as ribbing material) for the bands and collar? I am after black suitable material and not quite sure what I am looking for! I am UK based too so hoping you can point me in the direction of somewhere accessible over here

    1. Hi Ann. I searched for a while to find good ribbing and in the end got it from neotrims on EBay. They do different sizes as far as I can remember so you can get thicker or thinner ribbing. I ended up buying a metre so I have lots to make more Rigel bombers in the summer! It looks good quality and just like anything you see on jackets on the high street. It comes in five colours and cost £8.50. Bargain! Hope you enjoy sewing yours up and the lining tips do proove useful. Happy sewing

  3. Woow. I really love your jacket. It looks amazing. I'm very beginning at sewing so not sure if I can actually do it myself :). We are selling these multi-pocket travel jackets you should check out though.


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