Dolly and The Strays

Posted Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Hello sewists!

Back again with another pre-baby make and this one isn’t a maternity garment.

Here is a true-confession: I find that though I’m nearing my largest pregnancy-wise, I am losing interest in sewing for a melon shape. It’s not that much longer until the little mite makes his appearance, I am missing my waist, AND I want to look toward the things that I can sew and enjoy once he’s born. Any new maternity makes really won't get more than a couple of weeks wear. Where's the joy in that?

That being said, enter my shiny new rockabilly jacket à la Dolly Parton! (Google “Dolly Parton Denim Jacket” and you’ll see why! She’s amazing). It’s Butterick B6390 and is from their “patterns by Gertie” line. Of the design, Gretchen said that it was “directly inspired by Rosie the Riveter and ‘40s workwear.” I’m 100% on board with that!

To see her lovely versions and more design details see Gertie’s original blog. I know everyone’s been lusting after the polka-dot jacket that she made!

Of course I want to show-off my cattern matching and there is a rogue thread on the pocket!

As an aside, I’ve been really getting into ‘30s everything and ‘40s daywear – I’ve collected some lovely vintage and repro patterns which I can’t wait to sew up and share more of! When reorganising my pattern stash recently, I realised that the majority of my true-vintage patterns are from the ‘40s. It’s an era and style I’ve always been drawn to but I've not even dipped my toe in. I haven't really known where to begin. Also because so many people do it so well, it almost seems a bit intimidating. I think I probably feel that way because I love it so much and want to strike the right balance…… 

In spite of this, sewing a ‘40s inspired, rockabilly cat jacket was a fun place to start and was absolutely lovely to sew. As mentioned before, I refer to this make as my Dolly Parton Jacket. My mum said it needs more rhinestones to truly be a Dolly Parton Jacket. She’s not wrong!

When I pop it on, I definitely feel happy and I like to think of Dolly herself and some of her more memorable quotes

Also, I feel as though Matilda and I could form some sort of tribute band. I’m thinking we’ll call it “Dolly and The Strays” and we will begin touring in the VW Kombi van ASAP. Anyone who wants to join us, feel free to audition. I’m even open to “The Strays” being Dolly’s backup singers. Please put the word out. I’ll let Ms Parton know too!

When I saw this fabric, I just knew that I had to sew something up with it. Even just for the challenge of pattern-matching. It’s much more fun to pattern-match black cats than say, tartans, spots or stripes! It was a bit like doing a puzzle and although it did mean that fussy-cutting took a while, it was almost meditative.

Regarding the print, I know that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I wasn’t even sure if it was mine to be frank. While sewing, I was thinking to myself;

“Can I wear this?”

“Will I be able to pull this off? I’m only in my 20’s – shouldn’t I be trying to dress more like a Kardashian?” 

“Do too many cats age a person?!”

Answers on a postcard please.

The pattern on the back yoke and panels was really fun to piece together. Tap to zoom!

For the record:

  • Fabric was from the lovely ladies at The Drapery (they have a shopfront down in Adelaide and wonderful online service. Fiona and Jane always respond to my e-mails and are so fabulous at fabric recommendations!). The outer fabric is a lovely design from Japan (Kokka or Cosmo? Not sure), which I’d describe as a mid-weight linen canvas. For the lining I selected a lovely pink denim-twill affair. The dusky pink matches the roses beautifully. Together these fabrics gave the jacket a really comfortable weight.
  • Hardware-wise, I sourced some beautiful rose-gold buttons from Etsy and they were perfect....if not for the fact that they’re snaps more suited to a purse closure. It’s the first time I’ve made a mistake like that purchasing online. Lesson learned! In the end I got some lovely onyx jeans-hardware type buttons from Buttonmania. Their service was wonderful and I received the buttons (via express post) that same week. Thank goodness because jacket progress had been frustratingly halted! I found hammering them into place really cathartic. 
  • For the topstitching, I bought some actual top-stitching thread but I wasn’t thrilled with how it feed through my machine and so chickened out and used a regular contrasting all-purpose thread in a dusky pink. I wish that I’d been braver because topstitching thread is so glossy and thick. BUT because I live so far away from anyone able to fix my machine I’m really cautious about risk-taking! (Still haven’t replaced my overlocker. It’s a sore point). For those who aren’t ‘fraidy cats I’d totally recommend using actual topstitching thread to elevate the jacket that little bit more. Either way, my main tip for topstitching would be to ensure that you increase the stitch length a bit to really make it pop! 
  • My final construction point would be to consider using a walking foot. I have one, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me to use it until I was almost done! My machine wasn’t sewing crisp straight lines to the level that I’d expect. I put that down to fabric thickness…….and it possibly needing a service. Another cause could have been needle type - but I'd checked and tested that before commencing sewing.

This pattern has been around since 2016 and I’m really surprised that I haven’t seen many versions of it. Especially given the denim-jacket revival that has hit the high-street and mainstream pattern trends, I definitely think Butterick B6390 is worth a look. In fact, I plan to sew another! (If only to stop myself from being known as "Cat Jacket Lady" around town. It hasn't happened yet, but it could. We already have an older gentleman who is very well known for the things festooning his hat!)

I had a lot of fun sewing this jacket as the construction details are a bit different to my usual makes. (i.e. hardware buttons, cuffs, a pleated full-lining) and it was a nice change of pace. I really focussed on getting the details right and I think (I hope) it shows.

Have you tried this pattern? Or have you even just made something completely out there that you LOVE but is a bit of a love/hate (aka marmite) situation for others? Let me know!

Until next time,


P.S. I’m actually NOT a cat person – which deepens the mystery as to why I’m so infatuated with this print! 

Partial range view, just a bit out of town. The colours are so vibrant!