Chinese Jacket Embellishment Options:  Part One

The gods are in the details and this pattern is loaded with a layering plethora of great instructions and interesting history to accompany and inspire. The 114 Chinese Jacket is a fabulous pattern in it self, with so many truly wearable options. But if you love Folkwear patterns for all the "bonus material" as much as I do, then you are in for a treat!  You are missing out if you do not take the time to enjoy reading all the beautifully researched history, techniques, and inspiration that accompany the Folkwear 114 Chinese Jacket Pattern.

I took my own advice and read all the "bonus material" provided in the pattern and considered all the possibilities, learning about techniques and their meanings in the Chinese culture along the way.  From embroidery to making your own cording, to knotted buttons . . . it was going to take a minute to let the swirl of ideas settle. 

Pattern and "bonus materials"

Thinking my project out

Not only can you make several jackets from this pattern, but the pattern and extra features inspire creativity to use the designs and embellishments in other projects.  Since there was so much inspiration to draw from, I set my sights on making a multi-layered project. I decided that I would make the two roundel designs in the pattern and decorate "something" with my results.  Of course, they can be used on a jacket, but I wanted to do a quicker project and show how these designs (and the pattern) can be used in even more creative ways.

The emblem designs provided as transfers and the roundels I would make.

When I need ideas, I go to "THE BOX".  This is my box of used, to-be-repaired, or unfinished projects (you know you have "the box" at your house too).  Here I found a long forgotten, but much loved old purse in my collection of worn out treasures, just waiting for me to rediscover it. It was perfect... it even had a bit of an Asian aesthetic.  My old purse was going to enjoy a new life and how apropos that this spring season would be it’s debut. (I am not showing you the old purse because it's so old, it's embarrassing!)

Next I needed to decide what to make my roundels out of and how to begin?  If you want to do a similar project, here's where this blog post can help you out.

Supplies and materials

First, you need the pattern, of course.  The embellishment/embroidery designs are in the pattern and can be added And, this pattern is on sale all month (March 2020), so it's a great time to get it if you don't have it yet.

I am trying to being more mindful about how I approach new projects, and refraining from rushing to the craft store or online to purchase a load of new supplies.  Since I had already been given a collection of fabric pens, and the pattern had suggested using fabric pens, this became my starting point.

Embroidery was the next obvious choice, due to all the instructional stitches offered in the pattern. I had an idea what to expect from embroidery, but using fabric pens was new to me. I gave the pens a try and discovered I liked the water-color-effect, as well as the more precise lines I could achieve. After some experimentation, I decide a combination of fabric pens and embroidery would be the foundation for my project.

I let the permanent fabric pens determine my color palette.

There are a lot of fabric pens out there to try, just note they are not all permanent and the colors are many.  Most come with dual ends - one fine end to draw with and the other end more like a paint brush. The brands I used were Fabricolor and Fabrico.

As for embroidery thread, I chose DMC embroidery cotton floss in colors that coordinated with my fabric pens, as well as a DMC metallic thread for couching.  You could also use #8 perle cotton or silk floss.

Fabric:  Coarsely woven fabrics will not take fine detail well when using the iron-on transfers provided in the pattern. This holds true for using the tracing method too.  I suggest experimenting with different fabrics to determine the look you like when using the permanent fabric pens. I tried a piece of handkerchief linen, silk haboti, and cotton lawn all in varying shades of white. I chose white fabric because I wanted my ink colors to be true. Keep in mind that applying colored ink to colored fabric alters the colors of the ink.  I ended up using a pre-washed and pressed fine cotton lawn, because it takes the iron on transfers well and it is also easy to see through to trace the design.

Some fabric pen testing on the cotton lawn I would end up using

NOTE: If you decide to use your transfers it is important to not be tempted to iron your transfers to simply smooth out the paper creases like you would when preparing a pattern piece. You will ruin the transfer. Simply smooth out the transfer with your hands and do not iron until you are ready to actually make the transfer to your fabric.

Transferring the Design

If you decide to trace use a light box or window to backlight your work to help you see more precisely, just tape your design print to the light box or widow and tape your fabric on top of your design and trace. I recommend tracing with a light hand and use a fine mechanical pencil. This will help prevent lead smudges and lead dust you can get from regular sharpened pencils which can get your fabric dirty.

The mechanical pencil I used to trace the roundels with.

Coloring the Design

To assist me in deciding how to color my roundels and experiment with color placement, I decided to scan the roundel designs into photoshop on the computer and then printed off the designs to paper. This helped to avoid wasting my supply of fabric. You could size up or down using this approach.  Of course, you can always make copies of the design and use colored pencils, pastels, or markers.

Once you decide on your color scheme, you are ready to begin!

My experimentation with coloring

I decided to appliqué seemed like a good idea (in case I messed up or did not like my work). I traced the roundel design onto a piece of white cotton lawn and went to work colouring the fabric using the paper studies as my guide. 

One roundel colored

Then the second one. 

Add the Embroidery

I kept the size of my roundel the same size as the transfer. I felt comfortable with the size of what I was about to tackle. Going larger seemed daunting considering how much embroidery would be required and going smaller seemed like it might get to tedious with small details.

I cut my cotton lawn fabric larger than the design required, so I could use the embroidery hoop I had. Note that embroidery hoops come in varying size, so pick a size that works for you.

Now the layering fun begins and I am off to implement all the embroidery stitches I the instructions teach in this pattern. As you can imagine this part will take a bit more time, but check back next week to the outcome of this multilayer-skill-filled-learning project.  And, part two will include a free PDF pattern(!) of the purse design.