I have made many Sew Over it patterns in the past, but hadn’t visited a pattern of theirs in over two years. When the Suraya Jacket was released, I liked the look and style and kept the idea of making it at the back of my mind. In this post, I will be sharing a full pattern review, video and the reasons why I won’t be revisiting this pattern to make it again, even though I like my jacket and I will wear it. I don’t consider this a sewing fail, because the jacket is beautifully sewn (If I say so myself). There are many aspects of bulky sewing I have not enjoyed.
Features of the Suraya Jacket
The Suraya Jacket is a shorter boxy jacket with the look of a trench coat or “mac”. Features like the shoulder epaulettes, storm flaps and loops with cuffs on the sleeve give it the look, though they are decorative only. The Jacket is not actually a trench coat at all. All these decorative features give e a rather bulky sewing feel on the body.
The length is a little lower than the natural waist and has a roomy relaxed fit at the bust and waist. It won’t reach the full hip.
The neckline has a collar stand, collar and lapel finished with facings inside. The center front does not have any closures. At the back, there is a center back seam with a small vent finished with mitered corners on the hem.
The Single welt pockets are functional and have a vertical opening. They sit high on the torso because the jacket is short. The sleeves are 2 piece sleeves.
The body of the jacket is unlined and only the sleeves are lined. The instructions only include Hong Kong finished seams as a way to finish them inside.
I will make my jacket totally unlined. I live in a hot climate and never line my sleeves, although I do line the body of some of my jackets. The garment I wear 99% of the time underneath is sleeveless, so I don’t need slinky fabric on the inside of the sleeve to help me slide in my bare arms 🙂
I’d rather a pattern mention several seam finishing options. I think it’s a choice that the seamstress should have and a large portion will be happy to make that decision based on their preference. BUT, a large amount of sewists will follow instructions rigidly and will feel obligated to do Hong Kong finishes because this is the only option mentioned in this pattern. I am not a fan of the Hong Kong finish on general seams, and it’s because I find them bulky, even when the bias tape is made with a very light fabric . They are pretty, for sure, and I’d be happy to bind the facings and edges of the pocket bags, ONLY. However, I have bound everything but the shoulder seams, hem and sleeve seams in this jacket.
Having serged edges is also very acceptable and very neat and the best thing? Less bulk and that’s important to me.
Best fabrics for the Suraya Jacket
The Suraya Jacket is designed for Spring and Autum weather and the design calls for fabric with some drape in it.
I have chosen a blue linen/rayon blend and feel it’s a better choice than pure linen. I feel that the rayon component with make the storm flaps and boxy nature of the jacket hang nicer. You need a small amount of lining fabric for the sleeves and you could make the 6 yards of bias tape you will need with the same fabric.
I had already made lots of continuous bias tape from a fun satin fabric last year and you can see how I easily made all that yardage in my tutorial on the channel. I am using that same bias tape shown there to bind the seams of this jacket.
Of course you can also use store-bought bias tape, but I think it’s hard to find pleasant quality. I would advise against stiff cotton bias tape.
The Suraya Jacket is available in sizes 6-30 UK and that corresponds to US sizing 2-26.
There are two separate drafts: 6-20UK and 18-30UK. It’s interesting to note that the pattern samples and modeled photos in the website do not include the 18-30UK range, nor can I find a sample sewn in this size range.
There seems to be no traditional testing process in the development of the extended size range? I don’t use the 18-30UK draft but for those who do, it would be beneficial to see the garment modeled in this size range.
The length of the jacket is 20-22″ depending on the size and that equals to a cropped style, in my opinion. Maybe a cropped jacket is appropriate as layering piece over fit and flare dresses with full skirts. I know I will need to add a conservative amount to the length of the jacket for my fit preferences.
There is a generous amount of positive ease on this style and 8″ of positive ease is appropriate if you plan on wearing a chunky sweater or turtleneck underneath. You will need the ease for the garments worn underneath. In my case, I went down ONE size. I plan to wear a single light layer underneath only and don’t need all that ease. I end up with 5″ of positive ease on the bust with one size less. I made a size 14 and should’ve made a size 16.
Your hip circumference will not be too important when you choose the size to sew because the jacket is a lot shorter than the full hip. The bust is the most important. There is ample ease at the waist.
Personal fitting considerations
I made a straight size 14 for my muslin straight out of the printer, expecting the need of length adjustments and on the shoulders. There are no shorten and lengthen line on the pattern pieces, I would need to find a place on the pattern where it would disrupt the design less.
The Jacket is so short! I am folding up the hem allowance in the photo. I added 2″ of length just above the welt pocket markings, to keep those intact.
I have the sleeve hem allowance folded up and will need to add 5/8″. I chose the bottom third of the two piece sleeves to add this length.
The shoulder seam sits lower than my shoulder as expected. I did a 5/8″ narrow shoulder adjustment to the main pieces and the storm flap pieces.
I mention that I expected the need for these adjustments. I had a good look at the Sew Over it website and the listing and observed the fit on the modeled photos there. The shoulders look wide on all the photos and it correlates to my previous experience with sewing Sew Over it patterns. It’s one of the few indie brands where I need to do an important shoulder adjustment consistently (Big 4 patterns are the other).
For this style, adding length needs to be conservative because the lowered hem needs to be able to fit the high hip circumference. So, 2″ was enough to not need to adjust the side seams of the original pattern, keep the intended look, but not end up with a jacket that is too short for my preference. I added the length above the welt pocket marks on the front and above the vent on the back piece, at the same height.
Sewing considerations: some bulky sewing to be expected
- The Seam allowance differs amongst the different areas of the pattern. All the neckline/collar/facings use 3/8″ and the main seams 5/8″. I like that because it considers what is best for the different techniques.
- The Epaulettes and sleeve cuffs have an interfaced, and a non interfaced piece.
- We make all the small loops for the shoulder and sleeve in one step at the beginning.
- The upper collar is interfaced and is sewn on to the interfaced collar stand.
- The under collar is not interfaced and is sewn on to the non interfaced collar stand. We cut the under collar on the straight of grain in this pattern. I prefer them cut on the bias with a center back seam, but at least this under collar is smaller than the upper collar. This is good as it allows the seam to roll to the under collar and not be seen when worn.
- The instructions around the collar and facings are very clear and easy to follow, but miss the basic steps to stay stitch, grade seam allowances and snip into the curves of the shapes before pressing.
- About Hong Kong finishing: I have absolutely no interest in sewing the binding, flipping it and stitching again in the ditch. That means two seams per edge of a pattern piece. I prefer to wrap the bias tape along the raw edge, pin and sew on the edge all at once. One stitch per pattern edge. The look will be almost the same. I can sew on the edge neatly and it looks very nice. The traditional method? not for me. Go ahead if you have the extra time to do the extra sewing for a very, very minimal “advantage” that will be hidden inside. I would rather concentrate all my efforts on other areas of the garment and to be honest, I’d rather serge all the edges.
- The yoke pieces (storm flaps) have two layers that are sewn together and flipped right sides out to have a clean edge. Grading seam allowances and snipping curves are also missing in the instructions here. I cut the second layer from very light lining fabric to have less thickness and added some under stitching to keep the inner layer from being seen.
- The completed storm flaps (yokes) are basted to the main jacket at the neckline and armholes. This means that there are several layers there already when you are ready to set in the sleeves and sew the collar/lapels. Lots of layers means bulky sewing.
- The shoulder epaulettes are sewn on to the neckline before sewing on the collar pieces. This is a VERY BULKY AREA and I can feel it and it was a struggle to sew with my domestic machine. Bulky sewing at its best. You can feel the weight of the epaulettes on the neck area.
- The two-piece sleeves have a significant amount of ease at the cap and plenty of notches to be matched to the armhole. The instructions suggest “easing” in the excess from notch to notch with your fingers. It mentions a parallel gathering stitch only if easing in is too difficult. I can’t fathom being able to set in a sleeve with all of this ease without the gathering stitches on the sleeve cap.
- The amount of ease on this sleeve will require extra tailoring techniques to provide structure on the shoulder and upper back area, including a shoulder pad for it to lie smoothly. This is not included in the pattern, and the look on the back of the sleeve is not to my liking because of the lack of structure. My look is the same look I see on the modeled photos on the website.
- The back vent has a fiddly area with the binding that needs to cover a curve and the hem has mitered corners included in the pattern. Yes! I love that.
- The welt pockets use the traditional single welt pocket technique and it’s a tad lengthier to other techniques out there that look just as nice. I opted to top stitch around the edges as an extra step. The pockets will be a tad under the bust in the original length of the jacket.
- It lines the sleeve using hand sewing on the sleeve seam and hem. Nothing difficult.
Video review & tutorial
To see the entire video review, look book and practicalities of sewing the jacket, including my muslin fit, overview of the pattern, a FASTER EASIER way to do a HONG KONG finish “look” and how to join edges of bias tape, see the video about the Suraya Jacket in my sewing channel.
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Let’s see my Suraya jacket styled
My jacket looks neat on the front, I opted out of top stitching to have this clean look and did under stitching instead on the storm flaps, collar and lapels.
My fabric will look a different shade of blue in these photographs! I will describe it as a little lighter than navy blue and darker than royal blue. My strength is sewing and not photography, obviously 🙂
I like this length and boxy style paired with dresses that have an A-line skirt, not full or straight. This is the Sonata dress from Love Notions and I like them together. See a video about this dress HERE
Overall, I like the look, it’s unique and I have nothing like this in my wardrobe. The tones of blue are abundant in my wardrobe and I know this garment will get a lot of wear.
About the back of the sleeves: I have no gathers or puckers there from when I set in the sleeves, but the generous ease in this sleeve cap requires extra tailoring there to support the shoulder and the volume of the sleeve…. AKA a small shoulder pad will help. My look is the same as the samples I see on the website. This is my least favorite look of the jacket. I will need to make myself a shoulder pad to improve this.
I really like the little loops and cuff on the sleeves. It’s one of my favorite features of the jacket.
Below, I have paired my jacket to another one of my favorite A line skirt dresses. This is the Dana Point top hacked into a dress from Itch to Stitch (See a video about this make HERE). I love the look and feel of A line skirts in light flowy wovens.
I can put my hands inside my welt pockets, but I have to raise them to do so. The pocket bag is small and anything you put inside will fall out because the pocket entrance is vertical.
If you like to sew lots of straight seams and stitching in the ditch to do the traditional Hong Kong finish, then go for it and you’ll enjoy it. I am showing the inside of my jacket here to show my easier bound edges, that from your angle, looks exactly like the Hong Kong finish and accomplishes the same goal. I would be equally happy to have serged edges.
Making it again? No. I’ve decided that there are some features in this pattern that create bulk when sewing, and I don’t enjoy the feel of all of those layers on my body. This is a pattern I will sew only once. It is an involved project that will take a few days and that is not the reason I would not sew it again, because I have repeated other styles in an equivalent difficulty before. But I need to be super happy with everything in order to repeat and make again. I have decided I don’t like epaulettes and will remove them from my jacket. These are my thoughts poured out in written and video form very honestly.
DISCLAIMER: The links to the Suraya Jacket are NOT affiliate links. I purchased the pattern and fabric for this project. I produce sewing content independently from pattern brands and share my unique way of sewing with you. I don’t necessarily follow instructions rigidly. My opinions are honest, especially around fit and sewing techniques.
The links to the Sonata dress and the Dana Point top are affiliate links. I mention them in this post as part of my style choices for this type of jacket.
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