It is been a while since I participated in a pattern test, but I could not resist when Kennis from Itch to Stitch asked for testers for the Andes Jacket. This is the perfect pattern for the upcoming season when the weather is cold and rainy. I like the slim fit and design lines and the length in the back.
The Andes Jacket is designed for fleece-backed softshell fabric. I have never sewn with softshell before so I ordered some fabric samples from different fabric stores. Even with those samples, it was not easy to choose a fabric. I finally settled on a softshell described as wind- and waterproof. As I intend to use the jacket now during fall and early winter, the fabric should be warm. Finally, I wanted something bright for the darker months. My choice fell on the softshell BASIC from extremtextil.
For the lining (needed for the hood and pockets) I used a cotton print that I had in my stash. I had used it before for an ITS top and I think the little red motifs match perfectly with the red softshell.
I started with a size 4 A cup graded to size 6 for the hips and also added 1cm in length above the waist at the lenghten/shorten-line and then sewed up a muslin. The muslin felt tighter than I expected a jacket to be.
The Andes jacket has a slim fit, but it felt a bit restrictive and I debated with myself if and how I should add further changes. However, in the end, I am glad that I did not add further changes. The softshell has a bit of horizontal give/stretch so the final jacket does not feel restrictive at all. If I would use a non-stretch fabric I would add a bit of ease around the shoulders/armholes.
I marked the pattern pieces with a frixion pen and cut the fabric in single layer. I was afraid that it would be too thick when cutting in double layers and with a rotary cutter (which is my preferred method usually). It took some time but I think was worth the effort.
As always the ITS instructions are very clear and detailed. I did not have any issues, even the pockets were straightforward thanks to precise pictures and descriptions.
Before I started with the jacket I tried different stitch lengths and tensions on some scraps. I usually skip this step, but as this was my first time sewing softshell, I wanted to be on the safe side.
I used a microtex needle but got a lot of skipped stitches when topstitching over seams. When I changed to a stretch needle I did not have that issue anymore, so this would be my recommendation for sewing softshell. I also used a slightly larger stitch size (3.0 instead of my usual 2.5). For topstitching, I used a thicker thread (50). I purchased this thread some years ago by mistake but it happened to be the perfect color for this project now.
Deviating from the instructions I serged the edges of the facings as in my opinion, this looks neater on the inside and it saved me from needing to be precise when zigzagging the facings. As I used a slightly thicker thread for topstitching, stitching from the left side was no option for me. Before stepping down the hood facing, I inserted the cord. This saved me the pain of threading the cord through my rather small grommets.
I messed up a bit with the sleeves. I had not yet changed to a stretch needle when I was hemming the sleeves. The sleeves are rather tight (they will be a bit less tight in the final pattern) which made hemming in the round quite difficult. In addition to that, I got a lot of skipped stitches so I decided to unpick the hem and part of the side seam, hem the sleeves flat, and close the side seam again. The topstitching was perfect now. However, when I wore the jacket on a hike, the side seam was annoying me. It sticks out a bit and in the tight sleeves, it rubs against my wrist. So I think I will unpick again and sew the hem as intended. With the stretch needle, the topstitching should go well.
I am not sure when was the last time that I sewed such a big project. Towards the end, it became increasingly difficult to maneuver the jacket on my rather small sewing table.
I was on a hike today and the jacket performed very well. I could wear a sweater underneath but I put it off after a while because it was too warm. I am sure that this jacket will get a lot of wear during the next weeks. If I make this jacket again, I would add a hanging loop and think of a solution how to fix the pockets to the jacket. They are flapping around a bit, especially when the jacket is worn open. All in all, I love how the jacket turned out and it was highly approved by my boyfriend which is always a good sign.
Disclaimer: I got the pattern for free in exchange for testing it. I bought the fabric myself. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.