Boleros are a remarkably versatile garment to have in your wardrobe. Everything Gertie creates can be defined as glamour so when she launched her Patreon, it was pretty hard to resist. Every month, Patreon subscribers receive an exclusive pattern. This is one of my favourites and, having just sewn up my first, I plan to build a little collection of variants.
The bolero originated in the mid 1800s but, for me, they’re indicative of 1950’s fashion. It became a staple complement to lighter summer dresses and petticoats. In the 1980s they made another comeback with Yves Saint Laurent’s designs, re-emerging in the 2000s as a perfect combination with cocktail dresses. Similarly to cropped cardigans, the bolero jacket is perfect for my style of dresses (which make up 99.999% of my wardrobe).
This was a total pleasure to sew – I thoroughly enjoyed every part of this project. I was worried that my wee machine wouldn’t be able to withstand the layers, particularly for collar construction but it did a great job and I had no difficulty. The ponte roma I used was so beautiful and glided through.
Size-wise, the only measurement you need for this garment is your upper bust measurement so it’s an uncomplicated sew – there is no need to grade or adjust this pattern. Saying that, the fit is generous so I’d consider making a size down next time.
In terms of the construction; the main body of the bolero is merely two pattern pieces; the other pieces are for the facing and collar. There are two lengths of sleeves; 3/4 and full length. I wanted to make the full length but the ponte was only 57″ wide and the full length requires 60″ width. I’ll be sure to order the correct width next time – it was the shade of red that drew me to the fabric I’ve used here.
The bolero requires very little shaping – there are a couple of little darts in the back. Basically everything need interfaced other than the main garment pieces; it was my first time working with knit interfacing – I love it. It’s much more pleasant to deal with that the regular stuff!
There are a few little hand finishes to do which are great while watching a festive film; the sleeves are hand hemmed (with a ballpoint needle – it really does make a difference). I used a catch stitch.
I used a snap closure and a self covered ‘faux’ button (sewing button holes into knit fabrics is best avoided).
I may have benefitted from a walking foot for the topstitching as the fabric was hard to keep even as it was feeding through but I doubt very much an untrained eye would notice.
I love the finished garment and can’t wait to make a few more – maybe even get some gorgeous rhinestones and pearls to embellish the collars. I’ll start with a black in boiled wool knit, I think.