The Graduate Blazer

In grad school, my classmate and friend Toni taught us about power poses. Before an important presentation or event, she would have us strike a pose that made us feel powerful, like we could take on any task at hand. And then we did - pose and take on that task. And as silly as I thought it was at first, it really did help! I felt ready to take on the world!

This blazer is my power pose. It's professional but casual, and also has a special little touch that will always remind me of my time at grad school and all the hard work we put in.

Pattern: SBCC's Rickey Jacket with shawl collar view
Fabric: cotton linen blend for shell, cotton sateen for lining
Cost: $30 for the shell, $50 for the lining = $80

The thing that makes this blazer so special is the lining fabric. It is printed with the data code that I used to process my data for my master's thesis (that's R code for you nerds out there). It looks a bit like the matrix in there, but it's something I spent a lot of time on and was very proud of. For me, this fabric was a great way to commemorate learning new skills and completing this massive project before graduation.

For those who are curious, I worked with the Oakland Police Department for my public policy thesis to analyze over ten months of traffic stop data. The research built on findings that traffic stops in our community have been racially imbalanced, with African Americans significantly more likely to be stopped than white residents. My analysis looked at how officer stress and fatigue, such as not taking breaks, working long shifts, and responding to multiple 911 calls might affect these interactions by amplifying interactions. Most notably, I found that officers have a culture of not taking breaks during their shifts, which could exacerbate bias in their interactions. You can read the full report here, or hear me on the radio toward the end of this broadcast here.

While I mostly complained about my personal stress and lack of sewing time on my blog at this time, I was immensely excited to participate in such valuable research in my own community, and earn a degree while doing it. In celebration, I originally ordered this fabric for my graduation dress, but it didn't come in time. So there it sat in my closet for a couple of years, waiting for just the right project. Finally. I decided - a blazer! It was the perfect opportunity to put something powerful in something that made me feel powerful. And it's just quirky enough to be fun!

The pattern I used was the Skinny Bitch Curvey Chick Ricky Jacket. Some of you may know that this is a petite pattern in a wide size range, from 00 to 28. I am not petite. But what attracted me to this pattern was the cool shawl collar and I couldn't get it out of my head. So I de-petited it by lengthening each piece by two inches at the lengthen shorten time. It's not altogether necessary given all the great blazer patterns out there, but it was interesting to do and let me try out a new-to-me pattern maker.

Overall I thought the SBCC pattern was great. There are instructions for tailoring and lining the jacket. It's also got a great technique for making the welt pockets that makes them a lot easier. My only complaint is something that bothers me on a lot of patterns: sometimes the directions are very hand-holdy, and other times it leaves out steps that I would think a sewer who needs handholding might not know. For example, it includes instructions for what an edgestitch is, how to sew stitches for easing the armhole, and how to mark a buttonhole for stitching, but doesn't talk about how to clip the seam allowances to reduce bulk at the collar or create the turn of cloth on the lapel. On a lot of indy patterns I'm left wondering, who is this sewer who doesn't know what edgestitching is but knows all about what seam allowances to trim and how? Anyway, small grievance that I see all the time.

On my jacket, I wish I hadn't put the buttonhole up so high. That wasn't how the pattern was designed and I'm not sure why I did it because it looks a little silly now. If I'm remembering correctly, I think I also had to lower the height of the sleeve cap because I just couldn't get that thing set in there without some puckering.

But I am super proud of my jacket and that little touch that helps me celebrate becoming a professional in my field. Now off to do some more power poses before I psych myself out!


  1. Really cool idea for the lining and what a worthwhile thesis project! It totally make sense that people in high stress jobs that don't take breaks out of some notion that it speaks ill of them would be putting their decision making skills at risk and fall into biased thinking.

  2. A dark blue blazer is such a useful wardrobe item and that lining makes it all the more interesting. Looks great and love your observations about the pattern instructions.

  3. Wow, what a special jacket. And so beautifully made too.

  4. Fabulous job and the lining is so cool! My partner is a big fan of R so it was fun to share your post with him (which he now wants to share with his team at work). Nice job! (p.s. It was particularly refreshing to read about your hard work on the jacket and thesis after hearing about the college admissions scandal this week and all the folks who were not respecting the value of hard work. Ahem.)


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