Pink Tais turns into a Closet Core Sienna Jacket

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know I love to buy fabrics whilst travelling. You’ve been warned! This is another one of those posts where I talk about what I sewed from fabric I bought a long way from home.

A brief but wonderful trip to East Timor in 2019 resulted in two fabulous pieces of tais cloth.

Have you come across tais before? I hadn’t.

It’s woven by the women of East Timor and is an important part of their heritage. The designs vary regionally. I purchased mine from the Tais market in the capital, Dili, where  “bright colors and solid panels reflect the focus on tais commerce” according to Wikipedia.

The cloth is traditionally used for clothing and is also ideal for cushions, tablecloths and other soft furnishing uses – our hotel included tais in its décor as you can see below in my photo displaying my souvenirs on the lounge by the pool.

But you already know from my blog title that I don’t use my pink tais in soft furnishing!

I made a jacket

I was very limited by meterage. My pieces are 1.6 m long by 120 cm wide. And that 120 cm width was achieved by hand stitching two 60 cm wide pieces together after they were woven – the looms are narrow.

It was tricky to find a jacket pattern that would work.

My solution was to use Closet Core’s Sienna jacket view B but 9 cm shorter, with the lapels and collar in hot pink cotton twill, no belt, no outside breast pocket and the lower pockets both shorter and squared off. And no stress about stripe matching or the placement of that one brown/cream marled wide stripe on each piece!

I intended to add buttons to make up for the lack of belt and fastenings but I’m a bit on the fence about it.

Not sure I really need them, and buttonholes could be tricky in this loosely woven fabric. Perhaps large snaps? What do you think?

All the cut edges of the tais love to fray. I was not intending to line the jacket so it need to look good on the inside.

A Hong Kong finish seemed like the perfect solution.

Since I have a stash of vintage bias tape, already folded in various shades of orange, red and yellow, there was no stopping this idea. Not even the fact that I didn’t have enough of any one colour to use for all the seams, because… have you seen this fabric?

I had a lot of fun.

And I’ve used up a lot of my vintage bias tape stash. Which revealed that the tape had been stored on cards for recording your measurements for foundation garments…

Figure problem??? Glad I live in this century!

The pink twill lapels didn’t escape the contrast Hong Kong finish either.

I refrained from decorating the inside breast pocket – one tiny (and insignificant in the scheme of things) bit of restraint! If you can call choosing to add a hot pink secret pocket a sign of restraint….

Pretty on the inside

Those lapels are not only pink on the revere, they are also perfectly straight from top to bottom – which is not how Closet Core patterns drafted them.

Yes I did draw the new cutting line onto the fabric with a ball point pen. I like a bit of danger in my sewing room

Why did I straighten the lapels? Because the selvedge of the tais was beautiful – a bit like a grosgrain ribbon – and I wanted to preserve that on the edge of the jacket. I used the selvedge on the centre back seam too.

I don’t think my label looks that wonky in real life…

How did I manage an uncut selvedge and a cut facing? I’ll try and explain (and you’ll understand why no-one should hire me to write sewing instructions..)

I pressed the seam allowance to the wrong side of the long edge of the facing and then sewed the top edge of the facing to the collar and top of the lapel in the normal fashion.

After turning and pressing, I topstitched the collar and top of the facing of the lapel.

Then continued to ‘topstitch’ the long edge very close to edge of the outer fabric and the facing with its edge turned under.

The other edge of the facing was then stitched to the coat, as per normal.

The inside makes we just as happy as the outside – here’s the back.

The fridge at the ends of the tais is attractive, but I didn’t work out a way to incorporate it into the design. Perhaps that was a wise move – it was quite tangled after a gentle prewash.

I’m very happy with this jacket. Its wonderfully bright and deliciously soft and slouchy.

Now, what will I do with the blue tais??

Fabric really is the best souvenir!

26 thoughts on “Pink Tais turns into a Closet Core Sienna Jacket

  1. I loved reading everything that you wrote about your new sewing adventure! It was fun to look at all the photos you took to see all the nooks and crannies, and I am so impressed with how are you finished off your seams, Your beautiful fabric turned into a very nice jacket! I really enjoy your shares!

  2. Oh! I have several tais shoulder bags which are so sturdy, useful …and common in the markets…… But your jacket is fantastic! What an inspired use of the fabric.

  3. I love your jacket and enjoyed reading your details of constructing a beautiful garment to make the most of a stunning fabric. I personally wouldn’t add fastenings.

  4. Love your jacket. I’d worry about a snap damaging the integrity of the fabric and creating a point it might fray.
    It looks fine without closures, but a toggle and cord closure wouldn’t damage the fabric, and suit it’s hand weaving, or else hidden hook and eye like a Chanel jacket (cotton thread loop) for discreet closure.

  5. Love your gorgeous jacket! Both the color and the style absolutely suit you and your craftsmanship is beautiful too. Great job.

  6. Love your colourful jacket Liz, you’ve showcased the special fabric beautifully. Such a vibrant colour and works so well in that casual style and with denim. I love hearing stories combining fabric with travel especially now that armchair travel is our new ‘normal’. I would choose a snap closure and I think you can cover them with matching pink fabric or (if lazy like me) I’d try painting a snap with pink nail polish 😊😊

    1. Good idea about the nail polish. Another thought is that a large metal snap wouldn’t be all that obvious or out of place on this crazy fabric. Ahh, decisions!

  7. In re: Blue Tais – I have an idea. What about a matching jacket for your friend?? Seriously though, I don’t think you need a closure for this jacket – it is perfect as styled above

  8. Such a nice jacket. Hong Kong binding gives such a neat finish. I think snaps would be a better closure than trying buttonholes. Do you have any scraps to try a buttonhole o see what happens?

  9. I am a member of a local East Timor Friendship group here in country Victoria. We support a community with fundraising and organise school and community trips to Timor. We buy items in Timor and bring back to sell here. My husband has a beautifully made jacket from tais which features orange and purple colours sewn by someone here. Well done with your jacket!

      1. I have used the fabric to make some greeting cards to sell as well. I have used a horse punch and the connection of “The Man From Snowy River” famous Australian bush poem to the Timor pony. I live in the high country where the film was made as well.

  10. Beautiful jacket, inside and out Liz. While we’re not travelling, how fun to reminisce about past trips and fabric souvenirs! Why not see how you feel about closures after you wear it for a while? Toggles mean you can remove it if you dislike it, or even a tie which suits wrap style jackets.

    1. Another reason fabric souvenirs are the best souvenirs – they make a pandemic induced travel ban easier to deal with!
      Leaving the jacket without closures is a good idea – I’m still not missing them. But the weather hasn’t really been conducive to wearing a jacket a lot so I’ll need to trial this for a bit longer

  11. Oooh so good! I know you said you didn’t fuss over the wide stripe, but it landed perfectly! I probably wouldn’t add fastenings for a laid-back silhouette like this – plus if there’s no buttons/stripes, there’s a higher likelihood of flashing your tropical-hued binding. 🙂

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