I’m a little shocked that I followed up my jeans making adventure with a jacket making adventure. Usually I follow up slow sews with quick sews. However, I did actually make a few quick things in between that never made it in front of the camera. But without an Instagram post did they even happen?
Since this is another long detailed post like my Jeans post I’m going to help you jump around.
- The story – It’s not long, you really should start here 😉
- fit adjustments
- design features – 6 hacks!
- time investment
- overall thoughts
- favorite tools used
Initially I had no intention of making this jacket. My jeans were my magnum opus (until now of course) I figured that more and more ready to wear clothing is coming in tall sizes, surely I could find a utility jacket that fits better than the other jackets I own. False. Retail tall sizing is for 5’9″-5’10”. That is still 3″ too short for me and apparently those 3″ are in places that make a difference. Like my monkey arms and that extra-prominent floating rib I have – does anybody else struggle with those ribs??? Two to three years ago I bought this utility jacket from J. Crew in tall size and a pretty blue color. It went back because it was too short. This year I bought the Gap utility jacket. I wanted it to work so badly, and it was only $50, but the waist cinching on my rib cage was a deal breaker. I posted it on my IG stories, and the votes were unanimous in favor of me making my own.
I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to tackle the big project though. On my Girls trip in Denver early this fall I was in good company in the backseat in Allie’s car with Feurine and a bolt of Army Green stretch twill. (Now sold out, but she has a few jacket kits left in Navy and Grey that go with her Lonetree jacket) I may have fallen in love with the fabric during that car ride and so I wasn’t surprised when 2.5 yards ended up in my suitcase, along with a paper copy of the Kelly Anorak that I asked Erin to pick up for me from Fancy Tiger Craft just before heading home. There was no turning back now.
Little did I know I would spend almost my entire fall sewing on this jacket. Don’t let that stop you if you are considering making one, I had various contributing factors, like three rounds of mastitis for starters! I also traced and muslined a size 6 only to conclude that I needed to size up. And tracing involved implementing all my length adjustments and broad back adjustment. Going forward if I ever plan to muslin a woven garment with lots of pieces, I will only trace the pattern pieces I intend to muslin instead of every. single. piece. It took me a while to come to grips with needing to retrace everything again, so I set it aside and came back to it a week later.
I added 3″ to the length of the bodice, 1″ to the hood for my long neck and 4″ to the sleeves. The pattern has lengthen lines on the bodice, but not on the sleeves or the hood, and since those both have multiple pieces that fit together around curves you have to make sure to lengthen at the same place on all the pieces. Initially I picked two notches on the sleeves for lengthening points, but the sleeve ended up too tight. So I pulled out my fitting book since I knew it addressed two-piece sleeves, and I learned that sleeves are lengthened just under the armscye. That made sense, so I put 3″ of length there and another inch by the cuff and it made a world of a difference.
Also, look at that waist tie. It hits at my natural waist, not on my rib cage. Whodathought that’s where it’s supposed to go? Ask me how many times in my life I’ve had a garment tie on my actual waist? You got it. Never. I had to lower the waist tie 4.5″ from where it was on the pattern even though I only added 3″ to the bodice so either it’s pretty high on the pattern or I have more than just just one extra rib…
Often when I make length adjustments it still fits within the generous pattern yardage recommendations, So I’ve grown accustomed to living on the edge and ordering the bare minimum. However I might barely have been able to squeeze out the collard version if I wouldn’t have made any mistakes and had I gone with the pattern pockets, but I ended up needing almost another yard to fit in all my design changes and OCD re-dos. I was in trouble though, because the fabric was already sold out both at Indie Sew and Fancy Tiger. Allie came to my rescue though and gave me her own personal cut. She also set me up with all of the hardware. Can you believe it? I love her….and I owe this jacket to her.
The original design of this jacket is beautiful, and I hope to make one just like it someday. For this one I wanted to take a couple design features from the Gap jacket and add a few others as well. There was no question I wanted a detachable hood. Long hair doesn’t lay smoothly over a pulled back hood (see picture), but hoods are very handy, especially since it’s very windy in the Great Plains. So the best of both worlds is a detachable hood. Even better if your pockets are large enough to store the hood when not in use. check and check.
Since the pattern comes with the option of a collar or a hood I just made both, interfaced the hood where I wanted the snaps, trimmed down the shaping on the hood so it didn’t meet in the front and that was it. That was the easiest of all my hacks…. Actually the elbow patches may have been the easiest.
The main front pockets are the most practical feature on this jacket. And lemme tell you, I LOVE them! It’s two pockets in one so your hands can slide in behind the pocket facing and the top features a button closure and pleated bag for extra capacity. It can hold a lot. It took me a while to figure out how to get all the seams enclosed nicely. I was taking pictures of each step so I could do a tutorial but when I got to the end I realized it would have been better to cut the facing and pocket bag in one long piece instead of two. That would have saved me an extra seam to enclose. But if there is interest for a tutorial let me know and I’ll share it anyway.
I also added breast-pockets with the same pleats. I installed the top flap in the front yoke seam and that worked perfectly.
Another design feature I’m excited about is the back vent. I saw these a lot this year on various RTW jackets so I figured I needed one too. I thought it might prevent the jacket from riding up when I walk if that is even a thing and since it is a slim fit design the vent keeps the bottom of the jacket from ever looking too restrictive at the front thigh. This feature took some planning as well. I used this tutorial as a guide, but changed a few things to enclose it how I wanted. I had to add a center seam to add the vent, so more pretty Rifle Paper Co. binding for the guts. Oh and I also gave the label area some extra attention as well. So from seeing the outside nobody will ever ask if I made it, while the inside screams custom made.
6 design changes on my first go at the jacket made for a really long project. In my head they were all straightforward but it took time. The jacket itself is slow fashion project. I would say the time investment is comparable to making jeans. I went into it expecting to spend 1-2 weeks working one section at a time. I think that was a reasonable expectation even though it took me more like 6-8 (but about 4 of those weeks I don’t even know if I set foot in my sewing room). The instructions are easy to follow. My perfectionism played a huge role in how long it took as well as the fact that this was my first jacket. I’m pretty sure I did every seam at least twice, and some more. I’m not normally hyper-perfectionist, but when I know I am going to be investing a lot of time into something and I expect it to last for years, then I don’t want to have anything I will regret. I’m much more willing to get out the seam ripper to improve something on a slow fashion project than I am on say a simple shirt. The amount of time invested in something like a jacket pays off with how long it will last and how often you can wear it. You can wear a jacket every day in a row without making people wonder and without needing to wash it.
There was one issue that I ran into with the placket. I finished installing the zipper, and proudly posted it to my stories when I noticed there wasn’t going to be enough room for the snaps. I was horrified. I re-checked all my seam allowances and re-read the pattern instructions several times. At most I was able to identify 1/8″ variance on one of my pattern measurements, but there was absolutely no way the snaps were going to fit unless I took at least a half inch out of the top right facing which meant unpicking the placket, facing, pocket, and hem. I noticed also that my pockets and grommet on the left side of the jacket were significantly farther away from the placket than they were on the right side, but an adjustment to the facing would also remedy this. The issue was significant enough to warrant writing the designer and I was pleased with the level of customer service I received. First off there was an errata posted that increased the zipper seam allowance which accounted for 1/4″ of the issue. I had actually checked the errata list prior to beginning but nothing stuck out to me at the time and since I took so long to make the jacket all was forgotten by that point. She also sent me the digital version of the most up to date instructions, which are also posted here. So overall I am impressed with how that was handled and I can appreciate that Closet Case Patterns stands behind their product and isn’t afraid to make corrections if necessary. I was ready to swear off buying paper patterns if it meant you were SOL when changes were made, but this redeemed them for me. On my next jacket I will probably still test to see whether I think the facing needs to be 1/4″ narrower or not before locking it all down and I will lean towards placing the left grommet and pockets closer to the placket, but I can’t for sure say whether that would be necessary until I try again.
So speaking of my next jacket, the whole time I was making this I was planning my azure colored wind and weather-proof insulated version in my head. I almost began sourcing the fabrics when I came back to reality and decided that would be a project for next year. My sewing time has been so limited this year with the addition of a third kid and I need to stick with my wardrobe plans and family Christmas presents for now.
The pattern instructions and fit of the jacket are superb. Despite my issues with the placket I absolutely love the placket design. It is legit, and it looks beautiful decked out in heavy duty snap hardware.
I can honestly say I am 100% proud of this jacket! There is nothing that I am ashamed of. You know how you sometimes feel the need to point out all your errors so people know you know they are there? Well I don’t have that feeling at all. I wear it proudly. It makes me smile when I put it on. It keeps me warm (I’ll wear it for 25 degrees and up) and comfortable, and it fits oh so well.
Thank you so much for reading this post. I hope you found it helpful! Let me know if you want me to post any pictorials of my hacks, and drop a line if you have a floating rib too – Solidarity!
Favorite Tools used on this project:
These are the snaps that come with the Indiesew jacket kit and I love them. My jacket had a total of 23 snaps! That’s 46 sides I had to pound, and these installed like a dream with the tool that came with the Indiesew set. They look amazing and work great, I absolutely geeked out when I saw these on my jacket.
I replaced two of my most used measuring tools while making this jacket. Both for the same reason: the markings keep coming off becacuse they were poorly made.
I replaced my cheapo dritz seam gauge with this Clover multi-purpose seam gauge
and I replaced my illegible fiskars 3×18 quilters ruler with this omnigrid version becacuse my Omnigrid rulers last.
And these applique scissors are on my wish list now after Heather from Closet Case recommended them.
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