How To Make Any Jacket Part I

How To Make Any Jacket Part I

Have you ever seen a picture of something you would love to make and wear, but you don’t know where to get a pattern for it? In this series, I will teach you how to pick a good base pattern and modify it to make the garment of your dreams.

The first step is to analyze your pictorial evidence.  Whether you saw your dream jacket on Pinterest or on an online site or you have a picture in your mind, it’s still a picture.  If it’s in your head, get it out on paper.  If it’s online, save as many views of the garment as you can find.  Multiple views will answer more questions about the construction.  Most garments posted online at least have a front and a back view.

This is a jacket that caught my eye and I thought I’d like to make myself something like this to wear when the temperature gets cool but it’s not cold enough to wear my winter coats.  I am a great fan of historical equestrian clothing, and this jacket has a bit of that style going for it.  I am also a person with a protruding posterior, so jackets with extra fabric over the bum look good on me.  Plus, I just think it looks fabulous.

But the back view reveals a few elements I don’t like.  The big problem is the attachment of the tails or skirt.  It’s attached with a flat waist seam that is rather unflattering.  A curved waist seam — maybe in the style of an 18th century gown — would be more attractive.  But even with a more shapely seam, the flat knife pleats are a bit dull from behind.  I’d like to change those.

I found a similar coat that I like a bit better. Please excuse the fact that it is way too big in the shoulders for the model who is wearing it, and consequently, she is standing with her arms shoved back at an uncomfortable angle and ruining the hang of the front of the jacket.

Let’s focus on the skirts instead.

From the side, we can see that the pleats are more round than flat. This is more pleasing to my eye. There appears to be no waist seam on this jacket. How then are the pleats accommodated?  How does it go from a closely-fitted body to such wide skirts?

Let’s take a look at it from the back.

Now we see! There is no waist seam in the back. The skirts widen from the waistline to the hem like those of a Golden Age of Piracy justacorps.  The sides of the two center back panels likely turn 90 degrees at the waist area to make the full pleats that taper towards the waist.

Another element we can see more clearly from this angle is that the side skirts cannot be contiguous with the side pieces above the waist.  The lack of dramatic taper in these pleats indicate that they start wide and stay wide.  They cannot be the same piece of fabric as the piece above the pocket.  And they’re not.  The pocket flaps are concealing a hidden seam!

Yet another similar coat gives us a better look at what might be going on under those pocket flaps.  As you can see in the front-facing photo above, there is a seam from the bottom edge that touches the pocket edge and then continues across the bust and over the shoulder (known as a “princess seam”).  The extra width of the side skirts is attached at this seam and continues to the princess seam in back.  On this example, the center back skirts are attached with a waist seam that is hidden under a buttoned tab across the back of the waist.  In our earlier example, the wider side skirts attached to the contiguous center back pieces that widened dramatically at the waistline.

So we have followed four steps so far:

  1. Analyze Your Inspiration Photos
  2. Look at the Drape
  3. Find the Seams
  4. Identify the Differences

Next time, we’ll use the information we learned in these steps to choose a pattern that will help us make our dream jacket.  Stay tuned!

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