Forty Year Wool Jacket

My grandmother visited the Pendleton woollen mill in the 1960s and bought two 2 yard remnants of 100% wool navy blue suiting fabric for $6 each (so $12 total). In August, she gave these to me, saying she’d never got around to sewing up anything with them and she thought I’d make better use of it.

I’ve been working on the jacket portion of my tuxedo-inspired suit (the show piece from my F/W 07 Collection) for the better part of January now, and I finally finished it this week. I cut out the pieces for the trousers at the same time to ensure I had enough fabric for both (I do, with about a half yard left over!), but sewing both at once would’ve really just resulted in missing pieces!

I had some problems with the collar construction, and then again with the upper collar and facing instructions which really challenged my skills and my patience. I really took my time with this jacket and made sure to do everything the proper way at every step. I incorporated a lot of couture sewing techniques into it, doing a lot more hand sewing, thread tracing, and basting than ever before, and also incorporating new techniques. This was the first time I’d ever used shoulder pads, sewed thread bars, made single welt pockets, and interfaced an entire jacket front!

I’m incredibly proud of the results and especially the fit – the jacket is so formed to my shape that it really has its own curves when just placed on an ordinary hanger! I’ve used a small amount of crepe backed satin for the front facing and collar (which just peep out from the overcollar), and also for the single welts, which are hidden under the front flaps. I used the satin again in the jacket lining, which really gives it a luxurious feel. I wore the jacket all day on Sunday to a family roast, so forgive a few wrinkles from it being worn under my thick coat for the train ride (at least you get a garden view instead of the usual mooring backdrops for a change!).

The pattern called for a single buttonhole closure, but after seeing the thickness of four layers of interfaced wool and satin, there was no way I’d be able to get a clean buttonhole through it, let alone a bound buttonhole as I’d been planning. So thanks to your comments and the lovely selection at MacCulloch & Wallis, I ended up placing a giant silver hook and eye between the lapel and the overcollar at the waist, and then placed two tiny hooks and thread bars on the edge of the overcollar to conceal the giant metalwork. My boyfriend suggested that I make an invisible closure to not distract from the clean lines and satin lapels, and I think he was right.

If I’d make this jacket again (which, after the trauma, confusion and headaches, is unlikely, no matter how good the end result), the only changes I’d make would be to lower the placement of the single welt pocket by an inch or so, and the broaden its opening by another inch so I can fully get my hand inside. This is the second time I’ve come across very narrow pockets in a Burda WOF design, so I really must remember this for the future.

I’m entering this jacket in Pattern Review’s One Fabric: Wool contest so be sure and vote from Friday (1 Feb)!

Next up are the matching trousers, which I’ve already started work on, but more on that (and the other sewing projects from this weekend!) later…

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