James's fantasy jacket

I’ve been calling this James’s “fantasy jacket” because he’s asked me to recreate a beloved unlined, simple, waterproof jacket that was stolen from a pub on the night he met me all those years ago.

He recalled it from memory while I attempted to create an accurate tech drawing, and then once that was agreed, I compared this against my vast pattern magazine archive (made much easier since I started tagging my At a Glance scans online, so I just had to shuffle through those issues tagged “menswear”!).

I decided that BWOF 10/08 #134 was a pretty good starting point for what James wanted, and I went from there. The muslin went well, so around Thanksgiving I started on the final jacket, made from a very cool laminated linen from Mood in NYC, with bias binding made from some dark red and black tie silk bought in Dublin three years ago.

The rubberised coating on the fabric means any and all pin holes show, so I needed to treat it like leather – I used pattern weights and rotary cutter for the pieces, and a leather needle and a walking foot while I was sewing, taking care to only use pins in the seam allowances. Since it’s unlined, I also needed to create metres upon metres of bias binding for the exposed edges, and sewing those welt pockets were especially fun!

Another feature he wanted were these large, interior “poacher’s pocket” he can use to stash magazines in when it rains!

I added a front zipper placket so the zipper wouldn’t detract from the clean lines of the jacket, and since James wanted simplicity, I mostly just removed features, flaps, buckles, and whistles from the Burda pattern. You can really see the simple lines when it’s zipped up:

Another special feature is a small, inch square velcro tab placed inside the zipper placket to keep his headphone cord tidy! He sandwiches the headphone cable between the two pieces of velcro, and that way if the cord gets caught or he has to take out an earphone, then strain goes on the tab, not his ears. (Yes, yes he is a usability expert!)

If you’ve ever sewn a raincoat or leather jacket before, then you know how difficult it is to try and ease an un-ease-able fabric. Setting in these sleeves was a nightmare of pins (and this is even after I removed some of the sleeve cap ease!), especially since I had to sew it right on the first try since the needle holes are permanent!

But as you can see from the photos, all that tedious pinning paid off, and I ended up with smooth sleeve caps and no extra holes. I couldn’t say the same for the topstitching around the collar, though – I’d sewn through all the layers and everything looked great, until I finished it, flipped it over to snip the bobbin threads, and saw I had a disgusting birds nest on the entire underside! Ugh! So I ended up having to rip out all the stitching and sew all the collar topstitching by hand so I could reuse the holes that had been made by the machine!

This jacket was part of James’s birthday gift this year, but the swine flu meant that I didn’t finish it until last week. I’m disappointed I didn’t make the deadline (through no fault of my own!), but as James points out, it’s going to be months before it’s warm enough for him to wear it anyway!

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