Monday, 28 November 2011

Paco's Unique Jacket


(Also check out the previous post about the perils of sewing with napped fabric. Teenage son figured out how to link a PDF to the blog so you can download these instructions and easily print them out - if you really want to. There's a link at the bottom of the post.)(I always knew there was some reason for having children)

Easy – straight seams only
Middling –requires a little thought and effort
Hard – requires concentration (no wine, no demanding children, no whinging husbands or partners, no laundry or ‘what’s for’ dinner thoughts allowed)

The Beginning – MIDDLING

1.      Pattern pieces: cut out in the same direction, ie. top to bottom on your fabric, unless you want to go for an effect for example, vertical on the lower half against horizontal on the front and sleeves.
2.      Cut four pockets, one upper back on fold, one lower back on fold, one back neck facing, two of every front piece. To reduce bulk, cut two of the pocket pieces from a matching lining fabric.
3.      Depending on your fabric, you may want to add extra body and shape to the lapels, in that case cut two front facings of interfacing as well; for a couture finish also add interfacing along the sleeve and jacket hems.
4.      Mark all ‘dots’ with tailor tacking or tailor’s chalk on the fabric – you will need these later. And really, there aren’t that many, so just do it.

Front – lower front, upper front with sleeve, lapel/front facing, pocket

Back – lower back (cut on fold), upper back with sleeve, back/neck facing

5.      EASY: Getting ready - reinforcements prior to construction.

Spend just a little time (I mean really only, 15 minutes or so) on strengthing the joins that will have the most stress when you are wearing the jacket, it will save mending time later and improve the shape!

Sew a strip of cotton tape to the edge of every pocket (four times).

For both upper fronts and upper back reinforce with small stitches where the sleeve meets the body. Set your machine stitch to 1.5mm and just slightly in from the 1.5cm (5/8”) seam allowance [approx 1.3cm/4/8”) sew about 5cm (2”) from the marked ‘dot’, pivot and sew another 5cm (2”) along the edge [see the pink line]. Then cut from the edge to this stitching.

6.      EASY: Whoopee – Sewing!

Back to regular sewing stitch size, probably 2mm or 2.5mm. Right sides together sew the pockets to the lower fronts and lower back (right over the tape) about a stitching foot width (6mm) from the edges, making sure to balance the ‘dots’ across the pockets.

Lower fronts with pockets                                      

7.      EASY BIT.  Sew lower back to upper back, stopping at ‘dots’, close, but NOT to the edges.

     EASY/MIDDLING. Front facings.

      Decide which side you want to button your jacket. Traditionally, for women it’s on the left, so the buttonhole is on the right, this is what I’m doing here.

     Get your upper fronts at the ready: you need both upper front pieces and their facings, right sides together. Remember, the left front in the picture is actually the right, and the right front in the picture is really the left – need to do to a bit of mental rotation for this! See the buttonhole marks?

    Sew the front facing on the vertical outside edge and around the neck to the marked ‘dot’ only on the left front. 


                              On the right hand side, sew only on the vertical edge.


EASY BIT. Open out the facing on the left-hand side, press and trim. Sew the lower front to the upper front, right sides together, from ‘dot’ at arm scythe to edge of front facing. (Don’t worry about my picture and the fact that the two don’t match – that’s my inaccurate cutting)
That is the left front done for the time being so put it aside. Time to focus……..

       MIDDLING: the buttonhole side.
Do the same on the right hand side as you did for the left-hand side joining the upper and lower front BUT, see where you marked those buttonholes? Don’t sew across them. Sew up to the mark, back stitch a bit to secure the seam, lift the needle and sewing foot and start again beyond the hole. Do this twice as marked.

The result is a seam with holes in it. Perfect.

Depending on the fabric you are working with, either catchstitch the unsewn seam allowance to the fabric or try the following method.

Whichever, thread a needle with matching thread  - it’s time to do some handstitching.

     MIDDLING: Buttonholes.

Turn the facing inside out and locate the two seams that match. This is difficult to explain, but if you have your garment in front of you it will be obvious. What we want to do is catch the two inside seams together, so that from the right side it looks like they have been sewn as normal. Right sides together, backstitch, or whatever takes your fancy, these two ‘loose seam allowances’ together. Muck about with the turning fabric as much as you need to get an even seam. Try to line up your hand stitching with the machine seam.         
Now sew around the neck edge of the facing to the dot as you did on the first side. Trim off excess.

Turn the front the right way out and press. Make sure it sort of lies flat and the buttonhole on the front lines up with buttonhole on the facing.
Put this aside – time to go back to the back.                                     

 EASY. Right sides together, sew the back facing to the neck edge of the back, stopping at the ‘dots’. Trim and press.

DIFFICULT moving to EASY. Joining the front and back at upper seam.

This is what you want to end up with, or something akin.

You are aiming to joining the facings (front and back) and upper sleeve seam in one go.
 Line up the upper front with the upper back, right sides together, along the top edge; the upper sleeve edge and facings edge. The aim is to sew in one continuous line from the tip of the neck facing to the sleeve hem.
Get ready.

If you cannot bring yourself to do this in one go, do the facing first, then do the sleeve edge. No big deal, just make sure you catch all the seams within the stitching line or you'll have a hole.
Do both sides.

Facings and lapels folded to the inside. Trim and press well. You might have to do a bit of hand manipulation at the join to flatten the fabric and carefully clip into the seam allowances but not through the stitching. Go ahead, work it.


      EASY, MIDDLING, DIFFICULT – all in that order. Joining the side seams, pockets and under sleeves.

Right sides together, match the raw edges of the front and back along lower sleeves, pockets and side seams. If you are brave or know what you are doing – sew in one continuous seam, from sleeve hem to jacket hem.
NB. Recommend second stitching line at underarm seam and a good bit of back stitching at pocket edges.

Otherwise, take your time.
·       sew from sleeve hem to underarm: breathe.
·       around the bottom arm scythe making sure to catch all previous seams here; breathe
·       down the side to the first  ‘dot’;
·       around the pocket; breathe
·       begin at second ‘dot’
·       finish the last few inches to the hem; gasp

Don’t worry if your pockets don’t line up – there’s physics and hard sums involved here – all about surface area multiplied by direction of the third dimension and calculus and algebra and stuff that really doesn’t matter. Just sew and trim it off.

 MIDDLING. Deciding on the inside finish treatment.

 OK, the jacket is now made and only requires the finishing touches – hemming on sleeves and bottom edge and tidying up the seams.

In this particular case I will have to cover the seams with a bias strip because the wadding is showing, including the front facings and all hems.

It really depends on what fabric you are using as to what finishing you want to use. With all the trimming done on the seam allowances so far I don’t think a Hong Kong finish or a traditional French seam will work here.

If, like me, there’s no fraying, then serger (overlocker) might be fine. A contrasting thread colour could work well with this method.

A double-faced wool would also look good with the contrasting colours pressed open on the inside, but you will have to take extra care with the trimming so that it’s neat.

If you are lucky enough to use sheepskin or some other natural skin, just leave the seams as they are – keep the integrity.

       MIDDLING. Mitering the front corners.
Turn the hem allowance 5cm (2”) to the outside and fold back the front facing along fold line as well. Pin in place and pin the diagonal join. Pinch the fabric tight to get a smooth mitre. Remove the hemming pins and turn to check that the mitre is lying flat in the inside. When happy, sew, trim and press and turn to the inside.

      MIDDLING. Finishing.
In this case I purchased some contrasting quilting cotton and made loads of bias strips. You’ll need about 270”. Measure around the sleeve hems; all the way round the hem, front facings and neck; all exposed seams on the inside – that’s how much bias you will need, and then make some more, just in case.

Alternatives to the bias could be a purchased bias binding or ribbon.

Here is the bias strip method.

The idea is to cover all exposed seams with the bias, creating an unusual and interesting pattern on the inside of the jacket. You could machine stitch this all if your jacket would suit topstitching on the outside. Mine wouldn’t, so this was hand stitched in place.

Hem, facings and neck will be done with one long strip.
Press along one edge of the bias and fold over the beginning of the strip. Right sides together and starting in an inconspicuous place like the back or side seam, pin the bias to the hem, working all the way around until you’re back where you started. Sew 6mm from the edge. When the bias is folded up, the raw edges are hidden.

Do the same on both sleeve edges.

Hem the jacket, 5cm (2”) and sleeves.

Detail of the sleeve, hemmed and seam covered, and a much truer colour impression.

     EASY. Sew on a beautiful button.


I hope that has been of some help to you. I have all of the above saved as a PDF try clicking on the link below.
Teenage son sorted this out. Many thanks go to him and his genius with computers.

Thanks for reading. Ruth

DOWNLOAD:PDF instructions

Paco Peralta - his design & pattern
Tany - in depth tutorial for lined jacket
Pink - for the quilter's cotton inspiration


  1. WOW!!! Brilliant outcome on this jacket. All of your patience and planning certainly paid off. Thanks for sharing so much detail with everyone. Loved the use of your 'key' throughout - very entertaining read!!!

  2. I love the jacket Ruth. This fabric is a nice alternative to an original design. I also love writing tutorial text, fun and easy. Thank you very much, you made my day, and of course, an excellent job !!

  3. Great looking jacket Ruth - I looked at my blog and can't actually see how to upload a pdf document either

  4. Nice jacket! I like the idea of covering seams with contrasting bias tapes. It's cute and fun to see inside.

  5. Ruth, does the maker of your sewing machine make a metal invisible zipper foot? I think it is impossible to get a decent result with those plastic things they sell. I have a Bernina and metal foot and it is virtually fool proof. As far as the flush seam at the top replacing the need for a hook and eye, that just takes practice. Let me know if I can help you further on the zip...dorcas

  6. Wow, an inside as pretty as the outside...lovely