Ultimate wool jacket

When my posts get started with the word “ultimate”, it means that I have made something really exceptional. For a while now I have been wanting to work on jackets. There is a good stack of awesome wool suiting and coating fabrics in my stash, weather is becoming colder with each passing week, so I impatiently jumped onto this wool jacket project. And after four weekends of work am happy to declare that this epic project has ended with a beautiful garment in my hands, or on my shoulders, I should say 🙂 And I absolutely love how it turned out!

Well, sewing blazer, or jacket, or coat for that matter, is no small feat, whichever way you look at it. This one was even bigger feat for me as there were few parts of the project that I had to do for the first time ever – that was welt pockets and the slit. From the very beginning it was an enjoyable project, from the muslin stage I felt and also remember saying to the family that it will be a great jacket. And it is indeed!

Preparation

This jacket was conceived, as is so often the case with my projects, by accident. I saw this post on Instagram by one of my local fabric stores featuring this beautiful beige herringbone wool and cashmere blend that I loved from the very first sight and immediately ordered. For quite a while I was sitting on the idea of trying Closet core patterns Jasika jacket pattern out. And with this fabric I figured that I’d have a great opportunity to do just that. Closet core patterns offer sewing course for Jasika jacket, for a while I contemplated on subscribing for it, however since the price was a bit steep, eventually I decided not to. And that was a fine decision – Closet core instructions are great and I managed to make this jacket without resorting to any other external resources.

When it comes to lining, I decided to line this jacket with silk. Because – why not! 🙂 That’s where the beauty of sewing for oneself kicks in! Making cashmere+wool jacket and lining it with silk sounds like a perfectly normal situation – something out of cards if depending solely on RTW. Choosing the fabric for lining was a lengthy process – eventually I settled on this awesome polka dot silk with golden/beige background. I just absolutely love how the lining complements the main fabric!

As for the pattern – it was a large undertaking, to put it mildly. 70 pages to be printed and glued together, 35 pattern pieces to be cut out of paper and then of main fabric, lining, interfacing. I spent an entire day for cutting paper pattern pieces, then fabric pattern pieces, then interfacing everything with all the different interfacings.

The muslin was a must for this project! Spending days and days for a complex garment should not be ruined by failing to spend an hour or so to make a simple muslin to check the fit. When I inspected the muslin, I realized that first, it was a very nice shape of the jacket – I just loved it immediately. And then I determined that only two amendments would be necessary: a) sleeves will need to get shortened by 2 cm, and then b) the bottom of the jacket should be made somewhat wider as the muslin was a bit too narrow around hips. I solved that by taking 0.5 cm off of each seam allowance for each of four side seams – in total +4 cm for hips circumference. Everything else was working just fine!

After necessary amendments were determined, I had to decide on which interfacing fabrics to use and where. Instructions were asking for four kinds of interfacing – lightweight weft interfacing, regular weft interfacing, knit interfacing and horsehair canvas. I made few testers to be able to decide easier. In the picture above: 1) Knit interfacing, 2) Lightweight weft interfacing, 3) Medium weight weft interfacing, 4) Sturdy horsehair canvas. All looked fine and good on those testers. To complete my initial preparation I ironed and carefully steamed my fabric in its entirety. Twice. Just to make sure it got enough of steam and would not shrink afterwards.

Then all the cutting and applying interfacing commenced. My sewing room had pattern pieces on every surface in the room and mostly on the floor! It was a real mayhem 🙂 I had decided to block-interface smaller pattern pieces – collars, pocket welts, flaps, etc., and went ahead to cut large pattern pieces out of fabric and of interfacing separately, and only then interfaced them piece by piece. Ain’t gonna do that ever again! Will shortly explain what happened. This was my first mental note that I’ll make sure to remember for my next jacket project – will summarize all my notes at the end of this post for your convenience.

Interestingly enough, two front panels ended up being the most sandwiched pattern pieces I’ve ever produced. Thankfully I opted to use lighter interfacing on them, as in addition to main interfacing they required horsehair canvas for shoulders, the second layer of interfacing for lapels along with the interfacing tape for lapel breaking line and hem. After applying all that and putting the pattern piece down for all the marking, I had to conclude that my front panels had shrunk by almost 1 cm! And that’s despite all my efforts to steam the fabric properly before even starting.

So the conclusion is that depending on the interfacing maybe, but it is far safer to interface a piece of fabric similar to the actual pattern piece first and only then, when that creation has cooled off, to cut an actual pattern piece out of it and mark it accordingly. Steaming the fabric upfront is not good enough – interfacing application in and of itself might shrink the fabric.

Another mishap at this stage was related with another type of interfacing (number 3 from the previous photo) that I had bought some 6 meters of while thinking about all my planned projects, and that I was so much swearing while working with! So the problem with it is that even though it looks just perfect weft interfacing for jackets and coats, the glue sticks to the iron while applying it. And that’s regardless of high or low temperature used, steam, no steam – that’s all the same.

At first I ended up completely messing my iron plate – it was all covered in glue, sticky and ugly. Not quite knowing what to do I tried using some pure alcohol to clean it (have no clue if it is healthy for the iron plate, but it did the work). To finish my interfacing efforts I used ironing cloth to protect the iron and still apply that ugly interfacing. That one shrank my pattern pieces too. And what is more, it left that coarse feel on the wrong side of pattern pieces. Eventually, to try and fix that I ended up applying yet another layer of very light interfacing on top, where the coarse sensation was the worst. All in all I used 5 different interfacing fabrics plus interfacing tape for this project. That was quite a handful.

Actual tailoring

So here I was, having spent one weekend for all the preparations, entering another weekend and finally ready to make the first seam! The work started on the front pattern pieces by making darts. And immediately the largest challenge had to be confronted – welt pockets had to be made and I had to actually cut into that big and so intricately interfaced pieces of good fabric. Good news is that welt pockets are actually very fun and relatively easy to create. First I made a bit more simple chest pocket – the set of pictures below shows how it went step by step.

And then, after attaching the side panel to the front, I proceeded onto two side pockets with flaps. These were more tricky, I think I spent like two hours for the first one, and less time for the other. Still, probably at least an hour is needed for one welt pocket if working with concentration and clearly knowing what to do. The key here is to follow all the measurements, alignments, dots and seam allowances meticulously – each millimeter counts. And on thicker fabric like my wool, it is so much more difficult to do that than on something as stable and thin as cotton, for example. For these pockets I decided to use sturdy muslin fabric to make sure pockets can be used for a long time without wearing off, which would most likely happen if delicate silk was used.

When pockets were in and that step was behind me, I congratulated myself for successful completion of the first difficult part of the process. After sewing back panels together, making the initial steps for the slit and attaching all that to the front+side pieces, I was looking at the main body of my jacket being born. And then the second pivotal moment came with the installation of the collar.

Before making the collar I decided to apply the decorative bias tape to the lapel and back facing – simply because it was easier to do it then, than afterwards when the facing was attached to the entire jacket. I opted for a black bias tape which I made myself out of black lining fabric. I figured that black decorative line would nicely complement those black dots in the lining. And can now be certain, that it looks just awesome!

Small mistake happened here though – I also made a mental note not to repeat it in the future. After cutting bias tape, stitching pieces together and ironing it folded I did not make sure that the entire tape is of exactly same width. When I started sewing it onto the facing, it became clear that the width of the tape varied by a millimeter or two. For something that in finished state is supposed to be 4 mm exactly, 1 or 2 millimeters margin is quite significant! I ended up ripping few portions of that seam just to correct for those differences in width and avoid further ripping when the lining gets attached to the facing.

Collar is this key part of any jacket making. It is so crucial to make it right in order to make sure that the garment looks proportionate and neat. Nicely made jacket with lousy collar is not a nice jacket. So I sweat quite a bit each time when I have to make complex collars. This was probably only the third proper collar I’ve made, hence the anxiety. But again – Jasika is so well drafted that I was anxious without any particular reason. Of course, it took quite a bit of fiddling to get the collar into place, as is always the case with them. I actually had to rip a small portion of the seam to improve the look of the collar, but in the broader scale of things it was nothing.

I again have to compliment the instructions as they were very explicit about even the smallest steps that had to be followed to make an impeccable collar. Like, use of catch stitches to secure pressed open seam allowance, or grading seams and in which order. With jackets, the devil is in detail, and all those small details were explained in the instructions very well. (Full disclaimer – I am in no way affiliated with Closet core patterns, I just truly appreciated their instructions).

When the collar was in and I did my best in pressing it as neatly as I possibly could with my non-professional iron, I secured the lapels to help then gain a natural breaking line. And that’s where it was already possible to start drawing certain conclusions on how the jacket is going to fit me. It was fitting me well! I had a bit of a concern on how the hem will get done – due to the problems with all sorts of interfacings my main six panels of the jacket ended up being of different lengths, and I was uncertain which of those was real and correct length! But at that point I left that puzzle for later.

Next was the third key stage of the project – sleeves setting. This time I had surprisingly little hassle in easing sleeves into place. Again, probably due to careful pattern drafting, sleeve caps were just naturally fitting into sleeve openings. Then I proceeded to install felt sleeve heads that I made myself out of a piece of white felt. And finally I tried the jacket on with shoulder pads of different thicknesses and settled on a medium thickness pair. Stitched them in, and realized that here I was witnessing this nice jacket being created. It was also a breakthrough moment – I could breath a sigh of relief, because most likely the rest of the process would be a smooth completion of the garment. And it was!

Finishing

The last weekend out of four spent on this project was started by cutting lining pattern pieces. Or rather determining that I apparently did not have enough of lining fabric for all my pattern pieces. I had initially bough 1.5 meters of silk intended for lining, but it was of 110 cm width only – somehow it hadn’t occurred to me that it won’t be enough. So the fabric store had to be visited once again to buy additional 0.70 meters of the same fabric. Even though lining fabrics are so slippery and rather difficult to sew, I find lining construction so much easier than the initial garment construction. That’s probably because all necessary amendments are usually determined while making the body of the garment, and so much less thinking is necessary for making of the lining.

One tiny adjustment that I made all along this project while ironing, was using a makeshift clapper to lock in the steam applied by the iron. At first I was quite skeptical about using that small piece of wood – what good was it supposed to do? But it does! It makes for so much flatter seams. Mind you, I did not have a real clapper, so instead I used a random small wooden box that was sitting on our knick knack shelf. When my husband saw me manipulating it, he was like – ‘you know, this chess box is like 100 years old and is passed on in my family for decades’. That evening I visited Amazon and ordered my proper clapper.

Bagging the lining went uneventfully. I was absolutely happy how black decorative tape looks in between wool facing and polka dot silk lining. I hemmed sleeves – ended up concluding that my hands are of quite different length, so the right sleeve ended up being approximately 7 mm longer than the left sleeve. After attaching the facing and lining to the main garment at shoulders, at collar and securing sleeves hems, the last bit of work was to finish off the hem and make the slit somehow.

Slit lining is probably the only part that was not covered in the instructions all that well. There were no appropriate pictures provided to explain the process in detail, so I had to improvise a little bit. It is fairly possible that I did not do it all that right, it actually took me two attempts to hopefully do it close to what is right. What I liked though is that the opening to finish everything through and close by hand slip-stitching was in the inside section of the slit. It is invisible, easy to close and convenient to finish the garment through. Liked it very much, will be using for other jackets with slit.

Finally there was only one thing left to do – to make a button hole and stitch the button on. And with that my most intricate garment ever made was complete!

Conclusions

I have only one small hesitation about this jacket – I find its lapel openings being a little bit too wide. Since I loved this pattern and instructions so much, it is fairly possible I might make another one shortly. For a brief moment I contemplated adjusting lapels shape to close those openings a bit more. But then I realized that this would mean quite a difficult adjustment that I’m probably not prepared for. So this will have to suffice. Other than that, I love the fit of this jacket very much! Love everything about it! To make the jacket more posh, I made a small handkerchief out of lining silk for the chest pocket 🙂 It is a truly nice small addition to the jacket.

Few key learnings out of this project are as follows (in addition to the list I’ve pulled together during my Evergreen jacket project):

  • Steaming the fabric well before cutting is not enough to ensure that pattern pieces would not shrink. It is interfacing that may cause shrinkage. So it is a good idea to apply interfacing to larger pieces of fabric, and only when they cool off – to proceed with cutting actual pattern pieces and adding any notches or markings.
  • Some interfacing fabrics may be nastily sticking to the iron regardless of iron settings. So it is worthwhile to test them well before actually starting to work with them.
  • Using 5 different types of interfacings is an overkill. It just adds to the complexity of cutting and keeping track of what is interfaced with what. Weft, knit and horsehair should be enough.
  • Choosing lighter interfacing for medium weight fabric is perfectly fine. Medium weight interfacing plus medium weight fabric makes for a really sturdy end result.
  • For medium weight fabric it does not make sense to interface those narrow pocket welt pieces. Interfacing them just adds thickness without doing much good.
  • After making the decorative bias tape it is worthwhile cutting one side of it to make sure that the entire tape is of exactly the same width. This will simplify the process of the tape application to the facing.
  • Right back and left back are different pattern pieces, when the slit is involved. It’s enough to cut one of each out of lining. (By mistake I cut two of each).

After I finished the jacket, I felt mentally tired. I tried to enjoy my new jacket, but it was tricky to do that on the same day. It was only the next day that I felt again happy to try the jacket on with different sets of clothes and thus creating different styles. When this jacket was conceived, I thought that I would pair it with equally beige or sand clothes and shoes. My husband was adamant that I have to contrast it with black. So I tried both styles and am still convinced that light styling looks better 🙂 At least it FEELS better!

My husband and I continued by disagreeing on where to take pictures of the jacket 🙂 I wanted to go outside, while he was trying to convince me to go to the office – natural habitat of this garment – and take pictures there. So that’s what I did. One day I wore it to work and asked the colleague from Comms to take few pictures of me and my jacket. She was amused to learn what was really happening here, however was also happy to help me with pictures, and I am so grateful for that! My husband was right this time – the jacket looks so well in the office environment!

For this jacket I needed some 1.80 m of 80% wool and 20% cashmere blend in herringbone pattern and 2.25 m of silk polka dot lining of 110 cm width. It is curious to note that the lining was more expensive than wool fabric! Here I used Closet core Jasika pattern, I cut it in size 4 and added 4 cm to hips circumference. Other notions used were: 5 different kinds of interfacing, few meters of interfacing tape, a pair of shoulder pads, a pair of felt sleeve heads, one button, and coordinating thread. This jacket cost me 110 Eur. It took four weekends to make, probably close to 40 hours of work – true labor of love! I spent two thirds of October for this project, the jacket was completed in the very beginning of November.

My new wool awesomeness is warm, and nice, and versatile. It should become this wardrobe staple that will end up being worn often and with different colors and styles! I am pretty sure I’ll be wearing it with pleasure for a long time. After now testing Jasika and liking it so much, I plan to make more jackets using this pattern. I just love making jackets! A short break might be needed now, but am quite sure I’ll get back with another jacket, or maybe coat project soon!

Thanks for checking out this post! Let’s catch up next time!

~Giedre~

7 thoughts on “Ultimate wool jacket

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Diane! This one felt like an intimidating project, I procrastinated to start it – made two dresses before finally relenting. But now after nailing it, I think I’m invincible! 🙂 At least in sewing 😁 Am officially capable of making any garment really.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you so much for sharing all of your thoughts and details on this jacket. I too bought this pattern some months ago and I am nervous to start the project. All of the details and interfacings are quite intimidating. But I just love the finished result that I’ve seen so far. Your jacket looks amazing on you and you did a fabulous job. I have to ask you where you bought your fabric and lining, the marriage of the two is just perfect! I especially love the detailed black piping❤️ Well done👏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Jodi! 🤗 I also was reluctant to start – it was only the second complex jacket project of mine, so I was not feeling all that confident. But really, as soon as I started, the project just went on and was pure pleasure (except for the interfacing part, but that was interfacing’s problem 🙂). So I would absolutely recommend you to just take that first step and not try to comprehend the entire process – it is a long project and it’s ok to take it step by step.
      I bought both fabrics at two different local fabric stores in Vilnius, Lithuania. So it is not one of those globally shipping stores. I am so glad you liked main fabric and lining combo – have to admit I just love those two in combination too! 🥰
      I hope you will start your blazer project and will dearly enjoy it! If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to drop me a message and I’ll try to help! 🙌

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  2. That is an absolutely stunning garment! Thanks for sharing all of those little details about interfacing, etc. I’ve considered making this jacket so what you described will be so helpful. Enjoy your new make!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Andrea! 🤗 I am so glad you found the story of my Jasika project useful. I am sure you’re gonna enjoy your project dearly. If you have any questions along the way, just drop me a message and I’ll try to help 👍

      Like

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