I’ve wanted to make a shacket since last year, however somehow other projects would end up being prioritized. Having as many ideas and plans as I do, for the project to be prioritized is quite a thing! 🙂 There were few shacket patterns that have been lined up on my list, however the main missing link up until recently was fabric – I simply couldn’t find any suitable one that I truly liked. And then few weeks ago I stumbled across this plaid wool at my local fabric store, it was on sale, there were the last 2 meters left… I liked it a lot and I figured that finally I might actually make a shacket for this autumn. Autumn came very suddenly this year, and now I have my first new outerwear garment to enjoy it in!
Shacket is a mix between shirt and jacket, hence the name. It can be made of plaid or in plain fabric, usually features chest pockets with flaps, cuffed sleeves and curvy hem. I see them worn everywhere this autumn. Now that I’ve made one for myself, it becomes clear why they are so popular. It is a very easy going garment 🙂 Sleeves are wide, shoulders are wide, it’s easy to drive a car in it, it looks nice worn unbuttoned, with collar up, or it can be buttoned up, if it is chilly outside. Perhaps some of those RTW shackets that are made of cotton or wool blends are less versatile. Mine is (of course) made of pure wool, so it is both – nice and also warm! A shacket might be rather utilitarian and not too flattering, but I definitely needed one in my wardrobe for those various occasions when nothing fancy is actually needed.
I just love plaid, but it tends to backfire 🙂 Cutting pattern pieces out of plaid fabric is twice as time consuming as using any other fabric. That’s because every single pattern piece needs to be cut separately. Shackets are perhaps somewhat behind trench coats when it comes to the number of all sorts of details, however, they have enough of them, especially as every single small piece needs to be matched meticulously and cut out separately. My shacket features chest pockets that are cut on bias, pocket flaps that are cut out of the plain side of the fabric, yoke tab, sleeve tabs. Since I’ve decided not to line my shacket, even though it has been designed to be lined, I had to sort out the inside finish, too. This meant that I needed to cut front and hem facings as well as inside yoke. All in all there were many pieces indeed.
My project started with something unusual – I had paper pattern printed out in the coffee shop on a plotter printer! This option costs quite a bit more, however it is so worth it! I loved just rolling out a long sheet of paper and quickly cutting all paper blocks without needing to glue anything together. I do not suppose I’ll be printing on A4 paper and glue the sheets together in the nearest future!
Paper blocks were promptly ready, and then I spent a good half a day for cutting all pattern pieces out of fabric, interfacing everything and preparing to start the actual sewing. Plaid matching started with figuring out where the darker stripes should be positioned. I decided that the center of the vertical darker stripe should sit at the very center of the garment and so the first front piece was cut out. Then I marked the center lines of those dark stripes with pins so that plaid could be matched for the other front piece. This method helped me all along as this fabric was double sided.
Yokes, pockets and the undercollar were supposed to be cut on bias. To center them correctly I ended up determining the center of respective paper pattern blocks, cut a small hole at the center and positioned it on the center of the dark rectangle of the fabric. Pocket flaps, sleeve tabs and collar stands were cut out of the plain side of the fabric. Smaller pieces were cut out of block-interfaced fabric – that’s how I tried to save at least a bit of time on cutting part of the process. Eventually I was staring at what looked like a hundred pattern pieces, and my entire sewing room – the floor and any horizontal surface – was covered in tiny wool dust (for lack of a better term). I vacuumed and vacuumed, but I guess it will take a few weeks to completely get rid of it 🙂
Initially I did not have a top stitching thread in matching color – was waiting for my recent online order to arrive. This meant that I had to change the order of the process a bit. Normally I’d have made the main body first, but this would have involved attaching the back tab to the yoke and that small thing had to be top stitched before installing it. So instead I started by making all the small parts. I made pockets, attached them to the front pieces, made all the flaps and tabs and put them aside to wait for the top stitching thread, and then made the collar. Interestingly enough, the collar stand looked badly too long for the collar. When I somehow managed to pin it to the collar, the entire thing came out terribly curled up. But I did not relent, and when these two pieces were machine stitched and pressed, it started making sense. That special collar stand gives the collar a great shape and it is so comfortable to wear the garment now! When the collar was made, I shaped it and left of the dress form overnight – it gained this nice perfect shape before being attached.
When my top stitching thread finally arrived, I was ready to continue. Technically, it is not even a top stitching thread – I used denim thread which is not as thick, and I really liked how it worked for this project.
Now, the yoke tab could have been installed, yokes were next. To avoid exposed seams I used burrito method to install yokes. Arguably, this fabric is a bit too thick for double yoke, but that’s fine – I like this inside finish very much! Then I attached top stitched pocket flaps that had button holes in them too. Next were front opening and hem facings. They were cut in such a way that the fabric pattern would match across every seam in all directions – perhaps a bit OCD of me, but I just love that 🙂 I had a bit of thinking to do on how to finish the inside of the garment, and settled on bias tape finish for the side seams, whereas all facings are slip stitched in place to make for a very clean and tidy finish.
Next, the collar went it. I had to deviate from the instructions at this stage. Had the garment been lined, it would have been so much easier. Now, I stitched the undercollar to the main body of the garment, whereas the upper collar finish was more tricky. First, I attached the hanger loop to the center back and then tacked the upper collar in place. I considered slip stitching it in place, but honestly, I don’t like slip-stitching on coats, so instead I machine-stitched it just 1-2mm off the edge, and now it is securely in place.
The time for sleeves came. I hadn’t cut out sleeves yet at that stage as I was hoping to match plaid on the sleeves with the main body of the garment. The plaid is matched around each sleeve too. In order to avoid bulk that bias tape would create, underarm seams are simply overlocked. Installing sleeves went without incident, I finished sleeves installation seams with bias tape, and so the project was slowly closing to an end.
Final few steps were top stitching the front opening and the collar, making button holes and finally attaching buttons on. Each time I have to make button holes, I dread that moment. I probably have never had a smooth ride during that process. It was unfortunately true this time, too. For this garment I chose keyhole button hole style. It is a really nice button hole in my view, however more often than not I have challenges with it. This time the front opening edge of the garment with the facing attached was quite thick, and my button hole foot had to be operated very carefully to not get stuck (actually, it is not the sturdiest button hole foot in the whole world, but I only have this one, so here we are). Few of the button holes came out a bit unbalanced. I ripped the worst one, however on the second attempt, the foot got stuck, and so that semi-finished one had to be ripped, too. I started doubting everything. Just to be on the safe side, I decided to change the needle. When the old needle was removed, I was very surprised to see that it was a very thin needle, number 75 actually, that I managed to stitch my entire woolen coat with! Check your needles, people, before starting each project! It took three attempts to complete that unhappy button hole.
But the largest problem happened when cutting the holes open. I usually use seam ripper for that. However, this time, I managed to somehow cut into the edge of the button hole and few stitches got undone. This happened for the uppermost (hence the most visible) button hole too, and that was sufficiently long portion that got damaged. At first I was like – oh, damn it, that’s really not good! Then the problem solver in me went on to look for a solution. I took of those loose threads and stitched the portion of the damaged button hole with a narrow and dense zigzag stitch. The fix worked really well, and you couldn’t quite tell that this button hole got a band-aid to it. From then on I used tiny precision scissors to cut other button holes open, and they made significantly less damage than a seam ripper. When all the button holes we done, I breathed a very explicit sigh of relief 🙂 The only thing left was attaching the buttons, and with that my first ever shacket was complete!
For this shacket I used 2 meters of double sided pure wool with plaid on one side and plain gray on the other side. I’ve decided not to share what pattern I’ve used for this project, you are welcome to check out my Disclosures page to understand a bit more about this. The following notions were needed for this project: a bit of black viscose lining for pockets and the hanger loop, some 1 meter of interfacing, a bit of interfacing tape for the main seams, black bias tape for side seams and sleeves seams finish, 11 buttons of 24 mm diameter and coordinating thread (Gutermann no.701 as main thread and CA02776 denim thread as top stitching thread). This shacket cost me 46 Eur, it was made in September, 2022.
Right when this shacket was complete, I put it on and off I went. At first I thought that it would go really well with pants or jeans and not so much with skirts. But that’s not true. I have worn it with my recently made leather skirt, and the outfit looked really well. Before buttons had gone in, I had my doubts about this garment – it had looked probably a bit plain. However, as soon as it got all the button holes made and buttons attached, it became this lively and balanced garment that I really love! I’m pretty sure this one will get plenty of wearing this autumn and for the other colder seasons to come!
Let there be peace in the world!