Utility jacket

This was an ultimate upcycling project! It may look as a regular jacket, but what in fact it is made of, sounds a bit strange.

My dear mother-in-law at times pulls real treasures out of her attic. The last time I used the antique fabric she had gifted me, this beautiful vintage jacket was born. I love it dearly. I still have more than 3 meters of dark brown wool from her collection that is decades old, it is still waiting to be used up for some fancy project. And then I had this small piece of either cotton or linen canvas – who knows what it was! When she first showed it to me, I figured it could work for a toile and took it. But now it is really not a toile at all, but real and very much functioning jacket. So the funny story is that some 30 years ago this fabric was either bought or otherwise sourced to make mattress covers and thus prevent mattresses from excessive wear. It is practically unironable – as much as I tried, it still stays a bit wrinkled, which I actually quite like, and it is as durable as denim. I used denim needle and the largest setting of the sewing foot pressure to stitch it. This fabric is a testament to sewing resourcefulness – it is possible to make a wearable garment from pretty much anything!

Initially I was planning to use this fabric for a wearable toile of Closet core patterns Sienna maker jacket. But then I came across a completely new to me pattern maker on Instagram and liked very much how one fellow sewist had modified the pattern to look akin to a bomber jacket. And then I became really eager to do the same.

This pattern is by Puff and pencil patterns, Danish boutique pattern maker. In fact it is drafted as a vest and then they provide sleeves separately. Originally the bottom piece is as wide as sleeve cuffs and there are no pleats anywhere. I made so many adjustments to this piece that it has lost resemblance to the original design. But honestly I like this version so much more.

So first of all I have to share that I was absolutely confident that my 2 meter long and 1.1 meter wide fabric piece was going to be enough for this project. Well, in fact it was not as straightforward. When I started juggling paper pattern blocks on the fabric piece, I realized that regardless of how I was solving that puzzle, there was not enough fabric for the project. It was an optimization exercise really! Eventually after a lot of struggle I managed to squeeze out all main pattern pieces for the exterior of the jacket, and that’s only after realizing that main sleeve blocks were too long and sleeves needed shortening (without them shorter the fabric would not have been enough). Then, after investigating my remnants stash, I picked a piece of white cotton in beautiful poppies print to work as a substitute fabric for all facings and undercollar. It was probably the most resourcefully cut project ever – in the right picture below you can see how little scraps were left when all the cutting was done! Yes, that’s it, that small handful was what was left after cutting all pattern pieces!

All the adjustments

  • I really did not like the original collar. It is designed as one piece together with a collar stand, and from experience I know that it is rarely a good idea. After checking out few versions of the jacket on Instagram I concluded that the collar lays too flat and too wide for my liking, so I resolved to replacing it altogether. Instead I took a well tested collar from Burda 2021/12 magazine pattern #108 (I have made two jackets using this pattern: the above-mentioned vintage jacket and this tweed jacket). Amazingly, this other collar was fitting perfectly into the neck opening and no further adjustments had to be made. I only stitched the collar using smaller seam allowance to make it as large as possible.
  • I rounded corners of pockets, pocket flaps and the collar.
  • Sleeves were shortened by 4 cm (otherwise I would have run out of fabric). I also needed to install pleats at the bottom of the sleeves as I did not have enough width to cut cuffs. On the other hand, original sleeves without pleats were too wide for my liking anyway, so that was fine. There are 2 pleats 3 cm from the underarm seam, 2.5 cm deep on each sleeve. For cuffs not to look like pipes I cut them at slight angle to be narrower at the hem (top right picture below).
  • Similarly, I installed 2.5 cm deep pleats at the bottom of the back, they are done at 8 cm from each side seam.
  • The bottom part of the jacked was designed to be as wide as sleeve cuffs are, but with that the jacket felt too long for my liking. So I narrowed that part down to be of the same width as the front opening plackets are – 4 cm wide. This makes this jacket resemble a bomber jacket.

It was a tough sewing due to how heavy and sturdy this fabric was. Amazingly, my sewing machine coped really well. I made shoulder and sleeve seams as flat fell seams. That double top stitching makes for a really nice denim-like finish. Finally, I made button holes (which went in without any incident, curiously) and attached six metal buttons. And with that my new spring jacket was complete!

For this jacket I used 2 meters (of 1.1 m width) of cotton or linen canvas that was gifted to me by my mother-in-law and some 0.5 meters of poppy print cotton that I bought in Germany in one of beautiful quilting stores. Pattern used here is Topstitch vest and coordinating sleeve pattern by Puff and pencil patterns. I cut it in size S. Other notions used were: some 0.5 m of interfacing, coordinating threads (Gutermann 120 weight no. 722 and denim thread 50 weight Col. 2725), and 6 metal buttons that I bought from Textile garden store in UK. The main fabric was gifted, the remaining cost of the jacket is 22 Eur. It was made in May, 2023.

I couldn’t be more happy with this jacket! Quite unexpectedly I have managed to squeeze out a very decent garment out of very unusual supplies. This jacket works well with pretty much anything, and sleeves being wide accommodate for anything underneath it. I am sure I’ll be happily wearing it this spring and on colder summer evenings!

Thanks for visiting my blog and I’ll see you next time!


Published by giedrestyle

This is a sewing blog. I am weekend sewist who enjoys creating a unique and one of a kind wardrobe.

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