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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Journey into a man's sport jacket

Sport jacket journey 1Once upon a time, a very long time ago, a young woman got married and started sewing a work wardrobe for herself.  But the young husband was jealous and wanted some sewing done for himself. 

So he sent his bride to school to learn how to make him a suit.  Over time, he got about ten of them for himself.  Then the bride took off in other directions, and he never got another one again.

Now, about forty years later, he is being honored once again with another new sport coat.  Thanks to modern technology, it is now possible to share the journey with you!  Let's travel the path together.

Sport jacket journey 2
Pattern, fabric, lining

I bought this pattern over 30 years ago as a more modern style than the original coat pattern, but I never got around to making it.  Suddenly, it seemed like now would be a good time to dig it out, especially as I could enter it in a Menswear Contest

As styles come and go, I hoped this one wasn't any more horribly out of date than women's styles from the same era.  The Doc picked out some fabric he liked, and we were on our way.

Sport jacket journey 3
Deconstructed bought jacket

Living on a different continent where sewing has become as outmoded as everywhere else, especially for tailored men, I was not able to find all the various notions that go into making a jacket. 

I deconstructed an old worn out bought one to see how they did various aspects, and I determined I could re-use some of its parts that I wasn't able to find locally.

Sport jacket journey 4
Armhole detail

As I took pictures so I could see just how they'd done things, I thought I'd show you what the inside of a suit coat looks like.

Sport jacket journey 5
Shoulder pad and chest piece combo

Sport jacket journey 6
Salvaged pieces, washed and dried and ready to re-use

Sport jacket journey 7
Samantha studies in preparation for assisting
As I was refreshing my mind on how to do all the various steps and organizing all the materials, Samantha decided I needed her help, as usual. 

She regularly takes possession of my cutting board, and it doesn't matter what might be in the way of (or adding to) her comfort factor.

Sport jacket journey 8
Tailoring tools

When I took my tailoring course, I barely knew how to sew, so there were a lot of tools I didn't have.  My teacher's husband did woodworking, and he made point presser/clappers for sale for her students.  She said I needed one, I bought one. 

She also said we needed a sleeve board.  I got one of those, too.  Then I spent most of my sewing career forgetting about them and never using them!  (I'm currently trying to reform.)  She said we needed a tailor's ham.  Those were expensive.  She taught us how to tightly roll up a towel instead.  I still don't have a ham, but I do have towels!

Sport jacket journey 9
Initial front interior
Here, I am showing the first stages of construction.  The pattern called for interfacing the collar and the front facing area.  Based on the bought coat, I also added more to the whole front, the upper back, under the arms, and behind the welt pockets.

Sport jacket journey 10
Initial back interior
For all the parts touching the fashion fabric, I used fusible woven, hoping it would substitute for the horsehair canvas I couldn't find.  I used suit weight fusible non-woven for the facing area and the collar roll line area.

I had learned in my class to use twill tape on the lapel roll line, but my books say to also add it to the front and collar areas of the lapel, so I did, for the first time.

Sport jacket journey 11
Chest piece unit and sleeve treatment

Then I added the chest pieces I ripped out of the bought jacket.  They actually fit fairly well, although I had to trim the shoulder area a little.  I've never seen sleeve head fillers quite like these, but they seemed to fit fairly well.  The shoulder pads were already attached, so I did not separate them.  I also used the little skinny tapes I pulled off the bought jacket to support the armhole.

Sport jacket journey 12
Sleeve hem stabilized
Here is the inside of the sleeve vent, with interfacing added to the hem area.  I also put interfacing around the jacket hem once I had the side seams put together.

This is what the whole inside looks like before the lining is attached.  It really takes a long time to get to this point!  I've never seen the sleeve cap interfaced before, and I didn't know what weight the bought jacket used.  But I was actually able to carefully pull them off and then re-fuse them to my sleeves.

Sport jacket journey 13
Sleeve and lining
Sport jacket journey 15
Finished back interior
Sport jacket journey 14
Finished front interior

Sport jacket journey 16
It actually all came together!
Sport jacket journey 17
Official looking lining
Finally, despite Thanksgiving and Chorale activities, I actually managed to get this work of art finished!

Does this look like an official man's jacket?  As it's been about 40 years since I made my last one, this was a really rewarding challenge, but not something I'd like to do again very soon!

Sport jacket journey 18
A few finishing details
Sport jacket journey 19
What a beautiful back vent!
Here are a few of the details up close.  The lower pockets do have flaps, but they also have double welts so that the flaps can be hidden if preferred.

My pattern called for sewing the back vent lining by hand, but this one is totally machine stitched.  I did steal some finishing tips from various bought jackets that I did not know to do years ago.

Sport jacket journey 20
Doc Leo with some newfound class
Sport jacket journey 21
Great looking back view, too

And now, I present Doc Leo in his first custom made jacket since a whole lifetime ago.  He was quite pleased. 

He was about 25 years old when I made the first one, and this is a birthday present for his upcoming 70th birthday.  Wow.  Really?  How time has flown!

If it takes another 40 years to make him another, I think he's not going to get it.

(Don't feel too bad for him.  He's got two specific new dress shirts lined up, plus some stash picked out for himself.  He's not getting them until he gets rid of some of his 25-year-old shirts I'm totally sick of seeing.)  

THE VOTE:  Voting ended early Christmas morning my time.  Imagine my joy to discover that I had won this contest with 230 votes by the public.  While my previous contest wins were by only two votes each, the runner-up this time garnered 166, essentially giving me a landslide win.  What a fabulous Christmas present!


  1. Kath Johnson (Aka HRigg)December 11, 2016 at 9:12 AM

    I have just got out of bed on Sunday morning. What a lovely story. I think the jacket is fabulous and your husband looks great. I shall study your notes in more detail later but I wanted to be the first to add this comment. You have done just simply a great job and a sure winner for the contest. Kath (HRigg)

  2. Kath Johnson (Aka HRigg)December 11, 2016 at 9:14 AM

    In UK it is only 8.12 am!

  3. This jacket looks as good as ones you'd pay a fortune for and fits him so nicely. Fabric is really beautiful. Another great job by you!

  4. It is fantastic and certainly does not look like an old style! Ver nice work!! You have a lot of patience!

  5. Your jacket or rather Doc's jacket, looks great. I liked the story, too. Good luck in the contest. I was going to enter with a shirt for David but have run out of time, as usual - I can still vote, though.

  6. snazzy! (although I was amused that "he was quite pleased" was next to the photo of him with nary a hint of a smile in sight)

  7. Does he still have the red suit from eons ago? You need to make him another flashy one. :)

    1. No, he does not (but he kept the red socks until they finally wore out, lol). And NO, I do not! He would wear it!!!!!


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