This pattern was drafted from an original Edwardian jacket, circa 1908. The shaping of the pattern pieces is true to the original garment, which means that the jacket will look best worn over a corseted form. However, it is not necessary to wear a corset to achieve a beautiful silhouette. You will be making a muslin toile before you begin on your jacket and will therefore be able to adjust the fit before you cut into your fashion materials. I cannot overemphasize the importance of making and fitting a toile before you begin on your jacket. Skipping this vital step will result in a poor fit or, worse, a jacket that does not fit at all! I have used conventional modern grading techniques to keep this pattern as close to modern sizes as possible, but because the shape was not altered for a modern body, you may still find the fit quirky (waist smaller in proportion to the bustline, etc.). This is why a toile is absolutely vital!
Many of the illustrations included in the instructions come from a 1914 tailoring book. Although the illustrations are from a source six years younger than the original jacket, they are still helpful, since sewing methods had not changed very much in the interim.
Recommended materials include wool, wool blends, tweed and other heavy suiting materials. I do not recommend attempting this jacket out of linen or other lightweight suiting materials, since those do not hold their shaping very well. For the embellishment, you can use middy braid and soutache or flat twill tape, which is what was used on the original. If you are truly ambitious, you may also wish to try beading or embroidering the design!
Suggested Cutting Layout:
Here is the suggested layout for the pattern pieces on 45” wide material for a size 18.
Larger sizes will require a little more space, which is why a greater yardage requirement is given.
(Front lapel and collar are not shown. They are cut out of contrasting material.)
- Begin by cutting out your toile of muslin or another inexpensive material. Set your stitch length the longest it will go on your machine.
- Baste together all of the jacket pieces, beginning with the center back and working your way around each side to the front. The back pleats are sewn together , leaving the top extensions free as illustrated below:
- Baste sleeve pieces together, matching notches and easing through elbow (between the marks). The elbow fullness will look similar to the sleeve shown in the illustration below:
- Run gathering stitches in sleeve tops, then pin sleeves into armholes, matching underarm seam to center of hip panel. Gathers will be kept toward the back of the jacket rather than the top of the armhole. (This is how the original jacket was made.) Stitch.
- Put on whatever you plan to wear beneath your jacket. It is meant to be worn over undergarments, a shirt and a skirt (á la Gibson Girl). If you plan to wear a corset, put that on with your other correct undergarments before you put on a blouse. It is a good idea to wear a skirt or at least something with a waistband so that this bulk at the waistline is accounted for. You do not want to fit your jacket so tightly that it is uncomfortable over these other clothes. If you are using a mannequin to check fit, dress it in the clothes you plan to wear.
- Try on your toile wrong side out, pinning the front lapel over the right side of the jacket front. You should have 1 ¼” of the lapel over 1 ¼” of the jacket front. (When the jacket is finished, the lapel will fasten beneath the left side of the jacket front, with 5/8” of the lapel under that side of the jacket opening.) You want the toile wrong side out so that you can mark any changes directly onto it at the seams.
- If you do not have a partner to help you, stand before a full-length (or very large) mirror. Give the jacket an overall look first, checking to see if there are any odd puckers or wrinkles where you don’t want them. (IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that you are checking a toile made of thin material-suiting fabrics will not behave in exactly the same manner!) To check your back, use a hand mirror to see the reflection of the back of the coat in your large mirror. If the fit is good (not binding in the sleeves, too loose or tight in the waistline or puckering in the bustline), pat yourself on the back. You can move on to the “Construction” section! If you see some problem areas, continue on through the directions below for improving the fit.
- Jacket too loose: If you are slender and/or long waisted, you may find the jacket is too loose in the bustline or the waistline. Additionally, you may notice that the armholes seem to stand out too far from your body. Below are three original illustrations from my period sewing manual which show where to adjust the toile for a better fit:
Click thumbnail for larger image.
Picture (a) shows a tuck pinned across the back of the jacket to raise it. This change is due when the back of the jacket looks too long compared to the front or when the bottom of the armhole stands out too far from the body. Make the tuck as deep as it needs to be to bring up the bottom of the jacket and fix the gaping armhole. You can always cut the armhole down later if it becomes too tight. Also shown are pins at the side seam to take in any fullness there.
If you find that there are puckers above the bustline on the jacket front, pin in the fullness at the side front seam, grading to nothing toward the top, as shown in picture (b).
If the sleeves are too loose, follow the pinning guidelines shown in picture (c) to achieve a smooth fit. If the elbow fullness does not hit your elbow area, mark where that needs to go. Now is the time to mark how long you want your sleeves (keeping in mind that you need to leave enough extra material to turn under when you finish the sleeves).
- Jacket too tight in the bust, waist, hips, shoulders or sleeves: You can basically follow the directions given for a too-tight jacket, simply adding to the areas shown instead of subtracting. The best places to add to the jacket are at the side seams (the seams toward the back of the hip panel), the side back seams and the side front seams. In each area, you want to grade the seams from the top down. If the armhole is too binding simply cut it down until it is comfortable (keeping in mind that it will have a 5/8” seam and will be that much bigger all the way around when finished). Take care when adding to the bustline fullness so that you do not end up with an odd “point” at the front. Make the curve gradual as you add fullness in this area. If you have a more rounded figure and/or broader shoulders, you will need to try one of the methods illustrated below:
Click thumbnail for larger image.
Picture (a) shows a panel added in at the top of the jacket to broaden the shoulders and lower the back of the jacket. This is called for if the coat pulls up at the back or if the armholes cut in too tightly. Rip out the shoulder seams and insert a new piece of muslin (3-4 inches deep) across the back neckline. Cut it to follow the curve at the base of the neck so that it matches the original pattern piece in the neckline. When you take the toile apart later to use as your final pattern, cut through the new muslin panel above each shoulder where the seam should go, and remember to add 5/8” for your seam allowance on each cut.
In picture (b) you can see where a panel has been added in the side front seam at the hipline to give more room there. A dart can also be taken between the side front and the armhole to take up any puckering there.
Finally, picture (c) shows how the sleeve has been lengthened at the top to accommodate a larger armhole. The rest of the sleeve can be marked along the pinned lines in the illustration to show where extra fabric is necessary for a more comfortable fit. Go ahead and mark the sleeve length now, making sure you leave enough at the end to turn under when you finish the sleeves.
After you have pinned everything to your satisfaction, remove the jacket and mark all of the sections you have pinned with a pen or fabric marker. If you are taking in some seams, trim the marked seams down to within 5/8” of your marks (in order to leave a seam allowance). If you’ll be adding to any seams, you can either note down how much to add along your marked lines or create extensions out of muslin and add them where needed. Now remove all basting stitches to take the toile apart. Iron the pieces, and there is your final pattern for your jacket!
Constructing the Jacket:
- To begin with, you’ll need to “size” your fashion material by sponging it with a damp cloth and ironing on the appropriate setting. This will prevent any further shrinkage with subsequent cleanings or ironing.
- Using your toile pieces, follow the pattern layout given at the start of these instructions and cut out your jacket and jacket lining. Cut the collar and lapel pieces from your contrasting material.
- Sew all jacket seams together, beginning with the center back and working your way around to the front. Sew the back pleats as instructed in the toile section above. Do not sew the lapel in at this time! Clip curves where necessary and iron the entire jacket, pressing open all seams or ironing them toward the back.
- Sew sleeves together, matching notches and easing through the elbow. Run gathering stitches at the tops of the sleeves, then pin them into the armholes with gathers toward the back. Stitch and press.
- Pin your collar, right sides together, and stitch up one short end, around the top edge and down the other short end as illustrated below:
- Trim corners and turn the collar right side out. Press and set aside. (Note: You can use interfacing in the collar if you wish, but it is truly not necessary if you are using wool or heavy suiting, since the collar is very narrow and should stand up nicely on its own.)
- Pin your lapel, right sides together, and stitch up one short end, down the long edge and across the other short end as illustrated below:
- Clip corners, turn right side out and press. Pin the raw edge of the lapel to the right jacket front, matching the top and bottom to the jacket front extension. Stitch.
- Pin collar to the neckline of your jacket, matching center with jacket center back seam and stretching the collar around to meet the front edges of the jacket neckline (collar doesn’t go down the “V”). Stitch.
- Try on your jacket now to check the fit. Make any needed adjustments before you move on to the lining.
- Now sew your jacket lining together, beginning at the center back and working your way around to the front. Clip curves where necessary and iron the lining. Insert sleeves just as you did for the jacket.
- Pin the lining to your jacket, right sides together, matching neckline and front openings. (You will need to turn the lapel and collar toward the outside of the jacket before you pin the lining in place.) Stitch all the way around from the bottom of the left front opening to the bottom of the right front opening, taking care that your fashion material does not pucker or shift as you sew. Clip curves at the neckline. Turn lining to the inside of the jacket and understitch to prevent it from rolling out, as illustrated below. [Click HERE to see a video clip demonstrating understitching!]
- Try on the jacket, pushing the sleeve linings down through the sleeves. The collar should stand up in back, and the lapel should be pinned under the left front of the jacket about 5/8”. Mark how far under it needs to be pinned for a good fit. You will add hooks and eyes here later. Wow! You are almost finished!
- If you plan to trim your jacket, now is the time to do it (before you hand sew the lining in place along the bottom and at the sleeve ends). Using the guides given on the pattern sheet, mark your embellishments on the jacket front and back. If you opted to use twill tape, middy braid or a combination of flat trims, you can either hand sew or machine stitch them in place. On the original garment, all of the wide twill tape was machine stitched, while the thinner middy braid was hand sewn in place. Either way is correct for the period-but machine stitching will obviously be faster! You might also choose to trim the lapel and collar as shown on the pattern cover. On the original jacket, a woven ribbon trim was used on the collar and lapel. This is a simple way to add a striking embellishment. You can create fake “cuffs” on your jacket sleeves by adding a horizontal band of soutache or twill tape two or three inches above the end of the sleeve. Below this band you can repeat some of the small motifs used on the jacket front. This was done on the original jacket for a beautiful effect, as you can see in the detail shots of the original below:
Click thumbnails for larger images.
Finishing the Jacket:
- Once you have all of your trim sewn in place, you are ready to complete your jacket by finishing off the hem and the sleeve ends. Begin by trying on your jacket (or putting it on the mannequin) and pulling the lining down evenly. Turn up 5/8” at the bottom of the jacket toward the lining, then turn up an equal amount of the lining toward the jacket. Pin the jacket and lining all the way around the bottom and slipstitch in place.
- Finish the sleeves in the same manner, turning under the sleeve ends toward the lining and turning under an equal amount of the lining toward the sleeve ends. Pin and slipstitch together. Now iron the entire jacket, paying particular attention to the hem and sleeve ends so that they lie flat and smooth.
- You are ready now to place the hooks and bars on your jacket front closure. I recommend using skirt-weight hooks, since they are more durable and are flat, which means they are easier to hide. Place anywhere from four to eight hooks under the edge of the left front opening, setting the hooks back about ¼” from the outside edge. Following the markings you made when you tried on the jacket earlier, place the bars on the top of the lapel’s left edge, matching them with the hooks under the left front. Once all are firmly sewn in place, you are ready to put on your jacket, hook it up and give yourself a hand!
Enjoy your new creation!