Thinking about a late summer jacket

One of the books I recently read was Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles. In the book there are many descriptions of the clothes worn by farm workers in the 1880s. I was taken with the description of young women in white summer dresses, and also one brief evocative mention of Tess in a pink jacket. I have searched for images from film and TV. The jackets here are really sturdy blouses, worn over other clothes but not really made for taking off. And in using light colours they were very much summer outwear.

Throughout the summer I have been thinking of making a close fitting jacket with obvious buttons, in a delicate shade of pink. I wanted a top that would go with my work trousers – summery, feminine and flattering. Generally I am not particularly keen on historic, Victorian looks as I am not keen on corsets.

What do I like about this look? Close fitting bodice based on a blouse, large, obvious buttons, clear waist line, light pink.

I want to marry this idea with a favourite Coco Chanel jacket. This is the jacket she designed and wore in 1937, long before the 1954 Cardigan jacket that she is more well known for. And although I have made the “classic Chanel jacket” (and I loved learning the techniques) I have barely worn it. With both my versions I added much more waist shaping as it is, essentially, a boxy jacket. And I feel, currently, that the French jacket is rather hackneyed and jaded and looks pretty dated, especially on an older lady (such as myself). Whereas the 1937 jacket is shapely, revealing the waist by a deep curved cut away at the front, which echos the flamboyant, curved lapels. The shoulders are padded but not excessively so – the sleeve heads also – probably with cotton batting. And I don’t know for sure but I think this jacket may be made out of linen. The jacket has three patch pockets – two lined up with the hem and a breast pocket that may be artfully misplaced. It certainly has a nice white hanky in it, and what looks like a couple of costume jewellery clips. The sleeve is particularly nice with a relaxed, fold back cuff – making it a bit shirt like. Although I expect this jacket is lined it looks very soft and unstructured. I wish I knew more about it! The fourth picture is, I think, of a different but similar jacket, constructed on this occasion without a revere, or collar. Summing up I love this jacket as it is shapely but not tight, a little bit drapy but also with enough of a character, light coloured (natural linen, or possibly wool or silk) with darker buttons, great pocket detail.

Finally I want to reference another great jacket – in some ways the greatest jacket ever – the Dior Bar jacket. This also has two iterations – the original post war New Look jacket has a very neat, petit shawl collar, whereas the later version has a more important notched collar. Both have a pronounced shoulder, a highly stylised tiny waist which is emphasised by significant padding to the hips. The newer version is buttoned to the waist. The natural creamy colour of shantung silk is matched with large but toning buttons. Like the Chanel jacket this one is invariably worn with a full black skirt. Again to summarise what I love about this jacket – light colour with a darker skirt, summery fabric, subtle but important buttons, waisted shape, nice high neck, softened shoulders. Although I love looking at this jacket I would not want to wear something that involved a corset – this jacket is heavy and stiff. 

So I would like to make a jacket that is light weight, very soft and easy to wear, flattering, in light pink linen. The Chanel is pretty close to what I have in mind but now I will have to find both pattern and fabric. The only thing I am worried about is a previous attempt to make a jacket with high break. I didn’t care for it at all when I put it on. I have just noticed that Coco has her buttons undone to just below the bust. The jacket style that actually suits me is the third one – a single button simple, slightly shrunken jacket. I am going to have to give this some thought.

I have a couple of patterns that might work – but I would love any suggestions. Most patterns from the contemporary Big4 companies are very unstructured and drapey. Even Burda which are a bit more fashionable are not really talking to me. And also any good UK or EU linen suppliers? Thank you.

28 Responses

      • Janet

        I was also going to suggest Vogue 8333 – I absolutely love the pocket detailing on that pattern. I think Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch is/was making it up, but she hasn’t posted about it for a while.

  1. Maggie

    Really interested in this, so do keep us updated on your discoveries. I love the way you have analysed your clothing needs and I have been inspired to do the same for myself. My wardrobe is all over the place!

  2. Anne Frances

    Maybe or the jacket on the cover of Burda May 2006
    You can just see another version of it in grey – 3 along top line – in the composite picture and in the line drawing. It has softer shoulders and more of a waist than it looks. I made it (but in black so the effect is a little different) and still have it so could show you the outcome and lend you the magazine pattern. I’m in London too so that should not be too difficult.

    • fabrickated

      Anne – firstly thank you so much for the offer of a loan. I would love to meet up in any event, so let’s get something in the diary. It appears to be an edge to edge jacket, secured with hooks – is that right? I really want buttons, and I guess I could manage a button stand, although I feel the design is probably better without it. Also is this a jacket that might work best in a knit?

  3. Jenny

    Merchant and Mills have a great range of linens, including several pinks. They are quick at sending out samples too. I admire you for attempting a jacket. I love the Chanel one, it’s timeless.

  4. Cynthia

    In Claire Shaeffer’s book Couture Sewing techniques, pages 144 and 147 there are pictures of the style jacket you are pondering. One is by 1940s couturier called Lachasse and this one has the larger buttons and the other by Mainbocher which has a lovely skirt with it.

  5. Verona Woodhouse

    Fabworks had a pale ‘cold’ pink, quite textured, good weight, but soft linen, in their shop – but not online a while ago at, I think £6/m. If you are still looking for fabric, it might be worth a phone call to see if they still have it if you are venturing north in the next while.
    I got the Claire Schaeffer 8087 for 50p in a charity shop in the last few days (but 6-8-10 and I would need to up to 12) , but really prefer the looser Chanel one you have in the post. I just started sewing 18 months ago (a knitter for decades) so it would be a huge learning curve but will look forward to your posts on it

  6. Lynn Mally

    Well, I’m glad you took my suggestion for a pink jacket! I also made a classic Chanel cardigan style jacket years ago and never wore it. All that trim wasn’t my style.

    • fabrickated

      I think your idea has been burbling away in the back of my brain. But I think you meant a strong pink and I want a light rose for this one I think. And yes there is something a bit too power-dressing about those cardigan style jackets although I think in their original incarnation they were an off duty/weekend/non working wife item. I think you are right on the trim – something a bit harsh and intimidating about it (like military ribbons?).

  7. Dagmar

    That Vogue 1721 is fabulous. I used to have a suit in a very similar style but in buttery soft suede and the jacket was one of my favourites. I wore it with a camisole underneath to prevent over laundering as it was like a blouse – not meant to be removed. It married equally well with trousers and with skirts and was elegantly professional. You may want to muslin it in an autumn friendly colour so that you can test its wearability and design features immediately. On the topic of more standard Chanel jackets, I personally find the versions that are trimmed out with other fabrics such as finely pleated chiffon or laces or have extravagant beading or embroidery on them with more unusual sleeve, collar and even bodice shapes that you often see in the Chanel runway shows are actually much more wearable and modern. The boxy shape, particularly out of a stiffer, itchy boucle, is more difficult to wear and so over-copied by lesser stores.

  8. fabrickated

    So true about the ubiquitous and frankly hackneyed “Chanel” jacket Dagmar The essential lines are easy and cheap to reproduce with some flashy polyester boucle in sickly shades, as you say.

    I am also interested in the idea of a “jacket as blouse”, worn with just a camisole, vest or slip underneath.

    I am getting very interested in the V1721 as it seems to meet most of the elements of the brief.

    Once I get my mind straight I will make it up with what I have to hand. I think a lighter colour may be just fine for the late summer/early autumn time – I just suit a lighter look and if it serves as a shirt then white, beige, light grey or pink may work well as signifying work-appropriate. Turns out this is an interesting project….

  9. Samina

    Love your post! I used to wonder why some of the Bar suit images showed a notched lapel whereas the original was a shawl collar. I learned here that the notched lapels were from 10 years later! Thank you for the information 🙂 .

  10. Cathy Huber

    Check out La Fred’s Maia jacket pattern. It’s availabe at Vogue Fabrics. It’s a fitted jacket that you might enjoy. It would be lovely in pink.

  11. ceci

    Some where I have an early 70s pattern for a knit that looks quite like this in my mind’s eye; will look for it when I get home from my current trip and let you know if it is a live one.


  12. Annie

    There are some elements in vintage patterns that seem to me to be over fussy for current tastes, your requirements could be met using a modern pattern. I’ve had good results from a Pauline Alice pattern (Tello) the proportions are perfect for me – I’m 5′ 4″ . Take a look at her Saler jacket and the tester’s versions, it may suit. As to fabric, linen is difficult to gauge online, there are too many variables and it can be expensive, a cotton twill or gabardine may work just as well, it punches well above its weight, is relatively inexpensive, and you’d have more colour options.

    I really dislike Coco’s jacket, that off kilter pocket makes me itch and the undone buttons reminds me of Charlie Chaplin, it’s the sort of thing that a designer can get away with but if blogged other sewers would see faults.

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