Making a Parisian Jacket, Part 1

Another title for this post could be “Sewing with Professional Instruction – the Parisian Jacket.”  One of the advantages of having a subscription to Susan Khalje’s online Couture Sewing Club is exclusive access to videos which take the viewer, step-by-step, through the process of making one of these jackets.  

When this pattern was released a few months ago, I was immediately interested in making one.  There are several details in this jacket which I find especially appealing.  The first – and salient one – is the cut-on sleeve, also called an all-in-one sleeve. This is a design feature which was prevalent in the 1950s, but no longer often seen.   Usually sewn with an underarm gusset to enhance moveability, this sleeve forms its own crease lines below the shoulder at the front and back.  You can see that detail in the diagram on the pattern envelope above.  Take a look at this magazine cover from November 1956.  You can see both the crease line and the coat’s gusset.  

I suspect at least one of the reasons this particular type of sleeve fell out of favor is that the pattern pieces do take a sizeable amount of fabric to accommodate the width of the attached sleeve.  I also suspect sewing in those gussets demanded a certain expertise to be finished successfully, adding time to both home sewing and to ready-to-wear.  But I love the look of the cut-on sleeve.  It really is a classic style, and one which I am happy to have the opportunity to incorporate into my sewing.  It is worth mentioning here that this sleeve is similar to a “kimono” sleeve, but it is not cut as full under the arm.  (This seems like a good time to show the pattern piece for the jacket’s gusset.  Rather than diamond shaped, it is a triangle with a curved top edge.  Pretty clever!)

Another design feature of the jacket which appeals to me is the prominence of the buttons.  The jacket is shown with just two buttons, although certainly a third one could be added.  However, with two larger ones, it is really possible to use showcase buttons, if desired.  And if you follow my blog, you already know that vintage buttons – and unique new ones – are one of my weaknesses.  I am always looking for opportunities to use beautiful buttons.

A third construction detail I find appealing is the center back seam.  This allows the opportunity for lovely shaping and more precise fitting than if the back piece were cut without a seam. 

With all this in mind, I was anxious to get started on this project.  As I already had several lovely woolens waiting for their turn, I decided to use one of them rather than buy new fabric.  And my attention kept coming back to this vintage piece of Linton wool which I purchased from an Etsy shop about a year ago.  

It is entirely coincidental that the jacket Susan is making in her instructional videos is also pink!  Of course, I love pink.  I would describe this particular hue of pink as a “Winter pink.”  It has a bit of a dusty appearance to it, making it ideal for a November project.  The best thing is that I have enough fabric to make a matching sheath dress to go with my jacket.  (Although I feel sure that particular project will have to wait until after the new year.) 

Well, back to Susan’s video instruction…  She is very thorough in what she includes, so much so, that those of us who have taken classes from her already, are able to whiz through the early lessons for the most part.  However, one suggestion she made was to use pins rather than machine sewing to fit the muslin together.  Here is what I mean by that:

The seam lines are pinned together horizontally throughout, and then the muslin is ready to try on. No stabbing occurred during the process!

I found this method far superior to putting the muslin together by machine.  It was much easier to make changes and alterations, and I felt like the “seams” laid flatter, enabling me to ascertain the fit, on me, more precisely.  

Once I had my muslin perfected (as much as possible), I transferred all the markings onto white silk organza, to be used as my underlining and also as the pattern pieces from which to cut the fashion fabric.  I had to move to my dining room table to accommodate the expanse of the wool. 

It is easy to see here the amount of fabric needed for the cut-on sleeves. (I use my candlesticks as weights to keep the fabric from slipping.)

Once I started assembling some of the jacket pieces, I realized I had not perfectly matched the facings.  Although the wool is solid pink, there is that very distinct weave in it which needs to be matched.  Fortunately, because I had left such wide seam allowances, I did not need to cut a new facing.  I just needed to readjust the organza on the one facing which was a bit askew.  

You can see the organza adjusted on the righthand facing, before I had re-basted it.

I still have a long way to go on this jacket, but here are two “work-in-progress” shots, with the seams sewn but nothing trimmed, ironed or catch-stitched yet.  It is fun to see it taking shape, however.  

I have a pink button pinned onto the front to see how it looks, but I have already decided against it.

Two more things need to take shape very soon – namely Holiday dresses for my granddaughters.  Somehow, I think they will be finished before my jacket!  


Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, Sleeves, woolens

21 responses to “Making a Parisian Jacket, Part 1

  1. Pamela

    Another stunning garment in progress..,
    Beautiful color..

  2. Debra Coglianese

    Swooning here, admiring those lovely seams and front pocket trim. Simply, gorgeous! Karen, you might just get me to stop wringing my hands on whether to commit to the Parisian Jacket as my next project. I’d love to hear more about your take on the construction/design features. Let’s take our skirts to coffee before the holidays are upon us. Looking ahead, I can probably make any Tuesday or Friday mid-morning work.

  3. GG

    It’s going to be lovely! I am wondering, though, with the cut-on sleeves and the fact that it’s put together before attaching any lining pieces, is his Little French Jacket going to have quilted-on lining?

    • This is not a classic French jacket, so there is no quilting. The lining is sewn separately and then attached. It’s actually refreshing to be working on a jacket which is not a Chanel prototype!

  4. Barbara Barrett

    Great post as usual…It is already a breathtaking jacket. I look forward to seeing the final post 🙂

  5. Cheryl

    I’m so excited to see you making this jacket. I have the pattern and am hoping I have the fabric in my stash already. I so enjoyed making a tartan skirt using Susan’s instructions. Do you know how much fabric you have used for the jacket?

    • Hi Cheryl, my fabric was 60” wide and I think I used about 2 1/2 yards. Of course, I had to match the grid woven into it, so it may have taken a bit more fabric to do this. I was very glad to have this fabric on hand. It always makes me feel virtuous to use fabric from my fabric closet!

  6. Your style is superb! Love the way you tell us your story. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished jacket which I know will be beautiful.

  7. Your jacket is coming together so beautifully. That distinct weave is just perfect to highlight the pretty bias sleeves!

  8. I love your fabric. This will be a stunning jacket. I’ve noticed on videos from couture workrooms that muslins are put together by folding over one seam allowance, overlapping it and pinning/stitching along the folded edge. I agree with you that this is a much better method and makes adjusting the toile so much easier. Looking forward to seeing your finished jacket.

  9. That muslin fitting technique! Why have I never thought of that?! I love the pink and the special weave. This one is going to be special. 🙂

  10. Black Tulip

    Fascinating – I love watching your projects come together.

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