Wow, what a long road this has been!
Several days of persistent work has eventually led to the completion of the Blue Plaid Shacket.
As usual, here are my overly-detailed notes on how I put this thing together.
As covered in the previous article in this series, I attached the interlining (a sweater knit fabric) to the lining fabric. I used Kenneth D. King’s method of “thin cheap” fabric (in my case, leftover shirting scraps) to keep the bulky sweater knit out of the seam allowances.
First, join the sweater knit to the “thin cheap” fabric with a zigzag stitch, with slightly wider seam allowances than you’ll use in the jacket shell. I used a walking foot to better keep the fabrics in sync.
Second, trim the interlining from the seam allowances.
Third, trim the excess “thin cheap” fabric from the middle of the piece.
Join the “thin cheap” seam allowance to the lining fabric by basting inside the seam allowances. Again, the walking foot helps keep all these slippery, stretchy fabrics together.
Finally, construct the lining shell from the combined pieces.
Sweater knit is the perfect interlining – not just in terms of insulation, but also because the stretch of the knit allows the back pleat in the lining fabric to expand and provide ease. I retained the back pleat at the suggestion of reader MainelyDad, who has made his share of jackets and coats.
I also adopted a different approach to bagging the lining by machine, again from reader suggestions. The method is also featured in Janet Pray’s Craftsy class, Sew Better, Sew Faster: Smart Construction. Instead of hand-sewing the bottom hem seam to close the lining, you leave an opening along one side seam of the lining shell.
Then, with right-sides together (inside out), you machine-stitch the lining to everything else – facings, sleeve, and hems. A blind-hem stitch anchors the turned-up hem to the outer shell. The white stripe in this photo is the interfaced, turned-up hem being blind-stitched to the outside of the garment.
Finally, turn everything right-side out through the side-seam lining opening, and machine-close it with an edgestitch. The only hand-stitching required are two short sections to close up the facings where they meet the hem. I closed them with a slipstitch.
I had my share of challenges. I added a curved section to the bottom hem in front as a style item. With a two-inch hem, the curve caused the hem to bubble when turned upwards, due to the change in distance along the curves. To mitigate this, I shortened the hem to 1 inch, and trimmed the lining accordingly. This “thin-cheap” fabric also got trimmed, catching the interlining into the hem allowances. At this point, I wasn’t interested in improvising further solutions to the issue, and went with what I had.
The result does have some bumpiness from the extra bulk the interlining adds to the hem. But it is not very noticeable in a flannel garment like this one and I have decided to accept it. I would address it in a future make of this project by fixing the pattern.
Finally, playing to the “shirt” in “shirtjacket”, I added a line of topstitching 1/4 inch in from the hemline, to simulate the look of a rolled hem in a traditional dress shirt.
The facings are cut from some scrap purple flannel leftover from a pair of pajamas. I didn’t have enough blue flannel to cut out everything, but my stash scavenging added a serendipitous design touch to the project.
The facings are sewn to the lining with a 3/8 inch seam allowance, and are clipped along curves. Understitching with a 3-way zigzag stitch keeps the facings from rolling to the outside of the garment. The facings are interfaced with a lightweight fusible, but I chose not to interface the outward-facing portions of the center front. I have over-interfaced too many previous projects.
Cuffs were a design exercise to the end.
I chose a continuous band placket for the sleeve opening on my shacket, after viewing samples and construction details in David Page Coffin’s book, The Shirtmaking Workbook. For readers with the book, I chose placket Type 2, Variation 2A from the 47-page PDF booklet “Placket Options All Assembled”, one of the online pieces of supplemental content. I cannot over-emphasize how useful that treatise on placket construction is to me.
I chose the purple accent flannel for the placket as well as the inside of the cuffs. An X-square stitched as a reinforcement also provides a visual detail.
Attaching the purple flannel strip to the placket was a challenge, due to the many shifty, puffy layers of flannel, knit interlining, and satin lining fabric. Plus, I had to fully complete the sleeve and bag-line it before I could construct the placket. This meant the placket was constructed on the sleeve in the round, rather than in the flat as is normally done in shirtmaking.
This photo shows the placket slit, sliced through the lined, completed sleeve. The purple binding strip is pinned into place prior to stitching.
The cuff has two buttonholes, as well as two sets of buttons on the cuff to allow the cuff to button loosely or tightly, depending on prevailing weather conditions.
The shacket has two pockets. The first is the outer patch pocket, with flap. The accent fabric, plus the bias cut add a nice contrast design detail in both color and texture. The flap is pattern-matched to the plaid on the pocket face. To keep the bias pocket from stretching out of shape during sewing, I glue-basted the pocket into place. I attached the flap button by hand, to avoid stitching through the jacket lining.
Because I had removed most of the outside pockets from the design, I found myself wanting some place to put my cellphone. So I added an interior welt pocket as a last-minute decision shortly before bagging the lining. Some cheap muslin I had lying around is the pocketing material.
I used the instructions from David Coffin’s book Making Trousers as my guide for constructing the welt pocket. Two bartacks on either side of the welt opening help conceal some sins in the welt construction, as well as anchor the welt and pocket seams.
Back and Yoke
The yoke is largely unchanged from the yoke used in my dress shirt pattern. I cut the flannel on bias for effect. Unlike a traditional dress shirt, there is no inside yoke, because it has a neck facing and a lining. Also, I eliminated back pleats from the design.
I discarded the collar pattern used in my wearable muslin. My final convertible collar pattern came from the Japanese pattern book Men’s Shirt Book (Google translation) by Ryuichiro Shimazaki.
My attempt to draft my own collar pattern went nowhere, and I ran out of time and enthusiasm to drape a collar. The Men’s Shirt Book collar was about the size and style I was looking for, based on my experience with the wearable muslin.
The collar points ended up with some little angled bits from the point turning. Since it came out the same way on both collar points, I decided to call it a design feature.
The collar did give me one headache. I ran the finished shacket through the laundry to remove chalk marks and glue basting. The collar popped out of its seam along the right edge, where it meets up with the facing. Arggh!
After a short consultation at Sips n Sews, I patched it up with some handstitches to tack down the raw edge of the purple fabric (which appears to have unravelled) to the seam allowances at the collar edge. Being on the underside, the repair doesn’t show when the garment is worn.
Overall I am pleased with this project. There are definitely some issues I could address on another make of the jacket, but I know I’ll enjoy wearing this jacket frequently.
The shacket is super comfortable. The lining makes it easy to take on and off, and it moves with me very easily, with no heaviness or restrictions. It’s warm and insulating, and is perfect for San Francisco’s winter climates.
It was a challenge working with inexpensive cotton flannel and polyester lining in this project. I knew that going in. The soft nature and large fibers in cotton flannel is more difficult to sew for us precision freaks, but the softness also means it is more forgiving. Many apparent sewing blunders can often be pressed out, and other issues are just less noticeable than they would with a crisper fabric.
This was a very long project, involving patternmaking and design, two muslins, and new sewing techniques. But the things I learned – and a stylish new shacket – make the time spent worth it.