The Modern Vintage Jacket, Part 1: Preliminaries and Fitting

I have been enjoying the online Tailoring classes offered by Lynda Maynard through her website. Her Tailoring class is a repeat of the class I took in person at City College in the fall of 2017. For me it is a nice opportunity to make a jacket from start to finish as a sewalong, and an opportunity to further my tailoring skills.


For the original class I used an in-print Vogue jacket pattern with good results, but this time I wanted to try something different. I rummaged through my pattern stash and found this vintage pattern, Vogue 9445. I honestly don’t know where this pattern came from. Once you start sewing, things start finding you – fabric, notions, patterns. People clear out their stashes and pass things on. I just know that the pattern was there, waiting for someone to give it new life.

Men’s fashion from 1958.

Some Internet research says this pattern comes from 1958. The style is somewhat long and boxy, with rounded shoulder seams, three buttons with a short lapel, and very rounded/shaped sleeves.

View B also has some rather round, almost kidney bean-shaped patch pockets.

Patch pockets.

I’m tempted to say this is an example of “Ivy League” style of menswear, which was sported by the likes of Paul Newman and President John F. Kennedy. Let’s just say it’s a product of its time and a fun project to recreate as a “modern vintage” project.

The pattern as provided by Vogue is also a half-lined style, meaning it has a partial lining in the back (down to just below the shoulder blades) and no lining anywhere else. I’ve chosen to retain that style rather than fully line the jacket, because I really like this look with the exposed seam allowances, and I’m looking to try out new techniques in this project.


The main fabric is a cut of indigo checked linen I purchased at Britex Fabrics a few years ago, with the intent of making a jacket. It has a really nice sheen, which I preserved by having the fabric steam-pressed at the local dry cleaners, rather than attempting to prewash, which would have totally changed the hand, texture and appearance of the fabric.

I’m using two types of lining for the jacket. The back lining is an iridescent red paisley rayon/acetate I purchased from WAWAK after checking out the offerings locally and from tailoring suppliers online. The WAWAK offering might be a bit pedestrian in a way, but it looks really nice and I think it will work out well.

Menswear jackets traditionally have a striped lining in the sleeves, and for that I managed to find a cut of striped acetate at the Britex Fabrics 30%-off sale, which plays well with the other fabrics.

Fabrics for this project.

The exposed seam allowances are bound with a Hong Kong finish. I am using some red silk chiffon from Fabric Outlet in San Francisco’s Mission district. The color perfectly matches the iridescent red paisley of the back lining and contrasts nicely with the indigo linen.

Tailoring Techniques

I wanted to use the project to try out some new tailoring techniques. One of them I’ve already mentioned – creating a half-lined jacket with bound internal seam allowances. Some of the other things I’m trying out include:

  • Tailoring with linen, and how it differs from wool for tailoring purposes. Wool is moldable with heat and steam, and it retains its shape after it cools. Linen isn’t quite as adaptable, but it is used for tailored garments and I wanted to understand the difference firsthand.
  • Patch Pockets – the first jacket I made had welt pockets. I’m choosing to make patch pockets on the front of this jacket, partly because they are so oddly shaped in this pattern, but also because I wanted to skip all the work involved in making welt pockets. That second idea didn’t last too long, as I decided to make welt pockets in the inside facing.
  • Single welt pocket – on my first jacket I cheated a bit and made a rectangular handkerchief pocket because I didn’t want to try making a single welt pocket on an angle, the way chest pockets are traditionally done on a tailored jacket. This time around I want to work on my single welt pocket skills.


The class is divided into three six-week sessions. The first six-week session was devoted to basics such as tailoring materials and hand-stitches, but it was mostly about fitting. The students all created muslin test garments and we fitted them together with guidance from Lynda Maynard.

I don’t have a detailed recount the fitting process, partly because it is so iterative. I went through three muslin garments before I arrived at something that fit well and was ready to cut from fashion fabric.

My fitting issues are pretty familiar to me by now: I have poor posture because of forward rounded shoulders, a product of a career of decades sitting in front of a computer keyboard and screen. The solution is to add strips of fabric to the back to add more length to the back. The back was tight across the shoulder blades, so I had to add some width to the back.

Finally, I needed to add more circumference to accommodate my extra-round tummy.

Pattern alteration to add circumference in the front, below the chest area.

The most persistent problem was fabric that puddled along the back neckline. This persisted despite several attempts on my part to cure it by adjusting the back neckline.

The puddle of fabric that won’t go away

Eventually I scheduled an in-person fitting session with Lynda where she fixed it by releasing and adjusting the shoulder seam. Here’s the pattern alteration, with the new shoulder seamline shown in blue. The neckline is also lowered in back, and finally there is the equivalent of a dart at the center neckline, to take out some extra fabric there as well. (The front pattern piece is not altered for this adjustment).

Pattern alteration to fix puddling neckline.

With the fitting completed, I felt I had completed a huge project. In fact, I had just gotten started.

Next Time

We’ll do some more pattern work, then get to cutting, marking, and seam finishing.