Claire Schaeffer’s jacket for colder weather
November 21, 2018
Max Donos by Max Donos

This project is an investment: in style, in comfort and in your self-esteem. It is a very time-consuming, but deeply satisfying traditional tailoring process.

Jacket in black faint plaid renders a laid back ensemble

Inspiration

I started with a request: craft a warm tailored jacket in a classic silhouette. A jacket to throw on at office or at leisure. A jacket that will work with many existing pieces in a wardrobe in colour story and in style. Fabricville’s catalogue of patterns is a treasure trove. And Vogue’s V8333 caught my eye, because it fulfilled the brief. Moreover, it is a Claire Schaeffer’s creation (I am a big fan!), and I was intrigued by the traditional tailoring method included with all 37 (or so) pattern pieces.

I picked up LINDSAY jacketing wool blend, which is on a heavy side, but suited the project perfectly. I opted for a bright red luxurious Bemberg lining and red undercollar felt, to jazz the jacket up a bit. A bag full of materials came home with me. There was tailor’s canvas, organza (for interlining), cotton wadding (for should pads), silk and topstitching thread, buttons… I could not believe all this will end up in one jacket. Alas…

All the materials for the jacket

Process

I followed Claire’s instructions almost religiously. However, in the very beginning, judging the weight of the fashion fabric, I decided to reinforce the chest area with an additional piece of canvas cut on bias. I added a key-shaped dart to the shoulder, as instructed in Yukio Kakita’s L’art du tailleur. Another change I made is actually an omission: I decided not to use organza to interface all the pattern pieces, because the fashion fabric is quite sturdy and does not require additional support.

Front canvas with chest piece cut on bias and key-shaped shoulder slash

I found it ingenious the way Claire treats the bust dart under the lapel. I am definitely stealing the technique!

Bust dart under the lapel with canvas cut out and anchored to the dart.

There is a lot of hand basting and hand sewing in this jacket. Speaking of which, I need to find better threads to transfer pattern markings. This time I used by basting cotton, which is amazing for basting because it is smooth and breaks without much effort. However, the same properties are counterproductive for markings, because the threads fall out by themselves, even when I use double threads. Any inexpensive ideas?

Transferred pattern markings in basting thread

One of the things I would suggest to look for when anybody tries this pattern: the instructions don’t call to trim the canvas out of the seam when the front is attached to the side front. I would urge you to trim it away and catchstitch the seam allowance to the canvas (which I did not do, but found about later): it will produce a cleaner and less bulkier seam.

You can see the seam allowance in the canvas was not trimmed out of the seam. It produces a thick seam. In lighter weight fabric it would be better to trim this canvas seam allowance completely.

Speaking of bulk: the way the pattern is designed produces a lot of layers of fabric in the hem in the pocket area. I could not find a way to slim it down. May be somebody can revisit that?

Challenges

  • Fabric pattern matching. I carefully prepared the fabric, trying to match the pattern as much as possible. But the fabric did not cooperate. I rushed to cut the pieces, crossing the fingers and hoping for the best. It did not work! Please, do not rush. If in doubt, cut single layer. This way, you can be sure your patterns match. I had to adjust and resew most of the pieces, because my pattern matching was not perfect at the cutting stage.

    Pattern matches across the chest

  • The thimble! I could not get used to it, but without one I pocked my fingers into a mesh and had to stop for band aids.

    Edge tape on the front pieces

  • Collar felt. Not the usual melton (woven wool felt), but a non-woven felt keeps stretching (and shedding). It was a battle to tame it!

    Undercollar in red felt and canvas

  • The collar is build with the seam between the stand and collar on the fold. Probably there is a better way to design it. Here at least, the instructions called to trim the canvas out of the seam. They also called to trim the seam allowance, which I should not have done. I could have used it to my advantage to shape the collar better.
  • Sleeves. Whereas the body of the jacket fit perfectly (and I only judged by the finished garment measurements when I chose the size), the corresponding sleeves had to be shortened 4,5 cm and slimmed down 3 cm, which I have found out about when the sleeves where set in and the lining all sewing in! With the sleeve facing and interfacing it took me good 3 hours to fix.

    Interfaced sleeve facing!

  • Sleevehead. The instructions are clear, however, the result with properly shaped sleeveheads is better. This is what I decided to do: use 2 inch strips of bias canvas and cotton batting. I steam-shaped the canvas strips to the shape of the sleeve, put the canvas and batting strips together and basted them into the armhole. The support is extraordinary, probably on the extravagant side. May be adding the cotton batting was excessive.

    Lofty sleeveheads?

  • Buttonholes. I decided to overcome my fear of cutting into a perfectly fine jacket. I attempted 4 sample handmade buttonhole before taking the scissors to the jacket. It is not for a faint-hearted. However, I (and you) should not be afraid of buttonholes: they become better with practice and by using suitable materials. Fabricville, please stock 3-ply silk buttonhole twist: the silk you have is too thin for the purpose, and the topstitching thread is too thick (the one I used). And please stock buttonhole gimp as well.

    Handmade buttonholes with gimp and top stitching Gutterman thread. Doing it afraid.

Result

At the end of the end, I am almost happy with the result. The jacket fits well into the wardrobe. It is versatile and transitions well from office to leisure. The pattern has its quirks (like quite low notch lapels and broad shoulders – maybe I could have made those narrower as well?). But I would recommend a similar project for those looking to delve into the traditional tailoring world. I enjoyed the process a lot.


COMMENTS

3 thoughts on “Claire Schaeffer’s jacket for colder weather”

  1. Helena Helena says:

    Well written and documented. Thank you for all the good tips!

  2. Christine says:

    Gorgeous jacket; interesting and informative article.
    Well done.

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