Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jackie O Retro Suit Jacket ~ Thus Far

I am calling this project the Jackie O Retro Suit but in actuality she was still Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy when she wore this suit during the 1960 Presidential Campaign. Its just that the Jackie Kennedy Onassis I remember is the hip woman who lived, worked and played in NYC ~ where she was photographed with those big shades, long hair flowing, wearing the latest fashions walking around NYC.

First a little background on the suit. This information is from the book, "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years." The suit is by Bob Bugnand is made in a black and white houndstooth wool tweed with black braided trim, circa 1959. A 1958 review by Eugenia Sheppard, the women's page editor of the New York Herald Tribune wrote an article about him and that is how Jackie heard of his designs. His understated aesthetic and Parisian credentials appealed to her and that is how this suit came into her wardrobe. The book describes Bugnand's suit as an abstracted notion of Chanel's influential postwar suit with its sloping shouldered cardigan jacket edged in braided trim, skirt cut with a gentle ease of movement, and textural tweed check.

All of these features appealed to me too and that is why I wanted it to be my first sewing vacay project. Well truthfully, I thought that it would be an easier project than all of the work that I want to do on Simplicity 3631 - the Sew Stylish pattern. And I was looking for some results from my sewing vacay ~ because fall clothing just takes much longer to complete than spring/summer pieces.

Project Pieces:
Vogue 2285 ~ is OOP and copyright 1999. This is the TNT jacket pattern that I am using as a starting point for this outfit. I shortened the length and rounded off the neckline as well as the bottom of the front pieces.

3 yards of a tweedy wool/acrylic blend from Fabric Mart
3 yards of a white polyester lining

Several yards of a black foldover braid
1 yard of 3" wide black grosgrain ribbon
4 black glass buttons
1 pair 1/2" shoulder pads

Can I just say that this is a pretty easy jacket that could be lined and would have accomplished the look that I was going for...but that's not what happened because I am intrigued with quilted fabric ala Chanel. So I took a pretty easy project and made it an epic journey because I spent an entire day quilting lining to the fashion fabric. I have never done this before so I used an article in Threads Magazine (issue #121 October/November 2005) by Susan Khalije called "Inside A Chanel Jacket" for instructions on how to quilt the fabric and lining together.

Quilting the fashion fabric to the lining as stated previously is time consuming but the process was interesting. First I measured out large pieces of both the fashion fabric and the lining making sure that the grainlines were correct for both pieces. Then I pinned the lining to the fabric using a lot of pins.

I stitched the two pieces together using the plaid as the guideline ~ stitching from the lining side. I would sew down one row, skip a row, and then sew the next. It made my quilted rows about 1.5 inches apart. I used one color thread on the top and another on the bottom so that the thread would coordinate with both pieces. Directional sewing was very important here. I sewed top to bottom only ~ never flipping the piece and sewing bottom to top. This kept the tension in the rows right.

After each piece was quilted, I then steam pressed the front and back of the piece.

The pattern pieces were laid on top of the quilted fabric and cut out. Now, if I was using a true Chanel technique, I would sew the seam first and then hand stitch the lining closed over it. However, my fabric was very ravelly and I really only wanted the quilted look to the fabric and lining so I took my fabric to the serger and serged the edges of the pieces. I used flat felled seams to sew the garment together. To finish the seams off, I cut a strip of lining fabric and sewed it flat over the seam.

The sleeve in this pattern is a one piece sleeve but I had huge pieces of quilted fabric left over and I couldn't bear the thought of quilting more fabric. So I made the sleeve a two piece sleeve with a seam down the center. This allowed me to use the leftover fabric and achieve a well fitted sleeve.

I added black grosgrain ribbon to the center fronts to give stability to the front of the jacket without taking away some of the softness of the cardigan type jacket. It will also give stability to the buttonholes and the buttons that will be placed on the front of the jacket.

The last and probably most important aspect of this jacket was matching the plaids. To achieve a perfect match, each piece was cut separately and then laid next to the fabric and pattern piece so that the plaids matched perfectly. This is also a simple plaid so I only had to do basic matching. The next interesting match was at the armholes. I matched the plaids from the front sleeve notch and shoulder seam to the back sleeve notch. This worked well and I am basically pleased with the way the plaid matches in the front.

Finally after the jacket was constructed, I added the black foldover braid to the entire jacket. The last part was to add shoulder pads. After pinning in a 1/2" shoulder pad and a 3/4" shoulder pad to check how they looked in the jacket, I settled on the 1/2" shoulder pads.

So here is the jacket so far ~ on Lulu (who is much more broad shouldered than I am). I am waiting for the black glass buttons to arrive from Fabric Mart to finish the jacket.

Next up ~ the Jackie O Retro Suit skirt...


  1. Love your technique of the quilting. And love the jacket. It could work for many outfits, looks like!

  2. Very sharp! and wonderfully versatile :)

  3. A lovely jacket... are your going to go with the same skirt length as in the photo.

  4. I like that quilting technique. Does that also add some stability / structure to your fashion fabric?

  5. Isn't quilting a great way to add a little something to your fashion fabric while still have it be cardigan-like? Your jacket is going to be wonderful and if it were mine, much used!

    Excellent point on stitching all the lines the same way and resisting the urge to flip the fabric around when there's too much waded up under the arm of the machine. This is a major key is getting quilting on garments to look nice!

  6. What a great way to try out the quilting technique. It is looking great so far. Looking forward to seeing the dress too.

  7. I love this! I'm planning on making a Chanel jacket this Fall and I'm so glad you gave details on your gorgeous jacket. I've never quilted anything so this is going to be an interesting process for me.


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