Saturday, October 11, 2014

School Days Jacket

I confess… I am totally addicted to making the Oliver + S School Days Jacket pattern.

I've  made 5 jackets so far and with  several sizes already traced out there's a small stack of fabric I'd still like to make into the School Days Jacket.
Along the way during my journey with this pattern I've found some short cuts and fun additions.

Here's my story.

For my first 'trial run', I used a $5 remnant and used a thick shiny lining fabric that was like Bemberg on steroids.
Anyway, the jacket  turned out so well, my size 3 wearable muslin got worn quite often.

The next jacket was size 5 using pink melton cloth and lined with Kasha lining which is a flannel backed satin. I used a #16 Universal sewing machine needle because the fabric was thick.

I have some pink dyed fur that I got from a Paula Lishman sale that I was going to stitch around the hood but decided to keep it for another project when she's older.

When it came to hemming the sleeves on the jacket, I tried something a little different from what the pattern suggests to do that you can see here.  However I will go into detail with those steps later in this post.

As a note to myself, I think the placket section needs a sturdy stabilizer/interfacing to help keep the edge from curling after many wearings.

I actually washed this jacket. It's pink wool melton. I used baby soap, cold water and the delicate cycle on my machine but didn't let it spin for too long.
It was hung to dry outdoors and when it was damp, I lay it between towels with a weight on top to block the jacket much in the same manner as blocking a hand knit.
It worked perfectly!

Meanwhile, some beautifully soft black wool cashmere was calling to make size 4.

As bad luck would have it, our camera's aren't working property so most of the following photos are out of focus, AND my sewing machine is also on the fritz but not totally out of commission AND my serger is broken. Nevertheless, I plodded on and made 3 new School Days Jackets.

I used a lining that has a shiny quilted fabric on one side and fleece on the other.  Perfect for cold winters here in the Great White North.

Because it was so thick, I found I had to take less of a bite in the 1/2 inch seam allowance on the outer fabric, while taking exactly the 1/2 inch on the lining.

I also added a zipper to help keep the jacket shut tight on an active 3 year old.

To get the zipper in place, I sliced the left front (my left facing the wearer) placket just an 1/8th" before the neckline notch and added seam allowances on both pieces of the tracing medium.

Next, I sliced the right facing (my right facing the wearer) also just before the notch on the tracing medium and again  added seam allowances.

(edit: the cut strip (single strip) needs a 1/2 seam allowance on both sides which is not shown on the pattern piece.)

I cut out the fabric pieces, inserted one side of a separating zipper in the sliced section thus making each piece whole again.

To make sure what I created was the correct size, I lay the traced un-sliced portions of the placket and facing over top to check.  I figured if it was a little larger, I could always trim to size.

Since I was making size 4 I got lucky using a standard 40cm separating zipper (cheating ever so slightly in the top and bottom s/a's).
Because separating zippers come in standard lengths, going up or down a jacket size may need some extra thinking and fiddling.

There are tutorials on how to shorten a zippers.
Perhaps the zipper on a larger sized jacket could end well above the hem.
Or maybe the pattern pieces (placket and facing) could be sliced again into a T shape so that the zipper begins near the hem and ends just above the middle closure.

Like I said, some fiddling and thinking is required.

However I found that after the zipper was in place the weight of it pulled the placket and facing apart when it was slightly undone creating an air pocket between the two.

In the end, I think the placket needs to be less wide and the zipper stitched to outside of the placket making it look like part of the topstitching.
That requires redesigning the whole front of the jacket which is something I'm not planning on doing.

To add the hood I cheated it just a little bit placing it just a tickle on the other side of the notch.

The outer fabric was so thick I found it easier to use black cotton broadcloth for the pocket lining plus keep the pocket just as it is on the pattern.

At one point though, I seriously thought about adding an interesting appliqué or a mola  on the pocket face.

Earlier during lining construction, I left a side section open so I could turn the jacket inside out to finish the hem by machine.  Photo details are near the end of this blog post.

The jacket fits perfectly and I've been told it looks store bought.

Here are the kids wearing their winter weight School Days Jackets.
Don't laugh at the white knit hat. It was my first attempt with that pattern (I'm new to knitting) and thought size 6 would be perfect. Apparently not.
It's an easy pattern, so I will make it again … smaller next time.
On the positive side,  the larger size works well if you have pigtails we discovered.

Happy with the outcome of the black cashmere, some soft grey denim was calling to be a spring jacket.

The lining is cute airplane themed quilting cotton.

On the hood, I created a casing and added and buttonhole on the outer fabric near the neck seam allowance in order to thread the cording through.

The buttonhole proved to be a challenge because my sewing machine is not working properly.

I also added a zipper but this time around the "air pocket" wasn't as noticeable.
Oh, and I fixed the sleeve hems after this fitting.

The pocket has an inverted pleat and I used the same denim to line it plus added some stacked buttons to pick up the colours of the lining.

For the front closure, I used non matching colourful buttons which also picks up the colours of the lining.
Initially I made my own buttons using Premo and Sculpey III but read afterwards that the latter wasn't strong enough to use as buttons. Scrap those buttons!

For the most recent School Days Jacket, I decided to make a raincoat in size 6.
The only raincoat fabric that's readily available at my fabric store is called Commander which is a waterproof  poly/cotton.
It's a little slippery and really difficult to put pins into so sometimes I resorted to using small clips to hold pieces together.
I used a #12 Microtex sewing machine needle and a teflon presser foot.

Since the outer fabric was so bright an cheery, I chose an equally cheerful quilting cotton lining that reminded me of fruit striped chewing gum I used to get as a kid.
Of course, the advertising jingle for that gum stayed in my head during most of the construction.

Once again, I put a casing in the hood for a tie cord but didn't bother with a zipper this time around.

On the pocket, I created a pleat and used the same fabric for the pocket lining.  Then referring to the flap pattern piece on the Explorers Vest from the Oliver + S book 'Little Things to Sew'  made a flap.

 I used the chevron cotton for lining and decorated it with more of the colourful buttons I used in the grey denim jacket.

Moving to the sleeve, I took the sleeve tab pattern piece from the O+S Secret Agent Coat ...

 … and used orange Commander on one side, quilting cotton on the inside and of course more colourful buttons.

Here's how I finished the sleeve hem on all the jackets I've made.

Fold the s/a of the outer sleeve hem to the s/a of the lining and pin right sides together.

Then, put your hand between the outer fabric and lining and go up the sleeve grabbing the spot just pinned and pull it through.
The pin has held the two pieces together so you'll know how re-adjust for stitching

Realign the pin and add pins so the right sides are together and stitch the two hem edges with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Turn the sleeves right side out and press. No hand stitching required!

Quite by accident, or serendipity as I like to call it,  since my serger is broken I couldn't finish the facing edges using the serger and the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine doesn't work either. So I stitched on a little bit of ribbon to finish the edges.

When it came to finish the jacket hem, the ribbon looked much nicer than when I serged the edges in previous jackets. Serendipity!

While constructing the lining as mentioned above, I left open a long section in the side to pull the jacket through.

Then with right side of the lining facing the right side of the outer fabric, pinned the hem edges together.
I stitched the hem starting and stopping about an inch or two from the edge of the lining.

Then when the jacket was turned right side out, I pinned and tacked the lining end section to the area where the ribbon was stitched on.
There's a wee bit of a bubble but that's okay and adds to the ease when the basting stitches from the lining centre back is removed.

Now to wait for spring and a rainy day.

Well,  now I'm looking at my stash and thinking about making another jacket using dark denim and then topstitching the heck out of it, even on the pockets to make them look like jeans pockets. Maybe flat felled seams too. And on the hood lining add piping to the seams.

I'm also looking at a vintage Hudson's Bay blanket and wondering how it would look as a School Days jacket as opposed to a Capote.  But I don't have the heart (or nerve) to cut up one of my blankets. However, I do have a fleece Hudson's Bay throw.  Hmmmm

 This is such a fun jacket to make with a rewarding outcome.

I guess I better get busy and make more because this pattern only goes up to size 8.

Oh, and note to self … orange is just as difficult to photograph as black!


  1. You are a rockstar! These are all so great, each in their own way. I love the zipper addition, clever you!

  2. This pattern is on our "to do" list.....but, we're a bit worried about finding the PERFECT fabric for it though!! EA has requested a raincoat on multiple occasions, so this might be the route to take for fulfilling the request :). Looking forward to watching the sew-along from the sidelines...

  3. Wowzers! So many awesome new coats/jackets!! Sorry to hear that the cameras, sewing machine, AND serger are not behaving themselves. Why does it always seem like machines like to all break down at the same time?

    The black cashmere coat looks like it will be super warm when it gets cold and the snow comes. I love the light weight spring jacket you made your grandson. Your add ons make the jacket perfect for a young boy.:) The rain jacket is adorable too! Great idea to make the hood so that it can be pulled tighter.

  4. Amazing!
    Thanks for sharing all of your tips, tricks, and experience. All of these are wonderful, but your future ideas sound fabulous, too!!
    Yes, it is such a pity that the pattern only goes up to size 8.
    I have never made a School Days Jacket, but plan to join the sew-along. I have gathered most of my supplies...

  5. Deb, these are amazing...I just love coming here and seeing what you have been doing. Right now so weary I can hardly take all you have told in...but I am sure enjoying seeing it. And the kids are adorable as ever.

  6. Fabulous, just pinning you Baby-baby!

  7. Just used this again, thanks Deb.

  8. And I linked to this page on the Pattern Review website, just thought I would let you know if you get a lot of extra traffic.
    xx N

  9. I have just linked you again!