It seems like forever ago that I started on this project, way back when I ordered this gorgeous embroidered brocade in shades of vivid blue from Linda at EmmaOneSock. It was a roll end with a flaw, and only about 2 panels were left. I knew it was going to be a bomber jacket, but I needed 1. a pattern and 2. Something magnificent to set it off. I was thinking cobalt blue (I LOVE COBALT BLUE), but I hadn’t come up with the idea of leather yet. I was still too timid to take on leather. But then something happened last December. I went on a leather shopping spree. I bought all kinds of leather skins, from EVERYWHERE. These blue ones were super cheap “imperfect” ones, sold as a pair by a seller no longer on eBay 🙁
The Hunt for Supplies & Notions
So my hunt for the perfect pattern and other notions was on … I took my time gathering bits and pieces through my various travels and adventures. I found the cobalt Vislon zipper at the LA Fashion District, in a bin of clearance (2 for $1 zippers), and the lining was a vintage “silk cotton” sari (AKA Cotton Voile, also from eBay). Reviewing back issues of Burda, I found that the Burda Style Special (Spring/Summer) from 2014 had some really great patterns, including a lean looking bomber jacket (purchased!). It can be purchased on Burda’s website, too: Bomber Jacket Download Link on BurdaStyle.com. The last item that caused me a lot of trouble was the ribbing. I really wanted a cobalt blue ribbing, but was having a hard time finding one that gave just the right amount of “pop” – and then I accidentally found this seller (neotrims) on eBay who has lots of great ribbing. With all of my bits and pieces collected … I was ready to go! Well … except that I had a ton of UFOs in the way. I forced myself to finish them before I could start the bomber jacket. Womp, womp.
Putting it all Together
So now let’s talk about actually MAKING THIS THING (right?) … I’ll start with the pattern, pattern sizing, and alterations. I typically make a 38 or 40 in Burda. It really depends on the ease in the pattern, and how I want the particular style to fit on me. For this project, it is a jacket, so it needs to be worn over some light layers (it doesn’t get particularly cold here in San Diego, maybe in the 50’s on a really cold day). Based upon flat measure, I would call this a skinny fit jacket, meaning that there is not a ton of billowy ease in it. I went with the size 40. I’m 5-foot-3-inches (petite), so my usual alterations applied to this “normal” sized pattern: remove ½ inch from the torso (usually below bust) and 2 inches from sleeves (1 inch above elbow, 1 inch below elbow). This is a pretty straight-forward pattern, 4 body pieces total, plus a welt and pocket. One drawback to this pattern is the lack of a lining. My fabric would absolutely need a lining, and I don’t know why Burda would have you make a jacket with welt pockets and not include a lining and instructions … but they didn’t. I used the main body pieces for the lining, too. I would have to figure out the assembly later … in the end I wound up with a FULLY REVERSIBLE BOMBER JACKET (by accident, how cool is that?)
Uh oh ... My Leather isn't Big Enough!
So since I’m already on a path to making this EASY pattern more DIFFICULT than it needs to be … lets talk about how to make these leather scraps work if the pattern pieces don’t fit them …
It’s pretty obvious at this point that my sleeves will need to be pieced, so I joined the lower halves of the sleeves together, and cut them from the upper portions slightly above the elbow. The upper raglan 2-pieces would need to be cut separately. Which was fine and dandy, except I forgot to mirror one of them, and I had no more leather left! That is how one sleeve wound up with a stripe. I found some white leather scrap, and had to piece what I could to selvedge the sleeve, while leaving enough scrap for my pocket welts. UGH, I lost a whole evening on this goof up …
Assembling the Pieced Leather Sleeves
Now that I was all-in and committed with this white stripe, I started the assembly of the sleeves using a flat-felled seam technique I learned in Janet Pray’s “Advanced Industry Techniques” class on Craftsy. I started by trimming the extra ¼” away from the seam that would underlap, and placed the pieces, wrong sides facing and offset by ¼” using my ¼” quilting foot plus seam guide set at 5/8” (see photo). Once that seam was sewn, I then flattened the seam and wrapped the longer seam allowance around the shorter one and stitched, using my edge stitch foot with the needle set at two notches to the left.
I used the tailor’s clapper, a silk organza cloth, and my Rowenta set between 2 & 3 (dry heat) to press the lapped seams flat. The remaining sleeve seams were finished in a single seam. Except the under-arm seam, they were all finished with top-stitching. I used my ¼” quilting foot with built in seam guide as an edge-stitch foot. For the underarm seam, I used rubber cement after I pressed the seam out.
Making Leather Trimmed Welt Pockets
The next step (slightly out of order from the instructions) was to construct the welt pockets. Burda’s instructions (with pictures!) were extremely good. This Burda Style Special is targeted towards the beginner/novice crowd, with great pictures and detail. One of the advantages with it is that many of the same pattern pieces are reused to achieve different styles. I took some photos, but the instructions were really great and I found no major flaws.
In case you are looking for welt pocket instructions, I will write them here:
- Cut two strips of fabric (or leather) to make a welt which will be ¾” wide when finished. This means 1 ½” plus 2 x your seam allowance (mine were 5/8”), and length to fit your finished pocket (plus seam allowance)
- Identify where you want you welts to go, and mark of the finished size on your fabric with chalk (you can hand baste, too, if that is your preference)
- Cut a couple strips of interfacing to support the backs of the openings, and apply
- Fold your welts in half, and press
- Place your pocket (with the longer extension) on the right side of your fabric, with the seam allowance inside the marked welt opening, and seam allowance aligned to the upper edge of the welt. Similarly, apply the welt with the seam allowance aligned and raw edges on the inside the opening. I marked my seam allowance edges to make this process a little easier.
- Sew the each the welt and pocket, beginning and ending, at the corners of your marked pocket openings. You should have two parallel lines.
- Slash the opening through your fabric, down the middle, but clipping a “Y” shape a the corners. Pull the pocket and welt through.
- At this point, you are going to now join the other pocket piece. Align the seam allowances on the pocket with the welt (right sides together) and sew.
- This next step is where it really matters with the end result … you need to carefully align your welt with the pocket opening before you secure the corners and stitch the pockets together. If you don’t, your pocket will gape. Normally, I would baste this, but I couldn’t with leather. First, press everything out, the way you would like it to look finished. Now you need to secure it this way. I carefully pinned the pockets together, and the corner edges (on the inside). Once I was sure that the alignment was right, I stitched the pockets and corners in one seam
Putting Together the Main Jacket Body
Following the welts, I followed Burda’s instructions to assemble the body. I substituted flat felled seams at the sides, and tapered the neck ribbing in (the instructions had this as a square finish). I omitted the neck draw-string, and only attached one of the two edges of the ribbing to the lower hem. This was the first step in the installation of the lining.
I applied the zipper to the fold line of the ribbing to the neck, after trimming down to the desired size. In my photos, you can see how I measured the length, and then pulled the teeth and relocated the stoppers a smidgen short of the marked length. I used needle-nose pliers with a wire-cutter built in. I used the wire cutter to clip the plastic teeth off (easier this way), and the needle nose to pull out fragments.
The Finishing Touches: The Lining
For the remaining assembly, I needed to attach a lining. I put the lining together in the same fashion as the outer body, except all in single seams and pressed out. Once the lining was complete, I started by attaching the lining to the other side of the ribbing. I turned the jacket so that the right sides were facing, and pinned the remaining edges all around, and sewed the seam in one pass. I did switch to a zipper foot for the zipper section. Once the outer edge was sewn, I matched up the seam allowances on each side of the ribbing and sewed a continuous seam, starting about 2” from the zipper and stopping about 2” inches from the other zipper.
Now, the jacket has to be turned back out and finished up. I opened a seam in the lining and pulled the entire jacket through, placing the sleeves in their finished orientation, before pressing out any edges (note of warning, careful with plastic zippers! They can melt!). I placed the ribbing, right sides facing, on the end of the sleeve, carefully pinning inside the seam allowance, and similarly pinned the sleeve lining to the cuff, just to prevent twisting in the next step.
The very next to last step of this construction is to sew the sleeve lining to the outer sleeve/cuff. You’re going to pull the sleeve through the opening in the lining, carefully pinning the lining around the end of the sleeve. This is definitely the trickiest part of the whole project. Now, sew the end of the sleeve through all thicknesses, and turn out.
The very last step is to close up your opening! Now, if I had used a reversible zipper, I would have a reversible jacket! But … I wouldn’t want to wear leather inside out, so maybe this is a future undertaking for a lightweight cotton or silk jacket J
Here it is! All done!
I can’t even begin to describe how much I love this pattern! I think I will make it again and again! I’m already dreaming up a reversible jacket!
Diane AtwellAugust 21, 2016 8:50 pm
Your bomber jacket is amazing!! Thank you for all the incredible detail. I am gearing up to make a bomber jacket and had a few questions. I came across Neotrims as well in search of rib trim. Did you double the trim or use a single layer? Do you remember how much your ordered? I see that you shortened the zipper. I have been thinking I needed to order a zipper to the exact length but now see that they can be altered. Does the zipper have to be plastic in order to shorten it? I have a Burda envelope pattern – number 7210 that I think will work. Couldn’t locate the pattern you used on the Burda website.
Thanks again for the great post! Your sewing and blog are amazing!