Le Smoking Jacket AKA the Ninth Gate of Hell.

by Housewife Betty on January 20, 2014 · 11 comments

in 1950s,Jackets,Mad Men Inspired,Mens,Vintage Sewing


So, I found this amazing pattern for a smoking jacket from 1951, Butterick 1769. Despite being neither a smoker nor an idle rich guy from a Hollywood melodrama, my Husband decided he needed one in classic satin and quilted velvet. He accompanied me to the fabric store on a Saturday (an event never to be repeated), where he picked out this gorgeous Asian style brocade. We splurged and bought the fancy dress velvet to do the collar and cuffs. I made up a muslin sample, which actually fit him pretty good. I just needed to shorten the sleeves and he decided he would prefer a belt to buttons, so I drafted one. This is where the fun ensued. Slick satin just refuses to be sewn, especially when you are trying to meaningfully join it to any type of napped fabric. Sheer hell. Puckering. I ended up using tissue paper between the layers, which helped some, but not enough. I had to hand baste the batting to the velvet to do the quilting, which took forever and isn’t totally even. The piping was a pain, and in retrospect I should have used a finer weight cording. To top it off, I forgot to cut the back pleat into the lining, which I didn’t discover until I handed the jacket to my Husband to try on. I had to buy more fabric to recut it. Despite the hellacious and neverending trouble this pattern gave me, I still think it turned out pretty good. My Husband likes to strut around the house with a martini while wearing it, so mission accomplished. The moral of the story is that choice of fabric and finish details can make a BIG difference in your work load!



This post was written by...

– who has written 5 posts on WeSewRetro.com.

Thanks to my freakish, Jayne Mansfield-esque body (40-30-40 with a long torso and ugly knees) and a love of all things retro, I started sewing to fit my shape. Finally I can wear a dress that FITS! I love vintage patterns, and I'm exploring resizing to fit my shape. I love seeing what my fellow vintage-o-philes are stitching up!

Housewife Betty's posts / Housewife Betty's website

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

EmSewCrazy January 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm

It looks good from here. Sounds like a success if he’s wearing it. Good job keeping going when it was terrible going! :)


Emilys Vintage Visions January 20, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I think it turned out great! And it sounds like your hubby is happy with it. ;) I’m pretty sure a smoking jacket in on my honey’s list too! lol!

Emily’s Vintage Visions


Caroline January 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm

It looks fabulous! A labor of love but well worth the effort. Nicely done.


JetSetSewing.com January 20, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Nice job, and a martini is always a good idea after hellish sewing.


callie January 20, 2014 at 11:18 pm

The jacket looks wonderful. GREAT rendition of the pattern.


Susanna January 22, 2014 at 9:37 am

Yeah yeah yeah.. we want to see the strutting. And the Martinis. And please tell us your husband’s alias is Hugh.


Housewife Betty January 22, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I actually have been trying to get him to model this for you all, but he always is in Family Guy pajamas which sort of ruin the scene! I finally gave up and put it on my dress form. Maybe the next project. I have a 1960s pattern for skinny trousers that are quite Sean Connery-as-James Bond in his size. I think it might be next….


Evie January 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm

My husband has a ratty old silk one that he LOOOVES, but it’s been repaired so many times already it’s almost not worth it anymore. I’m sure your husband is going to love his until it falls to pieces also!


Lauriana January 24, 2014 at 1:26 am

It looks lovely and it’s great your husband enjoys the jacket quite so much but those are some very challenging fabrics to work with. Especially put together. And with cording…
I’m very impressed!


Claire January 25, 2014 at 3:39 am

Thank you for such a fab write up of your story – you made me giggle with your descriptions. This is a great smoking jacket and I’m sure your hubby is very proud of you. Maybe he needs some retro gentlemen pyjamas to finish his ‘look’?


Lemur Lady January 30, 2014 at 8:42 am

Oh! I made this jacket for a friend and I feel your pain! It’s so satisfying when it comes together though and I learned a LOT of useful lessons.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: