1930s | 1940s | Applique | Jackets | Vintage Sewing

Tracht-inspired jacket

October 27, 2013

Hello, here I am again. I’ve been neglecting my blog and online presence for too long now, but I have been sewing quite a bit, in my defense – and also put myself on a very healthy ban on frantic last-minute sewing of overly ambitious party outfits. My stress levels are down (slightly) and my nerves are thanking me.

I’ve been making a lot of things lately, several everyday garments that I need quite badly, but this is the one I’m the most pleased with; a wool/poly gabardine jacket inspired by Steirer jackets and German and Austrian traditional costumes in general, with leather oak leaf appliqués, abstract bakelite acorn buttons and a pleated, skirted back, the cut nicked from a late 1940’s jacket that I have loved almost to pieces.

The original sketch made three years ago or so, when I got the fabric.

It’s been in the pipeline for several years, in other words, but I’m glad I waited.

Front and back panels sewn together, interfaced with horsehair canvas, wool and a heavy linen canvas at the front shoulder, with pockets nearly done.

It has bound pockets with the leather oak leaves applied after the pocket was practically finished, but before I closed up the pocket bag. The whole process of figuring out the best order in which to do the pocket and appliqué steps to create fully functional pockets with the appliqué took a bit of frustrating trial and error. I added top-stitched leaf veining after some consideration – it felt like an idea that might go spectacularly wrong, even with a teflon foot, but it actually turned out quite well.

Fitting process. The back came together beautifully at once, the front took a lot of fine-tuning.

I added a lot (a LOT) of extra hair canvas and wool fabric pieces to the body of the interfacing here and there around the bust and front of the shoulder to get the pocket to lie reasonably smoothly, for instance, and get a nice, smooth shape. It was worth it, and I highly recommend spending some time fiddling around with stiffening, shaping and filling out the silhouette like that if you have the time. I certainly will. Also added horsehair braid along the hemline, from the side pleats in the back, around the curve in front and up to the waist. Also worth it.

SO worth it.
The finished jacket, with a peaked cap in the same fabric and a new skirt with scalloped button edge.
The back is my favourite part of the garment.

Right, and I did leather-bound buttonholes on the sleeves, with leather that is not what you’d call thin or supple. That may have been one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. They look pretty awful up close, but not half as awful as making them was. I wanted to do that on the rest of the jacket as well, but no. Just no.

I’ve been wearing it constantly for several weeks now. Very happy with this one.

    1. Thank you! I love this solution with the box pleats so much, it solves every single one of my fit issues with a short back, marked swayback and a huge, prominent ass with a flourish. Think I’ll do something like it on every single jacket from now on.

    1. Thank you! Well, I take a long view of my sewing projects. I love that feeling of getting better, too, of accomplishing something that I couldn’t do as well, or at all, the last time I tried.

    1. Thank you. I feel that should have taken a photo of the original 40’s jacket with the same back treatment – it really is gorgeous, and very flattering and forgiving.

  1. The extensive commentary you gave was very interesting to me as I have never before used horsehair canvas or any of the other things you used to shape this garment. It is very well fitted, and looks wonderful on you! The seamstresses and tailors of the 1940s really put a lot of work into their garments; it was such a different philosophy then, of how to put oneself together to go out into public. Thank you again for the details and beautiful photos.

    1. Hair canvas is wonderful stuff. I really love classic tailoring and all the underpinning, stiffening and padding that goes into it, but even if that particular kind of sewing isn’t your cup of tea, it does produce great results. Linen is also good for this, though, especially if you want lighter, cooler garments, or if you are sensitive to animal hairs.
      On the other hand, I am not that great with draping and light, flowing fabrics. We all have our pet techniques, I suppose. Thank you for the kind words!

  2. Really amazing work! I especially love the acorn buttons. May I ask you a question? I have just sewn a coat dress and am having difficulty with the button holes. The machines I have tried, including a vintage Singer, a standard Brother, and a very fancy quilting machine, can’t handle the combination of the thickness of the fabric and interfacing and being close to the edge of the garment. What should I do? Thanks for any advice you might have.

    1. Thank you! Buttonholes are a bitch, I’m never happy with the standard buttonholes my Pfaff produces, or any other machine I’ve met, really.

      You can ask around with your local tailors, cobblers and leather craftspeople and see if anyone has a keyhole buttonhole machine or other heavier equipment and will make the buttonholes for you, you can consider doing bound buttonholes instead, although depending on the bulk your machine may not cooperate with them either, and it might get just too thick and unwieldy, or you can do them by hand. Handmade buttonholes take a bit of practise to get nice and even, maybe do a practise run on a double layer of scrap fabric, but it sounds like that’s your best bet, unless you can find someone with an industrial buttonhole machine.

  3. Wow. Just wow. This turned out just incredible! What a fantastic job on fitting and the leather accents are great! Totally in love with this. <3

  4. I am awestruck! An absolutely feminine silhouette. Why don’t women dress like this today is beyond my comprehension. Covered, well-dressed, not letting it “all hang out” is so much more attractive on the womanly figure. You completely nailed it, from the cut of the jacket, the fabric selection and details to the styling (loving the skirt too- pls add a tutorial on that :-D) Well done, and I am totally inspired now to tackle jackets.

  5. Wow. The tailoring you did on this jacket is top notch. I especially love the box pleats on the back. I really think that shape of jacket is so flattering, and I want to make something similar one of these days. My skill set is not that advanced yet, which is why I am still making basic dresses and circle skirts. Sigh, maybe one day!

    Well done!

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