Friday, January 25, 2013

Inside a Contemporary Jacket

Apparently once you start ripping jackets apart, you can't stop! I remembered that I had this Banana Republic jacket in my closet from my early editorial career. I would guess that it's about 8-9 years old at this point. It's a little conservative for me these days, so I thought it would make a great comparative example to my 40s jacket deconstruction.

Of course, it's not a very fair comparison. I got this jacket on the clearance rack (I would guess I paid around $50, tops) while the 40s jacket was custom made by a tailor and would have been very expensive. The fashion in the early 2000s called for a very different silhouette than a 1940s silhouette, so it's no huge surprise not to find a lot of tailoring structure (or even shoulder pads) in the Banana Republic jacket. However, I honestly remember quite liking the soft silhouette of this jacket; which is part of why I bought it. Looking at it now, though . . . it may as well be a cardigan jacket. The thing is rawther filmsy.

From the outside, it looks pretty nicely tailored, if a little limp.

 The shoulder line, sleeve caps, and under sleeves look a bit sad.
(Like my new clock?)
The inside is another story. It's unlined (a detail I had forgotten), but all the seams, darts, and hem are finished with lavender bias binding.

 The back facing extends all the way across the back, giving the upper back some support.

I removed the front facing, back facing, and upper collar. The facings are fused with a lightweight tricot interfacing. 

The under and upper collars are exactly the same; both have a separate pattern piece for the stand and both are fused only with one layer of the tricot.

Inside the jacket, I found interfacing on the front and back (where the facings were).

This is good for support across the shoulder, but you'll notice that the area around the arm (which is prone to stretching) has no support.

There is a line of stay tape along the roll line, stitched on with a blind hem stitch.

I'm sure the whole thing was steamed well, which gave the roll line and collar some definition and set the shape.

That's really all there is to show--it was a bit of a letdown after that 40s marvel of tailoring, don't you think?


  1. This coat wouldn't have been around in 70+ years to deconstruct, like the other one :-)

  2. very interesting! and OMG that kitty clock!!!!! :-)

  3. Today, it's all about cutting corners to keep costs down. I love looking at vintage clothing because it is so well-made. Another vintage store in Richmond, Va. is Halcyon on North Robinson which is east of Carytown. I loved looking at the suits from the 40's which came from Thalhimers, Montaldo's Women's Shop, and Miller & Rhoads, all now defunct Richmond stores. They were so well-made and in such good condition. I have made partially lined jackets, and lining the sleeves keeps them from looking limp. I've relined winter coats, because the coats themselves were in great shape, but the linings wore out, and eventually, I got tired of the coats before they wore out. I recently got rid of a winter coat that I only had for 6 years, and not only had the lining worn out, but the coat itself had worn out. It was a well-known brand, and thank goodness I had bought it on sale. This is why I make my clothes.

  4. So sad that the art of tailoring is lost to our youth in everyday mass produced clothing. They have no idea of custom fit and life long quality. Thank goodness for women like you who are bringing back this lost art!

    1. It's totally true! Being just a few years younger than Gertie, I still don't have an idea of custom fit. I remember up through college not even having clothes that suited my 5'0" petite height until more stores started to have petite sections. I can't even imagine having a garment is tailored absolutely everywhere, because god knows that I'm not shaped like a mannequin. Starting out with garment sewing, I'm loathe to try out very tailored styles because I wouldn't even know where to start with adjustments. It's intimidating!

  5. So now that you've deconstructed it, are you reconstructing it to be more tailored or using the parts for another project? At least the buttons?

    Also, this is obviously made to be mass-produced, while the 40's jacket definitely has a (expertly) handmade touch. I'm not sure if this is a totally stupid question, but I'm still a newbie at sewing garments. When items are mass-produced, which parts are done by machine and which by hand? Cutting pattern pieces, sewing, pressing, etc.? Just wondering. Thanks!

    1. I'm saving the buttons, and the jacket will be used as an example in the tailoring course I'm teaching at Marist College. :)

      In mass production, there is very seldom any hand sewing done. That is saved for higher-end garments.

  6. This recent jacket seems influenced by the 1980's technologies when tailoring went 'soft'--especially the "Armani look", which had those big shoulders, but with fusible tricot to shape the body. At the time, these lightweight jackets were considered a luxury, due in part to better climate control in offices and elsewhere, so that the heavier traditional tailored jacket wasn't required. To me, it is amazing that ANY shaping is possible with such limited support, don't you think?

    1. Interesting! Yes, I can see how this type of jacket would be a godsend in a hot climate.

  7. Gertie, This is a great comparison. Can you explain what you meant about the "are around the arm"? I'm working on a sweater jacket now and I am planning to use fusible interfacing on the front and the back like the pattern says, but I wonder if I should think about adding interfacing to the arms someplace. thanks!

    1. Sure! Usually, on the bodice front and back, interfacing is extended to encircle the entire armhole. (If you're curious about how this is done, there's a great book called Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket). I wouldn't worry about that for a sweater jacket, since that's a softer look.

  8. Interesting comparison! Thanks for the insight. Love your kit-kat clock. Had mine for around 10 years and the tail and eyes are getting v-e-r-y s-l-o-w, but I still love it!

  9. Gertie, thanks for sharing these images and descriptions. It really is a great lesson to compare against the tailoring of yesteryear. I am mentioning your post on my blog today because I really enjoyed hearing about the comparisons.

  10. Oh my goodness, how funny! I have that exact fabric in my stash waiting to be made into a skirt. Hee hee, I'm famous!

    Very interesting contrast looking at the vintage style vs this one... seems kinda odd this one isn't lined, huh! Lining is way too awesome to miss out.. Oh I'd love to make a beautiful jacket one day.

  11. This (two-part) post is one of my favorites of yours ever. So thorough and informative; I am fascinated. Thank you!

  12. I love this post Gretchen. Thank you!

  13. In my dream, you teach a class in a little school in Paris! Amazing and inspiring! I love it!
    Bisous ;)

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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