As soon as I saw the stylish images for the Eagle jacket by French indie pattern designer Vanessa Pouzet I was smitten and bought it there and then! I usually give some thought to buying patterns, look up the hashtag on Instagram, read some reviews etc, but this one I loved it from the outset and wanted (needed) this jacket in my wardrobe. I only came across this designer by chance, a friend posted her 2018 Make Nine list and mentioned this designer, and as I always do whenever I discover a new indie designer I’ll hop over to their Instagram feed and see whether their designs appeal to my style or not. How gorgeous does this jacket look?
The Pattern & Fabric
The jacket is described as a chic and snug half-jacket, half-cardi and with no visible seams it has a very couture finish. It comes in sizes 34-48 and you can choose between a short or three-quarter length version. The recommended fabrics are soft wool, fine tweed, linen or lightweight sweatshirt fabric, it requires a fabric with drape to show off the lovely folds the design creates.
I bought 2m of this lightweight 89% wool fabric from Exeter Fabric Centre at £12 per metre, it’s flecked grey and navy with feint orange and green chequered lines on it. I teamed it with this gorgeous lime satin back crepe for the lining which had a more luxurious feel than the cheap polyester lining fabrics they also stocked. My bust size fell into size 34, my waist was size 40 (let’s not go there!) and hips 36. I did cut the paper pattern out at 36 but when I re-read about sizing the pattern suggests going down a size if you’re between as it comes up big, so I opted for the size 34, totally ignoring my girth at the waistline I figured the swingy fit could accomodate that discrepancy! I would add that the armscyes are quite narrow, I have what I consider to be very skinny long arms, I think the sleeves are a little long, by just a cm or so, and the fit under the arms is spot on for me but there isn’t much to play with so I would definitely recommend checking if you need to increase the armsyce and shorten the sleeve length.
The pattern is a pdf and was very reasonably priced, it’s less than 7€ but at the time I bought it there was a 15% discount so it worked out around £5.50 which I think is great value for a jacket of this design. The pdf is a little different to the ones I am now a dab hand at, there is no trimming needed whatsoever and you just need to butt the edges together and tape them. I decided it would be easiest if I did 4 at a time and tried to get them to meet in a perfect cross, it did need a steady hand to not shift them when placing the tape on them but once I got the hang of it, it was fine, I then taped my blocks of 4 together. The best thing about this is you can fold the pattern really easily afterwards back into A4 size for storage so that was a bonus, I haven’t come across other designers using this method yet but anything that saves time in the pdf trimming and sticking department is a godsend! The pattern also comes in English which not all of her patterns do and thank goodness it does because the images alone would not have been enough to put this jacket together! The pattern calls for two lining pieces, the back panel and sleeves (the front panels are self-lined in the outer fabric so you cut 4 front panels from your fabric). The pattern is 2-in-1 for the lining and suggests removing the facing and bottom section before cutting it out in your lining fabric, then if you want to remake the pattern at a later stage you can tape it back together. I decided I would just trace the back panel and remove the facing and hem pieces from my traced piece keeping the original pattern in tact and lessen the risk of losing the small pattern offcuts. For the sleeve you can just fold up the bottom section to cut the lining keeping the pattern intact.
The pattern mentions intermediate to advanced sewing level, there are no zips, pockets or buttons to insert, but there is an expectation that you understand the techniques of making a jacket because the instructions do not spoon feed you! However there is a great step-by-step photo tutorial from Masterclass Couture that I referred to when the printed instructions weren’t making much sense! Although it’s in French you can copy and paste the text into Google translate if you really don’t understand what is happening from the photos, I did have to do this a couple of times.
The pattern doesn’t give you any tips for sewing with leather for the shoulder insets, a quick search online and these were the main hints I found:
- use the right needle, I used a 100/16 needle suitable for working with leather
- sew with a longer stitch, I increased my stitch length to 3
- use a teflon foot, it has a coating on the underside that prevents the fabric getting ‘stuck’ to the presser foot and allows the leather to glide through the machine with ease. If you don’t have one of these the suggestion is sticking a piece of Scotch tape to the underside of your regular presser foot and this will do the same job? I didn’t need to try this because I discovered a non-stick glide presser foot suitable for sewing with oilcloth, leather and vinyl in with my machine accessories so that came out to play finally after nearly 7 years! I always sewed with the leather facing up in contact with the presser foot and swapped to the leather needle and non-stick foot everytime I needed to sew through the leather
- use Wonderclips or similar instead of pins to avoid marking holes in the leather
- try to get it right first time, you don’t want to be unpicking seams in the leather, there will be small holes…..
Although the instructions do not tell you to and part of the expectation that you have the necessary skillset for this project I guess, I pressed religiously after sewing every seam, reduced bulk where necessary, clipped corners and graded the seams especially with the leather insets.
So what went well?
It came together beautifully and fairly swiftly. You have to follow instructions to the letter and sometimes I just needed extra confirmation that I was doing it correctly, the tutorial was great for this. For example it doesn’t tell you how much opening to leave at the bottom of the jacket for turning but looking at the photo you could guage a better idea than the printed instructions, I left an opening of 16cm in the end which was enough to do the magic turning. The hem baffled me the most because the photo tutorial kept mentioning making a fold in the lining and the printed instructions didn’t?! I did spend quite a long time phaffing over this but in the end this is what I did and it worked out fine.
You’re also working with two jackets, the inner and outer, but they’re sewed together, I didn’t try to think too much about what was happening but just followed the instructions and hoped I had put everything together in the right way. Before sewing the cuffs together it looked like this, a spider missing four of it’s legs! But then the magic happens, the instructions even say this…..
Sew the lining and coat cuffs together and pull the whole thing through that 16cm centre opening you left at the hemline and ta-daa! A finished jacket….
What went wrong?
Thankfully nothing! When you’re constructing the jacket there’s not much opportunity to know if you’re doing it right or not, I kept peeking inside but you’re working with four layers all sewn together rather than having your outer jacket and lining separate where you can try them on or turn them in the right way to check, with this jacket not so! I only used the seam ripper once when I didn’t quite catch the seam allowance when attaching the sleeves but other than that this was a stress free sew.
Like, love or hate it?
I absolutely love, love, love this jacket. It’s smart, chic and so very couture, with no visible seams it has the appearance of a handmade designer jacket and the fit is spot on for me. I love the leather shoulder insets, they add an extra designer touch. I definitely want to make another for the spring/summer, probably a stable jersey, I feel like I need to have one for all seasons in my wardrobe. I would highly recommended trying this pattern and will definitely try another Vanessa Pouzet design in the future.
Have I tempted you to try it, let me know if you do!