|You could wear your Clovers
with this one
We often associate countries with particularly excellent products: Japanese silk, French lace, Irish linen, Scottish tweed, American cotton; or with distinct qualities: French couture, Italian design, German engineering, British tailoring, American endeavour and Japanese craftsmanship.
So one could be excused for assuming that living within the British Isles access to impeccable tailoring techniques, advice and supplies would be almost commonplace. Saville Row, London is probably the best known address in the world for ordering your handmade suit, having your officer’s military dress uniform sewn and braided, and having your bespoke hunt jacket tailored and fitted.
I’ve always hankered after a hacking jacket – a checked tweed or wool affair (to keep warm on dawn canters), with slanted front pockets (to keep my pennies in), double back vents (for when I’m galloping through the meadows), fitted (so I look slim) and really, really stylish (’cause I’m vain). Oh, by the way I don’t horse ride regularly at all now – just wanted the jacket. I thought of buying one (oh sacrilege!) but they retail at £300 and upwards.
I trawled the internet looking for a pattern, and I mean trawled. I reckon about three week’s worth of concerted searching and where did I find the perfect pattern?
Was it England? No
Was it Ireland? No
It was the country of “what do you want and when do you want it” – America!
While I could locate riding-style jackets in most pattern companies’ portfolios, I stubbornly wanted the real thing.
I first found Pattern Review during this apparently futile search and MaryB had reviewed a pattern by Jean Hardy – No 107 Dressage Coat in March 2009. This was the only review of the pattern company and after reading her comments I was very apprehensive. Take time to read it yourselves – it’s scary!
This is her fantastic jacket she made for her darling daughter. Her perseverance, dedication and obviously excellent sewing skills are testament to her success in completing the job, but this is part of her conclusion in the review
“The process of making this coat was a disharmonic convergence between a mediocre-drafted pattern with confusing instructions and my in-a-hurry inexperience with making a tailored coat. It was hard. I made mistakes.”
|Jean Hardy 875
Misses Hunt Coat
But in those days I was innocent of the amount of work and technical ability required to pull off such a project and so located Jean Hardy on the Internet and searched their patterns. Unsure as to whether they posted to the UK, I emailed to find out and also asked a few questions about their designs. The people at the other end were lovely, replied promptly and answered all my queries, the most important being, Yes, they did post to UK. I’m a sucker for good customer care, so I ordered immediately.
You obviously have to look down your nose at the stable boys when wearing one of these jackets.
I chickened out when it came to purchasing fabric. I went for a plain, dark brown brushed cotton type of thing not the original plan of a checked (plaid) Harris tweed. I just thought about all those seams and matching up checks (plaids) and hard things like that and went for the easy way out.
MaryB was right. The instructions were OK but I was somewhat, the diagrams were a bit vague though. On the introduction it states: “If you prefer a fully hand tailored coat, refer to a tailoring book….” Now for a girl who is accustomed to Vogue instructions, step-by-excruciating-step, a statement like this is terrifying.
My measurements spanned three sizes on the measurement chart, so Miss Never-Make-A-Toile(Muslin) – did. Had to take it in quite a bit but used the toile(muslin) as underlining for the shell fabric, so it didn’t go to waste.
I did refer to a tailoring book, in fact, Claire Schaeffer Couture Techniques (yet again) and zillions of blogs.
We were having a conversation the other day on Frabjous Couture about the reliability and accuracy of blog tutorials. I can honestly say that without them this jacket would never have been completed.
I had enough fabric left over to make a matching waistcoat (vest) and have the same, but different sized, buttons on it – to make a suit. I also added three smaller buttons on the sleeves but these are just for show.
The flaps on the waistcoat are mock – there are no pockets. It is lined in the same fabric as the jacket.
Better image of the fabric and the welt pocket with flap, that actually fits inside the pocket if wanted – now that was a fluke!
The collar and lapels were pad stitched and sewn on by hand simply because I knew my machine would have PMS and wage war at the exact moment of attachment, so I didn’t let it think it had the upper hand.
Double back vent which was amazingly quite easy to do.
My lining is a petrol blue jacket lining so fairly robust with a small square pattern. I liked the contrast between the brown and the blue and ties the jacket in when worn with denim or, as in the right hand pic, with Paco’s skirt.
I pulled out all the stops and inserted an inside pocket like a man’s jacket with a button-over closure.
Lastly, added the labels and welcomed to the wardrobe.
I love this jacket. It really does go with so much already in the wardrobe. As I hardly ever wear black, dark brown is a good alternative for me.
I will make it again in my fantasy Harris tweed some day, but as the genuine thing costs at least £60 a metre it may be some time.
Next time I’ll take it in just a little bit more at the waist so that I look more like the ladies at the top of the page LOL. Oh and I’ll work on that haughty, look down my nose appearance for all those stable boys.
Thanks for reading. Ruth