Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

The Letterless Letterman


Pay attention now, today we are going to learn something about men’s fashion……There is extra information and learning resources in the links below and I expect you all to do your own research and independent reading in preparation for your assignment due next week.

A bomber jacket:
typically made in leather or shearling with a collar, two front pockets and sometimes a zipped pocket on the left sleeve.

81DNbhWN8kL._SL1214_A Harrington jacket: usually cotton twill traditionally with a tartan lining, two front pockets and collar.


A Letterman jacket: often made in wool, sometimes with raglan sleeves; two front pockets and collar in rib knit.


All jackets have common features – rib knit around the hem and sleeves, pockets, length just above hip/below waist and were created for practicable menswear: bomber jackets for WWII pilots, Harringtons for golfers and the Letterman (also known as the Varsity Jacket) closely linked to Harvard University’s baseball team.

Easy now girls – here are some pictures of movie stars in jackets.


Mmmmmm Steve…..        Right, where was I? Oh yes…

Thanks to your previous knowledge and expertise you recently directed me to a range of patterns suitable for teenage son who requested a jacket. I ended up selecting Burda 09/2014 134 as it is downloadable (almost instant) and cheap £3.99.

134_flat_large 134-092014-M_large

All tiled, taped, seam allowances added and cut out; for your information, there are no separate pieces for the pockets you have to trace these off the front pattern and the waist and sleeve bands are just measured rectangles. The jacket has an applique letter, single welt pockets, separating long zip and is fully lined. The instructions were written in a language that I have never encountered before so for a simple looking jacket this was a major learning project. When all else fails, slip stitch the lining!



My son is very conservative in his colour palette – navy. I chose a navy quilted poly and a navy cotton/silk lining. His preferences lie in the plain and unadorned: absolutely no logos on his clothes, I have ripped out the Nike tick from sweatshirts and Hollister T-shirts are relegated to sleepwear only. After some consultation, we arrived at the final design – he refused to have the letter on his Letterman and wanted a Harrington collar instead of the rib knit version and most definitely not tight or fitted. In readiness for the next four years of learning, discovery and fun we proudly present the Letterless Letterman…with a rather reluctant model…








Action shot

For those of you who had to wear school uniform do you remember all those woven name tags that had to be sewn into shirts, skirts, trousers, socks, pants, shoes, blazer and anything item that was not tied down? Well I found a few left over from primary school days and of course one had to be sewn into this jacket – just in case there is another one exactly the same at uni!


Leftovers were made into a scarf (with name tag too).


Fully lined


I always have a problem joining front facings to the hem. I have to ‘patch’ the join in nearly every jacket I make and this one was no exception. Any suggestions about what I’m doing wrong or better still, how to do it right, will be gratefully received.


Over the next few weeks children who once were little will be heading off to university.


Good luck, work hard, enjoy yourselves, phone your mothers once in a while and do your own washing before you come home!

37 thoughts on “The Letterless Letterman

  1. I like it because it’s simple and unadorned, and fits loosely, but not too loosely. Have you made it a big longer than called for? I like that it’s a little longer than what I think of with those kinds of jackets (thanks for the lesson :))

  2. Oh what a handsome lad, and after you put him in with competition in the form of Steve/Ryan and Cary! I like his taste too: handcrafted, yet understated.

    It’s good to be able to pick and choose elements of design to suit needs.

    p.s Muggins here just sewed in some of the same type of name tapes onto the kids’ new uniforms.

    • ….and a very dry sense of humour too Marianna – hence the name tape! Apparently it’s IRONY.
      I was surprised that I still had some of those things left – I think I resorted to a Sharpie at one stage.
      All this ahead of you…..

  3. Fantastic – looks great on DS. And he’s super cute! nice work, mom…

  4. I like the jacket. It’s good that your son has a clear idea of his tastes. Another life phase (for you!)…

  5. I’m glad you liked the pattern I suggested! I had just been looking at it when I visited your site and knew it ticked all the boxes. I am sending my daughter off to uni too. She has similar ‘simple’ taste in garments and wants a non letter letterman too! Yours turned out fabulous and best of luck to the handsome young man wearing it.

    • Thanks Mary. I tend to stay clear of Burda – all that tiling and no SAs etc. However, it worked out this time – Best part of internetting.
      Apparently this pattern can be scaled down for ladies’ sizes – go for it!
      And all the very best for your daughter.

  6. Timeless jacket. What an excellent Mum you are!

  7. Your son is not alone in the unadorned arena. One morning I awoke to my husband cursing. He had just opened a new shirt and found a logo stitched on the pocket. Horror of horrors!!
    What a great jacket and a lucky guy 🙂

  8. Odd, I just made a muslin of the same jacket (despite the totally incomprehensible direction) but I doubt I’ll go further because the design is bland compared to the lovely wool bouclè I have in mind. I’m disappointed but will soldier on. You did a great job, and best wishes to your son.

    • Hi Michael.
      I think the plain design will make the boucle shine – please persevere, it’s a comfortable, relaxed jacket that’s easy to wear. I’m intrigued about your elevated fabric and you’ve given me loads of new ideas……
      If you need any extra help – just e-mail me. Thank you.

  9. Great jacket. Loved the action shot.

  10. Lucky boy to have a willing mum to sew for him – almost logo free!

  11. The jacket is amazing, I love the colour and the style!

  12. Well I knew what a bomber and a harrington were, but Letterman? Never heard of one (although as you provided a picture I know what you are talking about).

    You have done a really great job on this Ruth, and the reluctant model does look fairly chuffed! I am so glad it comes down a bit lower – they are so chilly when they ride up.

    And logos – yes – my DH has been caught filing down the logo on the side of his glasses.

  13. What a great coat, and who knew that there were so many different styles of this kind of jacket? Is your son somehow related to my husband and his brother, because they are all about navy and no logos too!

    • Lynne, see all the other comments above – there is definitely a trend of logo-free garments for men!
      Can we think of another colour other than navy to entice them?

  14. What a great jacket for your son! My youngest “child”, our daughter, is off to University for the first time this fall, also. Happy/sad for me. So nice for you to wrap your son with love in this way…and with the quilt I remember you also made for him!

    • Hi Karla, it is a bittersweet time.
      Picture our kid sleeping in a cold student house but snuggled down in his jacket under his quilt….
      The very best wishes to your daughter too and her future studies.

  15. Super job! I imagine your handsome young man will be quietly reminded of his mum every time he wears that great jacket!

  16. Lovely jacket and you are such a great Mum to make it exactly as your son wanted it. Hope he thinks of you every time he wears it.

  17. Brilliant jacket – my husband needs something like this – I’ll look carefully at your pattern.

  18. Smart jacket, just perfect for starting student life.

  19. My husband won’t wear logos on clothes either. Same thing about not being prepared to advertise free but more about that these are often more expensive. His palette is largely green. He has logos all over his cameras!

  20. Pingback: More M&M Workwear | corecouture

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  22. Hi! Can I just ask where you got assembly instructions for this pattern? I am currently making this piece for my fashion exam piece, I however have no idea how to do it because there isn’t a set of assembly instructions! Many thanks in advance.

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