Cloning Designer Garments, couture sewing, Drafting Patterns, French Jackets, Tailoring, Uncategorized

French Jacket: The Details

In this post I’ll explore the seemingly little details will make your completed jacket look professional. I love the look of a patterned fabric perfectly matched across the seam lines. Here are the changes I make to the pattern. I also shape certain garment pieces using heat and steam.

A basic princess line pattern. I’ve drawn it on grid paper. It has been cut so that horizontal threads in the fabric match along the lower portion but look what happens in the upper chest area.

077935F7-3AB5-4432-AC2B-C925A101A0D8 First Draft

Here’s what happens if I’m able to manipulate the fabric in the side front.

draft 2 draft 3

In order to minimize the amount of shaping required, I’ve shifted the front princess seam from the bust point upwards and brought it closer to the neck. The violet pattern shows the original; in the red I’ve shifted the princess seams (both front and back so they match at the shoulder) closer to the neck. Overlaying the patterns shows the changes. The same amount of fabric removed from both center fronts and backs has been added to the side back and fronts.

pattern 1 pattern 2

Here is an illustration done on a full figured model. The first photo shows the fabric without shaping. Second photo shows how the fabric pattern matches and gives a much less disruptive line.

Linton demo 1 Linton demo finished

The ironwork does push a lot of fabric into the armseye area and makes the grain quite unstable. I deal with this by cutting a piece of silk organza using the original pattern and baste it in place. The armseye can be further stabilized by taping the seamline. The lining is cut according to the pattern and basted in place before quilting (this is a sample and the lining wouldn’t stop below the armhole).

Linton demo 3 Lining basted

Here’s the front of my white jacket. I’ve moved the princess seam and manipulated the fabric.  The horizontal lines in the weave are continuous. I’ve chosen to add a standup collar. It is also cut as a straight piece and shaped with the iron. Cardboard cut to the shape and size of the finished collar helps press a smooth curve and keeps both sides identical.

Shaping side panel White jacket front

collar 1 collar 2 template

An easy way to match the fabric design when cutting sleeves is to pin the muslin sleeve onto the jacket body. Pin scraps of fabric to the muslin sleeve, matching the fashion fabric along seam lines. Remove the muslin sleeve, lay it flat keeping the scraps of fashion fabric in place. Carefully trim along the seam lines. Now you have an exact guide to cut the sleeves and be sure they will match. The sleeves should be mirror images of each other but check to be sure.

pin sleeve pin scraps

cutting template

Next I’ll tackle handworked buttonholes. If you would like hands-on instuction, I’m teaching a French jacket class in Palm Beach Gardens, FL from February 10-15, 2020. We’ll cover fitting, ironwork using professional equipment, jacket construction, custom trims, handworked buttonholes and more. If you’re interested, leave your contact info and I’ll send further details.


46 thoughts on “French Jacket: The Details”

  1. A great article. I am in Australia and can’t get to Florida for your class – is it an annual occasions? If so, do you have the dates for 2021? I would love to come along, I have made one such jacket already and am about to embark on a second. I travel the world (literally!) to get the fabrics – for the latest one, I couldn’t find any suitable silk lining here, but knew exactly where to go in Hong Kong, so went up for a few days!! Will be in London over the New Year, and there are some lovely places there as well for fabric.

  2. Thank you for all the posts you do on making a french jacket. This one, for me, has come just at the perfect time as I am starting to make my first jacket. Looking forward to the one on handworked buttonholes.

  3. This will prove to be of great help as I have just been to the UK and picked up some beautiful
    Linton Tweed in Carlisle. Back in Australia now and although we are having a heatwave here at the moment, I will start my jacket (second one) soon after Christmas so it will be completed for next winter. Thanks so much for your tutorials and all the effort you go to in your explanations.
    Cheers Christine.

      1. Thank you Mary. I would love to post a photo of my first jacket if you would like but I really have no idea how to do this. Are you able to tell me how?

  4. What a wonderful blog. Thank you, I have learnt so much. I would like to make a custom dressform with Suzy Furrer’s moulage. Do you prefer linen or cotton canvas for the cover?

    1. Either cotton or linen will work. Linen in the right weight is harder to find. Thanks for reading and I’m sure you will enjoy having a custom sized form.

  5. Hi Mary, I wrote a comment a couple days ago but must have failed to hit “post Comment”…jeez! Your instructions are always so perfect and easy to see and read and this post is right on. Manipulating the seam lines and checking that the sleeves match and have the grain line parallel to the floor is so important. Like the others…I’m too far from Florida to attend classes but you never know…one day when the brides stop coming, I can travel and enjoy learning new things from you! Fingers crossed!

  6. I’m not able to make your class this February, but I would love to be on your mailing list if you plan to continue to do these in the future. ramonamp at I am also MonaPut on Instagram. Thanks for responding to my questions regarding the sleeve. Much appreciated!

    1. Thanks so much for your reply. The February class is full but we are planning more classes this summer, fall and early next year. The dates will be finalized in the next week or so and I’ll post an update. Hope one of the times works for you.

      1. Thanks for posting such helpful information. Could I get info for your summer class? Thanks

      2. Hello Mary, I am very interested in your class for the French Jackets, but a list of all your classes is interesting to me incase I can not work the dates for the jacket, you might have something else I am interested in!

  7. Mary, I would love to take one of your classes. I love your techniques and you explain everything so very well. Can you give me the dates of future French jacket classes? As a teacher, summer months are always best for me. Thank you for sharing so much and for your incredible inspiration!

  8. Hi! Would love to take a class from you – especially learning about hand worked buttonholes- when all this virus is under control….Please keep me in mind!


      1. You are fast!! I’ve been lurching on FB drinking up your posts! I have also taken from Khalje and in Paris for couture classes….always love a challenge. BTW- I am in KC.

  9. This article is exactly what I needed to read before cutting out my very expensive fabric for my French jacket. I think the mismatched plaidlines, and especially those weird shapes they create at the bust point, are a dead giveaway that a jacket is homemade instead of handmade. Thank you!

    1. Glad you found this helpful. I’ve taught this in class and once someone sees how much of a difference this makes in the finished jacket, it’s impossible to do it differently. I’ve sleuth shopped at Chanel and the fabric pattern is handled the same way. Enjoy creating your jacket.

  10. Would you ever consider doing online video classes?I would be very interested. I am a visual learner and need to see things done to understand. I studied fashion design in the 80’s but never learned this technique. We were geared to ready to wear and tailoring not couture.

      1. What I’m not understanding on your French jacket tutorial is how much to move the princess seam toward the neckline? Is it a set calculation or is it based on the stripe of the fabric. If it is based on the fabric how is it determined or calculated? Considering the high cost of fabric I assume it isn’t trial and error.Thanks!

      2. The placement of the princess seam is totally arbitrary based on design preference. That said, you might consider the requirements of a specific figure. If the distance between bust apex points is larger you might want to widen the points at the neckline where the princess seam will end. It also depends on the fabric and how much pattern match is required. I’ve seen Chanel jackets where the princess seam ended an inch away from the neck, at the intersection of the neckline and within the neckline curve. Totally at the discretion of the designer. You can place and manipulate the fabric to take all this into consideration.

      3. Thank you, I was enquiring with regards to matching the horizontal stripe (ribbon or plaid). I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. Is the princess seam move done mathematically or do you draw the stripes on your muslin to test it. I know I’m probably clear as mud again.

      4. I’m working on a boucle dress which will be posted in a few days. I’ll illustrate my method of getting the horizontal lines to run straight across. I think that will answer your questions.

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