March in Montana is fickle. One day we have sunshine and blue skies (like today!), and the next we have 6 inches of new snow. Deciding on a spring coat can be tricky with this weather, but we’ve found a solution—The Chicago Jacket in a mid-weight Lana Bollito wool blend! The resulting jacket is a great three-season design, and the natural wool fibers make it warm but still breathable. A perfect match for our wild temperature shifts!
The Chicago Jacket is a pattern from The Sewing Workshop, and is described as an “unlined jacket with curved waist seams, diagonal front darted seams with pocket openings. Center front darts shape the narrow lapels leading to turn-down collar. Raglan sleeves blend into short curved shoulder seams. Narrow stitched hems, one-button closure.” As with most Sewing Workshop patterns, Bonnie found the instructions clear, the design clever, and the execution straightforward. Not an easy feat for outerwear! The jacket turned out just like the picture on the pattern envelope (down to the color, a happy little accident!), though not as boxy as the line drawing.
The Sewing Workshop tends to be generous in their sizing, as a style choice. The Chicago Jacket has a very full cut, but Bonnie wasn’t looking for quite that much volume, so she made the size X-Small. This was based on the finished measurements of the jacket, as indicated on the pattern envelope. In this case, the size XS is suggested for those with a bust of 31″—but the finished bust measures 42″ (and 46″ for the Medium, which she normally wears), which is a huge amount of ease! Be sure to check the finished measurements against your own measurements, and cut out the size according to the fit and style you prefer.
Lana Bollito Wool is a slightly nubby, slightly stretchy wool/rayon blend. When it’s washed (gently, with Eucalan, and air-dried), it does shrink quite a bit. In this case, a 2.5-yard cut turned into 2.25 yards, and the width went from 57″ to about 53″. But the texture of the wool when washed becomes even softer and just the tiniest bit thicker and denser, without losing its beautiful drape. (Plus if you wash the fabric before you make the jacket, you’re not a slave to the dry cleaner!)
The Lana Bollito Wool, like most wools, is pretty dreamy to sew with. In this case, Bonnie used a 90/14 needle, a slightly longer stitch length (3 rather than 2.5), and a straight stitch. She did serge the seam allowances, but only because she is the consummate professional! This fabric doesn’t fray, so raw edges aren’t a problem.
Changes and Modifications
Bonnie wanted her Chicago Jacket to be more of a coat than a jacket, so she added 5″ to the overall length. Also, as noted, she made a much smaller size than she normally would have, just to have a more close-fitting garment. These are simply style choices, but also a good reminder to always check the finished measurements on the envelope, and to tissue-fit the pattern to make sure it will fit the way you’d like it to! The photos and drawings on a pattern envelope can be deceiving…
Bonnie sewed the Chicago Jacket according to the directions, but if she were to make it again she would add a facing to the lapel to give the jacket a more polished look, especially if she were using a fabric that frayed (again, she’s a pro!). But the pattern as written is simple enough for an intermediate seamstress, and still looks nicely finished! The pockets in particular are simple but secure, and cleverly incorporated into the side seam, a detail that Bonnie appreciated.
This was a winner, in our book! The Chicago Jacket makes a nice 3-season outer layer that would sew up equally well in a linen or cotton twill for warmer weather and cool nights. The pattern includes a lot of top-stitching, which always lends garments a professional look and interesting details. The Lana Bollito worked great for this version, and is a forgiving fabric ideal for someone new to sewing outerwear.