French Jacket Guest Post – Dorcas Ross
In March, Julie Starr wrote a beautiful guest post featuring her latest classic French Jacket. This post features her partner in crime, Dorcas Ross, creator of lonestarcouture.com and popular Instagramer (go HERE). Though Dorcas lives in Houston and Julie in Charleston, they sew French Jackets together each January and invite others to join in and sew along for the #januaryjacket project.
It’s always a good time to sew a classic French Jacket, no matter the weather or time of year. Since the jackets take up to 100 hours to complete, sewists often break the intensity with quick and easy projects during the process. Summer may be approaching but it’s never too early to plan or begin your French Jacket!
I’m calling this a French “coat” and it’s my favorite French “jacket” to date! (Shown above with a Kate Spade leopard belt.) To change the look from a jacket to a coat I simply lengthened my jacket muslin and added a collar; a complete experiment that turned out to be very simple.
I originally started this project in 2018 as my January Jacket, the annual tradition my friend Julie Starr and I began in 2014 by sewing a French jacket as our first garment of the year. Life got in the way preventing its January completion, and I didn’t resume work on it until 2019.
The boucle is from Linton Tweeds and it’s one I’ve really enjoyed since it is woven with all of my favorite warm, earth tone colors.
I now know that had I finished my jacket a year earlier it wouldn’t be nearly the coat it is today. My original trim idea was self-fabric trim made using the selvedge edge as a base. It just wasn’t coming together. Earlier this year I started shopping for other ideas and found the chenille trim on Amazon, of all places.
I decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be the perfect finishing touch – just goes to show you never know where you’re going to find the perfect elements for a design. Lengthening the pattern pieces was easy and only resulted in a little extra quilting and fell stitching:
My approach to the collar was fairly straightforward. I measured the neck and compared it to several collared jackets I’ve made. I decided upon the collar from my Kwik Sew jean jacket and made a muslin for fit, also trying it with my trim before cutting into my boucle.
I was very pleased with the way it turned out, and it was so much easier than I anticipated. Ultimately, I sewed the entire collar by hand. Since I was inserting the trim between the layers it was not a component that could be sewn right sides together and turned in the standard way.
Once the collar was attached the sleeve vents seemed very easy to finish. Originally, I thought I’d add buttons but after applying the trim and trying them it became evident they weren’t adding anything.
My only regret on the coat is that I didn’t have it finished in time for our chilliest weather! We had one cold snap that allowed me to wear it to an event in February. One of my business colleagues was so impressed she confiscated, inspected and photographed it creating this little compilation for me. I considered that quite the compliment!
French jackets can be very daunting projects to entertain sewing. When I finished my first one I felt like I’d conquered the world. Each one gets easier and I’m to the point now where I really feel confident making design changes and experimenting with trims and embellishments. In fact, I have another one on my cutting table right now and these colors and textures are driving me wild!
Many thanks to Dorcas for sharing her s t u n n i n g French Coat with us! Good luck with the next one, Dorcas – we can’t wait to see you in pink