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Readers,

The inspiration: blue and white Art Deco-era buttons, souvenirs from a little antique shop in Edinburgh.

Combine with a crisp blue and white linen to serve as the perfect background, and a smart 1930s jacket pattern.

Art Deco-era buttons on a summer linen inspire the making of a 1930s jacket.

Art Deco-era buttons on a summer linen inspire the making of a 1930s jacket.

Add summer.

Result: splendid, I hope.

I’m diving right into another sewing project: a jacket from the 1930s, Butterick 5542, view A.

I'm making a test garment of View A.

I’m making a test garment of View A.

Heady from my success with the 1952 McCall’s coat, I’m ready to complete this project that I started over a year ago.  But first: a wearable test in inexpensive stash fabrics.

Butterick didn’t put publication dates on its patterns from this period.  Until I know for sure, I’ll estimate this was published in the mid-’30s.

I’m a big fan of 1930s jackets. Look at the choices the sewer had!

  • A long jacket, or a short jacket with a waistband
  • Lapels and a collar, lapels only, or two collarless choices
  • Patch pockets or inset pockets with choice of sizes and pocket flap shapes

    What variety in one pattern!

    What variety in one pattern!

  • A version with epaulets and a belt, great for showing off vintage buttons and a buckle
  • Even a sleeveless version

And several, maybe all, these versions could be worn today and not look out of place.  So it’s worth it to me to invest the time in this pattern, which I could sew several times and showcase some of my beautiful vintage buttons.

I’m sounding like a gardener who’s been reading seed catalogues eager to make this the best growing season ever.

Last year I traced pattern pieces onto sturdy paper from the original fragile tissue, then cut and sewed a muslin.

The delicate pattern piece for the jacket front

The delicate pattern piece for the jacket front

Edith checked the fit and fine-tuned the pattern.

My traced-off and altered piece on sturdy paper.

My traced-off and altered piece on sturdy paper.

Then I pulled some inexpensive stash fabrics–a bright blue linen lookalike and a lining–to serve as the wearable test.

The inexpensive stash fabric cut for my test garment.

The inexpensive stash fabric cut for my test garment.

All the fabric and lining is cut and interfacings applied.

Which takes me up to the present.  I’m going to pick up where I left off and report what happens.  Sounds easy. But here’s the thing: I’m amazed I’m approaching this tailoring project almost casually.

It wasn’t long ago that these fragile, unprinted pattern pieces were as incomprehensible to me as the Dead Sea scrolls. I really wanted to sew these beautiful clothes, but how to unlock the secrets of these pieces of yellowed tissue with variously sized holes?

Then I went through a phase of understanding and executing separate steps in the tailoring process, not badly and often well, but anxiously. By the time you get to sewing the notched collar–which is front and center of your jacket–you’ve put in a lot of time and don’t want to mess up.

With the coat I just finished though, I noticed I was moving to a new stage, understanding the construction method and the underlying principle.  That’s huge! That’s the road to freedom–and enjoyment!

So I’ll see whether this project takes me farther down this road.

I certainly hope so.  There’s a linen jacket with Art Deco buttons waiting for me just a few miles from here.

The goal.

The goal.