Seasonably Inappropriate: DIY White Linen Blazer

This lady was started way back in July, when summer was hot and the horsehair on my white J Crew jacket had started poking through its acetate lining and into my neck. But I was pretty out of my depth here, and once I started reading a lot about tailoring the whole project spiraled out of control. It took about six weeks-worth of sewing time, and it was finished with just a week left before Labor Day and the end of socially acceptable white clothing. [please ignore that Labor Day was more than six weeks ago and this write-up is only now going up…]

This was a metallic glazed linen, but I used the wrong (non-metallic) side. Am I a monster for wasting all that shiny linen? Possibly. But given that I’ve already got a couple jackets better suited for michael jackson’s wardrobe than my office, I decided to keep this simple. 

Before I get too into the weeds, does anyone have/know of a good shawl collar jacket pattern with a cut on collar? I think that would fix one of the construction issues I had below, but I don’t necessarily want to just go buying up every shawl collar jacket hoping one of them will have it.

Before I get too into the weeds, #2: Would you like to know where that top photo was taken? You would. Its outside of a sewing museum in Havana. I found a hand-crank Husqvarna at the Obrapia in Old Havana and was delighted. The lady museum monitor and I then talked about her tatting.

Anyway, this pattern.

vogue 8958-1 vogue 8958-2 vogue 8958-3

It’s Vogue 8958, a tuxedo jacket in two variations of tuxedo: shawl collar and, I dunno, bib collar?   V8958 shawl V8958 bib

Anyway, this isn’t actually the first time I’ve made Vogue 8958. I did one up a year ago in slubbed black silk satin with a bright blue lining. It looks like this (gross overexposure for your black fabric viewing pleasure):

IMG_1716 IMG_1717

Even terribly set in shoulders, aside I wasn’t completely happy with how it turned out, and plus I got on a plane for a work trip right after finishing, and then all my good write-about-my-failures intentions just took a backseat to new projects.

For the adjustments!

:: I used a size 10, and I did a 1.5” full bust adjustment. The first jacket (no FBA) fits very tightly across the chest and there’s no way it would button without looking ridiculous.

:: I took 1” of the bodice length in total, removing 1/2” above the armscye to petite-ize the pattern, and another 1/2” at the true LENGTHEN/SHORTEN here lines. I did the same on the back bodice.

::I then took a corresponding 1/2” out of the sleeve cap, along the cross grain, blending the cap line. Is this a legitimate adjustment? I also removed 1/2” from the LENTHEN/SHORTEN here line on both the upper and lower sleeves.

:: All that slicing means the shawl collar also had to be shortened. I tried a new method, tracing the original collar onto the front bodice pieces before making my bodice adjustments. Once the bodice is adjusted, you just retrace the shawl from the bodice piece, blending the lines to smooth. This way, the shawl collar length was pre-adjusted, without me having to do any math.

That’s a technique more or less cribbed from Kathleen Cheetham’s ‘adjust the bust’ Craftsy course, and was a light-bulb moment for me, though perhaps painfully obvious to everyone else.

:: In other news, I’m not sure the front extension goes far enough to accommodate the button hole. Even with a FBA on the second version, pinning the jacket closed where the button is meant to go resulted in a lot of drag lines and pulling. Luckily, I realized this before making a button hole. This thing just hangs straight. I plan to put a hook and eye in but there’s nowhere near enough room for things to hang straight if I cross the two fronts.

vogue 8958-4

Side note: In the original black jacket, I was pretty effing cavalier with those petite adjustments, lopping off 3” from the bodice and 3” from the sleeves. But all of the length was taken out below the armhole, and I didn’t take in the shoulders at all. See:


Goes some way in explaining why I dislike it, eh? And explains why I feel just a little like this.

Take it off, dickhead, I’m serious.

Sorry, Construction!

Let’s talk about tailoring. First, almost all the techniques I used are from the Singer Sewing Reference Library: Tailoring. It’s really decent [but is the exact same as this effing book, so if you own one, don’t go searching for the other. Learned that little copyright leasing trick the hard way.] The photos are very good, and each construction and/or tailoring step is spelled out using three methods: traditional, machine tailored, or fusible. As someone with very little clue, it was so, so helpful to have this broken down. Alison Smith’s Essential Guide to Tailoring class on Craftsy (which I’ve also bought) promises the same, though I’m beginning to think I’m more of a book person than a video person. I haven’t made it too far in hers.

Since many people on the internet know many things, I’ll keep my details to a the areas where I deviated from the instructions:

:: I added welt pockets with flaps. Real pockets! Be impressed! The pattern actually just calls for adding nonfunctional hip flaps, which seemed dumb. I left them off entirely in the black version, but followed the singer instructions for making welt pockets 5” in length very closely, and it worked really well.

vogue 8958 pocket

I had two issues: a bit of wonky clipping into corners of the welts, which resulted in some diagonal edges; and I used hot pink silk thread to baste the pockets closed during construction. Why is that second one a mistake? Apparently silk thread sheds a million itty bitty little fibers, and there are still tiny hot pink dots where the basting thread used to be. Lame.

:: I trimmed the undercollar 1/8” on the neck side, to help it roll under. I then matched up the outer edges, and sewed , turned right sides out, and pressed the seam allowandces to the undercollar, and under stitched. The result is decent, but I just can’t get the collar to sit flat at the lapel corners. All that stitching seems to have made things fairly stiff there at the bottom. The singer book shows a shawl collar pattern with a cut on shawl collar. See above request for pattern suggestions with this feature!

::After trying on the jacket with the sleeves basted it, it was clear that my petite adjustments only went so far. I removed 3/4” from the shoulders before setting in the sleeves permanently, using THIS method.

:: I drafted a 3” back neck facing basically just for a place to put a hanging loop. That meant I reduced the height of the back lining pieces by 3″ as well, before adding back in a 3/8″ seam allowance. It worked just fine!

vogue 8958 back facing

:: I changed the order of construction, sewing up the entire jacket, then sewing the collar to the jacket body, followed by the jacket facing to the jacket body. I then attached the lining.

:: As for lining and hemming, since I didn’t bag the jacket out, I followed the facing hem instructions from the Singer book. Instead, I hand-picked the facing to the jacket body, at the edge before attaching the body lining by machine to the facing, letting 3” hang free at the bottom. I then hand-stitched down at the facing/lining/hem intersection, which took a little more time, but it turned out correctly so whatever.

:: And finally, I did follow the properly tailored instructions of attaching the lining sleeves to the lining armhole by hand, but I don’t reckon I’ll use fiddly method ever happen again.

Done? Done!



  1. Tailoring is so much fun to do! I happen to really like Allison Smith’s class on tailoring you reffer too. I can’t really give a thumbs up for a good shawl collar pattern, but would love to find out about those!

    1. Hm. Maybe I should give her class some time. I’m actually in the middle of trying to make my husband a coat and am also using Roberto Cabrera’s ‘Classic tailoring techniques for menswear’. But those techniques — while filling a lot of gaps — are also very, very fussy.

      1. I have Roberto Cabrera’s book on ‘Tailoring techniques for womenswear’ and while it’s super interesting, I find Alison Smith’s techniques easier to understand, probably because of the video! There’s a lot of handsewing involved but it’s nice to see exactly where all the stitches need to go!

  2. Ack, I love it! Don’t you love revisiting a pattern and have the fit mysteries make more sense? I may need to check this pattern out. I totally hear you about the glazed linen; I ordered 2 yards many years ago, and the company sent me almost 4. One metallic glazed linen dress is enough for most non-MJ wardrobes! I’ve been sorely tempted to turn it inside out but lacked your chutzpah.

    1. Thanks!! Yes, it was nice to have something work the second time just because I thought better about it.

      You’re better than me about the glaze, though. I used all of mine up, flat side out!

  3. That’s a great jacket!

    For a shawl collar jacket, this month’s Burda magazine has two with cut on shawls (though 103 incorporates the sleeve into the back piece for a really slouchy, cardigan look). 102 might be useful for you and it comes in four lengths. I just got the magazine last night so I can’t vouch for the pattern ;-), but Burda’s jackets tend to be really well drafted. It has a straight edge on the bottom of the lapel, but it seems like that would be easier to change (if you wanted it rounded) than figuring out where to put the neck dart so the collar fits properly. One version:

    1. Oh thanks for mentioning! Good thoughts. My problem seemed to be with there being too many fabric layers at the corner at the base of the lapel for it to sit flat. Looks like 103 would avoid because the lapels extend all the way down.

      You are definitely right about the neck dart being a difficult problem!

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