Not too long ago, Paco Peralta was having a sale on his patterns (Paco’s patterns are sold through his Etsy shop). Last year I made the T coat and was so in love with the pattern, vowing to make it half-a-dozen different ways. I haven’t done that yet. But I remember what a joy the pattern was to work with, and the sale gave me the push to try another that I’ve had my eye on, the Chinese “Coolie” Jacket.
The original was made in silk dupioni, lined, bound buttonholes, and the edges were piped. Buttons were made from narrow bias strips of the fashion fabric. Two main pattern pieces, front & back. The 3/4 dolman sleeves are cut on. In the pattern envelope, there was also a pattern piece for facings, pockets, and separate lining pattern pieces. The lower edge has subtle shaping, so there are also facing pieces for the hem. It isn’t straight across.
Paco has provided a pictorial step-by-step on his blog, including instructions for making the self buttons.
I had something similar in mind as the ultimate incarnation for the pattern, but decided to test it out quickie-style (no lining, machine buttonholes, etc.) in another fabric first in case some tweaking was needed. There was some cotton upholstery-weight fabric stashed long ago that never got made up because every time I visualized myself wearing something made from it, I looked like a sofa. I even dyed it at one point to see if that would take the home-dec look out of it. Still couldn’t bring myself to make anything out of it. But the chinoiserie-type print made it just right for a test version of this jacket.
I love my Chinese jacket! I think I’ll wear it mostly as a top. The fabric, while still fairly beefy, is very soft and comfortable after washing. It doesn’t bind or cling anywhere, and there is good range of motion with the sleeves.
I made this straight up, with no alterations at all except that I did not line….note to self, if you do this again without lining, make it even easier on yourself and make the pockets cut-on instead of separate. Since no alterations were made, I expected that I’d be making myself some notes about what to change next time, like a forward shoulder adjustment, or add extra at the hip, or cut the underarm a little higher. But NO NONE NADA changes are needed. Thank you, Paco. I’ve had trouble in the past with very simple patterns that don’t sit right on the shoulders, slip and slide around, and have excess unwanted fabric draping. This garment has none of those problems and that, to me, is the sign of some nice drafting. Maybe it’s because of the way Paco works. His prototypes are draped rather than drawn.
So I do still want to make my luxury version. Right after finishing this, I was watching the movie Dark Passage with Humphry Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Ms. Bacall was wearing a beautifully simple silk satin pajama outfit in one scene that looked like it could have been made from this pattern. I searched the web for a photo, but came up with nothing. Satin, velveteen, or dupioni will be the material for the next one.
Now for some additional photos:
This is the original coloration of the fabric. I overdyed with a turquoise color…now I’m not sure I did the right thing. But it will be interesting to see what wear and washing do to the fabric.