My first attempt at creating a capsule wardrobe-Part Three: The Biker Jacket

Back in the 1950s Marlon Brando and James Dean made the motorcycle jacket the epitome of cool.

Marlon Brando (from The Wild One) & James Dean (near Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood)

Motorcycle jackets have since made their way into menswear designer collections and more recently into women’s fashion as well. When I saw this Style Arc pattern, I knew I wanted to make it for my capsule wardrobe entry in the PatternReview 2020 Wardrobe contest.

Ziggi Biker Jacket

Since this was my trial run for making the Ziggi Biker Jacket, I knew I needed to make a muslin from it first. So I made three. Yes, you read that correctly, three. Choosing the right pattern size for this particular jacket proved somewhat challenging.

A professional taylor once shared with me her philosophy for fitting; begin with the neck and shoulders first then work your way down the body, grading out or in for circumference, length and depth as required by each of her clients and their fitting preferences.

In the case of the Style Arc pattern line, a shoulder width measurement for jackets, dresses and tops also comes into play when choosing a pattern size. This said, even though I’ve made a few Style Arc patterns previously, a shoulder width measurement that worked well for one isn’t necessarily successful for another, hence some sizing trial and error during this process. Here is a photo of the final muslin for my version of the Ziggi Biker Jacket:

Length and circumference looking good but shoulders still really broad in the upper back area.

Regarding the muslin process mentioned above, even with the visual aid of my full-length mirror, altering the back of this jacket proved difficult to do on my own. Fortunately one of my neighbors and good friend of mine down the street, was willing to help. Among her many talents, my friend enjoyed a long career as a wardrobe/costume expert in the television and motion picture industry and really has a discerning eye for color, proportion and style. In light of our current pandemic circumstances, the two of us elected to meet outside the front of her home to accomplish our fit-tweaking activity and wearing our face masks for the duration. Imagine the amused looks we got by passers by, out walking their dogs etc… I’m sure it wasn’t something they saw every day.

With the border print fabric I used to make the first two pieces in my collection as my guide, I pulled out a beautiful piece of copper-toned pleather from my stash. It seemed an ideal fabric for this particular project.

In addition to the jacket design lines and multiple zippers, what really drew me to the Ziggi Biker jacket pattern was the quilted embellishment detailing in the upper sleeve caps and shoulder yokes. I could have just duplicated the diamond-patterned criss-cross lines, but since I love Sashiko Embroidery, I decided to embellish these same areas with an Art Deco-inspired pattern instead.

Here is a a photo of machine embroidery process:

Lining up each of the design sections was the most challenging part!

The fabric-backed pleather held up well during the machine embroidery process and proved user-friendly when hand-basting the brass zippers in place, without showing needle holes upon removal of the basting thread. Unfortunately the brass zipper teeth tended to snag and tear the same later during the jacket construction process, especially after “bagging” the lining and turning everything right side out again. Yikes! I’m thinking I’ll only want to work with leather for future renditions of this jacket from this point on.

The pattern instructions were vague regarding the installation of all the zippers. Even with my years of sewing experience, the limited construction information provided with the pattern reminded me of the technical challenges featured on the popular Great British Baking show..where the contestants are provided with all the necessary ingredients but minimal recipe details. Fortunately I was able to find four separate online tutorials with excellent photos and authored by individuals who had successfully made this particular jacket. One person showed how to add an optional sleeve hem gusset which I also decided to include in my version.

Pictured here with jeans skirt from previous post.
Paired with Giorgio’s Top made out of knit border print
Detail of sleeve gusset and jacket worn open.

I don’t have a lot of places to wear this biker jacket during our current pandemic, but when we are all more out and about in the future, I look forward to donning it for a car show or live concert perhaps. Won’t that be just the ticket?

Coming up in my next post, more wardrobe building with the Style Arc “Margaret” Pant and Silhouette Patterns tank top from the #195 “Sweater Set”.

One Reply to “My first attempt at creating a capsule wardrobe-Part Three: The Biker Jacket”

  1. Oh, I really love this, Cathy. It’s so unique in the copper (which looks stunning on you and brings your skin and hair color to life) and with the unexpected embroidery pattern in place of that ho-hum diamond quilting. The fit is right on, and I admire your tenacity to reach that point with your clothes. Your biker jacket is an outfit game changer.


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