Little Black Jacket

Little Black Jacket Front

I am a homey, home- loving kind of girl. Of the March sisters I am definitely the ‘Beth’ of the group, let’s hope with a slightly less tragic end! A consequence of this is that I have a lot of home related hobbies;  sewing (as you know), knitting, baking, reading and not least watching TV (usually whilst knitting!). I would actually go so far as to say that I am a bit of a TV series addict.

I have referenced my love for Pan Am and Mad Men more than a few times here on the blog, but while I am in this confessional mood I may as well tell you that these fall into the ‘high brow’ category in terms  of my viewing repertoire. You are reading the blog of a girl who watched the entirety of Party of Five at age 24 because it reminded her of ‘simpler time’ *blushes*.

In my opinion it is not always a bad thing if very little happens in a series. Take Gilmore Girls for example, it’s right up there with my favourites and its drama high points included a knit-a-thon, a 24 hour swing dance marathon and Lorelai running out of coffee. I suppose it could be called comfort- watching: good characters, nice backdrops, pretty clothes and nothing more serious than mild peril. Ah, pass me the remote and my knitting needles!

The protagonist of one of these ‘comfort watches’ of mine is the always stylish Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) of ‘Hart of Dixie’. Throughout the series one of her wardrobe staples is various incarnations of the little black jacket. She is the walking poster girl for the fact that they can be worn with pretty much ANYTHING. She sports hers with everything from shorts to rolled up boyfriend jeans and looks great doing so.

Zoe Hart Jacket 1

This item has been on my ‘things to eventually make and add to my wardrobe list’ for some time now but 22 episodes later and it had made a meteoric ascent to the top.

Zoe Hart Black Jacket 2

To make my version I used the self-drafted pattern that I had used previously for my summer Pan Am blue jacket. I had always planned to recreate this jacket in some other colours as I was really happy with the shape and fit of my blue one. I love re- using patterns that have been a success as it’s so time effective- all toiled and tested and ready to go!

I made a few changes to the jacket pattern as this version was to be a heavier wool jacket with shoulder pads. I adjusted the shoulders and sleeves to accommodate the pads, added 2.5cm to the length of the jacket and omitted the contrast binding. I was tempted to add long sleeves but then realised I hadn’t bought enough fabric so my trademark bracelet length sleeves it was.

I decided to use speed tailoring to construct this jacket as I have a few spring jackets on my ‘to- do’ list and using traditional tailoring techniques on everything just isn’t really feasible time wise! I also wanted the jacket to be relatively supple so didn’t want to use anything too dramatic in terms of interfacing.

I had planned to take step by step photographs of the various interfacings I applied and add a speed tailoring tutorial to the blog but unfortunately the jacket and interfacing being black made any details nearly impossible to capture! I had to admit defeat in the end but I will do this with one of the others that I will make soon when I will be using white interfacing. On this note to anyone who is new to sewing I would definitely recommend avoiding working with black for your first few projects- it makes everything much harder to see as well as photograph.

Despite trying to keep things time efficient I couldn’t resist adding bound buttonholes- I just love the finish they give. I did however do a secret little concealed popper/snap behind the buttons on the pocket flaps as this eliminated two buttonholes and I am actually really pleased with this decision as the effect is nice and flat and neat.


I used sleeve heads on this jacket- I just make my own from polyester wadding. I like wadding rather than fleece as it’s nice and bouncy and so it gives the area plenty of body but I grade it on the edge furthest down the sleeve to avoid any ridge. The wadding is super easy to grade as by nature it’s kind of layered. I will go into further detail with pictures on my speed tailoring tutorial for anyone wanting to know more about this step. I love the nice rounded smooth finish this technique gives to the top of sleeves.

I had initially thought I would use a lovely wool boucle for this jacket but spotted this black wool from Truro Fabrics and thought the slightly shiny stitch that runs through it would add an interesting texture to the jacket.I love the look of this fabric but it did NOT like the iron and so was a bit pesky to work with. I am not sure what fibre this running stitch is made from but whatever it is it really melts, and then frays like crazy! Even through a pressing cloth is wasn’t very happy. It also seems like it may present a snagging hazard with wear but hopefully I will be wrong about this. It was really good value and looks very pretty though so it has its up sides.

The lining is a peach silk habotai from my stash, I bought this from Classic textiles on Goldhawk Road in London ages ago because it was bright peach. I had no plans for it, I just buy peach things. It turned out to be perfect for this project, so there is obviously method in my strange peach madness. I trimmed it with a bright candy pink silk piping just to add some extra pop to the inside. Whoever said black has to be boring!

Black Jacket Lining

I bought the buttons for this jacket from the Peter Jones haberdashery (a big department store in London). I think they really work with the fabric and the general feel of the jacket- classic but not too serious. I was chuffed to be able to buy them in two sizes as I like the cute smaller ones on the pockets and I tend to have trouble finding buttons I really like. Actually if anyone has any good button sources, online or otherwise please can you pop a note below as the more choice the better!

Black Jacket Front Bag

chanel black jacket side

chanel jacket front

I can tell that I am going to wear this jacket a lot (well if spring ever arrives that is…!) I am so excited to make a colourful one too though, now I have the staple black one ticked off the list!

I am wearing my jacket with some Gap jeans, a banana republic lace tee and a Kate Spade handbag.  What’s your favourite way to wear a little black jacket?

Thanks for reading!

44 responses to “Little Black Jacket”

  1. Oh, Ami – your work makes me swoon! I absolutely love your jacket, and I’m not a fan of black clothing! Truly, it seems that every piece you make is just magnificent, and you’re so generous with your knowledge. I would love to see more of the construction details when you do your next one, as I’m hoping to slowly move into making this type of garment.

  2. You’re jacket is so cute! I hope you make a lighter more colorful one so you can show all the details. Especially how you make sleeve heads! I think we watch the same tv shows – is there anywhere to re-watch Pan Am?

    • Hi Claire, aw thanks so much! Yep I will def add the other one very soon and will be sure to include sleeve heads- they are so simple and make such a difference 🙂
      I downloaded Pan Am on itunes so I’m sure it must be available in other places online. I sooo wished they hadn’t cancelled it 🙁

  3. Oh dear, that jacket is incredible! It looks so professional and the finishing touches are too sweet. I have to ask: did you receive formal training in garment making? I’m floored by the fact that this is a self-drafted pattern and that you call this “speed-tailoring” – it’s sunning. As for how I like to wear little black jackets, I’d say layered over a plain t-shirt and paired with jeans and nice heels is my favourite way. I have to wear a formal suit to work so a jacket with jeans makes me feel like a rebel – ha!

    • Thanks so much Andrea! I did do a short course at London college of fashion in pattern cutting and one in couture tailoring. They were only a week but soooo well taught and so worth it!
      Aw yep, nice and classic! Rebel- hehe! 🙂

  4. I totally love your jacket. The inside is just as pretty as the outside. I would love it if you did a tut on making your own shoulder pads.

    • Thanks Jane! I’ll be adding the tutorial very soon 🙂 Thanks so much for the button tip, I am definitely going to check the shop out!

  5. This jacket it too cute for words! I’d love to see the quick tailoring tutorial! I’ve made a few jacket by using fusible methods but I’d love to see how you do it! this is so cute!

    • Thanks Michelle! I really love your blog too- such a great idea to buy vintage saris for fabric. I saw Sophie Dahl use some sari silk as a table cloth once when she was serving an indian meal and have been meaning to head to some sari shops ever since- if only for the amazing rich colours! Had never thought about the idea of vintage ones tho! Thinking about it they would make fantastic vibrant linings too! 🙂

  6. Coco Chanel would approve, I’m sure! So trim, so dashing. I love the surprise peach lining with the pink piped edge. Very eye-catching. You have so much skill. I’m dying to know if you have had classes, or are self-taught? Are you working in the fashion industry, or is this amazing creativity “just a hobby”? And finally, do you take your own pictures or is someone else behind the camera? I’m sorry if I’m being too nosy, it’s just that everything looks so professional; please just feel tremendously admired!

    • Aw thanks Wendy! That such a compliment! 🙂
      I have taken a few week-long courses at London college of fashion which were really fantastic! Nothing like being shown well how to do something!
      I’m not working in the industry at the moment but would absolutely love to be at some point.
      My very patient hubby takes the pics for me using a little tripod ( I say patient because I hate having my photo taken so I always get a bit stroppy during the process- poor boy!)
      Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂

  7. Absolutely gorgeous 😀 And I love the lining. Been thinking about a jacket like this for summer in something lightweight. Inspirational as always Ami 🙂 Keep them coming!

  8. First: the jacket! A thing of beauty! What a treasure you’ve made for yourself.

    Second: I love how you’ve styled it.

    Third: my younger sisters have recently informed me that I am the Beth as well in our group (with the exception that I don’t have an untimely death, they assure me).

    Fourth: COMFORT WATCHING! Yes!!!! I feel this way about Hart of Dixie as well. You’ve captured it exactly with, “good characters, nice backdrops, pretty clothes and nothing more serious than mild peril.” I know I’m in for a visual treat, style inspiration, a good-natured story, and not a gruesome murder victim in sight. I lean more toward Lemon’s clothes than Zoe’s, just for the fantasy of it–and to offset her personality and behavior in season one. I also just want to say for the record that I love Annabeth. I love how the characters have their own wardrobe colorway that’s generally used.

    And because I can’t help myself, I’ll say for all to see: I’ve recently starting having Charmed on netflix in the background because my best friend said season three of that show “changed her TV life.” Hehehe.

    • Thanks so much Krista! Heehee- love that you are a ‘Beth’ too! 🙂
      Ooooh I actually liked a lot of what Lemon wore too! I noticed that some of her wardrobe was Kate Spade- one of my ABSOLUTE favourite designers!
      Teehee! I am sooo going to have to watch Charmed now! I have always thought it might be up my street! 🙂

  9. Wow this jacket is simply stunning on you!! Looks like it was again so well made you are very clever. All these techniques I have never heard or done before makes me feel like a rookie!! Hehe. Love it!!

  10. Hi Ami
    Congratulations once again on a beautifully tailored, perfectly executed jacket. I think the fabric looks fabulous.

    Funky linings just add that extra interest and contrast to the formal exterior. I used a totally wild lining for the jacket I made for my little Sis in December and she loved it. I used satin bias for the piping but it didn’t turn out as beautifully as yours.

    I also so wish I’d attempted bound buttonholes as mine look so unprofessional. Bound buttonholes are something I really will try. Yours are always amazing.

    One of the things I really love (and hate) about sewing is that there’s always more to learn and I always wish I had done something better or differently – on every project.

    I can’t wait to learn more from your next project. You’re an inspiration.


    • Aw thanks so much Ann that’s such a lovely comment!
      There really is ALWAYS something more to learn with sewing isn’t there- I think it’s part of what makes the whole thing so addictive, the never ending desire to improve and to try something new! Whatever keeps us all stitching I guess! Hehe 🙂

  11. This jacket is really cute… I was gutted to read it was a self-drafted pattern because I’d have made an instant purchase if it was available to buy! I really like the way you’ve styled it too (although it’s really versatile so could be worn many ways).

  12. What a lovely jacket I absolutely love it! I’ve only just found your blog and I love everything you have made! How funny to read that you got the fabric from Truro fabrics! That’s where I get my fabric from, it’s only 25 minutes away from me so I go to the actual shop in Truro! I’ve only just began sewing! And am Blogging about it a little! I’m a total beginner! love from Rachel at XXX

  13. I love this jacket. You need to start selling your patterns as I would definitely buy this one!

    I’ve just started a new blog, check it out…

  14. hi, i love all that you make, classy simple style. we havent heard from you since dec 13, what will you be making next?

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