HOW TO SEW A LETTERMAN/VARSITY/BOMBER JACKET

 

 Hi sewlovers!
Welcome to this week’s tutorial: HOW TO SEW A VARSITY/BOMBER/LETTERMAN JACKET, a sequel to our previous tutorial, How to make a Varsity/Letterman/Bomber Jacket Pattern
Missed it? please click here.
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So with all that out of the way, let’s get to the juicy part of the day.

What is a Varsity/Letterman/Bomber jacket?

A Varsity jacket as earlier explained in our patternmaking tutorial( see here if you missed it) is also popularly known as bomber jacket for females, or letterman jacket for males. This is a jacket that is traditionally worn by high school and college students in the United States to represent school and team pride, as well as to display personal awards earned in athletics, academics or activities.

 

 

This jacket is usually made of boiled wool and the sleeves of leather with banded wrists and waistband. But these days, they can be made of literally anything…including but not limited to Ankara. See more here

 

So on this tutorial, I’m going to be showing you via pictures and demonstrations how to sew one. See here to download the Patternmaking tutorial. With this, sewing this jacket will be made a lot simpler and easier to understand.

 

Requirements

1. Varsity/Bomber Jacket Pattern: If you are a beginner, I’ll insist you check out the pattern-tutorial here).

2. Body statistics: Measure out all the details of your body including, but not limited to the following:
a. Body Length i.e the distance between the shoulder and the waist
b. Sleeve Length i.e the distance between the shoulder and the wrist

3. Fabric of choice and lining: Your fabric of choice should be about 1.5 yards (depending on your chest/bust and waist statistics). I used soft wool for this tutorial which cost about N1,800 per trouser-length(that is 45” long). The lining yards should be 1.5 yards as well.

In this tutorial, the type of lining used is called polyester lining or as it is popularly known in Nigeria, ‘Jacket lining’. It cost N800 per yard.

4. Zipper or Snaps: You can choose to either use snaps or zipper for your jacket. Your zipper should be about 24 inches long. The zipper used in this tutorial is what is popularly known as ‘jeans zipper’.

5. Leather: I used leathers for my sleeves which cost about N1000 per yard. A yard is 45” long.

6. Ripknit: Ripknits are the kind of fabrics that look knitted together (see photo below) to form a stretch pattern.

They are mostly used as wrist bands or neckline on Tee shirts, polos and sweatshirts. I couldn’t find any in the market so I had to purchase something similar which cost about N1,200 per yard.

7. Measuring tape and scissors

8. Tailor chalk and ball pins

9. Sewing machine & matching thread

10. Pressing iron

11. Electricity.

Procedures:

1. Cutting the Varsity/Bomber jacket Pattern on Fabric and Lining: Place the patterns on fabric and cut them out (see how to make a Varsity/Bomber Jacket pattern.). When done, they will look like these:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, place your lining fabric on your measuring table and place your cut out fabric pattern on it, trace all sides and cut. Like this:

 

When done, your lining fabric will look like these:

 

2. Preparing the Lining Fabric(optional): Because I didn’t want the lining fabric to be the first thing that is seen when the jacket is opened, I cut out 2.5” of the lining from both ends of the front pieces.

Then I placed one of the cut out pieces on the fabric and cut that exact length and breadth as shown in the photo below.

 

 

Repeat the process to have two fabric pieces

 

Next, Place the fabric on the lining fabric and stitched down.

 

 

Snip the seam

 

And then, match the seam to the lining fabric as shown below
Do the same for the other lining front piece and they will look like this:

 

3. Making the Jacket : This section will be divided into the following: (a) making the bodice (b) Attaching sleeves (c) Attaching pockets.

(a) Making the bodice: To make the bodice, place your front pieces wrong side up on the back piece (which should be right side up) and stitch the shoulders.

(b) Attaching sleeves: Place the shoulder of your fabric right side up on your sewing table and then place your leather sleeves(wrong side up) on it, making sure that the centers tally.

 

 

Then stitch the armholes of both the fabric and sleeve together.

 

Repeat this process for the other sleeve.

 

Before joining both ends of the sleeve together, stitch your patches on the arm of the sleeves. This way you wouldn’t have to go through the stress of attaching them with glue.

 

Next, join the sleeves together by starting from the armpit. Do the same for the sides.

(c) Attaching pockets: To attach pockets, cut out two Lining fabric of 14” long and 7” wide

 

And four white pieces of fabric, of about 7” long and 2” wide.
Fold the white piece into equal halves and stitch the non-folded ends to one side of the lining piece, like this

 

Repeat the process for the other end of the lining fabric
When done , it will look like this
Then, stitch both ends of the white pieces, like this

 

Then stitch both sides of the lining fabric like this:

 

Then place your pocket on the wrong side of your jacket. Fold the end of each pocket hole wrong side and stitch on the white piece around. Be careful to make sure your pocket pouch is always out of the way as you sew.

 

 

 

Repeat this process for the other pocket
When done, both pockets on your front piece will look like these:

 

4. Joining the fabric and lining fabric together: Now this is the tricky part. What makes jackets, jackets is the fact that their in-seams are usually not visible when you open them. Meaning as a sewist, you have to line them inwardly to make sure no seam is seen. Thus to do this, begin by joining the shoulders and sides of both your front and back lining fabrics together as shown in the photos below.

 

 

Then turn the armholes and the front ends of your jacket inwardly using your lining by placing your lining at the right side of your jacket.

 

When done, it will look like this

5. Attaching the Waistband: So I wanted my jacket to have a feel of the soft wool at the bottom on the front piece of my jacket. Therefore, rather than have the whole rip-knit as the waistband, I cut out 8” wide and 4” long of the wool.

 And then ‘The length of my waist’ +3 inches as width v 8” long as ripkint. However you can choose to use the whole ripknit as the waistband.

 

Next, fold the ripknit into equal halves and place in the middle of the wool pieces as shown below.

 

Stitch the ends shut

 

When done, close the end of the wool by placing the front sides opposite each other and stitch

 

Repeat this process for the other side.

 

When done, place the unfolded area of your waistband at the bottom of your jacket, in between the lining fabric and the wool.

 

From the neck of the jacket, turn your jacket wrong side out and pin the edges of your waistband around the bottom of the jacket, making sure it is evenly distributed. When done, stitch both the edge of the ripknit, lining and wool together. Draw as you sew.
When you turn your jacket right side out, your jacket with a waist band will look like this:

6. Attaching the collar: To attach the collar, take your jacket to the pressing iron and press iron the ends of the neckline 0.5inches to the wrong side as shown below.

 

 

 

Then measure the neckline.

 

Then cut out a rip-knit of 6” wide x length of neckline-2

 

Fold the ripknit into equal halves. From the front piece, measure out 1 inch and mark.

 

Repeat the same for the other side of the front piece. Then place your rip knit in between the wool and the lining fabric and stitch round, making sure the edge of the ripknit is inside, as shown below.

7. Attaching the wrist band: Place your hands on leftover pieces of rip knit and mark.

 

Cut out what you have marked and make three more of those pieces.
Place two of these pieces right side facing each other and stitch both ends together on the wrong side.
Then turn the wrist band like this

 

Making sure the edges match.
Wear it over the ends of yours sleeves and pin, making sure they are evenly distributed around the edges of the sleeves.

 

Then stitch round.
When done your wristband will look like this.

 

Repeat this process for the other wristband.

8. Attaching zipper: So at the last minute, I chose to use a zipper. Therefore to attach a zipper, begin from the bottom of the jacket and stitch all the way up. To learn more on how to attach zipper, please click here.

 

9. Attaching embellishment: You can choose to attach embellishment at the back of your jacket or not. Well I choose to include mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that is it.

How to make a varsity/bomber/letterman jacket.

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