Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


#1year1outfit – The Hacking Jacket Part 2

I think my Hacking Jacket is turning into a more complex project than I had ever intended. For this reason, each time I make a bit of progress I’ll write something. Otherwise I could end up writing a great long indigestible post!

To recap, first of all, I tried to use the pattern in The Great Sewing Bee book, but soon discovered that it was extremely poorly written / edited, with lots of important pattern markings left off (see this earlier post). I decided, fairly sensibly, to get the New Look pattern that it was based on (New Look 6035) and abandon the book. Thankfully the pattern is still on sale.

I have been using linen thread. I bought two thicknesses – 80/3 which seems similar in thickness to standard cotton or polyester and 50/3 which I am using for top-stitching purposes.


The thread does seem a little “fluffier” than cotton, and at times isn’t even in thickness. What I have noticed when I’ve been hand-sewing is that if you sew with one length of thread for too far, the thread starts to thin quite badly in places, I assume from the abrasive action of moving in and out of the fabric, so I’ve needed to keep any thread lengths short. This effect doesn’t seem so prevalent when machine sewing, probably because the same bit of thread doesn’t pass through the fabric again and again. Also, I must remember after I’ve finished with the linen thread, to clean around the bobbin case in the sewing machine. All the extra fluff can’t be good for my machine.


Top: Linen thread 80/3 Bottom: Polyester thread

I have now started on the sewing. My first discovery was that my hemp fabric is very thick. My poor Singer, which is old and doesn’t tend to whinge conspicuously about thick hems, is nonetheless finding the going tough. I have discovered, that anything more than 3 layers of the fabric is perilous territory. When I attempted to top-stitch the top of the pocket, I got a hopeless wiggly line of top-stitching as my machine struggled with the fabric thickness.

I’ve therefore had to digress from the New Look instructions in a few areas. This pattern is clearly intended for thinner fabrics; the envelope suggests fabrics such as poplin, twill, sateen. It’s not surprising that I’ve needed to adapt the instructions. For the pockets, instead of machine-stitched top-stitching, I hand-stitched a line of running stitches instead. I’m a little sad that I only had a thicker linen in a natural colour. But I’m pleased with the effect, even though it is quite subtle.

IMG_0614To sew the pockets to the jacket, I decided to slip-stitch them by hand to the jacket. This was an idea that I took from a 1960s coat pattern. I have noticed that older patterns do tend to use more hand-stitching. Perhaps pattern companies think that the modern sewer shuns hand-stitching. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t attempt to machine sew at this stage. With between 3 and 4 layers to chew through I think machine-sewing could have ended in a mangled disaster!


I’m now deliberating how to interface my jacket. Lately, I have been going around charity shops “squeezing” the shoulders and collars of jackets to get some feel for the amount of “stiffness” that would be best. It does appear that modern jackets are mostly just squidgy around the shoulders. However, I saw a lovely vintage tweed men’s jacket – this was much more structured and felt rather more shaped around the collar and shoulders.

Since this jacket is for the #1year1outfit challenge, I needed to find some interfacing that wasn’t synthetic. So the old-fashioned methods used in tailoring seemed a natural place to start. Traditionally, tailored jackets would be interfaced with horsehair canvas. I found a few tailoring supplies, but unfortunately most seemed to team the horse hair weft with cotton. Another alternative would be to use some linen fabric to provide a little stiffness to my jacket at the collar and lapels. It is possible to find 100% Irish linen collar canvas on the internet. Below is a list of natural tailoring / interfacing possibilities:

Horsehair Canvas

The Lining Company – good selection of horsehair canvases of different weights including wool / horsehair.

Whaleys Bradford Ltd – horsehair canvases, not much detail on weight or content.

Kenton Trimmings – wide selection of horsehair canvases of different weights with full composition shown.

Linen Canvas

McCulloch and Wallis – 100% Irish linen canvas for collars.