1901 summer jacket
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The making of a tailored 1901 jacket

My journey into the old Finnish sewing patterns continues with this biggest project I’ve done so far. I found the pattern for this 1901 summer jacket at the National Library of Finland when going through Finnish Käsitöitä magazines from the late 19th and early 20th century. I immediately loved the fitted look of this jacket from the issue 6/1901 and decided that this pattern was worth bringing to life. It took weeks, a lot of tailoring and careful hand-sewing, frustration but now it is ready and I love it. Even better, I digitized the pattern for you, too, and filmed most of the process!

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1901 summer jacket drawing.

Here is the drawing that came with the original pattern. Even though it is meant to be a short summer jacket, the suggested fabric is wool. Otherwise, there wasn’t much that you could call instructions. There was some advice on how where to add ease and where to stretch the fabric but obviously this jacket pattern was directed towards seamstresses that knew how to make a proper jacket.

I had help from many sewing books that I have collected. Roberto Cabrera’s Classic tailoring techniques for menswear helped me to shape the armholes, the collar and to finish the edges with beautiful prick stitching (besides having already taught me a lot of my tailoring techniques). Roberta Carr’s Couture: the art of fine sewing has taught me pressing techniques and the couture hem technique and Kristina Harris’s Authentic Victorian Dressmaking techniques showed me how the lining and boning were done in the Victorian times. I also used a book by Jalmari and Sylvi Kekkonen called Kukin oma ompelijansa that any Finnish person interested in turn of the 20th century dressmaking should try to get.

The making of the 1901 summer jacket

I had luck in that I was pretty close to the actual pattern size. However, I don’t have an Edwardian straight posture, so I needed to add a bit room for my upper back. This is probably something most of the modern sewists need to do with patterns this old. I split the pattern horizontally across the upper back and then tilted the upper section so that I ended up adding about 2 cm height to the centre back seam like this:

Adjusting for the slumped posture.

Other adjustments include enlarging the armholes and taking in from the shoulders and back princess seams. I also lifted the elbow position and narrowed down the sleeves a bit. And I added sleeve vents for decoration. As I had made mock-ups for the jacket and the sleeves, I only needed to do minor adjustments with the final version.

I filmed most of the process so enjoy:

What I wish someone told me before starting:

  1. Mark the points where the scallops at the hem join together. Do this for the lining pieces, too. Consider doing a separate hem facing out of the outer fabric.
  2. The undercollar is cut on the bias with a centre back seam. Plan for this when you do your original layout
  3. Leave extra room for the centre fronts. I was very worried that the jacket would end up being too small. Luckily it finally fits but it was close!
  4. Get quality hair canvas interfacing. Mine was cheap hair canvas from Tallinn and only after finishing the jacket, I noticed some plasticky fibres coming through my fabric where the collar curls. Ugh!
  5. Sew the boning channels onto the lining before attaching it. Oh, and sew the sleeves on the lining while on it.
  6. Take breaks. Everything feels much clearer when you have had a chance to relax and forget about your big sewing project for a while

The finished 1901 summer jacket

I am really happy with the finished jacket. Like I say in the video, it matches my Black Snail patterns fan skirt perfectly even though the fabrics are completely different. Underneath I wear my Wearing History 1900-1910s blouse and I complete the look with a little boater hat I made.

The front view of my 1901 summer jacket.

The back fits nicely and the collar drapes beautifully.

The 1901 summer jacket from the back.

This picture below shows how well I managed to make the sleeve fit. This feels especially nice as I spent days frustrating myself with the sleeve fit.

A side view.

If one could only spend days gliding through forest meadows like this!

Another side view.

The pattern

I digitized the pattern from the original pattern pieces (before my adjustments) I also translated the original Finnish instructions and added some helpful labeling. The pattern is now available on my blog shop as a print-at-home pdf pattern in both A4 and letter formats. For the first few days, the price is reduced. However, I only recommend this pattern for very experienced dressmakers that can basically sew a tailored jacket without instruction. Just like the original pattern, this pdf pattern comes in one size that fits approximately a person with a bust circumference of 86 cm.

I hope you liked this post and thank you for reading. Don’t forget to subscribe and see you soon! Happy sewing!


I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.

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