For this week’s post, I did a bit of time traveling. I took a 30-year old pattern and brought it into the 21st century.
When planning out my recent sewing projects, a bomber jacket wasn’t even on my radar. That is, until I was introduced to KnitWit (yeah…I got a good chuckle from the name as well). Janet, one of the lovely friends I’ve made during my time here in Australia, used to be an instructor for KnitWit. Upon hearing that I sewed, she gave me a gigantic stack of knit fabrics she no longer used. Along with the fabrics, she lent me some of her KnitWit patterns to go along with them.
From what I can gather, KnitWit was an Australian company founded in the 70s. Its goal was to teach women an easy and fun way to sew with knits. There were KnitWit stores, classes, fabric and patterns. The KnitWit stores closed in the early 90s, but a quick search on eBay turned up a number of patterns.
The knit fabrics are a really great quality, but I approached the patterns with a bit of trepidation. Since the KnitWit stores closed in the 90s, many of the patterns are very outdated. However, one pattern did pique my interest:
There was just something about this jacket that I couldn’t get out of mind. I also couldn’t get the pleated pants out of my mind, but not for the same reason…yikes! As I worked on other projects, I kept thinking of what I could do with this pattern. I loved the front and back yoke details and the inserts on the front, but there were several things I didn’t like – ahem, looking at you shoulder pads.
After much deliberation, I decided that if I shortened the jacket and replaced the buttons with a zipper, it might make a cool bomber jacket. So, I decided to be a KnitWit for a few days and got down to business. From my new stash of KnitWit fabrics, I selected a black knit, which feels very similar to a ponte. For the yoke details, I used this bonded mesh from The Remnant Warehouse. To transform the 1987 pattern into my bomber jacket, here is what I did:
- I cut out the pattern in my recommended size and sewed up the bodice and sleeves. The KnitWit pattern instructions were extremely easy to follow, and I had the bodice together in no time. The photo on the front of the pattern showed a very loose fit in the bodice and sleeves. The line drawings on the pattern back, however, showed a much slimmer fit. The photo on the front was more accurate.
- The shoulders and hips fit perfectly, but the bodice and sleeves were much too baggy. I took the armhole and sleeves in about 3”. I also took the bodice in about 3”, grading out to the original size at the hips.
- Next, I trimmed about 3” off each of the center fronts. I didn’t need as much fabric in the front, since I was adding a zipper instead of buttons.
- For the sleeve bands and the collar, I used the same black knit. I didn’t have any black rib knit, and thought it unwise to purchase more fabric with just a few weeks until I need to pack up and head back to the US.
- I decided not to use the collar stand, so I re-cut the collar to fit the jacket without it. My fabric also isn’t as stretchy as the recommended rib knit, so the collar needed to be a bit longer.
- Once I decided on exactly how long I wanted the jacket. I cut a 4” band for the bottom and trimmed the excess from the bodice. You might notice a seam in the middle back band. While not ideal, I had to make due with the amount of fabric I had. Not like I could just pop into a KnitWit store!
- I sewed on the sleeve and bottom bands, added the zipper and attached the collar – hello 2017!
I must say, I love this jacket. Once completed, I was so happy I took a chance on what arguably could have looked like it came out of the wardrobe for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The only thing I would change would be the addition of a lining. Since I altered this jacket at every step, adding a lining just seemed impractical. The original pattern didn’t call for a lining, so in the end, I’m okay with it being unlined.
This was a really fun project for me. I loved re-envisioning an older pattern into something fresh and modern. I know I’ll be wearing this a lot in the coming months.
Until next time,