Hello! I hope you’ve had a lovely holiday season. Today I’d like to share something that I made for my rambunctious four year old. You might recall that I made a Hampton Jean Jacket (here) back in October. My son almost immediately requested one of his own asking for “shiny buttons” just like mine. The boy was in luck because I had just a little over a yard of Cone Mills denim (purchased from Threadbare Fabrics) left over from my jacket. Since my sewing queue was a bit full of Halloween sewing at the time, I promised him a custom jacket for Christmas. I was able to pull it off just in time as I hammered the jeans buttons in place on Christmas Eve.
I attempted convincing my son to select some unique details for his jacket, (a different color of topstitching thread, different embroidery on the back, etc.) but he insisted that it be exactly like mine. I’m soaking in all these moments when he still thinks my style is cool because I’m sure those feelings are somewhat fleeting.
You may notice, however, that there are a few details that vary from my jacket. These are all small details such as the absence of welt pockets, the jacket front pockets being sewn to the outside instead of the inside, and bias tape on the inside of the collar. These are all differences between Alina’s Hampton Jean Jacket pattern and the Ottobre pattern used for my son’s jacket.
Coming across the Ottobre pattern for my son’s jacket involves a bit of serendipity. I had been searching for a children’s jean jacket pattern, but hadn’t quite settled on one when my friend Lisa asked if I would like to have some of her old Ottobre magazines. I said yes and she brought them to our Modern Quilt Guild meeting the next day. I started to flip through them when I saw the back cover for issue 1/2011. This was exactly the pattern for which I had been searching.
Ottobre is a well-known name in the sewing community so you may have heard of them. Ottobre is a Finnish company specializing in children’s wear patterns. They produce 5 magazines a year containing children’s clothing patterns as well as a special Ottobre Woman issue. In 2017 they also added an Ottobre Family issue bringing their grand total of issues to 7 each year. You can order both subscriptions or individual issues, although I’m not sure how easy it is to come by the older issues. Each issue is jam-packed with fun and stylish patterns. The specific one I’ve used here contains 40 different patterns. As you may have guessed, the sheer volume of patterns included comes with a few drawbacks.
First, in order to fit all the patterns on just a few pieces of paper, they are printed overlapping and on both sides of each paper (see first photo below). I managed to make tracing bit more manageable by grabbing a permanent marker and my trusty Pattern-Ease (more about that here). I used the permanent marker to outline the correct size pattern pieces (see second photo below). This made tracing a bit easier on my eyes.
Second, you have to add your own 3/8″ or 1 cm seam allowances. This isn’t a difficult step, just takes a bit of time.
Third, the instructions can be a bit sparse as each pattern only gets half a page of instructions. This specific limitation might be the most intimidating of the three. My recommendation for this is to select a project with techniques you have previously used. In my specific case, this worked out well because I had already made a jean jacket and was familiar with the top stitching, and other details associated with one. I actually used Alina’s Hampton Jean Jacket sewalong to help me clarify and understand some of the Ottobre instructions.
Overall, these drawbacks added a bit more time to the project, but none of them would keep me from using another Ottobre pattern. The interesting style lines and endless variations on children’s basics mean I will likely turn to them again and again. I also love the fact that Ottobre makes a decent amount of patterns for boys. I’m sometimes discouraged when it comes to sewing for my son because the indie pattern world is largely dominated by patterns for women and girls.
I’ll leave you with few more notes about my construction process. Every bit of my leftover yard of denim was used to make this jacket. This resulted in a serious game of pattern tetris as I worked to fit each and every piece. Cost-wise this was a relatively inexpensive project (less than $10) as I only purchased buttons and topstitching thread. I sized up a couple of sizes in the hopes that my son will be able to get lots of wear out of this jacket. Another concession I made was to use mock flat-fell seams in order to save a bit of seam ripping and time.
I thoroughly enjoyed making this jacket as a present for my boy. I do however, plan to wait a year or two before making another jean jacket because two within few months was a lot of work. Thanks for reading! Did you gift any handmade items this year? What did you make for the holidays?