Lumberjackie? Lumber Jill? Take your pick! All I know is that Seamwork has been releasing patterns of a more complex nature recently and I’ve really been enjoying them! This month I was immediately attracted by the Larkin bomber jacket, which makes the perfect fall or spring outer layer. A few of us Seamwork ambassadors were chatting about what we might do with the pattern at the beginning of the month and it’s been really fun to see how everyone’s turned out. They are so great! You can check them all out on Instagram under #seamworklarkin.
For mine, I decided to add a little ruffle at the shoulder and also to use exposed zipper pockets instead of the pattern’s regular welt pockets. I have absolutely nothing against a welt pocket, but I’ve made a few recently, so fancied a wee change. I also thought the exposed zip would look quite good against the plaid and break it up a little. I’ve included a short tutorial for both further down the page in case you wanted to try them and weren’t sure how to approach the process.
Seamwork describes the Larkin thus: The Larkin has “a classic, relaxed fit throughout and all the details you want in a bomber. There is ribbing at the neckline, cuffs, and hemline, as well as an exposed center front zipper, welt pockets, and topstitching all over”. Indeed, this is a classic bomber jacket and, interestingly, both patterns this month are gender-inclusive; the other being the Ryan tee. I like the cut-out ribbing at the waist as a design detail and actually that the shoulders are pretty standard and not super dropped or raglan.
Sizing and Fabric
The Larkin has a relaxed fit, so I sized down one size to get a good shoulder fit and made the 14 misses. It is definitely relaxed and not oversized though, so I was glad I didn’t size down any further. If it had been a regular B cup draft, I might even have had some strain, but since Seamwork patterns are drafted for a C cup, as compared to my own D cup, I was okay. However, when I measured the pattern pieces against myself, I could see the shoulders were still quite wide, so I made a further 3/4″ narrow shoulder adjustment and probably could have gone the full inch. The 14 shoulder usually fits me pretty well on a Seamwork pattern, so my assumption is that it’s been drafted a bit longer this month so it can be adapted for all genders? Not sure, but it was certainly wider than normal.
In any case, a narrow shoulder adjustment is a quick one, but just be sure to make the adjustment on both back and front pieces as well as the lining front and back pieces.
I also shortened the sleeves by an inch and I think that was about right. It’s a normal adjustment for T-rex arms over here, so most people won’t need to bother.
Fabric-wise, I had originally intended to make this jacket from black denim, but I wanted a very soft denim with that almost grey tone to it. Know the type I mean? Naturally, it was impossible to source, so I turned to this thrifted wool plaid I had in my stash, thinking that might look kind of cool as a bomber. It’s quite a simple check, so it was fairly easily to match and it actually matched so well at the side, front and arms that I think it’s sort of invisible, haha. Just don’t look at the little bit above the front ruffle – that wasn’t so successful.
It’s quite a loose weave for a wool, so I did overlock a few hems despite the fact there was a lining, but generally it was very easy to work with. I used a rayon bemberg for the lining, which is a bit more slippery, but it does make for lovely fancy innards!
Pattern Modifications and Tutorials
Exposed Zipper Pockets
I made the exposed zipper pockets in the same way I would for a bag. They’re fairly similar to a welt pocket in many ways, but easier!
1. First, decide on your pocket length. My zipper was quite chunky, so I decided to lengthen the pocket by about 3/4″. You can totally use the pattern length though – whatever you prefer. The width of the welt opening was fine for my zipper as I wanted the exposed look with a thicker zipper. If you prefer a thinner zipper or sleeker look, you will want to narrow it.
Note: If you do decide to lengthen the pocket, just remember to widen the pocket piece and facing, to give yourself enough seam allowance
2. Mark the opening on your pocket location and the pocket piece. Lay the pocket piece RST with the jacket front so that the two rectangles match up and stitch around the entire rectangle.
3. Cut along the centre line and then out at the diagonal lines at the end. Try and snip right into the corners, without snipping through your stitches.
4. Push your entire pocket piece through the hole to the wrong side of your jacket front and flatten so you get a nice rectangle on the right side. Press well on both sides.
5. Now pop your zipper under the pocket piece and lay it in the hole in its final position. At this point you can trim your zipper to the length you want it if it is too long. I trimmed mine at the bottom and zigzagged over the metal teeth to make sure the zip pull didn’t fall off. I also put a few hand stitches in the top to keep it neat, but that’s definitely optional.
6. Secure it with pins, Wondertape or basting. I like Wondertape but it didn’t work too well with my wool for some reason. I got the best result by handbasting the zipper in, but just use your favourite method and then topstitch all the way around the rectangle. I did it at around 1/8″ from the edge.
7. Turn your piece over and match up the facing piece to the pocket piece. Stitch all the way around the edges to form the pocket. You could finish the edges, but as there’s a lining for the Larkin I didn’t bother in this case.
Ta-da! You’re done! Pretty easy eh?
For the ruffle, I sketched out a few angles on the line drawing to see what kind of diagonal line I liked. Then I simply divided the front piece into two pieces along the diagonal from shoulder to a point I picked at centre front. I added a seam allowance to each cut edge when I cut the fabric, but you can add it on the paper piece if you prefer.
For the ruffle I cut 2 pieces of fabric 2.5 inches in width by 20 inches long. I sewed a long gathering stitch and then gathered it until I liked the ruffle. I then placed it right side up on the lower jacket piece and basted it at around 1/4″.
I checked it looked okay and then placed the little diagonal top piece right side down on top of the ruffle and stitched all layers together at the 5/8″ seam allowance.
I made sure to grade and trim the seams as well as trim down the ruffle to match the front jacket piece shape. After that, you can just carry on as normal as per the instructions!
The instructions are very thorough and good – all the notches matched up beautifully for me – but this is an intermediate pattern, so there are some more advanced techniques, such as attaching a full lining. Gosh, it looks lovely though – it’s really worth the effort! Here are a few additional notes I made through construction:
- My metal zipper was too long and it really needs to be the right length for this application. Metal zippers are not the easiest to deal with, but I checked out these great tutorials from Hey June and Seamwork and it went not too badly!
- The sleeve part in the lining is a little tricky. I’ve done it before but it’s been a while, so the first time I got one right and one wrong! If you get one wrong, it ends up twisted and you can’t put your arm through. The thing is to make sure that once you put the pin in the sleeve to place it (Pg 58 in instructions), don’t change the orientation of that sleeve after you pull it through. Just unpin it exactly where it is and flip it to pin right sides together as per the instructions. It’s not hard, but it’s a little bit of a mindbender.
- I tend to leave sleeve length adjustments until late on in the sewing process, because I often have to shorten them and I like to try the jacket on as late as possible to judge. However, you can’t quite do that here because of the lining, so make sure to check it out after you complete the outer shell, and make adjustments to both the outer and lining sleeves or they won’t match up properly.
- I used a nice piece of woollen trim by Albstoffe for the waistband instead of ribbing. If you do this, you can miss out the waistband construction instructions and just go straight into attaching it to the hem.
Overall, I really enjoyed this project. It had a satisfying level of difficulty and it was fun to come up with a few embellishments of my own. As I said at the top, take a look at some of the other jackets already made this month to see how everyone put their own spin on it. There’s something for everyone!