Pattern Review: Hampton Jean Jacket in natural denim
It started, as it often does, with an inspiration photo from the internet. It was this one of this woman, far younger and cooler than me (sorry, can't remember where this came from, the screenshot has been living on my phone for a few months):
I have never really identified as being a white/pale denim jacket kind of person, but the idea of this jacket stayed with me for months. So when we restocked this heavy cotton twill recently, I hopped at the chance to make one of my own. After scouting around for patterns, I settled on the Alina Design Co Hampton Jean jacket. This pattern has been doing the rounds for a while, so I was able to mine the scores of reviews online - not to mention the Instagram hashtag with an impressive 1160+ photos - before jumping in. Also in the running were the Audrey pattern by Seamwork and the Republique du Chiffon Veste Jacqueline pattern. But I was basing the style and fit I wanted on an old and much loved RTW jacket and the Hampton pattern seemed closest to that. Less boxy, narrower sleeves, classic denim jacket design.
Fit and size
I wanted a cropped, close-ish fit for this jacket so knew pattern adjustments were inevitable. Given the 20 pattern pieces in this pattern, I knew toiling was going to be - at best - a slow exercise. When it came down to it, frankly I was feeling a bit lazy, and also, it’s a loose jacket, right? So throwing caution to the wind I decided to just go for it, and before cutting I spent quality time comparing finished garment measurements to my old denim jacket. I went with the size 14 (closest to my bust measurement) but cropped the bodice by 2 1/2 inches and the sleeves by an inch. Thankfully, the fit turned out exactly as I’d hoped. It’s great over a t-shirt and will cope with a light layer or two underneath on cooler days too.
The Audrey pattern, it should be noted, has a more inclusive size range (covers bust 33 to 54 inches) whereas the Hampton unfortunately tops out at an 18 (bust 44 1/2 inches).
Construction & modifications
The Hampton directions are comprehensive and full of handy tips. The designer covers everything from shortening/lengthening the pattern to how to sew flat fell seams and welt pockets. If you’ve sewn jackets or denim before, lots of techniques are transferrable, but if you haven’t then this pattern will guide you every step of the way.
The only time I ran into head-scratching territory was when installing the set in sleeves. My notches didn’t match up and I ended up needing to rotate the sleeve head to fit. It hasn't had an enormously detrimental impact on the way the sleeves hang on my jacket or the fit thankfully, though there are some drag lines around the elbows that look more accentuated in these photos than they do in real life. Not a deal breaker though. Might have ironed that one out if I'd made a toile...
Other than shortening bodice and sleeves, I also omitted the welt pockets because they would have been uselessly tiny after shortening the jacket so much. Also, and perhaps this is controversial, I tend not to use pockets in denim jackets.
Fabric & notions
My jacket (with modifications and non-directional fabric) was squeezed out of 1.8m of 150cm wide rather than the suggested 2.3m. This twill is non stretch, but it’s soft and pliable stuff. We don’t have an exact weight for it but I’d say it lies somewhere in the recommended 10-11oz range that the pattern designer suggests and even the multi layered cuffs and collar parts happily squeezed through my domestic machines. Hardware is the denim jacket hardware kit by KATM, and I selected a couple of the KATM Sweary labels because an involved sew like a denim jacket is usually (for me, anyway) rich with sweary potential!
Observations (hopefully useful)
Instead of clogging up the internet with another glowing review of how beautifully this jacket comes together - all true, it’s an excellent pattern, beautifully drafted and clearly written - here are some things that may or may not come in handy should you wish to sew your own Hampton:
If you have access to a second machine, it really does help to have two set up side by side for this kind of project. I sewed all of the construction seams on my trusty 1981 Bernina 830 (including zig zagging any seams that weren’t flat-fellable) you totally don’t need an overlocker for this kind of project. I also have an old electronic Pfaff that I used for topstitching. It has an auto needle-down function, which turned out to be very helpful for regulating stitch speed, especially when pivoting. I’d never used this machine for topstitching before and found that function to be a bit of a revelation.
A sturdy pair of short sharp scissors (like duckbills) is handy for trimming flat fell seams.
There is a *lot* of topstitching in this pattern and it absolutely rips through the thread. I cracked into a 3rd reel of topstitching thread.
Certainly it’s possible I should get out more, but I had a great time making this jacket. It’s one of those patterns that is engrossingly (but not overwhelmingly) detailed and full of pleasing landmarks along the way. It starts to resemble a real proper denim jacket very quickly which jogs you on considerably. And the resulting garment is finished to a high standard. Just like the real thing, folks! I’m thrilled with it and expect to wear it until it is threadbare (or irretrievably stained!)
- Fiona xx