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Joyful Dressing: Inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s Safari Jacket

Threads challenged us in the Joyful Dressing Challenge to create a look that— through the use of color, texture, and/or silhouette, gives us a happy memory or positive energy. I have always loved structured clothing with attention to the details and lots of topstitching. Tailored clothing is at the heart of many items I make.

The inspiration for my coat/jacket was the Yves Saint Laurent safari jacket. This iconic French designer presented the first one in 1967 at one of his runway shows. In 1968, Vogue magazine (Paris) did a photo essay featuring the jacket and made the design famous.

Yves Saint Laurent Safari Jacket
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche safari jacket from 1968, shown in the exhibition, YSL + Halston: Fashioning the 70s. Photo: Eileen Costa, © the Museum at FIT, under Creative Commons license.

In 1969, the safari jacket became available in a ready-to-wear version at YSL’s famous Rive Gauche boutique in Paris, and it was an immediate success.

Some YSL safari jackets have a separate collar/band, and some have collars with lapels. Some have separate cuffs, some not. There are variations with plain or pleated pockets and flaps with buttons. All the jackets button down the front, but the number of buttons vary. The finished length varies, too.

Belted YSL safari pantsuit
A belted YSL safari pantsuit that recently sold online features a jacket with buttoned flap pockets, cuffs, and a notched collar.
Vogue 2410 Yves Saint Laurent jacket pattern envelope
This out-of-print Vogue Yves Saint Laurent pattern features an unlined, above-the-hip safari jacket with flap breast pockets, cuffs, and six buttons down the front.


Safari Jacket Pocket Placement Inspiration
A Max Mara safari jacket offered some inspiration for pocket type and placement.



The pattern

BurdaStyle Safari Jacket
The BurdaStyle safari jacket

As soon as I laid my eyes on BurdaStyle Cotton Jacket #104 from March 2023 I loved it, and that was the pattern I chose for my jacket.

BurdaStyle safari jacket pattern line drawings

Of course, I made a few changes in construction, but the finished jacket is true to the original. The shoulder epaulettes were added, for example. I used that pattern piece from Neue Mode 23367.

NeueMode jacket pattern envelope

The fabrics

My hope was to find a silk matka in a khaki or olive color. The fabric’s texture was important, as well, because I knew that I wanted to change the grain direction on some pattern pieces.

The Silk Baron is an excellent source for matka and many other types of silks. Plus, they offer 54-inch-wide fabrics. All the swatches I sent for were beautiful but just not what I imagined for this project. Still, I definitely plan to purchase fabric from them in the future.

Time for working on and completing my Joyful Dressing Challenge garment by the deadline was ticking away.

One day, while trying to match thread for another project at my local JoAnn Fabrics, I moseyed over to the home decor fabrics. Amazingly, I saw this linen blend with a lovely textured weave. It had a blush tint and slight color variations in the weave. It wasn’t the jacket fabric I imagined in the beginning, but I believe in keeping an open mind. Plus, it was on sale for $8.75 per yard, down from the regular price of $34.98 per yard. I couldn’t believe it and asked Rosie to please give me 4 yards—enough for the jacket and future garments to go with it. I felt like the lady in the commercial who yelled to her husband to start the car as she ran out of the store, because the price for the item she purchased was so low it must be a mistake.

The fabrics for the lining, pocket flaps, and pocket lining were gifted to me from one of my favorite sewing buddies. R. M. was moving across the country and wanted to donate some of her beautiful stash to lighten her load of possessions making the move. The colors and prints of some silk dupioni and brocade were perfect for my project. Things were coming together.

The fit

Since I knew that, at some point, I would make another jacket with this pattern, I made a muslin to get the right fit. This way, I could tweak the fit and sleeve length as needed. Making a muslin also enabled me to determine my desired seam allowances in different areas like side seams, for any adjustments as I made the garment. I used the adjusted muslin, as well as some of the paper pattern pieces, for cutting out the jacket. It’s good to be prepared with paper pattern pieces since heat, steam, and fusible interfacings applied to fabrics can sometimes shrink or stretch them.

Lined safari jacket

I decided to line my safari jacket using the Hong Kong Lining method. I wrote a post about how to do this for a sturdy and durable finish. Check out “Hong Kong Lining Technique” here.

This finish can be a time-consuming technique but is well worth it. It is beautiful and practical if you ever need to adjust your seam allowances. There’s no altering the garment separately from the lining, as each section ends up being treated as one piece. It was so satisfying to sew the garment. I was in my zone . . . I was making a jacket.

In Part 2, I will share more about the construction of my safari coat/jacket. See you there.

Editor’s note: To find out more about how Pamela constructed and finished her YSL-inspired jacket  for the 2023 Threads Digital Ambassadors’ Joyful Dressing Challenge, read her second installment. You can also see what her three challengers created.

Photos: Pamela Howard.


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  1. user-7862644 | | #1

    Pamela, everything about this jacket and the process you went through is truly excellent. You have also shown how older patterns can be tweaked for a current yet classic look.

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