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Nancy’s Simple Swing Jackets

Mariesews | Posted in Patterns on

A recent conversation dealt with sewing garmet lessons. I have observed that the RTW industry is using faily simple patterns…look at Chico’s, Eileen Fisher, etc. It’s the fabrics that make the difference…Eileen Fisher looks great on hangers, but not on me. So, I am trying to find a couple of “basics” that are only a couple of pieces ….

Just received Nancy’s Notions featuring “one pattern…endless possibilities” I agree with her comment that “fabric selection has a dramatic impact on the look of each jacket.” I’ve pretty much decided to focus on making jackets to wear with basic black pants for teaching adults (real estate) after I concluded that a number of Threads articles are focused on making fabrics. Figure that once I get the pattern right, I can quilt, strip piece, paint fabric, etc.

Has anyone bit the bullet and ordered and made up this pattern? My concern: I recently realized that although my waist is proportionately larger than my shoulders that are narrow AND sloping (not square). No wonder I have preferred tailored suit jackets in the past with the shoulder pads with the jacket shoulders.

I doubt that I could use shoulder pads for this pattern. Any thoughts? should I just “bet” the $20?


  1. marijke | | #1

    Haven't received that catalog yet, but from looking at the pattern info on the website, I suspect this sort of jacket would be extremely comfortable but not necessarily flattering (especially given what you say about the fit of Eileen Fisher.  I like her clothing, too, but it's pricey.  The styles are quite simple and require really nice and drapey fabric to look good).  

    For something that's still easy to do but is cut a little closer to the body (and uses shoulderpads to give the jacket some structure at the shoulders), you might consider some of the patterns by Loes Hinse, like the retro jacket or maybe the tuxedo jacket.  See her website at http://www.loeshinsedesign.com/index.html    Those jackets are sort of in-between traditional tailored and the looser (and bulkier) style Nancy's Notions is offering.

    Threads has had a few articles by Loes Hinse that explain her style and sewing methods. 


    1. Mariesews | | #2

      WOW! You are right, looks like Nancy's but in a more structured manner. I am impressed with the patterns. Have you, or anyone else reading this used any of the fabrics from her web page link? I'd love to take one of her seminars, but for the moment, out of the picture. Will look up the THREADS articles.

  2. stitchmd | | #3

    If her TV show airs on your PBS station check it out. The last two episodes I've seen have been about variations on that jacket.

    I actually own this pattern, but haven't tried it out. I am wide in the middle and hips with narrow shoulders and small bust and find that cut-on sleeves and swing silhouettes work well for me. On most patterns I have to start with a size smaller than my bust measurement indicates and widen to a size or two larger at the waist and hips. Swing styles end up looking more natural and I can stick with one size.

    1. Mariesews | | #4

      We don't get Nancy's program on NE public. Have you looked at the CD? Does it really have interesting, creative ideas? the CD could be worth the investment.

    2. AndreaSews | | #5

      I did see the program, just last week.  It's a gorgeous piece, thanks especially to the fabrics she used.  Some techniques I liked too.  It is an expensive set, but I think that's b/c it comes with a book and a CD.  I'd say there was good sewing to learn from the package, in addition to the value of the pattern, although I haven't bitten the bullet either!  It's a loose-fitting look, and I think shoulder pads might have a hard time sitting on your shoulders (they'd swim around).  But, the swing feature and the use of different fabrics to make an interesting lapel both draw attention away from the shoulders, so it's still worth thinking about. 

      PS:  Hi, I'm new here.  Just jumping right in!

      1. Kilroywashere | | #6

        Go to http://www.patternreview.com and you can search for just about any pattern, and someone will have reviewed it.  Or, if they haven't, you can request that someone review the pattern.  It's a very useful site for finding out how patterns have actually worked out for different levels of sewists, and for different body types. 

  3. User avater
    artfulenterprises | | #7

    Just a little " fit note" on sewing a swing jacket. Make sure the shoulder seam sits properly at the center of your shoulder and you have enough length at the back (and front as well) so that the garment doesn't pull and shift when you wear it. Then, you can comfortably place a shoulder pad that won't "float" by adjusting the shoulder slant slightly upward from "0" at the neckline to 1/4", 1/2", etc. (the depth of the pad)at the shoulder point. The new shoulder seam should have a slight curve to it, coming straight out from the neck for at least 1 to 1 1/2" then gradually curving upward to accomodate the height of your pad. Be sure to blend the curve gracefully. The pad can be tacked invisibly along the armscye seam and the shoulder seam so that it doesn't shift. Try it out in muslin first to perfect the fit around neck and shoulder and also to determine just how much fullness at hipline is flattering for you. A tricky trick is to make it up in muslin with wide seam allowances, slip in the shoulder pad and release the basted shoulder seam allowing the fabric to show you exactly where the seamline should be. Mark the adjustment on the muslin, then transfer the adjustment to your paper pattern. PS: When you look at your garment straight on, the shoulder seam should be virtually invisible when it sits at the center of the shoulder. (In other words, not too far forward, not too far back.) And the seam line should be a straight line viewed from shoulder tip to the mid point of the neck at neckline. Hope this helps and isn't more than you wanted to know!

    1. Mariesews | | #8

      WOW! I do wish that I lived closer to you, because I would be in your lap asking you to help me make those alterations because a) it's difficult to alter on yourself and b) after a minor fall off my bicycle (thank goodness I was wearing a helmet!), I find it very difficult to take words and apply them. (I have a great deal of sympathy for our soldiers returning from Iraq with so-called minor concussions!)I am printing out your suggestions and will take them to a friend of mine, because I do think that I will invest in the CD/pattern, etc. Also, I am going to follow up with the Lois Hinse pattern (tuxedo) and I think that I will order one of her suggested fabrics.I was teaching real estate last week in Wichita, KS and the first day, I wore a Issey Miyake (Vogue pattern) white jacket, which I had thought might be "too much" for these classes, but people really like it. Semi kimono style. The next day, I wore a basic black outfit (from a consignment shop!) and the women in the third row asked, "what did you do to lose 20 pounds in one night?" The white jacket has no shoulder pads, and the black jacket, while a "swing" type, had shoulder pads. BOY! if that wasn't an incentive to switch totally to shoulder pads and a defined shoulder, I don't know what is!

      1. stitchmd | | #9

        If this is the same pattern I have "Anna Claire" designed by Mary Ann Donze, from Indygo Junction, it does not have sleeves that would work with a shoulder pad. The sleeves are "cut on" continuous pieces with the fronts and backs, with seams along the top and bottom of the arm. The sleeves end up being on partial bias/partial cross grain, making them drapier than the fronts and backs. A shoulder pad's edges would be more obvious and there is no armscye to fit and fasten it too. The upper sleeve seam would ride over the shoulder pad and accentuate where it ends as the seam bulk changes contour.The advantage I find in a swing jacket is more ease at the hips and a camouflage of the hips. The eye is fooled by seeing the swing as a design line, not an adjustment to a garment meant to have a different line. Also I find that sleeves like this stand out from the body more and will visually compensate and balance the hips without shoulder pads.

      2. User avater
        artfulenterprises | | #10

        Silly me, of course there is no armscye seam. However, on a dolman or raglan sleeve it is still possible to have a shoulder pad that stays where it should. First it is important to select a shoulder pad designed for that type of sleeve. It will be smoothly rounded at the shoulder tip and cup the end of the shoulder and top of the arm. Many pads of this type are large and exaggerated, ala the 80's, but there are also quite modest shapes available too....just enough to give some structure to your shoulder line. Buy several sizes and try them out to see which silhouette best suits your figure and your garment. If you cover the shoulder pad in the same fabric as your garment, it minimizes visibility on the interior and gives you an easy way to apply the pad to the jacket. In the industry, this is often stitched by machine directly to the shoulder seam although I always preferred to do this by hand. ((Altho I would suggest not attaching the sleeve all the way down the curve...just across the top...the sleeve will hang more gracefully.) An alternative solution might be to create a blouse that goes with your jacket/pants or skirt that has a shaped shoulder line. That way it will support the swing coat easily. And you'll still look good when you remove your coat!

        Edited 9/19/2005 12:49 am ET by artfulenterprises

        1. Kiley | | #11

          I saw the last episode about the swing jacket and I could not believe that Nancy was wearing a brown suede cloth jacket that looked exactly like the material that I am making my jacket out of that looks so similar to the swing jacket. I am using a McCall's pattern. It doesn't call for shoulder pads and is so easy. I'm debating if I should leave it plain or do some fancy stitching or embroidery on it. I think this little jacket will get much wear this winter.

          1. stitchmd | | #12

            I've made a muslin of the jacket, with the Asian influenced collar. So far I've found the jacket is really short. I've added three inches and I am only 5'2". I took in the back panel seams at waist level, tapering above and below to the original lines to give some shaping. I also took in the sleeves, which I found too wide/flared. I am probably changing the collar to a narrower kimono style that comes down to the hem, as the shorter, wider one accentuates my belly with the horizontal line right at it's widest point.

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