Making a casual structured zip jacket with Burda 6351
Using the Burda 6351 Men’s Jacket pattern as my starting point, I made a casual yet structured zip jacket. I’ll walk you through the process and explain the style modifications I made to the base pattern.
I arrived at Burda 6351 after trying several other patterns (Closet Case’s Kelly Anorak, Colette’s Albion, Merchant and Mills' Foreman, Burda 6932 and Burda 7142). You can read about that journey along with some general takeaways from each pattern in my previous post.
For this project, I pulled a gorgeous Kokka Fabrics cotton print from my stash that I purchased last summer at Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver. In my mind, I thought it had some heft to it, perhaps being a canvas or canvas linen blend. But that was simply not true. After searching for the fabric online, I learned it was an Oxford Cotton, so it does have more weight than a cotton lawn or broadcloth, but not much. Since I started off with a vision of an unliked Kelly-like jacket, I decided to underline the Kokka print with some medium weight muslin. After buying the crappiest muslin in the world at JOANN’s a few months ago because it was on sale (and not even realizing it was only 36” wide!), I rectified the situation by buying some beautiful muslin from Bias Bespoke.
I used the good muslin (prewashed and ironed) for my fitting muslin/toile. Once I knew things were on the right track, size- and fit-wise, I took the muslin apart and use the same material to underline the Kokka print. I underlined all pieces, using a long basting stitch and a walking foot in the seam allowances. This had the desired effect and transformed the weight and drape of the fabric to something more akin to a canvas.
Cutting and pattern matching/placement
I had a little over 3 ½ yards of 44” wide fabric to play with. I first plotted out how I might cut my pattern pieces on my computer. This gave me an idea of how I could use the fabric efficiently, and how much wiggle room I had for pattern matching. With the medium-scale floral print, I didn’t want to leave it to chance but I knew I couldn’t get things matched perfectly, especially with the curved center front and center backs.
I decided I could focus on a single floral motif for the center front and center back seams as a matching point and go from there. I anchored all my pattern cuts at the center front using the same floral motif and then made sure everything was on grain. I used a similar strategy for the two back pieces along the center back seam line. It’s helpful (or rather, necessary) to have your stitching lines marked on your pattern pieces for this part. It’s also helpful to figure out your true center front. I measured the zipper on my penultimate muslin attempt and decided to shift the center front 3/16” towards the seam allowance to compensate for the zipper teeth and tape, and I marked this on all related pattern pieces (front bodice, front placket, front facings).
The pattern matching worked out well for the fronts. On the bottom half, it’s mostly aligned which is what counts. Towards the top, with the curve of the front, the pattern gets off a bit but not in a distracting way.
On the back, it’s not perfect. The motif I chose to focus on for my anchor point matches, bu the seam continues to curve above it. I find the half duplicate motif repeats above it a bit distracting, but it’s probably an issue only I will really notice (and I can’t see my back while I’m wearing it). If I had to do it over, I would use the same strategy for the center back but be more aware of the curve of the center back and what it will do to the repeats above and below. More simply, I would match the highest motif on the seam and let the others fall where they may.
Seam finishes for an unlined jacket
As I was happy with the weight of the underlined cotton, and I was wanting something casual, I went for an unlined jacket. The Burda 6351 pattern is fully lined, but that can easily be ignored if you finish your seams and use the facings (or draft your own).
I decided to flat fell my seams, much like you would find in a denim jacket or a pair of jeans. It’s a sturdy, clean finish. The main challenge for this particular project was flat felling four pieces of fabric (the cotton print and the muslin underlining). To help with this I added extra basting stitches close to the edge of the seam and overcast many edges as well. This helps them act as a single piece of fabric, even at the very edges.
Pressing with steam is very helpful to get a nice result. I first pressed everything open and as flat as possible. I then trimmed one seam back to a scant ¼”. I pressed the other seam in half to get it ready to fold over. I then pressed both seams back up to make them easier to manipulate. I then stitched down the flat fell seam from the inside at ⅛” from the folded edge, and again at ⅛” from the original seam. When done, you have two rows of stitching visible on the outside and a very sturdy seam. I opted to use a more muted khaki thread color instead of a matching contrast blue thread just in case my stitches weren’t perfect, and I’m glad I did. The bulk of the seams did make having a perfectly even and consistently spaced stitch hard, but the overall look is very satisfying.
I mentioned that I took some inspiration from the Kelly Anorak, especially the front zipper placket and facings since it had such a nice finished look. I also liked the collar (non-hooded) version but used the collar that came with the Burda pattern (just extending it for the placket mods).
I like the pockets on my husband’s jacket that he got at Bilibaris in Paris last summer. The jacket is beautiful – it’s a six-piece bodice (like a suite would have with side panels) with two-piece sleeves. It’s partially lined with flat-felled seams. The collar has a zip that conceals a hood for occasional use (I absolutely love this). It has a small vent at the center back. The outer patch pockets are nicely done, but also cover up the stitching for an interior patch pocket.
This latter aspect – exterior patch pocket facilitates interior patch pocket – is genius, yet so simple, and I’m sure it’s common but I’ve never really noticed before. So down the patch pocket rabbit hole I went.
I started by imitating the Bilibaris pockets, a pleated lower patch pocket with a triangular flap closure. I like the clean look, but I’m not sure I would actually use the outside pocket. I then thought about the McCall’s M7637 bomber I made for New Year’s Eve, which had large patch pockets, almost like a sweatshirt. These would be comfy to shove your hands in, right? And then I thought back to Kelly and those gusseted patch pockets. A lot more stylish, but are they comfortable?
After conducting a scientific Instagram poll, the pleated patch pocket and flap was more popular than the gusseted Kelly pocket. A friend suggested why not do both? I had recently seen a pocket where you could slide your hand in from the sides, à la Kelly, but you also had a functioning flap-pocket combo (an option on the Tosti Jacket by Waffle Patterns). So I drafted up a prototype and ultimately went that route.
I made the Burda 6351 view B sleeves but supplemented the instruction with the Closet Case tutorial for the Kelly sleeves because I liked their clean flat-felled finish (and they have the best tutorials). I finished the armscye seam with bias tape from a scrap of the fashion fabric for a little pop of color.
The back features a vent, which was also inspired by the Bilibaris jacket. It’s simple but gives more movement, kind of like adding a two-way zip to the Kelly Anorak that was suggested in my earlier post. I mitered the inside corner and topstitched things into place, transitioning into the hem.