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Oct 11, 2020

Working on My First Safari Jacket

Readers, more than five years ago I purchased this Australian Bush Outfit pattern, Folkwear 130, with the intention of making a safari jacket.

It never happened, I don't remember exactly why.  I seem to recall that when I examined the pattern, it looked like it would need a lot of adjusting.  Which is strange, because when I finally traced my size (36) from the pattern, it needed no adjusting at all.

I had never worked with a Folkwear pattern before.  The drafting of this particular pattern is excellent and the instructions are extremely clear.  The pattern paper is heavy and high quality.  I'm glad I traced my size so that I can use the pattern again for others if I choose to.  I use canary yellow tracing paper from the art supply store and colored pencils to trace my pattern.

I don't enjoy tracing patterns as it is very time-consuming.  I'm a little spoiled since I usually use vintage patterns that are in just one size so there's no tracing necessary.

Originally I was going to whip up a test garment using some cheap solid fabric from my stash but then I remembered that at the flea market last week I'd picked up some wonderful vintage Seventies cotton canvas prints.  Using one of those would be fun and maybe it would turn into a wearable muslin.

The print below is the one I decided to use.  I only paid about $3 for the fabric so it was actually cheaper than the muslin I usually use to make test garments.  I guess you'd call it a bandana print that also has oversized flowers -- why not?  It's bottom weight cotton canvas but still relatively light.

 I even have a photo of the original swatch of the fabric giving all its information.  Cool, no?

Putting the jacket together wasn't difficult but it did take quite a bit of time since this jacket has four large front pockets, each with its own pocket flap.  I lined my flaps with solid khaki twill.

I also added two interior pockets, one a breast patch pocket and another large zippered pocket at the hip. 

In addition to all the pockets, the jacket also has epaulets.  I don't think I'm going to make the belt as I don't think it's necessary.

The jacket has a one-piece camp-style collar and front facings.  The closures (which I have yet to add) will probably be plastic buttons.  I thought about chrome gripper snaps but now I'm leaning toward something more classic.  I'm also deciding whether I want to make the buttonholes myself or spring for having them made at Jonathan Embroidery.  I haven't been there since Covid arrived and I'd like to help support their business.  Plus professional buttonholes always look better, especially on outerwear (I find that for shirts my Singer buttonholer attachment buttonholes look great).

I cut the fronts on two layers of folded fabric without thinking of how the motifs would look and I will admit to not being happy about how the two fronts looked next to each other.  I would never have cut the fronts this way intentionally.  The repeat is nearly the same on both sides.

After the addition of the pockets and pocket flaps, however, the problem is almost entirely disguised.  Let's hear it for large pockets!

I know this jacket is more than a little "out there" but it makes me happy and I can't wait to be able to wear it.  Hopefully I'll get the buttons and have the buttonholes made this week.

And that's it!

Friends, I hope you're all well and busy sewing.  I'll post a photoshoot of the jacket sometime later this month.  

Have you ever made a Folkwear pattern?  If so, which one(s)?

Happy sewing, everybody!


  1. I love Safari suits. Looking forward to you modelled shots.

  2. Looks great. Safari jacket is definitely on my to-do list ��

  3. I thought at first, no not that fabric! I was wrong I think it looks great!

  4. The print hides any top-stitching snafus, etc., which is a great idea! These jackets have so much geometric detail -- after all, they were a uniform of sorts -- so accuracy is essential. I know, I made one once out of shirting. You've done a great job with yours!

  5. Must admit I wasn't fond of the fabric, either (like Linda), but how wonderful it turned out! Those pockets made all the difference, and I suspect it will look super on you. Great job! Deb E

  6. Oh this pattern is amazing!! And love your bold fabric choice - it gives the jacket a totally different vibe.

  7. Great post! Happy urban safaris.... predicting fleamarket hunts ahead! About Folkwear... It has been more than 40 years since making the Cheesemaker's Smock for both husband and a good friend. I wore the Prairie dress until I didn't! I remember how well these patterns went together and the finished garments were so unique for the times! My last foray into Folkwear was four years ago... hacking the Turkish/ bellydance wear for a pair of extravagant silken Baroque Dance performance costumes a la Turk. Those Folkwear patterns absolutely stand the tests of time!

  8. That fabric is giving flashbacks to the 70's. You need to make a pair of bell bottoms out of it.

    I made #227 the "Edwardian Bridal Gown" and #220 "the Garden Party Dress" back in 1988. I also made #126 "Vests from Greece and Poland". They all came out great and I don't remember having any problems with them.
    I have two Folkwear patterns in possession right now but haven't gotten around to sewing them up;#218 "1918 WW I ARMISTICE BLOUSE PATTERN" and #210 "Palm Beach Pants Pattern,1930's & 40's".

  9. Oh my gosh Peter -- this is adorable. . . . and BRILLIANT!

  10. What fun! The Folkwear “Turkish Dancer” Pattern was one of the first commercial patterns I ever made (though I don’t remember much about the instructions... maybe I didn’t read them. 🤔)... and i know my mom made me dresses from the girl’s pioneer/prairie dress patterns.

  11. It is hard to appreciate all the fine details via photos with this fabric. But you would be the envy of everyone at a safari sundowner in this jacket.

  12. Your helper is busy inspecting how well you matched the print.

  13. Well you're not going to be channelling Roger Whittaker or Steve Irwin or Croc Dundee in that! Which is a good thing I feel. But definitely serving 70s goodness!

  14. I so enjoy reading your blog. It's a great jacket. I dare not show my son he would love one and I can't imagine starting a complicated sew at the moment.

  15. I am speechless. How great is that jacket. I love Folkwear patterns. I have done shirts and pants (can not remember which ones and Kinsale cloak. I used several tibetan cloaks and some uniform looking one to make reproductive clothing for Civil war re-enactors. All back in the 70's and 80's. The Kinsale remains my favorite as I did in woolrich wool for my sister to use as a winter coat. Ask me about 8 layers of wool sewing??!! I also made it in a glazed chiffon to use as a wedding cape over a slim french looking slip dress also a Folkwear. Same bride. Quite the senasation as she came down the aisle. Hurry up and show off the jacket and can not wait to see what you use for final product. I would use a mid weight denim and lots of topstitching. Pegeth

  16. Great, bold, looking jacket Peter! I've always admired your fabric selection.

    Regarding the style of the jacket, I'm hoping when it's finished we'll be able to see the Safari in spite of the trees.

  17. I have made Folkwear patterns before. One the fireman's shirt for my husband and 2 brother in laws for Christmas. And I used the Victorian under garments to make a pin tucked nightie for me. I have always found these patterns very easy to sew from the instructions provided. Still have several that I bought that I loved but never got around to sewing from.

    1. I have seven more coming my way shortly: an ebay lot I just picked up.

  18. Peter, fine, fine looking jacket. I have always Safari jackets. Go, Peter!

  19. Perfect safari jacket for the urban jungle.


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