Sunday, December 15, 2019

Blazer Patterns comparison: McCalls, Closet Case, Vogue and Pauline Alice

It's that time of year when a sewing thoughts turn to outerwear, and this time I'm talking about blazer jackets. I've had a lot of comments and requests both here and on IG to talk about the various patterns and do a little compare and contrast. It's also time for me to restate my very common refrain - there are no new patterns! By this I always mean that most patterns are a combination of features found in fashion, the width of a lapel may change or in the case of a blazer, the size of the shoulder pad :). On the whole, a blazer jacket is fairly straightforward and it's up to you to choose the silhouette you like, the shape of the lapel, the type and placement of pockets, the seaming, the length and number of buttons. I find it entertaining to look at new patterns and see something quite similar in a pattern that might be 2, 5, or 15 years old. When you get to scrutinizing these patterns closely you can see that most of the differences in result have much more to do with the fabric choice and styling than the pattern. With that in mind I'm trying to highlight how they sew together in this post.

For this post I'll talk about 4 different blazer jacket patterns I've sewn and highlight some features of each pattern. In writing this post I tried to do a straightforward pros and cons of each but that wasn't working - certain things turn out to be both positive and negative. I'm including a slightly older (out of print) Vogue 2853 pattern as it is interesting to show the comparison with newer patterns, plus I've made it 3 times and it's a classic. The Jasika blazer from Closet Case patterns is a very similar jacket, and the pattern includes every pattern piece needed to create the shaping a blazer needs. For fitting purposes the McCalls 6172 has detail and instruction that is invaluable. The Pauline Alice Saler blazer is one I've made numerous times, with shoulder princess seams and is a good example of that style.

For each jacket I've included a few photo composites with the jacket front pattern piece (so you can see the shaping, lapel and pocket placement as well as the pattern envelope and then the collar pieces.
The front jacket piece really shows the style of the jacket, with the darting or seaming plus width of lapel and whether the pattern is marked well.

First up: Vogue 2853 Designer pattern

Vogue jacket combo

As I mentioned above, I've made this 3 times. Once you find a nice blazer pattern that fits you well I don't see the need for a lot of changing until the fashion changes drastically (change in lapel shape, more fitted, less or more shoulder shaping). This pattern has a copyright of 2005, here's the link to my most recent version. I did a multi-post series on making that blazer if you're interested in more sewing details.

  • Pattern is fully marked, includes all notches, dots etc. so no guesswork. Seam allowance is consistent throughout at 5/8” (except for pocket welts)
  • Separate pieces for upper and under collars, and under collar is cut on the bias with a seam at center back (so sides of under collar are mirror images, good for plaid or stripes)
  • Two-piece sleeve, marked with shaping ease at elbow and it fits perfectly into armhole with no extra ease
  • Roll line on collar and lapel are not marked, would be nice if marked
  • Rounded corners on collar and lapel, these days I prefer squared off corners but you can see in the photo that is easy to change
  • No side seam. I realize this is the style but with a side seam you can make small fit adjustments quite easily, since this has a front, back and a side panel the fit adjustments are a bit more work
  • Dart under lapel, is both a plus and minus, as it adds shaping, matches up and sews well. It's just not my preference as that dart adds bulk in the collar seam. (note same dart on Jasika below)

Vogue 3 jackets 

Overall Impression: I started with the pattern to show a baseline - and to show how most blazer patterns are more similar to each other than different. This pattern is really well made, and sews together nicely. 

Pauline Alice Saler Jacket Pattern

Saler jacket composite

  • Pattern is sufficiently marked, not as much as the Vogue pattern but easy to follow
  • Shoulder princess seams which make it  easy to adjust for fit, both before cutting out and then if need be as you sew separate pieces. Also I find shoulder princess seams quite simple to sew 
  • Side seam - another place for fit adjustment 
  • Separate pattern pieces for upper and under collars, and under collar is cut on the bias with a seam at center back (so sides of under collar are mirror images, good for plaid or stripes)
  • Sleeves sew in perfectly with no excess ease. Two piece sleeve.
  • Includes separate interfacing pattern pieces for sleeve heads, hemline and for front lapel (which indicates lapel roll line, yay!)
  • I found the pocket placement on this to be too high, which just could be personal preference, and I lowered it a bit. 
  • Collar is a two piece collar, with a separate collar stand, the same pattern piece for both upper and lower collar. It comes out fine but I don’t think this adds a lot to the pattern and makes for more seams and bulk in the collar area.
grey saler jacket 1

Overall Impression: I obviously like this pattern as I’ve made it 3 times in the last few years. Once you get a blazer pattern that fits well it’s so easy to keep making the same pattern! It fits me well across the shoulders so that’s a bonus. Also the lapel/collar looks right to my eye, once you start looking at blazer patterns you can spot the small differences in the angle of the collar/lapel, the amount of lapel etc and start to figure out your preferences. I have to give a caution on this one, as I originally made a test version and then changed the length, and maybe the pocket placement. So if yu try this pattern I suggest a test version. Here's the post for the one in the photo above.

Jasika Blazer from Closet Case Patterns

CC jasika composite 2

This is a pattern which has encouraged a lot of people to stretch their sewing skills and make a tailored jacket. It includes every possible pattern piece and is very thorough in the steps required. I made one version as a prelude to my tailored jacket class last fall since a lot of people came to that class after seeing completed versions of this online.
CC Jas blazer composite

I made the outer part (not the lining) including all the steps for the collar and lapel structure as I wanted to familiarize myself with it.

  • Pattern is fully marked with notches and dots that match up well
  • Includes interfacing pattern pieces for every part of the jacket such as sleeve heads, collar and lapel shaping, hemline and vents
  • Pocket placement is good
  • Includes center back vent with interfacing and lining construction indicated
  • Roll line on lapel is fully marked (yay again)
  • Separate pattern piece for upper and under collar - with a caveat, see below

  • Collar pattern pieces -  the under collar is cut on the bias (as it should be) but is one piece. I prefer the under collar to have a seam and thus the sides of the under collar are mirror images of each other
  • The dart under the lapel gave me trouble in sewing, it’s quite small and doesn’t add a lot of shaping. Most people in my classes  had trouble getting that corner of the jacket front to behave.
  • Seam allowance variation - the pattern has 5/8” seam allowances in most of the jacket however in some of the collar lapel seam allowances it changes to a 3/8” which means you have to pay great attention when sewing. Also you then have to trim some seam allowances down to 1/4” which means trimming away just 1/8”  - not fun! I really disliked this and feel that it would be simpler to sew if all seam allowances were the same and then I can trim and grade as needed for the fabric. 
  • Welt pocket and front vertical dart - this also was a bit fussy, if you look at the Vogue jacket it has a similar dart going into the pocket slash and is angled so that when the dart is sewn it returns to flat. This pattern has a large dart but the slash is straight so I found the pocket welt opening didn’t lay as flat as would be optimal.
Here's a look at the instruction sheet where the seam allowance changes around the collar/lapel area. You can see my notes about the seam allowances. I also found that in some places the instructions were very specific on things that I don't prioritize and omitted things I tend to think are important but that is just personal preference. I

CC jasika lapel instruction page

Overall impression: traditional blazer styling and shape with every pattern piece spelled out and every step detailed. It's a fun option that the elbow patch option is included. The shape is kind of boxy and the sleeves are quite slim so I think a muslin for fit is probably necessary for a lot of people. I really disliked the pocket instructions and you would be better served to learn how to do a welt pocket and then just use the pocket placement to create the pockets. Not a fan of the variation in seam allowance in the collar. I am definitely not the target market for this pattern,  note that I rarely look at the instructions and typically do all the interfacings as I go with the jacket shell pattern pieces as a guide.

McCalls 6172 Jacket by Palmer and Pletsch

I've made two versions of this pattern for my friend Heather. The first was a navy blue lightweight wool that was a trial run prior to making this version below in Shetland wool from Britex. 

H blazer front view2

By the way, on my Instagram profile there is a highlight "wool jacket" which has every step in making this jacket if you want to see sewing in action.

Revise jacket front McCall blazer

McCalls pattern collar

  • Markings for fit adjustments such as FBA, swayback etc are printed on the pattern pieces so doing fit adjustments on the pattern work beautifully. (See above photo)
  • Two-piece sleeves are well marked, with notches, dots etc and fit into armhole with no issues
  • Pocket placement is good.
  • Separate upper and under collar pieces, the under collar is cut on bias and seamed at center back
  • ROLL LINE is marked on under collar and jacket front. again, Yay!
  • Pattern includes options for different length jackets and welt or patch pockets
  • while it is possibly out-of-print, you can find copies available and it does come in a full range of sizes (McCalls size 8 - 22)
  • The collar and lapel sewing instructions seem very clear and include some good tips to avoid bulk and pressing mistakes
  • The instructions and pattern pieces for the welt pockets are really lengthy and while they say are "no fail" (?) I found them quite confusing and add too many steps. 
  • Not really a dislike but notable, there are no side seams, the jacket has a front, side panel and center back seam with no back vent. The center back vent is a nice detail that is on the Jasika however the back has to fit perfectly or the vent will spread open and not look great. 

McCalls 6172 envelope and blue jacket

All these patterns have pluses and minuses but I think by showing the jacket front piece and the collar pieces you can see that there are more similarities among them then drastic differences. So much of what makes a sewing pattern popular is the styling, fabric choice and the internet likes but if you examine the technical drawings there aren't that many differences. If you like a particular style of instructions such as a booklet then the indie pattern will be for you. If you are accustomed to the standardized instruction sheet and diagrams then the McVoguerick patterns will probably serve you better.

I had to choose a winner among these patterns it would be the McCalls pattern. There are similar details on all these patterns but the McCalls is a step ahead with the fitting instructions printed on the pattern that are really easy to follow. The collar/lapel sewing instruction is very clear and uncluttered and has a lots details and tips (such as how to avoid that scoop in the lapel notch) that are extra helpful.

There are few of my thoughts on blazer patterns. My big takeaway is that you should look at the technical drawings and see how very similar most of them are. If you are accustomed to a particular type of instruction then you will probably have success with that brand's pattern.
Or you can take a class with me 😊. My next jacket class at Hello Stitch is fully booked but we might schedule again in late spring - you can always request and we will try to put specific classes on the calendar.
Yesterday was my last class for the year and in the words of the holiday poem, I'm ready for a long winter's nap!!! Seriously - it's time to relax, watch some movies and just do a lot of nothing for a little bit.

Up next, I have so many finished items that I want to post however the weather and my schedule has precluded taking photos. We have sunshine coming up this week for a few days so I hope to get outside and get that done. Also I may have had a little binge of fabric ordering over the weekend with some wools and silks so I predict more jackets and silk blouses in my future. And jeans. SO many ideas....

I would love to hear if you have a favorite blazer pattern or even one that didn't work - it's all informative.

Happy Sewing,

The garden is very bleak this time of year and one of the few things still flowering is the hardy geranium - a lovely spot of color in this grey time of year.



  1. Thank you for your thoughtful comparison, I only ever made the Skinny bitch curvy chick rickey blazer and I was quite happy with it - my only complaint would be the too high placement of pockets. To be thruthful I didn't quite follow all instructions, I made it in my dressmaking classes and had help from the teacher to fit it, and changed the hem to a rounded corner instead of a sharp one. I also have the jasika and I'm curious on how it compares.

  2. I love in depth comparisons like this one. Thank you so much for the detailed discussion of the pattern differences! It's reassuring to hear an experienced sewist point out dislikes and things that were confusing... it prevents that demoralizing moment of "maybe it's just me" from happening during the sewing process. I happen to have that McCalls Palmer Pletsch pattern and after reading this, I feel confident choosing that one for my next blazer! Thank you!

  3. Hi Beth, I always loved your in depth articles and blog posts. You are so right about nothing really new in the basic lines of blazer patterns. Little differences make up what changes decade to decade. Actually one of my favorite blazer patterns is the Palmer Pletsch original 8 hour blazer from 1980! I actually attended one of the workshops back then given by Susan Pletsch. Over the years I have collected and made many others but come back to their classic for a basic.

  4. Great post. I am not really a blazer person these days, but I have sewn a lot of jackets over the years. I hate, hate side panels for exactly the reason you mention. It's much easier to add more to a side seam and the jacket hangs better and it's easier to add a wide sas for in case fitting on the side seam.
    I sew Burda Style a lot and they often have that separate stand piece. It's fine when you are sewing a lighter wool, but it's definitely harder in a coating. That dart into the welt? Threads wrote a series of articles years ago on Armani tailoring and he used this type of dart into a welt. But, it was like the first jacket and not like the Jasika blazer. I've also seen a lot of them over the years in Burda and they are always shaped the way the first pattern is. It's to change the grainline if I remember correctly, so that it fits better. It throws that part of the jacket on the bias at that point. The Jasika isn't taking advantage of that. I like the 2 button blazer you made your friend. I think that it's easier to fit over a large bust than one with a single button.
    As always, a very informative post. I really do like your in depth posts. While I am not making blazers, I make coats and jackets and it's always interesting to see how an expert does it.

  5. That McCalls pattern is an old favorite of mine. Glad it gets the Beth approval! This was an interesting read!

  6. Thanks for this informative comparison! I just bought the McCalls pattern in the OOP sale :)