Fitting the Belgian Chef’s Jacket

Contrary to public opinion, there has been some sewing going on here. I went ahead and made the men’s size 40, and here’s the result. As I mentioned previously, it went together easily. Please note: I have 1/2″ shoulder pads pinned in for these photos. I think this pattern really demands them to look its best.

Overall, not bad just out of the gate. The fit at the shoulders is fine. As usual, the sleeves are a bit too long, an easy adjustment to make. The cuffs? Hmmm… I’m not completely sold on them yet. Convince me! My biggest concern is that it’s a touch tight over the chest. I can really feel it pulling across the chest to the arm pit. I’m sure you fitting experts see it too.

The back, however, isn’t bad. I don’t think I have to mess with anything here. Plus, I never know how to fix things back here anyway! The length is also fine. It covers my belt both front and back. It may be too fitted at the waist which can cause the lower back to “hitch up”, especially since the hemline dips down at the center. All things considered, the alterations are minimal.

What I’m really having to confront is what I want this garment to be, and how I intend to wear it. Now that I’ve tried it on, it strikes me as more of a fancy shirt than a jacket. I just can’t see myself putting this on over a shirt and walking out the door. It just doesn’t work as outerwear for me. I picture it worn as a shirt, all buttoned up and worn over, at most, a t-shirt for comfort. My velvet is quite fluid, so I would line it with the lightest weight material I can find. I want to keep it close to the body, especially at the waist. The challenge is to add some structure to the shoulders and upper chest while at the same time keeping it soft.

I’m also confronting the need for this garment and the very limited times that I would ever wear it. How many of us really need velvet clothing? Special occasion dressing for men. Now there’s a concept ripe for discussion. I’ll admit to having a few things in my closet that rarely see the light of day, but I’m glad to have them when the need arises. My “go to” fancy shirt for the past 10 years has been a Claiborne brown suede shirt. It’s subtly luxurious, just a little over the top, and it always attracts positive comments. This velvet number, hardly as subtle, could possibly replace it. I just need to convince myself that it’s right and that I should make it, even if I have nowhere to wear it right now. But, I digress…

So, back to fitting. Here I’ve repinned the front adding an extra inch of ease. It both looks better and feels much more comfortable.

Even with my arms raised my belt is staying covered.

Next step, redraft the side fronts adding a 1/2″ of ease without altering the shoulder width, and figuring out just how much shorter I’d like the sleeves. Of course the big question looming is if I even have enough fabric to make the jacket. It’s entirely possible that I don’t, in which case I will have to search for some coordinating fabric. That, in turn, could make for a much more interesting “shirt”, so I’m staying open for a variety of possibilities. A little vacation to the Jersey shore via the NYC garment district may be in order.

And for anyone who may be interested, work continues on the boat!

5 thoughts on “Fitting the Belgian Chef’s Jacket

  1. It is gorgeous. I get entirely what you mean about the shift from 'jacket' to 'shirt' too. Infrastructure being the big difference really, although as you've said, it will still need some around the upper parts. Silk organza may be enough instead of horsehair?
    I would add a 1/4 inch to each of the seams instead of a 1/2 inch to the side only. Easing it out to the chest and in again, it will simply add a teeny more curve to those two seams.
    Not wishing to add even more “what if” to the dilemma, I still wonder if velvet is a good choice for 4 layers of front? Or are you planning to use a flatter fabric for the facings? Velvet on velvet edge seams are never a huge success as you can't press it enough to get a crisp edge. A flash of something glorious in that turn back could be, well, glorious!
    As for where to wear it, who not to the supermarket, or shopping? Maybe not gardening or boat building but what the heck, set a trend! 🙂


  2. It's pretty clear – you are making the “shirt” to wear to the boat launching party! Champagne, and – hmm, will you have enough scrap for a matching skipper's hat? 😉


  3. I must admit that secretly I'm hoping I don't have enough fabric. Something lighter weight and “glorious” would be great for the reverse of the front panels. It calls for a trip to Elliot Berman. I'm sure they'll have some incredible, and expensive, French or Italian fabric that would be perfect. Heck, I only need a yard, so why not? Go big, go velvet, or go home!


  4. Oh, yeah, I second the vote for matching skipper hat, excellent! 🙂

    But yes also to MrsC–plus, drape is a consideration on that front facing. A thin, sutble brocade in dark jewel tones might be cool.


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