My 49'er

**WARNING**  Long post ahead!

Last fall a group of ASG sewing pals decided that we would all work with the same pattern.  A few of the women had seen the Tabula Rasa jacket at the ASG conference in the summer and wanted to give it a go.  

We met several times to compare fabric choices, to get style and fitting advise and basic moral support! (the meetings involved lots of laughing and chatting as well, duh!)  The target date was to have our jackets completed for the annual spring luncheon and fashion show and tell.  It seemed very far away last fall! 😬  
(Apparently I was misinformed...more likely, not paying attention!...our actual target date was our June chapter meeting!  I'm early!!!!)

The pattern by "Fit for Art" Patterns is a very well designed kimono-ish style.   The pattern pieces are designed to be 'blank slates' (which is what Tabula Rasa actually means!) for adding embellishments and details.  The way the side panels and sleeves are drafted makes putting the jacket together a breeze!  There are also very clever fitting/adjusting points that make it adaptable to many body types.   There are some additional patterns available that allow the design to morph into a blouse or a dress with a couple different neckline options.  All together a nice choice for our challenge.

When I saw the pattern the first thing that came to mind was my grandma.  My grandma had a closetful of wonderful wool Pendleton 49'er jackets.  Even as a kid I loved those things.  She always looked sharp and sporty and, well, cool!  I have wanted one forever.  Obviously, I could just go buy one, but that would be way too easy now wouldn't it!
I figured with a little bit of alteration to the neckline, a collar and a couple of patch pockets the Tabula Rasa would make a very reasonable 49'er.

I wanted to send up a trial balloon of my idea so with the help of my favorite "pattern weight" I picked out a plaid suiting fabric from my stash.  I also wanted my finished jacket to be more of a "swacket."  You know a jacket that feels kind of like a sweater when you wear it.  So I chose a ponte knit for the sleeves.

Bingo! I was pretty darned happy with my 
Pendleton-esque swacket.  Maybe a bit smaller on the collar, but not bad at all.

OK, pattern, check. 👍  
If this was going to be a 49'er it had to be wool.  AND it had to be wool that looked like it could have been hanging in my grandma's closet.  Off to the thrift store!  

I came home with a wool jumper and some corduroy pants.  Not quite the haul I was hoping for.  A little stash diving turned up a nice calvary twill and some great rayon lining.  But still not a whole jacket's worth of fabric.  And nothing for the sweater-like sleeves.  Off to the yarn shop!

I chose two yarns to work as one so the finished fabric would be about the same weight as the wool jumper and the colors had a nice tweedy feel.  Another thrift store rendered a pair of very bell-bottomed herringbone trousers that made me much happier than the cordurouys.

I decided to tackle the sleeves first.  I drafted a knitting pattern using the jacket sleeve patterns and my gauge swatch.  Working with the two yarns made it a very fast project.  I left the stitches 'live' rather than binding them off to make sewing them to the jacket easier and the seam less bulky.

Sweater sleeves. Check! 👍

I pulled the pants apart and because of the big bells had plenty of fabric to work with. 

The plaid jumper was just enough to get the front and back panels and the collar pieces (matching the plaid of course!)  I used the herringbone for the side panels, the front facings and the under collar.  The pockets came straight off the jumper, linings and all.  Picking up the live knit stitches worked great.  The way the pattern is designed makes putting the sleeves in very easy as well.

I had used a tiny red rick-rack to jazz up the front facing/lining seam and continued with a red dupioni silk for the Hong Kong finishes on the rest of the seams.  I did only a half lining on the back because I wanted the sweater feel, it does make it easier to slip the jacket on and off.  The buttons are cool leather with brass edges that I got on my recent trip to NYC.  (my "pattern weight" again, inspecting the final product!)

You might think that is the end of my 49'er jacket story...BUT...I really like the pattern and decided it would be great for the taupe linen that I brought back from Italy. 

On this version I made the collar even narrower, added cuffs, lined the sleeves and the front with a silk crepe de chine and used a funky cotton stripe to line the back shoulders, cuffs and seams.

 It layers well with my bias linen dress...that's number two of my "Three Easy Pieces."


  1. Thanks for a very inspirational post! I need to consider thrift shops more frequently as a source for "yardage"...and I love the idea of knitting the sleeves-I have only done scarves and can't envision myself knitting a full sweater, but maybe sleeves....hmm, lots to think about. And that taupe jacket is wonderful!

  2. I also rummage around the table linens departments for sale stuff. Lots of yardage opportunities, particularly with table cloths.
    I think the Italian linen jacket will get a lot of wearing time this season! Thanks.

  3. Stunning! And such a fun story! You are one talented woman, Becky! Thanks for sharing the whole process. So inspiring!

  4. Now that I have the pattern figured out, I'm thinking I need to head back to Oregon to get some "real" Pendleton fabric! (and wine!)

  5. I recognize "that look" in the pattern weight's eyes. In the zone. Plotting mischief. Being right in the centre of things, right ON the centre of things seems to be genetically programmed.
    And speaking of eyes, you certainly have a great eye for colours and combinations. Your jackets are wonderful. Your dress is divine. It fits and hangs so beautifully.

  6. PW does seem to like the middle of my table. Especially when there is something that has taken hours to lay out or has a zillion little pieces! She also likes my little rubber finger thimbles...constantly running off with them!

  7. What a great story...The finished swacket is wonderful!

  8. Thanks! You can tell I am excited about the Tabula Rasa. It has already become a 'tried and true' pattern.