Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: Fabrics, Ribbing & Zippers

McCall Pattern Company blog: Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

I have to admit I’m really excited for this particular sew-along. Bomber jackets allow you to be so creative, and that’s what gets me going. You have SO MANY options when it comes to choosing fabrics and ribbings. Just look at our bomber jacket inspiration Pinterest board—there are bomber jackets in everything from quilted satin to menswear suitings. (Seriously, do check out this board before you decide on your fabric and ribbing.)

This season’s bomber jackets can be divided into three categories: Glam, Sporty, and Flirty.

Glam bomber jacket fabrics, on the McCall Pattern Company blog
Source for images

Glam: The Glam bomber jacket commands attention. Gucci’s spring 2016 bomber jackets are a perfect example of this look. Fabrics that work for the glam bomber jacket include midweight satin crepes in either poly or silk, or ornate brocades that aren’t too stiff. Satin crepes won’t require a lining (bonus!), but you will want to line or underline/flatline brocade fabrics. Choose lightweight georgettes, organzas, or lining fabrics for lining and underlining fabrics.

Ribbings for the glam bomber jackets can either match your fabric in color or offer high contrast in color and possibly a stripe as well. Choose ponte or scuba knits, or go with a striped knit ribbing.

Sporty bomber jacket fabrics, on the McCall Pattern Company blog
Source for images

Sporty: The Sporty bomber jacket harkens back to the athletic jackets of the last century. This Adidas jacket is a contemporary take on the classic sporty bomber. If the sporty look is what you have in mind, look for neoprenes, scuba knits, ponte, lightweight denims and tencels, fine-waled corduroy, or lightweight menswear suiting.

Ribbings can be from ponte, neoprene or scuba knits to match or contrast with your bomber. Or you can be ultra-sporty and choose a striped ribbing for that Joe College look.

Flirty bomber jacket fabrics, on the McCall Pattern Company blog
Source for images

Flirty: The Flirty bomber jacket is feminine to the max. It’s often made of lighter-weight fabrics, like this georgette bomber by Needle & Thread, and floral prints prevail. For fabrics, try midweight georgettes, silk organza for a sheer look, satin crepes, lightweight brocades, and jacquards.

Ribbings for the flirty jacket can be from ponte or scuba knit, or from silk taffeta or heavier satin crepe with inserted elastic.

Where to get ribbing for your bomber jacket: Ponte knits make wonderful ribbings. They’re soft to wear, and easy to find and sew. You could start there. Scuba knits also work well as ribbings, and those are also easier to find these days.

However, if you want a real knit ribbing like you see here, here and here, then you may need to buy/order it from a place like Pacific Trimming or Botani Trimmings. I can vouch that they have wonderful ribbings in all sorts of colors and stripes. Etsy has some ribbing options as well. My colleague Gillian recommends this Oregon store for ribbing.

Loads of ribbings in all sorts of colors at Botani Trimmings.
Loads of ribbings in all sorts of colors at Botani Trimmings.
Ribbings at Pacific Trimming in NYC
Ribbings at Pacific Trimming. Lots of striped ribbings here, plus some metallic ribbings that are really cool.

Separating zippers: The zipper is a focal point of the bomber jacket, so don’t skimp on this part. You can choose zippers with plastic teeth—good for sporty jackets—or go with metal teeth in silver or brass. Coats & Clark now makes a nice sporty separating zipper, and you can find those in fabric stores. Zipperstop is an online source for YKK zippers, and Pacific and Botani also sell zippers online.

I hope this gives you a good starting point for your bomber jacket supplies. Remember, this sew-along is 100% go-at-your-own pace—there are no deadlines. If you don’t finish (or start!) your bomber jacket until 2017 that’s perfectly fine!

If you have other sources you’d like to share, please leave a comment here. Thanks!

Next week: Fitting raglan shoulders

We’ve been sewing since 1863.

  1. I find it a little odd that this style is now being called a bomber. With the ribbing and all, they are more like varsity jackets. But anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing the creations that come out of the sew along!

    1. Because I am easily inspired to do research, I found this
      It appears that varsity (letter) jackets and bomber jackets are extremely similar in look, but have some distinct differences. The jackets above actually are closer to bomber jackets than varsity. I actually prefer the contrast sleeves of the varsity look – sans letters and number, of course.

  2. I have purchased ribbed cuffs and collars from Joyce:
    Wawak also has a boat load of different zippers.

    I rather like the brocade jackets. The satin only reminds me too much of the 80’s. And the 70’s. 🙂

    I am still in design mode and need to pick some fabrics.

  3. I guess I’m thinking glam varsity because today I bought a soft uphostery jacquard in purple for the body and a black faux leather for the sleeves. I haven’t picked the pattern yet and I’m thinking I might do a hood.

  4. To add warmth, what type of lining would one use for a sporty bomber?

    1. How about either sweatshirt or fleece if you want it very warm. I am seriously thinking uphostery fabric in brocade or velvet for the outside for exactly the same reason but it probably would not count as sporty. Would be warm though because I have made brocade jackets before for winter. If you use for example a flocked brocade or a velvet outside with lighter weight silky brocade inside its very warm.

      1. Thank you. YOUR fabric ideas for your bomber jacket sound interesting. Hope you post your result!

    2. Flannel? A satin lining with a flannel backing? Ponte knit? You actually have a lot of options.

  5. I’ve been tempted to make a bright colored boucle version of it almost Chanel inspired. But then I’m afraid I’m only going to be able to wear it one season and the trend will be over. So I might do a ‘leather’ version with a quilted lining. I live in Chicago and our temperature drops pretty fast in the fall. One day it will 70 and the next it will be barely 40 . By making it with vegan leather it won’t be so obvious of a trendy item and more of a basic/staple.

    1. I like the idea of making the jacket less trendy by using vegan leather. Traditionally, many bomber/varsity jackets had a quilted satin lining which would add warmth for your climate. I’m also considering using a nice light weight black faux leather, but for a lining, I think I’ll use a poly leopard print as I live in Florida and don’t need to add much warmth. Because we wear jackets so infrequently, those that are too trendy just aren’t practical. Though, I may make an unlined one for fun.

  6. I have a question regarding the type of lining to use. I see not expertly and it has been awhile for clothing. For fabric choices I chose a sweater knit for the body and sweatshirt mete rial for the body. I don’t want the lining bulky, what would be your suggestion!

    1. I hate autocorrect! Sorry for the mistakes, should proof before I submit!

  7. I bought some laser cut faux leather in black this summer from FM that I’m considering. With a satin lining, I think will be a nice transitional weight for this fall. I’ve made up the M7100 already and the amount of ease is slightly less than I want however. Frustratingly, this pattern cones in two separate sizing groups and I don’t want to buy another pattern. Question for the McCalls peeps: how/where would I add safely without distorting the proportions of the design? I’d like a bit more circumference in the body and the sleeves.

  8. I’m making the Butterick jacket. Since this is my muslin, I’m using a very nice bottom weight cotton that’s not really heavy. I would love to make the next one out of twill. Would that be too heavy? So looking forward to this project! One other quick question, I have to do a FBA and was wondering if it would be any different with a raglan sleeve? Thanks!

    1. Sounds like it should be fine.

  9. Recently I made a nice vest with ripstop cotton in digital desert camo from The ripstop is virtually the same fabric which is used in Army uniforms. The ripstop we have in the stash is black and navy. I am leaning toward black, but the silver that has available is intriguing also. Still awaiting the arrival of the jacket pattern.

  10. The Butterick Pattern has an alternate using buttons rather than the zipper. Can we include a discussion on this as well? I would like to wear this jacket inside during the winter instead of a cardigan, leaving it open most of the time and I think buttons could really be stylish. Meg, what do you think?

    1. Love buttons on bomber jackets! Yes to this.

  11. Please join our Bomber Jacket Facebook Sew-Along! This is the place where you can ask questions and share your progress.

  12. I was actually looking for fabrics to use for the ribbing. I am glad I save my scraps.❤

  13. Can I still join the facebook group? Just bought the material to sew a brocade bomber jacket. Interested in what everybody shared.
    Thanks, liz

  14. Stylish . I am sure the fabric exchange has so many choices of fabric for this kind of project.

  15. Anyone have any suggestions on how to move pockets up on an existing bomber that I’m modifying. I have to shorten a jacket but the pocket will be in the way

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