Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: Adding Ribbing To Your Jacket

McCall Pattern Company blog: Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

I know a few of you had some trepidations about making bomber jackets, specifically because of the whole ribbing part being new to you. Ribbing is actually one of the easiest ways to finish cuffs and jacket hems. I learned how to sew knits and ribbings when I was 13 and my mom signed me up for a class in making knit tops at the local fabric store. If I could successfully master ribbings when I was an impatient teenager, then you can too! The basic rule for attaching ribbings is Divide and Conquer, which I’ll explain later here.

We talked about what types of ribbing to use and where to purchase ribbing in this post. The most important things to look for in a ribbing are good recovery—meaning it won’t stretch out of shape and turn into a baggy mess—and comfort factor. If a ribbing feels scratchy to the touch, imagine how it will feel around your wrist—icky.

Cuffs: Very easy to attach. Use the pattern piece we give you to cut your size, but make sure the width is comfortable around your wrist. I always like to push my sleeves up, so I check that my arm won’t feel strangled by the ribbing if I do wear my sleeves at a 3/4 length.

Stitch the ribbing seam as directed, then fold your cuff so the seam is on the inside and the raw edges are even. Lightly press the fold. Now here’s where the whole Divide and Conquer thing comes in. Divide your cuff at the raw edges into four equal sections. Do the same with your sleeve edge. I usually make the sleeve seam and cuff seam into one of the section points.

Ribbing for bomber jackets; how-tos. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Cuff with four equal sections marked off with pins.

Now attach your ribbed cuff to the right side of the sleeve, raw edges of cuff and sleeve together, and matching section points. Stitch through all layers, stretching the ribbing as needed between section points. Check to see that everything looks the way it should, then finish the seam by serging it.

Jacket band: The same principle of dividing and conquering applies here too. Use our pattern guides to cut out your ribbing, but make sure the ribbing is long enough or short enough to hug your high hip the way you want it to. This is a matter of personal preference: some bombers are tight here, others are loose.

Ribbing for bomber jackets; how-tos. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Assessing the ribbing’s fit early on.

Attach the front band pieces as directed (these are the big tabs by the zipper that are usually made from your jacket fabric and not ribbing), then attach the ribbing as directed to the front band. Just as you did with the cuffs, divide the ribbing into four sections and mark with pins. Then halve the sections again. Mark off the jacket hem with the same amount of equal sections. Pin ribbing to right side of jacket, matching pins. TRY ON for fit. Stitch, gently stretching the ribbing as needed between sections. Finish the seam by serging.

Ribbing for bomber jackets; how-tos. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Stitching the ribbing to the jacket hem.

Neckline: For McCall’s M7100, cut your ribbing for the neckline using the pattern piece. Pin in place, leaving room to turn the jacket’s front edges under by 5/8″. (You will be stitching the zipper next.) Important: TRY ON jacket and see how the neck ribbing fits. The ribbing should gently hug your neck. If it doesn’t, try stretching the ribbing at the neckline and repin it. Try on again and repeat as needed to get this kind of fit:

how the neckline ribbing should fit
[bomber jacket image from Nordstrom]
Once you are satisfied, baste the ribbing in place and stitch. If you aren’t lining your jacket you’ll want to finish this seam somehow so it’s not scratchy against your neck. I recommend binding it with ribbon or satin binding; see finishing options here.

Note: For my version of Butterick B6181, I wanted to use ribbing instead of encased elastic. Ribbing worked fine at the cuffs and hem, but it was a minor fail at the neckline. This is because A), the neckline on this pattern is cut low; and B), my ribbing was on the thicker side and couldn’t stretch satisfactorily here to hug my neck. So I ended up making the ribbing smaller at the neck for this pattern.

Ribbing for bomber jackets; how-tos. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Here you can see how the ribbing is gaping badly at the neck with Butterick B6181. The lower cut of the neckline makes substituting ribbing here just a little harder to do. The pattern calls for a woven, shaped collar here, not ribbing like I attempted to do.

So, all in all, attaching knit ribbing is generally pretty easy to do. I think the part that poses some trouble for people is where the front band piece is attached to the jacket, and then the ribbing is attached to the front band and then to the jacket. (Steps 27-31 in B6181 and steps 25-33 in M7100.) Here are some images that might help you visualize these steps a little better:

Ribbing for bomber jackets; how-tos. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

The front band serves the purpose of enclosing the zipper and providing a place to attach the ribbing. As you can see in this diagram, the ribbing/jacket seam is left open, so you can easily serge the seam after you’ve stitched it for a neat finish.

Ribbing for bomber jackets; how-tos. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.
For Butterick B6181, since I hacked the pattern and used ribbing instead of encased elastic, I had to make up my own directions for this part of the jacket. The circle shows where I clipped the ribbing/band seam so I could easily stitch the ribbing and then turn down the band seam allowance to enclose it.
Ribbing for bomber jackets; how-tos. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Before I stitched, I pinned the band and the ribbing in place just to make sure my pattern hack would work. 

I hope this post helps you with applying ribbing to your jacket. Feel free to leave any questions or suggestions in the comments. And don’t forget you can still join our Bomber Jacket Facebook Group! #BomberJacketSewAlong

Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: Making the Inside of Your Jacket Look Pretty

McCall Pattern Company blog: Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

When I was in 8th grade Home Ec class the teacher offered us the chance to earn extra credit if we wanted to make a garment at home. The only requirement was that we show her the uncut fabric and supplies before we began. She thought this would help prevent us from passing off  store-bought clothes as things we made. Well, in my excitement to make my utterly cute yellow gingham dress with lace trim, I ignored the whole requirement thing and sewed the dress over a weekend. (Because even at age 13 I couldn’t go a weekend without sewing.)

That next Monday in Home Ec I proudly showed the teacher my finished Butterick dress and asked for the extra credit. Being the lover of rules that she was, she started to tell me she wouldn’t give me the extra credit because I hadn’t shown her the uncut fabric first. And the outside of my dress looked pretty decent. But then she peeked inside.

Readers, all bets were off that I was passing off a RTW dress as something I had made. Make the inside look nice?! Huh?! Not when you’re a beginning sewer and just want to make cute stuff to wear the next day to school. The inside of my dress was a messy mess. I got the extra credit, though, served up with a lecture on finishing seams. Lesson learned.

So, why do we finish the insides of our garments when no one sees them?

  • To reinforce seams and interiors and make them stronger.
  • To make clothing more comfortable to wear, because scratchy and annoying parts are encased.
  • Because a well-finished garment interior is like a badge of honor, and shows you take care and pride in your work.

Ok, enough of the lecturing and childhood reminiscing. Let’s look at three bomber jackets I made when I was blogging for the Mood Fabrics Sewciety:

lace and neoprene bomber jacket made by Meg Carter of the McCall Pattern Company and originally featured on the Mood Sewciety blog
A neoprene and lace bomber jacket.
neoprene jacket inside
Since neoprene this thick doesn’t take to a serger, I covered the seams with petersham ribbon, handstitching in place. I also covered the zipper tape in petersham.
Textured novelty cotton bomber jacket made by Meg Carter of the McCall Pattern Company and originally featured on the Mood Sewciety blog
This jacket I made using a heavy, textured cotton by Marc Jacobs.
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Here, I flatlined the interior. This is where you treat the lining fabric—in this case silk organza—and the exterior fashion fabric as one layer. This means the seams will be exposed and need to be finished. The seams are then either Hong Kong finished or flat-felled, with some serging around the pocket and ribbing. The zipper tape is covered with poly satin bias tape.
Leather and metallic brocade bomber jacket made by Meg Carter of the McCall Pattern Company and originally featured on the Mood Sewciety blog
Leather and metallic brocade for this bomber jacket. I went a little bomber jacket crazy, making these jackets all within a few months time.
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With this leather jacket I flatlined again, with a poly lining fabric, and Hong Kong finished the seams with a textured fabric I had in my stash. (Wow, I’m impressed by my own handiwork here!)
MSGM bomber jacket, as seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog
Here’s a bomber jacket by MSGM, which one of our designers bought for herself at Century 21. The seams are finished using a true Hong Kong seam technique. You can see more interior photos of this jacket on the Facebook group.

The takeaway: Finish your seams. Best options are serging or Hong Kong finishing. Never done Hong Kong seams before? They’re easy. Here’s a tutorial.

Another option is to line your jacket. My colleague Gillian will talk about adding a lining to your bomber jacket during the week of 10/10/16. I did a kind of modified lining with my Butterick bomber by following these steps:

  • Create a lining of bodice front, bodice back, and sleeves. Omit the pockets.
  • Attach the ribbing at the neck as directed.
  • Stitch the lining to the neckline so it is right-sides-together with the fashion fabric
  • Flip the lining over and you’re done. The ribbing seam is now neatly enclosed. You can edge-stitch the lining in place if you desire.
Lining techniques for bomber jackets. On the McCall Pattern Company blog
After the ribbing is stitched to the neckline, then attach your lining by stitching over the ribbing seam. Turn, and now the neckline seam is neatly enclosed.
  • I left the seams open 5/8″ at the front edges so I could turn the lining under after I inserted the zipper. Then I stitched the lining in place to the zipper tape.
  • When it came to attaching the ribbing at the cuffs and hem, I used the flatlining technique and treated the lining and the fashion fabric as one layer. Easy peasy.

Bottom line: A well-finished garment interior is a beautiful thing.

Coming up next on the #BomberJacketSewAlong: Adding ribbing to your jacket. Stay tuned! And it’s not too late to join our Bomber Jacket Facebook Group, btw.

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