Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: We’re Finished!

McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

We’ve finished our bomber jackets! This sew-along has been a lot of fun and it really got the old creative juices flowing. Let’s take a look at the bomber jackets Gillian and Meg made for this sew-along:

Gillian’s McCall’s M7100 bomber jacket
McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

Fabric: Crinkled rayon blend from Paron’s, with a poly satin lining
Ribbing: Striped ribbing from Pacific Trims
Zipper: Excella by YKK from SIL Thread
Comments: “I think this jacket came out great! It’s a good early-fall jacket. I’ve already worn it three or four times since I finished it last week,” says Gillian. She notes that she added a little bit of width to the sleeves, since she prefers a looser fit here.

Meg’s Butterick B6181 jacket
McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

Fabric: A floral poly blend from Paron’s with white poly georgette underlining
Ribbing: Black ribbing from Pacific Trim
Zipper: Pacific Trim’s own private label
Comments: “This is a fun jacket for me, since I have so few florals in my wardrobe. I can see wearing it as a layering piece in the spring,” Meg reports. She says in hindsight she’d use a zipper that zips from the top and the bottom, to better wear that half-zipped look. Note: Meg opted to use knit ribbing instead of the self-fabric elastic channels the pattern actually calls for.

Meg’s McCall’s M7100 jacket
McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along
McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

Fabric: Black poly satin from Paron’s with a navy lace from a store in NYC on W. 35th Street
Ribbing: Same black ribbing from Pacific Trims used for the floral bomber
Zipper: Private label zipper from Pacific Trims
Comments: “I made this jacket at the specific request of my daughter, who wanted me to knock off a Topshop bomber she really liked. I shortened the bodice by about an inch or so because my daughter prefers her bomber jackets to fit closer to her waist. The slim design of this pattern really works well for her taste, and she’s already worn this jacket several times since I finished it,” says Meg. [Thank you to Gillian for modeling this jacket here!]

If you’d like to see more M7100 and B6181 bomber jackets, join the Bomber Jacket Sew-Along Group on Facebook. Group members are turning out AMAZING jackets.

This post concludes the sew-along, though many people are still in the process of making their jackets and that’s fine. We will leave these posts up indefinitely, and the Facebook group will remain open for another month or so. And if you missed this sew-along, don’t worry, there will be another one in the spring. Suggestions for the next sew-along are welcome!

Up next: Sewing with velvet…


Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: Adding a Lining

McCall Pattern Company blog: Bomber Jacket Sew-AlongWe’ve already discussed some ways to make the inside of your bomber jacket look nice, but we haven’t yet addressed how to add a full lining. There are several reasons you might want to do this: to add warmth, to make the jacket smoother to put on, to add a fun contrasting fabric, or to avoid having to clean-finish the seam allowances. Adding the lining is actually pretty simple, and you can do it at the very end of the project after finishing everything else. So even if you weren’t planning on it originally, you can still change your mind!

For the most part the the lining pieces are cut the same as the outer jacket, but at center front you’ll need to trim away the width of the front facing. Do this by laying the facing piece on top of the jacket front, and drawing in the line where the facing ends. Then, move the line 1 1/4″ (3.2cm) closer to the front to allow for a seam allowance on both lining and facing.

Assemble the lining fronts, back, and sleeves, and (if using M7100) sew the sleeve dart. You will need to leave an opening somewhere to turn the jacket right side out; if you prefer to sew it closed by machine it’s best to leave the opening in the sleeve seam where it will not be visible. Leave about a 6″ (15cm) gap to make it easy to turn the jacket through the hole.

Sew the jacket lining to the shell and ribbing at the neck and lower edge

Flip the ribbing toward the inside of the jacket and sew the lining to the seam allowances at neckline and hem, right sides together and making sure all the layers match up at the seams and center back. (The ribbing will be sandwiched between the jacket shell and lining.) Stitch from the jacket side so you can sew right on top of your previous stitching, and stretch the ribbing slightly so the jacket and lining are smooth. Stop and backtack just before the seam allowance at each end so it will be free to sew the facing edges.

Leave a six inch opening in the lining to turn it out

Sew the lining to the two front facings. This gets a tiny bit tricky at the top and bottom of the zipper, so pin carefully to make sure everything stays smooth and there are no tucks or wrinkles. If you haven’t left an opening in the sleeve to turn the jacket, leave a 6″ (15cm) gap in the middle of one of the facing seams.

turn the jacket right side out through the opening

Turn the jacket right side out through the opening. Next we need to pull the lining sleeves through the jacket sleeves and attach them at the wrist.

fold the sleeve seam allowances down at the wrist

Turn the sleeve seam allowances to the inside at the wrist and match up the seams. Reach through the opening in the lining, between the jacket and lining layers, to pinch the seam allowances of both jacket and lining at the wrist (again, the ribbing will be sandwiched between the jacket and lining). Grip the layers firmly right next to the seam so that you’ll be able to see how they match up on the inside. Pull both layers out through the lining opening.

sew the lining to the cuff

Making sure the seam allowances on jacket, cuff, and lining are still lined up and that the lining isn’t twisted, pin or hand baste the layers together around the circumference of the cuff. Sew from the jacket side, right on top of the previous stitching, stretching slightly so it lies flat and being careful not to catch any extra layers in the stitching.

fell stitch the lining closed

Turn the sleeves right side out and close up the lining, either with an invisible hand stitch or by folding the two sides of the opening together and edgestitching. Finish any topstitching on the outside of the jacket.

the finished bomber jacket lining

The jacket lining is done! Tune in next week for the big reveal, and don’t forget you can share your own progress in the sew-along facebook group.

Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: Inserting the Zipper

McCall Pattern Company blog: Bomber Jacket Sew-AlongHi sew-alongers! Today we’re going to talk about inserting a front separating zipper on your bomber jacket. I’ll show how to shorten a zipper to the exact length you need, and share some of my favorite tips for a smooth, ripple-free insertion, plus a bonus tutorial for making the zippered pockets I added to my jacket.

Shortening a Zipper

I’ve gotten a lot of practice shortening zippers since I moved to NYC five or six years ago. Most of the stores around here sell zippers in one or two standard lengths. Many will cut them to size while you wait; unfortunately I rarely have my act together to know what length I need at the time of purchase, so I almost always end up doing it myself! If you’ve purchased the zipper to the exact size you need, you can ignore this bit. But if you’ve altered the pattern or couldn’t find the right size at your local store, read on.

I used zippers and stops purchased at Sil Thread in the NYC garment district, but you can also find the stops at Wawak, Zipperstop, Zippershipper, and elsewhere. Just make sure you get the correct size of stops for your zipper.

Remove zipper teeth with a good pair of wire cutters

For a separating jacket zipper, you’ll need to do any shortening from the top. Mark the desired zipper length, then open the zipper to well below the stopping point. Use a good pair of wire cutters to remove the teeth for about half an inch above the mark. Make sure to use eye protection in case the little bits go flying. (note – if you find yourself struggling with this, it’s not just you! This is the tricky part. Try bending the zipper tape to splay the teeth slightly and isolate the one you’re trying to grab. Once you’ve gotten the first tooth out, the rest should be easier.)

Use needle-nose pliers to attach a new stop at the top of the zipperNext, apply the new stopper. The easiest way I’ve found to do it is to grip the new stopper in your needle-nose pliers so that the opening faces toward the back of the pliers. Thread the zipper tape through the pliers behind the stopper, maneuver it into position, and clamp the stop in place. Repeat for the other side of the zipper, and you’re done! Just give the stoppers a little tug to make sure they’re secure before you try to close the zipper.

Inserting the zipper

interface the zipper area to help prevent stretching and rippling

When it comes time to insert the zipper (step 26 in the M7100 pattern, or step 4 in B6181) I like to pause and build a little extra stability into the jacket front. Cut a strip of lightweight fusible interfacing about an inch wide and the length of the jacket front and fuse it to the wrong side of the fabric over the center front seam allowance, or use a fusible stay tape placed right on the stitching line.

Before placing your zipper, determine how much of the zipper tape you would like to show next to your zipper teeth. This can be as little as 1/16″, or as much as 1/4″ or more depending on the size of your zipper. (Showing more tape might be desirable if you’ve chosen a decorative or contrasting zipper, or if you’re inserting piping or another narrow trim between the zipper and the jacket front). If showing more tape, you may wish to chalk the stitching line onto the zipper tape to ensure that it is accurate.


The pattern instructions suggest basting the zipper in place before attaching the zipper facing. I recommend that you do this by hand, especially if you’re using a stretchy crepe or knit, as machine basting (especially if you sew over pins) can result in stretching that will cause the finished zipper to ripple. While the interfacing or stay tape will help to prevent this, hand basting really doesn’t take that long and I prefer to have the extra layer of precaution.

separating zipper hand basted in place

Once the zipper is securely basted, you can continue with the zipper construction as directed in the pattern. On one half of the separating zipper you will be able to sew the zipper tape from end to end without stopping, but on the other half you will need to pause at some point and move the slider out of the way before continuing. If possible, do this with the needle down to avoid any wobbles or jags in the finished stitching, but if you have a bulky slider and are stitching very close to the zipper teeth this may not be possible. In that case, once you’ve moved the slider out of the way, use the hand wheel to lower the needle exactly on the stitching line before you drop the presser foot and continue.

Bonus tutorial: Adding zipper pockets

For my jacket, I decided I wanted zipper pockets instead of the welt pockets in the pattern. The pockets are placed right next to the seam, and require no changes to the pocket or jacket pieces although they’re sewn differently. (Again, I’m using M7100, so the pockets are inserted in the side front seam. You should be able to use the same method for the side seam pockets in B6181, however.)

applying a closed-end zipper stop

To do this you’ll need two closed-end zippers of the correct length for the pocket opening (mine were about six inches from stopper to stopper). I shortened the zippers using the same method described above, but finished with a two-sided bottom stopper to connect the zipper tapes.

place the pocket zipper slightly in from the stitching line

Interface the seam allowance where the zipper will go, as was done at center front. Place the zipper about 3/8″ in from the stitching line and stitch in place, starting and ending just beyond the stopper and backtacking for security.

Place the pocket on top of the zipper and sew from the back side

Place one half of the pocket on top of the zipper, right sides together and aligning the pocket markings, and sew from the back side right on top of the first line of stitching, starting and stopping at the same point.

Clip just the garment layer at an angle to the end of the stitching

Clip into the seam allowance on the garment layer only, angling your scissors out from the center of the pocket opening and stopping right at the end of the stitching.

Flip the zipper and pocket to the inside

Flip the zipper and pocket to the inside. At each end, press the triangular corner back at a right angle to create the square end of the pocket opening.

Add the other pocket layer and stitch around the rounded edge

Add the other pocket layer and stitch around the rounded edge, catching the triangular ends of the opening as you go.

baste the other side of the zipper in place

On the outside, baste the other side of the zipper to the inner layer of the pocket. Measure the seam allowance to make sure the stitching line is the correct distance from the zipper teeth, and trim as necessary. Now you can sew the seam.

Finished zipper pocket

The finished seam-adjacent zipper pocket.