Susan Khalje Shares Her Latest Sewing Tip – Closing a Classic French Jacket

The most straight-forward way to close a Classic French Jacket is with hooks and eyes, right along the center front.

They speak to the symmetry of the jacket – the front edges simply abut. And they’re quick and easy to apply.

It’s better to use slightly larger hooks (pictured); smaller ones catch all too easily on loosely-woven fabrics.

You’ll want to place one set right at the fullest part of the bust, another set at the top of the center front seamline, and then divide the rest evenly. If there’s quite a distance between the top of the jacket and the fullest part of the bust (or if the fabric seems to need a bit of support), then you might want two sets between the bust line and the neck edge. Otherwise, one set is probably fine. Just continue the same spacing down the front of the jacket. It’s up to you how far to continue them – usually the final one is quite close to the bottom of the center front.

If you’re right-handed, you’ll want the hook on the right side of the jacket and the eye on the left side.

As for the order of operations, you’ll attach the hooks and eyes first, then the trim, then the lining.

When you sew on the hooks, use doubled thread, coated with beeswax. Happily, your stitches will be covered by the trim and lining, so you’re going more for strength than perfect stitches. Line up the edge pf the hook (or eye) along the fold of the fabric. Then place your stitches so that they’re at the back of the hooks and eyes; that way, when they’re pulled towards the edge of the jacket (which they will be), they won’t slip forward at all. Be sure to bury your stitches in both layers of fabric (the seam allowance as well as the fashion fabric). And put a few stitches to either side of the hooks and eyes as well, up near the center front fold; you don’t want them sliding around or shifting from side to side. And when the time comes to attach the lining, you’ll be able to camouflage all of that work – the lining will cover most of the metal as well as all of your stitches.

Yes, these jackets can button, but as you can imagine, it’s difficult to do bound buttonholes successfully and securely on such loosely-woven fabrics. So that leaves hand-worked buttonholes, which take quite a bit of experience to master. Yes, it’s certainly something you can learn, but badly-made hand-worked buttonholes can ruin a jacket. And that’s something you want to avoid. In the case of a jacket with hand-worked buttonholes, the lining, logically, has the bound buttonholes.

Also, buttons and buttonholes down the center front of a jacket do throw off the symmetry (which abutting edges fastened with hooks and eyes do not), and with a particularly thick fabric, an overlap down the front might add unwanted bulk.

– large hooks and eyes

– back of the hook sewn in place first – sides of the hook sewn in place

– lining covering the hook

– illustration of hook and eye placement