Friday, March 15, 2013

Out of Africa: The Safari Jacket

The Safari Jacket, one of my favorite fashion staples, has been around for the past hundred years. Modeled after British military uniforms for warm climates, it is characterized by light colored khaki twill fabric, shoulder epaulets and lots of cargo patch pockets. The light color kept the individual cool and the pockets allowed the wearer to carry along lots of extra things. First popularized by the Anglo-American adventurers and Ernest Hemingway, it was chiefly a menswear item introduced to women's wardrobes and transformed into the height of fashion in 1968 thanks to legendary designer, Yves Saint Laurent and his "Rive Gauche" label.
In the previous post, I showed you how to create a basic jacket using the bodice slopers. And that's where we will begin. The only thing you will do differently is to extend the jacket at the front by 1/2 inch from the CF line. On your left side of the jacket. Fold the edge over, stitch. Turn the jacket to the right side and top stitch. (This simulates the front plackets.) After you have created that jacket, we only need to add the details which will transform it into the safari jacket.

For the epaulets, I take a narrow bit of fabric and fold into thirds. Glue the strip together. You will fold over the ends and hand sew in place after the rest of the jacket has been completed.

Let's make the pockets. Again cut a narrow rectangular strip of fabric and fold in half. Stitch this 1/4 from the edge, then press it so that it creates a box pleat. Turn the edges under and glue. For the breast pockets which are smaller, make one narrow strip. Fold in half and machine stitch close to the edge. Turn right side up and again, cut two small squares. Fold the edges under and glue. Be careful that the two breast pockets are the same size and the two larger pockets are also equal. Pin your pockets in place and glue to the jacket.

Let's add a collar. Cut another rectangle about 1/2 inch long and the width of the neck opening plus an 1/8 inch on both sides. Fold the outer edges under and glue. Then pin this rectangle flat to the inside of the neck. Be sure to adjust the rectangle so that it is pretty much equal in height at all points at the neck. Stitch down. Now add your epaulets to the shoulders, hand stitching them in place.

I add "buttons." In this case, I've used bead caps here, But you can use tiny beads. It is important the buttons are in scale.

Typically, safari jackets are not lined. At this point, however, it will look a bit rough in the front of the collar. That is why it is important to glue the layers flat. To further disguise the rough edges and stitches around the neck, I've used a product called "Seams Great" by Dritz, a 1/2 inch sheer seam tape. Cut to fit the inner neckline and glue the tape down.

I cut pants using the pant sloper which I have made 1/2 inch narrower. Add a belt. Push up the sleeves. Let's head out on an African safari!!!

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  1. Wow, these are so great!! Thank you for the step-bt-step pattern formation and finished product. I love what you did with the safari jacket. Where did you find such buttons??
    The way the collar is tailored, laying flat againt such a very small creation is impressive indeed. Not to mention the well formed, very flat pockets which stay close to the jacket, without bulge.

    The miniscule straight pins you are using, seem to serve perfectly for tucking and fixing drapes into place. The finished garment is so perfect that it carries an air of an actual life-size finished garment.


    1. Thank you, Olympia, for your kind words. The secret to making the finishing details work so well is...fabric glue. That will allow you to get seams and details really flat. The pins are "applique pins" which you can find at your local crafts store. With regard to the buttons, go to places that sell products for jewelry making. I used filagree bead caps on the jacket. Tiny beads can work just as well.


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