September 1, 2023

Cashmerette Club: Meet the Catskills Jacket, the Club pattern for September!

Back by popular demand, a vintage-style design inspired by Claire McCardell! We’ve partnered up with Julie Eilber once again to bring you the Catskills Jacket, a timeless bias-cut topper. Join Cashmerette Club for as little as $9 USD to get this pattern.

Many of us curvy sewists love vintage looks, but they can be hard to find in curvy-friendly sizing. So we’re excited to bring another vintage patterns in your size that pairs beautifully with a variety of vintage and contemporary looks.

Fans of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will recognize the phrase “we’re going to the Catskills!” and this jacket is typical of the casual, easy “American Look” style of that era. In the 1950s, you’d see cotton and linen jackets like this at summer beach and mountain resorts. During the winter, Claire McCardell—an intrepid skier herself—would wear this style in a hearty menswear plaid at resorts in the Alps.

The Catskills Jacket is bias-cut with a gorgeous drape and features French darts. It’s unlined and finished with sophisticated French seams, and features grown-on sleeves in three lengths. Dress up your Catskills in a special silk or dress it down in a casual cotton for a timeless look that never goes out of style.

The Catskills comes in sizes 0-32 and cup sizes C-H is is available exclusively to Cashmerette Club members. Not a member yet? Join today for as little as $9 (cancel anytime).

Jenny is wearing View A in a size 18 E/F. Her measurements are 43″ high bust, 47″ full bust, 39″ waist, and 44″ hips, and she is 5′ 6″.

Julie is wearing View B in a size 12 E/F graded to a 16 waist. Her measurements are 38″ high bust, 41″ full bust, 37″ waist, and 45.5″ hips, and she is 5′ 5″.

Julie is wearing View C in a size 12 E/F graded to a 16 waist. 

Meet Julie Eilber, designer and fashion historian

Julie Eilber is a writer, fashion historian, and sewing expert known for her irreverent blog Jet Set Sewing, as well as her presentations for the Museum of Modern Art and the Balenciaga museum in Spain.

She learned to sew as a child, and in her teens and 20s sewed her way through patterns by designers like Betsey Johnson, Anne Klein, and Halston. After a career as a television writer/producer, she returned to sewing, blogging about her exploits as she attempted to sew vintage patterns by Chanel, Charles James, Schiaparelli, Madame Gres, and other famous designers. Her work caught the attention of Bernina of America, and as a Bernina ambassador she’s created tutorials and articles for their website.

Several years ago, Julie began researching the life and work of legendary American designer Claire McCardell, and then re-created several of her famous designs. The process of making and wearing McCardell’s garments was so illuminating that Julie sought a way to share the timeless designs with sewing enthusiasts around the world. Now, thanks to her collaboration with Cashmerette, her dream has become a reality.

(Want to get our past collaborations with Julie, the Rockwell Dress and Caroll Shrug? Join Cashmerette Club at the All Access level to get these patterns plus tons more.)

Who was Claire McCardell?

Midcentury American designer Claire McCardell became a legend for creating what she called “clothes that move.” She’s known for pioneering easy, flowing dresses, wrap dresses (like her famous “Pop-Over”), ballet flats, jersey mix-and-match separates, hoodies, denim jackets, and playful activewear—all radical designs in their time that are everywhere now!

Claire McCardell in her studio. Photo courtesy of Julie Eilber, all rights reserved.

Claire McCardell is considered one of the giants of American design, and her clothes are featured in many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum at FIT.

The cut of the Catskills Jacket—on the bias with cut-on sleeves and French darts—was one that McCardell used frequently for jackets and bodices from the 30s through the 50s. When fabric is cut on the bias, woven fabric becomes stretchy, making these light unlined jackets as easy to wear as a cardigan.

The longer sleeved version of the jacket is inspired by McCardell’s travel separates. Nowadays you can find cardigan jackets, skirts, tops, and pants that can be mixed and matched, but back in the 30s were they so radical that McCardell couldn’t convince stores to sell them! She also pioneered using menswear fabrics such as suiting and tartan for women’s jackets.

The short-sleeved version is inspired by McCardell’s 1940s-50s playsuits developed for active women to wear while biking or playing at the beach. During World War II, many fabrics were rationed, so she used humble cottons cut on the bias for easy dresses and chic separates. McCardell also chose wool jersey for her playsuits, and even created soft jackets like this from jersey or sweater knits.

In the photo below, Claire (on the right) is wearing a satin halter dress with a short wrap jacket over it to receive the Coty Award in the mid-40s. The length and simplicity of the design reflect the fabric rationing happening during World War II. The model is wearing a (daring for the era) summer outfit made of brown linen, also designed by McCardell.

Photo courtesy of Julie Eilber, all rights reserved.

The 1951 bias-cut jacket with matching skirt below, made from cotton, shows McCardell’s genius at manipulating menswear fabrics for a practical yet feminine look. And, of course, it sports her famous deep pockets, which have topstitching inspired by French workwear jackets.

McCardell almost always put cut-in sleeves or large stovepipe sleeve in her jackets—possibly because they were faster and easier to manufacture that traditional set-in sleeves.

Photo courtesy of Julie Eilber, all rights reserved.

Meet the Catskills Jacket

Sew a timeless layering piece you’ll love to wear all year long! Designed for curves, comfort, and style, the Catskills features:

  • A bias-cut design that creates a gorgeous drape
  • Curve-friendly French darts and cup sizes C-H
  • Grown-on sleeves in three lengths
  • Unlined interior that’s finished with beautiful French seams
  • Faced hem that hits at high hip
  • Three views: View A features full length sleeves and 5 buttons and thread loops, View B features bracelet length sleeves and 5 buttons and thread loops, and View C features short elasticated sleeves and 8 hooks and eyes

The Catskills is rated advanced beginner. Sew your Catskills with ease thanks to our free step-by-step video sewalong hosted by Mari of Sew Happy.

The Catskills Jacket is designed for light- to medium-weight wovens or stable knits such as wool suiting, boiled wool, wool jersey, linen, or chambray. The bias structure of these cardigan jackets is not meant to be tightly fitted, and the grown-on sleeves will feature soft folds at the shoulder for ease of movement.

Jenny is wearing a long-sleeved Catskills Jacket in a viscose and wool boucle suiting. Julie is wearing a bracelet length-sleeved version in medium weight striped wool suiting, and a short-sleeved version in lightweight plaid linen.

Fabric Requirements and Finished Garment Measurements

Here are the fabric requirements for the Catskills Jacket:

And here are the finished garment measurements:

15% off at Emma One Sock

Our friends at Emma One Sock want to help you create your dream Catskills with 15% off your next order, exclusively for Cashmerette Club members!

Emma One Sock is an online fabric shop that carries tons of incredible pieces that are all high-quality designer fabrics. They’re based in Pennsylvania and ship anywhere in the world.

Members—you can head to the Club dashboard to get this Club-exclusive discount code. Not a member? Sign up today!

Also New in the Club this Month: Masterclass & Live Event

Club members in the Plus and All Access tiers get a new fitting masterclass every month! This month, Jenny is sharing her foolproof fitting checklist to help you answer that pesky question, “why doesn’t it fit?!” Bring your latest fitting quandary and get ready to uncover the step-by-step method to sorting out good fit.

Plus and All Access members also get access to this month’s live event. This month, Jenny will be joined by fashion historian Julie Eilber to talk all things bias! Bias-cut garments can be some of the most lovely, more deliciously drapey creations, but sewing on the bias has its challenges. But have no fear: Julie is armed with her top tips to help you breeze through your bias projects.

Head to the Club dashboard to learn more and register to attend. Can’t make it live? This event will be recorded and shared with members afterward.

We can’t wait to see what you make with this pattern! Join Cashmerette Club today to download the Catskills Jacket and get started sewing instantly.

(Joining after September 2023? You’ll need to sign up at the All Access level to get the Catskills Jacket.)

Let me know what you think!