Chestnut and Fern



Christiane Edel


Outline the story …

In the woods not far from us stands a beautiful sweet chestnut tree who’s bark spirals around the stem, giving it an unusual character. There is a special beauty in the weird things in life and it always makes me smile when I pass it on my walks.
Another inspiration was an amazing 1890s jacket with a built-in waistcoat in the Emily P. Reynolds Historic Costume Collection. However, I did not want to replicate this jacket, as I wanted a garment that could be worn in daily life, so I opted for a history-bounding approach. My waistcoat- panel is set in with open-end zips, making it removable and also easier to open and close the jacket (although the buttons are fully functional).
Finally, this will replace a jacket and skirt ensemble that I have worn for many years, but which doesn’t fit me anymore. It was made from the same type of cotton needle cord and I will make a matching skirt at a later date.
While the selection of the main fabric was an easy choice, I couldn’t find with what I wanted for the lapel. In the end I got very lucky at a certain Scandinavian furniture store, and I actually prefer this to my original idea.

Outline the construction…

I wanted to use a subtle approach to translate the look of the bark to fabric, as I did not want the garment to look too much like a costume.
After playing around with a scrap of fabric, I decided to enhance the texture of the needle cord with very fine tucks and pieces of yarn, couched down with a zig-zag stitch. To get the sense of a spiralling bark, I wanted to use the fabric on the bias, so I flatlined everything with cotton poplin, cut in the correct grain direction.
For the pattern, I turned to the Keystone Guide for drafting instructions and developed the design from there, via numerous mock-ups. Just to figure out the best size of the puff for the sleeves took about five tries!
The front and collar are supported with canvas and pad-stitched. There is also some padding in the front to smooth out the shape. Being able to re-watch the relevant workshops was a huge help!
The lining (not shown) is stitched into place by hand rather than using the modern bagging-out method. This project also gave me the opportunity to use the vintage buttonhole-maker I got for my straight-stitch treadle machine and I love the result.




  1. Avatar Effi Effi Benalue on April 27, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    I like your jacket very much! It looks quiet cozy, perfect for autumn 😀 I can imagine this piece in modern live as well as part of a whole garment! Great!

  2. Avatar Joey on April 27, 2023 at 9:33 pm

    I absolutely loved this, probably my favourite piece in the whole competition. So inspiring

  3. Avatar Y'hanna Perez-Ortiz on May 1, 2023 at 9:35 pm

    I really like the cut and fit of the jacket. I’ve never seen one with a built-in/removable waistcoat. The lighter fabric used for the collar and waistcoat complement the darker color of the jacket well.

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