Italy is coming to Devon! (Well a little bit of it!)

In my last post I mentioned I might make another jacket. “Oh no, not another Jacket” I hear you cry! well I’m afraid so. I have made many different Jackets and coats, both for myself and for other people: English, Tweed, Wool, Linen, Velvet, peaked lapel, notched lapel, lined, part-lined, mens and ladies. To this day though, I have never made one of my favourite jackets.

Step forward Italy, more precisely Naples. I shall be making a Neapolitan jacket.

Let me explain…… I love Italy, the county, weather, food, drink and style. I have been lucky to visit on many occasions and the one thing that always strikes me is the clothing, both male and female. Similar to France, especially in Paris, Italy presents beautiful designer clad women, elegant and alluring: The men look sharp, professional and stylish but with the little continental twist of ‘relax’ and Naples is probably why.

Italy has a renowned tailoring tradition but a small group of artisan tailors in Naples changed the rule book and the Neapolitan style was born.

So what is the difference? Typically, English and American jackets are very formal with impeccable fit and structure. The Neapolitan jacket is certainly not formal although has its own formality. It is designed and made to live in and to be lived in. The jacket is minimally structured and lightweight (suitable for the hot Italian climate) but it is still tailored to fit well.

‘Sprezzatura’ is what the Italians call it: Nonchalance for you and I. The jacket is defined by many ‘nonchalant’ features. Features such as the soft shoulder: It is not heavily padded (actually very often has no padding at all!) but more akin to a shirt shoulder or ‘spalla camicia’. The seam is folded back towards the jacket to lie on the shoulder as a shirt sleeve seam is. This allows the fabric to follow the shoulder line and fall naturally.

The other typically Neapolitan feature is the sleeve head. You might have noticed in the picture above, it has puckers/pleats/shirrs or whatever you want to call them! Yep the sleeve head is cut bigger and fitted to the arm scythe making lovely pleats in top of the shoulders. (I am sure many will revolt but I love it)

It is funny but in all my years of sewing I have always tried hard to set-in sleeves without any kinks, puckers, pleats and now I want to do the opposite!

So what else does the Neapolitan jacket have to offer? Well I said it was lightweight, generally unlined or only partially lined (again something I have not really done. I always fully line jackets). The jacket is minimally structured; minimal interfacing and certainly no heavyweight canvas between layers. The gorge line is generally higher than the English cousin (the gorge line is where the top of the lapel meets the collar) and the collar is a little higher.

Lapels are a little wider and not always pressed but more loosely rolled towards the body and the entire shape of the jacket is very streamlined with a cinched waist and high arm scythe. A very typical Neapolitan feature is with the pockets. The ‘Barchetta’ or ‘little boat’ welt breast pocket is  beautiful. Curved like a little boat! Definitely not an easy task compared to a straight welt pocket!

The lower pockets are usually patch pockets called ‘tasca a pignata’ and have a very distinctive shape. Tapered sides with a rounded bottom similar to a brandy glass (roughly translated  tasca a pignata means pocket of cooking pot)

So my next post will show the complete make of this iconic style of jacket. I cannot claim to be making a Neapolitan jacket but a Neapolitan ‘style’ jacket. The tailors of Naples all have their own differences and style tweaks but follow roughly the same style ideas.

My jacket will be a ‘Devonopolitan’ version. I will take the ideas I like from the various Sartoria of Naples and put them into my make. I will have the soft shoulders, lightweight construction and pignata patch pockets. I will try to make the barchetta welt breast pocket and will definitely go for the true Naples style.

So I have made a start and drafted the pattern pieces…

The next step….Make it and blog about the adventure. Watch this space for my next tutorial on how to make a classic Italian (Devonian) masterpiece!

Until next time…..Happy sewing

9 thoughts on “Italy is coming to Devon! (Well a little bit of it!)”

  1. I like these jackets. I"m not a big 'stuffed' suit wear'er. I prefer jackets that are comfortable, easy to move in and not so saville row over paded, handstitched stiff jackets. Clothing should be comfortable and especially today when were suits for a man is no longer the norm. So I am looking forward to see your completed jacket including the steps. I have always been a big fan of what i call bringing some of the softness of women's wear to traditional menswear.

  2. Forgot to add, I love Italy, the sunny south and especially sicily. The dry warm sun is wonderful for the bones and skin and it gets cool, with no snow that you can still wear winter clothing.

  3. I am also looking forward to seeing this jacket come to life! I am still sitting on a jacket for my husband…can't seem to get behind the pattern fitting stage.

  4. This post has inspired me to take a stab at making a jacket in the Neapolitan style. I have an older men's vogue pattern from the 90's that would be perfect for it, and I can work on my construction techniques. I was just on youtube looking at videos on how the jackets are tailored and for me i love the idea of little to no interfacing in the jacket. Wow!

    1. I think the basic jacket pattern – Vogue V8097 will work well. I am also considering V2852. The tweeks I will need to make are
      1. Adding Sleeve vents that open, with functioning buttonholes and overlapping buttons
      2. Back Vent on the Center or sides
      3. Partial Lining and redrafting the facings – with pockets
      4. Developing the "boat shaped" breast pocket
      5. Looking at the sleeve cap and taking the ease and litely gathering it in.
      I think you get the picture, just all the details that go into a Neapolitan style jacket. I will also look at using hand stitching to achieve that nice top stitching on the pockets.

      I am going to look for a true inspiration jacket for my project to make sure I get all the details right. I was also told i should purchase a nice panama hat.

    2. V8097 will definitely work.
      1. Easy to do. Add 6×3 inch from the bottom of lower and upper sleeve (check its the right seam) My blog when finished should help
      2. Side vents. As for 1 add to back sides and side piece
      3. Make the facings 2 inch wider internally and add a Barcelona internal pocket
      4. This has been my biggest challenge so far but think I have done it. Check next post
      5. I added 1/4 inch more seam from about half way up/down the cap blending in.

      If top stitching I recommend getting some silk thread and run it through beeswax (pressed between paper) then half back stitch.

      Panama hat is a must!

      Look forward to seeing your final piece. Are you going to blog this?

  5. Jamie, I am going to look at a couple of other vogue patterns that I found last nite. V2800 and V2616. I might go with 2616 since it has a modern look to it and I might make up the jacket and the pants with it. I have to do a muslin for the jacket to make sure I address any fitting issues. Normally, in the past with Vogue and Burda, I don't have any issues with sizing but I am just downsizing my body from 15-20 yrs of weight training so in the past have been reluctant to make make a jacket. I realize this project is going to take me a bit of time.

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