Dress in 5 minutes coordinates: layering pieces

The Eileen Fisher summer 2010 ‘system’ is a small group of garments which are interchangeable. So you don’t have to think while getting dressed. This post is about the layering pieces (earlier posts were about the tops and bottoms).

The starting point , the ‘system’ which inspired this series of posts, has already disappeared from the Eileen Fisher site. But it’s still full of ideas about how to co-ordinate a small group of clothes.

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Layering pieces


Those are the ‘system’ photos. The flat presentation doesn’t show the styles very clearly, so here are the modelled versions.


– cropped jacket with dolman cap sleeves, high collar, ties, in sequin stretch knit silk.
– cropped cardigan with banded collar, elbow length sleeves, in cotton linen textured double knit.
– shaped jacket with high collar, double layer front placket, shaped waist, flared hem,. in linen jersey.

Light airy summer cover-ups, they look different because they have different body and sleeve lengths and necklines. But they’re easily interchangeable because they’re all have :
– closely similar colour,
– similar fabric type – knits (though with very different textures),
– similar slim silhouette.

There’s a bit of difference in style elements. The vest has a wide neck band close to the neck. The cropped jacket has a narrow neck band on a wider neckline. The longer jacket has a continuous strip band along front and neckline. Only the ‘vest’ has an obvious closure.

It’s the special fabrics which make these very simple garments look luxurious.

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Cropped cut-on sleeve ‘vest’ with tie fastening

I haven’t found any knit patterns close to this. But there are some that could be easy to adapt.

For example, cut down a pattern for a cut-on sleeve knit top such as Butterick 5248. Add a band collar if you like.


For wovens, a clear possibility would be to shorten Burda 7588.


And prepare for the Fall season. This is a short summer version of the shape of the big fake fur vests which are in the Fall collections.

The fur vest in Butterick 5069 (below) vest pattern has a v-neck. McCall’s 5983 has a round neck version in a wardrobe pattern.


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Short sleeved cropped open front jacket, wide neck with band

Cropped jackets with band collars are another theme that continues in the Fall collections.

Again I didn’t find a knit pattern that is very similar, but there are ones which could easily be adapted. Such as the top from the McCall’s 5891 Palmer-Pletsch wardrobe of casuals.


It’s easier to find patterns for these ‘little’ jackets in woven fabrics. The nearest is perhaps Burda 8516. Again shorten the body and sleeves, and add a narrow band collar.


There are also several jackets with similar proportions but more shaped and structured styling, such as Vogue 8398.


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Band edge long sleeved longer jacket

Eileen Fisher describes this jacket as having a shaped waist, but that isn’t obvious from the photos. Add a little waist shaping to the patterns if you like.

There are several knit patterns in this soft style, with a band round the front edge.

Jalie 2919 is for a pleat front knit cardigan.


Butterick 5398 is part of a knit wardrobe. With small pattern changes, this pattern could make a wardrobe quite like the Eileen Fisher one.


For wovens I think this jacket looks close to Connie Crawford’s Butterick 5053, which is simple to make.


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These layers work as alternatives – they all go equally well with the all outfits that can be made from the tops and bottoms.

Why are these Eileen Fisher layering pieces interchangeable ? They all have the same colour, and the same fabric type : knits. They also have the same overall slim silhouette. I think that using the same colour and the same fabric type makes for easy co-ordinates, but they aren’t essential. It’s using different main shapes that makes co-ordination more difficult – not impossible, but more difficult.

I found I had so much to say on this, I’m planning a separate post on it.

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Patterns and links available July 2010
The Eileen Fisher site changes from month to month, so in the long term it’s not useful to give links to it.

Explore posts in the same categories: co-ordinates, Eileen Fisher, wardrobe planning

6 Comments on “Dress in 5 minutes coordinates: layering pieces”

  1. Lakshmi Says:

    I have linked to your site on my blog for a section I have started as discovering blogs, where I share with my readers, some of the useful blogs I come across. Your blog is such a knowledge haven for patterns. Thanks.

    • sewingplums Says:

      Many thanks Lakshmi, I’m delighted to hear these posts are helpful for people who draft their own patterns.
      Many of us who have easy access to commercial patterns are in awe of people who can draft their own 😀

  2. ejvc Says:

    Nice post as usual Lisanne! There is a real dearth of nice knit jacket/cardigan patterns from the usual suspects. How about the bolero pattern from Vogue for the first cardigan? 8622. Has a kind of a similar feel, I think, and I’m pretty sure it would look nice in a drapey knit. I’m also loving the cropped 8522 jacket. Sigh. So many possibilities.

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks for the interesting suggestions Elizabeth. I tried to pick patterns like the EF styles, which are light knits with fitted shoulders. I know you like cut-on sleeves, and they work well on your square shoulders.

      There’s a bolero in the new patterns issue, Vogue 8673, with fitted shoulders. That would be better for my sloping shoulders. Except boleros aren’t good on my short waist and high hips. Another way that our shapes are different !

      Most of the knit jackets these days have cascade fronts – do you like them ?

      • ejvc Says:

        Cascade fronts I am suspicious of, mainly because I think they will date very quickly and I’m a conservative dresser. I kind of like them on, actually.

      • sewingplums Says:

        Ah well, I had my first, John Anthony Vogue 1387 pattern, in 1985.

        The front drape panel is cut as a subtly shaped separate piece on the bias. Much more sophisticated pattern making than most modern designs. From then onwards that was my ‘top professional’ suit jacket – without the huge shoulder pads. . . (There was another by him too – V 1577)

        And I have a couple of Carol Horn Simplicity patterns from 1990.

        The noticeable difference is the old patterns have those huge shoulders, the collars are much the same as now.

        So I think of the cascade style as a ‘casual classic’ 😀 Though they don’t appear in any of the pattern making instruction books I’ve got, which are about the same age.

        Perhaps it’s because they suit my soft unstructured style so well that I’ve been noticing them more !

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