Butterick 5616: DIY Bleached Denim Jacket

Butterick 5616 bleached denim jacket. Worn with McCalls 7745 polka dot wrap skirt and a white Grainline Archer shirt

Hi Everyone,

Today’s post relates to a denim jacket that I made a couple of months ago, using Butterick 5616. A me-made denim jacket has been on my to-sew list for a couple of years now, so I am glad I finally got it ticked off. There are quite a few different jeans jackets patterns around, but I went for this Butterick one largely because it has the front princess seams, which meant I could easily do a FBA. Most jeans jackets don’t have front princess seams: instead they have that triple piece panelling in front, and I just couldn’t see how to adjust the bust fit easily. Plus I didn’t want too boxy a fit.

Butterick 5616 bleached denim jacket. Worn with McCalls 7745 polka dot wrap skirt and a white Grainline Archer shirt

To be fair, this jacket has already been worn quite a lot. And I do like it. But….there is still something off with it. When I started this jacket, it started as a very dark indigo denim (see a before picture here). I decided, as I was getting to the end of sewing it, that it looked awful. So I threw the finished jacket in a bucket full of thin bleach solution (1:1 bleach: water) for 20 minutes and bleached it. Prior to the bleaching, I also used some sandpaper to add some distressing. You can see from the before picture the bleaching was very effective, but…I don’t know if I should have another go and it could perhaps go down another couple of shades? And maybe a little more distressing? Possibly….

Butterick 5616 bleached denim jacket. Worn with McCalls 7745 polka dot wrap skirt and a white Grainline Archer shirt
Butterick 5616 bleached denim jacket. Worn with McCalls 7745 polka dot wrap skirt and a white Grainline Archer shirt

I will be honest; this jacket was a pretty challenging make. My sewing machine didn’t particularly love the thicker parts of the flat fell seams and initially I was a little disappointed at some of the thread nests inside the jacket. But, on reflection, it’s not soooo bad…in this case, done is better than perfect.  BTW, I did overlock the front yoke seam and the armhole seams.

Butterick 5616 bleached denim jacket.
Butterick 5616 bleached denim jacket.
Butterick 5616 bleached denim jacket.
Butterick 5616 bleached denim jacket.
Butterick 5616 bleached denim jacket.

Pattern Review

Pattern Description:

Very loose-fitting jackets A, B, C, D, in three lengths, have princess seams, front and back yokes, slightly forward shoulder, buttoned fronts and topstitch trim. A, B: Below waist, patch pockets with buttoned flaps, three-quarter length sleeves with buttoned cuffs. A: Stand-up collar. B: Collar, topstitched band at lower edge. C: Hip-length, collar, patch pockets and cap sleeves finished with bias tape. D: Hip-length, sleeveless, collar, patch pockets with flaps and armholes finished with bias tape.

The description doesn’t make mention of the fact that there are two piece sleeves.

I made view B.

Pattern Sizing:

6 – 22

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?


Were the instructions easy to follow?

The instructions are ok…but they will not tell you how to finish the seams or do flat fell seams, which are the traditional way to construct and finish a denim jacket like this.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Unlike most traditional denim jackets, I like the fact that there are princess seams in the front which I used to do a FBA. I like the finished jacket, although I am debating whether to bleach/ distress a little more. I don’t know if I love the cuff opening treatment. Adding an extension there might have been nicer?

Fabric Used:

A dark denim which I bleached to a mid colour using a thin bleach solution 1:1 bleach: water for 20 minutes after I had finished sewing (and topstitching) the jacket.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

  • 0.5 inch full bust adjustment
  • 0.5 inch sway back adjustment (adding removed length back to lower hem of jacket)
  • 0.5 inch full arm adjustment
  • Lengthened sleeve by 1 inch

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I don’t know if I need another of these jackets anytime soon, but never say never. Yes, I recommend.


A wardrobe staple which you can make your own in so many ways. A great pattern to have in the stash.

See you soon friends.

Butterick 5616 bleached denim jacket. Worn with McCalls 7745 polka dot wrap skirt and a white Grainline Archer shirt


Posted by

By day I work in the exciting world of pharmaceutical regulatory affairs, registering medicines (!), but by night I turn in to a sewing diva, making all manner of clothes in my beautiful sewing space (which you can tour using the link at the top of this blog). I love how sewing and sewing clothes that fit my curvy body continually challenges me. I enjoy working with all different types of fabric, and whilst I don't like to put restrictions on myself and say I won't buy RTW, the truth is that I probably rarely do buy it, preferring the fit of my own me-made clothes. I love to use natural fibres where ever possible and colourful coats are an obsession of mine! Sewing is both my addiction and my therapy. You can contact me at sewmanju@yahoo.co.uk

37 thoughts on “Butterick 5616: DIY Bleached Denim Jacket

  1. It looks terrific. I’ve been thinking about making one (never had an rtw denim jacket that fit properly across the bust!) and it’s inspiring to see how well this turned out. IMO no more distressing is needed. With wear, and if it’s just washed many times the denim will naturally age well.

    1. Thanks Beth. I loved the IDEA of dark denim; but I love the bleached look far more. It’s nice to be able to control the level of bleach myself too.

  2. All that topstitching! Well done. I do like your look in these ‘younger’ casual pieces, like this jacket and your bibs.

    1. Thanks Abbey. Yep. It’s a shame the warm weather seems to have disappeared for us. The skirt might not get much more wear until next summer 😦

  3. If you have to add some more bleaching, you can add it to areas where it would normally lighten up by painting on the bleach solution in those areas. Or you can just wear it because I think it looks amazing as it is. Great job on the jacket!

  4. Beautiful work on this tough pattern & fabric!!!
    If you’re wishing for a more faded look (like the wrong side of the fabric) I’d say bleach it again! Otherwise, leave it to mellow “naturally.” 😉 Lovely, lovely work!

  5. Wow, really nice! it looks so professional which I’m sure was difficult with the thinkness of the seams.

  6. I like it just as it is. I wouldn’t attempt another round of bleaching. My machine doesn’t like top stitching denim. What If found a good workaround was using double regular poly thread in the needle. I got the visible top stitching I wanted without as much stress on my machine.

  7. A simple carpenter’s hammer will tame those thick, denim seam intersections for you. Sew your first pass, then take the item outside and whack at the thick bits with a hammer. This action will soften the fibers and condense them, so that the pesky too-thick bits are flattened enough to glide under your presser foot without breaking needles and snarling thread.

    Got to love a hobby where beating things with a hammer is an accepted practice. Woodworkers shouldn’t have all the fun.

  8. May I ask, what would an extension be on the sleeve? Would it be more like the sleeve on a trench coat, with that little epaulet sort of thing that goes round the cuff?

  9. Your denim jacket looks wonderful. I agree that bleaching improved it. I just finished a denim skirt and found that hammering the seams before sewing as well as a jeans needle which is a bit longer and has a very sharp point, helped immensely with the top stitching.

  10. This looks like such a useful piece to have in your wardrobe for weekends – the paler colour makes it more modern, I think, and more distressing would fit with that, but I’m in two minds about going lighter with it. Plus I’m impressed you flat-felled all those seams so neatly.

  11. I am reading this entry a long time after, but it was helpful to know that this pattern can accommodate an FBA, so I appreciate your review. I haven’t done an FBA before with the princess seam going into the front yoke (if I have that right). Is that difficult? I guess I’ll find out!
    Cheers, Sarah

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