20 July 2009

Which Way is the Wind Blowing? (Jackets)

Actually, the wind is calm today. Nice and not too breezy. As for sewing, it's blowing toward my first jacket. I know, I know. What about the blouse? Remember Ma and how you were so eager to show her it fit? Yes, I do. And, I will. Right now, my focus has shifted drastically (sadly?) away from the blouse. I am working on bodices, though, so that's still a good thing. After having success with fitting the maxi dress, I decided to return to fitting jackets - a feat that I attempted to master several years ago.

Why now? I'm in Shannon Gifford's Stitch 'N Flip class on Pattern Review. I have been meaning to take this class for a year now. I hesitated doing so because I did not have a jacket that fit properly. As with the woven blouse, I went through a number of patterns and countless yards of muslin.

Some time ago, I started working on McCall's 5859.
I was so inspired by the wonderful versions I saw on Pattern Review that I had to try it myself. Well, this pattern is not for everyone. Even though the short sleeves are really cute, they do not at all flatter full arms. Because I have been trying to tone my biceps, these sleeves just do not look right.

The long sleeves are just not long enough. 3/4 length sleeves, again, don't look flattering because of my height. The un-hemmed length stops right at the fullest part of my torso. Not cute.

Add to that the issue of getting the jacket to fit right and you have a recipe for lots of swearing. I got the bodice to fit, but as soon as I inserted those sleeves...

The jacket class started on 6 July and here I was, on Tuesday 14 July, frustrated and behind. Way, behind. At the point, I thought that I could go to one of the other jacket patterns that I tried. Even though I had all the pieces, I made so many changes to their un-traced papers, that rescue was definitely possible, but not likely.

I raided my pattern stash and found New Look 6508.
It's an out of print pattern from 2005. It was fresh and uncut.
The jacket has five pieces, no buttonholes, zipper or collar. In fact, according to the design, the center front stands ajar! Hot damn. It could not fit completely and I can totally pass it off as a design element. Hah!

Tracing the Pattern and Achieving Fit:

I've learned so much from my sewing friends since meeting with them. Lately, though, I have taken to heart the advice of Tina and Rachelle. Tina is a no nonsense sewer and she does whatever is necessary to get the garment to work. If lopping shit off somewhere corrects balance or makes setting the sleeve easier, or whatever, then do it. Need more room, take smaller seam allowances. Don't fret the small stuff. Just move on. Rachelle likens sewing to cooking: sure there are ingredients, but in the end you're the chef and you determine the outcome. With these thoughts in mind, I just did what felt right. I followed the wind.

I traced the pattern using a range of sizes:

  • Center Back:
    Neckline: 12
    Shoulder: 16

  • Side Back:
    Shoulder: 16
    Armhole: 16
    Side seam: 16

  • Center Front:
    Shoulder: 16

  • Side Front:
    Shoulder: 16
    Armhole: 16
    Side seam near bust: 18
    Side seam near waist: 16

  • Sleeve:
    Sleeve cap: 16
    Sleeve seam: 16

I really should have used a size 14 in the shoulders, but the pattern oddly had size 14 grouped with sizes 8 and 20. The other sizes were grouped on the same pattern. I hate it when pattern companies do that. I just do not understand the rationale behind it.

What was the result? A jacket the fits. No, really, I'm serious. I couldn't believe it. The only thing I will need to do is take a slightly bigger seam allowance near the top of the center front-side front seam. The shoulder seam is too long, as suspected. I didn't do the petite adjustment. I didn't raise the armhole. I didn't do an FBA. Is it perfect? I don't know. Is it better than the McCall's jacket? Indeed. I'll have to have the PR experts assess the fit. The jacket is comfortable and I can move my arms. T he shoulder princess seams fall over my bust and the centers front are in their proper position. I will need to tweak the seam allowance on the princess seam a bit, but that's it. Just a tweak.

I will post pictures soon. My camera's batteries are low and my camera is really fussing about it.

An update on the jacket progress is forthcoming, too. I completed the bodice and just need to set the sleeves. I am making some design changes that are not a part of the pattern. I should have this jacket knocked out in a day or two.

Until then,



  1. Lynn your supposed to keep extra batteries around. Hurry and get some. I want to see pictures!

  2. Wow, two things finished in less than a month? I'm so proud of you! I'm going to be lame soon! :)

  3. Sounds like you got the adjustments just right. Looking forward to FO pics.


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