Sunday, March 25, 2012

Updated: Shout Out to the Experts: Tight Armscye and Upper Back

I want to give you a quick update on round one of the Suit Jacket muslin, which wends its way quickly into: "How do I fix these fucking problems I've never encountered before??" Note that I will post photos tomorrow (no time today), but I'd like to outline the situation and get the shout out going - in the interests of solving all my problems that much sooner :-)

The Facts:
  • I cut the 6 and made it up today without any alterations.
  • Note that there are no instructions, as such, for completing the muslin. It's not like a regular pattern with written instructions (except for the skirt, which isn't discussed in the course). There's an argument to be made that, if you can't figure out how to put it together without written directions, you probably shouldn't be undertaking a tailored suit jacket.
  • Having said that, I had a lot of trouble attaching the front side to the front piece - related to the top part of the front side, where it meets the side of the armscye. I attached these two pieces a number of times to better or worse effect.
  • Others have had a seemingly similar problem with the piece and a pattern error was identified on the Craftsy course. I think it was fixed before I ever cut out my pieces, and yet I too have had a problem. Either I have come up with my own issue, or perhaps the pattern wasn't fixed. I've emailed Craftsy to confirm that it was.
  • The impact of the weirdness on the side front armhole is that I couldn't get the sleeve to fit when I tried to insert it. The sleeve piece fit from its centre marker (top of the shoulder) along the back seam. However it was much too long from the centre marker along the front shoulder.
  • After trying a zillion things, I eventually just (strategically) cut part of the side front away (at the armhole). The impact is that it increased the length of the side front, so it made the sleeve fit. I know - it was probably solving one problem to create another, but I did the only thing I could figure out.

Having said all of this, the first muslin yielded interesting - if totally unwearable results.

The Good:

  • The shoulders fit perfectly.
  • The sleeves fit well.
  • The length is almost perfect. I'll need to pinch out about 0.5" from the back above the waist, but not bad at all.
  • The garment scale is a very good match for my proportions. It doesn't look clownish (which was something I feared). It looks sexy.

The Less Good:

  • I'm going to need to do a sizable FBA. I haven't got to that point yet (I need to fix other fit problems first), but I imagine it will be in the range of 4". I've made my peace with this adjustment, but of course it adds a layer of modifications to the process. Although this is necessary, I do not think it will fix the fundamental problem I'm experiencing (see below).

The Bad:

  • The arm holes and upper back are way to fucking tight. WAY. The impact of this is that I can't bring my arms forward without the sleeve seams pulling ridiculously.
  • The arms fit so high and so snugly there is no way I could wear this thing, much less line it. Muslin has no give, of course, but my fashion fabric won't have too much either.

The Questions:

  • I don't know if I created this armscye problem when I tinkered with the side front piece or whether the fit would have been even worse if I hadn't made the adjustments that I did. Do you know?
  • Is this tight back a factor of the armsyce issue or is it a sign that the size 6 is categorically too small?
  • How do I fix each of these issues arm hole and tight back?
  • I REALLY do not want to start again, having to tile all the pieces together, cut them up and then recut the 8. Even if this size is "flat out too small", do you know if there is there a way I can adjust the muslin I currently have (by marking the muslin and then transferring the alterations back onto the paper)? Or if you have a size that's fundamentally too small (presuming this might be my challenge) do you simply have to start again?
Weird Sidebar: I just had a total deja vu. Is it possible that I've had this experience before and I don't even remember it??

Thanks so much for any feedback. I will show the pics soon, but really, the problem is no more or less complex than what I've described.

Update: I don't want to get too excited, but I might have cut the pieces incorrectly - i.e. the pattern hadn't been corrected when first I printed it. I suppose it's possible that I just cut it incorrectly, though I doubt it. I'm pretty anal about those sorts of things. I won't know till I have a chance to compare my original side front and side back pieces against new ones I have printed. But I seem to recall my original pieces had only 3 size lines within my cut line on the curved sides. On my recut pieces, there are 6 lines - making these sides of each piece 3 sizes larger than my originals. You can see how that would make a huge difference to the armscye problems, tight back - and the even the amount required for an FBA (I've never needed more than an inch and a half). And would explain why lining up my side pieces with the front and back was really difficult. Oh, I hope this is the case...

Of course, if it is, I wasted a whole whack of time.


  1. No help from me, just tea and sympathy.

  2. Hmm, I'm not sure I can be much help here - You could try letting out the side seams at the armpit - that would make the armskye larger as well as giving a little more room across the back at armpit level. Hopefully I'll have something productive to say once I see the pictures. Good luck!

    1. I actually went to your leather jacket post, which discusses the arm and sleeve issue. It might be useful to me...

  3. No idea if you've put shoulder pads in your muslin- but remember to leave room for them too. I know this is tipping into the you-may-want-to-cut-a-larger-size voice, but it is always easier to snug things up than stretch them out. Hopefully Craftsy will respond with the answer you want most!

    1. I haven't - but I will before I take the pics. I suspect that the shoulder pads will fit (though, of course it will make the armscye that much tighter at the armpit. I hope I get a response too.

  4. Wow, now isn't that interesting! I'd be curious to know more (i.e. photos ;) ) about what's causing the problem on the front.

    Ok, so here's my thoughts.

    1) did you try on the muslin with the shoulder padding you will be using? (i.e. do they really fit, or do they fit without padding?)

    2) if the answer to 1 is "they fit without padding" I would say go up a size. If the answer to 1 is "they really fit", you could start with a wide back alteration (the Slapdash Sewist does this and goes over it in pretty good detail---hers doesn't add width to the shoulder, some of the others do).

    3) You can also lower an armscye fairly easily, even on your muslin---just stitch down 1/4" or so below your current seam underneath, and see if that helps. If it does, just lower it the same amount on the pattern. Did you clip the seams around the armscye on the muslin? If you didn't, it'll feel tighter than it should, as I'm sure you know.

    So that's my off the top of my head, random fit thoughts. I hope you get the pattern weirdness figured out---fit weirdness is hard enough to deal with without your pattern being a pain. I have no doubt you'll gitterdone, though. :)

    1. Hey T:

      1) Not yet but I intend to (see my response to Kimber above).

      2) I'm really inclined to just cut the 8. I mean, it's not like this is small in any of the regular places (well, it's small in the regular places too, but you know what I mean).

      On this topic, I really don't know how this could be fitting me small when it's fit everyone else true-to-large. It's not like my back got any wider. I think that cutting bits of fabric off the front and back armscyes on the side front and side back pieces (yeah, I did cut a bit on the back too), may have totally removed all of the ease that would naturally be there. I'm inclined, at this point, to recut the front side and back side (to get back to where they were) and try to alter the sleeve head, rather than the bodice pieces.

      3) Good to know. And I haven't yet clipped the seams. Good point.

      Thanks for the Slapdash Sewist tip. I'll go check it out - I don't remember those posts.

  5. oh, I totally feel you. but as a visually oriented person, I'm afraid I just can't picture any of what you're talking about without a photo.

    If the WHOLE thing is too tight, you could just treat the muslin as your pattern and do some slashing and spreading as if you were grading, inserting some fabric in-between.

    1. You may not have seen my update - I think the pattern pieces may be marked incorrectly - or, at least, I cut them incorrectly. If that's the case, I'll be sure to shout it from the rooftops. But I'll put together a second muslin before I snap shots.

  6. I just cut and taped together my pattern, I'm curious where you found any info about the two pattern front pieces being revised on Craftsy. Did they make an announcement?

    1. No, I saw a comment to that effect - Gertie confirmed that the sizing lines had been mismarked. I think it was in the pattern cutting chapter (chapter 2) but I can't remember where. Unfortunately, you can't see all the comments at once (as far as I can tell) so you have to wade through ever segment of every chapter to find individual ones.

  7. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. there was a huge tail on the front side piece that i just trimmed to stick the arm in. i did not even think it might be an error, as i had followed the video to put the pieces together. that pattern is such a pain i don't want to have to make it again!! does my shoulder fit like yours? now that i'm thinking of it, it was kind of snug...

    1. Hey - I replied by commenting on your post. Let me figure out if this is what's going on before you panic :-) (Then, of course, feel free to panic.)

  8. How annoying if it was the pattern that was wrong rather than you. I had this with the Macaron - I'm sure that pattern was wrong in the size I cut. Stick with it - you'll figure it out. And don't worry if you do have to start again - have a moan at Craftsy for wasting your time!

    1. Trust me, if the pattern was wrong I'm going to have something unsavory to say about it. If it was my error, I'll be sure to take the same vitriol out on myself.

  9. patterns/muslins are like tricky puzzles. and the more fitted the garment, the more difficult. did you gather ease on the sleeve cap before you fit into the armholes? that always creates such a nice, crisp shoulder with room for a sleeve/head and pad. also, i look at my muslins (that i've draped myself) when they are flat and i think... "how can that princess line possibly fit here?" but, somehow it does (if i clip the shit out of the edge to allow it to bend and curve as much as it's needed). anyway, you are great at this and i know you'll figure it out (and it sounds like you sort of already have!)

    1. Aren't the just! The Craftsy course shows a way to insert the real sleeve cap into the bodice using a piece of bias fabric to ease it in. (Hard to explain, but I'm sure you know the method). I did it when I made the coat and it worked very well. If you read next post, you'll see the stupidity of my problem - well, I hope my discovery solves it. I cut the wrong sized front side and back side pieces. Now I understand why the princess seams started (practically) at the outer edge of each breast. Give me your good tailoring vibes :-)

      (You know, I do kind of feel that, if one can tailor a suit, one can do just about anything.)