Saturday, March 31, 2012

Updated: The Tailored Suit: This Pattern Is Irritating the Crap Out of Me Right Now

I'm having a really rough go with this suit jacket muslin and sizing of most of the paper pattern pieces.

This afternoon I realized that, originally, I cut most of the pattern piece armholes incorrectly (an extension of what I discuss in the bottom portion of this post?). In a bizarrely consistent manner, on the armscye curves, I cut all of the wrong-size, mini-dotted lines (like lots of periods strung together). On the main pieces, in general, I cut the correct line for a size 6 (a similar - but different - 3 mini-dots and a dash). I don't know what on earth my brain was thinking but it was thinking in a purposeful, if crazy, way.

I'm still reviewing all of the pieces and trying to figure out which fucking tile goes with which spot on which piece so that I can print out new pieces, as necessary. At this point, I've probably cut the pattern twice in bits and pieces. This pdf pattern-idea, where you print, tape and cut 8.5 x 11 paper is extremely irritating. If only the pieces had page numbers on them, at least I would know which one to cut again. Working piecemeal, and using reference numbers that correlate with partial pattern pieces over multiple pieces of paper, is beyond horrible.

I suppose I should feel fortunate that the need to recut and tape parts of most of the pattern pieces isn't germane to the muslin (see below) cuz I fixed sizing of those pieces last week and put them together over the past few days. The finished product is WHACK as far as sleeve insertion goes. I do think that the easing method Gertie uses in her course (it involves a 1x12 inch piece of self fabric cut on the bias) will help with this. What will also help is either a) lowering the side front piece on each side slightly (.25") and / or b) reshaping the front armscye curve by cutting it down about .5". Option a) will mean that the marking lines no longer align and option b) seems weird - given that I've recut the relevant armscye curves so I know I'm working with the pattern-specified angles. I've decided to stop caring.

I don't seem to be able to fix this by getting the pattern to conform - and, trust me, I've worked constantly over hours and hours. I don't know why, despite following all the rules to a T, I've got a good inch of extra fabric between the top of the sleeve cap to the tip of the front piece. When I made this muslin I eased the sleeves using two rows of basting stitches. It wasn't optimal. I also - in willy nilly ways, did a mishmash of options a) and b) above. It taught me some things, but the muslin shoulder area is a bit of a wreck.

All of this is a preamble to some photos.

Here you can see the first muslin, with weird sleeves - but I haven't trimmed the armhole seam allowances and the pattern, per usual, is too long for my torso:



See the puffball of fabric above the waist in the shots above?

So I pinned out an inch of fabric above the waist, but below the armholes, on all of the pieces. Note: The photo below shows this done in an ad hoc manner. After I looked at these pics, I went back and repinned to ensure that the shortening was even from the bottom of the jacket. The pinning on the front of the jacket moved down so that is in line with the pin height at the back.




Now I'm trying to figure out whether or not I need to do an FBA. The front pieces close at least 2 inches over one another, but there is slightly less room as the jacket moves towards the lapels (right where the boobs are). Of course, this fabric has less than no give. My fashion fabric does have a tiny bit of width stretch. Tomorrow, I intend to release the princess seams at the bust to see what happens. If, when the seams are cut, the jacket seems to hang better, I will consider the FBA necessary and will make the alteration in the required size.

One other thing: This has no shoulder pads and I don't think I'm going to use them. I may use sleeve heads, if the bias strip and seam allowances at the shoulder don't give the garment enough shoulder structure, but I'm not looking for height in the shoulders - just definition. When I put the shoulder pads into the shoulder area, this jacket starts to look clown like on my frame, which natch, is not appealing.

Of course, I'm looking for all of your feedback. Thoughts or feelings about the fit here? Try not to focus too much on the sleeve insertion. It's a dog's breakfast. Of course, if you have some theories about why the front sleeve is too long for the armholes, I'm glad to hear about it.

Update at a ridiculously late hour: I couldn't leave it be so I've made the following adjustments (or partial adjustments) since writing this:
  • Lengthened the bottoms of each piece by 5/8" except the front pieces which I lengthened by an inch (tapering to nothing at the centre front sides so as not to impinge on the width of the final pieces. I did this cuz, once I turn up the hems, I'm concerned the jacket will be too short - having removed an inch of length above the waist. Pretty funny alteration, no? Taking out length in one spot only to add it back in another. This way, though, I'm removing the bulk where I'm short.
  • Opened the princess seams at the full bust - I need an FBA of 2.5 inches (1.25" on each side). Now I've gotta figure out how to do the princess seam FBA. Fortunately there are some great tutorials out there - and I've got Fit For Real People and I've got the Palmer Pletch DVD on fitting for a full bust. I think I should be able to get it done.
  • Removed the sleeves and now I see how well the bodice fits without them. Fortunately Sunni has provided this great link on the subject of altering a sleeve cap to fit the armhole from Casey's blog. I do remember reading this and, somewhere in my mind, I have remembered it. I intend to review the sleeve cap against the bodice pieces at the armhole to ensure the length and shape align.

15 comments:

  1. You are so marvelously patient! No advice; just compliments.

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    1. Thank you for thinking I'm patient. It's SO not the case. :-) xo

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  2. Oh my!! To attempt a jacket is elephantine in the world of sewing! Godspeed! I have never done a jacket, but admire your persistence with the fit. That you are constructing it in muslin tells me how committed to this project you are. I totally "get" your f-bomb frustration. I have suffered through zippers, buttonholes, facings and fancy tricks, spitting out swear words like ammo in an automatic weapon. It is so frustrating. But when you clip the last thread on your jacket and slide it onto your body, the satisfaction will have been worth all the frustration. Why not take it to your local tailor just for a few pointers? Take a deep breath and repeat, "the seamripper is my friend. the seamripper is my friend. The seamripper..."

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    1. Karen: I was sure I replied to this?! I appreciate your support - cuz this is NO fun right now. (Well, not much fun.) A tailor is a great idea!

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  3. Hey K

    Why have you not used the 1"x12" bias piece on the muslin??

    This looks like a bitch. But I know that you will get through it me old mucka

    Caffy

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    1. Ah, smart question. I got nuthin'. For some reason, I didn't think it would work with muslin. But rationally, it makes no sense.

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  4. Amen sister to your thoughts on PDF patterns! I was recently asked to teach a class on sewing a top and have been haggling a bit with the "overseer" of the project about the pattern as she wants to use a PDF pattern and I absolutely refuse! I HAAAATE putting those pages together! I think its such a crock! Gah!

    I personally don't think the body of the jacket looks too bad. I think with the alterations that you've pinned out and possibly the FBA, you'll be good to go. That armscye issue is really weird though! I think the sleeve cap might need to be shortened and I think there's too much width between the neckline and the armscye in the shoulder area of the bodice. I would just trim back that portion before trying to take anything out of the sleeve cap and if that doesn't fix the pooling in the sleeve area, you could trim down the sleeve cap too. Casey has a great tutorial that I think really illustrates what I mean with the sleeve cap:
    http://blog.caseybrowndesigns.com/2010/12/demystifying-sleeve-ease/
    Hopefully this helps! I'm sure your finished jacket will be well worth it though!
    xoxo, Sunni

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    1. S: Thanks so much for that - I will go and review it. FYI - I just removed the sleeves and the fit in the bodice is much better. Then I cut the princess seam at the boob area and I need to do about a 2.5" FBA. With those two changes, things look a world better. But I really have to figure out the sleeve thing before I try to fit the real sleeves...

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  5. I'm with you on PDF pattern pieces. Apart from my early Angela Kane makes and one bought from Burdastyle early last year I think I sub-consciously avoid them. Having said that I just used the A Kane pencil skirt pattern and printed off the pieces again and didn't mind it too much, but hey, it was only 3 easy pieces nothing like a jacket. Out of interest does Gertie add seam allowances to her pattern? I was going to suggest more ease in the bust area - good to see you have done this already. If I was doing a jacket I would err on the side of more ease - you want to be able to slip it on and off easily and over blouses etc. I find if something isn't easy to wear it doesn't get worn. If your final fabric is thick then the lining may take up some ease. I have no advice and all your adjustments seem very complex - I know how long this must have taken - I admire you for sticking with it and taking the time to update your blog with the progress.

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    1. Oh, I consciously avoid them. There are 55 pieces of paper to make up this jacket?! And fuck something up? Well, then you better hope you can find that little piece of the puzzle from within a pdf that has no marked pages (on the paper) and viewing a composite isn't possible.

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  6. I used the FFRP method for the princess FBA on the Pendrell pattern, and it's straightforward. However, unlike an FBA with a darted front, there's no easy way to remove the ease that will be added at the waist. (Except perhaps to shave it off the side seam, but I never like messing with the original design line like that, especially if I liked the fit in that area in the first place. Maybe I'm too much of an idealist.) Just something to watch out for!

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    1. I've read about that width issue. I wonder what's going to happen when I make up the next muslin. I really have no idea whether it's all going to be great - or whether I'll have created a whole different monster! (Hope not.)

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    2. I found it especially irritating that FFRP never even mentions the issue of the added waist ease, let alone advises you on how to handle it. I enjoy that book but it really took it down a notch or two for me. Good luck!!

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  7. Two things. First, it looks like your sleeves would fit better if you rotated them forward slightly. Alternatively, have you checked to ensure you didn't put them in backwards? Generally the pitch of the sleeve cap is making the sleeve orientation all wrong for the angle your arms are naturally at.

    Second, please reconsider and use at least a single layer of some sort of padding (thin quilt batting for instance) in the shoulders. A jacket with nothing there will not have enough structure. You're not making a blouse!

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    1. I've quadruple checked the sleeves are in the right way - though I'm half inclined to just try to put them on the other way!

      I have to sort out what's going on there - even if I just redraft the sleeves. Gotta be easier than continuing to fix things that don't seem fixable.

      I will certainly reconsider. I bought 2 pairs of shoulder pads so it's not like I can't change my mind 16 times between now and then :-)

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