Insanely, I'm trying to figure out whether I should muslin the size 6 or the size 8 of the suit jacket and it's making my brain hurt. The Advil is not helping.
This post is to give a glimpse into my system for determining the right size to cut. In certain pattern brands that I use routinely (Vogue, Colette), I've got a good sense of this, but this is Gretchen's first foray into publishing a suit jacket pattern of her own design. It's uncharted territory.
Some things to consider:
- Envelope pattern dimensions for size 6 are 36 bust / 28 waist.
- Envelope pattern dimensions for size 8 are 38 bust / 30 waist.
- Hips are larger than mine either way so I'm not going to worry to much about this now but I may need to grade - or widen seam allowances - at the next muslin stage.
- My dimensions are 37.5 bust / 30 waist. (For some reason, today my bust measurement is 37 - but let's assume 37.5)
You may think it's a no-brainer, that I should cut the 8.
Important Note to readers: I'm pre-planning for my MUSLIN at this point - do not try to figure out measurements on your fancy fashion fabric. Obvs, if I get this math wrong, I can adjust the muslin and then the pattern before I cut my real fabric. I'd simply like to start at the point that will leave me with:
a) the fewest adjustments or, at least
b) the easiest adjustments.
Let's not Forget Pattern Ease...: OK, another thing to consider. I tried to figure out (sadly, without the benefit of markings that indicate full bust point) how wide the pattern actually is, in each size, including pattern ease. Y'all know that when a pattern says it's 37 bust, it's not the finished size. Depending on your comfort level with snug fit, pattern ease can take a smaller size on paper to the right size on your body. I went to the pattern and did some measuring.
Anyway, if my calculations are correct, the size 6 is actually 37.25 inches (including pattern ease) and the size 8 is 40" (including pattern ease).
I'm going to assume that waist pattern ease is in the same proportions so the size 6 actual waist is likely 29.25" and the size 8 is probably 31.25".
...Also Don't Forget Fabric Ease: Remember I said that my aubergine wool does not have a lot of give. I just gave it a tug and I'd put the stretch at about 5% tops. That's not enough to be useful. Told you natural fabric give has its advantages...
Now, let's factor in a few other key considerations:
- The size of your seam allowances is adjustable: I tend to prefer working with 1/2 inch seam allowances. This pattern includes 5/8" seam allowances. Given that there are 16 seam allowances in this garment and 4/8 inch is 1/8 inch smaller than 5/8 inch (I know, this is torture but stick with me), this means I would gain 16/8 of an inch - or 2 inches, just by cutting the seam allowances down marginally. By shaving a bit off the SAs, which is my preference, my size 6 would become 39.25 in the bust.
- What's the optimal amount of wearing ease?: Oh, this is one that everyone's going to have an opinion on. You should have an opinion on this! I like to wear my clothing quite snug. I'd say, at the outer edge of not "too snug", if you know what I mean. So I feel that 1.5 inches is enough wearing ease in a bodice. Most RTW jackets factor in 2-3 inches of wearing ease. One way to determine your preference is to hold the tape measure open 1-3 inches larger than your actual bust measurement and see what you think of the amount of space. Also, you have to consider what you'll wear underneath. As my wool is going to be on the warm side, I'll likely opt for a slimmer top. For what it's worth, I generally like suits worn with slim tops. Women with curves are better off wearing jackets with less ease if they want to flatter that shape. Note: Under no circumstances should the buttons pull. At that point, you need more ease.
- Finally, to FBA or not to FBA: One of the things I don't know about this pattern - but which I've emailed to ask about - is the upper bust dimension. One's jacket doesn't only fit in waist and hips, but in the shoulders. As you no doubt know, many will tell you that this is the key indicator of fit. My upper bust measurement (the size of my torso above my breasts) is 33". That's quite a bit narrower than 37.5", yes? I must consider, should I find my assembled muslin too small, if my best alteration wouldn't be a full bust adjustment, rather than starting with a larger size. The greater the difference between the upper bust measurement and the full bust measurement, the more likely a full bust adjustment is the alteration you'll need - not going up sizes to approximate your full bust measurement. Note: This depends on SO many factors, not least of which is how the designer cuts. If Gertie designs for a wider upper chest - and I suspect she does - then the likelihood I should start small and accommodate breasts (rather than start larger and take away fabric everywhere else) is that much higher.
Fuck, this is a lot of info to take in.
- Always do a muslin.
- If you want to spend an afternoon deciding which size muslin to cut, see the insanity above.
- Consider the following elements before and during your muslining process:
- Pattern dimensions from the back of the envelope
- Pattern ease (you may have to figure this out with math)
- Fabric ease
- Seam allowance size
- Personal wearing ease preference
- Upper bust measurement for which the piece has been cut (hopefully this will be available - otherwise, you kind of have to figure it out when you muslin...)
OK, where does this leave me?
I hope to hear back about the upper bust measurement on the pattern. If it's 34 or higher, I'm going to cut the size 6. I suspect it won't be lower than that, so if I don't hear back, I'll still cut the 6.
Of course, if any of my painstaking measurements du jour are inaccurate - namely my approximations of actual pattern dimension (given that there are no markers on the pattern to indicate exactly where the full bust is) then I may be in a bit of a bind. Literally.
That's why we practice on sheets first.
So, thoughts about this? How do you determine size? Do you always measure first or do you wing it? (Usually I wing it.)
PS: I'd like to point out that it has taken a number of hours for me to figure out just this little piece and I haven't even come near the proper sewing of the muslin yet?! Complicated projects are, well, freakin' complicated. I try to keep in mind that it's all sewing (even if it's taping pattern pieces, writing posts about sewing, thinking, reading etc.) That takes me from overwhelmed to productive. Do you have any tips on this?
Update: Man, this post has only been up for 10 minutes and I'm updating it?! Just reread the tips sheet from the Craftsy course and it indicates that the pattern is cut generously and that one should go with the upper bust measurement in choosing a size?! By that analysis, I'd be a size 4. I don't think I can do that. But, after all of my measuring, I'm that much more confident about cutting the 6 instead of the 8.
Updated again: Y'all know, based on your comments and the info I've discovered, that I'm probably going to a) muslin the 6 but not before b) tracing the 4. Then, if the six is ridic, I can recut the 4 reasonably easily. Yeah, it's potentially a waste of time - or a major time saver. Only time will tell. (Oooh, way to profile today's word: "time"...)