Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Spring Suit: Muslins Apace!

Muslin 2 - Burda 07/2010 - 119
Gotta say, this pattern is never going to be known for its catchy name: Burda 07/2010 - 119. From here on in, let's call it the Burda suit jacket or the Burda jacket, 'kay? I'm making the version with the buttons and without the peplum, fyi.

What you're looking at in the photo, above, is my second muslin shell having made the following alterations:
  • Removed 5/8 inch from the width of the armscye at the shoulder seam, tapering to nothing under the arm
  • Raised the waist by 1 inch (this one's standard at this point)
  • Added 5/8" of fabric to the bust point of the side front (the "FBA")
  • Slashed the front piece above the bust to allow it to fall - thereby a) getting rid of bubbling fabric above the bust and b) leveling the HBLs
  • IMO, the most ironic of alterations - I added an inch (removed by shortening the waist) to the jacket hem - because I want to retain the original length of the jacket (which isn't long to begin with, ending at the high-hip).
A few considerations:
  • This is the first time that I've actually altered a woven pattern muslin of this complexity on my own - and I owe it all to my fitting friend, S. Please keep in mind, I haven't sewn it, so don't be congratulating me quite yet. :-) I take this as a real sign of skill development, regardless of how muslin 2 comes together, because I finally found my confidence. (Given how I'm feeling these days, in general, no proactivity can be trivialized.)
  • The tailored suit jacket is absolutely, positively, unquestionably the most difficult garment for me to fit on my own body. Arguably, suit jackets are amongst the most challenging things to make (from a tailoring and technical complexity perspective). But for me, sewing skill is barely on the radar - well, till I ease the side front piece to the front, and then the sewing is a fucking feat!
  • My point is that this process is complex and every part of it pushes me forward to new understanding of how my body is shaped (and bodies in general are shaped) and how this influences our final product.
 S has reminded me so many times now about:
  • Walking the pattern before everything, to ensure that the markings are accurate
  • Determining where to put the horizontal balance lines (one above waist, one above bust)
  • Remembering to mark the HBLs, waist, grain, all pattern markings and seam allowances
  • How and when to make a wedge alteration
  • How to mark the working muslin in such a way that the alterations can be applied to the pattern pieces accurately
  • How to use that blue paper and the roller thing with the spikes to make sure that new seam allowances are exactly reflected on the pattern pieces
  • How to "look" at the muslin mathematically
I'm not going to lie, this process doesn't really thrill me. Well, it doesn't thrill me till I get all of the horizontal lines to lie horizontally and the vertical lines to hang straight and the notches to all intersect where they should. And, when the freakin' thing fits over my boobs, that's pretty thrilling.

You'd be amazed by the way in which all of these hard-drawn lines tell you what you need to know. (And by that, I don't simply mean: Stick with knits, idiot. :-))

Despite all of this, I'm not an "in the weeds" sewist. Just ask S, who is frequently amused (if not horrified) by my slap-dash interpretations. I do not want to make 7 muslins of a jacket. I kind of resent my last suit jacket on that basis (though that process was unavoidable). I'm committed to constructing one more muslin after this one - to tweak fit further and to figure out how the freakin' sleeves are going to intersect with the armscye - and then I want to make something.

I'm actually very intuitive. For what it's worth, I define intuition as "instinct, refined by a keen awareness of the technical on a conscious and subconscious level". Most definitely, I bring this quality into my process. What delights me endlessly about making things, is that I get to spend quality time with my intuitive self and, let me tell you, she is FUN. I love it when my fabric tells me - in the moment - what to do. In truth, intuition is always the final arbiter, for me, and - while I recognize how critical it is to be scientifically precise - there ain't no fighting who I am.

It's taken me (never mind the V8333 jacket I've since scrapped) approximately 15 hours to get to this stage of muslin 2. And I haven't even considered how my significant armsyce adjustments are going to impact a 2 piece sleeve that, Clio tells me, starts out fitting bizarrely.

Though I've brought little ammunition of consciousness to it, armscye and sleeve adjustments seem to be an alteration I come across again and again - probably because I haven't been able to get my brain around making the size that actually fits my shoulders. In the case of this jacket, I do think the shoulders are strangely drafted, which is to say super-wide, and that I chose the best starting size. I am a standard EU40 in a woven top in RTW and this pattern is also a 40. It does seem to fit nicely and narrowly everywhere but in the shoulders.

Most definitely, despite all of my alterations, this jacket fit better, "out of the envelope" than any pattern company's offerings ever have in the past.

So, today's questions are these: How many muslins do you have in you?? Do you use the fitting axis approach to muslining (using the grain and HBL lines as a guide)? Are you a technical or intuitive sewist first? Can you overthrow perfection for action? Can you stand to be more precise? Let's talk!

20 comments:

  1. I'm not intuitive at all. I'm a doubter and second guesser and that makes me a very slow sewist indeed. Can't wait to see how your alterations work in the second muslin.

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    1. You know, I'm super slow too! I intend to make the sleeve again on Friday. Wish me luck!

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  2. I've always been a remarkably slapdash sewist and have had results more by good luck than good judgement. But I can't fly by the seat of my pants any more...thanks to you (in the nicest possible way). Because you share your process as well as the beautiful results of your work, I can see that sometimes you need to suck it up and make 7 muslins. And sometimes you need to walk away. But its all good.

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    1. I think when the time for fitting comes to you, every blog you read somehow reinforces the message. It's like magic! It's so hard to know when to walk away - or when to make the 7th muslin. And "good fit" is such a subjective thing (though I'm very fussy about what it means for me, on me).

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    2. I absolutely agree...everywhere I turn at the moment there are discussions about fitting. And my recent post about fitting generated such a lot of discussion. It makes me realise I am not alone, or crazy, but in fact, very much on the right track. That's novel!

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  3. The way you describe how you work is much more like Martin than like me. I can make muslins till the cows come home. By the time I've done that, Martin has made two more shirts and three more vests. He learns on the fly. I need the numbers and visuals to work before proceeding.

    You're doing great and it's going to be a fantastic jacket!

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    1. Interesting - everyone's got a different process and a different comfort level moving from the test garment to the "real" garment. You can see my bias, just in that sentence. Thanks for your confidence in the finished project :-)

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  4. I love that line "get to spend quality time with my intuitive self" . . . my intuitions aren't generally spatial ones, but your articulation here is encouraging me to think of what areas are the best for meeting my intuitive self and letting her play . . . Thanks!

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    1. My intuitions never used to be spatial, till I liberated that side. I can't say it's my most natural state, but I'm encouraging it to come out and play :-)

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  5. I am a planner and a doer, then I am always tempted to rush... I just can't help myself. I get a buzz out of doing the stages and reaching the end... which is fine, if I am producing what I am proud of. Sometimes... not!

    I personally think you have a better method than me. I complete a project and mull over my mistakes. You avoid them in the first place!

    Bundana x

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    1. I know - I love to rush too. The more you rush, the sooner you have a new garment! But sometimes the new garment just doesn't work well enough to get worn... I wish I could say that I avoid mistakes. That would make all of my planning worth it :-)

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  6. I find it amazing that you go to all this work of marking a million lines on your muslin, but then call yourself "slapdash", lol. I have to learn to put all them fancy lines on my muslins..
    I'm intrigued to see how the rest of your fitting goes, particularly the sleeve :)

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    1. Ha! I know it seems that way, but with each line I'm like: Is this over yet? When do I get to make my garment, like, for real??

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  7. I can't wait to see the alterations you've made in the second muslin. I was inspired with this line of yours "get to spend quality time with my intuitive self". Anyways I have learn so much knowledge with your blog regarding making muslin.

    custom suits los angeles

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  8. I'm excited to see how it fits! I avoid blazers/jackets because of my large bust, but want to be able to wear them! I know it's just because RTW isn't made for me. I need to make them myself.

    I used to do millions of muslins. I'm trying to get away from that. I'm definitely a technical sewist.

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    1. It's doable, Stephanie, but it's a long-term commitment kind of project, not a fun weekend kind of project. Give it a go! You'll feel very special when you figure it out (so I constantly tell myself)!

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  9. Ha, "stick with knits, idiot!", I love it how you said what goes through my head as I struggle with a second muslin of pants! But I can't wear knit pants, well not often! Can't wait to see your finished suit!

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    1. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks that!! And I'm all for knit pants
      :-)

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  10. Yeah, the sleeve was baggy and binding at the same time.

    My max out point with muslins depends on the project - my commitment level and how much I love the fabric. I am not a rusher in general. If I'm unsure, I usually pause and mull things over, sometimes for days, before moving forward.

    I have never marked HBL's, but I really should. I'm not sure that I would know how to "read" them.

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