Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Tailored Suit: I Promise, This is the Last Post about Muslins

When I said I was on muslin 3, I misspoke. I was actually on muslin 4 - and, as of right now - muslin 4 is a mashup with muslin 5. In case you can't keep it straight (like me, apparently):
  • Muslin 1 - the one where I cut all the side pieces in the wrong size because I followed the wrong cut lines.
  • Muslin 2 - the one where I corrected this and figured out a) I needed and FBA, b) the armsyce/sleeve fit was problematic and c) I needed to shorten the length of the bodice above the waist.
  • Muslin 3 - the FBA version aka the sack, the paper pieces of which took 2 hours to alter.
  • Muslins 4 and 5 are shown in photos below - the left side is muslin 4, the right side is muslin 5.

Before I show them to you, and tell you about where I'm at and what I've resolved, I should tell you that I do NOT recommend princess seam FBAs if you are a) small and b) narrow(ish) and c) there's more than a 5 inch difference between your underbust and your full bust. I'm not going to say it can't be done. But I will say that I believe that the reason it seems to work better for larger and wider people is because the disparity between added bust fabric and added waist fabric PLUS length is easier to manage when you are tall and/or broad. Feel free to debate this, btw.

I will also say that I have NEVER had as much trouble cutting a pattern in the correct sizes (according to pattern markings) as I have done with this one. I LOATHE pasting together pieces of paper and cutting them. I'd rather trace every pattern till the end of all time than do this again. Even today I discovered I'd cut something wrong. And I have gone back over each piece AT LEAST A DOZEN TIMES. It's like my eyes can't focus anymore.

Final proviso: I have never had as much difficulty fitting anything as this jacket. Why? Well, I presume it's for the following reasons:

  • I've never known as much about fit and how to correct it as I do right now.
  • Suit jackets are, bar none, the most HORRIFYING thing for me to fit, even RTW. (Man, I've got a lot of capital letters going on in this post...)
  • I don't know that I shouldn't have just started with the 8 (though I suspect I would have had as many problems as with the 6, just in reverse.) I do think it would have been easier to cut - as it's the middle size so I would have been able to go straight down the middle with the scissors.
  • I question whether this pattern is really designed to suit my particular dimensions. I actually took out my Claire Schaeffer suit jacket pattern and considered sewing it instead. But I couldn't bear the thought of starting from scratch with a whole different garment. Better the devil you know...
  • I've veered dangerously into overfit territory - a desolate moor where one runs into the occasional, hollow-eyed, muslin wearing zombie. There's a time to know when to quit and it involves either a) putting the pattern away or b) getting on with it. I'm going with option b), God help me.

Now all of this will be water under the bridge when I get this thing sewn up gorgeously. Right?

Onto the muslin deets:

Muslin 4 (erroneously called muslin 3 until this post) began with one alteration: the targeted bust adjustment in the amount of 2.25 inches. It was a very successful alteration peeps, with one challenge to be resolved (shown belowin muslin 5). Note: My left side (i.e. the RIGHT side of the photo) is muslin 4. My right side (i.e. the LEFT side of the photo) is muslin 5.

See how muslin 4 drags and looks droopy? The irony is that it's because I made the bust line too high on that side. You can sort of see how, above my left breast, there's a little empty pocket surrounded with fabric.

Below, you can see (in the first photo) how the too-high bust line leaves a ridge of empty space above my actual breast:

However, on muslin 5 (the other side, shown below - and pinned together rather than stitched cuz I didn't have the will to stitch again), you can see how a slightly lowered bust line has made everything much better fitting.

I did not use a fitting book to resolve this challenge. At a certain point, it's easier to just figure out the solutions by feeling your fabric and by assessing the fit.

Believe it or not, muslin 5 still left me with two problems: fitting the sleeves into the armholes (unshown) and some weird drag lines along the back where it meets the side back:

Remember to ignore my left side!

Somehow I managed to resolve this by lowering the placement of the side back against the back piece (a pinned, and unshown, muslin 6?!?!). To be honest, I can't even figure out if it's better at this point, but numerous other photos (on Scott's cell phone) and his feedback lead me to believe that it is.

I did have to shave a tapered inch off the side front armhole curve. I tried every way I could think of to make the shape feasible for a) the shape of my body and b) the need to insert a sleeve, but this was all I was left with. At this point, I'm prepared to believe I've done something wrong which has led me down this path. But, if the armscye problem is with the pattern, that would seriously suck and piss me off NO END.

Having adjusted the curve of the armscye on the side front, it appears that it is now about an inch smaller than the sleeve which will be inserted into it. That's ok, because I'm going to ease the sleeve in (using a strip of bias fabric along the sleeve head before it's inserted into the armscye). I think that can work. 4 inches wasn't going to ease, but 1 inch should. And lowering the armscye on the side front means that the armhole fits my body better.

So, what's next?

I've got to make 4 alterations to every relevant pattern piece before I go any further:
  • The lowered side front armscye adjustment.
  • 1 inch-lengthened front and back pieces (to accomodate the lower placement of the side front and side back pieces, which ameliorated fit).
  • The TBA on the front and side front pieces.
  • Ensuring that every new matching mark (and I changed them all to suit my incredibly specific repositioning) is reflected on every piece.

I suspect that's going to take a while.

Have I mentioned that every part of my body seems to hurt right now?


  1. Great job. I think you are almost there. Muslin 5 is so much better. As I've said before, I cut the 8. Before I did any cutting I marked the line with a highlighter to be sure I had the right one. Then I went over it again and corrected the highlights that were wrong since I got off the right line a few times. This really helped me to cut on the correct line. I don't know why, but the correct lines are really hard to follow on this pattern.

    1. Thank you Victoria! I wonder why this pattern was so hard to keep straight? Is it the paper pasting thing? The similarity between the markings? You were very smart to do it the way you have done.

  2. are your body parts hurting because they are in rebellion against future muslin fittings?

    that side view is gorgeous. (and i hope there's less squirrelly girlie going on as well. good birthday?)

    1. That and the full moon and a migraine.

      Thank you for asking about the bday. Everyone is happily still living in the house. And one of us has newly pierced ears and skinny jeans and a book on how to draw anime. :-)

    2. moon cycles. EH.

      (i won't say feh because i really don't want the moon getting mad at me.)

      sounds like a good birthday and a good mama indeed.

    3. Don't irritate the moon! She can be a bitch :-)

  3. Whew! Muslin five is looking SOOO good, though. I wouldn't worry about that bit of folding in the back, I suspect when when you put in the sleeve it will be fine.

    Perhaps in the future it would be worth it to trace off the pattern once it's printed and assembled? I generally prefer to just print again, but then I've never made five muslins...

    Good luck. I am so impressed. Quick thought---do the shoulder-pads affect the bust point at all? Because it looks DAMN PERFECT where it is in 5 and I'd hate to see it thrown off even a cm.

    1. OMG T - I totally fucking forgot about the shoulder pads?!?! Fuck. Guess I should try them out before proceeding.

  4. I feel like i need to give you a little "you can do it!" cheer from the sidelines. the most recent muslin is looking pretty good.

    With regards to ease in the sleeve, 1" ease will be fine, as it's easier to ease in thicker fabrics (i've found) like the jacketing you'll be using.

    1. Thanks Rachel! Just the kind of info I'm looking for. And thanks for the vote of support.

  5. This is coming together really well! One bit of advice: the final muslin really needs to have the sleeves attached because without the sleeves there a tendency to over fit the bodice and inadvertently remove wearing ease (I've done this myself). A jacket muslin without the sleeves should have a small ripple at the back of the armsyce and I don't see that here hence my fear that the muslin is over fitted. Also yes the shoulder pads do need to be basted or pinned into the muslin to perfect the fit.

    1. I think you saved the day here, Phyllis. I have inserted a sleeve on muslin 5 (right side) and there is a problem with ease. Ugh. But thank you for pointing this out at this critical juncture. Back to the drawing board.

  6. I don't have your kind of patience, so by muslin #3 if it wasn't good enough it would just go to the trash and I'd find something easier to work on. Kudos to you for sticking it out. Since this sort of thing is on my never-going-to-sew list, I really can't offer any sort of insight into the construction/fit. Sorry! It's definitely looking better though, you're almost there!

    1. Thanks J! I'm having flashbacks to the bra-making phase of a year ago :-) But I know more now than I did then and I really want to crack this code.