Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Sewing: The Janet Jacket

How is it that, even as I've posted 3 times today (re: A Simple Sock KAL), I'm somehow compelled to write about my latest, potential sewing project:

I say "potential" because, if there's one thing I've learned about tailored jackets, it's that you'd better fucking scrap it all if the muslin indicates that the finished garment is gonna suck. Former Kristin couldn't handle that. It seemed to her like giving up. Current Kristin is all: I have too many things in this world to care about. I'm not wasting my time on a garment that's destined to fail.

Don't worry, I'm armed with a glass of wine and lots of rulers.

In truth, this approach has been a while in the making. I'm sure you know - either from personal experience or intuition - that one cannot continue to make 7 muslins for every project without starting to feel incredibly worn out. That's like making the garment 7 times before you actually start to make it - once you consider all of the math and alterations that are involved.

I'm not interested in that for this project. My last handmade jacket, despite all of my best efforts, is a dud. If you want to know what my one, true fail was in 2013, it was that. I've worn it once, didn't like it and it hangs in the closet - a beautifully constructed garment that looks mediocre on my body.

This time, I want to make a tailored jacket that will nonetheless be "simple" (I know, ridiculous concept for a pattern with 18 pieces...) What I mean is this: I will make one muslin with all the bells and whistles. Whatever it manages to tell me, I'll extrapolate from. The jacket I've chosen has no collar. That means I have no collar to worry about. Furthermore, I intend to use fusible interfacing. This will not be a "hand-tailored" affair. I'm making a useful work garment. It happens to be a tailored jacket.

And I'm not buying any fabric until I make the muslin. If it sucks, into the bin it goes. And I'll find something else.

Having said this, I've decided to make the most of what I've learned about fitting to date, and to alter the pattern, prior to making the first muslin, as such:
  • I know I have to shorten the jacket, above the waist, so that the final length is 23". In this instance, I have cut an inch from the length.
  • I know I have to shorten the sleeves so that the final length is 22". In this instance, that means I've cut 3" from the length of the sleeves?!
  • I'm going to have to get to a full bust measurement of 39". That gives me 1.5" of wearing ease, and I intend to use a woven fabric with give (like wool crepe) to give another inch or so. I like my jackets very fitted because, when they're not, I look thick given that the boobs have proportionately much more circumference than the under bust or waist. This is what works for me. I measured the full bust of the size 12 pattern, the size I bought, and got 36". That means I've got to do my own version of a princess seam FBA. I'll add .75" to the front piece where it meets the side front, and another .75" at the side front. If you multiply that by 4, you get 3 inches... It's risky to add more than 2 inches to the bust using this method, but I've found that it often works given my shape. This time, we'll just have to see...
Now, following the construction of the muslin, I'm likely going to have to raise the armscye, shorten the sleeve head, narrow the shoulders, and narrow the arms. Maybe someday I'll feel confident that I'm actually a pattern size 10, not anything larger - despite the depth of my breasts, and then I won't have to adjust so extensively. Till I learn that lesson, I'm apt to have to apply these alterations. I suppose, technically, I'll be making 1 muslin in 2 steps. The first will figure out the bodice, the add-on will be sleeves and whatever adjustments come to light.

What I'm happy to say about this pattern, by comparison to the last Style Arc pattern I made, is that the seam lines align perfectly. When you walk this pattern, you get what you paid for. And, the two-piece set in sleeve has the kind of curve one expects from a fitted jacket (longer in the front than in the back).

So, here's the shell I'm starting with (prior to cutting the muslin):

Seems the knitters have been getting all of my love lately. But sewist readers, I'd love your thoughts on this...


  1. I love the jacket and I hope the pattern sloper is one that can be modified easily for your figure. At first glance, the style seems well-suited for you. And, for me, the most I've done is 3 muslins, and I still wasn't happy with the final fit -- so I concur heartily with your recommendation!

  2. Thanks Pam. I don't want to get too optimistic, but I made the shell this aft, and with a few more knowable alterations, I sense it's good. Now, when it comes to the sleeves, we'll have to see how it goes...

  3. This jacket looks like a beautiful design. I used to struggle with making a million muslins for each project, too, but this year I finally learned to draft. Once you have blocks that fit, you can add whatever design elements you like and the actual construction of the garment is so much faster! The initial time investment to get the basic blocks fitting is pretty substantial, but any pattern you make from them will automatically have a way better fit. It' something I would definitely recommend if you're spending a lot of time fitting every new pattern.

    1. You're right, of course. And, effectively, I do this because I compare previously altered patterns to the one I'm working on to ensure that the curves are similar (if not exactly the same). But I should consider laminating a bunch of patterns for recurrent use. Maybe that's something I'll tackle this year...

  4. I just ordered my first Style Arc pattern so I'll be picking your brain about your views on them when we hang out next weekend. This has the potential to be a very nice jacket, IMO, so I wish you luck in the fitting battlefield :)

    1. Which did you order? Intrigued to hear about it. And you'll be forced to hear all about the Janet Jacket. Apologies in advance :-)