Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jacket Pattern Redux

I started fiddling with this jacket pattern more than a year ago. I tried several approaches to fitting, put it away, worked on many other things, and got it out again last month. This round of alterations produced a promising muslin (made of old bedsheets, so no photographs).

I've read dozens of books, magazine articles, and Internet tutorials on fitting garments, and found dozens of conflicting suggestions and instructions. Here are the steps that I followed this time, with more success than usual.

  • I took a chest measurement just under my armpits--the "high bust measurement." To this number, I added two inches. I used this as my "bust measurement" for selecting my pattern size. There are many approaches to selecting pattern size, but this has worked best for me.
  • Since my actual "bust measurement" is larger than "high bust measurement plus two inches," I needed to make a full bust adjustment. This adds inches across the chest, but only in front. Most American commercial sewing patterns use a sizing convention developed around 1950, with a "standard ratio" of bust to waist to hip measurements. From what I've read, women who have this 1950 "standard" figure have become quite scarce.
  • Because this pattern--Jalie 2559--has princess seams, I tried Full Bust Alteration on Princess Seamed Bodice from Debbie's Sewing Projects--Tips and Project Instructions. These directions are clear, detailed, and easy to follow, and they worked like a charm. How often does that happen?
  • I cut out my freshly-altered sewing pattern from an old sheet, sewed it up, and discovered that I needed to narrow the shoulders (by taking the seams on the princess panels a bit deeper) and lengthen the sleeves (at the "lengthen or shorten here" lines, thank you, Jalie). These are wonderfully easy alterations!
  • I've cut out out the pattern in a navy blue cotton-poly twill, although I haven't bothered with the lining and interfacings yet. I'll cut those out if I'm still pleased with the jacket once the bodice pieces are sewn together. And there's always that option of finishing without a lining.

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