Saturday, 16 April 2011

Fitting and Fixing

Tanit-Isis very kindly offered some feedback on my Burda 7576 jacket muslin, and she confirmed what I thought:
  • back needs to be let out a bit
  • lapels seem to want to break higher up
  • front is gaping
  • shoulders a bit too wide
That sounded a lot to fix - and totally daunting to a muslin amateur, so for the sake of a record I can go back and review as well as for any other muslin amateurs out there I'll record how I attempted to make these adjustments.

After a lot of thinking time (also called procrastination) I had a go at removing the gapes in the front with a ton of pins - horizonally and vertically! - but the pin attack didn't look to work and there were still pull lines coming from the back.  So I decided to start by removing the tension in the back, then move onto the front when there was no more tension from the back, and then fix the shoulder width and anything else that still needed adjusting.

I'd set the sleeves in pretty badly so I started by unpicking the sleeves and a part of the back peplum so as to isolate the bodice fit issues.  I then let out the back seams tapering out from about underarm level, where the pulling starts, to a widest point at my waist - so that was the centre back seam as well as the two curved side back seams. After this the back fit looked much better...

My original picture on the left below shows the back looking too tight - the jacket was pinned as if it were buttoned up - and this new picture on the right below shows the effect of letting out those seams. You can see that the back is fitting better, although the shoulder to underarm area needs more work.

back with seams let out, muslin #1
back, muslin #1

Before doing anything definitive with the front of the jacket I went a-googling for muslin adjustments, and came across a very useful post from Gertie on making an SBA in a muslin. Thinking about the gaping front jacket, an SBA made perfect sense... Gertie said for an SBA you needed to (1) reduce length in the bust and (2) reduce width.  I also found Kay the Sewing Lawyer had some very useful posts about adjusting a jacket muslin - this one in particular was useful to me, and I also find her post-muslin jacket photos really inspiring - she gets a marvelous fit! 

I folded out a horizontal dart in the front of my jacket continuing into the lapel (right side of jacket in photo, left side is untouched), and it seemed to remove the gaping and also to turn me into a grinning fool! I pinned the jacket as if for a couple of buttons but it should now only need one:

removing length (R side), muslin #1

So I transferred this horizontal dart onto a new front pattern piece. I also took the opportunity to grade from a size 12 shoulder up to a size 14 arm hole, and to widen the pattern piece a little at waist level.

And here's the front view of my version #2 bodice muslin, with those new front pieces and a more comfortable back - also with the side panels cut on the straight grain instead of the bias:

front view, muslin #2

Not good! Look at that crazy waistline - not really a straight horizontal, is it! Clearly I went overboard with my SBA; I think in transferring the pinned dart to a new paper pattern I drew the dart larger than it should have been.  When my mother-in-law visited she told me in no uncertain terms that muslin #1 fit me better than muslin #2.

Back to muslin #1 then. I tried the #1 bodice on again and re-pinned a horizontal dart on one side, this time making it just a small SBA. To remove width I also narrowed the upper part of the side panel that attaches to the front side seam, but I left the rest of the front seams and front bodice as they were. And then I drew on the muslin to work out how the jacket front should fit my narrow shoulders and cut away the excess. This is what it looked like - the "fixes" have been made on the jacket front right in this photo, and on the left side you can see the shape of my original version #1 front.

milder SBA (R), muslin #1

I think I'm just about there now.  I think there is enough room for movement but it's comfortable and not baggy, so I should be able to go back to the original design of just 1 button at the waist.  I do still need to check the sleeves fit onto my hacked away arm hole I suppose, but assuming that's OK I should be able to start progressing with the actual sewalong :-).

One other fix to mention - the fabric.  I must have been delusional to imagine I could make this little jacket up in a heavy wool coat fabric!  It seems much more sensible to use this nice heavy red linen instead, which was already in my stash waiting to be transformed into a little jacket.  I'm sure I'll be able to use the wool for something else!

red linen, red lining


  1. Wow - the front looks really good now, and so does the back. I would check the sleeves go in alright though before cutting your cloth - the linen will be harder to ease in than wool!

  2. Wow, two steps forward and one step back! Good job and great perseverance! I'm glad my comments were helpful---I am no expert but I do like to blab ;).

    It will be so great when it's all done! :)

  3. You're making great progress - it will all be worth it - and I love the red!!!


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