Thursday, June 6, 2013

Muslin #2, The Belgian Chef's Jacket

I thought I'd show my alteration of the jacket's side front piece. The technique is "slash and separate". The advantage is that all the seamlines remain the same length and no adjustment needs to be made on any of the adjoining parts. The armscye, shoulder and neck remain unchanged. I am by no means a fitting expert. This is just a technique that's worked well for me. So here goes....

I cut along the grainline (you can still see my penciled arrow) from the hem up to the edge of the seam allowance at the shoulder seam. I separate the pattern the desired amount, 1/2" in this case, and then tape in some scraps of my Swedish tracing paper. In order to make the pattern lay flat I make horizontal slashes, again only going to the edge of the seam allowances, near the top of the pattern piece.

An overlap will occur along the horizontal slashes when the pattern is flattened out, and I tape them down. This process, however, distorts the shoulder line. A strip of tracing paper is taped to the top of the pattern piece and the shoulder seam is "trued up".

Here you see the small amount of tissue that has to be added.

Because my velvet, even from the Britex "bargain bin", is quite expensive, I really felt that I needed to remake my muslin. So I ripped it apart, cut new side fronts using the adjusted pattern and sewed it back up again. This is a truly miserable task, the less said the better. I just kept telling myself it would be worth the aggravation in the end.

So here's the revised muslin. Not really much of a change visually. It's still a very fitted garment, just much easier to "button". The change is more in how the jacket feels when worn.

Not quite as much pull from the armpit across the chest, which was the goal.

Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure what to make of the back. My hope is that the tablecloth fabric is clinging both to the felt shoulderpads and my cotton undershirt, thereby making these creases at the shoulder. Maybe this will all smooth out with my velvet and a silky lining? Of course what I'm dancing around here is that I may need a sloped shoulder adjustment. I've done it before. The big question is ... Do I have the drive to go there? It requires changing the shoulder line, dropping the armscye and adjusting the sides. A fair amount of redrafting. Muslin #3? I think I need to ponder this for awhile.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fitting the Belgian Chef's Jacket

Contrary to public opinion, there has been some sewing going on here. I went ahead and made the men's size 40, and here's the result. As I mentioned previously, it went together easily. Please note: I have 1/2" shoulder pads pinned in for these photos. I think this pattern really demands them to look its best.

Overall, not bad just out of the gate. The fit at the shoulders is fine. As usual, the sleeves are a bit too long, an easy adjustment to make. The cuffs? Hmmm... I'm not completely sold on them yet. Convince me! My biggest concern is that it's a touch tight over the chest. I can really feel it pulling across the chest to the arm pit. I'm sure you fitting experts see it too.

The back, however, isn't bad. I don't think I have to mess with anything here. Plus, I never know how to fix things back here anyway! The length is also fine. It covers my belt both front and back. It may be too fitted at the waist which can cause the lower back to "hitch up", especially since the hemline dips down at the center. All things considered, the alterations are minimal.

What I'm really having to confront is what I want this garment to be, and how I intend to wear it. Now that I've tried it on, it strikes me as more of a fancy shirt than a jacket. I just can't see myself putting this on over a shirt and walking out the door. It just doesn't work as outerwear for me. I picture it worn as a shirt, all buttoned up and worn over, at most, a t-shirt for comfort. My velvet is quite fluid, so I would line it with the lightest weight material I can find. I want to keep it close to the body, especially at the waist. The challenge is to add some structure to the shoulders and upper chest while at the same time keeping it soft.

I'm also confronting the need for this garment and the very limited times that I would ever wear it. How many of us really need velvet clothing? Special occasion dressing for men. Now there's a concept ripe for discussion. I'll admit to having a few things in my closet that rarely see the light of day, but I'm glad to have them when the need arises. My "go to" fancy shirt for the past 10 years has been a Claiborne brown suede shirt. It's subtly luxurious, just a little over the top, and it always attracts positive comments. This velvet number, hardly as subtle, could possibly replace it. I just need to convince myself that it's right and that I should make it, even if I have nowhere to wear it right now. But, I digress...

So, back to fitting. Here I've repinned the front adding an extra inch of ease. It both looks better and feels much more comfortable.

Even with my arms raised my belt is staying covered.

Next step, redraft the side fronts adding a 1/2" of ease without altering the shoulder width, and figuring out just how much shorter I'd like the sleeves. Of course the big question looming is if I even have enough fabric to make the jacket. It's entirely possible that I don't, in which case I will have to search for some coordinating fabric. That, in turn, could make for a much more interesting "shirt", so I'm staying open for a variety of possibilities. A little vacation to the Jersey shore via the NYC garment district may be in order.

And for anyone who may be interested, work continues on the boat!