Monday, April 25, 2016

Blazer of 2016 -- Muslin #1

After weeks of procrastinating I jumped into the muslin phase, and it didn't take long to figure out that I've got my hands full with this pattern. There were some pretty glaring problems right out of the envelope. So I decided to do some "preemptive" adjustments.


First off, the center back seam is ramrod straight and I know that I have what Roberto Cabrera calls "stooped posture". Doesn't sound very attractive, but it beats Dowager's Hump any day! (Actually, I think they're one in the same). I need more curve to the upper back, otherwise the collar will pull away from the back of my neck. Not a good look.



The fix for this is to create a 1/2 to 3/4 inch dart from below the arm hole to the center back. This has the effect of tilting the upper jacket forward. So here you see my adjusted pattern over the original.


To prevent the front of the jacket from drooping down, a corresponding dart is made on the jacket front.



And it looks like this.


Sleeves on jackets are always too long for me, so I shortened the sleeves by 1 inch.


I removed 1/2" both above and below the elbow on the "shorten here" lines from my pattern. Using Swedish tracing paper makes this a breeze. I just fold it and stitch a 1/4" seam on my machine. I also reduced the ease on the sleeve cap by 1". My goal is to create a more natural shoulder. Time will tell if I can pull that off.


Lastly, I noticed the the front and back shoulder seams are the same length. According to Cabrera the back shoulder should be at least 1/2" longer than the front. Easing the back into the front creates room for the shoulder blade. I don't have a picture, but I simply added 1/2" at the arm hole side of the pattern.


So here's what those changes turned into.....



The center back adjustment has worked, but I think I still need a touch more curve. As you can see the collar still doesn't want to sit against the back of my shirt collar. The shoulder seam is also running to the back of my shoulder. This isn't a fitting issue addressed in Cabrera, but I feel that the shoulder line needs to be swung forward about a 1/2" so that it sits closer to the apex of my shoulder. It would be a simple fix. Please chime in if you know the answer to this problem! Am I on the right track? My gut just tells me it needs fixing.



Eeeeek. The big problems are up front. The neckline is just too wide. Plus, I feel the jacket pulling across the shoulder / upper chest like there just isn't enough fabric there. I think the solution to this mess may be two pronged. I'm going to try redrawing the neckline to add a bit of fabric towards my neck, in addition to slashing and separating the upper chest portion a small amount. Maybe 3/8" to start. I'm open to all suggestions on this one. Something's gotta give!



All these wrinkles are telling me I need a substantial belly adjustment! Also, the button placement (marked with chalk) on the original pattern is unusual to say the least. I'll need to lower the stance by bringing the top button down at least to the level of the pin, maybe even lower.


Before sending this muslin to the dust bin, I let the side seams out about 3/4" on each side.


This was the only glimmer of hope in what was, over all, a pretty dismal start.


On a brighter note......I picked up some lovely thistle design blazer buttons on eBay.



These are from Waterbury Button in Waterbury, CT. "The brass Capitol of the United States". I love them. Now I just need to build a damn jacket around them!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Blazer of 2016, The Struggle to Launch


I've assembled everything I need for this project, tailoring mojo has decided to go on vacation somewhere. So while I wait for it to come back, I'll share where things currently stand.


First up.... Things to make tailoring a jacket easier.


Never underestimate the power of thread! If you don't already own a spool of #40 cotton basting thread, go out and get one now. It's amazing how something so simple can make such a huge difference in your sewing. It's virtually tangle free, so it makes basting a breeze rather than an exercise in frustration. Soon, you'll be basting everything.

Another tangle free wonder is silk thread. There's a considerable amount of hand sewing in a tailored jacket so if one can make it easier, why not? Do the mere words "pad stitching" strike fear into your heart? Fear not. Silk thread will make it a walk in the park.

These spools are sitting on some black pocketing that I picked up at Steinlauf and Stoller during the MPB Winter Frolic. It has a woven in stripe. Classy and silly inexpensive, $7/ yd. The gold silk thread won't see all that much use. I'll use it for pickstitching the lining.



Other supplies that make life easier are premade sleeve heads (on the left), and premade hair canvas jacket fronts (right). The jacket fronts are sold by the chest size, and are very reasonable. I think about $12 / pair. Sure, you can make your own, and they may be superior, but you will pay much more just for the materials. In the end, I'm just not that much of a tailoring purist.


Materials in hand, I turn to the pattern.....



This pattern is from 1969. Purchased on Etsy. This pattern is unusual in the very small world of men's patterns, because it doesn't have darts running down the center of the jacket fronts. Instead, the darts extend from under the arm. This makes it the ideal pattern for a plaid jacket. The plaid is uninterrupted the entire length of the front. And for the truly ambitious, the pocket flaps can be matched as well!



Maybe someday I'll attempt a plaid jacket. That thought is driving me to "perfect" the fitting of this pattern to the best of my ability; knowing full well that perfection isn't really in my DNA. Unfortunately, it hasn't gotten off to a very good start. It's gonna take some serious mojo. More of the struggle next time.