Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Didn't realize it had been so long.

I'll catch up with prom dress and the other jacket, plus interim project progress later.

I'm very excited at this point. If you've been periodically checking in, you know that my quest for this year was jackets. I LOVE jackets. They add a bit of polish to every outfit and also hide all the lumps and bumps.

I've been thinking a lot about why I don't use the gorgeous fabrics I have and love the clothes I'm in. I finally figured out that I didn't think it was okay to have beautiful clothes because I'm not at my perfect weight and size. And also because I have not yet perfected my patterns to the point I think I have the perfect fit.

Hello! Light bulb goes off. In reality, I think every woman, no matter, her size, her weight, or her age, should have beautiful clothes that fit her perfectly so she can feel beautiful every single day.

Our American Sewing Guild has many talented members, one of whom, Billie Jane Blankinship, has taught sewing at the High School, 4-H, and college level for many, many years. A few years ago she retired, but has more knowledge about fitting various bodies in her little finger than I may ever have in my head.

As Education Chairman of our Guild, she gets to pick what we do at our monthly meetings, whether it's a speaker, or a demonstration. Due to popular demand, throughout this year, she's doing fitting demonstrations. Her first demo was in March, and was how to do bodice adjustments. My friend Phyllis was the model for that and I learned a great deal. Not the least of which is if you wear over a B cup, you need to select your pattern size by your chest measurement (above the bust) instead of your full bust measurement, and then make a full bust adjustment. That way your shoulders, neck, and upper chest fit your body with fewer adjustments. That was a huge eye opener.

So our June meeting was on sleeves and collars. For me those two items are my biggest hassle areas, so the instant I heard she would be doing them, I volunteered to be the model. I gave Billie Jane several patterns to determine which would most closely approximate the adjustments she wanted to show. Last night, I got my wish.

To start off, we decided on a Vogue by Claire Schaeffer jacket pattern, #8333. She is a phenomenon in the world of sewing, and has written several books, magazine articles, and is one of the top educators in high end fashion sewing.

Billie Jane asked me to make a muslin and do my adjustments to the body by the time of the meeting. Of course, I got busy, and had to do my muslin over the weekend. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I copied, altered, and made my muslin. Last night was the big reveal and the demo. Dale and I thought overall the muslin looked pretty good other than the sleeves and collar. I know my very amply biceps never fit into a sleeve properly, so I always have to adjust them, and haven't ever been really happy with the results. I have about half a dozen fit books, and I've tried all the various types of adjustments, but they're never just right. And now my upper back/neck area has changed a lot and collars are another problem. I have learned a fix that works for me, but again, they aren't exactly right.

So the sleeve. She cut the sleeve slightly below the elbow after determining I needed
additional room not only in the upper arm, but also in the elbow area. She slashed the front of the sleeve about an inch on either side of the center grain line, and added a piece about 3/4" into each slash from the top of the sleeve cap to the lower slash. She also decided that for me, it would be good to add between 1/4" and 1/2" extension to the shoulder to better balance the sleeve and make the sleeve hang better. A while later, she also mentioned to me that I would probably find the sleeve more comfortable if I dropped the armhole about 1/4" on both the body of the jacket and the sleeve. As these alterations were happening, my fellow Guild members were nodding and grinning with each change. Seems so easy, but 20 plus years of fighting sleeves and never getting it quite right were fixed in a manner of about 15 minutes. :P}} The sleeves will also have to be shortened, but that will come with the second muslin.

Next she moved on to the collar. Somehow over the years, my neck has gotten shorter~ very short! Frequently necklines on tops creep up into my hair, and especially collars are just not comfortable. This particular jacket has a collar stand as well as a collar. The fix was so easy! She just pinned out 1/2" along the roll line of the collar starting slightly in front of the shoulder seam. Fantastic! That one took about 5 minutes!

So then I think we're done, but I had asked her to fix anything else she thought needed adjustments. And of course, she pinned me together, stood back and then went to work again. As most women are aware, to a greater or lesser degree, one breast is larger than the other. My left one is the larger one, so the lapel over the right side had a little gap. In order to correct the gap, she slashed the lapel and pinned in a slight little dart that took care of the gap. She also highly recommends doing a piece of stay tape along the roll line 1/2" shorter than the distance of the roll, and easing the jacket to the tape. That way it snugs it right in to your chest and eliminates that gap most of us have in jacket lapels.

Then she stood back and looked. Pinned me back together and asked the group if they saw anything else. Several women mentioned that there were wrinkles below the bust line. Billie Jane stood back, looked, and grabbed her scissors. She had already mentioned that although I did the full bust adjustment, she thought I needed a bit more than I'd added, so I need to up the ante in that area. But the wrinkles below the bust line were due to not adding enough length when I added the width. She slashed from the center of the jacket right below the bust point across to the princess seam adding a wedge of about 1" at the jacket front tapering to nothing at the princess seam.

By the time she finished all of the adjustments, everyone was smiling and nodding.

So now the real adventure begins. This particular jacket is a full on tailored jacket. She has instructions for both hand tailoring with pad stitching and the whole shebang, or you can do it with fusibles, but that won't be the choice this time. Since with all the jackets I've made over the years, I have never made a fully tailored jacket, that's going to happen finally. I'll have my perfectly fitted tailored jacket.

Over the next little while, I'll be tailoring a jacket. I'm going to use a gorgeous silk tweed fabric with a wild silk charmeuse lining, and you get to watch it happen.

After work tonight, I'll start with the adjustments to my pattern, then will do a new muslin to be sure everything is just right. In the meantime, I'm gathering my supplies together to get this wonderful fun new garment underway. I expect there will be several other garments being made in the interim, but this is the main goal.

Look for a new post soon!

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