After a long few months spent building this web site and prepping for a recent string of spring shows, I’m stepping back to spend some time on another personal project. It’s not actually pure indulgence; attempting new garments is the only way to learn skills that will eventually be relevant to things I might make available in the shop. So here goes my first attempt at a modern jacket, Vogue Patterns 8719 which is still in print at the time of this post:
When you go searching the internet for information about sewing mens’ jackets, it’s not long before you encounter some variation of “You can’t make a fine coat from a commercial pattern, a fitted jacket has to be tailored to a man’s measurements and for real luxury must be constructed using horsehair canvas and cut out with shears that have been anointed and passed down from master tailor to apprentice for generations.”
And it’s true, something made from a one-size-fits-some pattern based on a single chest measurement is never going to fit as well as a coat drafted to fit one individual’s chest, neck, arm, waist, etc. measurements… and traditional hair canvas does behave differently than the basic fusible interfacing that most commercial patterns call for. However, the elemental shell of a jacket and the way it’s constructed is basically the same whether you follow a store-bought pattern or draft one from scratch, and if I can learn how it all goes together with the help of a commercial pattern then I can learn how to properly draft one later.
So! I jumped in. Step one: rough cutting and ironing the pattern pieces:
I’ve been in the habit of tracing my patterns onto a more durable paper to preserve the original in case the sizing is way out of whack, or if the pattern in question is out of print, but I got lazy this time and just cut the tissue paper. I did, however, take the time to make a muslin from the front, side, back and sleeve pieces; partly as a practice construction run and partly to make sure the fit was OK. I’ve been fluctuating between a 38 and a 40, so I went with size 40. Overall the fit seems pretty good; it’s a little difficult to tell how everything will hang with heavier fabric, facings, etc. compared to the thin muslin, but it looks like the shoulder placement will be just right and it fits well enough around my torso.
The other reason I wanted to do a muslin was to see what was going on with the sleeve cap ease. I had read elsewhere that this pattern has way too much, and I can confirm it. Because this is a muslin I didn’t spend too much time trying to ease every last thread into place; there are a couple of little gathers here and there instead of a completely smooth seam, but even so you can see how weird and bulgy the sleeve cap would be even if you managed to get the seam perfectly smooth.
I have not made enough sleeved garments to feel fully qualified to take a strong position on the subject, but based on my experiences so far I am inclined to agree that sleeve cap ease, at least the amounts I see in some patterns, is bogus. Even some of the example photos on Vogue’s web site look terrible, and I have other patterns in my queue with photos that are even worse.
So, the next step will be to remove at least some of the ease and try again with the other arm of the muslin. It looks like it should come out just fine if this review of the pattern is any indication.