So for any of you wondering (and thank you to those lovely people who sent an email to check up on me), I am alive and well in a very chilly and wet Sydney! Yes, yes, yes, you read it correctly! A very cold and wet SYDNEY. I thought I left these awful grey days behind me when I moved away from London, but it seems like I took the rain with me (that's what I get for moving to Sydney in April). Luckily, before the rain hit I did manage to soak up a bit of sun, and even managed to squeeze in a swim or two. I have found a place to live, bought a car and caught up with most of my friends and family, so with all that done, I think it is about time I get back to blogging (and hopefully some sewing sometime soon too).
I thought I would come back from my much longer than intended Blogging Sabbatical with a bang, by starting a new blog series.
I occasionally get an email asking a specific question about one of my projects, or with a pattern making question. I thought it was about time I started answering these questions here on the blog, as I am sure many readers would also find the information useful (hopefully).
The question I received this week was from a lovely reader in Malaysia. She is planning a trip to Europe in December and is going to make herself a nice warm jacket for the trip. She has a pattern for a much lighter jacket (see photo above) that she wants to adjust to be suitable for a heavier fabric (she is thinking corduroy) and thought I could offer some advice, seeing as though last year I turned Tilly's Francois dress into a Francois jacket!
Her specific questions about the project are:
Do I need to make the jacket one or two sizes larger as to make sure there is space for lining and ease?
For my dress to jacket transformation, that is exactly what I did. I knew I was going to need extra ease everywhere, so thought it would be easier to just make it in a bigger size. I did have some regrets about this decision mid-make though, when I looked in the mirror and the shoulders of the jacket were protruding miles past my actual shoulder (and this was not really the look I was going for). So what I will say is, before deciding whether to jump up a size or two, you first need to have a think about what kind of fit you are going for with this garment.
Think about the intended fit of the original garment or pattern. For example, the Francois dress is designed to be worn on its own (simply with underwear underneath), or maybe in some cases a long sleeve top or shirt underneath. Meaning, there is not much room under this dress. It is designed to sit quite close to the body. But, by making a jacket, I had to think about what I planned to wear under the jacket, which, unless you are making a Spring / Summer light jacket, you would normally be anticipating wearing at least a layer or two under the jacket.
As you have already made the pattern as it was originally intended (which I think of as a Golden Rule when pattern hacking), what I would do is put on a few layers of clothing (maybe a long sleeved top as well as a thick jumper) and see if you can get the jacket on over the top of your layers. If you can't even get it on, I would say you are definitely going to need to go up a size or two.
If you do have to change the overall size, I would suggest making a quick toile of the bigger size to check the fit, before cutting into the actual fabric. You don't need to bother with the collars or closures for a toile, just the main body and the sleeves to check how they fit.
If you are able to get the jacket on in it's original size, you may not need to change the sizing, but instead just make some adjustments to the original pattern. You should quickly be able to see (and probably feel) where you will need to make the adjustments.
I predict the main place that will need some adjustments will be at the sleeve. First of all, the sleeve will probably feel too tight at the elbow, with the extra layers underneath.
To widen the sleeve, first work out how much you need to add to the pattern. You can take an educated guess, or take a tape measure and hold it loosely around you elbow at about the size you would like the sleeve to be. Make sure you see how the tape feels when you bend your elbow too.
Take note of the measurement and compare it with the original elbow measurement on the pattern (make sure you exclude seam allowance from the measurement if your pattern includes seam allowance).
Work out how much you need to add to the elbow, and distribute this measurement either side of the elbow line on the pattern (add half of the measurement to one side and half to the other).
Redraw the seam lines, starting at the point where the sleeve cap meets the straight seam, and draw down towards the wrist line, ensuring you pass through the endpoints of the new elbow line.
Check that the lines are still the same length.
To finish off the new sleeve, redraw the wrist line with a straight line.
You may also feel as though the armhole of the jacket has become too tight, now that you are wearing the extra layers. To adjust this, you will need to lower the armhole until the circumference of the armhole is at your desired length (once again take an estimated guess or use a tape measure to measure what an ideal armhole size would be and then make these changes to the pattern).
Make sure that you make the necessary changes to the sleeve as well, so that the pieces still fit together (the sleeve cap will have to be extended by the same amount as what you have lengthened the armhole by).
Check the two pieces fit nicely together by taking a stiletto and “walking” the sleeve into the new armhole.
As well as making changes to the sleeve, I can imagine you may also need some extra ease around the waist and hips to accommodate your winter layers (and a tummy full of warm winter food).
Work out how much you would like to add to the waist of your pattern and divide the measurement by four (you divide by four because you will be distributing the extra ease equally through the pattern). One quarter will go to the front right side, another quarter to the front left, and so on... The result is how much ease will be allocated to each pattern piece.
Take your front pattern piece and draw guidelines down the length of the pattern, parallel(ish) to the centre front. I suggest drawing one that bisects the neckline, one the shoulder and one the armhole (although this does not need to be exact), down to the hemline. These guidelines will become your "cut" lines.
You will now distribute the ease through these three cut lines. Meaning, you will need to divide the allocated ease by three.
For example, if you decide that you would like to add an overall 12cm worth of ease through the waist, this means you will be adding 3cm to each quarter. To distribute this 3cm in each quarter you will be spreading each 'cut line' by 1cm.
Before cutting into your pattern, place a large sheet of pattern paper underneath, so that you will have something to secure your pattern to once the changes are made.
Cut the first line (closest to the centre front), until you are 1-2mm from the stitch line, leaving a small "hinge" uncut. In this case it is the edge of the pattern as the pattern does not include seam allowance, but if your pattern does have seam allowance, be sure to remove it from the effected seams first.
Open the waist line by the amount required and use masking tape to hold in place.
You will notice that by opening the waistline, the hip line and hemline will automatically become wider too.
Spread the two remaining cut lines by the same amount as the first and tape in place.
Redraw the hemline with a smooth curve.
Depending on how much you are adding to the pattern, your neckline and armhole may become distorted. If this happens, redraw these lines with a smooth, even curve.
Repeat process for the back pattern piece.
You may also feel that there is not enough room in the shoulder seam. If this is the case, you can simply open up the shoulder seam (by cutting through the seam line on the pattern) and adding the required amount. By doing it this way, you will not effect the neckline or the armhole.
Redraw the shoulder seam with a straight line.
Make sure you make the same adjustment to the back shoulder seam.
I wouldn't be too worried about adding more ease to accommadate lining (unless of course you are lining it with fleece or something equally as thick).
The final thing I think you should think about is the collar. When using a thicker fabric, you will most likely need to trim back the undercollar pattern, more-so than you would need to when using a thinner fabric. Without the pattern or the fabric in front of me, I cannot tell you by how much, you may just need to experiment.
Do u think corduroy is suitable for the winter jacket?
I am probably not the best person to answer this question as I have never used corduroy in my life! But from what I do know about it, I think it is a good choice. I would allow a little bit of extra ease in tight areas, as due to the nature of corduroy, if an area is too tight the weave will become distorted and will look quite obvious. Check out this piece from Threads for some specific details about corduroy (if you haven't already come across it).
Well that brings me to the end of the very first of the 'Ask Em' series. I really do hope you find it useful too (you can let me know in the comments section!).
Please get in touch if you have a question you think I may be able to answer, and I will do my best to get back to you or even answer it on the blog (although I must say that I am no expert on fit, and would prefer if questions were limited to pattern cutting techniques and achieving certain design details).
Hope everyone is having a lovely week!