Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jacket Muslin Fail


Margy's fabulous Dotty jacket

This is a story of failure, or an almost failure. My failure, not Margy's.

Have you seen Margy's fabulous polka dot jacket, which she calls Dotty? It's awesome, right?

Actually, I have the same fabric. I purchased it from Gorgeous Fabrics, right after Margy received hers and pronounced it droolworthy. It's a really nice textured polka dot brocade - Margy has a knack for finding such treasures.

We decided to do a little challenge. An uncomplicated challenge where we would both sew up the same fabric. Margy knew right away which pattern she wanted to use. We gave ourselves a deadline of the end of May.

This challenge sounds easy, but for me, not so much. I can really angst over choosing a pattern, and this was no exception. I have lots of jacket patterns, and narrowed it down to a small pile, but didn't want to choose the final pattern until the fabric arrived and I could grope it firsthand. It's a lovely fabric and had more drape than I expected, for a woven brocade.

I decided to make New Look 6855. I like the princess seams, which end in a raglan seam. I also thought the notch in the neckline at center front was cool. A very nice design and now OOP.



I grabbed some ugly fabrics out of my "muslin worthy" fabric basket. (That basket is starting to get woefully empty.) I started with the short version of the jacket in my usual size - 18 - and did the minimal pattern alterations: a hefty FBA and removing some (but not all) of the hip shaping due to my straight hips. I knew I'd have more altering to do, but this is a good starting point. I quickly sewed it up and, the next morning, ran out at 6pm in the fog to take a couple quick pictures, because I was sharing them with Margy.



No, I don't iron my muslin fabrics. ;)


Oh, DEAR, you are probably thinking. I can't disagree. However, I want to point out that this is typical of my experience with Big 4 patterns. The shoulders are too wide by a couple of inches. Despite my hefty FBA, I still need more bust room. The sleeves are too long, and the hips are still too big. The back is too narrow. The raglan seams in back pouf out in a funny way when my arms are down. Even more disappointingly, I didn't really like the neckline as much as I thought I would. I decided that I just didn't like this result enough to keep going down this path.

(By the way, should I mention that when I mailed Margy these photos that early morn, that I bcc'd myself, or so I thought. I actually sent them to the head of the dance department at my daughter's university. She has a similar login to my work login — auto-completion bites again. It figures I'd sent her these pictures instead of more flattering photos!)

Back to the drawing board. I have been wanting to make up the Style Arc Coco jacket.


I thought it might work nicely for this fabric, but I wanted to make some changes. I started with my usual size - 18 - and eliminated the bottom band, did a hefty FBA and removed some of the hip shaping. Pretty much the exact same alterations as I did for the New Look pattern. I grabbed another piece of fabric from the "muslin worthy" basket (getting even emptier) and sewed this one up.




Interesting, yes?

I usually avoid horizontal lines on or near the bust, but I knew I could eliminate that horizontal seam by extending the princess seam to the shoulder. But I think you can see why horizontal seams in that area aren't so great for my uber bust. This pattern fits better, from the start, than the New Look. The sleeves are a good length. The shoulders are too wide, but only by about 3/4". I need to tweak the fit at the hips, and at the front princess seam (very normal for me after a large FBA), and take in a bit at the waist so that it is less boxy. I need to widen the back (again, quite normal). The alterations are not that different than the alterations for the New Look, but it will be less work than fussing with those raglan seams in back.

But I decided I didn't want to use this pattern for the polka dot fabric, either. Margy was on vacation, but had her jacket shell completely constructed and I didn't even have a pattern selected. I was starting to feel rushed and a bit frustrated, so we decided to forgo the challenge. When I am feeling more inspired, I will try again. I may go in a completely different direction.

Instead of working on the jacket last weekend, I made something fun. I'll post it when I get some good pictures. We've had days of heavy fog here, typical for a San Francisco summer and not that unusual for a SF spring.

By the way, if you wonder what I am wearing in these pics, those are my PJs. I bought this wonderful African fabric at JoMar's a year ago in April, when I took my fabric road trip with Peggy.

38 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this.

    We all have those times in sewing when our karma is just not up to snuff. I so love the vast, vast majority of what you make - especially all your funky pants. So it is reassuring to see that you too struggle to choose the right pattern for a particular fabric.

    Love the PJ bottoms - can't wait to see the fun piece now.

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    1. Thanks, Martha. I've decided that it is educational, at least for some, to see some of the process.

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  2. We'll find another challenge! The worst thing is spending your precious sewing time on something that just isn't working...

    I, too, love your PJ bottoms!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Margy. :) And yes, we will!

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  3. You can have no idea how much I appreciate hearing about how awesome sewists like you have issues with patterns too. I am working on what I am sure will be a wadder when I am done, and I was feeling pretty crappy about it. However, you have made me feel so much better about it. Thank you thank you thank you.

    PS-adore the pj's. Of course.

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    1. Awww, thanks, Elle! Tops are always a challenge for me, especially out of woven fabrics. I am glad my pain lessened yours. :)

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  4. Hmm, I am certainly not sold on either of them. I think I like you in V-necks best, how about a jacket with a V-neckline?
    and I know what you mean about the diminishing muslin pile.
    whew that is some fog you have today.

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    1. Thanks, Beth and, I agree. I was not sold on either pattern either. You are right, V-necks are a good line for me. When I made my princess seamed bathrobe last year, several of my local sewing pals insisted I should wear it out as a coat. I'll keep looking for the right pattern.

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  5. I'm with Beth - go for some kind of open neckline either a scoop or v or something with a medium sized lapel. It was interesting for me to see the effect of the horizontal line - at first my eye went straight to the narrowest point - the line - which then emphasised what was under it. Since I am also in "uber boobage" territory (I will always be grateful to you for this expression) this was so useful for me to see. I think you could pull off a yoke style if it was attached to a lapel, then the lower narrow point would redirect the eye to another focal point.

    At any rate, it's a great idea for a challenge but is sounds like the fabric is not ready to be made. I sometimes find the fabric has a mind of its own and if you haven't got the right style it will refuse to be compromised.

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    1. Thanks, Mary! You know, taking pictures is the BEST exercise. There have been times I was asked if I like something that I made and I often say, I won't know until I see the pictures. You can see the design lines, silhouette, fit, etc. so much better.

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  6. I don't see this as a story of failure at all. I only see success. No, the jacket wasn't finished, but the red fabric was not lost and you found things that just don't work. Success, Success, success!!! When you do make up the fabric it will be something fabulous that you will be very happy to wear.
    I too love the pjs.

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    1. You are right, of course, Rhonda. Thanks!

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  7. I guess the good think from all this is that you only wasted the muslin and not your lovely fabric. However I am sure you will come up with a stunning pattern for it

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    1. I agree, pdiddly! Though I need more muslin fabric. ;)

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  8. I'm sorry you're not feeling inspired, but I understand. I'm so thankful you posted these photos though. Seeing you talk about what is working and not working for you with these muslins helps me to think about the jacket I'm currently working on. I need to take a look at the jacket back with my arms out forward. It will help me better appreciate the ease in the back. Can't wait to see what fun you made!

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    1. Thanks, Amy! Yes, I think it's helpful to take pictures with arms down and forward and to study the wrinkles.

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  9. I agree with Rhonda, it is a win if you don't wreck good fabric. Muslins and experimentation are a requirement of our craft.
    Thanks for posting such interesting stuff!

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    1. Thanks, Robin! I really appreciate your feedback. :)

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  10. Making a muslin = always a learning experience. I'm glad you didn't cut into your nice red fabric. I agree with the v neck idea. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

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    1. Thanks, Dixie! I also have some creative twists I want to use with this fabric, so that makes the right pattern even more critical.

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  11. Those are some excellent pajama bottoms. And you are very courageous and generous to tackle two muslins and educate us this way. Thanks! PS I admire very much your decision to cancel the challenge/timeline portion of the project!!

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    1. Thanks, Claire! Yes, I was faced with driving myself crazy or letting myself down. I chose the latter, but Margy was so gracious, I got over it tout de suite!

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  12. Shams, this post is such a terrific example of this generous, thoughtful and challneging sewing community. It's always so enlightening to see the process of putting together personal style, fabric and patterns. I too like the open neck idea and know that you'll find the right pattern for that fabric one of these days. Muslins and pictures may be tedious but they are so useful in the long run. Thanks!

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  13. That second jacket is a great example of why an upper bust seam doesn't work with a large bust. You didn't ruin the good stuff, but two failures that eat up precious sewing time is frustrating. Glad you had time to sew something fun.

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    1. Yeah, horizontal lines on the uber bust are *not* a pretty sight. I decided to really just let it all hang out, as an educational lesson. ;)

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  14. So sorry those jackets were just not meant to be! I'm sure you'll find the right one for your lovely fabric eventually. Thanks for the inspiration to make muslins though! I'm pretty lax in that regard and usually try for the "wearable" version. Well, sometimes it works out!

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    1. Thanks, Louisa! I don't always make muslins, but sometimes it's really worthwhile. Especially if you differ significantly from standard measurements.

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  15. Thank you so much for taking even more time to outline your process and the results. It really helps those of us who may be struggling with our own fit issues, and also with improving our techniques and craft in general. I agree that photos don't lie, dammit.

    I just set aside SW 8th Avenue skirt, which was almost done. I measured twice and cut once...the skirt won't meet around my hips. I have NO idea yet what went wrong.

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    1. Thanks, Mary!! I'm sorry to hear about the 8th Ave skirt. Those patterns can be hard to measure when flat. That's one I have not yet made.

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  16. I disagree on no2. When the yoke seam is far up, it serves to emphasize the shoulders instead of the bust. I vote to keep it :-).

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    1. Interesting perspective, M-C! To my eye, when I look at that horizontal seam, I shudder.

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  17. I'm sorry about the jacket/muslin fail, but muslins live to fail, so they can save the good fabric. Love the PJ pants.

    Rose

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    1. Thanks, Rose! But there's always more test fabrics, isn't there? :)

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  18. Thank you Sharon for sharing these experiences with us. For my body, armhole princess seams are not complimentary. Have you tried shoulder princess seams? When I see all of the successes you have, I can see how your joy of sewing and creating garments inspires so many, including me!

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    1. Thanks, Kuby! I have used both armhole and shoulder princess seams. I don't have a strong preference. In this case, I would have converted the Coco to a shoulder princess seam.

      Many young people seem to think that princess seams give a dowdy look. I would be interested to hear more about why that is.

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  19. I'm a toile girl too, much better to find out if the pattern suits you and decide on fit alterations before cutting your good fabric! Muslins are quick to sew, you really do see what the pattern/style looks like on, can take photos (agree that is the clincher) and then cut it out confidently with 1 cm seams. I find sewing without trying to fit as you go is much more enjoyable. It was helpful to see the SA coco jacket made up too (thanks). I'm small busted but have wide square shoulders, so the horizontal yoke probably wouldn't suit me either.

    Love the jimjams and Beth's suggestion about trying a jacket that has a V or open neckline. I look forward to seeing the next iteration.

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  20. I think I have to have the Style Arc pattern.

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