Making muslins is always a good idea, but the more complex your pattern is, the more precise the fit required, and the more expensive your material is, the more important it is to make a muslin. Since my wedding jacket will be an enormous investment of time (as I hand tailor it) and money (luscious Britex fabric), and since it’s hard to fit on your own body, I wanted to get some help perfecting the fit of my jacket. I turned to the talented and knowledgeable Beth of Sunnygal Studios for a day in her studio, fitting my jacket muslin. We started by pinning on the main front and back tissue pattern pieces. Interestingly, we found that both the bust apex and waistline were 1″ too low for me (even though I’m 5’10”, although most of my height is below my navel). We pinched out the 1″ at the bust apex on the tissue and then cut and marked muslin pieces.
Amazingly, the muslin fit pretty well right out of the envelope. The pattern envelope said that size 12 has a finished waist of 32″ although I have a 29″ waist and the muslin was skin tight, so I don’t really believe it. You can see that I stitched a line of stay stitching along the lapel so that we could easily see where it would be on the finished jacket, a tip from Beth so that you can make sure the style lines of the jacket are as desired.
To fix the tightness through the torso, we opened up one seam (between the front and side front) and added a pretty dramatic half moon which we opted to add entirely to the side front piece when we transferred our markings to the tissue. Otherwise, we made a small adjustment to the lapel because my 1″ height removal had made it gap a little. Since I did make changes, I’m going to make another muslin, this time in a heavier fabric so that the muslin behaves more like the finished jacket will.
Since I was getting Beth’s help, I also had her help me fit a vintage collegiate jacket pattern, McCalls 9905 from 1954. I’m thinking that I’ll actually tailor this jacket before my wedding jacket so I have the experience of hand tailoring a jacket under my belt. Beth very vocally encouraged me to consider fusible tailoring, pulling out lovely jackets and coats to show me her work, but I think I’m going to stay stubborn on these as I really want the hand-tailoring experience.
This jacket was a little dumpy out of the envelope. I understand that it’s a pretty boxy cut, which isn’t necessarily the most flattering on my figure, so that is part of it. But there were a lot of little things that we could do to give the jacket a better fit.
You can see here than one change was to let it out at the hips (I knew that was coming!) and to pinch out some fabric from under the arm. We also took in the center back and added more fabric to the back shoulder to compensate for the amount removed from the underarm. I made all of the adjustments on a tracing of the original pattern pieces because I didn’t want to hurt the vintage pattern. (For the wedding jacket, we went ahead and taped onto the tissue.)
What was most exciting and satisfying for me about the experience was that most of the time, Beth was confirming what I already knew about fit, and her process was similar to mine. There were a few times that she looked at a drag line and said “I don’t really know what to do about that, but let’s try this…” That’s so often my approach and was so satisfying to hear the words from an expert! It felt great to have the validation that I do have a strong skill set as well as to get professional help to share tips and tricks and expand upon my skills. Beth is a phenomenal sewist and I wish it was practical to have her by my side for every step of sewing this jacket, but I’m so glad that she got me off to a good start.