Mccalls 6172 | finished!!!

Man, I feel like this blazer took me an eternity to make! There’s that point in blazer and coat-making where you feel like you’ll never finish and you just can’t bear to complete one. more. step. It’s been a while since I’ve made any tailored outerwear, so I was a little rusty in terms of construction order. In the past I had followed the RTW jacket sew-a-long on Pattern~Scissors~Cloth but I thought I would do more hand-sewing this time around (this comes to play once you start attaching the lining). In the end, I ended up going back to the machine and scrapping most of my hand sewing plans.

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Since I’ve already detailed my fitting and construction in previous posts (here and here) I won’t rehash all that. In short—I found the fit to be very good, so long as you go down one size from the size chart. The “size down” thing is pretty standard (unfortunately) with Big 4 patterns, so always make sure you check the finished garment measurements first.

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About the only thing left to talk about is the lining. I picked up a poly charmeuse from joanns, mostly because I was really excited about having a print instead of a solid color. I love the print, but I don’t think I’ll be using this type of fabric for a lining again. It was extremely difficult to sew, it frayed like MAD, and it does end up feeling a little plastic-y. However—PAISLEY! So that basically makes it all good in my book. The shell fabric (wool) has a good weight to it, so this will be a blazer to wear when it’s cold. The poly lining actually lends extra warmth, for better or worse. I do prefer the feel of a rayon bemberg lining, but the stuff I can typically find around here is too thin for blazer or coat lining.

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As I already mentioned, I decided to ignore most of the pattern’s directions and instead followed the construction order of the RTW Jacket sew-a-long. I did the sleeve shell/lining join, and started the hem bagging by machine. It is so much cleaner to finish the facing/lining/hem join by machine rather than trying to hand stitch all that. What I did was sew the facing hem all the way to the dart seam by machine. Then from there, I catch-stitched the remaining hem turn up, and then fell stitched the lining in place. I do think that this gives a nice crisp hem line, superior to simply tacking the hem facing at the SA’s. Plus, that small bit of hand sewing doesn’t take that much extra time.

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One thing I wish I had done differently would be to draft a better lining. Except for the back piece (which at least has a deep pleat for wearing ease) the rest of the lining is just a duplicate of the shell. I was all set to draft this, but I was feeling a little burnt out at that point and just didn’t want to deal. In the future, I will take the extra step! (Jen at Grainline Studio has an excellent tutorial on how to do this.)

Random note: I typically need to lengthen sleeves by 1″ on patterns, but I didn’t make any changes here. So, if you suffer from an average to short arm length… you may need to alter the sleeves.

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I did feel like I had a hard time getting a good crisp press at the lapel and collar edge. Part of this is due to my failing iron (the water chamber leaks, so I have to use a spray bottle with water to get any steam) and the thickness of the wool. In the end, I decided to topstitch the collar and lapel to get the crisp edge I needed. I’m completely happy with this decision given that I wanted a casual look and I had already topstitched the patch pockets in place. The extra topstitching at the collar fits right in and ends up being a nice detail.

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All in all, I am very pleased with the fit I achieved, the fabric is killer, and I know I’ll be wearing this a lot. I can already imagine sewing up both the short and long length options in a variety of fabrics. Basically this pattern is very versatile, and if you’re looking for a classic blazer pattern—this is a good one. Sheesh… now that’s it’s winter here, maybe I should start a winter coat. Ya know, so I can wear it sometime by March.

—lisa g.

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Some dress fitting…

I finished my new blazer and was hoping to get some photos today… alas there is no sun and it’s rained all day… blerg. In the meantime, I’m working on a dress and am having some fitting issues, and thought I’d share. Kennis from the new pattern company Itch to Stitch contacted me to see if I would be interested in sewing and reviewing her first pattern, the Marbella Dress*. To be honest, I was reluctant to sew up a pattern from a company completely unknown to me. Aside from from a handful of indie pattern lines, I’ve been drawn more and more back to Big 4 patterns. The thing is, once you sort out your standard fitting issues you can broadly apply them to a vast number of patterns. With indie patterns, you don’t always know what type of figure they draft for. I don’t like re-inventing the wheel every time I sit down to make something.

However, I was intrigued by this dress because she offers different bodice pieces based on bra cup size. YES. Now Mccalls and Simplicity do have a handful of cup size based patterns, but they only go down to a B (which is their normal draft) so I still have to make bust alterations when using those.  I also happened to have some black cotton sateen on hand that was a bargain buy, so if the dress worked out great! If not, I wasn’t really out much.

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I’m happy to report that the bodice front has a very nice fit, and the bust is perfect—did you catch that?—perfect on me. That is an absolute first. The back bodice has some neckline gape (I had to remove a full inch from center back at the top of the zip), and the overall bodice length is too long (I’ll need to take up the waist seam by 1/2″). These are fairly common issues for me, so nothing shocking there.

Unfortunately, the skirt portion of the dress is problematic for me. The skirt has a tulip shape with pleats on the front, and the back is fitted with darts. Going by my measurements, I cut a 4 at the waist and graded out two sizes at the hip. The finished skirt width seemed perfectly adequate, however the distribution of the skirt width is completely wrong for me. My backside is dramatically throwing off the fit of the skirt, to the point that it’s completely unwearable as is.

I know I have a curvier backside, so I went back and took my hip measurement (40″) and determined that my front hip measure is 18″, and my back 22″. That’s a 4″ difference. So here’s my question: What is a normal backside measurement? Would an 18″ front and 20″ back be more “standard”? Should I select size based on a 38″ hip then add 2″ to the back (increasing through the dart intake)? I just haven’t made many fitted skirts (for a reason!) so I’m pretty inexperienced here. Looking at the back dart, it is comically small… about 1/2″. That seems tiny even for someone with less booty than myself.

Now, I do have more fabric, so I’d like to sort out the skirt problems because frankly—I like this dress. I’ll go back and take some pattern measurements, re-cut the back piece, and trim down the front side seams. However, I’m not sure if I really want the back fitted (as designed), or if I want to go tulip shaped all around (think a more subtle version of the BHL Elisalex). I’m open to thoughts on this one, but at the moment I’m inclined to alter the front skirt piece to use as the back. Looking past the current fit issues, I think this would end up being a fairly useful wardrobe addition, so I’m hoping to end up with something wearable! When I do re-work the skirt, I’ll be sure to give a more comprehensive review of the pattern.

—lisa g.

*this pattern was a freebie, given for me to review.