French Jacket Muslin

In my last post, I talked about the beginning of my French Jacket. Now let’s talk about the muslin.

First, I know you’re supposed to make a muslin for just about everything, but generally I don’t unless the garment is fitted. I guess I’d rather just make adjustments to the garment. But in this case, I wanted to do everything by the book so I went ahead and made it. And I’m so glad I did.

Anyhow, here’s are some pics. It’s super overcast here right now, so this is the best I could do – and these are with the flash.





Another picture of the back. I have no idea why this one came out so much lighter.


You may be wondering why she only has one arm. Well she had two arms originally, but the sleeve caps needed so much ease that I took both of them out. This was my third attempt to get the sleevecap to fit. On the inside, the cap is pushed in about 3/4 inch past the suggested seam allowance. I’m not sure why this happens, but one day I’m going to devote a few hours to figuring out the whole armscye/sleeve cap mystery. I’m with Kathleen Fasanella and her “Sleeve cap ease is bogus” post. The more I sew, the more I think that the pattern companies only use one sleeve sloper for pretty much every garment.

I cut a size 12 and naturally I had to make some changes. The first thing I changed was adding length to the sleeves. I’m not a big fan of bracelet length jackets so I wanted to extend the sleeves to my wrist. I added 2 inches, but I still need to add another 1-1/2 – 2 inches. Second, I have a swayback so there was a big bubble in the back of the jacket. If you look at the second picture, the back darts are much closer together than they were originally. I took about 1-1/2″ out at the curve of my back and and tapered it to the bottom and top of the center back seam. Surprisingly I didn’t have to do an FBA because there’s so much ease. The last change I want to make (and I forgot to do it on the muslin) is add 2 inches at the center back bottom. According to Leisa at A Challenging Sew, it visually elongates your torso. As I’m 5’5″, I’ll take any visual elongating I can get.

The next step is to fine tune the fit and then I start cutting.

I’m also working on Vogue 8787 which is another challenge since I don’t really sew knits. The last knit dress I made was a white, knee length dress with a loooooong zipper. It was a massive disaster, but I wore it anyway because it was the first thing I made. I’ve come a long way since then, but zippers + stretch fabric still makes me very nervous, but I now know to stabilize the zipper area so this one should be much better.


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My French Jacket

I haven’t been blogging, but I HAVE been working. Kinda. I made a couple of skirts and I’ve been catching up on my knitting.

One of the things I’ve been working on is a French Jacket. Inspired by A Challenging Sew and Thewallina, I decided to fulfill my longtime dream of making a Chanelesque jacket (I can’t say it’s a Chanel without tempting fate and I really don’t need a cease and desist letter in my life right now.) Seriously, check out those blogs. Amazing.

Also, I stalked the Artisan Square sewing forum frequented by of the wonderful and amazing Ann Rowley of the Great British Sewing Bee (Please, oh please can we replace one of those dreadful housewives “reality” shows with this one?). Anyway Ann made her own from jacket and was generous enough to document the process in Flickr. I love her.

I’m using those sources plus Claire Shaeffer’s Cardigan Jacket book and DVD and my old issues of Threads to guide me. Craftsy has a class called the Iconic Tweed Jacket, but I haven’t bought it yet. Honestly, I’m on the fence (plus I heard rumors that Susan Khalje – my sewing fairy godmother and badass extraordinaire – is working on her own DVD. I’m almost embarrassed at how excited I got when I heard she was doing it.)

So back to my jacket. The hardest part was finding the right material. Since it’s for spring, the fabric had to be light, but also classic enough so that I wouldn’t get tired of looking at it. I had big dreams of a fun, springy bright bouclé. After days of looking for the perfect fabric, I decided on basic black cotton bouclé from Mood. Yeah, I know, but at least I got a fun lining.


I’m using Vogue 8804 because it seemed a bit more challenging than 7975 and I want to push myself on this project.

PSA to other seamstresses: If you’re using V8804, piece number 14 (it’s part of the sleeve) should be graded. If your pattern piece is not graded, contact Vogue customer service and have them send you a new piece. I received my replacement piece within the week. Thanks to the wonderful women at my favorite sewing forum, Artisan Square for pointing this out.

Next time I’ll discuss my muslin and the changes I made.


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My Precious

I want to introduce you to my new precious. I’ve wanted this book for well over a year, but I was waiting for it to get to a reasonable price. (The word “reasonable” is relative when it comes to out-of-print books though.)

Bridal Couture

I can’t even remember the first time I heard about it, but I think it was when Gertie mentioned how helpful it was to her. That’s when I knew I had to have a copy. I’m fascinated by garment construction and there are few things I love more than well-fitting clothes so I moseyed over to Amazon to buy a copy and was promptly stopped in my tracks by the prices.  That’s when it became my mission to find a cheaper copy. Now of course I could’ve bought the book on CD from Susan Khalje’s site for $39+ S&H, but I wanted, no I NEEDED, to have the book in my hands. I couldn’t find a copy locally for love or money until about a month ago when there it was on Amazon for $50 and I almost fainted from joy.

Now I haven’s spent that much money on a book since grad school, but I just had to have it. After a few days of going back and forth, I finally hit the “Checkout” button. The book was published in 1997, so there are some, ahem, interesting gowns such as this:


BUT, there’s so much useful information in this book and great diagrams like this:


that it’s worth every penny!  FYI, this book is mostly about specialty construction techniques for bridal and evening wear, but the techniques can be adapted to everyday sewing if you want to take your garments to the next level. As books go, this one is right up there with my copy of Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Techniques which I refer to regularly so I’m really happy I bought it.