Adjusting Sleeve Lift on My French Jacket

So in my last post I talked about finally finishing my French jacket (or my Faux-nel jacket as I call it). I really tried not to nitpick, but, well, I just can’t let some things go. I keep pinning and marking it up because every time I fix one thing, I see something else. It’s been a struggle to get it to fit the way I want. The main problem areas are the shoulders and sleeves.

First, the shoulder seam is too long. It was about an inch past where it should’ve ended. So that had to be adjusted. That was the easy part.

The sleeves have been giving me the blues since the beginning. I have NO idea why the Big 4 pattern companies make armscyes large enough to hold a toddler, but that’s also my problem with V8804, the Claire Shaeffer pattern I’m using. Not only is the entire underarm baggy, I couldn’t lift my arm at the shoulder without the entire jacket moving. I could only raise my forearms comfortably and it made me feel like a T-Rex.

Enter Threads Magazine. (If you don’t have a subscription, you need one. Seriously.) They always have a bunch of sewing articles that I read and say “Interesting, but when is that ever going to come in handy?” Well finally that day came. I recently read an article about sleeve lift (basically the amount of mobility your sleeve allows when you lift your arm), but I couldn’t remember which issue it was in. Luckily the Google machine works 24/7 so I tracked it down.

My friend-in-my-head Kenneth King wrote a pretty detailed article about how to adjust a pattern or muslin to make the sleeve fit better. It’s counterintuitive, but to make the sleeve fit better, it needs to have LESS room, not more.

For whatever reason I can’t embed his video, but here’s the link explaining the theory behind making the armscye smaller.

He offers three solutions: 1. Add ease throughout (lower the armhole and extend the biceps line of the sleeve); 2. Reduce the sleeve cap height; or 3. Raise the armhole.

I chose number 3 because it seems like the best solution for the silhouette of this jacket. And according to KK, it results in a “Chanel-like sleeve with a high underarm and a relatively slim sleeve with maximum lift” which is exactly what I wanted.

So that’s the alteration I’m doing now. There’s a side panel instead of a side seam so I taped the pieces together so I could just draw one curve.

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I added about 2-1/2 inches to the side panel (number 8) and tapered the line off to the other two pattern pieces. The red ink is to fix a line that wasn’t curvy enough.

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Here are the finished pieces with seam allowance added to the side front and side back.

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The other adjustment I’m working on is lengthening the sleeves because I’m just not a fan of bracelet length. Even when I was trying on the muslin, I just couldn’t get past how odd they look. So I added 5 inches so that the finished sleeve will end at my knuckles. And I’m going to flare them out a so they look like the ones from Tracey’s jacket below (the picture is from A Challenging Sew’s blog. Read the entire post here. Actually, go read the whole blog; she’s pretty amazing.)

I’ll be making yet another muslin tomorrow to fine tune the sleeves. Hopefully it’ll be my last and I can start cutting it out soon.

xoxo,

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Return of the French Jacket

Like most seamstresses, I have a stash of fabric I’ve been amassing for years. Everything from knits to silk to $1/yard cotton prints. Yet I can never find something I like when I want to sew.

The situation became more acute since I decided to stop buying fabric until I use what I have. (Okay, I did buy some fabric a couple months ago but it was on impulse. I got some orange ponte for $3/yard. Don’t judge me. What was I supposed to do? It was ponte. At $3/yard. Don’t look at me like that; you’d have done the same thing.) So now I feel stuck between using fabric that doesn’t inspire me or breaking my “no buy” promise.

My solution is to dig deep and pretend I have no options; that I have to sew my way to freedom. I haven’t been sewing much because, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been deep in my coding obsession (I’ll be writing about that in a separate blog so you won’t have to read about it here.)

To get back on track, I’m revisiting old projects that I’d put aside because a) this is, after all, a blog about making stuff; and b) it’s spring and I don’t have any spring clothes.

My first project is my super-overdue French jacket (Vogue 8804). The one I’ve been talking about since 2014. Yes, 2014!!!! I was waiting until I reached my goal weight, but you know what? I’m close enough AND I can buy more fabric for another one later. I found my old muslin and I’ve been tweaking it a bit, especially the sleeves, which are giving me agita.

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I know the sleeve isn’t set in properly, but I’m over it at this point.

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See those markings at the bottom? I got that idea from A Challenging Sew. Apparently adding length to the center back visually elongates the torso. Go read the entire post because her finished jacket is so beautiful, it’ll make your eyes well up.

Most of the adjustments I had to make are ones I usually do anyway, but some of them were just baffling. For example, when I made up the muslin, I had a HUGE bubble in the middle of my back.  I know I always need to make a swayback adjustment, but this one was extreme. In the pic below, the black thread is the original seam and the red one is the new seam. At the widest distance, the two threads are about 1″ apart.

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I’m going to do a couple more fittings then I’ll be ready to take the muslin apart and start cutting the fabric.

And for anyone who still remembers the bra underwire saga, I finally got my underwires in the mail (yay!).

That’s my less ambitious (and hopefully more realistic) plan for this week.

So, are there any projects you’ve been working on (or planning to work on) for 2+ years? Share your pain the in comments; I’m here for you.

xoxo,

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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.

Front:

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Back:

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

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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.

xoxo,

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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.

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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.

xoxo,

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