Today, we’re going to cover some fitting basics to prepare us for the next few days. We’ll talk about how to fit a muslin, then the best way to make pattern changes.
Following this, tomorrow we’ll talk about some common adjustments that might be used for men and women. On Wednesday, we’ll move on to adjustments that are most common for women in particular.
Make a test garment
Choose your size
Before cutting your pattern, you’ll need to determine the right size. Take a look at the measurement chart for Albion. The most important thing when fitting a jacket or coat is that it fits your shoulders. Because of this, you should choose a size based on your chest measurement. Carefully measure the full circumference of your bust (for women) or the widest part of the chest (for men). Use that to pick the best size for your test garment.
Cut your muslin
Next, cut a test garment from muslin or another inexpensive fabric. A cheap canvas also works well for a coat. You don’t need to cut the lining, pockets, facings, or tabs. Just cut the yokes, front, back, sleeve pieces. Transfer all the markings from the pattern.
Stitch the muslin together. First staystitch the neckline of your muslin. Using a basting stitch, stitch the yokes to the front and back body pieces. Assemble the hood and stitch to the neckline. Stitch the center front facing to the center front body pieces. Join the shoulder and side seams. Next, assemble the sleeves by stitching the lower sleeve to the upper sleeve. Install the sleeves into the armholes.
Press the exposed seam allowances under 5/8”.
Baste in place.
Check the fit
Now we are going to check for any fitting issues and correct them before you cut into your real fabric. Try the test garment on over an outfit that you think you will be wearing with the coat. If possible, have a friend of family member help you look for any issues. Use a mirror (or multiple mirrors)!
Don’t just stand in one place. Walk around, sit in a chair, bend and straighten your arms. Give someone a hug! It’s a great way to test the fit at the shoulders and back and make sure your arms move freely
If an area is too large, pin out any excess fabric. If it’s too tight, slash the fabric open. Don’t be afraid to cut up your muslin.
Measure areas you pinned out or slashed to see how big any adjustments need to be. If you have one or more trouble spots have a look below at our guides to fitting for men and women to determine the best way to tweak your pattern.
The instructions that follow assume a little familiarity with adjusting patterns. If you’ve never modified a pattern before, you should still be able to follow along. If you’re interested in a basic primer on common pattern adjustments, check out the chapter on fitting in The Colette Sewing Handbook.
If the jacket feels to big or too small everywhere you may need to cut a larger or smaller size. If you’re making a lined coat keep in mind that the final garment will be made from multiple layers of fabric, so it will feel much more snug. Err on the side of feeling loose.
Adjust the pattern
Trace the pattern
When making adjustments, it’s always a good idea to trace the pieces you’ll be modifying onto fresh paper, so you don’t need to cut up your pattern. You will notice that the seam allowances are drawn in with dashed lines. You’ll want to draw them in on your pattern as well. To save time, you don’t need to draw them in on the entire pat- tern. For example, if you know you’ll only be adjusting a side seam and a shoulder seam, simply draw the seam allowances in those particular areas.
Tape the pattern pieces together
For some adjustments, you may sometimes need to tape the front yoke to the front body and the back yoke to the back body along the yoke seam lines. Be sure to align the seam lines, not the edges of the pieces).
Pivoting and slashing
The techniques I’ll show you in the next couple days mainly involve pivoting a pattern at a certain point on the seamline. I’ll refer to these as “pivot points.” These act like little hinges, allowing you to modify the pattern without disrupting the length of the seam. When I instruct you to draw a pivot point, make a little dot on the seamline. Slash up to that point, but not through it. Then clip the seam allowance, also up to the point but not through it. You now have a little hinge for pivoting your pattern around.
Other times, you will actually need to alter a seam. In this case, there will be no pivot point, and you can slash right through the seam allowance.
So, those are the basics for creating your muslin, checking the fit, and the methods we’ll use for altering the pattern.
In the next post, we’ll start going over some of the more common pattern alterations you might decide you need. On Wednesday, we’ll address a few alterations that will be especially useful for women.