Today, we start fitting.
I’ve started a Flickr group for us to share progress and ask questions. Please jump in and hep each other out there. I’ll help as much as I can, but it’s impossible for me to answer everything!
On to our checklist for today!
Choose Your Size
First thing’s first. You need to decide what size to cut.
Start by taking a look at the measurement chart that’s included both in the pattern and the companion and try to identify the right size for you, concentrating mostly on the bust measurement. Because a jacket like this one really must fit your shoulders more than anything, your bust measurement will be the best way to determine size. Use your full bust measurement for this.
Cut your muslin
Next, cut out your muslin or other test fabric.
You don’t need to cut the lining or the facings. Just cut the front, back, side back, sleeve pieces, and under collar. Transfer all the markings from the pattern.
Machine baste the muslin
Now you need to stitch the muslin together. Here’s how:
- First, staystitch the neckline of your muslin.
- Stitch the darts on the center back.
- Stitch the back to the side back at the curved seams.
- Next, stitch the back to the front at the side seams and shoulders.
- Stitch the collar between the circles at the neckline.
- Stitch the sleeve pieces together and machine baste them into the armholes.
- Press any seam allowances along the edges back, such as along the jacket front.
- Press the hem under 2 inches.
Check the fit
Now it’s time to check for any fitting problems.
Try on your jacket over your clothing. You want to account for that clothing underneath, so if you anticipate wearing a certain type of clothing underneath, try it on with that. Pin the jacket closed at the button placement marks.
If possible, have a friend or family member help you look for any issues. It can be difficult to assess everything by yourself, especially issues in the back. Use a mirror to examine yourself from different angles. And move around! Walk around, sit in a chair, and bend your arms.
If the jacket feels too big or too small everywhere, you may need to simply cut a different size. If it mostly fits but has one or more trouble spots, you will need to make some tweaks to the pattern.
The instructions that follow assume a little familiarity with tweaking 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.
Adjust the pattern
The Anise Companion includes many different pattern adjustments, including wide/narrow shoulders, square/sloped shoulders, full/small bust adjustments, and swayback. Since we can’t cover all of these on the blog (that’s what the booklet is for!), I’m going to do separate posts on the ones I think are most common: shoulder width and full bust.
But first, here’s a little info on the method we’ll use for adjusting patterns. For clarity, I’ll be using a slightly simplified version of the pattern without all the different sizes.
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 pattern. 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.
The techniques I’ll show you mainly involve pivoting a pattern at a certain point on the seamline (that’s the dashed line).
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. 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.
To make adjusting the back easier, tape the two back pieces together along the side seam. So, for my pattern, I aligned the dotted lines that represent the seam. If you have trouble lining up the curve completely, don’t worry too much. Just try to get the seams aligned in the area you’re going to be adjusting.
Now, follow the instructions for the adjustments needed for your pattern. Again, I’ll cover full bust and wide/narrow shoulders here on the blog, and several more are in the companion. If you need even further fitting help, I’d recommend a book on fitting. My favorite is the comprehensive-but-pricey Fitting and Pattern Alteration. You may want to check for it at your library.
Don’t forget to join the Flickr group and start posting your progress!
Hi there! I have a question concerning seam allowances: according to the pattern instructions seam allowances are supposed to be 5/8” in all seams except for neckline and armholes, where they are only 1/4”. However, in the photos above, seam allowances, marked with the dashed lines, seem to be the same 5/8” everywhere, including neckline and armholes. I am confused – am I missing something?
same question here…
I just looked into this, and it looks like this is an error in the downloadable version. The seam allowances should be 5/8 everywhere, but an extra sentence was left in from a different pattern! I’ll get this fixed ASAP, so sorry for the confusion.
Just to clarifiy: the seam allowances should be 5/8″ EVERYWHERE including the armholes? I set in the sleeves on my muslin at 5/8″ and I thought they looked funny and pulled at the underarm. When I saw this comment I unpicked and reset them in at 1/4″ (which seemed VERY narrow.) However, at 1/4″ I feel like I would then require a small shoulder adjustment. I’m having a terrible time with the sleeve and shoulder fitting.
Yes, they should be 5/8″ everywhere in the pattern.
Sorry to hear you’re having trouble at the underarm! Have you tried posting photos in the Flickr group for advice? http://www.flickr.com/groups/anise-sewalong/
Sarai, I did post photos at the Flickr group and I *thought* that the mistake I made was with the 5/8″ seam allowance. I redid one side at 1/4″ and still wasn’t happy and then did the other side at a more careful 5/8″. Based on trying on the muslin over a very heavy sweater I think my size will work without any adjustments at all and the proper seam allowance. I’m sort of disappointed with that result actually as I wanted to try my hand at making an adjustment. Anyway, I’m done fiddling with that darn muslin and ready to move on to the real deal! Thanks for the great tutorials and sew-along.
I’m confused about how to sew the jacket center back piece to the jacket side back. Can anyone help? I also posted in the forum.
You mean this?
Having never sewn a fitted jacket before, I’m a little stumped with the sizing. I am pear shaped, with a size 2 bust and size 8 hips (yes I’ve nursed 3 babies, haha)…Anyway, would it be better to cut a size 8 and do an extreme SBA, or cut a size 2, which would hopefully fit across the shoulders and chest, and then just widen out at the waist/hips?
Oh I’m glad to find this answer here! Being as far behind as I am, this one had me stumped for the same reasons. Thank you! :)