And the coat sewing continues! As I mentioned in previous posts, I really wanted to draft my own coat pattern rather than use a commercial one, but since I was running out of time I decided to use a coat pattern I had in stash. The reason for this was because like most people I always imagine it will be quicker to use a commercial pattern. As always I kind of regret this because of all the alterations I needed to make.
Some of the alterations are standard for me whenever I use commercial patterns (here I’m referring to McCall, Vogue and Butterick patterns – I haven’t used some of the independents so I can’t speak for them) and some alterations are my fault for having never made a winter coat before.
One thing you need to understand first about sewing patterns, is that just like with most clothing, they are based on a standard figure, much like a model really. The bust is drafted on a B cup, the shoulders are wide, the waistline is shallow and often the hips are quite narrow. So obviously if you fit outside of any of these standards you can’t rely on the pattern as is. You’ll need to make some adjustments to get a better fit.
My standard alteratons:
- Cutting smaller than my measurements
You probably think I’m crazy right? But I find that most sewing patterns run quite large, and are not at all consistent with retail store clothing sizes, which is of course super frustrating. I find that for the fit I like I tend to need to take in 1-2 sizes. So what I do now is measure for my size, choose 2 sizes down and cut that size out. Works like a charm!
This is a no-brainer. I’m not tall, and much like with retail clothing I find patterns result in a garment way longer than my proportions can handle. I had to take a couple of inches off the length of this coat to get it above the knee. Ideally I think I would have like the coat even shorter (more mid thigh rather than just above knee), but since I wear a lot of dresses in winter I’d like the coat to cover the hem of my dresses.
- Full bust adjustment
This only really became a problem for me when I became pregnant with Bunny. Up until then I was the standard B cup, and never had to make any bust adjustments. However for some reason even after Bunny was born and I lost all the baby weight, even though the rest of me went back to my pre-pregnancy size, my bust size remained larger. As a result the patterns don’t reflect my proportions well at all anymore. These days I need to make an adjustment for my full bust. I messed up a little and forgot to do my adjustment before I cut the fabric and sewed, which made things a little harder, so I had to slapdash alteration to get the right effect. So just remember these photos are a very bad example of a bust adjustment! If anyone else has the same bust issue with patterns, just let me know I’ll post some pictures on how to do a proper full bust adjustment :)
- Reducing shoulder width
Like I said before, the shoulders of most patterns are quite wide, much wider than mine. I generally end up having to shorten the shoulder width and then redraft the arm hole (this is because shortening the shoulder width results in a larger arm hole).
Alterations due to my own lack of knowledge
Of course everyone has the same problem, but there’s a real learning curve when you do something for the first time. I have made a lot of suits and jackets (all for Australian temperatures, so very light) and have never made a coat with a thermal layer, or used fleece as a lining. I knew that they would make the coat a lot thicker, and I also knew I’d have to cut the coat bigger to accommodate for the thickness. What I didn’t know was how much bigger I’d need to cut the coat. so I guessed. I cut it one size larger than I would if I was make a suit jacket. That turned out to be too little room. I had to painstakingly open all the seams and sew them again with a teeny tiny seam allowance, giving me a little over half a size more room. If I did this again I’d cut the coat two sizes bigger to make room for the fleece and thinsulate interlining. If I was using thinsulate with a regular lining maybe only 1 or 1 and a half sizes bigger. Now this would not have been an issue if I”d made a toile. But I was rushing and so I paid the price.
So when sewing with any pattern remember that it’s unlikely the pattern will fit you perfectly as is, adjustments will have to be made as we’re all different shapes, and when you are using a pattern for the first time, either test it out before you make your final garment, or be prepared for at least a little pain :)
Previous posts in my Coat Construction series:
Upcoming posts in my Coat Construction series:
Part 5, Finishing touches (maybe included in final reveal)
Part 6, The big reveal! (Hopefully soon!)