Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Be not afraid (because it just wastes time); or, New Look 6911

I had a sudden surge of Wedding Outfit related productivity since my last post. First of all, let me remind you what the wedding outfit consists of:

Ignore the clothes on the right for time being -- I've made the skirt already but the two tops I am taking out of my plan. I am definitely not taking my overlocker to Ireland when I move in a fortnight as I won't have room. It will have to follow when I move all the rest of my belongings in August/September. Therefore, I will not be sewing any knits for the next few weeks. (Yes, I know you can sew knits on a regular machine but I much prefer to overlock, and I can live without those tops.)

On the left though is The Wedding Outfit. So far I've made the skirt and the knit top. The top was really easy -- it's just a hack of my favourite Ottobre pattern, adding in a lace back panel. I like how it turned out a lot, although as usual my neck binding is not quite perfect.

The outstanding item was the jacket, and I have to be honest, I've been terrified of it from the outset. This fear turned out to be totally groundless, and actually I am kind of annoyed with myself, because I stopped sewing for a few weeks because I was feeling so intimidated by the jacket. What a waste of time!

As you can see from the image, it's an armhole princess jacket pattern, New Look 6911. I'm using view B, just like the model is wearing. It's ultra simple -- unlined, no collar, no detailing, nothing to do at all really except sew construction seams. It's really about as basic as you can get with a jacket pattern, which made it seem like a great first jacket to make.

My main worry has been fitting, and also setting in the sleeves. Fitting-wise, I've made up a muslin over the last couple of days and it was... actually pretty easy. For one, I have actually done the armhole princess seam adjustment before, when I tried to make an empire waist tunic. I just slapped the boob portion of that pattern on top of the side front pattern piece and adjusted it to the same size. I had to play about a little bit with the width of the pattern pieces at waist and hip to get a decent fit, and it's still not quite perfect, but that's pretty trivial and I can live with where I'm at. I also made a couple of other minor adjustments, mainly rounded back, full upper arm and a bit of a shoulder adjustment.

Is the fit perfect? No, not at all, and I'm sure I'll find ways to improve the fit of jackets and princess seams as I make more and refine my fitting. However, it is definitely good enough for a first jacket attempt. Less positively, I'm still really struggling to set in a sleeve without getting that annoying puff of fabric at the sleeve head. I need to do a search and see if there are any recommendations for how to deal with that.

However, my big epiphany is this: the fit of the muslin, however imperfect, is already better than BOTH of the RTW tailored items (one jacket, one coat) I have bought in the last six months. The armhole of the muslin is sort of frustrating me because it's a bit wrinkled at the back and not quite the right shape at the bottom, but it's already better than the armhole of the formal jacket I bought from Long Tall Sally, which is so low that any time I move my arm the whole jacket pulls completely out of shape. The fit of the waist/hip versus the bust is not perfect on my muslin, but it's already better than the waist/hip fit of the Pepperberry trench coat I bought, which fits through the bust and waist but flares out ridiculously at the hip. I have the perfect fabric. I have a pattern I like. The finished product isn't going to be perfect, but I am more and more certain that it's going to be better than anything I could buy, no matter how imperfect it is. Plus, I'm planning to make the inside really pretty in a way that no shop is going to. I made some gorgeous cotton print bias binding to bind my seams for a start.

More construction details about the jacket over the next couple of weeks. I have to say though, so far making the muslin has been an enormous boost to my confidence. Let's hope that stays true as I start cutting out the "real" fabric!


  1. Go you!! This is just what I needed to read too - there's been a bit in the blogosphere about giving people 'honest' unsolicited feedback when things don't fit quite right or aren't quite as flattering as the reader thinks they should be. I thought about this yesterday when I was trying on trousers, and decided that as long as what I sew is better than what I can buy, it's ok with me.
    So, after reading this article, I'm going to stop being scared of sewing pants and just have a go. Thank you!

    1. I am always torn on the 'honest feedback' thing. On the one hand, I do get tired of what is called, in another online community I am part of, the 'cult of nice' where we never say anything remotely critical to one another for fear of offending someone, and in the process we don't help each other as much as we could. On the other hand, you know, I am aware my sewing isn't perfect, but very often I've done the best I could and I'm pleased with what I've done despite the imperfections, and someone coming onto my blog and telling me all my mistakes doesn't really help me.

      And yes, you should definitely give making trousers a go. What's the worse that can happen?

  2. Good job going ahead with the jacket project despite your trepidation! I think that perfection is an arduous road. I agree with Lyndle, if you can make something better than RTW, you are on the right track. Happy sewing!

    1. I think if you have a real fitting challenge (the boobs of doom in my case) getting a better fit than RTW is really not all that hard. Even just having a buttoned jacket that doesn't gape over my bust but is also actually even close to the right size at my hips and waist will be almost a totally new experience for me! :D