Friday, June 6, 2008

Q&A #2

NancyK brought up the prospect of walking ease in the comments. This is something I hadn't thought of, as I have had a tendency in the past to make coats with really full skirts that don't need it, and this is a custom technique that I did not learn way back when. Anyway, in her book Couture: The Fine Art of Sewing Roberta Carr does a very nice job explaining the concept and the way to figure how much you'll need and the other changes you need to make, to incorporate walking ease into your pattern. If you can get your hands on it for the directions and formula for figuring, and you're making a straight coat of a solid fabric that could use the walking ease, then by all means, do.

Els brought up a good point in the comments, which I've added to the instructions above: Draw your horizontal lines on your pattern tissue for your waist and hip lines, across all pieces, then transfer those lines to your muslin also.


Lisa: I have straight shoulders and a small bust (A cup); however, I am considering not making a bust adjustment. Will this make a huge difference in the fit of my coat? (Vogue 8346)

Marji: You are making a shoulder princess line coat. The adj for A cup can be made during fitting the muslin; don't worry about that in the flat pattern stage.

Lisa said: Marji, I am 6' tall. Which will give me the better fit:

1) adding 3 inches to the hem or
2) adding 3 inches at the waist where it shows the lengthen here or
3) dividing up and adding 1 inch at the high chest, 1 inch at the waist and 1 inch at the hem?

Marji: To illustrate I'm using this measuring guide photo from the Threads website (and I've seen it in several books as well).

You should take length measurements that include:
  • back-neck to waist, (that would be line J except in the back),
  • waist to finish length along line I (at side seam)
  • waist to hip (line H)
  • and draw a horizontal line at B—around the fullest part of the bust—and get a measurement from back neck to the bustline.
That last measurement is important, because it will tell you if you're long and need a longer armscye. You can also probably answer that by answering whether your armscyes usually bind. I had a student in a class once, Beth, who was 6'1" and when we lengthened the line between the neck and bustline she was amazed that for the first time ever, she ended up with an sleeve that wasn't binding in the armscye. And she was an A cup.

You will want to then draw corresponding horizontal lines on your pattern at the bustline, at the waist, and at the hip. Now compare your length measurements to the pattern, and for a coat, allow 1/2" wearing ease for above the waist in length, and none below.

I sincerely doubt you need to add a full inch between the bust and the neck edge, but you might need 1/2" to 3/4". You'll want to add that at the level of the armscye notches.

Then split the sleeve cap at the same place, and add the same amount. Next, add the remaining length you need, additional, in your torso to the lengthen here line on your pattern tissue.

Where you need to add from waist to hem for length is a judgment call based upon your style and preference. If it's a full-skirted style and you want to maintain the original design's fullness at lower edge, you'll cut the pattern apart on the "lengthen here" line in the skirt and separate it, then true up your lines.
If it's a straight skirt design you may add it mid-pattern or at the hem. If it's a full skirt or an A-line and you want the fullness to increase corresponding to your height—and sometimes this is preferable—then you'll add at the hemline, extending at the same angle as the skirt is currently drawn. Note that depending on how much you add in length and the angle the skirt is cut, you might end up needing a significant amount of extra fabric.

I've got an 8-gore skirt pattern that I've made many times. I added 7" to the length, and because I wanted the skirt to maintain the same design lines, I added at the hem and continued the cutting line along the same angle. By doing that my width at skirt hem is a multiple of what it was originally, and I use significantly more fabric than the pattern called for - a whole skirt length more.

Nancy remarked that you can split your muslin for length, which is true. However, you need enough length so that you really should do some flat pattern altering first—especially in the bodice.

Sigrid asked about the muslin and the 2-pc sleeve:
Marji: Go ahead and cut the body of the muslin if you want now. I've had some medical things come up in relation to my fall last month, and have had to have some evaluations today. It's all ok, but it's put me behind a bit. I'll not be able to get to the diagramming a 2-pc sleeve until early next week.

Liana writes:
I have shortened between the bust point and shoulder with good results and done the same to the sleeve. I just measured a Marfy pattern before altering, and I note the bust point is just right now. Can I just cut out the armscye and shorten it and tape it back together? (In the back I'll fold all the way across.)
Should I do this alteration to a coat pattern at all, or should I just be glad to have the extra depth in the armscye so I can wear big sweaters under the coat?
Marji: Is the extra length between the shoulder and bust point more than 1/2"? All the sources I've consulted say that 1/2" extra length in the bodice is desirable for ease of movement and wearing over clothing. If it's more than 1/2" then I'd take up the length and know that you can add it back by splitting your muslin if necessary.
Melissa Fehr Trade: Marji - you say to interface the entire front, and I agree 100% for short jackets, but what about a long coat? My chosen pattern goes below the knee, and that seems like an awful lot of support... Should I really interface the entire front of it, or stop at the waist or hip? thanks
Marji: Good question, in my mind's eye, when I wrote this, I was specifically seeing princess seamed coats. The interfacing piece will be cut to the width of a princess seam full length from CF to side front, then across the top all the way to the armscye. It should be wide enough to support the pockets too.
Mary OK: Do I understand correctly that in the muslin stage, I do not have to add the seam allowances to my traced burda pattern? I will trace the stitching line onto the muslin, then cut 1" seam allowances on the sides and sleeves, 1.5" on shoulders, add hem allowance, etc. If the fitted muslin becomes the pattern, it seems like extra work without benefit to trace seam allowances on the pattern. Not that I am lazy, I'm just looking for a way to streamline the process!
Marji: Exactly MaryOK, in fact, I'm going to the trouble on some of my American patterns to actually cut the seam allowance off.

Dawn: Yikes, the more I read, the more scared I get. When my wool gets here, I don't know that I'll know what "makes it work" in the fabric store.
Marji: Dawn, and everyone else who's feeling intimidated, it's your coat. Only you know, when you layer the fabrics together and feel them all piled up on each other, if the feel is pleasing to you, or if it's too stiff or too soft, or too something. All I can do in this format is try to describe what I'm looking for, and hopefully you'll be able to take this information and do some experimenting yourself, and come up with a combination that works for you.

In an email someone asked me if she did need all this stuff that isn't listed on the pattern envelope, (I'm assuming items like sleeve heads, stay tape, wigan, etc.) The guidesheets that come with patterns now are pretty basic and don't include many steps that would be included in a fully tailored garment. The purpose, I assume, of joining the Guided coat sewalong is to make a coat that does include the tailoring and elements that you won't find on the guidesheet. You can get the same information and make your coat the same way we're constructing these by reading any good tailoring reference (see reference sources in another post). But you won't get it from the pattern guidesheet. Short answer is, yes, you do need these items.