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Sew! Lets Get Dressed – Fitting French Style Jackets

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Look at this beautiful mock up!

Last week the photos of bouclé had us all drooling.  This week the photos of pattern work and mock-up adjustment are pretty boring, but we all know that our bouclé jackets won’t get worn if the fit is not comfortable and the styling pleasing to the eye.  That is why good pattern work and mock-up fittings in advance are essential.  Plus, all three of us are adapting our Tabula Rasa Jacket patterns (TRJ) so we had pattern adjustments to make even before we cut and sewed our mock-ups.

Here is the rundown of our 3 projects and the pattern work we did in advance:

Edye wants a boxy jacket with lots of ease from her black and blue plaid wool.  It will not be much different from her basic TRJ.  She chose to add a modified funnel neckline that extends around into a small stand-up collar in the back.  She broke her back pattern down the center to accommodate a bit of shaping.  She also split her sleeve at the shoulder line all the way down the arm so she could add a vent to her classic jacket.

I want a slightly more fitted look in my raspberry bouclé, so I separated my front and back pieces with shoulder princess lines, sending my rounded back neck darts and front darts into the princess seams.  I, too, adjusted the pattern for the modified funnel neckline and 2-piece vented sleeve.

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Pattern adjustments showing the original front under new front and adjusted side.

To add shoulder princess lines to your TRJ, trace your front, back, or sleeve TRJ pieces onto pattern paper and split them along the grainline.  Add a seam allowance to each new piece where the pattern was divided.  To transfer the front and back darts into the princess seams, cut through the darts to the seam lines, releasing the pattern beyond the seam line with a clip.  Fold out the dart by overlapping the dart legs and tape the change into place, creating the adjusted pattern. ( See photos of the back pattern adjustments at the end of the post)  To add a vent to your 2-piece sleeve, tape a piece of pattern paper  1½” wide to the lower 5-6” of the back sleeve seam.  Be sure to label all of your new pattern pieces (e.g. center front or center back, side front or side back, sleeve front or back).

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Sleeve pattern work with seam allowance, additional cap and vent added

Carrie wants a very fitted jacket with a stand-up collar, a very classic Chanel look, for her green and purple bouclé.  She used her TRJ Shirt variation front pattern, splitting it and her back pattern piece with shoulder princess seams.  She created a 3-piece sleeve, dividing the sleeve from the shoulder for the vent and under the arm where the sleeve connects to the side panel.  (Too soon for us to show you that change!)

After tracing off our TRJ patterns and making all the required pattern modifications, we each made a mock-up.  We thread traced the grainlines and seam allowances onto each muslin piece using couture methods.  We left the cap of each sleeve unattached when basting the mock-up together.  We suspected we would need to modify the sleeve cap so we each added 1” to the top of each sleeve pattern.

As you begin to experiment with a closer fit on the TRJ, it is important to refine the sleeve shaping a bit.  The TRJ sleeve was created for artists to embellish and insert easily.  It is loose and boxy by design.  If you choose to shape the sleeves more closely to the arm, you might need to add more height at the sleeve cap.  Read about adding  to the sleeve cap in our Common Fitting Adjustments for the TRJ.

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Edye in her mock up with one pinned sleeve head.
Rae sewing in her mock up.

After we finished our mock-ups, we got together at Carrie’s studio to fit muslins.  You can tell from our expressions that we are not in love with these boring white mock-ups, but we were able to nuance our patterns and improve the fit of each jacket.  I wore mine around all day, as we worked, to assess if it had enough ease for me to move freely.

After pinning and stitching in our adjustments, we transferred all the changes to our paper patterns.  While this step is not absolutely necessary, we think its a good idea to keep a record of those changes in case you want to incorporate the closer fit into another jacket later on.  We also corrected the thread tracing on our mock-ups.

The next step is to deconstruct the mock-up, trim the seam allowances off each piece, and cut the boucle.  Check in with our Facebook page occasionally to see our progress!  We will resume our French Jacket conversation here in the beginning of February and I promise the photos will be more fun!

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Carrie in her shaped up mock up.

In the meantime, I am hoping to make a couple cozy knit tops and some denim Eureka pants when I need a break from sewing my French TRJ.  What are you sewing this winter?

Happy Sewing, RAE

PS, take a look at these back pattern adjustments


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Closed back neck dart thrown into the grainline.


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Redirecting the back dart into the grainline which will become the princess seamline.















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Back pattern split with seam allowances applied.
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Full back pieces with seam allowances added.


2 thoughts on “Sew! Lets Get Dressed – Fitting French Style Jackets

  1. Thank you for this detailed explanation of the various pattern adjustments. You have inspired me!

    1. You are welcome Laura, keep us posted on your progress. RAE

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