The two jackets
You may remember that I started with the idea of making a 1940s vintage jacket for my son Gus. I toiled it twice and made a number of alterations. On the third iteration, discouraged by the amount of work I was having to do, I listened the wise words of my esteemed followers and commentators. I ditched the old pattern and bought a new one – Vogue 8988. I would like to make this up in grey wool, and beige linen – a winter and summer version.
This pattern is labelled “Plus Difficile” if you speak French or prefer metric. Or really don’t want to admit that this means making it up will not be a breeze. Tres difficile.
Anyway I did the first fitting, having added extra length. I am not sure why I did this. I didn’t have Gus here very often, so I looked at the measurements I had taken. Anyway, long story short it was long. Tres long. I can’t even bring myself to show you photographs.
But I pinned it up and started fitting the bodice (leaving off the sleeves and collar). And do you know what? All the issues I had with the 1940s pattern reappeared here. So much for men’s bodies changing over the decades! My son is awkward to fit, whatever the period. His parsnip shape means that an average jacket is tight across the chest, and won’t close across the CF, but is baggy across the waist and hips, especially in the back of the jacket. To fit Gus properly we need to take width in from across the back of the jacket especially in the (sway back) waist area, and add it to the front of the jacket to accommodate the broad chest.
I made the following adjustments:
- shorten by 5cms
- add additional width (2.5cms) across the front chest
- take in at CB and side seam by about 1cm each, tapering slightly for the waist
I altered the pattern and recut the shell. I am now on Toile No 4. Or “Toilet” as Kim’s autocorrect calls it! And here is a close up of the problem area.
Now apart from just being too small (still) the issue of the traps re-appears. You can see how the neckline is lifted away by the thickness of Gus’s traps.
I had the realisation that Gus is the archetypal “97-pound weakling” who has done a fair amount of gym work. Inherently he is a skinny lad, but his upper torso strength is considerable. He can even lift me up bodily above his head (that shuts me up!). You can see in the old cartoon ads that I grew up with that Charles Atlas has the same big traps. I wonder where he bought his jackets! Come to think of it he always seems to appear without a shirt – maybe he couldn’t find one to fit.
When he tried the toile on Gus and I both noticed, that apart from just being too small across the upper chest we have the neck-and-traps issue. I was at a loss. Gus gave me some advice.
“Just post the pictures and one of your sewing friends will tell you what to do”.
Well, it’s not a bad idea. Here are some more.
The other, related issue seems to be that it is too small.
Gus’s chest is most definately 38″. The toile does sort of fit across the actual chest line, so in that sense this pattern is the “right” size. But I think i need to cut the jacket in a size 40 chest to get sufficient width across the shoulders which are bigger than an average 38″ man. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me previously.
Unfortunately because I had already cut the pattern down to 38″ I had to buy the pattern again. I know. I am an idiot. But £12 is a good price for learning such an important lesson. When working with someone else’s body don’t assume anything. Trace off the pattern, then play with it. That way you can make further adjustments. Actually I realised that I would always rather make something smaller, than adding width to a pattern. Also that getting a good fit across the shoulders and upper body is the most important place for me, and therefore it is likely to be the most important place to fit on someone else. If the upper chest and shoulders fit well then the other alterations are easier, I think.
So I now have to make up the 40″ chest toile and have a look at that. The solution to the shoulder shape maybe to leave this seam open, just marking the stitch line, and then to fit it on the body. Along with Gus I request any good ideas please!
In other SWAP news Gus has decided on a different, but rather similar, pattern (to the one he chose previously) for his jumper. This is a 1960s pattern rather than a 1940s one, and maybe the styling is a bit more Steve McQueen. I got the pattern on Clitheroe market for 20p. It’s an amazing pattern. The jumper comes in about 12 sizes and you can have set in or raglan sleeves. My goodness you could do two for everyone in the family, and in so many different colours. The pattern is designed for a synthetic yarn but I swatched some lovely dark green cashmere from Colourmart and Gus really liked it. I will make a start on the jumper after Christmas. I am still hopeful that I may be able to do one pair of trousers before Christmas (a second SWAP early bird), but if not I can always start on the jersey.