MANSWAP #9 – Vogue 8988 Jacket toile

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I have already done four toiles for the jacket. The first pattern was unsuitable and far too small (two toiles)

I found another pattern and made up the wrong size (two toiles)

Finally (toile no 5) it is getting much closer to a good fit.

Although Gus is no more than 38″ across his chest I got a very much better fit all round, and especially across the shoulders using the 40″ pattern. This is because his shoulders and traps are rather large and needed to be accommodated. I slimmed down the jacket to the s38 across the waist and hips.

I left the shoulders unsewn and added a couple of cms on to the seam allowance. I then pinned them at the right angle. There are no shoulder pads in there at the moment but I allowed sufficient space to include them. I was interested that when I checked the angle later against the patterns stitch line there was only a very small variation. So the issue we had before with the shoulders coming right up against the neck was probably due to there being insufficient fabric across the chest.

Fitting a man's jacket toile
Fitting the shoulders

The second alteration I included was to reduce the CB seam a little. Again you can see that the sloping shoulders fit quite well and while I may need to take an inch out at the back waist this is a fairly minor alteration. I had added extra length because Gus is long in the upper back, but it looked stupid and out of proportion.

Fitting a mens jacket
Fitting Gus – centre back seam

At this point I felt I was beginning to get closer to the look we wanted. I thought I had cracked it. Immediately instead of persevering with yet another natural calico garment, my mind turned to the idea of going straight to a wearable toile. I got out a couple of yards of some very nice, cheap polyester in bright green check. I fancied trying out the pockets on a cheap fabric before turning to the real thing.

Green Polyester toile material

But, you know what? I did what I could to straighten the grain. I pinned the selvedges and pressed the fabric carefully. But when I thought about having to match all the checks I just felt very tired indeed. I folded the fabric and put it back in the cupboard. It will do for another project. Then I persevered with making up the calico toile.

I made up the collar and sleeves (having taken out the extra length in the torso) and we had another fitting.

It’s not 100 per cent but I am pretty happy with the fit of the jacket at this point. It needs a little shaping and support, but this will be much easier when I use the wool fashion fabric rather than cotton calico.  I think I took in a little too  much at the CB. I will go back to the original pattern and take it in during the fitting stage. I can work wonders with wool and steam!

So overall a great sense of relief that this is not an impossible project. Nevertheless there is “many a slip between cup and lip” as Shakespeare said. This jacket will challenge my construction and tailoring skills, but I will move on now, confident that I can get a reasonable outcome if I go slowly and carefully.

The main lesson of my labours so far is to start with a pattern that more or less fits and mess with it as little as possible. A tailored man’s jacket is quite a complicated garment to make, with lots of pieces – you don’t really want to have to alter lots of them before you start.

20 Responses

  1. mrsmole

    It is really getting close to reality now! I agree that the CB could be let out a little especially if the final fabric has a plaid or check which will show off that area as making a swoop. Have Gus reach forward while wearing a shirt underneath and also check what happens when he sits down to the front buttons. I see so many celebrities on talk shows who struggle with the tightness at the waist when taking a seat. I make all my brides sit down to prove how much the ribs and waist expand when we sit. I notice that Gus’s right shoulder is lower than the left which can be evened up with extra padding to avoid small drag lines appearing in the yoke area. All your hard work and persistence is paying off, Kate!

  2. Annie

    It looks promising, if you’re like me you’re probably getting tired of it now but when you return to it you’ll see it more objectively and once you get the foundation done, sewing it will be a doddle.

    Hope your mum isn’t too badly injured and that travel is uneventful. Take care, our weather is bonkers lately.

  3. Cherry

    Yes, it’s looking good now! I agree with Mrs Mole, add a tad to the sleeve length, above and below the elbow. It’s worth getting the sleeve right for the shoulder pads you intend to use, jacket sleeves with their curve and buttons at the wrist are a bugbear to alter once cut.
    I’m glad you didn’t mess with the overall length. A man’s jacket being such an ubiquitous object, the eye has an expectation of how it should look, and if you mess with the proportions, it looks weird.

  4. Jay

    I agree add a little to the sleeve length. Also, don’t forget how the shoulder pads, chest piece and back stay will interact with the fit. It’s looking pretty good now. I’d cut the wool with generous turnings so that you can tweak the fit if necessary.

  5. Mary Funt

    It’s looking very close to a great fitting jacket. You are right that getting the shoulders correct is first; then fit from the top down. The sides are much easier to take in than widening the shoulder area. I would definitely add the shoulder pads before you go much further. Also play with the sleeve pitch. The drag lines at the back of the sleeves may disappear when shoulder pads are inserted and the sleeve is rotated slightly towards the back. You are definitely close enough to cut in a nice wool. Good call on dumping the polyester version. It would have been tons of work.

  6. Sue

    This is looking so good now. I would put in the shoulder pads you intend to use to make sure that they don’t interfere with the fit, and I agree about letting out the CB seam. Loving the progress you are making.

  7. karen

    Kate, you have a lot patience! I would have tossed that jacket out a window long since! Gus is a fortunate son. Good luck with the fashion fabric.

  8. ceci

    Amazing progress….I’m glad you decided against the green plaid, it seems rather crass for all your delicate fitting.

    cheers from the sidelines!


  9. Anne

    It’s starting to look very good. I agree don’t go further without shoulder pads in place and a touch extra in sleeve length. I, too, am glad you ditched the green check!

  10. Kim

    Kate, you’re making fabulous progress! All your hard work is paying off wonderfully. Following along your jacket making journey makes one realize why custom tailored jackets cost as they do. Can’t wait to see the garment fabric begin to come together. Also, I think that the suggestions that were made are good ones. I second making flex his arms (I think adding the shoulder pads here would be a good idea) and having on a shirt that he would typically wear underneath, is a good idea. No sense going to all that trouble if the fit isn’t correct.

    Thanks so much for posting everything. It’s such a treat to see.

  11. The Material Lady

    All that work has been well worthwhile. The calico looks much closer to a good fit – and as you have said it will be much more forgiving to work in wool. The Management did suggest I might like to make him trousers and a jacket (I think he is really just trying to avoid having to shop) but seeing your struggles with a much better shaped male body I may try to avoid this!

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