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.
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.
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.
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.