Monday, February 05, 2007

A Tale of Five Suits - Chapter One

In my continuing quest to revamp my wardrobe...ain't this getting to be a tired old song...I am making suits. Now this would be a much easier task if I just took one pattern and picked out five pieces of fabric and made the same suit, over and over and over again. But no, I can't be that common...I have to have different jackets, details and stylings so that each suit is an occasion unto itself!

I was originally going to title this post..."I dreamt a dream of you!" Because I literally fell asleep on the bus one morning and woke up with this outfit all worked out in my mind. It really came into being when I got home from work and found that the fabrics in my collection actually matched and all the trims were on hand. Well, not quite...but isn't that always the case. In the dream, I saw a shawl collared jacket made from a Brooks Brothers Boiled Wool in chocolate brown that I just happened to get a piece of from Fabric Mart last year. The pants were made from a brown/black/tan worsted wool glen plaid that I picked up in Paron's 50% off store when it was a separate entity on 40th Street. Wow! I need to take a minute here...I miss that store sooooo much! And underneath the jacket was a SW Mission Tank in a dark chocolate sueded silk - again from La Fabric Mart!

I also saw the shawl collar trimmed in a black foldover braid with these black well-shaped buttons with a brown bead inside. I am dreaming with some detail here, folks! After searching through my extensive pattern stash I find a shawl collared jacket that will fit on the 2.5 yards of 45" wide boiled wool OOP Butterick 4265 published in 1995 and the pattern description says:

Loose-fitting, unlined, above-hip jacket has collar, slightly extended shoulders, shoulder pads, flaps and long sleeves.

After an afternoon of pattern alterations that included narrowing the shoulders, lengthening the body of the jacket by two inches, changing the sleeves, and adding a lining to the jacket, OOP Butterick 4265 is just the "inspiration" for my shawl collared jacket! The jacket is not quite ready for prime time yet...the lining still needs to be inserted and a host of finishing details added but I am happy with it so far.

I want to close with a picture of my sleeve alterations. It is rare that I pull a pattern out of the envelope and there is enough space in the biceps for my bodacious arms. The easiest method that I have learned to add space to the biceps without changing the sleeve cap or the diameter of the hem is from Cynthia Guffy and her book, "Cynthia's Precision Measuring & Pattern Alterations for Bodice, Skirt, Jacket."

Her method has you draw a line across the bicep from side seam to side seam, and then draw another from the bicep to the bottom of the seam line on the sleeve cap. Next you slash through the sleeve seam allowance below the underarm seam and up to but not through the cap seam allowance. After that swing out half the desired amount on each side. Finally re-align the side seams to the bottom of the sleeve. That's it and it works everytime! I get perfect fitting sleeves without altering the sleeve cap or making the seam hem wider. Hopefully you can see from the picture how you slash and add to the side seams.

Next time I will have more on the jacket and pants! I am hoping to get four workable pieces out of this grouping so that I can do a little mixing and matching but still look "Corporate Chic!"


  1. That is very cool indeed. I'll have to remember it.

  2. Nice! Sounds like your stash made easy work of that one. With regular care and feeding, all stashes come in handy!

  3. That arm alteration looks so much easier than what I've been doing. Thanks!!

  4. Thanks for sharing the arm alteration. It looks so much easier than others one I have seen. I am going to try this method on my next project. How does this work for a two piece sleeve, do you know?

    I was so glad to hear that you had to add 2" to the length of your jacket. I thought that I was the only one that had to do it and that I had some kind of wierd body. It is affirming to know that I am not alone.

  5. Love your blog, and the sleeve alternation. I'm curious about the Cynthia Guffey you recommend it?

  6. Highly recommend the Cynthia Guffey book as well as taking any classes that you can with her at the sewing expos!


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