Arlen's Handmade Suit: Part 2 - Jacket Toile + Fitting

Creating the jacket toile for Arlen actually happened at some point last year. That is how long I have had this suit ready to go and have just been too scared to tackle it. I even fit Arlen in the mock-up jacket last year, too! So this will likely be a really quick post!

For Arlen’s jacket, I wound up taking his measurements and comparing them to the finished garment measurements of the pattern I was working with. Based on those measurements, I chose to grade between a few sizes for his jacket toile. I still wanted to make a physical version of his jacket mainly because as accurate as a set of measurements can be, they aren’t always distributed in the same way as a pattern might be. So sewing a mock-up to try on physically is ideal, that way I can determine if any other adjustments need to be made.

I wound up grading between a size medium and size large on my pattern, but I can’t remember if that was upwards (Medium on bottom, large at the shoulders + sleeves) or downwards (Medium at the shoulders, large through the hips)? I am pretty sure it was an upwards grade as Arlen has some broad shoulders. I didn’t take extensive notes on this process which I probably should do next time. That is…. If I ever feel like diving into creating a jacket like this again and feeling the weight of it’s outcome on my shoulders, haha!

Once I had my pattern traced onto new paper (leaving the original pattern intact in case I needed to start from square one after fitting one), I began to cut the jacket out of muslin. As I was cutting out the muslin, I made sure to carefully mark one full side of the pattern directly on the muslin with a pen. I marked everything that I wasn’t going to be sewing along with the possible fit lines I may have needed to tweak in the fitting. 

I wasn’t about to sew on all those extras if I didn’t have to. Welt pockets? No thank you! I’ll save those for the final jacket and pray that I can actually do them well!

I then sewed up the jacket as per the instructions. I omitted things such as facings, pockets, linings, etc. sticking only to the bare necessities of the jacket construction. This was for an overall, general fit assessment so all the fancy things could be nixed for the time being. 

I then made sure to slip stitch all the hems into place. This was to make sure I wasn’t overestimating how long the jacket would be at the end. Arlen has a very long torso, so I was hyper-aware of how crucial the length of his jacket would be in the overall fit. 

Once everything was sewed up and the hems were tacked into place, I asked Arlen to put on a button up shirt (since that’s likely what he will always be pairing with this jacket, even after our wedding), then to slip into the jacket toile while I snapped photos of him. We also chatted about how the jacket felt while on, if he noticed anything pulling or would like any style lines altered. 

I made sure to take photos of Arlen from as many angles as I could think of to see how the overall jacket fit him while we were chatting. 

Overall, the first fitting was a huge success! So much so that I didn’t bother with a second fitting. Instead, I noted the changes that were needed and went to altering the pattern directly. 

Based on what Arlen wanted and what I saw as an issue in the fit photos/ while Arlen was wearing the jacket, we came up with a short list of alterations:
  1. Add a ¼” - ½” of width to the cross back to allow for greater range of movement
  2. Taper sleeves near the wrist for a more fitted look
  3. Adjust the armscye and corresponding sleeve patterns by lowering the curve

These were the three adjustments we felt were needed. Everything else seemed to fit really well, keeping in mind that this jacket still had a few more layers to be added (interfacings, linings, etc) and would further change the overall fit of the jacket. But with the seam allowances currently allotted in the pattern, I felt like I had plenty of room to adjust once the final jacket came together. 

As for the above alterations, I would up increasing the cross back along my patterns broad back adjustment line by about ½”, tapering the sleeves from the elbow area down through the wrist, and lowering the armscye by roughly ½”. I then adjusted each of the sleeve pieces so that the overall sleeve measurement was the same proportion to the new armscye measurement as it had been before. 

All-in-all, I feel pretty confident about how this jacket will wind up fitting Arlen in the end. I hope. Maybe. I go back and forth each day! But that’s ok because as of today, I am working my way through Part 3- Inside the Jacket on the for-real jacket. Once those are completed, I’ll have a new post for you AND will hopefully be able to snag a sneak peak of how it’s coming together on Arlen! Wish me luck!

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