How to butcher a pattern, or why it’s important to start out with the correct bust size. Lady Grey, take one.

In the interest of public safety, I’m making myself post these awful photos of my latest butchery. The Lady Grey coat.

[chose wrong size, tried to fix the lazy way, created odd pyramid-effect]

I will start from the beginning. I am participating in the very fun Lady Grey Sewalong, hosted by Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. The pattern is a Colette pattern, the Lady Grey coat. I ordered the pattern and was a little unsure what size pattern to cut. In the big 4, I cut a size 18, based on my high bust measurement, then I do a Full Bust Adjustment to add 5 inches or so.

Not this time! Since Colette patterns (from what I understand) are drafted for a C-cup, instead of a B-cup for the Vogue-Butterick-Simplicity-McCalls patterns, I somehow decided I could just cut the size 18 (46 inch bust, I’m around 45, so close enough) and sew straight from that with no alterations. Even though I’m a DD, not a C cup.

To make matters even more complicated, I increased the seam allowances on the coat body pattern pieces to 1″. But I didn’t increase the sleeve and collar pieces. My reasoning was that I wanted a little extra fabric to add to the waist and hip if necessary (my waist/hip measurements are a little larger than the size 18 Colette measurements). But I had tissue fitted the sleeves and they are plenty roomy, so I figured I didn’t need the wiggle room there. And the collar? I have no idea why I didn’t resize. Laziness, more than likely!

The only pattern alteration I made was to fold out some excess fabric right in the lapel area, based on how things looked when I tissue-fitted the pattern. Below, I’ve shown on the left how the pattern looked straight out of the box. On the right, I’ve circled the fold I made to remove about an inch and a half from the lapel area to reduce the gaping.

[removing some of the gaping from the lapel with a pattern tuck]
Here’s a rundown of the view from the front. The left-most photo shows how the shoulder is much too wide – it’s a good 3 inches out from my shoulder bone! The photo second from the left shows the shoulder taken in by unpicking the top half of the stitching of the set-in sleeve, then sliding the top of the sleeve towards my neck and resewing. It looks alright, although I was bothered by all the excess fabric UNDER my arm. The third photo from the left shows the coat with the upper collar sewn on. And finally, the last photo shows the coat cinched with a wide belt. I also tried tying the coat with the sash from my robe, which is a little smaller than the belt pattern pieces that come with the coat. I like belts on me to be very wide, so I like the way this looks, but can see how I’ll be scratching my head come belt-making time, trying to figure out how to make a nice, wide, tie that won’t get all scrunched up.
Here’s a (probably confusing) photo of how I took in the shoulder.
So, let’s take a look at the photos from the back one more time… here I’ve shown with the yellow line where my shoulder is – and the seamline is clearly visible halfway down to my elbow** The exceptional bagginess under my arm is also very visible. The middle photo shows how my fix skewed the shoulder seam to the correct position, but since I only slide the upper half of the arm in, the bagginess under the arm creates a zany line to the whole side of the coat that’s pretty awful. The photo all the way to the right shows the coat with the upper collar attached, which helps, but not enough for me to be happy!
**OK. I’m exaggerating…
The side-view photos don’t show off the arm problems as much, but they do illustrate the concerns I had with this pattern for my shape. I need to be careful to avoid the lab-frock-coat look! I like the cinched look quite a bit, though!
Next step, unfortunately, is to go back to the drawing board. I may try resetting the entire sleeve into the side, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to go back to the paper pattern pieces, go down a couple sizes through the shoulders, then do an actual FBA. Sigh. I knew I should have traced this pattern…
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  • [patty the snug bug]
    October 3, 2010

    Tania! I can't wait to see! Are you posting on the Flickr page? I gave in and called for a catalog for the belt lady here in the States who a lot of people seem to like!

  • tania-gru
    September 30, 2010

    I am going to have a belt made, found a fabric store here in copenhagen, Denmark, who is also a tailors workshop. They make belts with fabric covered buckles. I am going for a relatively wide belt- 8 cm.

  • Psycho Sue- Sew Misunderstood
    September 21, 2010

    I like the belt idea better than the tie! It's cleaner and all together more polished than a tie. I think It would look cute executed with snaps and a button. That would be very "snug bug" I think =-] If you go with the loop, you might end up getting frustrated if it becomes loose after months of wear? IDK , not sure…. but I can def see the snap belt idea! Can't wait to see what you pick!

  • [patty the snug bug]
    September 21, 2010

    Laurwyn – you have the multi-colored coat, right? remember that when/if you do an FBA, you'll add width and then you'll need to make sure the bottom/skirt part matches up (um… I forget to do that all the time! Stupid full bust!)

    Psycho Sue – i was thinking of using that – I used it to make the pointy cuffs on New Look 6911 (… the problem is that if I want to make it tie, I'm afraid it'll just get crushed. Alternately, I could go for a belt, but I'd really want a self-fabric, LARGE, belt buckle. And I'd have to mess with grommets!

    I was sort of thinking of using the stuff you're talking about, then using large snaps as the closure with a cute button detail on the front. Or something… maybe make the end pointy like a belt, and make a little loopy, belt thing, so it'll look like a belt, without the buckle and the grommets? Thoughts?

  • Psycho Sue- Sew Misunderstood
    September 21, 2010

    What a lot of work! I love the cinched look, I agree with you. For your belt, can you try that extra stiff interfacing? I use it to make purses, I made a belt out of cotton once using it and it stays flat.

  • Laurwyn
    September 21, 2010

    Thanks for your help on the flickr pool… It seems like a lot of persons have shoulder issues, and I do not want to solve mine with a shoulder pad as I don't want to *add* anything to my full figure…

    You did a lot of work figuring it out! I am actually going back to the pattern altering bit too. I am going to re cut my pattern. I am lucky that I am using a multisize pattern (I couldn't afford the ladygrey). I have upgraded the bottom pieces and will downgrade the top and adjust for the bust…

    I am already tired just thinking of it…

  • [patty the snug bug]
    September 21, 2010

    It's my lack of patience that gets me into these predicaments! I hate doing pattern alterations, so I gloss over them, make my muslin, then have to do them anyway! Grrrr!!

  • lazystitching
    September 21, 2010

    Blimmin heck, what a pain! You have way more patience than me :) I'm seriously procrastinating over my muslin as I'm pretty sure I'll need to do an fba too. sigh.

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