Lady Grey. How to adjust a super-gaping lapel!

I thought I’d do a post on how I went about adjusting the ginormous gap in the lapel of my Lady Grey. This method isn’t from any specific book, just me, trying to get things to fit! I’m sure there are other (likely better) methods out there.

I make this alteration after completing the Full Bust Adjustment (FBA). See my previous post on this here.

Here’s a before and (bad, night) after shot, showing what the gaping neckline adjustment will do. Note the drapey lapel in the shot on the left. All smooth and well-fitted on the right!

[A too-droopy lapel!]

Here’s a close-up of the problem I was trying to solve. I’m not sure the physics of it, but it seems that every time I do an FBA, I end up with too MUCH fabric around the neckline. In this photo, all this excess fabric is sort of drooping down. Nice look.

[Yellow circle marks to spot! A gaping lapel!]

It’s important when you try on your muslin that you pin your coat on correctly. I marked the buttonhole and button locations on my muslin, wrapped one side of the coat around me, pinned to my shirt through the buttonhole mark, making sure the bottom hem remained horizontal, then wrapped the other side around me , lined up the button and buttonhole marks and pinned both layers to my shirt. You want to keep the button and buttonhole marks horizontal on your body, your front hem horizontal and make sure your center front edges (marked in pink below) are going straight up and down.

In the two photos below, the muslin is pinned correctly on the left, and incorrectly on the right. I’ve lined up my chin and cuffs in photoshop, and drawn a yellow line marking the hem location on the correctly pinned muslin. See how the hem looks straight in the photo on the left and the center front seam (OK, the edge of the coat seam – not sure what to call it, since it’s over to the side!) is hanging vertically? Compare that to the photo on the right where the front hem dips down and the center front seam is hanging at an angle. The bodice looks smoother in this photo, but that’s because I’ve just allowed all that extra fabric to hang and distort the drape of the bottom half of the coat.

[Make sure to pin the coat correctly in order to determine actual amount of gaping]

The next step is to ‘pinch’ out the excess fabric. I had a little trouble with this step. In past projects, I’ve always pinched out the fabric from above my bust. Of course, most of the time I’m doing this to blouses, so that’s the only place I can pinch out the fabric! I tried to illustrate the problem below in the pink circle. When you pinch out the fabric, you will distort the pattern pieces and probably have to redraw the seamlines a bit. When I pinched out fabric for my second muslin, I did so at this location and as a result I drastically reduced the width of the lapel – take a look at how small my lapel is in this photo, compared to the product photo on the Colette website. I’ve sort of drawn in yellow where I would probably end up redrafting the seamline if I continued with this alteration. See how much fabric is sticking out to the right of the yellow line? That’d all be gone!

[Determine where to pinch out your extra fabric, and how that will affect the size of the lapel!]

Now we can officially start the gaping lapel alteration!

Step 1 – pinch out excess fabric.
Below I’ve shown where I decided to pinch out the excess fabric. Pin along the base of the fold of fabric. You’ll be pinning the lapel in place/folded back for now. The upper portion of the coat lies smoothly, and the lines of the bottom of the coat are still hanging nice and straight.

[Step 1 - pinch out the excess fabric]

Step 2 – mark the location of the pinched out fabric on the inside of the muslin.
In steps 2 and 3, I will show how I mark the width of the fold so that the pattern piece can be unfolded and laid flat. First, slip the muslin off and lay on a flat surface with the inside of the front pattern piece facing you. I tried to indicate the major seamlines below to help orient you! I’ve also indicated the foldline in yellow. Make a few lines along the length of the fold perpendicular to the fold line – I used a purple marker!

[Step 2 - mark pinched out fabric on inside of pattern piece]

Step 3 – Mark the pinched out fabric on the outside of muslin/lapel area
Flip your muslin over so the outside of the coat is facing you – the fold you made in step 1 is now facing you. Fold the excess fabric towards you and make a solid line (you can see mine in pink marker) along the base/where you pinned in step one. Then fold that fabric away from you and mark the other side in the same manner.

[Step 3 - mark the fold on the outside of the muslin/lapel area]

Step 4 – unpin and smooth out
Now that the excess fabric has been marked, remove all pins and flatten out the pattern piece with the inside facing you. You’ll see (circled in yellow below) the vertical marks you made in step 2, and the solid horizontal marks (circled in pink below) you made in step 3. They will form a general wedge shape.

[Step 4 - remove pins and smooth out pattern piece]

Step 5 – connect marks to draw a wedge
Now use a ruler to draw a nice wedge. Be sure that your wedge ‘legs’ are in the right place on front edge of the coat** (the right side in my photo below) and that the wedge terminates close to the seamline that will meet up with the side front piece (on the left side in the photo below.) The marks you make in this step won’t exactly follow the marks you made in steps 2 and 3, but as long as you start where you marked in step 3, you’ll capture the right amount of width. 

** I dropped my legs down about an inch and a half, just be sure that the width of the wedge you drew is preserved! Otherwise, you wont’ remove enough fabric!

[Step 5 - draw wedge]

Step 6 – remove front piece from muslin, analyze angle of the wedge
OK, I suppose you COULD transfer the wedge you drew in step 5 directly to your paper pattern piece, but I added this extra step in! First I unpicked the seam connecting the front piece to the side front piece. Then I laid it down, nice and smooth on my work surface (stained ironing board!) I had changed rooms (hello new sewing room!) and I see now that I flipped the piece over, so the wide end of the wedge is now facing towards the left, rather than the right like it was in step 5! Sorry if that’s confusing!

After I smoothed out the pattern piece, I decided to raise the end point of the wedge almost two inches so the wedge was horizontal on the pattern piece. I’m not sure if it did any good, but I was concerned that if I transferred the wedge at that angle, it would make the lapels too droopy!

[Step 6 - Remove pattern piece from muslin, analyze angle of wedge]

Step 7 – Transfer wedge to paper pattern piece
Lay the paper pattern piece over the muslin pattern piece and trace the wedge (I used a ruler). In the photo below, I’ve offset the pieces a bit, just to give a little better view. When I marked the wedge, they were all lined up!

[Step 7 - trace the wedge onto the paper pattern piece]

Step 8 – Fold the paper pattern piece along the edges of the wedge, tape down
Now fold the paper pattern piece! It’s just like making a dart, only easier because you can see through the paper. Bring the two ‘legs’ of the wedge together, then fold the wedge to one side – I folded mine up (my taped-down wedge is outlined in purple below – it’s the triangle!) Tape everything down.

Since my wedge was pretty big, it didn’t work all perfectly. In particular, the entire area circle in blue was a bit ‘puffy’. I just worked the paper and the fold until everything felt pretty flat.

This step will distort the pattern piece significantly! I’ve outlined the new pattern piece in yellow and the original in pink (the bottoms of both pieces are lined up). See how much the new piece bends towards the left??

[Step 8 - fold pattern piece along the lines drawn in step 7]

Step 9 – redraw lapel seamline
In steps 9 and 10, I’ll redraw the seamlines so everything’s nice and smooth. First, on the lapel/front edge side, there’s a dip where the two legs of the wedge met up – outlined in yellow below. Fill in that dip – I taped a piece of tissue on, then used a ruler to draw a nice, smooth line from the general waist area to the upper part of the lapel. My new seamline is marked in pink below. I had marked the waist line on my pattern, but if you didn’t mark, just start around where the pattern ‘dips’ in for the waist shaping. There wasn’t a particular place I chose to end the new seamline on the upper lapel, I just followed the general angle.

You might be tempted to follow the lines of the original pattern piece during this step. I don’t recommend that, especially if you took out as much excess as I did! This is the side of the pattern that is significantly different from the original!

[Step 9 - redraw front edge seamline]

Step 10 – redraw seamline the princess seamline
When you folded the pattern in step 8, you probably creating a ‘bump’ on the seamline that meets up with the side front pattern piece (the princess seamline). That bump should be removed! Mine is pretty big, because I removed a pretty significant wedge. For this step, you can just use the original pattern piece to redraw the seamline. line up the paper pattern piece with the muslin pattern piece so that the two roughly match where the button marking is and where the top of the princess seam/armscye seam is (NOT the shoulder seams, it won’t line up!) Then draw a nice scoop.

My new seamline is shown below in pink, with the one that I was getting rid of in yellow. The amount your removing in this step will be very similar to the amount you added in step 9. You’re just moving the width from one side of the pattern to the other – no net gain or loss.

[Step 10 - redraw princess seamline]

Here’s the final look at the new pattern (pink) and original pattern (yellow)!

[a better fitting bodice!]
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13 Comments
  • Lynnelle
    October 27, 2010

    I thought I was doing something wrong with my FBAs. I always get the excess length on the front afterward! Your explanation of how to remove the gaping is priceless. Thank you soooooo much.

  • Andrea
    October 9, 2010

    Thanks so much for this, Patty! I've been avoiding it for more than a week but this made it easy. Now I've got some catching up to do!

  • Psycho Sue- Sew Misunderstood
    October 4, 2010

    you know what; looking at this with no sleeves, I think this could make a really cute vest-thing! Worn over a long sleeve knit blouse….

  • [patty the snug bug]
    October 3, 2010

    sulovesew! I'm sorry I didn't get back sooner – I don't have any specific tips, except if there are wrinkles, add some ease somewhere? I think a lot of people are having the same problem!

  • sulovessew
    September 28, 2010

    Wow Patty, this is a very helpful tutorial thank you so much. I currently making a bunch of modification of my muslin. I think i hav sleves, collar, lapels and hem under control. My only issue is I have some wrinkles at the back around armholes and sleeves. Do you have that issue, I couldn't quite figure out why. let me know if you have good tips on getting rid off those wrinkles.

  • [patty the snug bug]
    September 28, 2010

    When I do a FBA, I cut the whole bodice part at one size – so, for you a size 10! Sometimes I might veer out around the bicep area because I have bigger arms! I'm not that super-great at dealing with sleeve fitting issues, though!

  • kathy
    September 27, 2010

    I have a question on the FBA. I should cut a size 10 for my shoulders, do a FBA of 3" total, grade out 4" for the waist and grade to 3" out from size 10 for my hip! I'm wondering about the armhole or arm scyth (sp) and what size line I should follow for cutting that out?

  • K.Line
    September 27, 2010

    Holy crap, Patty – this is like advanced engineering! I'm trying to understand it but all I can do is be grateful that I don't need to do this particular alteration or it would be all over :-) I have a narrow back and large breasts also. When you do FBAs, do you do the FFRP "Y method" or the regular method? Apparently the "Y method" is good for larger FBAs, but since it extends an extra line up towards the shoulder/neck, it does increase width more substantively. One time I did the Y method and it was ridiculous. Having said that, I do need to do substantive FBAs with certain patterns.

  • Kjersti
    September 26, 2010

    Thanks a bunch for the tutorial! I have exactly the same problem, but I haven't gotten around to fixing it yet. Now you have proven that it works! :-)

  • [patty the snug bug]
    September 26, 2010

    Hey Elle – The gaping didn't really affect the shoulder fit! The shoulder fit for me is more about how wide the back pieces are, and how long the shoulder seam is. I adjusted that with my muslin #2, when I did the FBA.

    You can sort of see in the before picture for this post (first picture, the one on the left) that the shoulders are sitting fine! The gaping is a result of too much length in the front!

    I think, though (although what do i know :-)) that if I had broad shoulders, more of that length would have been used up, creating less of a gaping issue. That's just a guess, though, it's just me and my puny shoulders weighing in here!

    P

  • Elle
    September 26, 2010

    When you redrew the piece did that help with the narrow shoulder problem as well?

  • [patty the snug bug]
    September 26, 2010

    Im' not sure why I always have this problem, I think it's the combo of large bust and very narrow shoulders!

    It's not THAT complicated, it was a little wierd on this pattern, because of the lapel fold over. And it's TOTALLY POSSIBLE there's an easier way to do it! This is just the way I did it!!

  • Laurwyn
    September 26, 2010

    I am so happy that mine does not do that (yet?). It looks quite complicated…
    But great job!!!

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