What you’ll Need

  • reference images from part 1
  • A crap-tonne of pins
  • painter’s tape (optional)
  • sharpies in  at least 2 different colours.
  • our traced pattern pieces onto clear plastic table cloth/shower curtains/muslin fabric
  • Shoulder pads
  • A dress-form

Pattern Recognition

We’ve got all our pieces of the original pattern traced out either on to plastic or muslin. I’ll refer to these as ‘muslin’ for now, to simplify things. Before we begin, let’s take a moment to review what all the little symbols mean on patterns.

A great guide can be found on Yesterday’s Thimble with pictures, but here’s a quick reference image from Fashion Sewing Blog:

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Why is it important to know what these are? Because as we modify our pattern, we need to be able to add the instruction symbols to any new seams that we create and move them as we adjust the seams by taking them in or moving the seam to the side.

Protip: Any time you make a new seam, add a notch marck to help you line them up. Especially if the seam is curved or joins two pieces of fabric of different lengths.

Padding is Nothing to be Ashamed Of

So. You may have noticed that the major structure of Kaldwin’s coat is the collar and the shoulders. While the collar will be built up using interfacing, pad stitching and interlining, the shoulders will be built up using pads.

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Thing is, we need to add the padding to the dress form before we start draping the pattern otherwise the garment won’t sit right. Also unless you’re a super-linebacker, ain’t no way you’re getting those power shoulders.

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Pin Up Your Hopes and Dreams

We need to start somewhere, and it makes sense to work from the shoulders ‘out’. Why the shoulders? Because that is the part of the pattern that will be LEAST likely to change as we adapt each piece to match Emily Kaldwin’s coat.

Basically at this point it looks kind of like this:

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That fit tho.

I pinned the front and back pieces down, being sure to include the overlap for seam allowance, then work my way down, pinning each original seam into place so that I can see how the garment will fall without any changes.

Things I noticed right off the bat was that the waist in the back hung lower than the true waist would be on me (or in this case Loretta, the Dressform). BUT on the front, due to boobs, the waist was an inch higher than my natural waist.

Without any adjustment that means the waist would hang at a weird angle, and that would affect how the garment sits. Also there’s that baggy middle bit that should be taken in to make the coat sleeker. And Emily Kaldwin is ALL about sleek, her whole design is sharp.

Adjustments

 Round 1

LET US BEGIN.

You can see below that I’ve put tape down on the dress form at the key lines:

  • Centre back (spine)
  • Centre front
  • Bust
  • Waist

This helps me when i’m adjusting patterns by giving me a clear guide for where the main seams should go. Guessing can work… sort of, but experience tells me that the adjustments i need to make after take muuuuuuch longer than just putting painters tape onto the form.

Don’t have a dress form?
Put on a form fitting shirt and put the tape on over your centre back, centre front and at your true waist.

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Step 1

Pin down the back centre seam a half inch over the spine line. This isn’t going to change and it keeps the pattern from being pulled too far over.

Step 2

Pin down the currently marked seams a half inch in, as if you had already sewn them. Skip the darts, we’ll be dealing with that soon.

Step 3

I started with the back seam, working up from the inner back dart markings and pinching up and pinning to gather in the excess fabric (or plastic) into the seam. Note that the seam curves out towards the shoulder, but hits the sleeve at about where the sleeve seam will be.

Step 3.1

In the picture above you can see a red line by the bottom, this is the true waist, and where I’ll be cutting the pattern on the BACK piece ONLY to be able to use the butt flap part of the centre back seamless. Make a note on the pattern to add a half inch along the waist cut to either side.

Step 3.2

Along the back centre edge of the lower half of the pattern piece, add a fold arrow and move the edge line a half inch in from the previous edge line. This is to get rid of the excess fabric which would be eaten up by the back seam which we’re no longer using.

Step 4

Take in the side by pinching in the excess and pinning in place. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, we’ll go through again to smooth out the seam lines.

Step 5

And now the front! This is going to be a bit trickier due to the weird princess seam. You know the one.

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At first I wasn’t sure why this one’s there. But as I started pinching up the princess seam and pinning it in place I realized that the right angle seam acts like any other princess seam, to help adjust the fabric to the complex curve of a boob.

Definition: A complex curve is a shape that curves along more than one axis. Aka tricky to do without stretch fabric.

This one was definitely fiddly and took a bit to do, you can see on the image below that I had a few stops and starts based on my red inked lines.

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Step 5

Draw the new front shape based on the existing lapel shape, taking it in so that it will be open rather than folding over to be double-breasted.

You’ll notice I’m only adjusting half the pattern, and that’s because I’m treating the coat as symmetrical until much later. It also halves our workload.

Step 6

Sleeeeves. I couldn’t take any photos of this because my dress form doesn’t have arms, and I used my own to pin things. There were only minor casualties, but as we all know, blood for the cosplay gods ensures a successful project.

Take them in a bit, but leave space to be able to bend your arm, and for the sleeve we’ll be wearing under it.

Step 7

Sleeves part deux. Pin the sleeve onto the shoulder and mark down where we’ll be reducing the arch of the sleeve, since the shoulders are so heavily angled.

Round 2+

Go over all your seams and adjust your pins so that there aren’t any wrinkles and that the lines of the seams are where you want them and smooth. This may take only one go, or like me, it might take a couple rounds of adjustments.

Draw on lines

Alright, we’ve got our muslin sitting like we want it to be. Now it’s time to draw on our new lines to the muslin so we know which to follow when we cut out the next version.

It helps to use a different colour of ink for this, otherwise it can be a bit confusing. Sometimes we might make a mistake (like below image where I drew a line where I should actually be sewing instead of cutting. I’m pointing to it out of shame.) just scribble out the wrong line, and leave the correct one.

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Other adjustments were widening the armscye a bit because boob. Note that I’ve also added the notches to the new seam line, because we still need to match up the seam line to the other piece of fabric (pictured on the left of the sharpie through the plastic. It’s on a layer below the current working layer.)

Trim.

Okay. So. We’ve got all our lines drawn on now, and our symbols (notches, seam matching, fold arrow)  copied over to our new pattern. Now we can trim off the excess material so that this is easier to work with. Be careful not to trim too much off.

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I know I just showed you this pic, but you can see where I’ve trimmed down the princess seam to get rid of the floppy extra material.

But what about the length of the coat?

Well we’re going to get to that later. I trimmed the bottom edge flat to hit the middle of my calf, where the LONGEST point of the coat will be.

Clean Up the Mess

So our pattern might be a bit messy, our drawn on seams might be scribbly or not very clean. Now’s the time to go in and clean up the lines. This is where a French Curve would come in handy but if you don’t have one (like me) just go over and smooth things out by hand carefully.

Retrace the pattern if you find it too messy to read, of if you have a third colour of sharpie, you can use it to clarify your final pattern lines.

And that’s it for part two. Next, we cut out our fabric muslin to check the fit and be sure that our seams work the way we want with actual fabric.

xox Calamity