I had just been lamenting the lack of a blazer class to a fellow sewist a few weeks back. This was after I’d compiled a list of menswear-influenced womenswear for a Sewcialists blog piece and had been quite enamoured of all the cool blazers I’d come across. Blazers can definitely seem a bit sloaney to me, but I absolutely had a velvet blazer back in the early 90s and I’m rather enjoying looking at them this time round too.
So you can imagine how delighted I was when Heather Lou from Closet Case Patterns revealed her latest pattern to be the Jasika Blazer, complete with full online workshop, to which I signed up approximately 30 seconds after I saw the reveal. I heard her jeans workshop was very good, although I didn’t use it personally, so I figured this might be a useful way to go. Closet Case Patterns has a lot of good qualities, but one of the best, in my opinion, is the way they encourage the sewist to compete their projects by providing in-depth tools.
Heather has provided a comprehensive fit guide for all the most common fit issues one might have with the Jasika Blazer, she started up the #blazerofglory Instagram community initiative to encourage sewists to complete the blazer over 8 weeks (although I am WELL behind) and her team provides a continuous stream of helpful tips and inspirational photos and posts to get you going. Indie designers have their detractors – and I would imagine the fact this is a “speed tailoring” project using fusible interfacing and shorthand techniques will attract some derision, but you know what? I couldn’t give a monkey’s. What I (and I guess other sewists like me) want is to make a good blazer that fits well and gives me a feel for the techniques – which doesn’t take 100 hours of research and sewing.
Don’t get me wrong – I like to think that if this goes well, I will investigate more traditional (and time-consuming) tailoring methods. It’s the sort of person I am anyway. But I also do honestly get a little tired of the sniffy attitude I see sometimes on various parts of the internet that can’t wait to tear something down. It really seems like sour grapes to me on many occasions. Anyway! I don’t know why that turned into a mini-rant, but basically, I think Heather and co. should be commended for their clever marketing and comprehensive pattern support. The workshop has been incredibly clear and helpful so far. Let’s see how the blazer turns out and if I have to eat my words, eh? Ha!
Printing the pattern
Okay, so I’m going to break this down into a couple of parts, because this is indeed a BIG project, and I want to detail the salient points properly. First – the pattern. Anyone who knows me at all, knows I quite like taping together pdf patterns – I find it fairly relaxing. However, this time I took a look at the stack of paper and decided it was: COPYSHOP TIME. I’m incredibly lucky to have a local printer that printed all FOUR of the A0 sheets for $6, which my husband kindly picked up for me. 110% worth it – no question.
Even with this timesaver, I still ended up printing out additional sheets because of the C and D cup versions, as I was experimenting a little with the various cups. Since this was only a couple of the pattern pieces, it wasn’t a big deal, but suffice it to say, this is already safely my biggest ever printing project.
Making a muslin(s)
After studying the size chart, I decided to make two muslins. What?? TWO muslins? I barely get around to one a lot of the time. Well, let me explain. My measurements often place me in something of a sizing dilemma. I very often have a choice between a regular old size with minimal adjustments (in this case a 16) or to go by my full bust and make a Full Bust Adjustment (in this case 14 + C cup template). For a jacket or top, the most important thing to get right is your shoulders and I KNOW that I often wish I had gone for the smaller size + full bust adjustment option. But not always. Since Heather is providing alternative C and D cup pieces, I decided – heck, let’s try and settle this once and for all. So I made quite a few different muslins and, *spoiler* I’m not sure I’m finished yet and it still isn’t settled.
PS. Let me be honest about this too: if I hadn’t gone the copyshop route for printing, this multiple-muslin thing would not have happened.
For the muslin you only need the front, back, sides, sleeve parts and under collar. Sounds like a lot, but compared to the whole thing – it ain’t!! Nevertheless, my first muslin took me a little while; my second around two hours from start to finish. There are several darts to place, the vent to construct and of course a sleeve or two to set.
Muslin No 1: Size 14 with the C cup front
I wanted to start with my shoulders and was fairly certain that using my high bust would be a good place to start. I had, however, meant to grade out the waist and hips a bit, but was merrily singing along to some tune or other and totally forgot. Therefore I was expecting this muslin to be much too small around my midsection – and it was. Like, no way could I button it-small.
Nevertheless, the shoulders look pretty decent width-wise and the length of the sleeve is absolutely perfect for me. The C cup area also looks not too bad, but I could also see immediately that I’d need to lower the bust dart by around an inch to an inch-and-a-half, which I marked on the muslin. The top of the arm looks a little tight here too.
It’s hard to assess the back as the front isn’t closed, but if it were, it’d be a pretty good fit! The vent is swinging open at the bottom and my shoulder pad isn’t in properly, but not too shabby,
Muslin No. 2: Size 16 straight – not made
I thought I was killing two birds with one stone by preparing both the above muslin and a straight size 16 muslin together, but actually I would have cut a different size based on the first muslin, so I didn’t save any time at all. I really wanted to double-check the shoulders though, and also see how the rest looked, since this size corresponds most closely to my real-life measurements (apart from my tummy problem area). In the end I decided it would be better to concentrate on something more realistic, so I didn’t sew it like this and moved onto…
Muslin No. 3: Size 16 C cup, graded to 18 in middle and 16 in hips
I decided just to go ahead and cut a 16 C cup, since I clearly do need at least the C cup based on the first muslin and grade out at the stomach area. I feel like the 16 shoulders are a little too wide for me, as suspected, and this is more obvious from the back. I also have a little excess fabric around the armpit/upper chest area, but that’s possibly not a bad thing in a blazer, plus I also feel the darts are now off in the 16? The sleeve width is perfect at a 16, if a tad long, but that would probably be fixed with the reduction in shoulder width. The front closes with this sizing, which is nice, but it’s not hanging straight, so a little more width is still needed.
I was wondering if I might need to start making a high round back/neck adjustment of some sort recently, but I don’t see any gaping there, so maybe it’s ok.
From the back, I actually think this muslin looks pretty good. The vent still isn’t closing, however, and you can see the shoulder and some excess fabric/draglines at the top right back.
Muslin No. 3 adjustments:
I basically let out the side seams and centre back seam to see what happened to the vent and the general pull lines around the blazer in the front and back. From the back you can see that it looks worse, not better. It’s definitely too big and I have a lot of excess fabric mid-back – and that vent still isn’t straight!
From the front it looks slightly better in the sense that the jacket is now hanging straighter at centre front. The bottom of the sleeve looks very wide I must say, but I might just have pressed it weirdly. I also made a narrow shoulder adjustment on the left shoulder (without the sleeve) and I think that looks a better width, although I need to attach the sleeve to check. My darts are off in this version with added width and I think that might be causing a couple of the remaining draglines, because this muslin doesn’t feel too tight. That seems to be backed up by quite a few fitting references I found.
Final Muslin No. 3 adjustment
After these initial attempts, I started checking other sources/experiences and read that the swinging open of the vent might simply indicate that you need a swayback adjustment. This is an adjustment I have to make sometimes and since the back now seemed large, but the vent was still not sitting right, I decided to pin a quick ‘n’ dirty swayback adjustment of around half an inch and see what happened. And finally something seems correct!
The vent straightened up immediately and the jacket also suddenly looked to be hanging straighter at the back, judging by the grainline marking. Praise the heavens. As a sidenote, I also read that a lot of people needed to raise the waist around an inch on the Jasika blazer. I was wondering about that too, looking at some of the photos, but when I tried the muslin on, it all lined up well, so I discounted that. Although now I look at these photos again… it really does look a little low. Humph.
And that is where I’m at. Man, this fitting is a learning process! I’m not totally sure what to do now as I have several options. I feel like I could try a D cup, but with a 14 or a 16 to start? I certainly have to grade out at the middle with either size, but should I grade everything or try to make a full-tummy adjustment? Looking at my side seams, which have stayed pretty much where they ought to be, I’m leaning towards the latter. I definitely need a smaller shoulder than the 16, so I could also just make a narrow shoulder adjustment on the 16 and go from there… at the end of the day a blazer is outerwear and I don’t want it too fitted. Choices, choices…
Any suggestions most welcome! I will try to make a “final” muslin in the next couple of days with two sleeves and the undercollar and hopefully cut out my real fabric this week.