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JACKET FITTING: Get prepped for cooler weather with tips for sewing your first jacket, adding linings for warmth and refashioning jackets.

Q I am a new stitcher hoping to make my first jacket this fall. As I look at patterns. I am confused about the types of sleeves and armholes. What kinds are easiest to fit and construct?

A Jacket styles feature a number of different shapes and armholes. Here are some tips to help you choose the best jacket style for your first project.

The loosest, easiest style jacket to construct features a dolman sleeve. This sleeve is an extension of the body so the construction is very easy. Dolman sleeve coats and jackets need to fit very loosely for ease of movement in the extended sleeves (1).

Dropped shoulder sleeves are also easily constructed. The sleeve attaches to the jacket front and back sections which extend off the shoulder. The pattern pieces resemble rectangles with minimal shaping. The lower the sleeve sits on the arm, the straighter the sleeve cap. which makes it easier to construct but adds more fullness in the underarm. The sleeves are stitched to the body before the underarm/side seam is sewn. Dropped shoulder jackets feature an easy fit with little defined shaping (2).

In a raglan sleeve construction, the sleeves create the garment shoulders. They are stitched to the front and back before the underarm/side seam is stitched. This construction allows for some additional shaping with princess seams in the body and/or in a shoulder/sleeve seam to further define the arm (3).

Square armhole jackets feature a natural shoulder with ease in the underarm and some defined shaping in the body. These sleeves are formed with an underarm seam before being attached to the jacket. The easiest styles to construct have sleeves that attach to side panels before being inserted into the body of the jacket (4).

A set-in sleeve offers the closest fit in a jacket and is the most challenging to construct. The sleeve is formed, then inserted into the jacket. Easing stitched into the sleeve cap makes it possible for these sleeves to be inserted into the fitted jacket while allowing for the body's natural movement. The set-in sleeve, when fit correctly, follows the lines of the armhole closely for a very neat fit (5).

After choosing a style and a pattern, make a mock-up to test the fit and become acquainted with the order of construction. Jackets require enough ease to fit smoothly over your everyday clothing. When selecting a size, consider measuring a comfortable jacket in your closet and comparing the measurements to the finished garment measurements listed on the pattern envelope.

If the sleeve or any other area of the jacket mock-up feels too constructing, release the seams where the fit is tight and assess how much additional fabric you need for a comfortable fit. If the mock-up is too loose, take in the areas where there is excess fabric and stitch in the changes to test for ease of movement. Then change the pattern pieces to reflect the adjustments before making a real jacket.

Q I have a fun jacket pattern I made for spring that fits great. Do I have to make it bigger if I want to add a lining for fall or quilt it for the winter?

A Stitching up a pattern in new fabric for a different season is so smart. You already know how to construct it, and you've tested the fit for comfort and style.

As you think about your jacket pattern for the fall, adding a silky lining requires no pattern adjustment. In fact, lined jackets usually feel looser because the silky lining slides easily over your clothing.

If you're considering lining your jacket in cotton, flannel or fleece, more ease is needed for the jacket to move over your clothing. Add at least 1/4" but no more than 1/2" to the pattern along the side seams and sleeves to enlarge the jacket (6). If the jacket has separate lining pieces, add the same amount in the same location on the lining pieces (7). Baste the garment together, try it on and adjust if needed during construction to check your work.

A quilted jacket usually consists of a fabric outer layer, a filling layer like flannel or batting, and a lining. Use the pattern enlargement technique explained above then cut out your fabric and your filling layers 1" larger all around to accommodate shrinkage during the quilting process. Quilt each piece as desired, then lay the pattern piece back on the quilted fabric. Trim away any extra fabric that remains after quilting and before construction (8). Line the jacket with a silky lining cut using the altered lining pattern pieces.

Q Can you narrow the shoulders of an 80's style suit jacket for a more contemporary look?

A It is possible to update a broad-shouldered woman's jacket with large shoulder pads (9). Begin by opening up the lining at the hem or through a seam to remove the oversized shoulder pads. Clip the threads that hold the shoulder pads in place and pin in a smaller 1/2" or 1/4" set of shoulder pads. It is not possible to completely eliminate shoulder pads in this case.

Carefully try on the jacket to see how it looks. If the jacket is rumpled and limp in the shoulders, more alterations are needed. Move the sleeve up on the shoulder and pin in the adjustment to assess the jacket for an improved look (10). Mark the adjustment if it is pleasing on the body.

Unpin the smaller shoulder pads and carefully remove the stitches where the sleeve adjustments have been pinned, ripping an additional 1" below each final pin. Reset the sleeve and baste it into place. If the sleeve seems too small for the opening, take in the shoulder seam, easing back to the stitching line before reaching the neckline details. Additionally or as an option, take in the front armhole by reducing princess seams if they intersect the armhole or create a small dart in the armhole to reduce the opening (11).

Baste in all the changes before stitching them permanently. Keep an eye on the sleeve length too, as this alteration can cause the sleeve to shorten. Consider adjusting the sleeves to a bracelet or three-quarter length if they become too short (12). Change the hem length too if that makes the jacket look a bit more contemporary.

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Title Annotation:CURVE APPEAL
Author:Cumbie, Rae
Publication:Sew News
Date:Jul 31, 2019
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