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Readers,

I’ve gathered my materials and tools for making my 1941 McCall “Misses’ Mannish Jacket” following the “old school” method in Smart Tailoring with Kenneth King.IMG_6680 (460x386)

The next segment on the DVD covers pattern work, where Kenneth shows you how to generate lining and support pieces and a “hidden pocket” for your jacket.

For the most part I understood Kenneth’s directions and explanations. With some effort  I could see the different colored lines he used to distinguish neighboring or overlapping pieces drafted from the same main piece. He also pointed and explained clearly, so I had three ways to absorb the information.

The newly traced off front. My old front piece was pretty ragged from wear.

The newly traced off front. My old front piece was pretty ragged from wear.

However, the pattern I’m using is just different enough and my knowledge gaps are just wide enough that I didn’t know quite what to do in a few instances.

Part of tailoring is knowing when to follow an instruction exactly and when to make a judgment call depending on the characteristics of your particular pattern or materials. So I made my best guess.

Here are the pattern pieces I made:

From the front piece I made:

  • A front interfacing, or body canvas. Most of this is straightforward tracing–of the shoulder, gorge line, and opening edge. Then from about 3 inches below the armhole you draw in a curve toward the front edge that quickly goes straight down to the fold line of the hem.  This will be cut from tailor’s canvas.
    This piece will be cut from tailoring canvas to support the front. Is this the right width? Should I cut it narrower and skip the dart?

    This piece will be cut from tailoring canvas to support the front. Is this the right width? Should I cut it narrower and skip the dart?

    • Observations:
      • It took me a while to realize why my front pattern piece was larger than Kenneth’s. His jacket pattern has a side panel. Mine doesn’t: the front piece wraps around to the back.
      • I was curious how much interfacing I’d put on the fronts of the four jackets I’ve made from this pattern. For once, a hole in a lining served a purpose: I was able to peep inside and see that my green jacket front was fully interfaced with the fusible canvas–and it has worked just fine for nine years.
        Oops--a hole in my lining!

        Oops–a hole in my lining! No, it’s a piece of luck.

        Let's look inside. How much interfacing did I use? The whole front is fused with canvas.

        Let’s look inside. How much interfacing did I use? The whole front is fused with canvas.

        But on another jacket that much canvas would be too much.

    • Questions:
      • Is there a rule of thumb about how much canvas to use in the front? I wonder about a noticeable difference between the interfaced and uninterfaced areas.
  • A front facing.

    • Observations:
      • Kenneth’s jacket front doesn’t have a shoulder dart, so tracing off a facing piece off a flat front was quick. My jacket front does have a shoulder dart, so I had to fold it out before creating the facing piece. That meant the front wasn’t flat now, and I couldn’t remember how to make a guaranteed perfectly fitting facing off a distorted pattern piece.

        I closed the shoulder dart before drafting the facing.

        I closed the shoulder dart before drafting the facing. Now there is a ripple. How do I make an accurate facing when my pattern piece is distorted? (I know, this is basic patternmaking knowledge.)

      • Kenneth explains what favoring is, also referred to as turn of cloth. He shows where and how to add or subtract from the facing piece to have the lapel and front edge seam positioned correctly.
    • Questions:
      • How do I draft a facing for a pattern piece distorted by a dart, and how do I determine the grainline for the new piece?
      • I have allowed for turn of cloth in a facing before, but never where the facing and lining join opposite the lapel area. I don’t really get that.
  • A front lining piece.
    • Observations: Kenneth shows how the lining and facing are drafted in tandem. The front lining is 3/4′ shorter than the front, and the shoulder has a little extra room for the shoulder pad.

      The lining and facing drafts. No seam allowance where they join has been added yet.

      The lining and facing drafts. No seam allowance where they join has been added yet.

    • Questions: I didn’t see or hear any reminder to include seam allowances where the lining and facing join. Did I miss something? The lining pieces are 3/4″ shorter. Is that assuming a seam allowance of 5/8″? My seam allowance is 1/2″. Should I shorten my lining pattern pieces less than 3/4″?

From the back piece I made:

  • A back lining piece. Like the front lining, it’s 3/4″ shorter and has a little extra room for the shoulder pad.

    Back lining, with allowance for a pleat, and the back stay.

    Back lining, with allowance for a pleat, and the back stay.

  • A back stay. The stay, which will be cut from muslin, will support the upper back.
    This back piece is curved a little, so it can't be cut on the fold. However, I straightened out the curve for the stay. Is that okay?

    This back piece is curved a little, so it can’t be cut on the fold. However, I straightened out the curve for the stay. Is that okay?

    • Question: The jacket Kenneth is using has a straight seam in the upper back, so he can go ahead and draft a back stay that can be cut on the fold. My jacket back piece has a little curvature in the upper back.  To draft my back stay I pretty much split the difference so I could have a back stay piece I could cut on the fold. Is that okay, or is there a better way?

From the upper and under sleeves I made:

  • Upper and under sleeve lining pieces.

    The upper sleeve lining pattern is cut without the little vent thing. Both sleeve linings will be cut shorter than the sleeves.

    The upper sleeve lining pattern is cut without the little vent thing. Both sleeve linings will be cut shorter than the sleeves.

From the front lining piece created earlier I drafted:

  • A hidden pocket piece. The “hidden pocket” is inserted between the facing and front lining. Kenneth shows where to position this pocket and what size to make it. (Big enough for the wearer’s hand, of course.)
    The "hidden pocket" is drafted off the front lining piece.

    The “hidden pocket” is drafted off the front lining piece.

    • Questions: I didn’t hear anything about adding a seam allowance at the opening or around the edge. Did I miss something? Also, the hidden pocket is drafted so that it crosses the seam of the side panel. The pocket can be anchored to that seam allowance so it doesn’t get bunched up inside the jacket. My jacket has no side seam. What can I anchor the pocket to?

What remains to be drafted is the upper collar from the under collar. I’m holding off till I watch more of Smart Tailoring and understand the reasoning.

Kenneth shows the finished dimensions of the under collar.

For the upper collar, since we’re essentially upholstering the upper collar to the under collar, we just want a piece that’s bigger. So as you can see, I’ve added 5/8″ all around these edges and traced this off. So this puts the center back on the fold and the lengthwise grain goes this way.

  • Questions:
    • I already have under and upper collar pieces, so I wonder what’s the reason for doing this. Does it have to do with accuracy and control later on?
    • No mention was made at this point about adding for turn of cloth in the upper collar. Will the upper collar favor the under collar?

Kenneth ends this segment reassuringly:

Now we have all our pattern pieces done. It bears repeating that if you have a well-fitting jacket, you’ve gone through all of the effort to make the muslins to make this jacket beautifully fitting, put your old pattern pieces away. Use the pieces you’ve generated your well-fitting muslin with, and do these steps to that. These will fit any pattern from any company. This is formula. This will ensure that all of the parts and pieces fit together and you don’t have to worry about adjusting any of the other pattern pieces.

This is formula. You don’t have to worry.

When Kenneth said that, my point of view shifted.

I really began to see my jacket and coat patterns as fundamentally alike. What differentiates them are style details much more than construction techniques.

Making all the jackets and coats I want is beginning to sound lots more doable.

Formula. My new favorite word.

I like vintage patterns with stamps or stickers from the store. Stark Dry Goods was in Canton, Ohio.

I like vintage patterns with stamps or stickers from the store where they were bought. Stark Dry Goods was in Canton, Ohio.