February 3, 2016

The Plaid Suit: Conclusions

I have wanted a plaid suit for a very long time, perhaps since that fateful day I first watched an Alexander McQueen runway show back in 2005. One of my professors gave me a length of blue and green wool back in 2012 that she had in her fabric stash but didn't think she'd ever end up using and I knew I wanted to make a suit. Only now, in 2016, have I finally made my plaid suit of dreams!

I started with the pattern from my princess seamed summer jacket (seen here) but I moved the princess line up just over an inch on the armhole for this blazer. I had no idea if this was a possible modification, I really did just redraw the line and hope it would work! Of course I cut out a trial of the two front pieces in muslin to check it still fit and was super pleased to find it did! The next jacket I want to make has the princess seam from the shoulder instead of the armhole, which is an even greater modification that may need much more trial and error. I could have bought a pattern for this jacket but I am glad I took the time and modified one of my own patterns instead as it made fitting a total breeze I was also pleasantly surprised that the sleeve I drafted from my usual sleeve pattern (this one has a dart in the back of the elbow) worked out well without me having to mess with it much at all. (More about patterning this jacket in this post)

Above is the sketch I started with for this suit. As you can see I originally planned on having just one button in front and was going to cut the sides of the jacket on the bias. In the end I decided against both of those options, expanding the front to two buttons and cutting the entire jacket on the straight grain.

The white lines of the plaid match across most of the pattern pieces of the body, including the majority of the front and back princess seams, and at the side seams. The sleeves are cut so that at the front top of the shoulder the plaid matches up, and also so that the horizontal stripes on the sleeves line up with those on the jacket when I have my arms down straight. All of that plaid matching did indeed drive me a bit wild! It was so worth it in the end, and after this project I am a lot less hesitant about working with plaid on more complex projects like this in the future.

A photo from instagram of my practice buttonholes
The third thing that worked well in making this suit was the bound buttonholes! I had already begun working on the suit when I realized I didn't know what I wanted to do for the buttonholes and had a choice to make: bound buttonholes or hand sewn? I am so glad I decided to go for it and do the bound buttonholes! I took the time to practice a few and regain the skills of making them and will certainly use them again in my next jacket project. (More on the buttonholes in this post)

So those were some of thing things that went well, the pattern matching, modifying the princess seams, and sewing the bound button holes. What didn't go as well? *ahem* I mean, where are my areas of opportunity?... ;)

While making the pattern for this jacket I added some ease as I knew there would be interfacing and a lining along with the thick wool fabric all eating up space in a pattern I knew already fit. So I added a tiny bit of ease to the center back and side seam, and it was too much to be honest. I took most of it off after seeing how the mock up was a bit too big, but there is still an extra bit of ease in the center back and it causes the back to be a tiny bit ill fitted. Something to fix in the pattern before next time!

Back to the bound buttonholes....though I am proud of them, I made a mistake on the inside! After I had finished the buttonholes, feeling triumphant indeed, I thought to myself "oh I should grade the layers of fabric on the underside so they lay even smoother". Which was a noble idea to be fair. However. I trimmed the last layer just a bit much so that the corresponding "windows" for the buttonholes in the front facing just barely touched the trimmed buttonhole excess. It has dawned upon me that this is hard to explain without a photo so I'll take one for you all and put it in here tomorrow. Basically I had to do some extra hand sewing, whip stitching the window openings in the facing to the cut edge of the back of the buttonhole excess fabric. I trimmed to much essentially, I got ahead of myself! Something to remember for next time.

Another thing I would do differently next time is add a layer of flannel in between the fashion fabric and the lining. For this entire jacket I used a fusible interfacing on the fashion fabric to add some stability. I chose an interfacing that was basically thin cotton woven fabric that had those tiny glue dots on one side to make it fusible. So there is a layer of cotton between my fashion fabric and lining, but next time I'd like to add another layer in between for even more structure and warmth. 

Then of course there was the skirt fiasco...yes, fiasco. I had just finished the jacket, you know, the hard part of making a suit, when I went to cut out the skirt. I cut out the front no problems, marked the skirt back pattern with the lines of the plaid so I could line them up, then went to cut out the skirt backs. Because my fabric was pretty wide. I actually cut off a smaller piece a few inches each side bigger than the skirt back piece. I then pinned each intersection of the plaid together so that I could cut both back skirt pieces at once knowing the plaid would match up with the front. Except when I finally laid my pattern piece onto the fabric I noticed my near fatal flaw-- I had cut out that smaller section for the skirt back in the wrong direction. Though this plaid looks balanced and square, the white stripes are not actually the same width apart in both the warp and the weft directions! So basically I had perfectly pinned and prepped plaid, but going the wrong direction, meaning my pattern piece did not fit the way it was supposed to. How I remained calm I am not sure, I suppose since I wanted to wear the suit the next day I just had to power through.

In the end I decided just to piece the skirt backs by making a seam straight across mid way down the skirt right on the edge of one of the white stripes. I don't think it looks very noticeable in the end thanks to the busy plaid and thick but flexible fabric. I know it's there though! Urg...another reminder not to rush and to double, triple,check you know what your doing before you cut into a fabric you have no way to purchase more of!

In the end I am super happy with this suit! The problems are minor, and the result very close to what I had been dreaming of. It is so so fun to wear and I look forward to wearing both pieces together and separately for the rest of the winter. My next jacket project will be in a more subdued plaid, and the skirt is already done! See the skirt here in an old outfit post. I have since added a waistband and fixed up the skirt a bit. Since I still have some of the fabric I'll be making a jacket to match, something even more 1940's inspired! 

I'm taking a breather first before I start suiting again though, I made a quick 50's dress this week already and it felt so simple and nice! I have another dress on my to-do list before I make the next jacket so I will be nice and rested!

I hope you are all having a good week, we began the week with a snow storm and it's still freezing outside here! The snow does look pretty from my sewing room window though so I suppose it isn't so bad :)


  1. It looks so gorgeous. I'm glad it all worked out in the end!

    And a princess seam from the shoulder is easy peasy -- just start with your two dart bodice and move the bust dart from side seam to shoulder seam (either pivot or slash and spread works). You then fairly smoothly can connect the two darts (waist and shoulder). Make sure you put your notches on the bust (about 1.5" above and below bust point), and then have the front side piece extend out up to 1/4" further at the bust point, and smoothly curving the line back in by the notch points. I then would recommend basting stitches between the notches when constructing.

    Does that make sense? I could do quick sketches to illustrate.

    1. Thank you Tegan! I have made princess seams from the shoulder before, it's just that I don't actually have a basic block (quelle horreur!) right now that I work off of, I'm just continually modifying patterns I already have to get to where I want next. I really need to make a new basic block/sloper for my size! A task for this spring for sure :)

    2. Hahaha I know that feel. :-P Have fun drafting your sloper!


  2. Thank you for sharing more details about the make ~ I love how this came out and it's always interesting reading about the construction processes! The wins and the er, "challenges" too! ;) ❤

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    1. Thank you Bonita! I'm thinking about doing more in depth posts about the things I make so I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

  3. Well, it looks perfect even if you know that there are little tweaks you want to make. Looking forward to seeing the next one!

    1. Thank you Kate! I think that's just the way of things, the person who made it can always see the flaws that others never even notice! It's a good thing to keep in mind as a maker, as sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves :)


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