Male Pattern Boldness is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!

Sep 28, 2010

The Mens Suit Jacket (and five days to go...)

Friends, it's cut.  Not the lining, not the interfacing, just the cranberry corduroy.  (Yes, that is a Laugh-In wastepaper basket.)

Will I regret not making a muslin?  I suppose in a way, this is the muslin.

If I covered this earlier, apologies; my mind's a little hazy.  Here's the pattern I'm using.  It has two lower patch pockets and a single welt breast pocket.  In an ideal world the lower patch pockets would be welt pockets with flaps.  I don't think I can manage that this week.

Wanna laugh?

Got that?  A weekend. 

Now I've used this pattern once before, about this time last year, when I attempted my first jacket.  I never did wear it out of the house but it is recognizable as a mens jacket -- albeit badly misshapen and fitting poorly in the back. 

I need to take some width out and I should have done this before I cut my fabric, I know, I know.

I have Don McCunn's How to Make Sewing Patterns (but not his number on my speed dial, unfortunately) and he addresses some of these issues: in particular, how the mens basic bodice pattern (which I made over the summer) is adapted to make a suit jacket pattern (and how to draft the side piece that one finds under the arm of a mens jacket), and then how they are then shaped along the seams.

I think I can successfully take out a little width from the shoulder and mid-back without screwing everything up.  Cross your fingers.

I'm not using fusibles on the front even though I've read there is fusible interfacing you can use with corduroy.  I intend to use the haircloth I bought for Michael's suit project, and I'll probably do most of my stitching by machine.  The procedures are explained in both my Simplicity Sewing For Men and Boys and Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket.

I'm shooting for something akin to this (from the Barney's jacket I demolished last August).  Most of the interfacing was attached by machine.  The corduroy is already spongy so I'm not sure I'll use the lambswool for the chest piece; maybe flannel or something with less loft.

I have a LOT of information, readers, probably too much.  I'm going to do the best I can with the time I have: basically five more days.  If it's a wearable garment by Saturday night, great.  If not, there's always the rose print cocktail dress.

This is what I'm shooting for (albeit brighter) -- soft, but structured. We'll see how close I get.

Caveats?  (Prayers?)

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. Sending you super suit mojo -- looks like an auspicious start to me. I've no advice on haircloth. I've never used it. Hope some more knowledgeable fans can give you the scoop.
    Hey! what are the shirt plans with the jazzy suit?
    Keeping tuned with enthusiasm!

  2. Laugh In! What a great show! And the jacket is looking good. Love the dudes on the front of the Simplicity book ... talk about busy pattern mixing, oy!

  3. Your suit is going to look gorgeous!
    And who could resist 'Sewing For Men and Boys'? I'd buy a copy just for that title and cover shot.

  4. Good luck! You can do it!

  5. Good luck. I am working on a winter jacket for my husband. It is my effort to make more for him. It is also a nice way to use him as my draping model since I can't be my own model and my kids won't sit still long enough for me to use them. LOL. I figured I could do the men's winter jacket because I have made a few ok suit jackets in the past. Have you ever done a winter jacket. I was inspired by Gertie's sew along. I love the men's clothing you do, by the way.

  6. UPDATE: I made a muslin of front, sides and back, out of an old sheet.

    It took no time at all (about an hour) and I may even add sleeves.

    Definitely worth it as I discovered that the fit issues with the earlier jacket had more to do with the crap-quality poly blend I'd used than with the pattern.

  7. I love the whole idea of a cranberry corduroy jacket - you're going to look super-fabulous come Saturday night!

  8. Is that a hint of fabric snobbery I hear? I think that excites me as much as the cranberry suit!

    Now, not to start trouble, but why don't you give those welt pockets a second thought. You've taken care of most of the fit issues and the pattern does say that you can make this in a weekend... and it's only Tuesday.

  9. What a terrific color. I'm sure it will turn out fabulous, you've researched everything so well!

  10. I think you are dong a super job. The jacket is gong to look great. I like the pic of the look you are shooting for. The jacket is quite fitted, and I note that it is paired with unmatched pants. I know that you will look great at your reunion. Good luck this week!

  11. For what it's worth, having made 3 suit jackets for myself starting out mainly from the Cabrera book and branching out from there to mainly observation and intuition and wonderful blogs like JeffreyD's tuttofattoamano, my advice would be:

    - ditch the chest piece completely, especially if you're going for a "soft, but structured." look it'll save you more time than one would think and probably look better for it.

    - be extra vigilant working off of a muslin made from cotton - I did this for my first jacket and whilst I got an overall fit that was not bad there were many finer details that were lost in the drape of cotton muslin and once rendered in the actual fabric were quite different to the: for me these were shoulder width - shoulders too wide on cotton muslin (easy to overlook because it doesn't have the body of wool or corduroy).
    ( the Most important area that the muslin didn't help with at all was) the back shoulder area, I beg you Peter don't cut the back shoulder seam to short it should be LONGER than the front shoulder seam and considerably longer too, believe me if you make the mistake of not doing this you could easily end up with very uncomfortable tightness across your back - Not fun!

    Anyway, I hope this is of some help.

    P.S. You're right to stick to patch pockets given the time constraint.

  12. u can use felt as well... works just as great

  13. P.P.S. The back shoulder tightness I mentioned is something you will only feel once the sleeves are on.

    Also look out for the fit around the neck - it's Very easy to make this too big.

  14. Here are my morning muslin pics. The width across the mid-back is my concern. This is made from a cotton sheet. The back of my fashion fabric will have some support, not sure what yet.

  15. NO help here on fitting as the last man's jacket I made was a squarish 80s thing. What you're doing looks good. I like horsehair as it's firm, flexible and soft all at the same time, not at all like modern interfacings, but it does ravel a bit if you don't watch it. And it smells better than synthetics. If I were you, I'd concentrate on the fit and make whichever pockets the remaining time allows. You're going to look great in this jacket!

    Wonderful idea to destruct a jacket. Goodwill here I come. And thanks for the men's how to references. Maybe I'll try my hand at something for DH who's allergic to wool.

  16. Hmm, are those pictures of the back with the jacket closed or open? If they are closed, and judging by the one picture where the front clearly is closed, it looks to me like the button stance - where you've pinned it closed - should be lowered a bit - ideally it should be at your natural waistline it also looks like the back of the side body could have a hair shaved off it or perhaps just around the waist area - the fabric looks a little bit excessive there. I wouldn't worry about the mid-back area too much - if there is excess fabric there (I assume that's what you're concerned with?) it's not difficult to adjust at center back before adding the collar - much easier to take away than to add obviously. At worst you'll have a coat that's comfortable but not necessarily with the cleanest back. In my opinion that is far preferable to the opposite - a beautifully clean back that has you wincing every time you reach out to open a door or dare to give someone a hug.

    The armholes do look to be a little too low but as you've already cut the fabric there's not much you could do about it and this is, sadly, a very common occurrence with the majority of people's clothes in this day and age.

    Lastly, I would ask why you want to give the back "support"? To my knowledge It's not done at all to interface the back, at least not in bespoke menswear. I would seriously reconsider this if I were you - a jacket should move with you and be comfortable whilst making you look your best and fitting beautifully. The areas of most movement - the shoulders and back should be free to do this and I can't see how this would be the case with any sort of canvas applied. Like I say I've never ever seen it done, not anywhere. The only sort of reinforcement I could recommend would be some lining or pocketing along the shoulder seams which, in any case, is pretty standard.

    Good luck

    P.S. Some pictures from the front with the jacket pinned closed would really be beneficial to any judgement of the fit that one could make based solely on looking.

  17. Thanks, Anonymous. I've added a few I had from the front. I realize I've been pinning the front too high -- it should be lower and it is on the pattern.

  18. Peter I had a look at the photos of your check jacket. The fit isn't bad, not bad at all. I would leave the shoulder line alone and ease the back seam to the front in that area. Re the mid back looseness - this could be addressed on a muslin by pinching out a long narrow vertical fish eye dart at each shoulder blade area and seeing if that helps. The other thing I wonder about is whether your jacket has a too high seventies armhole. Perhaps lowering it the slightest fraction could help?
    Of course these are ideas you could try on your next run. As a previous commenter mentioned each fabric behaves slightly differently when made up and I think it will look fine as is, especially if you do a back shoulder shield from the horsehair.

  19. What a co-inky-dink that you mention McCunn's pattern making book as I was checking it out for about the third time last night on Amazon's website last night deciding whether or not to order it. I would love to know your thoughts on the book. Thanks for your blog and all the inspiration that it gives to those with not as much courage to charge ahead.

  20. Peter, I think you are doing an admirable job. You certainly have enough information and advise to make good decisions about constructing your jacket. Trust your instincts and you will do fine. Of course, you can always throw the jacket over your shoulder and let that tush of yours do all the talking!

    Sending you good vibes.


Related Posts with Thumbnails