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Oct 24, 2010

Kwik Sew Men's Western Jacket -- MUSLIN

Yesterday I gave myself permission to put my unfinished cranberry corduroy jacket project away and move on.  One day I'll return to it, but right now I want to sew something quick and fun.  What better choice than my recently acquired vintage Kwik Sew Men's Western Jacket pattern?

I'm hoping for something like this, maybe in a more interesting fabric -- even corduroy.

I quickly got started on my muslin, using an old thrift store bed sheet.  It felt so good to sew again!

So far the muslin has only required minimal alterations.  I took two inches off the length as I want the jacket to look trim.  I'm going to narrow the collar to roughly 3", which is the same width as Michael's American Apparel jacket collar.  The larger collar looks dated.

I don't like the facings; I may trim them too.  I think they're only necessary if I'm going to line the jacket, which I don't intend to.  Note how Michael's corduroy jacket doesn't have them.

I was afraid the jacket would turn out boxy but it didn't.  The sleeves, however, are drafted oddly.  For one thing, there's too much height in the sleeve cap, a problem I encounter often.  While I'm not a linebacker, my shoulders aren't especially sloped.

On every other coat or shirt I've sewn, the side seam and the sleeve seam line up, even when the sleeve is made up of two separate pattern pieces.  This allows you to sew up the side of the sleeve along with the side of the torso (which works best for shirts and other unstructured garments).  It also makes finishing with a flat-felled seam much easier.

Note the armpit of Michael's jacket.

And my muslin.

This Kwik Sew sleeve is drafted differently; the seams do not line up.  Nor does the back yoke seam line up at the sleeve seam where the two pieces of sleeve pattern join.  Basically, nothing lines up visually.  I took nearly an inch out of the height of the sleeve cap; I had to or the sleeve wouldn't fit.

I've read a lot about sleeves and ease, particularly over at Kathleen Fasanella's blog, Fashion Incubator.  I am not willing to redraft this sleeve entirely.  It's OK with a few tweaks, but it does frustrate me when sleeves don't fit armscyes in a professionally drafted garment.  We're not talking personal fit here -- there is literally too much sleeve for the hole provided.

Has this ever happened to you?

Anyway, friends, that's what I did yesterday.  I'm still not sure what I'll make the final jacket out of.  I have dark blue denim around the house but I'd like to try something more unusual, even suede.  I got some recommendations for leather suppliers nearby and I may check them out.  We'll see what happens.

What do you think?  Pink vinyl?  Faux fur collar?

Happy Sunday, everybody!


  1. I kinda like it in the fabric you made it in as a muslin, actually!

  2. It's interesting that in your last photo the sleeve seam almost lines up to the seam of the back yoke visually. I wonder what they could have been going for when drafting? I've actually toured the Kwik-Sew company when in school for Manufacturing and Design. It's located right in NE Mpls. I love Kwik-Sew's patterns for working with knits, I've used one of their bodysuit patterns as a knit sloper since they do such a good job allowing for the stretch of the fabric.

    I love the altered length of the jacket on you, and how the pattern is broken up in the muslin. The idea of you working with suede is certainly exciting, maybe for the back yoke and front pocket flaps for contrast? I know that something simple and impeccably made is beautiful in itself, but daring choices suit you so well. Perhaps a wonderful purple suede?

  3. Since you asked, go ahead and make a suede jacket. And let us know how it's done. I might want to try that some time. And could you have it done by next weekend?

    just kidding.....

  4. If you're using a two piece sleeve then it won't match up. Most jacket patterns I've seen are done with two piece sleeves.... I think it has to do with the whole tailoring aspect of it (I don't quite remember)

  5. If you are going to make a leather or suede jacket, consider trolling a thrift store for oversized leather clothing to use. Sometimes you can find something big enough to use.

    Now my 7-month-old would like to say something:
    n7u6onnnnjim98mkktjd9,hjnnm gg

    Have a nice day.

  6. I agree with Krista, used weathered leather would be amazing in this jacket.
    But I really like the fabric of the muslin. Go figure.

  7. Good for you for putting the jacket aside! I have a pair of very annoying pants marinating right now and I just refuse to feel guilty about it.

    Can't wait to see this finished jacket, I know you will find something amazing to use for it.

  8. I've never found a two-piece jacket or coat sleeve pattern that matches up underneath with the side seam. Back yokes and back princess seams, yes, but never under the armpit.

    Suede would be brilliant - go for it!

  9. I envy you your jacket sewing -- love the bed-sheet muslin. Your sleeve issues were interesting to hear about. Right now I'm in the midst of a Corpse Bride costume (I know, I know) and wish I could sew something for myself. I'm back to work after 7(!) years at home with kids. Looks like this morbid thing I'm making might be my last sewing for some time . . . at least, I'm able to have my vicarious MPB thrills to keep me going.

  10. I'm rather liking it in thrift store bed sheet actually...

  11. Now, I can actually see this jacket in something like a printed denim.

  12. Nice shot of your bottom ;)
    Like the jacket too!

  13. As others have said, a two-piece sleeve wouldn't usually have a seam meeting the side seam. However, when sewing a standard one-piece sleeve, I always rotate the sleeve sleeve forwards so that the sleeve under seam is positioned about 1.5 cm infront of the side seam of the body of the garment (this varies with the size of the person I'm sewing for). This is because the human arm is actually rotated sligntly forward in relation to the body the body, not symmetrically vertical, so you get a better and more comfortable fit of the sleeve if you do the same when setting it. Most pattern companies won't do this but a well-drafted two piece sleeve takes this into account (look at the sleeve of a well-tailored jacket and see how the leeve hangs forward not vertically). I draft my own patterns using an Italian method of drafting and I believe the sleeve rotation is a standard of Italian quality tailoring so it is possible shirts you've bought where the under arm seams don't align are quality Italian shirts.

  14. nice fabric on the muslin! I'd go with a print, or leather. I like the idea of a print, or weathered leather. What machine are you using for this project?

  15. That has happened to me with sleeves, too. So I cheat. I install the sleeves flat, cut off the excess, and sew the sleeve and side in one continuous seam. It looks the same as the pictures, only it works much better.

  16. I'd wear the muslin. I find that a lot of vintage patterns have excess sleeve cap. I'm always trimming them down.

  17. Every sleeve pattern I have used in decades has had way too high sleeve caps. As far as the sleeve seams not matching up, I decided long ago that instead of drafting a pattern from scratch, they take pieces from other patterns and just throw them together and call it a pattern. Very often the sleeves are not the ones pictured in the front drawing. This is why I have been doing something similar to what Bratling does.

  18. I'm with anon above: if the pieces you have don't do what you want, kludge something else together. For years, I hated making blouses and only used wool that I could steam shrink for jackets as every pattern had impossibly high sleeve caps, much higher than ready to wear. I used to pin in the sleeve and just move the cap higher when I pinned instead of cutting off a piece beforehand. Always worked just fine. You could never have used Gertie's horsehair gathering on the old sleeves as the patterns simply didn't fit. Wrinkled sleeve caps used to be a giveaway for who made their clothes.

    Love the muslin fabric, too. Ya, printed corduroy or denim or maybe a vintage cotton velour? What kind of fasteners are you going to be putting on?

    Glad you're feeling better and back to the old cutting table. And, bad boy, I just bought 12m of buy 1 get 2 free corduroy in my colours: yellow, coral, celadon green and bottle green. Your cord suit got to me, ha! Going to make 3 jackets & a skirt to go with my other bits.

  19. Armholes are a bugger, aren't they. I'm often left wondering if it's more my own incompetence at setting them in, than a problem with the pattern. Except for that beginners project in syn. shantung. I set that right sleeve in four times, damn it, then gave up and trimmed.

    I had to look very closely at your muslin Peter. It looked decidedly peculiar on you with such long sleeves projecting past the jacket, like a ladies cropped jacket, and I thought fashion alert! fashion alert! (and boy it's bad if a dag like me picks up on it). Then I noticed the unfinished cuffs, der.

  20. Wait--- all these comments and not one person has teased you about using the infamous AA jacket for reference? What, have we all learned manners in the past week? Am I supposed to rib a stranger all by myself?

    I like a massive collar myself, but I've already admitted to having iffy taste.

    Is brocade out of the question? If you WERE to make another cord jacket, would you consider cutting some pieces sideways to create horizontal ribs on your finished garment? I did that for a bag once, it was snazzy.

  21. All the comments about how to adjust the sleeve to fit into the armscye appropriately REALLY HELPED me!!! Thanks to all! YAY--IT'S NOT JUST ME! I can DO this!

  22. I hate to mention this, but don't you have some unused faux python?

  23. Top stitching on a muslin? I think you already have a jacket and want to know what to make the next one out of!

  24. Facings can be so totally stupid and unnecessary can't they? I have a Kwik Sew pattern for a mandarin-collar shirt which is either sleeveless or has small cap sleeves, and it has sleeve hole facings. They are annoying, don't sit well and look really obvious inside thin shirt fabric. Didn't help that I put the first one in back-to-front and had to unpick umpteen layers I had already trimmed. I choose self-fabric bias binding instead.
    When you get to your next flat-felled seams, could you possibly show a few pics of how to do them?
    And yes that is a terribly well-finished muslin. What do you do with your muslins in the end?

  25. hi there,
    I used the modern Kwik Sew pattern for this jacket, all the lining up and sleeve cap were fine, albeit, the sleeves a little bulky, and the collar to big for contemporary taste. I used faux suede from the decorator department in the fabric store. okay to sew with regular needles but you need a strong machine. Alas, the fabric is unforgiving and will show every stitch hole (I had difficulties with the front and it shows). Great affect achieved with the material. Paid a lot for the buttons, but the choice proofed worthy all the top stitching and the many pieces in the pattern. With your eye for fabric you can take this and make it evening wear. Imagine this in boiled baby blue wool or in navy with hot pink lining. Mine is a maroon because natural suede tones go with everything. you will take it to new heights.

  26. Love that pattern, its going to be a nice looking jacket. I don't think it needed to be shortened. To make the jacket a bit longer will show of your figure better and look more modern.

    Waxed denim is nice.

  27. Good to see you sewing again Peter. You know, that illustration on that jacket pattern makes me laugh every time I see it, it's so 70's Burt Reynolds. Re the sleeves, Burda does the closest thing to an anatomically correct sleeve that I have seen and then only sometimes. The big four tend to have the sleeve cap ridiculously high and they are often quite frankly poorly drafted. I have a couple of favourite sleeves that I adapt to suit a variety of patterns. I never thought of drafting a sleeve from scratch - sounds like a good idea.
    ps Cute jacket, even in bedsheet.

  28. It's been my experience that most patterns (including Kwik Sew) tend to have poorly drafted sleeves with way too much ease. I don't totally agree with the Fashion Incubator theory, but yeah, commercial patterns are awful when it comes to sleeves. I routinely check them and routinely take out anywhere from a half-inch to a whole inch of ease, depending on the style and the fabric.

    On shirt-style sleeves (which it looks like this jacket has), there should be no ease, period. You were smart to compare it to Michael's jacket.

  29. P.S.
    Oh, that's interesting what tdu000 said about Italian shirts.

    I guess the moral of the story is to look at the gold standard of what your are trying to achieve.

    In my opinion, that would be a Levi's jacket. But if you want to try out a more European fit, perhaps those Italian shirts or an Armani version of the jeans jacket?

  30. All of these armhole/sleeve tips are super helpful! I thought it was just me.

    And Peter, CUTE jacket! I'm loving the idea of it in boiled wool with a hot pink lining… scrumptious!

    Can't wait to see how this all comes together!

  31. Peter, my Mum would be very disappointed in you! Cutting the sleeve was a big no no when I was taught to sew by Aunt and Mum as a little girl. Apparently you HAVE to ease in all the sleeve to have enough Functional Ease (check out Cal Patch's Design Your Own Clothes for more on this) to move your arm comfortably. In saying all of that, I always used to cut where Mum could just 'magic' the sleeve in! I think it might be instruction, then lots of practice!

  32. The height of the slv cap doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the slope of shoulders but more with how wide the shoulders are across, point to point. A slv cap made for a garment that has a normal or slightly narrower shoulder point placement would have a higher slv cap whereas a garment with an drop shoulder or more across shoulder would have less slv cap. Most pattern drafters (including myself) have been taught through theory and practice that you should have anywhere from 3/4" up to 2" slv cap ease depending on the fabric and styling of the garment to allow for a smoother finishing over the shoulder. Unfortunately commerical pattern company pattern drafters can not always be sure what fabric the end consumer of the pattern will use (despite giving recommendations) and they tend to over compensate. Also, your jean jacket slv was probably drafted to be more like a suit's two piece slv and conform more to the body's natural arm position (as explained above by another poster). Your AA garment is mass produced. It will use methods and techniques that accomodate .....that garment's end price point, not to say that it's wrong but the reason slv/side seams are usually stitched all in one is to save sewing time. You get a better hanging slv if it's sewen in the round. And the facings of your commerical pattern were made the way they were so that when the garment is worn and lapels open, the wrong side of the fabric doesn't show. But either way is "correct", it just depends on the end use, fabric and styling preference. A company i used to work for we did jean jackets all the time and we successfully used both facing methods. Also it's easier and cleaner to set the front of the collar when using shaped out facings that extend to the shoulder, you'r only left with the back neck to finish up on, which a lot of home sewers probably appreciate. Frank

  33. Thanks, Frank. I appreciate your input!

  34. Replies
    1. Try Etsy or eBay. It shows up quite often.


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