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Nov 26, 2014

Back It Goes + Coat Muslin Progress

The vast majority of you who commented yesterday will be happy to know that the light blue L.L. Bean turtleneck I modeled yesterday is headed back to Maine, free of charge (to me).

A number of you recommended Uniqlo, so I checked them out, and they were selling cotton/poly turtlenecks for $7.90, no tax, no shipping.   I thought $22.95 was low but $7.90 is ridiculous.  I'll keep you posted on the fit/quality when it arrives.

In other news, today I was able to add seam allowances to my traced mens balmacaan coat pattern pieces.  Most of the allowances are 1.5 cm., or roughly 5/8".

I used an old cotton/poly sheet for a muslin.

I was very careful to trace the correct size and to add the seam allowances accurately, so you can imagine how disappointed when two (of three) raglan sleeve pieces, which are supposed to look like this...

...ending up looking like this:

Some of this may be due to the fact that a cotton poly sheet doesn't ease, but it annoys me nevertheless.

Everything else looks fine though.  I need to add the collar and front facings and test out the pocket.  It's actually a very basic coat, which is why it bothers me when I suspect there are drafting issues.

Not much to share about my mother; she has begun intensive rehab but is still very depressed.  The social work staff seems to believe this is normal and, hopefully, her outlook will improve soon.

I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving with family in town tomorrow (preceded by hospital visit with Michael and his dad).

So how does Uniqlo manage to sell a shirt for $7.90?  You can read more about the company here.

Have a great day, everybody! 


  1. Wow…that's a big difference in those 2 pattern pieces, even if your muslin fabric has no ease. Try walking the pattern along the seam line to see whether the problem is with the pattern and not your muslin.

  2. There should be some ease. But that seems to be a bit too much. Sad when stuff like that happens.

  3. Hopefully you'll have better luck with Uniqlo. They have a much younger, hipper target demographic, so you should get a fit closer to the one you're looking for.

  4. I'm glad you returned the turtleneck, I read the post at work on the sly and didn't have a chance to respond, but just looking at the workmanship made me disappointed in LLBean. I used to love them. I actually thought the $22 was high, but I'm cheap.

    Hope your mom perks up, I cracked a hip (@age 47) in icy parking lot and had a convoluted course, got it replaced, then had to be re-done. It was depressing to realize how I might never walk right again, and I vividly remember lying on my bed, mourning the hip joint I had thrown away and never would get back. All is better now, but it was hard. I got so sick of lying in my bedroom that the minute I felt better I painted the walls a new color and changed all the furniture around so it wasn't the same "sick room." Little things are surprisingly important. Happy Thanksgiving! Karen

  5. I've been shopping at Uniqlo for a long time, including for a summer that I lived in Japan. Quality is usually very good - often better than much higher price points. Where they cut the costs is interesting & often take a look at construction to see how they do it. Some are constructed differently than other inexpensive, and I suspect that one way the cost is kept down is by making construction easier/faster. I've adopted a few of their techniques for some of my less involved sewing projects. Also, I suspect that Uniqlo margins are pretty small. Some of those low prices are there purely to get you in the door so to speak- they may be sold at a loss or at minimum return. Anyway, hope the turtleneck is successful!

  6. Wow, I thought $22 was cheap, but $8?! Crickey - I spent £4.30 on my lunch yesterday...! Where was the top made? That might give you an idea of how they can charge so little. I'm glad you returned the other one. My granny always said in such situations "when in doubt, don't". Always rings true to me.

    1. Uniqlo is a Japanese company. So if the clothes there are made in China like many American brands, shipping costs from China to Japan would be much cheaper than shipping from China to the US.

  7. Maybè you could make your mom a fabulous rehab outfit! To cheer her up! The sort of thing Elizabeth Taylor would have worn ! Hope she feels better soon x

  8. Glad to hear your mother is improving. It can take time and patience to heal and begin to look at life in a way that we never thought we'd have to. I know with getting older myself that I seem to process things more slowly and feel the impact of lifes curve balls more than I did when I was younger. My poor mother had a fall 3 years ago and she ended up in rehab for 8 weeks during Christmas that year. We made it thru what seemed to be an impossible ordeal. I really admired her courage thru it all. I'm wishing the best for your moms recovery. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  9. Is it the back sleeve that's longer? Usually, there is some extra ease in the back shoulder which could explain this issue.
    And about the turtleneck: As far as I know Uniqlo is supposed to be one of those clothing companies which takes ethics seriously. If this item had come from another company I knew nothing about, I would be jumping to conclusions about their sourcing policies and production process now. In this case, I guess it would come down to efficient production in huge numbers.

    Best of luck for your family. I know your mother's struggle to recover won't be easy but it will make a difference that she has the support from all of you.

  10. Hi Peter,

    At pattern drafting class last night, I learned that (the better made) menswear, esp. outerwear, often has a bigger seam allowance around the armhole/shoulder parts, as this makes it easier to do alterations for (more well off) clients who wish to have a ready-made garment fitted to their measurements. Perhaps that explains all the different seam allowances in your pattern.

    It is, however, not really necessary to follow the seam allowances mentioned in the pattern's guidelines, you can just as well add your own choice of seam allowances and make them all the same width. Makes it easier to remember where the stitching line is for each seam :-)

    Also... I just figured... are you sure the seam allowances are not yet added? Because if they are, and if you have different seam allowances all over and then add some more different ones (i.e. turning a 1.5cm allowance into a 3cm allowance and then stitch at 1.5, and a 3.5cm s.a. becomes a 7cm s.a. which you stitch at 3.5...) , then the seam lengths along stitching lines will indeed not end up being the same length.

    1. I would endorse Sabine's suggestion to add just one SA width to all the pattern pieces. It quick and efficient, and you won't have to mark the width or remember what's what. For muslins I use 1/2" for seams and 1" for hems. When the muslin is fitted, then I add the 1/4", 1/2" seam allowances, and 1 1/2" for hems. John Yingling

  11. Happy Thanksgiving Peter and to all your readers!

    Peter I have a few questions, not related to your coat but to shirt making:
    1. turning the collar, how do trim the collar before you turn it to get perfect points?
    2. felted seams on the shoulders and side seams, how do you do the felted seam on the side, it seams difficult getting all that fabric thru the sewing machine as you approach the cuff, any suggestions?
    3. hemming do you a hemmer foot to do it ?
    4. what kind of interfacing do you use? just light weight fusible?

    I wish you would do a youtube video on shirt and suit jacket construction I am sure everyone here would learn a tremendous amount from you.

  12. Peter, I'm a long time reader, first time for comments tho. About your mom, I'm only a few months out from a hip replacement, and for me, those post op pain meds are terrible. Those alone can cause appetite loss and depression. Maybe it's time to see if her docs will change her pain meds to see if a new one can get her personality back on track.
    About your coat: for future reference you may want to add wider seam allowances than normal for fitting garments in the future, it sure helps if you have to play around with a seam. As for that sleeve shape, I'd slash and spread that shorter side maybe close to the wrist where the shape is straighter (and that won't take long to do).
    Happy Thanksgiving too

  13. I think feeling depressed after such an ordeal is only natural. Hopefully time will heal your mom, but physically and mentally. It's tough even for the young to climb back after serious illness so perhaps the elderly need a bit more.
    Hope the Uniqlo top suits you better! It'll probably be quite thin compared to the LLBean one.

  14. I think on a two-part sleeve the shorter seam is stretched quite a lot to meet the longer seam so that the sleeve curves smoothly around the elbow. Ask one of your menswear fine tailoring buddies? The Victorian Tailoring blog gentleman will probably have seen this since it's a period detail.

  15. I know it's not much consolation for your frustration but for us beginners, it's quite reassuring that even an old pro like you, in the nicest sense of the term bien entendu, has project problems!! Look at it this way: it keeps you connected with us mere mortals! Good luck with its resolution though. The other pièces look perfect.

  16. My guess is that they use jobbers who don't pay their workers a living wage.
    Isn't there a Uniqlo store in NYC?

  17. Oh, and I think that that's way too much to ease in even in a wool. The question is should there be any ease in this seam?

  18. Gee, I don't remember having an issue with this. This coat has a three piece sleeve, so you may want to go back and double check which side of which piece you're trying to attach. It's a puzzler for sure!

  19. Peter have you thought of taking up knitting? You could make a cosy turtle-neck or a warm scarf? Gemma (UK)

  20. We have a Uniqlo store here in the Bay Area. The t-shirts are very inexpensive, especially when on sale. But the rest of the merchandise is expensive, for me, anyway. But it's really stylish and well made.
    Hope your Mom keeps improving. She'll cheer up hopefully as you continue to support her.


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