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Mar 162015

Get ready for a long post, kids.  I’m naturally wordy and discussing something as complicated as blazers makes me exponentially more long-winded.  Sorry!  So, let’s get on with it.  Two weeks ago I had an interview at a local community college, so the entire two weeks prior to that were dedicated to making a new suit.  My last suit was a wearable muslin and it really wasn’t a proper suit that one could wear to interviews.  Aside from all the finishing issues I mention in that post, I didn’t use any interfacing in it, so it was kind of wobbly and not sturdy-looking, it was too short, and it was a tan color that I wouldn’t really wear to an interview.  For interviews, I’d prefer to stick to black or grey.  Behold:


Suit no. 2.  New and improved with a better color, more (any!) interfacing, and a better pattern.  This time, actually suitable for interviewing!  This time I used McCalls 6172 instead of Simplicity 2446.  Some might question whether it was wise to change up patterns at this point–I certainly did–but I thought this pattern’s armhole princess seams might give me a better fit at that tricky above-the-bust-moving-into-the-armhole area that gave me trouble with my last suit, with its shoulder princess seams.


I do think that area looks a bit better, but I had other issues at the shoulder.  I think I need to start doing a forward shoulder adjustment.  I tend to hunch over, and I had to stand perfectly straight with shoulders thrown back and my arms hanging straight at my sides for the shoulder to look right on this suit.  Perhaps good to be forced into having better posture for an interview, but it’s more likely that I’ll forget my posture when I’m not looking directly in a mirror and end up with a funny-looking suit.  If I make this pattern again (I might be blazered out for a little while, but I’d like to make more eventually), I would do that forward shoulder adjustment and take some of the ease out of the back.  You can sort of see below that the back looks a little large above the waist, but I needed that ease to be able to move my arms forward.  I think the forward shoulder adjustment will help with that problem, which will mean I won’t need that excess ease in the back.

mccalls-6172-backSorry for the wrinkles; I had worn this to the interview by the time I took these pictures and was too lazy to steam these out.  I didn’t wear the jacket in the car on the way there, so it fared a bit better than the skirt.

When I’d finally finished everything on this jacket, I put it on and and was so disappointed.  It looked really big and sloppy.  I think the stretch of my fabric (it was a stretch suiting made of rayon/poly/lycra) and its drapiness caused it to be a lot more droopy than the wearable muslin, which was made with a cotton blend that had a lot more body to it.  I had to move my buttons over to make it tighter, and then it felt and looked better.  My unscientific button application means that they’re not quite the same distance from the edge of the jacket, so I can definitely never wear this blazer unbuttoned.  But that’s fine, because open it looks even sloppier.  Sigh.

Now for all the ways in which this jacket is leagues ahead of the wearable muslin:


Look at that properly bagged lining!  M6172 had different lining pieces, which made it easy to properly bag the lining.  When I did the lining on S2446, I couldn’t understand how you were supposed to get the right result unless the lining pieces were a different length than the pattern pieces.  Well, you’re not.  The new suit has the proper pleat at the bottom, while the tan one does not.  Point 1 for new suit.


Look at that gorgeous back pleat!  Because S2446 doesn’t have separate lining pieces, it also doesn’t have a back pleat built in.  I tried to make my own sad little pleat, but you can see that I clearly had no idea what I was doing or what a back pleat was supposed to look like.  The rippling in the seam on the pleat is because I forgot to change to a smaller needle size for my lining fabric.  You can’t win them all.


Just look at that totally not embarrassing collar and facing on the grey suit!  The collar and facing on S2446 are constructed a different way, and I think a combination of being too timid with my clipping and not knowing what I was doing resulted in the embarrassment you see in the tan suit.


I spent forever looking for buttons for this jacket, and this was the only one I could come up with that even remotely matched the fabric.  So I guess it’s a good thing I liked these buttons, which are from Vogue!  I wanted to go to Soutache which is supposed to be a great place for buttons and trims, but I ended up not having time for that.  I had to go to Vogue anyway for my clapper, so I just picked up the buttons while I was there.


Here’s a better view of the collar.  I had a lot of trouble getting those points to look good.  My points on my purple version didn’t look good, so I asked Instagram what to do.  Everyone recommended using this tip:  Grainline Studio: Perfect Points.  Jen’s method is actually exactly what the pattern recommended, but since I’m sooooo smart, I had decided to go rogue and use a method where you don’t clip your corners.  It didn’t end up working, so I tried Jen’s/the pattern’s method and this is what I came up with.  I think my stitch length might have been too long.  Another problem:  particularly on the lapel you see on the right, the collar piece’s seam line is really concave.  The pattern said if that was happening, you could bow your seamline out to compensate, so that’s something I’ll have to do on the next jacket.


Twill tape on the roll line.  I did not believe this could make that huge of a difference, but it really did, especially on the purple version.  I think I could have made the twill tape a little shorter to make the lapels hug my bust more on this version.  The stretch fabric is so loosey-goosey that it gapes open a bit and I worry that it looks sloppy.


The neckline seems like it would have benefited from some twill tape on the roll line.  I steamed the hell out of it and tried to shape it on my tailor’s ham, but it just didn’t turn out very well.  Part of the problem is my floppity fabric, which I think would have benefited from twill tape to define the roll line, and part of the problem is that my under collar was larger than my upper collar when of course it’s supposed to be the opposite.  This happened on the purple version of this jacket too and I have no idea why.  I mean, I guess I could have accidentally stretched it out, but I put interfacing on them both immediately, which should prevent stretching, no?


Skirt details!  Here’s the inside with a new fabulous thing I tried:  making a pleat instead of a dart on the lining.  So much more comfortable!  I had wanted to line the skirt in the same hot pink Bemberg lining, but I guess I only bought enough of it for the jacket.


Blind hem done by one Benjamin L. Gemmel, Esq.  (Note:  he’s not actually a lawyer.  I just think that last-minute conscripted seamstresses should be given an honorific of some sort.)  Not too shabby.  At the skirt-hemming point in the process, which occurred very late in the evening the night before my interview, I was pretty wild-eyed and desperate, and after a failed attempt at using rayon seam binding (that stuff is slippery!), I asked Ben if I could teach him how to do a blind hem.  He’s the best, so he said yes, and what you see above is the result.  He’s a quick study.

Now for a few shots of the wearable muslin for M6172, because I don’t think it warrants a whole separate post.  It’s much more wearable than the wearable muslin I made of S2446, and this was because I used proper finishing techniques on it.  I interfaced the entire jacket, used twill tape on the lapel roll line, put in shoulder pads, and made sleeve heads.  (Don’t mind my huge pile of in-progress projects on the cat tree next to me!)


Ugh, that shoulder crease on the left is really irritating me!  I never noticed until these photographs.  I think it’s because I’ve worn this twice, and both times under my winter coat, which tends to crush things.  That’s what I’m going to believe, anyway.


I have nothing to say about this side view.  I just thought that in the interests of accuracy in reporting, you might want to see it.  I suppose I could tell you something about the fabric.  It’s a mystery fabric from the Textile Discount Outlet, or whatever it’s called, here in Chicago.  From how it behaved, I believe it’s some kind of cotton/poly blend.  It has a fuzzy-ish finish, which makes it feel a bit like flannel, but it’s definitely not flannel.  It’s a very strange fabric, as are most things at the good old TDO.


You can really see those upper back wrinkles from excess ease here.  This fabric is much less drapey, so it doesn’t hide that flaw as much.  I really need to get this solved for any future versions.  This jacket is even more restrictive because the fabric has no stretch.  I think I’m going to try out something like a stretch cotton sateen for my next blazer.  It seems like it would be the best of both worlds:  structured but stretchy.

A couple of points of major importance in achieving the finishes I did on these jackets, which while not perfect, are much better than on my S2446.  First, I have been sewing for four years and just last month finally bought good interfacing.  Don’t wait as long as me, reader.  I’d decided that the cheap stuff from Joann’s was garbage a long time ago, but instead of spending money on the good stuff, I was just going without or using muslin as sew-in interfacing when it seemed necessary.  How stupid I was.  I got a huge pile of interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply and Palmer/Pletsch.  There’s not a huge difference between the two, though FSS has way more options than P/P.  That could be a benefit, or it could be overwhelming, depending on your perspective.  I just got pretty much everything so I’d have it on hand for a while.  Both interfacings are quality materials that fuse easily and provide just the right amount of body as long as you use the one recommended for your fabric.  Quality interfacing, I love you.  Here is my pile, pre-suit:


Finally, I want to end with an exhortation to get ye a clapper if you don’t already have one.  It made SUCH a huge difference in the quality of this suit.  In particular, my grey suiting fabric had a high polyester content, so it was difficult to press.  The clapper beat it into submission.  A photographic tribute to my lovely clapper:


I can’t end this post without mentioning my thanks to Gail from Today’s Agenda.  She’s been working on making blazers lately and has some beautiful finished products.  She was so helpful in answering all my questions while I made these, and I really appreciated her willingness to chat with me about blazers!  Thanks, Gail!


  5 Responses to “McCalls 6172, Suit no. 2”

  1. I just bought that clapper!

    Amen to quality interfacing. The glue dots stuff is just the pits.

    On to the blazer: Wowza, that looks fantastic. When I was doing interviews, many moons ago (fine, September-October), I didn’t have the gumption to dive head-first into tailoring my own blazer, so I just got one suit from Brooks Brothers, one from Banana Republic, and called it a day. I have the regrets, because my skirt from BR fit in the hips, but was so baggy around the waist it would actually make full revolutions while I walked. The Brooks blazer was baggy in the waist, but so very tight in the bicep that I looked like the Hulk.

    The pleated skirt lining is brilliant, and something I’ll have to try. Your bagged lining is so, so good.

    What color is the cotton sateen for your next blazer, by the way? I’m so curious to see your blazer factory results.

    • I was immediately amazed with that clapper. I cannot. believe. I was attempting to sew for so long without one. What folly!

      I felt like I had to at least try to make a suit because I always have even worse problems with the above-bust area on RTW jackets than I did with the jackets I made. I tried so many suits and was really unsatisfied with all of them, so I decided to jump headfirst into blazer-making.

      I’m so happy with my bagged lining this time! I think I had to mess it up once to be able to do it properly. I was so confused last time, but this time it seemed so much clearer to me that I couldn’t even imagine what had me so baffled in the fall.

      I haven’t bought the sateen yet, but I want to make it out of a minty sort of color. I’ve pinned this one from Organic Cotton Plus: http://organiccottonplus.com/collections/wovens-sateen-percale-sheeting/products/sateen-60-aqua. It’s listed under the percale/sheeting category, though, so I think it might be a no go. I’m going to order a swatch and see if it would be the right weight. I really want a springy color so I can copy a blazer I saw in the Eddie Bauer catalog. I also wouldn’t mind a more classic-looking tan blazer made out of sateen, but I’m more excited about the mint one.

  2. I think your grey suit looks fantastic, despite the problems you had with the fabric. And you learned so much through this process! Re: the concave points – I did use the tip from the pattern to sew that bit slightly convex, and it worked great, so you should definitely try that next time.

    I also really love it that your hubby did your hem for you. What a guy!

    It was fun comparing notes with you – you know I love to geek out about blazers and tailoring!

    • I really did learn a ton! I felt so confused about so many things when I made my first blazer in the fall, and it made me kind of dread the task of starting these ones. But I a lot of research and learned things that I felt really improved my final result. And now that I know more from making these, I think my next blazers might actually live up to my expectations.

      He’s the best! He kept worrying that he was doing it wrong, but he did possibly a better job than I would have!

      Thanks again for your help and for the great conversation we had about our blazers! I’m so impressed by your fully tailored blazer and I’d love to do the same one day. I never thought I’d say that before this blazer-sewing spate – my sewing time is so limited that I tend to steer clear of super long projects like that. But I can see how you’d have much greater control of the final result, and that seems well worth it.

  3. […] there this semester , but I’m also teaching two classes at another school.  Remember my interview suit?  Well, I didn’t get that job, which was at a community college, and I heard through the […]

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