Pretty in Pink

During the past Covid virus lockdown, I was able to start on a jacket for Nancy. She buys the nicest fabrics in Portland and has a good eye for classic patterns. Back in the 80’s, I had a sewing mentor, Bobbi Tyler, who used to avoid Very Easy Vogue like the plague. She said that they never fit as well as the grown-up Vogue patterns and they had fewer less accurate pieces. I have to agree with her opinion but the drawings draw you in thinking everything will be OK. If you are looking for a great fit and maybe a lining pattern piece or two or three…forget it!

But, let’s make a gingham muslin and see what needs to be done. You have seen this alteration for Nancy many times. Why is this? Well, even though this pattern is a princess seamed front, it has no idea what a real woman needs in the bust area. You can see that slashing and spreading allows the horizontal lines to drop and be parallel with the floor.

While many gals tell me that all I had to do was to add at the side seams…I say no, add fabric where you need it.


The back yoke gets slashed (later photos) and spread and neck darts added to start with and then the horizontal lines droop a bit and I can pin out the excess gathers. You can see that the shoulders are wider than we need and the sleeves will be droopy too. But if we can see the potential at this stage in cheap thin gingham, it will work!

With green gingham stitched into place, the lines all look good. The side seams will need some taking in and the hem raised in the jacket and the sleeves. I will also add one inch to the collar edges to make more of a statement. Still looking like a Halloween costume?

Paper pattern front gets the 1.5 inch addition by laying it over the green gingham.

The hem is folded up in the paper pattern.

The side front section also has an additional section added across the bustline decreasing to nothing at the armhole.

One piece sleeve has an elbow dart and the hem will be shortened just below it.

Here is the common yoke adjustment for a rounded back with added neck darts.

The lower back with gathers is also shortened.

The side front piece is shortened too.

Once the paper pattern is altered, the jacket is cut out of the fashion fabric. It is a blend of wool and other fabrics and has a sort of solid backing as you can see the wrong side of the collar. First try-on reveals lots of things to pin out !!!

The lower back hangs nicely.

Center fronts are thread marked and the button position is decided upon. The button will not have a buttonhole but maybe a snap or magnet to keep the jacket closed.

The fronts are generous and to take in the side seams, all we need to do is reduce the front width by 2 inches each side and leave the back alone. Nancy also wants a side seam pocket for her car keys.







Droopy sleeves need to be moved up 1/2 inch and probably more later as the fabric relaxes.

Have you ever seen such a low elbow dart? Yes, it was a whopping 4 inches too low!!! So that will get moved up and re-stitched.

Left front panel is also pinned out 2 inches like the right side.

Plaecment of the pocket along with removal of excess fabric front.

New seam and cutting lines are chalked and altered on the paper pattern.

Every jacket deserves and needs a good lining and a couple years ago someone gave me a bolt of 35 inch wide silk. It didn’t draw me in at the time, but Nancy liked the dusty wrong side so that was it…solution!

As the silk lining is thin, I used fusible tricot to beef it up.

The sleeves are lined first before attaching. The final hem is chalk marked.

What would a jacket be without interfacing? Pretty much just a big blouse, so let’s add some fusible stabilizing to the front side panels.

The back yoke and lower back are secure.

Collar/facing unit is interfaced and added with lining pinned to make sure of enough ease for wearing. The outside edge is hand basted for now. It will be understitched and topstitched for the final.

Third try-on is looking more flattering but the shoulders need to be narrower and shoulder pads added.

The sleeves need to be moved in almost an inch this time. The loose weave fabric is “growing” so I have to be agressive! You can see the white thread marking the vertical center of the sleeve cap lining up with the shoulder seam.

I’m going to leave you now before going into all the fine tuning and finishing touches that make a jacket look and feel wonderful after steaming and adding covered shoulder pads.

Still more brides to come and good weather photos from the garden.

Thanks for hanging in there! Happy and productive sewing everyone!

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24 Responses to Pretty in Pink

  1. Nancy Figur says:

    I love when you post. I always know I am going to learn something. I hope we see the finished product.

  2. Leigh says:

    This is such fabulous and detailed information, I feel as if I had taken an all day class. The use of the different colored gingham made the alterations very easy to see. Thank you so much.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Leigh. There will be more of the sleeves and hems and shoulder pads to watch for. It is good for me to get my head away from the bridal side of life and do some tailoring!

  3. DONNA says:

    When I watch your posts, I’m always in awe of your magic

  4. Donna says:

    I have another question. If this lady wears the same jacket all of the time, why can’t a pattern be made to use for all of her subsequent jackets?

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Donna, this pattern, now perfected, can be used in the future. In fact, Nancy was amazed at how the princess seams fit so well. Do you remember Bobbie telling us the more vertical seams in a garment meant better fitting?

  5. Trish S says:

    That was such an interesting post. I love the fabric and the lining. Will we get to see a photo of the finished jacket? Interesting comments about Easy Vogue too.

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Trish more to come, I didn’t feel I should post EVERY photo first time around….ha ha Working with high end fabric and silk linings is so different from wrestling with satin and tulle!

  6. LindaA says:

    I love following along with Nancy’s garments! I learn a lot!

  7. vancouverbarbara says:

    Beautiful fabrics and such an exquisite button.

    • mrsmole says:

      Nancy is a super shopper and can find the most unusal notions when she is on vacation. She visits me and has a bag of wonderful…I do always look forward to seeing her and her treasures!

  8. Elizabeth Harber says:

    You’ve given us so many helpful tips here. Thank you for taking the time to document all of this.

    • mrsmole says:

      It is the only reason I have this blog actually…to share highs and lows of altering. I have never made a penny from links and only share products that I use and love. If yoiu take photos of a project, you can go back and remember what worked and what didn’t. If yoiu make notes on the photos too, it is way easier to make another one with less hassle.

  9. Karen Mulkey says:

    These alterations are very common among mature women (of which I am a member) and I appreciate your very clear instructions and pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    • mrsmole says:

      It’s funny, I have been doing the curved back alteration on my own clothes since I was 30…Lordie, that was a looong time ago! When I used to teach pattern altering, I’d get questions about, “where should I add to the paper”. If you picture yourself lying on a table face up…what sticks up? Boobs, tummy? Face down, what sticks up? Upper back and butt? There is your answer…add where needed.

  10. Sue says:

    How did you select a pattern size for her? It looks to me like the upper pattern is just too big – sleeves falling off the edge of her shoulder. In any event, I can’t wait to see the finished jacket. Thanks so much for your blog. I really enjoy it.

  11. mrsmole says:

    Normally we cut the pattern with a 16 at the top and gradually spreading to a 22 at the hem. This jacket was extra wide and droopy at the shoulders. I tried to make the shoulders more square before setting in the sleeves. The pattern emphasized low shoulders in the worse way. It needed shoulder pads to flatter her shape. I may show the weird shoulder drop in the paper pattern later. Nancy wanted a jacket to fit loose like her old Pendelton wool ones with gathers in the back but the back ease shifted to the front and that had to be addressed by removing front ease by 2 inches each side. You never know how a paper pattern and loose weave fabric will match up and work together. So glad Nancy is patient!

  12. Lois says:

    Looking forward to seeing the finished jacket. I gave up on this pattern. Too many issues for me to deal with.

  13. Hello! This is such interesting information, thank you. I think it’s a beginner’s question, but, when you removed those 2 inches from the side panels, how do you handle the arm hole? Do you move it 2 inches across and lose that much from the top of the panel too?

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