I miss those long-gone days when I could wear a 16 by only altering the placement of the waistline. More often then not, I got wearable garments using Vogue patterns.
Subsequently, I've learned to alter patterns thus opening up more style options. I prefer to do my alterations before cutting out the fabric, rather than going back and forth from a muslin.
Vogue patterns tend to be more difficult to alter in the flat-pattern stage . This is largely because Vogue patterns tend to have more style elements, which can add a dizzying complexity to flat-pattern alterations. I can do it, but the design must be truly special before I'm willing to think about investing the time and mental energy.
Recently I found this pattern in the Vogue catalog. It's a simple jacket with dolman sleeves and waist darts for fit and shape. It's also part of the "Today's Fit" line that features extended sizes. I wasn't exactly sure what Vogue meant by "Today's Fit". I hoped it meant that if I cut the size indicated by the measurements on the back of the envelope, I
would end up with a garment that would fit me.
Sandra Betzina for Vogue
I didn't have to cut out the largest size, or increase at the waist. The upper bust wasn't as sloppy loose as most other patterns would have been if I'd cut according to my pattern size. Unfortunately, the upper sleeves are so tight that it's impossible to wear the finished coat over a long sleeved t-shirt. I would've never guessed from the pictures above that the dolman sleeve would be so disproportionately small.
I could have mitigated this by doing as the pattern's designer suggests and cutting the whole thing out with 1" of "insurance". I chose not to do this for two reasons. First, I know that doing so will give me distortion in the fit at the underarm; second, I assumed that "Today's Fit" would have something to do with proper proportions in the pattern. Yes I'm a fat girl, but my arms are not outsized in proportion to my body.
This is how far I can raise my arm. I really don't think cutting out an extra 1" for insurance will help this issue. A pivot and slide to raise the shoulder and the underarm sleeve will.
The last problem I had was completely of my own making. I have a habit of taking a pattern piece and placing it on my body to get an idea of whether it's going to be close to fitting properly or if it's going to need a lot of tweaking. So I took the front pattern piece and draped it over my front and was amazed to find that the waist on the pattern was where my own waist was. I thought I'd gotten lucky and "Today's Fit" maybe meant, "Patterns for Short Waisted Fat Girls". Instead of moving the waistline darts I went ahead and shortened the pattern at the bottom.
What worked fine for the front became a disaster in the back, as the extra length between the shoulder and waist wasn't filled out by my shoulder blades. There may be a simple fix here. It's possible that I can release the back darts and either leave the back to fall loose - which will probably result in extra length below the waist in back, or I can move the darts up and retain the fitted silhouette.
I may decide to attempt this coat again because the silhouette is flattering and if I can work out the kinks, I'd like to make one from microsuede. The future plan is to move the back darts up, widen the upper arm and raise the underam.
The construction is really simple - especially if you use a reversible fabric like wool flannel or melton, which will allow you to skip the facings on the collar, keeping the whole thing light and casual. I used mill-end wool flannel which was inexpensive enough to use for a trial garment, but nice enough to wear if it worked out.
I'd like to close on a positive note. The best thing I think I've learned this year is how to do a single-fold, triple-stitched hem. It looks just as good on the collar edge as it does here at the hem. I love it.