November 6, 2012

Ehm... well, that coat muslin...

So, by the end of last week, I found some time to trace the pattern for the Marion coat. Although the pattern sheets look choatic, they are actually not that bad. Black on yellowed white is much easier to see through tracing paper than red or green on grey-ish recycled paper... And obviously, I wouldn't even think about taking a tracing wheel to a nearly 60 year old pattern. 
As I told you, the pattern was in size 38, which, in 1950's Marion, was the smallest ladies' size. It's bust 88 cm, waist 68 cm, hips 96 cm. The size of the dress I made this summer was 36, which they sometimes mention as a small ladies' size but is actually considered to be the size for 14-16 year old girls. That size has bust 86 cm, waist 68 cm and they don't mention a hip size because young girl's don't wear narrow skirts. 
I'm at about bust 84, waist 65, hips 94 myself and I remembered a suprising amount of ease at the waist and a high waistline from the dress experiment.

Even before I traced the pattern, the drawing of its pieces made me pause to worry. Those skirt pieces seem to flare out to fit the hips and then continue more vertically towards the hem... That does not a full skirt make...
I decided to go ahead anyway. One of the great things about these patterns is to find out the actual proportions of fashion which I mostly know through somewhat idealized fashion plates. 
I worried again looking at the pattern pieces. There didn't seem to be that much of a waist-to-hip ratio at all...
Despite those misgivings, I cut the coat in my muslin fabric. As the measurements stated about indicate, I could expect it to run a bit big but the alteration I made at this stage was to lower the waistline by 1 cm (in line with my experience with the dress and with a measurement of the center back).

On Sunday, I completed my muslin. Unfortunately, it was a very dreary day so by the time I was finished, there wasn't enough daylight left for pictures. I only found time for that this morning, between a dentist appointment and going to work, on a another rainy day (which is why I don't look nice at all in these pictures).

Well. What can I say? This is why I learned to draft my own patterns... 

This hardly looks 

like this, does it?
My main reason for not grading down before making a muslin was shoulders. In my experience with both RTW and commercial sewing patterns, I tend to need a size bigger at the shoulder than at the chest. My first Marion dress didn't really involve shoulder width so it didn't provide a benchmark for that. So, I figured the size up, 38 might be just what I needed. If I were lucky, I'd only have to pin in those princess seams...

As it turns out, there's no such luck. This coat is ridiculously too big. Even when worn over a sweater, I can easily pinch in 10 cm at the waist (and sizes go up by 4 cm intervals!). Of course I know coats need ease, but this is one is supposed to be closely tailored at the bodice!
Weirdly, the chest seems less oversized than the waist and hips but that may be down to the fact that the whole thing is pulling back rather substantially. 
And those shoulders? They also seem to be too wide by about 2 sizes... 
Somehow, I don't think using Marion patterns for 10-12 year olds would solve my problems either...
Oh, and it's just so flat. Tailored, fitted coat? Redingote? Nice feature pockets sticking out a bit from the hip? None of that. It's not really wide enough for a swagger but there's neither fit nor flare.

On the up side, I like that collar. It's a little shawl collar made higher and more lofty by four little darts, two on either side of the center back. It both flattering and practica because it allows for a bit of a statement collar which is still quite closed-up and therefore warm. 
Oh, and my waist-length alteration seems to have done the trick.

All in all, I don't think I will be grading and altering this pattern. There's just too much which I don't like or is way off. I think I will try and draft my own pattern based on the drawing of this one. Although I will try and incorporate the original collar. My interpretation of the design if you will. 
Stay tuned for the next muslin!


  1. Oh that's too bad. For what it's worth, the coat in the pattern photo seems to have rather oversized sleeves, made only just a little more shapely by the wool. I'm like you, I need a 38 for shoulders but size down everywhere else--but with any kind of raglan sleeve 38 is always too much and 36 fits perfectly in my shoulders. Looking forward to seeing your draft, especially with the darted collar!

  2. Ah, hmm. Well, this is why we muslin :)

    I love the photo, too, but it sure does look like it's stretched tight over an ironclad girdle... not sure that that exact look is ever going to happen in something wearable for everyday. I think you're right, though, you'll probably get closer (with less of a headache) using your own draft