Tabula Rasa Jacket pattern with Rain or Shine variation arranged on cutting table with patternmaking tools.

In the spirit of incorporating a more artsy look into my style, I’m turning to a pattern that was specifically created for wearable art that doesn’t look boxy or oversized. The Tabula Rasa Jacket from Fit for Art Patterns.

I bought it back in November 2017 and used it to make a jacket. Five years and four house moves later, I can’t find the jacket or the adjusted pattern pieces, but luckily, the original is intact and I can start from scratch. With everything I’ve just learned from Alexandra Morgan’s Fitting Essentials class, it should be a breeze.

Sizing and pattern analysis

My measurements put me squarely in size S.

I’m debating between the straight side and the flared side piece. It’s nice to have a choice.

The front and back pieces are fairly straight up and down to provide a blank canvas for your artsy endeavors, while the two different side pieces help you accommodate hips – flared side for hips of the hourglass or pear variety, straight side for all others.

I think I’ll start with the flared side because I’d rather take in any excess than let out the limited amount of seam allowance.

I’m also going to use the jewel neck front from the Rain or Shine Variations. This will make it easier to assess the neckline and give me the most options for styling later.

Tracing the pattern

Ok, we’re getting serious now 😄

The Tabula Rasa Jacket pattern is multisized, with 5/8” seam allowances and those funny little triangles for matching up the cutting lines. It also has grainlines and several horizontal balance lines (HBL) marked.

This is where you have to really pay attention because the grainlines and HBLs aren’t always perpendicular to one another.

And on the jewel neck front, the grainline is not parallel with CF (center front), which will clearly need to be fixed.

I started off by tracing the CB (center back) line and drawing an accurate grid of HBLs plus hem line, extending across the whole sheet of tracing paper. Then I finished tracing the back piece with all its markings.

To draw the grainline from mid-shoulder (essential for the fitting grid), I measured from the CB line to ensure accuracy.

Then it was time to trace the flared side piece. With the HBLs already marked on the tracing paper, it was easy to align it reasonably closely and trace all the cutting lines and markings.

And then came the front…

Hmm, so right off the bat the HBL at the bust level is 5/8” or so higher than on the back and side pieces.

The front HBL is higher than the side.

When I put the front and side together, it’s obvious at a glance that the seam won’t walk out. There’s an extra 3/8” of length in the front. The instructions don’t say anything about easing this in so no idea if it’s intentional or a printing error.

Close-up of the front and side superimposed to show the difference in lengths.

I’ve read the reviews of this pattern on PatternReview and didn’t see any mention of this discrepancy.

Once the tracing is done and I’ve drawn in the seam lines, I’ll walk them out and figure out what to do. I’m thinking I’ll probably take out the extra length in the dart because I often need more length over the bust anyway.

One other thing: the jewel neck front looks like it ends at CF. It has no markings so it’s hard to tell, but if you look at where the neckline meets the vertical line, there’s a 90-degree angle for maybe 1/4”.

This initially led me to believe that the vertical line was CF. But it isn’t. It’s the cutting line.

The CF line is actually 5/8” inside of it, where the neckline is already curving upwards. So that will need to be fixed too, unless you’re okay with a slight V in your jewel neckline.

Note that I’m not tracing the sleeve until the fit of the bodice is checked and corrected.

Walking out the seams

Once I had the back, side, and front pieces traced, I drew in the stitching lines. I’m perfectly happy to use the cutting lines when sewing up an already proven pattern, but to test and fit a new pattern, I want to make sure the seam lines match.

The back and side pieces walk together nicely.

The shoulder seam matches fine for the jewel neck front, but notice that the stitching line of the original front (where the neckband would attach) is off a bit. I fixed it on my tracing.

Close-up showing the banded front shoulder seam stopping short of the neck point on the back.

Setting the back piece aside for now, let’s walk out the seam where the side meets the front. Yep, there’s the extra 3/8” on the front, just below the bust dart.

Close-up of the seam lines where the dot on the side piece should meet the dart leg on the front, but the front is too long.

I have two options:

  1. I could take an even tuck across the front to remove the extra length, or
  2. I can simply incorporate the extra into the bust dart.

I’m going with option 2 because I usually need extra length in that area anyway.

The new dart looks much bigger, but that’s partly because it’s so short. I may extend it toward the bust point once I see it in muslin.

New, larger bust dart drawn in and stitching line corrected. Still needs the cutting line adjusted.

I don’t like the curve of the front neckline. It looks too flat and doesn’t meet CF at a right angle. But I’m going to leave it as is for now and adjust it properly once I see it in muslin.

Last, but not least, it’s time to check the intersections of the neckline and armhole with the shoulder seam.

At the neckline end, everything looks good – a nice smooth curve. But the armhole end, not so much. Instead of a smooth curve, we have a slightly pointy V. It’s a quick fix though, and the pattern is finally ready.

Armhole before (pointy V) and after correction (smooth curve).

The next step is to cut the muslin and sew it up for the first fitting. I’ll be back with pictures and commentary then.

Happy sewing!

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  1. Hi Alex – I just took the AM fitting class too; wasn’t it amazing?! (Btw, I was so impressed with your sample! I am still battling away with mine 😜) That is great that you are already putting the concepts to work in your sewing. I’m curious, did you add extra balance lines, or just go with the ones the pattern included? I look forward to seeing how things go with your new wardrobe plans. 🙂

    1. OMG, Michele, yes! There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the class. I think it should be required study for all new sewing enthusiasts because it would make their new hobby so much more rewarding.

      Also, thank you for the compliment! Fingers crossed you get your Kayla perfected soon.

      With the Tabula Rasa, I didn’t add any extra balance lines. It comes with three – at the bust level, mid-armhole, and high-hip-ish – plus the hem line. I might add one at the waist if I decide to add darts. For now, I’m trying to figure out what to do about the bust level HBL that’s higher in the front by design.

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