Front view before alterations and after the second fitting.

With the muslin ready, it’s time for the first fitting. There’s a 1” hem basted in place on all the body pieces. I stitched the neckline right on the seam line, clipped it, and pressed it under so it doesn’t choke me and I can see exactly where it falls.

The seams around the body are sewn up, but I kept the shoulder seams open for now.

They’re pinned for the fitting and I’m expecting to unpin and repin them multiple times before settling on the correct shoulder line. That’s part of the fun of having square shoulders and a short erect back 😄

I also stitched around the armholes, both to keep them from stretching and so I can see where the sleeves will connect. On the side pieces, the top seam allowance, where a future sleeve will be sewn, is pressed down toward the hem so I can get a good grasp of how low the armhole is in relation to my armpit.

So, here we go.

First sample – first fitting

The muslin feels a little roomy and that’s a good thing for a jacket. The HBLs (horizontal balance lines) aren’t quite where they need to be, but they’re pretty close.

But what’s going on with the front grainlines? They’re bending toward the neck above the bust line, and there’s a bunch of extra fabric in that area.

Front, back, and side views of the muslin sample before any alterations.

This is why the shoulders are pinned, not sewn. Because this area rarely fits straight out of the envelope, and it’s faster, cleaner, and less frustrating to repin the seam than to rip out stitches, press, and sew again.

Especially if you have to do it 15 times in a row.

Yeah, I wish I were kidding too.

Here’s how the muslin looked partway through the fitting: I eliminated a lot of the bunching in the front by letting the neckline relax to its full width and pinning it to the back with the shoulder seam offset.

Front, back, and side views of the muslin sample with the shoulder seam pinned offset.

The front grainlines are nearly straight (awesome!) but there’s still a small gap in the neckline (not so awesome).

I’ll just increase the offset.

Oops, nope, that didn’t help. In fact, it made things worse because eventually a gap developed in the back neckline where there wasn’t one to begin with.

Ok, so, the alteration is working but only to a degree because there’s also something else at play.

But what?

At this point, I walked away. I couldn’t quite puzzle out what was going on so instead of getting frustrated, I opted to take a nice break.

And then, on a hunch, I pinned out a long even tuck down each front.

I figured, if I can’t get the top of the grainlines to move far enough from my neck without causing more problems, what if I brought the grainlines closer to CF?

And guess what? It worked!

So now I had a 1/4” tuck (1/2” total) down each front and a 3/8” neck point offset, and it was time to check the shoulder slope.

With the neckline side pinned and the armhole side loose, I measured the gap between the front and back shoulder points – 3/4”. That means a 3/8” alteration on each piece.

Now, with a shoulder slope alteration, you have choices. You can make the change:

  1. At the shoulder point, or
  2. At the neck point, or
  3. Add half of the needed amount at one side and subtract the same from the other.

And which option you choose depends on the particularities of your figure.

Because I already have plenty of length in the bodice, I opted to remove the extra fabric at the neck point. And since the neckline was drafted quite deep, it didn’t get too tight even with my alteration.

The fabric around the neck now lies beautifully in the front and back, and also on the shoulders. The neckline is a hot mess though and will need a new smooth curve.

I’ll have to work that out on paper.

Front, back, and side views of muslin sample after the first fitting was finished.

First sample – second fitting

With the neckline and shoulders sitting correctly, I’m moving on to assess the area between the top two HBLs.

There’s a sticky-outy bit of the armhole at shoulder blade level on both sides.

I first pinned it out as a 1/4” dart (1/2” total) from the armhole to the grainline mark, right along the top HBL. That fixed the gap nicely.

Then I spent considerable time manipulating the muslin in front of the mirror, trying to get the bust level HBL… well, level. It was super confusing with the front HBL marked 5/8” higher on the original pattern.

Here’s the thing: it’s total BS.

That HBL needs to be marked at the same distance from the hip HBL on all pattern pieces.

That’s the only way you can properly assess what’s going on with your muslin.

Also, note that the B in HBL stands for balance. You can’t tell if your muslin is balanced properly on your body if the lines that are supposed to guide you are out of balance to begin with.

In any case, that particular HBL is supposed to be at the armhole level, whether or not it aligns with your bust.

So, I fixed that.

I also moved the bust dart up 3/4” to align with my bust level. If you’re on the perky side like me, you might need to do this too.

That super short dart was rather poochy, so I extended it to right about the grainline marking to make the bust shaping accurate for my figure.

And as the back had just a little extra length, I took it out as a 1/4” tuck (1/2” total) all the way across from one armhole to the other. Now the HBLs are horizontal all the way around.

Front, back, and side views of the muslin sample after second fitting was finished.

It’s a roomy jacket and I want to keep it that way.

Even though the bottom of the armhole is well south of my armpit, I don’t want to shorten it any more than I already have.

The top of the TRJ sleeve is supposed to look set-in, but the shape is a dolman where the sleeve joins the side piece. So it will definitely need all the extra space.

Ok, I have a bit of work to do, transferring the changes from muslin to paper.

And then I’ll be ready to add the sleeves.

See you then!

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