Saturday, April 14, 2012

Striped fabric and shoulder darts

One of the most difficult figure issues to deal with is the stooped figure. In a recent situation, I had made a toile jacket for an actor and I knew that his pattern required some modification for a stooped back and rounded sloping shoulders.
I hadn't made anything for this person for a number of years, and I was surprised to have to open up the back another inch to get the jacket to fit properly. That is a full 1 and 3/4 inches additional length in the CB!

This is also supposed to be Edwardian so I cannot mask it with extra large shoulder pads either. Now, in a plain fabric such as his black cutaway jacket, I can just lay the pattern out as is, but when there is a stripe, that must be dealt with differently.

The CB neck must be in the middle of the stripe pattern, and if I laid the pattern out as is, I would have quite a bulls eye effect in the upper middle part of his back. That isn't a suitable option. If I straightened the CB by opening up more ease into the shoulder, I would end up with too much for the fabric to handle and if I opened it into the armhole, I can't ease enough in to make enough of a difference, so the other option is a shoulder dart.
Shoulder darts are quite common in women's wear but I have to say that I personally have never seen one in a man's jacket. I was so happy to see a reference to darting the back shoulder in a post on The Cutter and Tailor forum a couple of years ago, and ever since then I feel like I have some back up when I am required to do it for difficult figures. Especially difficult figures and striped fabrics.
The trick as far as I can tell is to not interrupt the main stripes in the dart. The dart end on this one needs to be moved just a tidge to the left, to follow the stripe edge exactly, but overall you can see the effect. The dart really isn't that noticeable when all is said and done, and the benefits outweigh any negatives as far as I am concerned.

You would not know this just from looking, but I will tell you, the other issue I had to deal with here, is the fabric. It actually is a one way design. As woven, the white stripes are on the one side of the stripe right across the width of the fabric. I had to make a choice. Either the stripes would travel around the body, always to the left for instance, or I could fold the fabric end to end and make it symmetrical, which is what I did. Great, so far so good, except when it comes to the collar. The collar is one piece, no seam at the CB. So the stripes travel one way only. Merde!
So unless I seam the top collar CB that is what will happen, and I have to decide soon.
Any thoughts?
We are probably the only ones who will notice or know. The stripe is subtle, and if the audience is that engrossed in the stripes on a jacket, then the play needs some help. I won't be putting a seam in the top collar.

I'll post the pattern modifications in a future post.


  1. "I'll post the pattern modifications in a future post"

    That would be very nice, Terri. And if it is not too much to ask, I would like to see the CB Seam with the stripes. It looks real straight what I can see on the picture. How can this be? What did you do to the front?
    Can't you cut the collar in bias with a center seam? So it is a "design". Edwardian time was full of new designs.

  2. I always follow your exposes avidly. And, oh, the subtle one-way pattern has tripped me up in the past. For your collar quandry - I'd either sew it with a CB seam OR make it on the cross grain - weird? yes, very, but it would be symmetrical and completely avoid the stripe matching issue. I've no idea how it would play in the front, not having done the pattern placing exercise. On the other hand... now that I think about the curve of the collar on the straight stripe.... skip the cross grain idea and just go with the CB seam. Safer that way.

  3. I have photos of the finished coat which I will share as soon as I have time to photograph the pattern. It was a busy week!