Fun “Bar” Suit, Part III: Jacket

With the skirt done it was time to start the jacket. I’d originally intended to modify a modern jacket by adding curvier seams, but then I found a vintage jacket on eBay that looked perfect:


It had a nice hourglassy shape, what looked like generous hips (insert ominous music here), and it was the right color. Hoping that it would fit better or at least be easier to modify than a modern, boxier jacket, I bought it.

However, when it arrived it didn’t fit me very well– the torso was too long, making the bust section buckle unattractively, and the sleeves were too wide, which also made the armscye too low to allow for much arm movement. Overall I think it was probably made for a taller, larger-framed person (except the waist– I guess this means I don’t have the correct proportions for the look), so it needed some alteration. Spoiler: It ended up needing A LOT of alteration!

After unpicking parts of the lining I accessed the seams of the jacket and went to work. I removed the shoulder pads and took in a dart from the sides of the collar along the shoulder seam to raise the whole jacket up by almost 3/4″. That helped with the long torso issue and raised the armscye. Then I widened the outermost darts on either side of the bust to bring in the fit a bit and help it lie smoothly, which also shrank the armscye and made it fit better.

Both of these alterations required me to detach portions of the sleeves from the armscyes and re-set them, so while I was at it I took the sleeves off entirely and took in the long seams to make them more fitted to the arm. I ran gathering stitches along the top of the shoulder cap of the sleeves to fit the new, smaller armscyes, and let the sleeve cuffs down to make them almost an inch longer, because the other alterations had made them too short overall.


After I’d done all that (whew!) the jacket fit me much better, though the hips were still less flared than I wanted, causing some pulling below the waist. I decided to take a risk and open up the center back seam from hem to waist, creating a back vent that would allow the hips to flare out. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the center back seam in both the outer fabric and the lining (which let me have a nicely finished center opening), but as it was, the idea worked perfectly– no more unsightly pulling across the hips!


Finally, I decided to add in a waist stay to take some of the tension off of the bottom button– I used a 1.5″ grosgrain ribbon, which worked well to keep the waist nice and fitted across the back.


I will note that I’d intended to add two more buttons between the existing three, as the original jacket had five buttons in total. However, upon realizing that the jacket’s buttonholes were bound buttonholes rather than just being reinforced with thread, I decided against it– not only did I not have any extra matching fabric, but I have no idea how to sew bound buttonholes.

The whole process of altering this jacket was a lot of trouble– however, I can’t tell whether it would’ve been more difficult to start with a modern jacket or not. I can say that it might have been nice to start with a jacket that had a tiny bit of stretch– it would’ve allowed for greater arm motion and possibly a better fit– but it’s not like most of my costumes are all that flexible anyway. As for fit, I need to keep in mind that literally all of the photographs I’ve seen of the original suit are of models or mannequins– both of which are able to be photographed completely still, from the best possible angle, and with the most perfect fit possible. I, on the other hand, am a real person with mediocre tailoring skills, so there will be occasional wrinkles and unflattering angles, and my waist will not be wasp-like no matter what I do. I’ve decided that I can live with that.

On to the accessories!

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