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Make a Tailored Jacket in Perfect Proportion

Find the shape and details to look your best
Threads #198, Aug./Sept. 2018

During my years as a custom clothier and alterations specialist, my main objective was to ensure my clients always looked their best. My specialty was tailored garments, and I made lots of jackets. A high-quality tailored jacket is a mainstay of many wardrobes, from professional to creative and casual. My job was to refine my customer’s design idea and guide her in choosing a silhouette best suited to her body type. I’ll share the considerations I focus on, to help you find a jacket design that emphasizes your most attractive features.

Identify your figure type

Discovering the best garment shape for your figure can take some experimentation, as well as clear-eyed observations. I recommend evaluating your overall shape based on five common silhouettes:

  • Inverted triangle—wider shoulders, narrow hips;
  • Triangle, or pear—narrow shoulders, wider hips;
  • Rectangle—equal shoulder and hip width with little waist definition;
  • Hourglass—balanced shoulder and hip width, with clear waist definition;
  • Apple—well-proportioned, with most of the weight in the bust and torso, and slimmer legs.

There are variations on these shapes. When planning to sew a garment, keep your silhouette in mind, and select designs that create visual balance.

Choose a tailored jacket pattern silhouette

Think of clothing patterns as shapes, such as straight, A-line, flared, or cocoon. Coordinating the garment shape with your shape improves the chances of achieving a good fit and an attractively balanced appearance. Once you’ve mastered the basic fit, you can work with additional details to flatter your figure.

When you look for patterns, study the line drawings on the pattern envelopes. Notice the number, placement, and angle of seamlines. Note what fitting devices, such as darts, tucks, pleats, or gathers, are used. Remember that more seams provide more fitting opportunities. You may be attracted by…

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