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fitting a jacket vs a shirt?

cloetzu | Posted in Fitting on

A while back I took a shirt making class.  The class focused on making a shirt with princess seams using a pattern and then making any necessary fitting adjustments.  At the time i remember seeing several patterns for jackets with princess seams and very few shirt patterns that I liked that had princess seams.  Thus I asked the instructor if instead I could make a jacket.  She told me that making a jacket is far different then making a shirt.  That the measurements for fitting are far too different and thus I had to make a shirt.  I did but always wondered what the major differneces are?  If I have my basic measurements for a shirt, what do I need to do the ‘adjust’ them for a jacket?  I’ve purchased some boucle fabric that I really like and want to make a jacket but now I’m not sure how to go about it??

Any advice is greatly appreciated!!!!


  1. dotty | | #1

    I would like to know the answer to this too. I'm sure you'll get a better answer than this, but I was just about to try this myself. I just made Simplicity 3990, A Khaliah Ali princess blouse. I used the D cup option. I needed to do very little tweeking(which is a first for me). Anyway there's a jacket pattern by the same designer that looks like it has basically the same lines. When I next manage to make a shopping trip, I thought I'd compare the two.

  2. Fruzzle | | #2

    I've made a jacket from a cropped princess seam dress pattern cut two sizes bigger than my size. The jacket is in a heavy wool (you might not want to go up two sizes for a thinner fabric, though).

    It fits me like a dream.

  3. tmorris1 | | #3

    When you get right down to the nitty gritty of it, making a blouse and a jacket are very similar In fact, I have a harder time with blouses because there is more fine detail. You will have to incorporate more ease into your shirt pattern in order to be able to wear something under it, but the pattern pieces themselves are pretty similar. If you have a hard time with patterns, you could pick up a book like "make your own patterns" by Rene Bergh. I have made a set of base patterns which fit me perfectly, and embellish them as I wish. I like this too, because lets face it, patterns are expensive, and there really is not much difference between the basic pattern pieces that you work with.

    1. cloetzu | | #4

      Thanks for the feedback!  So in fact they are the same but you just need to make the jacket larger.... I wonder why the instructor made is sound so different and if anything far far more difficult to make a jacket then a shirt???  I guess the key now is to find a pattern that I like!  The hunt begins!  :)



      1. tmorris1 | | #5

        There are many more layers to a jacket (lining, facings, interfacings, etc) than a shirt, so it takes longer to make and there are many more steps, but all are very similar. Your instructor probably discouraged you from a jacket so that she could teach all of the construction steps to the entire class in the same order. It does get confusing when different people are doing different things, but the principles are basically the same. Find a pattern that you like (hopefully it will be and easy one if this is your first time) take your time and it will be great. You could even practice by making one out of muslin (or any suitable cheap fabric)

  4. HeartFire2 | | #6

    a jacket pattern is 'graded' up- meaning, the shoulders are about 1/4 inch longer than the shirt, the armhole is lowered about 1/4 inch, the width around the body is a bit wider, you have to make adjustments for shoulder pads by raising the shoulder line. There may be a few more adjustments to the fitting, but I haven't had my morning coffee yet, so can't think about it! :)

    These adjustments are made to accommodate a shirt & or vest under the jacket,

    Edited 4/19/2007 9:46 am ET by HeartFire2

  5. cloetzu | | #7

    Thanks to everyone that responded!  What I've gotten out of this that there are many similarities but jackets need a few more steps and more 'ease' etc becasue you need to wear things under them.  So I looked for a jacket pattern last night...The problem now is that I can't find a jacket pattern that I like :( 

    I have 2 jacket styles (RTW) at home that fit me well and I like but can't find a similar pattern.  Both are made of about 98% cotton and 2 spandex or lycra... the fit on one is very fitted at the waist with 3-4 buttons down the front with a lapel... the other almost looks like an empire waist - very fitted under the bust (with gathers just under the bust to add some shaping and extra fabric for my 34 DDs) and ten has 3 darts under that seam for the bottom portion...

    Both jackets are brand new so I'm afraid to take them appart to use as 'patterns'.  Plus I've never done that before so not sure how successful I will be.... :(

    Any suggestions?  The pattern companies I checked were McCall's, Vogue, Burda, Simplicity, New Look, Butterick, Kwik Sew.

    1. liselaure | | #8


      On  page 72 of Threads #119 Karen Howland explains how to convert a blouse pattern into a jacket one, or a jacket pattern into a coat one.


      1. cloetzu | | #9

        Thanks Lise-Laure! Unfortunatley I don't have that issue :(

    2. Teaf5 | | #10

      You don't have to dismantle a garment to take a pattern off it; several sewing books, articles, and websites show how to do so by simply folding and pinning different sections to an ironing board cover and then tracing the seamlines and adding seam allowances. Sometimes I do this using waxed paper, and sometimes I find a similar pattern and use the corresponding pieces for my tracing.Nowadays, lightweight jackets are often unlined and worn as a shirt, so they are as fitted and as easily assembled as a shirt. However, a lined jacket has more pieces and more steps and needs much more ease; lined jackets aren't necessarily more difficult--just different.

      1. cloetzu | | #11

        Thanks Teaf!  I read a little about it on a web page (but of course didn't bookmark it and now can't find it again) a few days ago - then on the weekend tried to 'copy' a basic straight skirt with wide waist band that I have and like - It worked out okay but not great (for some reason the front came out about an inch longer then the back!?) and I'm not sure how successful I'd be at 'copying' a jacket or other more detailed garment.  I did a search on the web but couldn't find any sites that explain the 'who to', if you or anyone out there knows of any please let me know. Failing that I'll start searching for a book that shows it.  Unfortunatley for me a 'taping' method for 'copying' was in a past Threads mag but I don't have that issue.  If anyone does and can explain it I'd really appreciate it!!!!!!!

        1. cloetzu | | #12

          I just did a search here and found several 'how-toos'.... I have a lot to read! I'm more a 'visual' person so I hope I can make sense of it!

          This is such a wonderful place!!!!! Thanks to everyone the contributes!

        2. tmorris1 | | #13

          There is a "masking tape pattern" thread here, you should check it out. Have you tried using a laser level from the hardware store to mark your hems? You can set it up and simply pin along the line that the laser shows. If you have any more questions about the masking tape thing, just ask.

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