Saturday, December 13, 2008

Adventures in Alterations

This is the Fuzzy* I made with the fleece I bought at the Crackpot Quilters' outing after Thanksgiving. I actually finished it that next week, but I didn't get around to posting about it until now.

The pattern is McCalls 5538. You can see from the pattern description that it only comes in unisex sizes.

For me, unisex sizes mean alterations. In general, men do not come in my size, except maybe Robert Reich, and his arms are probably longer than mine.

So I started by altering the pattern, using the smallest size. First I shortened the length 5 inches. Because I was afraid the yoke seam would end up across my stomach, I shortened the yoke 1 inch (and the back in the same place) as part of that process. That also raised the armscye (armhole) an inch. Next I shortened the sleeves 4 inches. No matter how narrow the sleeves looked in the pattern sketch, it was obvious from the pattern pieces that they were not going to be narrow. So I took an inch out of the sleeve, from cap to wrist. Then I made the shoulders an inch narrower.

That got me to the point where I had to determine how the sleeve should be shaped to fit in the armscye. This is always the tricky part. I have a number of books on alterations, and in all of them there seems to be a gap in the instructions when you have to mesh together changes in the shape and size of the sleeve and changes in the shape and size of the armscye. Any suggestions are welcome. So it's a little bit of trial and error for that part. At least this was not a tailored garment so precise fit was not an issue.

Then I made the Fuzzy*. I used polyester thread and lengthened my stitch to 3.0. On some of the horizontal seams, such as the yoke seam and topstitching and the shoulders, I used a wash-away stabilizer so the seam wouldn't stretch. The pattern called for a yoke facing about 3 inches wide that went along side the zipper and up around the neck front to the shoulders. I didn't bother with it. Since the fleece doesn't fray, it was completely unnecessary. I just needed to make some adjustments in how I inserted the zipper and how I sewed the collar on.

Then it was time to try it on. Hmmm... More alterations needed. The shoulders were wide enough to accommodate my football shoulder pads. Oops! Don't have any. So I needed to take another inch out of the shoulders. And then there were the sleeves. I should have taken 5.5 inches off instead of 4 inches. That was easy enough to fix. What I was not able to fix were the too deep armscyes and the wide sleeves, especially above the elbow. That will come on the next Fuzzy*.

Overall, I'm satisfied, mostly because it's nice and warm and the color goes with both navy and brown. Thanks, Nancy, for helping me pick it out.

Fuzzy: A garment made from polyester fleece. From the local dialect. Previously used to describe children's blanket sleepers.

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