I have wanted to make myself the perfect casual blazer for years, and even made a false start or two. In my mind, the perfect blazer is close-fitting, lined, and classically cut. It was surprisingly hard to find a pattern that hit all three. The classic looking ones are usually drafted for intense tailoring (think big shoulder pads), and those that are not are boxy, cropped, or tuxedo style blazers.
But I finally found one in McCalls 6711, and it was time to take a deep breath and give it a go.
The most important thing that I learned last year is to give myself permission to not have totally perfect fit while sewing. I needed to make peace with “better fit than I could find in a store” while I am learning. I have gotten so hung up on perfect fit that I have abandoned project after project in frustration during the muslin phase.
My two biggest fitting woes in ready-to-wear are not enough length (I am 5’10”), and the extreme difference in size between my bust and my hips (sometimes up to a 3 or 4 size increase down to my hips). I decided to concentrate on those things in this project and not stress out too hard about anything else.
The result is definitely not perfect, but I consider it a success. I wore the lace tank and blazer to my husbands Christmas party and felt incredibly comfortable and very much myself style-wise wearing it. (Not to mention, I was as proud as a peacock when my husband would share with people that I had made them.)
Lace Wiksten Tank + Shell
This lace tank was a lovely and easy sew, and it has become a wardrobe regular since I made it in November.
- Wiksten Tank Pattern, stretch lace (from Jo-Ann Fabrics) tank
- Cut from my previously adjusted Wiksten Tank pattern. I can’t remember the size. It was probably a large with loads of width added in the hips.
- Instead of bias edging for arm holes and neckline, I hemmed them using my Wonder Tape hemming trick (detailed in my “Stretch Yourself: Working with Stretch Lace” post).
- The interlock shell worn beneath the lace tank was cut from the same pattern, except I removed width from the side seams to help it lay snugly underneath.
- I bound the arm holes and shoulders of the shell using the Jalie Patterns’ knit binding technique, the binding length used was 10% of the opening length. (Thanks for that number, Justine!)
Stretch Denim Blazer (M6711)
These notes are mostly for myself so I can retrace my steps if needed, or for anyone who cares about this level of sewing dorkiness. Feel free if to skip to the end if neither of these are you.
- McCall’s M6711 (View A), stretch denim and fashion lining from Jo-Ann Fabrics
- Cut a size 18 overall, but let out to the side seams to size 22 in the hips.
- Added 1 1/2 inches in length.
- I didn’t follow the directions included for the lining, but instead “bagged it” using Grainline’s wonderful tutorial.
- The odd thing about this design is the blazer doesn’t overlap at center front, instead it calls for a hook and eye closure on the inside. Weird, but I’m not sure I would have buttoned it anyways.
The sleeves gave me some troubles. I have never made adjustments on a sleeve before except for length. It took a number of muslins and lots of Instagram consultations to arrive at where I am. There is still much room for improvement. However, when I wear this blazer, no one notices these issues, not even me. A bonus of not knowing any legit tailors in real life.
(The size 18 sleeves were the same width as my biceps. Not very comfortable.)
- First, I added an inch in width at the upper arm (a la Palmer and Pletsch).
- This modification pulled the sleeve cap down too far (creating the wrinkles radiating from the shoulder below). So I raised the sleeve cap and redrew the curve to match the original seam length.
- There is a ton of ease in this sleeve cap. 1 1/2 inches if I remember right. I wasn’t happy with my results trying to set the sleeve in, and I am not sure if it is the fault of my technique or the amount of ease in that seam.
- If I make this blazer again, I would consider trying to draft a new sleeve with less ease, but matching the width and length. I have never done it before, but there is a first time for everything.
Back “Peplum” Modification
The original pattern has a single back piece with darts to tailor it through the waist. I found I was unable to get the close fit I wanted through the back and down over my butt with the darts. I think princess seams would have been easier to adjust. Instead a inserted a sort of partial peplum into the back to get just the right amount of flare for my curves.
To draft the peplum, I split the back pattern piece at my waist and added a seam allowance.
I used a slash-and-spread method to draft the right curve for the peplum. First, I cut a rectangle out of paper that was the width of the back pattern piece (minus the seams and dart) and the length cut off of the back pattern piece. Then I split that rectangle vertically into four pieces. Keeping the tops touching, I spread the bottoms apart evenly until the total length along them was my desired length of the bottom hem.
Finally, I traced an outline around the outside of the pieces, and added the seam allowances back on.
I have worn this blazer just as much as I thought I would, and would love to make at least one more blazer to fill out my wardrobe. With the sleeve issues and the lack of overlap for buttons, I am not sure if this is the pattern I would use though. Or I choose to sew this not-quite-perfect one sooner than I would a new one.
Which route would you go? Keep hunting down the perfect pattern? Or be satisfied with not-quite-there-yet?