Friday, April 9, 2010

Little Cropped Jackets

When I decide to create a pattern, generally it continues to haunt me for the next several weeks. This one, in particular, is the one that's plaguing me at the moment. I've seen piles of these little jackets being sold on etsy, and it's occurred to me many times that they would look spectacular with corsets, and make the pieces more versatile. I also liked them because the bolero/cropped jacket dresses up anything you wear with it, including the red t-shirt I'm wearing in these photos.

The problem with these is that it's a hard pattern to grade. No, not "grading" as in-"I give this an A+!" but grading meaning drafting the different sizes. My biggest pet peeve about the clothing industry is how they grade their patterns. Take for instance, a t-shirt. You have the smallest size. Done. Now, you need a medium. They just take the pattern and add an inch to the side seams so it's wider...same with the L...same with the XL. By the time you get to an XL (my previous size before I worked my rear off losing this weight) the shirt is wider than it is long. To make it bigger, they've simply added inches to the side, because that's the easiest thing to do. Meanwhile, they never stop to think that, as women get bigger, generally their chests get bigger. If you have a shirt that is the width of an XL, but the length of a Sm, you get a shirt that absolutely turns you into a stump and can even show your belly. That LENGTH has to first go over the breasts, then back down the hill to the stomach...depending on your cup size (I mean, MAN ALIVE! If you're a D cup, it goes out 4 inches, and then back 4 inches downhill to get back to the tummy....that's 8 extra inches!) I found these shirts that were labeled as maternity t-shirts by this company that makes long stretchy tees. I held up the maternity ones next to the normal ones, and they looked the same to me, so I asked the salesgirl about it. She said, "Oh, the maternity tees are 3 inches longer in the front to accommodate the belly bump." Okay, great.....but.....wait! Why aren't all shirts slightly longer in the front to accommodate the breasts???ARRGGG

My dad is a carpenter and builds houses beautifully, and he's been blessed with a great gift of being able to see 2D things and put them into 3D. I think I got a bit of that from him, because I see womens' bodies, and I really try to consider the flat pattern pieces that need to mold around their 3D shapes. When I grade my own corset patterns, I actually mentally use my customers as fitting models at festivals. Since I'm in my booth, trying the corsets on hundreds and thousands of different body types, I'm constantly making little post-it notes in my mind about the pattern and how I can change it when I get home. My most helpful customers are the curvier, plus size crowd .Oh, how I love you women with curves! You've taught me more about pattern making than ANY class could have. I've learned how to make armholes roomier, but also taller and differently shaped. I've learned to put more of a drastic waist arc into the patterns, because your waists can "corset" down more inches than the little skinny girls out there. There's about a million other little things that you just wouldn't ever stop to think of unless you were trying the corset on the actual woman. Most of my patterns are still in slight revision stages here and there, but if you purchased a corset from me 4 years ago, you would definitely notice DRASTIC improvements.
Anyhow, so these little jackets are my next baby. I'm trying to make a crop of them to take the my festivals in May so I can try them on the real women, LISTEN to what the customers have to say (I really do take into account what you guys think. You're all my clients.) and then make the pattern as well fitted and flattering as it can be.


  1. That is an awesome little jacket. And you look great in it! Good luck with your research. :)

  2. These little boleros of yours are just divine. They're really cute and compliment your corsets beautifully. Good luck with your design tweaks!

  3. OMG so true about shirts being too short. Even in plus size stores I can't buy those cute t-shirts because one look at them and I already know they'll be way too short. I wish they had people like you working for Lane Bryant, and Torrid, and ANY store for that matter!

  4. I love these little jackets, but I told you that already. I'm going to contact you soon about getting one of these and a mini bustle skirt in my tartan!

  5. I have to admit, I love the little bolero jackets and corsets you're selling OMGRITENAO. Seriously, super cute, and definitely going to have to pick one up once the ol' tax refund comes in.

  6. Very cute! As a relatively small girl with D-cup boobs, your talk of pattern grading strikes home. Shirts that fit my boobs, unless they're very stretchy, rarely fit my waist and vis versa.

  7. wow..thank you thank you THANK YOU!! as a 32 DDD, finding cute tops is sometimes like pulling teeth for the very reason you describe- my boobs hike the shirts up and shorten my already shortish torso! Don't even get me started on those cute cami tops that don't even cover 1/4 of my chest... so i have to choose between looking like a skank and having 1/2 my boobs show, or covering them decently and look like i'm wearing a bag. ok..I'll stop ranting now.. Great points!

  8. I cannot get over the level of sexy you bring to your blog. You look so incredibly FANTASTIC. I think you should put yourself on the blog more frequently.

    Now I sound like a creeper.

    Well anyways, the boleros are a brilliant idea. They look gorgeous with your corsets and just about anything else.

    My body is sort of boring and not luscious so most of the issues brought up in this post I, thankfully, haven't had to face. But the fact that you talk about it and work hard to make EVERY customer look and feel beautiful is incredibly encouraging and thoughtful and a great mark of a fabulous businesswoman.

  9. Every time I tell myself, "ok, you have enough corsets/skirts/chemises/hoods from Michelle, it's time to stop buying" you come up with something new and awesome! But really, I'm not complaining, just looking forward to Faire season to justify my purchases :-)

    I've always dealt with my "huge tracts of land" by covering them and risking the lovely oversized bag look. I also have very broad shoulders so I've been eyeing your new jackets with wonder. Will they fit me? I suppose I'll just have to order to find out.

    Keep up the fantastic work!

  10. @Alchemist Star-- I have your same problem! I have linebacker's shoulders, giant and an hourglass figure (once I lose the weight again...) I combat it with some tailored shirts from Lane Briant really. 5% or 2% of spandex, and suddenly I'm "business fashionable" or something like that.

  11. Oh lady, you've done it again. Such wonderful consideration of real-world issues! Boobs!

    Another thing that I've noticed since I have DD's but a smaller waist, is shoulders. I have what I've always fondly called "football shoulders" because I'm broad shouldered. Pair that with DD's and 5'10" and most coats, jackets, vests etc. don't fit at all! I can't wait to see you and try these on! I'm sure you'll perfect soon!

    Tierany Seriflame

    (Oh, and you're looking great! What did you find worked for you?)

  12. You look fab, Michelle! :) Good for you! :)

    I love the jackets!

    I have bought maternity shirts to accommodate my DD beauties before. I still do at some stores. :) Dang clothing industry!

  13. I Love these leather jacket Red color jacket is too much fantastic...

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