Welcome to the Lolita Patterns Spearmint Sew-Along! I’ve posted the whole schedule on the main sew-along page for the coat so you know what to expect from our time together. The speed of construction might just shock you but we’re sewing everything by machine except for attaching the button and slip stitching the bound buttonhole. No, really. That’s it. Choosing your fabric, alterations and cutting are really the ones that will take the longest. We’re going to try to keep this sew-along neither too slow nor too fast. That’s the hope, at least!
If you still need to get your pattern, hop on over to the Lolita shop where you can purchase a PDF version, a paper copy and you can also pick up hair canvas for the flounce collar at a very reasonable price!
As we go along, upload your progress to one of our social media sites whether you prefer Flickr, tag us on Facebook or use #lolitapatterns on Twitter and Instagram so it’ll pop up on our Showcase page! We love showing off your amazing work!
Choosing a size
Before we get started talking about fitting, let’s talk about this coat and how to choose your size. Spearmint is meant to be worn as a topcoat, aka a fashion coat. It’s drafted for minimal layering so if you want to wear it over thick sweaters for a colder climate, I suggest you go up a size. I’ll be showing you how to get that flounce collar to ripple over the center front so you will get some coverage but it might not be enough for a super cold winter. Remember also that Lolita Patterns are drafted with a lot less ease than most patterns so keep that in mind. It’s also the big reason why we offer final measurements. You should check those to make sure you get the coat you want! I also highly recommend you make a muslin. When I made my zebra print Spearmint, I went up one size. While I love it and it works great for Fall in the sateen I used, I could’ve just gone with my regular Lolita Patterns size. For my next Spearmint, I’m going to make it without going up a size. It’s really up to you and you should make sure you know what you want out of your coat.
Again, check the finished garment measurements. You can measure a coat in your closet to see what you tend to wear and go from there.
Fitting/What to muslin
When you’re looking at the size chart and the final measurement chart, you might need to use different sizes. You can easily trace the pattern using different sizes, say for a size 10 bust, gently curving to a 12 waist and then a 14 hip or so. Since you have both blocks in your pattern, you can mix the two sizes, so long as you true your seams and do a muslin. I know our Lolita Patterns packaging doesn’t talk about grading between the two blocks but some of our testers have done it and have had great results so feel free to do it but just make sure you do a muslin.
Some of our testers felt the sleeves were a big snug while others found them to fit perfectly. You will want to either muslin the sleeves with your coat or do flat measurements and compare them to the measurement of your upper arm while wearing the layers you plan on wearing under your coat. Heather used a size up on the sleeves and had great results. Lady Katza did a full arm adjustment. Read about their experiences.
You might have noticed that there a separate pattern pieces for the lining. To muslin, you’ll want to use the fashion pieces (not the lining pieces). Once you’re done with your fitting adjustments, you’ll want to make sure you copy any changes to the necessary lining pieces. So, to start, you can trace out the Center front (1), Side front (3), Center back (5), Side back (7). And then your two piece sleeves; the upper sleeve (9) and the Under sleeve (11).
Lowering the bust apex
First off, you’ll want to lower the bust apex before doing any addition to the bust area.
The bust apex can be found on a princess seam by looking for the part of the “bust bump” where it starts to curve down. If I’m not going to do a muslin in fabric, I will at least tissue fit. So, I’m going to show you how to figure out how to lower the bust apex. I’m covering lowering the bust apex because, in testing, we found several testers needed to lower it. Again, muslin the outer coat pattern pieces to see if you need to lower the apex. On my zebra Spearmint, I didn’t lower the apex which doesn’t show too much because of the print and because of the flounce collar but I will be lowering the apex on my next coat because I can tell from close up. It’s your choice. If you’re getting bunching just above the fullest part of your bust, you might to lower the bust apex.
Here you can see my tissue fitting session. I put a pin where the extra tissue is on the pattern and where my bust apex is- that’s how far down I need to move the apex.
First, you want to draw a box around the apex and I’ve drawn it above and below my pins- which will help me with my adjustment.
Cut it out and then slide it down so that the pin on the cut box now lines up with the bottom pin on the center front piece.
Place more tissue paper behind the hole you created and tape or glue it to your pattern piece.
Draw either with a ruler or a gentle curve (eyeballed) to smooth out and complete your new piece. Next you need to lower the bust apex on the center front piece. This one is less noticeable but I still recommend you do it.
Create the box, cut it out, slide it down, put down tissue paper and then draw your line again. You’ll basically be making the slight curve (for the bust curve on your side front piece) a little bit deeper toward the bottom of the bust apex.
Last, you will want to adjust your side front lining piece. Below you can see how the change in minimal but I went ahead and redrew the bottom part of the bust dart, making it a little bit deeper of a dart. You can also see where I added a 1/4″ to the center front of the lining piece. I’ll be addressing that next.
Adding to the bust
When I was testing Spearmint, I considered doing an FBA but then when I saw the lining pieces would need an FBA as well I started to think creatively on how to add to the bust without having to go through the trouble. I also started to think about how the flounce collar would fall and how the center front doesn’t close all the way at the center. I did want the princess seams to hit over my bust apex so when I was tissue fitting, I saw that all I really needed was to add to the side front pieces (fashion and lining). I added a quarter inch to both side seams just at the fullest part of the bust on the pattern and then added the same quarter inch to the lining pieces. For the side front lining, I lessened the front curve when I added the quarter inch. That’s the picture above I was talking about.
Basically, I added to the area where I have more breast tissue. It’ll be different for everyone but I added to just the side front piece. As you can see below, you just add tissue behind your pattern, add the amount you need (based on your tissue fitting) and then trim the excess and you’re ready to go! Don’t forget the lining piece.
One other alteration I like to do when I don’t do an FBA is to raise the armhole. It’s another option but it might give you a more snug fit so if you like it, add 1/4-1/2″ to the armholes both front and back as well as the lining pieces.
We recommend wool, wool blend coatings, flannels, tweeds and velvets for the fashion (outer) layer. For the lining, we recommend silk, polyester and rayon lining fabrics. If your fashion layer is a bit on the lighter weight side, you could also underline it with a thin flannel layer or even a muslin. You can really underline with anything you want! It just depends what end result you want.
You can always take your fashion layer and put it next to the lining and see what they look like draped over a shoulder. Then, add in a layer of muslin or thin flannel. Again, play around until you get the look you want! Have fun!
Next time, we’ll be talking about prepping your fabric, I’ll show you the fabric layout and we’ll get into flatlining or block fusing your fashion layer.
Let me know if you have any questions! Welcome to the Spearmint Sew-Along!