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Monday, January 07, 2013

Attempting Something New

Tall Boy wearing muslin #2b
In December, Tall Boy asked me to make him a zippered fleecy. He wanted one to wear under his gear, so he wouldn't turn into a block of ice during his day-long games of Airsoft. 

Sounds like a simple project, doesn't it?

Problem is Tall Boy is so tall, he doesn't fit standard patterns. They don't even come close. To get an idea of his size, look at the nearest doorway. He would completely fill it. Mosquitoes would have a hard time squeezing through the tiny slivers of space between him and the frame. He's tall (hence his name), but pattern-wise he's even taller than he seems because all of his height is in his body, not his legs. His inseam is only 31" (same as mine!). All the rest is torso.

Knowing there wasn't a commercial pattern available, I tried to make one by cloning a sweatshirt he often wears. (Fortunately he can buy clothes in his size, even if I can't purchase patterns.) I traced, guessed, measured, and guessed some more, and finally came up with a pattern. Fortunately the local fabric store had a sale on fleece and I bought a whole bunch.

Muslin #1 went on his body. Yay! But it wasn't attractive, nor was it comfortable. It was full of grafted pieces. The armscye looked awkward. And the back was just plain wrong. My cloned pattern was a dismal failure.

So I thought. And thought. And thought. 

For Muslin #2, I took the largest sweatshirt pattern I could find and expanded it. The upper chest was much too short, so I lengthened it, front and back. Unfortunately, I couldn't just expand the sleeve head, so I redrafted the sleeve pattern completely. As I worked my way through, I tried to take what was right about Muslin #1 and morph it into the second rendition.

It turns out I added too much extra length in the upper chest and expanded the side side-seams too much width. After hemming and hawing, I recut the pieces then sewed it together one final time for Muslin 2b, which you see in the photo at the top. It's better... but not great.

I decided I need to get serious about learning pattern-making. I've dabbled in it before, enough to realize it's challenging work that takes oodles of time, patience and muslin. When sewing for myself, I found starting with a purchased pattern was so much easier, even with alterations. 

But Tall Boy does not even come close to fitting into commercial patterns. I need a better solution. It's time to take the plunge.

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