Vogue V1440: Tweaking the Fit

I came across this Donna Karan Vogue pattern. The jacket looked like a fun, easy to wear, garment. I also loved the interesting style lines and curved seaming.
First a word about size selection. I’ve found that it works much better to select your pattern size by your high bust measurement, NOT the full bust. I measure 32″ high bust and 34″ full bust. That would mean I should cut a size 12. Size 12’s are ridiculously huge on me. The neckline gaps open and the shoulders are HUGE. I go down two sizes and cut a size 8, which is 31.5 bust. That fits me much better in the neck, armholes, and shoulders, areas which are much more difficult to alter than side seams. I’ve found that the high bust is a truer measure of your bone structure and will give a better fit. You may need to alter for a full bust and/or fat tissue, but those changes are easier than the neck/shoulder areas.
Here is my first muslin, cut exactly according to the pattern. It’s shown on my form which is an exact duplicate of my shape.
Here’s the back view.
There is a huge amount of ease at the underarm along the side seam. In order for the side seams to match up the front piece needs to flare out away from the body. Not the look I’m after.

The side seam also flares out at the hem much more than I would like. The pattern line drawing looks to me like a fairly slim fitting jacket. I have a long torso and the waist also needs to be lengthened by 1 and 3/8 inches.
Here’s a view of the original on the left side and the altered version on the right side.

Changes to the pattern. The red lines are the new seam lines. I’ve raised the underarm and reshaped the armseye. I’ve also removed fabric from the collar at both the neck and front edge.
Style tape makes it easier to redraw this seam line. The triangle shaped section has excess pinned out which will be removed in the redraft. I’ve repositioned the bust dart for a smoother fit.
The altered flat pattern.
Most of the alterations are along the side seam and armhole. One major change is to reposition the grain line on the triangular shaped piece. I wanted more waist shaping but didn’t want to add additional seam lines to already busy lines. I placed the bottom and back edges of the triangular piece on an almost true bias and the front edge was slightly off grain. Stretch the bottom and back edges while steam ironing.
How it now conforms to the body curves and shapes the waist better.
The curved edge along the jacket front will also be steam stretched to hug the body.
The collar and front piece is basically a curved ruffle. Take a tip from Roberta Carr  (her book: Couture:The Art of Fine Sewing)  and do not clip this seam until after it’s sewn and then clip at precise intervals to control the ruffles.
If you try this pattern pay attention to the fabric choice. A softly draping tweed or loose weave will work best. Anyone else tried this design?

27 thoughts on “Vogue V1440: Tweaking the Fit”

  1. the jacket must have been pegged in at the back for the photo. I wish they would photograph garments as they are on the original pattern. Someone with fewer skills in construction would have given up,wasting their money and their time. With all the work you have done, it would have been easier to design your own on a close fitting jacket muslin. I was going to get that pattern, but not now. Will do my own version.

    1. I’m not sure the pattern photo was made from this pattern. I don’t know how pattern companies arrange for licensed patterns of designers. Maybe they copied a ready to wear garment. It really didn’t take that long. Much more work to photo the steps and do a blog post. Good luck with yours. I’ll be watching for your version

      1. There was a post on McCalls fb page about drafting the designer patterns. They just receive a sample garment and work from there.

      2. I’ve also read that pattern companies work from a designer garment but they draft it according to their pattern blocks. That may explain why some styles don’t look identical to the original.

  2. It does look like you had a easier time than Leisa. It’s a cute jacket, but after reading about all the adjustments, I think I’ll skip it and just admire yours.

    1. Yes, more adjustments than usual but I like the style lines and so decided to push forward and get it right. The sleeve draft is in the works. I hope to have the final garment ready in the next week.

  3. I have a student in my Wed evening class @ Apple Annie Fabrics who is making this same jacket from a wool tweed, piping in a boiled wool, and doing the Hong Kong finish in silk print. She has chosen wonderful fabrics in an interesting mix and thus far she is still cutting it out, matching as she goes. Thankfully she too cut an 8 as she is a small woman and likes volume so I am hoping all goes well!

    1. Thank you so much for the link. They do use actual designer garments for the photos. Ralph Rucci supplies patterns but it seems like the patternmakers at Vogue must construct their own pattern from the garment. In his book, Vintage Couture Tailoring, Thomas Von Nordheim points out: “a paper pattern can never duplicate a three-dimensional shape. Paris couture houses used to sell paper patterns to licencees, who, with the best of intentions, could often not replicate the shape of the original couture model they had seen in the show.” This is noted in the chapter he discusses shaping and molding with steam the garment sections. Perhaps this explains some of the discrepancies between the pattern and the photo on the envelope.
      Interesting that attempts to copy Vionnet’s designs met with similar frustrations.

  4. What an interesting post. I do think your altered version will be much nicer than the pattern, which looks a little bulky and awkward. I also think changing the grain line make sense to get a really attractive curve in the waist. Good decision. My own recent work on a vintage couture pattern (Nina Ricci) has been extremely positive. It just fits so much better than most modern patterns.

  5. Thank you. I’ve been following your Nina Ricci jacket progress. Looks fabolous. Maybe the vintage patterns had better drafting. Check my reply to Kim who pointed out that Vogue uses actual designer garments for the photos and then, in most cases, drafts a pattern.

  6. Hi Mary, I’m happy to see you taking this pattern on, as I’ve been interested in this design as well. Looks like a lot of fiddling, though! I’m sure your version will look great on you. I just saw the “Faking It” exhibit at FIT, which has great display comparing an original Chanel couture jacket with a U.S. manufactured licensed copy, with photos showing all of the “innards.” Have you had a chance to see It? Once again I almost set off the alarms trying to get in close to check out the stitching on those Chanels. You would really enjoy it, and the YSL/Halston exhibit, too.

  7. I happened to be in the city the day Faking It opened. Yes it’s easy to set off the alarms trying to get a close up view of the details. Wonderful exhibit. I’m braving the cold this week and heading to Manhattan for a day in the garment district, mostly for notions/trims but you never know when irresistible fabric will appear.
    This jacket is a fun challenge and hopefully will inspire others to tackle it.

  8. Vogue and excessive ease – Increasingly it’s a recipe that sucks the joy out of a project especially on the designs with interesting seam lines and there’s usually the knock on effect of the fitting adjustments on the armhole shape and the sleeve cap.
    Your adjustments are shaping up nicely. Thanks for sharing your progress.

    1. I know that I usually need to adjust the fit so doing a muslin before cutting expensive fabric is a given. Also a waste of time to devote hours to an ill fitting garment. The sleeve draft is in progress. Thanks.

  9. Thank you for this post. I cut a size 8 based on my experience making the View B of V1440. The top had a lot of ease and when I saw the final garmnet measurements i realised I needed a size 8 instead of a 14. I like what you have done with yours and looking forwrd to more posts on this complex jacket.

    1. I took a look at your posts of Vogue 1440. Your second make looks S0 MUCH better. Did you do any pattern alterations or just cut a smaller size? I’m definitely making the top. It looks so flattering and comfortable.

      1. I cut a size 8 and reduced side seams by about 2.5″ in total. Its an incredibly comfortable top. I’ve already cut out fabric for another one.

  10. I recently started following your posts and I love them. I had given up fashion sewing in favor of quilting and am inspired to start fashion sewing again but this time MAKING A MUSLIN. Even though I was an experienced seamstress I had fitting issues I could not seem to conquer. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your inspiration.

    1. So happy to hear you have returned to fashion sewing. It seems like every neighborhood shop is geared to quilters and no one sews clothing. Muslins do make a difference and how much better to spend your valuable time and money on a garment that FITS. Please share your projects.

  11. Such a delight to see a muslin in progress and follow along with tweaking and messing with a paper pattern. You make my heart sing! How many bloggers open the envelope, pick a size and then after sewing it complain about the size being wrong. Measuring them selves and the pattern never seems to enter into the equation or they do not want to do the grunt work needed to make test garments. We learn something with every project don’t we?

    1. You are so right. Patterns aren’t meant to be followed blindly and many home sewers fail to understand that. I’m very pleased with how this turned out. I did alter the construction techniques as I went along.

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