We’re designing a curve-friendly blazer sewing pattern, and it’s time to get the party started!
(Learn what this series is all about here).
Why a blazer?
We’ve known for a while now that we want to add a blazer pattern to the Cashmerette collection for a number of reasons, not least of which is that you all tell us you want a blazer every time we release a new pattern. The blazer is a timeless tailored garment, traditionally part of a workwear wardrobe but now an essential layering piece for everyday wear as well. When we wear blazers, we tend to feel more confident, more put together, and more like the badass bosses that we are—so we all deserve a blazer that fits us flawlessly.
But ready-to-wear blazers are also known to be somewhat (and in some cases, very) uncomfortable to wear when you’re curvy. Whether the front is pulling uncomfortable in the center to accommodate a larger bust and/or belly, or the back is restricting your arm movement, or the sleeves are feeling tight against a full bicep, a typical blazer right off the rack likely won’t fit the way you need it to, and will leave you feeling uncomfortable and unconfident. What’s more, blazer sewing patterns typically imitate ready-to-wear blazer designs, and altering such a complex pattern for a better fit can be hard for sewists of any skill level.
So we want to fix all that! Here at Cashmerette, we’re all about making the styles we want to wear work for our curves, and we thrive on a challenge like this. You want to wear blazers, so we’re going to make it happen.
So what happens first?
Okay, so we’ve decided we’re going to be designing a blazer. We need to design the general look of it, but first we’re going to do a bunch of research to get ideas and figure out what decisions we need to make.
Blazers come in so many different shapes and styles, as you’ll see in some of the research we’ve collected below. As we start to get ideas and fall in love with particular designs, we need to keep in mind our criteria for this particular pattern, to make sure the design we come up with matches our goals:
- The design needs to accommodate a large bust. (Duh!)
- It needs to look good closed and open. We want this blazer to look good done up, but also not have an overload of fabric in the bust when worn open for a more casual look.
- It needs to allow for a full range of motion of the arms. No garment should restrict your range of movement, not even a blazer.
- It needs to accommodate grading between sizes. We know that many of our customers have measurements that fall into different sizes, and grading between sizes is a common adjustment sewists make. This pattern can’t have a million pieces that make it impossible for someone to grade between sizes.
We also want it to be stylish and fun to sew, wear and hack—and of course we can do it all because we’re the blazer fairies!
Digging into blazer designs
Time to start researching! Pinterest is always our best friend when it comes to getting ideas (you can check out our blazer Pinterest board to see some more curvy blazer inspiration we’re loving) but we also try on lots of ready-to-wear samples. And in this case, we also asked you what features you wanted to see on the blazer in our Facebook community group. You had a lot of feedback for us, and there was strong support for all types of blazers.
Let’s take a look at a few of the types we need to consider.
Woven versus knit
A traditional blazer is made from woven suiting fabric, but the advent of stable knits like ponte and scuba has changed the whole game for blazers. The stretch of ponte allows for that greater arm movement we’re going for (and more comfort in the arms for fuller biceps), while still looking crisp and sharp for officewear. Knits are also much easier to fit and have a softer feel on your skin, so all signs are pointing to a knit blazer.
Of course, every design decision we make at Cashmerette has some people cheering and some people booing. There are some of you who only want a woven blazer! But, drafting a woven and knit blazer is totally different, so we had to make a decisive choice before moving forward. For now, we’re going the route of a heavy knit, but we’re going to see if it works in a stretch woven too, which would expand the possibilities. Plus, it’s possible we could do a woven blazer in the future! As you can imagine, this type of decision-making is one of the hardest parts of our design process.
Boxy versus fitted
Boxier blazers or suit jackets can be super stylish—I feel like I’m always seeing celebs in magazines wearing them for going to the grocery store (what happened to good old sweatpants?) or picking up coffee to go. It’s a cool look for sure! But you’re more likely to find a ready-to-wear boxy blazer that fits right off the rack than a fitted one, so rather than give you more of what you can already get, we’re going to go for a fitted blazer. You’ve got curves, so let’s show them off! Getting the right amount of fitted will be key as we develop the pattern: fitting and skimming in the right places, and definitely not too tight or uncomfortable.
Single- versus double-breasted
We saw some pretty rad double-breasted blazers in our research. But double-breasted blazers are harder to wear open, and if we’re sticking with our original criteria, we’ve gotta go with single-breasted.
Unlined versus lined
Half the fun of sewing outerwear is picking cool contrast fabrics for the lining. You can have a totally tasteful outer fabric and a totally wild lining fabric and your officemates will be none the wiser. (Unless you go around showing off your crazy linings to people like I do.) But if our blazer is made with a knit, we can skip the lining all together for an easier sew all around, making the pattern quicker and more accessible for beginners.
This is a question for more thought: we may try with and without a lining in the development, and look at the alternatives to lining, like bound seam allowances. The other consideration is the cost of development and printing; because of our three cup sizes we already print a lot more pattern pieces than most sewing patterns, and it can really affect the profitability of a pattern. We’ll have to look at how complex this is turning out, and what we can afford.
This is possibly the most fun step of the process: choosing which features and special touches our pattern will have. When it comes to a blazer, there are so many options for the pockets, collar and lapel, the sleeve hems, the closures, and so on. At this stage of the process, we’re definitely keeping these options in mind, but we want to nail the basic fit of the garment first, so we’re holding off on making any decisions that don’t directly impact the overall fit at this point.
Up next: the first muslin!
Following our extensive research process and weighing what we found against our criteria, we’ve decided on a single-breasted, fitted knit blazer. Up next, we’re going to be briefing our pattern drafter so that she can create the first iteration of the pattern pieces for us to sew up our first muslin. We’ll talk all about that process in our next blog post in this series, so stay tuned!
What do you think about the different blazer styles we explored? Do you have any particular styles you’d love to sew up and wear? Let us know in the comments below!