The blazer work continues! Now that we’ve gotten our latest muslin to a good spot, it’s time to write pattern instructions so that we can send it off to our lovely testers.
If you’re new to our Blazer Bound blog series, here’s a quick catch-up: we’re working on a curvy and plus size blazer pattern! This pattern has been highly requested since the very beginning of Cashmerette, so we thought it would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes view into our process for developing this pattern.
After a few rounds of muslins, we have the pattern in a place where we’re pleased with the look and fit, and we’re ready to send it to our testers to try it out. But first, we have to create the pattern instructions so that our testers know how to construct their blazer muslins.
Writing Pattern Instructions
If you remember back to when we got the first draft of the pattern from our drafter, we talked about how it comes without any instructions. Thankfully, Carrie is fearless, and she knows a thing or two about constructing outerwear! For this pattern, she started out by jotting down an initial set of steps while she sewed the first muslin, and revised it over the course of sewing subsequent muslins when she found easier or faster techniques to achieve certain steps.
If you’ve ever sewn a lined jacket, you know that some of the steps can be truly mind-boggling without clear instructions, so Carrie also checked her construction methods against those shown in jacket sewing textbooks. We also wanted to include enough tailoring techniques to end up with a fabulous finished product, but not so many that it is overly complicated, so we ended up settling on a few bits that really make the finished blazer pop!
When it gets time to share the instructions with our testers, we want to make sure that they’re as clear and easy to flow as possible. We include illustrations with each step, which are drawn by our production artist Mallory in Adobe Illustrator. For some of the trickier steps, Carrie sews little demo versions and sends photos to Mallory, like these ones of (version 687) of the angled welt pocket.
These may not the be the final illustrations that you see in the pattern instructions, because we may change some of the construction methods or the way we illustrate them based on our testers’ valuable feedback. But we aim to make the illustrations are clear and detailed, if not completely polished. Our awesome testers often have suggestions on how to make them even more clear.
One exciting discovery in the process of creating the illustrations for the blazer was that a few of the steps are similar to how our Chilton Trench Coat is constructed, such as bagging the lining! This allowed us to re-use the same steps from the Chilton, changing them to be our new pattern pieces, which sped up the process quite a bit: if you’ve ever drawn images in Illustrator, you know it can be time consuming at times!
The pattern instructions we send to our testers also include other important information to sewing a garment successfully, such as the sizing chart, the finished garment measurements chart, fabric requirements, cutting layouts, and so on. It’s basically everything you would find in the final instructions booklet or file, but not quite so pretty yet.
Now that the instructions are ready, we can send them along with the pattern files to our testers. Some of our testers will be making their blazers in stretch woven fabric, while some will be making them in non-stretch woven fabric, so that we can check that the pattern works in both. We’re giving our testers several weeks to make their muslins—sewing an entire blazer can be time consuming—and in the meantime, we wait anxiously to see what they say. It’s always possible that our testers won’t like the pattern (it’s happened before! Sad times.), but we’re feeling good about how it came together. Plus, we’ve seen your positive reactions to our muslins along the way, so that gives us a little more confidence that this will indeed be the blazer of dreams for curvy sewists. Let’s hope our testers agree!