Pop quiz #462

In the process of looking at men’s suit coat drafts in preparation for yesterday’s entry, I was forced to see (over and over and over) another of my pet peeves in pattern books. Since people often ask me which pattern book is better than another, it’s hard to say for many reasons but usually, I pick the least worst :). Now, when reviewing books, I usually just scan them. I don’t have the time to test the drafts and I don’t think I need to if I can spot advance problems at a glance. I mean, why would I test a draft if I can see a problem before I start? Plus, I have way too many pattern and grading books (112+) to test them all so I scan, checking for the usual suspects. To the right is one of the things I scan for. Can you tell me what’s wrong with this draft? By the way, this is a “sloper” (no seam allowance). Allowances are immaterial for this exercise.

This isn’t a trick question, it’s obvious -provided you know men’s suits. Still, knowing men’s suits may not save you. I worked for a manufacturer who made suits for forty years that had fronts looking like this. Otherwise, if you don’t know men’s suits, work your way through it. What is wrong with this piece, an aspect that renders the piece incorrect when joined to itself? That’s a hint by the way. And JC, you are not allowed to answer, not after I told you the answer yesterday.

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  1. Todd Hudson says:

    I think the purpose of this dart is to make room for a full belly but if you sewed it the legs wouldn’t match up and there’d end up being waist shaping which would negate the effect of the fullness you’re try to create towards point of the dart. You want fullness at the point of the dart for the belly and below the dart for the hips. You don’t want too much waist shaping for a man’s gut.
    If you eased the top seam of the dart to the bottom of the dart in order to get a straighter side seam it would also be wrong because you want a little fullness below that pocket for the hips.

  2. Kathleen says:

    The dart tapers the waist so I don’t see how/where fullness is being created, other than in the upper chest where the dart ends. You are correct tho that the problem is with the dart.

    As far as fit and styling, there’s nothing remarkable about this front, it’s pretty standard stuff. It’s not a trick question.

    [amended] I didn’t understand what Todd was talking about, it didn’t register. Disregard this comment, I’d delete it but then Danielle’s comment below wouldn’t make sense.

  3. Danielle says:

    Why would a dart go there, I don’t get it? If you hadn’t said it was a dart I would have guessed it was a slit for a welt pocket, in my pattern lexicon a dart is an angle not a single line. But then I don’t know men’s suit coats. How is it that you say the dart ends in the upper chest? It appears to be pointing towards the lapel break.

  4. Kathleen says:

    Oh, now I get what Todd was talking about (based on what Danielle’s said). Like I said, this is a standard design, typical, nothing weird about it. I’ve never ever seen a man’s suit with a horizontal dart exactly in the area where the welt pocket would lie. I didn’t understand anything Todd was saying about easing (I usually scan over the word “ease” too since it is nearly always unnecessary) but it’s typical I don’t understand what someone is writing about and with all that talk about “easing”, well, it didn’t make sense to me, what Todd was saying. A horizontal dart in a man’s suit would mostly definitely be, not standard, not typical. This is not a trick question of any kind. It is *common*. No games. Standard design, nothing weird. A horizontal dart in a man’s standard suit, where a pocket goes definitely qualifies as weird.

    Okay, that horizontal slit, that’s the welt pocket set down area. Standard stuff for this type of design. Now, notice the side seam of the front? See how the upper portion of the side seam jogs larger than at the bottom? Okay, that’s the dart. Well, not *there* in the side seam, there the excess needed for the dart is manifest. The dart is located midway through the horizontal pocket slit. Look at any photo of a man’s suit. There’s a dart positioned in the middle of the pocket. With the pocket slit cut, you can form a dart that starts and stops at the pocket line, extending up, vertically into the chest. Once you form the dart, the side seams match each other. The full take up of the dart at its initiation point (in the pocket slit) is exactly equal to the upper side seam overhang, the jog seam. Make sense?

    There’s plenty of pictures of pattern pieces like this in books, along with a sketch of what suits typically look like. Don’t people have suits anymore or remember what they look like? They all have a vertical dart running through or to the pocket area. If I’d known that people thought this was a trick question -in spite of my assurances to the contrary- I would have marked off the dart and provided a sketch of a finished product but honestly, I didn’t imagine people would imagine a horizontal dart, right in the pocket area of a man’s coat.

    For the record: this is the most unweird suit coat jacket design there is. The pattern is wrong but not weird. Big difference.

  5. Thomas Cuningham says:

    the only thing I can see (and I don’t think this is what Kathleen is getting at) is that the coat seat will be too tight. The patterns I have seen have more “spring” at the bottom to allow for the seat. But I this is not an error in the sense that I think the pattern will sew up correctly (or rather, I can’t see why it won’t sew up correctly)

    The front edge also looks a little odd because it falls away sharply. It depends on where the button point is — this could work as a one-button, I guess. but the button point would have to be above the waist.

  6. Julie Knox says:

    To start with, I don’t think many people on here have much experience with suit jackets – so a lot of things that are ‘obvious’ to someone who works in that area are anything but obvious to the rest of us.

    Without having read the comment clarifying the details of the pattern, as far as I am concerned looking at that pattern – since there are no drillholes or dart legs – there is no dart. And I am thinking that what is wrong with this pattern is that it has no dart. I don’t see how anyone else looking at it could be expect to assume there *is* a dart, even if they assume there *should* be a dart. Thus the confusion perhaps..

    Because I have taken some pattern drafting, (which included suits, albeit breifly), after looking at the pattern shown, I thought to myself “there must be a dart going up from that slash”. Not being that familiar with suits, I assumed it would go at the end not in the middle – but no big deal there.

    Then I though to myself “why isn’t the dart indicated on the pattern? Where are the drillholes? And if the problem is ‘when joined to itself’ that means some kind on internal (within the piece) seaming – which must be either the dart or the slash, and since the dart isn’t shown on the pattern, how am I supposed to assess it?” At this point (after reading the comment that yes, there is a vertical dart there) I assume it must be something about the slash – if you had a shoulder dart and you pivoted it to a dart ending at a slash like that, I would expect the upper left edge of the slash to angle upward from the lower end of the dart toward the side seam, so that it ends up horizontal after the dart is closed. The way it looks now – the upper and lower edges of the slash will overlap when you close the dart, also, the side seam doesn’t look like it is blended smoothly for when the dart and slash are sewn closed. But this may be just because it is a quick drawing. I have no idea if I am totally off base on that. The neckline shape as it blends to the lapel looks odd to me too, but I wouldn’t know what I was talking about to be more specific than that, and I doubt that is the issue you are trying to point out, as you would be in trouble it you sewed that to itself :)

  7. Kathleen says:

    ding ding ding!
    we have a winner!

    At this point (after reading the comment that yes, there is a vertical dart there) I assume it must be something about the slash ….I would expect the upper left edge of the slash to angle upward from the lower end of the dart toward the side seam, so that it ends up horizontal after the dart is closed. The way it looks now – the upper and lower edges of the slash will overlap when you close the dart

    As I said, it’s something starkly obvious, not a nuance.

  8. Todd Hudson says:

    Harry Simons’ Sack Coat book pages 46-50 has a draft for stout man’s jacket where he slashes the side dart down to the center of the hip pocket line, slashes open the pocket line to the end of it towards the center front and folds out a bit of the hem line in order open up a horizontal dart the points to the stout man’s gut. He also does this same manipulation for a corpulent man’s jacket. Also, I think I’ve seen another older, British tailoring manual that uses a similar manipulation that creates a horizontal dart from the center of the hip pocket toward the center front. Also, you need to add with to front edge of stout coats to cover the belly.

    I thought the pattern piece you presented might be designed for that body type but it’s not.

  9. J C Sprowls says:

    Yes, this dart hidden in the jetted pocket is common. I have references for it dating back to the mid 1800s (i.e. Legget, WDF Vincent, Tailor & Cutter, Caxton Publishing, etc). It is generally recommended for a figure where the back sways, the front pelvic bowl tilts upward and the belly is full and round (i.e. corpulent).

    To Tom’s point, this dart makes the button stand edge look a little odd because there is additional length along the center front for the corpulent figure. The “tilt” of the hemline also appears more steep, which is another telling sign it’s for the corpulent figure.

    To Todd’s point, this method of drafting isn’t only for corpulent figures. It’s simply another place to manipulate the dart on the jacket front. This method does lend itself better to custom tailoring or big & tall to accommodate the corpulent figure, though.

    What’s funny is this dart is coming back into vogue among the custom tailor community. One tailor commented to me that he is doing this because it cannot be replicated by RTW methods. Hahaha! [is my slip showing?]

    I shake my head in disbelief how little most custom tailors know about RTW manufacture. Uh oh… I think I’m touching upon Kathleen’s article on Cognitive Dissonance, again. Funny how life runs full circle, eh?

  10. What’s wrong with the upper and lower edge of the dart overlapping at the waist? Isn’t that more anatomical, ayway, since a wiastline is not flat, but curved? Natalie Bray goes on at length about how it’s totally necessary for a good fit in her Dress Fitting book, and I certainly noticed that shape in Draping class. Of course, many garments are designed with enough looseness and wearing ease in that area so that it becomes unnecessary, but it makes the fit boxier, no?

  11. maida says:

    I just copied a man’s coat today which uses this vertical dart, 3/4″ at the pocket to zero at 9″ above the pocket. The horizontal upper pocket slash does end up slanting upward after the dart is trued, or it would have overlapped the lower pocket line as was noted by Julie. Glad to have come across this site in case I have questions while constructing this jacket !

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