To make this jacket, use the BAB Pee-Wee Herman Costume Sewing Pattern, coming soon to my shop. Or use these instructions as a guide for following a similar pattern of your choice. (When in doubt, trust any instructions included with your original pattern!)
The very first step is to cut out your paper pattern pieces. Try to preserve the original lines of your paper pattern by cutting along the outermost edge of each line. Then pin each paper pattern piece to your fabric, and cut your fabric according to the shape of your paper pattern. I would like to get into describing what the marks (such as arrows and triangles) on your paper pattern indicate, where to place the pattern pieces on your fabric for cutting, and how to adjust your paper pattern to suit your unique needs (how to tailor your pattern) in one or more follow-up entries. So look for those!
After you've cut out all your fabric pattern pieces, you'll need to match each of the (two matching) "jacket front" pieces to each of the (two matching) "jacket back" pieces, aligning them at the shoulders. The "right" sides should face each other, so that you're assembling this suit coat or blazer "from the inside out". (Video tutorials about telling the difference between the "right" side and the "wrong" side of a fabric can be found here and here.) The curve under each arm should match, front piece to back piece, once your pieces are aligned properly. Next, you will need to run a seam at each shoulder using your sewing machine. Until you're ready to use the machine, simply pin these pieces together at each shoulder to secure their alignment.
The standard seam allowance marked on all my BAB patterns is 0.25 inches (which should comfortably accommodate a 16-inch Build-A-Bear Workshop toy). Depending on the size of your Build-A-Bear (BAB), you may want to increase your seam allowance. Doing so will make the resulting article of clothing slightly smaller in size, which is appropriate for both 15-inch and 14-inch bears. I don't have access to a 12-inch Duffy the Disney Bear or ShellieMay, just yet, but I suspect the fit may be comparable to a 14-inch BAB... Check my later entry about tailoring for tips on how to adjust a paper pattern to better fit your particular bear!
The seams at each shoulder should be simple straight lines, following the edge of your fabric. After you run each seam, open these seams and press them flat — see below.
Flattening these seams will help to reduce thickness or bulk, improving the look and feel of subsequent seams along the neckline and each sleeve.
This jacket has a single-vent design, which is intended to allow the tail of your Build-A-Bear toy to rest comfortably in the "V" of the vent. To accommodate this vent, you'll need to run a seam up the center point of the back.
This center-back seam will begin at the neckline and end midway down the back. This is an area of the pattern where a 0.25-inch seam allowance just isn't enough — pay close attention to the marks on your pattern! If you go ahead with a 0.25-inch seam allowance for this particular step, the jacket will end up being much too loose!
I like to use a fabric marker with water-soluble, disappearing ink to transcribe critical marks from my paper pattern pieces to my fabric pattern pieces. Feel free to use whatever works for you, as long as it doesn't permanently damage your chosen material. In this case, I'm marking my desired seam allowance AND the point at which I want to end my seam, information precisely marked on the corresponding paper pattern piece in my BAB Pee-Wee Herman Costume Sewing Pattern.
The back-vent now has two sides. If I open my seam and press it flat right away, my back-vent won't have any overlap, the way a traditional vent would have. So before pressing this piece, I recommend giving it a quick snip roughly 0.5-inches (one half of an inch) above where the opening of the vent begins. If you make this cut too close to the end of this seam, you're likely to see some fraying or tearing of the fabric at the very top of your back-vent, sooner or later. But it's easy to prevent, by giving it a little extra room!
Now, you can open the seam most of the way, and press it flat. As you can see in the photograph below, the overlapping edges which correspond to the back-vent should remain in contact with each other. Press them to one side or the other to create a clean folded edge one one side of the vent.
I like to run some topstitching down the back, in a vaguely decorative way. These stitches serve a double purpose, in that this also helps to secure and finish the raw edges of my back vent. You can see in the image, above, what that looks like!
Now, if you've read my entry on making the BAB Shirt with a Folded Collar, you may want to jump in at this point if you're interested in adding sleeves to your shirt. I made my shirt sleeveless, so it would more easily fit underneath of this jacket. But adding sleeves to this jacket and adding sleeves to that shirt is the same procedure.
First you line up the body of your jacket (or shirt) with the sleeves, and pin them together along each curve. You really have to force these parts of the pattern to fit together, but take your time.
Aligning your jacket (or shirt) sleeves to the body may take you a few tries, pinning and re-pinning your pieces along this curve. You don't want any pleating, buckling, or folds along this seam, so adjust your pins as many times as it takes to evenly distribute the length of these two curves across each other. Take your time running the seam on your machine as well, and don't be afraid to rip your stitches out and try again, as necessary. I often do!
Once you've finished attaching your sleeves, you'll want to try the unfinished jacket (or shirt) on your bear. Close both sides temporarily with straight pins, and try placing them in a direction parallel to the edge of the fabric, simulating the position and function of an ordinary seam. As you can see in this photo (below), I like for the sharp points of each straight pin to face away from the body, and down. This makes it easier to slip the jacket onto my bear! When the pins face in the opposite direction, these sharp points are prone to catching on my bear's arms or else poking into my finger tips. Not fun!
Once the jacket (or shirt) is on your bear, you can make adjustments. You may decide to tighten the fit at this point, especially if your bear is one of the smaller size bears (15-inches, 14-inches, or even 12-inches tall?). To make it tighter, simply gather the slack on each side and re-position the pins. Just be careful not to stick the pins into your bear's furry plush!
The most important adjustment to make is the length of your sleeves. I focus my efforts on the hand with the logo patch. Since I want my logo to show, I fold the cuff on the appropriate sleeve back far enough to fully expose the patch. And I pin it to preserve the fold. Then I take the clothing off, and make sure the other sleeve gets folded to the same length.
After you've adjusted your cuffs to the right length, you should remove any pins which are holding the jacket (or shirt) closed on each side. To finish the cuffs, you'll need to lay the jacket (or shirt) flat or open and run an edge seam along each cuff. For a more professional look, try folding the raw edge under twice, so that that edge is fully enclosed within the cuff.
I folded my cuff inwards, so that the bulk of it will be hidden on the inside of the sleeve. For a more pronounced cuff, or the "rolled cuff" look, try folding it outwards so the bulk of it will show on the "right" side of your sleeves!
Once your cuffs are finished, you can permanently close the sides. With the jacket lying flat or open, fold the entire article of clothing in half so that the bottom edge of the back meets the bottom edge of the front. Adjust the way it's been folded until the cuffs of each sleeve are perfect. You want the finished edges of each cuff to line up perfectly with itself. Pin it, when you get it right!
Then place pins along the desired line of your side seam from cuff to hemline. When you reach the hem, the front and back pieces may appear to be different lengths — don't worry about it! When you finally turn the hem, this mismatch will become irrelevant. You'll see!
Run a seam along each side. Follow the curve of this edge as closely as possible, but remember to adjust your seam allowance to achieve your desired fit, at the same time. When you've finished both side seams, snip a few darts in the tightest points along this curve. Then turn the whole thing "right" side out.
From here, I'll show you how to assemble and attach the jacket lapel, a defining characteristic of all formal suit coats, blazers, and tuxedo-front jackets! I'll also show you how to finish the hemline. ...In "Part 2" of this entry! So stay tuned!