Wow, thank you all so much for your thoughtful fitting suggestions!! This is where being part of the online sewing community is unbelievably helpful and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 🙂 Your comments were very thought-provoking, and they helped me to zone in on what issues were bothering me the most, and what (perhaps) I could live with.
First, I decided to stick with the Robson pattern, for now at least. I haven’t cut into my real fabric yet, so I reserve the right to change my mind! I suspect most of this has to do with the fact that I’m very stubborn and have sunk so much time and effort into this thing. It would be satisfying to tame this pattern once and for all.
Second, the biggest change I decided to make was to completely replace the sleeves. The previous sleeve was a size 12 at the shoulder (too big) graded to a 6 below the elbow (too small), and I replaced it with a size 8 sleeve all around. This helped to reduce the “poofiness” in the upper back that had been bothering me. Because the size 8 sleeve had a smaller circumference at the armscye, this also helped to raise the base of the armscye and reduce some of the uncomfortable pulling that was present in the previous version. This excellent sleeve post on ikatbag talks about making the armscye as small as possible to maintain freedom of motion, and I’ve found this to be great advice. In order to fit a size 8 sleeve into a size 12 armscye, I had to add an extra fabric “patch” to the underarm to raise it up a bit. You can see the patch below.
The smaller sleeve circumference also gave me some added width across the upper chest, which was another great improvement in retaining freedom of movement in the arms. Hopefully in the photo below you can see the original seam line about 3/4 inch to the left of the new one:
I made a few other minor tweaks here and there, and there are still some minor things that could be done. The shoulder seams are still a bit too far out, and replacing the sleeves created some new drag lines from the bust to the underarm. However, I’m going to pause here and share another round of photos because (a) I’m getting tired of playing around with this thing, and (b) I think it’s actually getting close at this point. The photos below include me moving my arms around a bit, so you can see the degree of movement that the coat allows at this stage, and how the remaining areas of fullness in the upper chest and upper back nicely facilitate that movement. Also, I took your advice and tried on the muslin over regular clothes this time – two layers of cotton tops and a pair of relatively smooth wool pants.
I’m not striving for perfection (despite my natural tendencies), but I’d say this is an improvement! 🙂
Part of me is proud of how far I’ve taken this pattern, and the other part wants to throw this god forsaken muslin out my 3rd floor sewing room window and let the icy breeze carry it far, far away!
In other news:
All my fabrics finally arrived, as of this evening’s mail delivery. 🙂 You’ve already seen the main floral cotton sateen, but now I also have the white flannel interlining, purple rayon lining (the color is much more purple than this photo shows), and some plain black cotton for binding various pieces of the coat (lapels and flaps, sleeve tabs, belt, etc.). Here’s an inspiration image that I found online – I love that binding!
Two final updates:
1) Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Ebi of Making the Flame, a fellow Bostonian sewist and all-around awesome lady. We chatted about sewing, stopped at Gather Here for some fabric shopping, and generally had a great time. What a fun addition to my sewcation!
2) After this marathon of sewing and pattern alteration over the last few days, I totally went overboard and now have a sore lower back. Womp womp. Do you ever get sewing-related battle wounds? This has happened to me before, so I’ll have to take it easy over the rest of my vacation.
At this point, I’m still mulling over the Robson and tossing around the idea of trying out another trench coat pattern before cutting into my precious fabric. It couldn’t hurt, right? Ah, decisions!