The Marine Corps Ball is coming up fairly soon, so it's that time of year when the Man hems and haws about which uniform he'll wear, how poorly his blues fit, and how smarmy he'll look if he's the only jarhead who shows up to the birthday bash in Service As (the green uniform a few posts back). Last week he asked very nicely if maybe I could fix them for him, so he could look just as dapper as all the other lads (okay, he didn't say that part. that's what he meant, though.).
See the wrinkle across the shoulders? That means it's too narrow. And see how tight the waist seams are? They need to be let out a bit. The tight waist was the easy fix, because there were several seams to work with, each with about 1/2 inch of seam allowance to let out. I only needed to let out two seams, so I did the two that had been taken in when The Man first bought this coat--the seams directly adjacent to the center back seam.
I basted along my projected new seamline with contrasting thread. I never use matching thread for this, especially on dark fabrics, because it is impossible to find and later remove the stitches. A long running stitch is perfectly fine for this. After I sewed my basting line, I ripped out the old seam, then had The Man check the new fit. So far so good. I waited until I finished my other alteration before sewing these seams. Sometimes making one alteration can change the other one. In this case, it allowed the coat to hang a little lower, and took up a little bit of the fullness under the cross-shoulder wrinkle. But the neck was still obviously way too narrow. Unfortunately there was very little seam allowance to work with at the neck. I first tried to widen the top back only, leaving the collar intact so I wouldn't have to mess with it. That made the wrinkle even worse.
So I took off the collar, basted a new, much narrower seam allowance at the top of the center back and let The Man try the fit. It eliminated every wrinkle! (Below, the pressed seam at the center back neck has only about 1/8 inch left to give.)
Of course now the trick is to get the same collar, which hasn't grown any, back onto an altered jacket that now has a neckline 1/2 inch longer than before. A normal, well-rested professional might tell you it can't be done, and that you'll need to order a longer collar. Since by this time it was 2:30 am, I was willing to try anything. [Note: I'm writing the rest of this post a couple days later. I will infact need a longer collar, but the assembly instructions would be the same as the rest of the photos below.] I basted each collar edge to its respective front, then basted the collar on by machine (with contrasting thread).
Now at this point, had the Man been awake, I should have had him try this on. Since it was the middle of the night I didn't. I'll go ahead and show you the rest of the process, but you should know that I'll have to go ahead and buy a larger collar for this after all. All of my alterations did work, but since I let out the back neck so much, I wasn't able to fudge the collar back on as I had hoped.
After stitching in black over my basting line, I picked the white thread out, then whipstitched the collar lining back in place.
In the end I did manage to get the too-small collar back on evenly, but I'll have to replace it with a properly fitting one. (I'll post again about that whenever the new collar gets here.)