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Author Topic: Drafting Patterns with DeVere, Step by Step  (Read 9288 times)
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Jim_Ruley
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« on: February 12, 2007, 04:23:20 PM »

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As most of you know I use Louis DeVere's "Handbook of Practical Cutting on the Centre Point System" (ca. 1866) as the basis for my repro clothing patterns.  This has been very successful for me and I am glad to see others becoming interested in the techniques.  However, I fear I may have led some of you astray as not everyone can just pick up the book and start drafting.  Rather than force those interested to "reinvent the wheel" I thought it might be beneficial if I explained a typical pattern draft step by step.  I would like to hear from others who have tried this as I'm sure we all have things to learn from each other.

I'm going to assume those reading have copies of this book which is available in reprint from R.L. Shep in Mendocino, CA.  Page and figure numbers will refer to the Shep edition.  I do not believe it would be appropriate to post the actual figures because of copyright restrictions, so please keep your books handy as you follow along.

Thanks,

Jim Ruley
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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2007, 04:35:53 PM »

Step 1 -- Measurements

DeVere uses some measurements that are familiar to modern tailors, and some that are unique.  These are defined on Plate 4, which appears just after page 14, and directions are given in the accompanying text.  In practice, I find that the measurements needed include:

- Breast (half of the full chest) which sizes everything else
- Waist
- Centre point (which is located 1/5 of the way around the *full* waist on either side)
- Curve (which gives the back length)
- Side (which gives the bottom of armscye)
- Sleeve length
- Full length to bottom of skirt

Plus one that DeVere doesn't tell you to take, which is:

- Neck circumference

You will need the "Bust" measure to draw the pattern, but in practice this is very hard to take, and it has sometimes led me astray and resulted in a coat that is too "stooping" or "erect".  DeVere uses the "Bust" to find the "Balance" (balance = bust - curve) which is supposed to be a measure of the individual's posture.  In my experiece it is better to look at the individual to determine posture, and add the appropriate "Balance" to the measured curve to calculate the bust.  If the individual is not visibly stooped or over-straight, the standard balance will generally work fine.

If some of this seems confusing, don't worry as it will become clear rapidly once we move on to the actual draft.

Thanks,

Jim R.
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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2007, 05:14:02 PM »

Step 2 -- The "Close-Fitting Wrapper" or Basic Draft

The measurements taken in Step 1 are now applied to generate what DeVere calls the "close-fitting wrapper" pattern.  This is analogous to a modern "sloper" in that it serves as the basis for different coat pattern styles.  It is also drafted without seam allowance. 

The applicable diagram is Fig 1 on Plate 42, located just after page 128.  The pattern points are indicated by letters A-Z, and the distances are given by formulas on pp. 127-128.  Most of these are simple fractions of the "breast" measure, which is half of the individual's chest size; hence DeVere's is a "breast measure system".

If you are going to draw this pattern only once, it is not difficult to make the calculations by hand, or with a pocket calculator.  A decimal inch scale (machinist's scale) will save you the trouble of converting everything back to fractions.  If you are going to make multiple patterns, it is helpful to set up a computer spreadsheet to do the calculations for you, and guard against math errors.  I did this after crunching the third set of numbers and will be happy to share it with interested parties.

The diagram in Plate 42 is for a well-proportioned individual, but the pattern will self-adjust according to the measures you have taken.  If your client is long or short bodied, or stout or thin waisted, refer to Plate 6, just after page 20 for how the pattern should appear.  Plates 6 and 7 also show you how to correct for stooping and erect posture, shoulder slope and scye depth, etc.  However, these advanced alterations are best left alone until you learn the basic system.

Finishing the draft will require sketching some curves.  The dimensions for these are given in Plate 3, just after Page 6.  They are given in "graduated inches", i.e. the correct size for a 37-1/2 inch chest.  To scale these up or down for your client's measure, you need to multiply by the client's chest and divide by 37.5
So, if for instance you are drafting a pattern for a 42 chest, the forepart shoulder curve width would be: (5/8 = 0.625)

0.625 x (42/37.5)  =  0.625 X 1.12  =  0.70

One other consideration at this point is neck size.  As a "breast measure" system DeVere assumes the whole pattern is scaled in proportion to the breast measure.  Therefore, if we assume a 37.5 inch chest has a 14.5 inch neck, a 50 inch chest will have:

14.5 * (50/37.5) = 14.5 * 1.333 = 19.33

I have made coats this size using DeVere's methods, and I can tell you that necks this big are rare.  So, for sizes over 46, I recommend measuring the neck, and moving the neck point (O on Fig 1, plate 42) back to account for the difference from the "proportionate" size.  Experience shows this will give a much better fitting coat.

Thanks,

Jim R.
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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2007, 05:31:30 PM »

Step 3 -- Turning the Wrapper into a Coat

OK, we now have our "close-fitting wrapper" and are ready to turn it into a coat pattern.  (If the client is available, the wrapper can be "validated" by adding seam allowance, cutting a muslin, trying it on and making any needed adjustments.)  Plate 10 (after page 28) shows tail, skirt and collar drafts; Plate 9 shows lapels; and Plate 2, Fig 3 (after page 4) shows a period sleeve draft.  These are all much simpler than the basic wrapper draft.

Note that Plate 8 (after page 24) shows what DeVere calls an "average degree of waist lengthening".  Taking this as a reference for a mid-60's style indicates that the waist seam should not lie right on the natural waist, but an inch or two below it.  The lower parts of the pattern pieces need to be widened as shown to allow for the prominence of the hips since the waist doesn't move, the seam does  Smiley.  This widening is why the side body needs to be cut separately; if the seam were right on the waist it could be cut with the forepart.

Once the various pieces are drafted, you need to add seam allowance to permit them to be assembled.  I personally like 1/2", but your preference may vary.  One area of concern is the armscye, which is drafted extremely tight.  I suspect DeVere included 1/4 in this area for seams, so I mark an additional 1/4 and take a 1/2 inch seam.  My clients quit complaining, so it must be right  Smiley

I think this is enough of a "primer" to get people started.  I will be happy to answer questions about these techniques and look forward to hearing about others' experiences.  Happy drafting!

Thanks,

Jim R.
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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2007, 05:57:01 PM »

If you need help... Smiley

Moderators:  This is a quasi-commercial announcement, so if it is inappropriate or needs to be relocated, please do what you need to.

I have been drafting coat, trouser and vest patterns using DeVere's for six years.  I believe the system is simple enough for most people to learn, but I realize not everyone has the time or talent to "reinvent the wheel".

My clients have included a large size range (38 - 54) and results have generally been good.  I cannot promise a perfect fit every time, but if accurate measurements are supplied the pattern will be "in the ballpark", and may be a much better starting point than a commercial one.

I have some "standard size" patterns ready to copy, and can generate others upon request.  I can do military or civilian styles.

Patterns will be drawn in ink on brown "contractor" paper.  This is not a graceful medium, but it is durable and suitable for multiple use.

If I may be of assistance for your project, send me a PM through the Forum.  I am very busy with Conference preparations right now, but will be happy to help folks out after the first weekend in March.

Hope this is helpful,

Jim Ruley
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2007, 06:43:11 PM »

Jim, I have only one request.  I may need to have you edit your username to spell Jim "GEM."

(I'm so, so, so happy you're willing to share all this.  You and Carolann are definitely convincing me I can get sucked into menswear--the building of, if not brand new research--and actually enjoy it.  We have several professional sewists on the board, and it's just a general "thing" that everyone keeps commercial messages mild, as you have done.  You've not written a single thing that I, as a board owner, would even look cross-eyed at.  And if I can't get David's base right after a good go at it, I know who I'm emailing with measurements. Smiley )
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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2007, 07:48:51 AM »

Wow! This is like an online class! I must get Deveres, but even not having it right now gives me a good starting point to go on as it seems very similar to the book I can access online. Thank you so very much for the primer! It's so nice to have a "translator"!
~bevin
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Bevin MacRae

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amymckinney
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« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2007, 07:46:54 AM »

Okay - I know I'm coming in late here, but I'm hoping someone can help me.  I have the DeVere's handbook, and have been reading through it with anticipation of drafting patterns for my fiance and have learned a great deal.  Now that I'm starting work on his clothes, I now have to put all I've learned into practice.  I think I understand most of it.  I've followed the manual so far and created a pattern for the "Proportionate Man" to learn how to draft, and I think I'm ready to tackle the custom pattern.

But here's my problem: he seems to have an unusual build and I'm not sure how to go about drafting.  (All of the measurements below are from memory -- they may not be perfectly accurate.  I've lost my first set of measurements and haven't taken a new set down yet, but I will certainly do that before I start drafting.  At any rate, they're close.)

His chest measure is about 42".  His waist is about 34".  His back length is about 17.5".  He seems to meet the Proportionate Man (P.M.) measurements in everything other than the chest measure.  But if I follow the drafting instructions according to DeVere, I should use his chest measure as the base, and therefore use the 21" graduated measure to draft.  If I do that, however, the pattern is merely sized up all around and then it's too long, and too big at the waist.

Here's my question:  Should I simply use the P.M. draft and increase at the chest?  Or should I draft at a 40" chest and adjust the length and waist accordingly?

Thanks!
Amy

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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2007, 09:26:53 AM »

Hi Amy,

It sounds like your fiance is "short-bodied" for his chest size.  DeVere's is a "breast measure" system, so you need to use the 42" draft or the armscye will be undersized and out of position.  Fortunately correcting for "short bodied" is easy.  You have two options:

- Look at Plate 42, just after page 128, and do the "draft by the common inch" as I outlined in one of the posts above.  Instead of using the graduated scales, you'll be making a bunch of calculations based on his actual measurements.

- Draw the pattern for the "proportionate man" and then correct it for the difference in body length.  DeVere has a plate in the section on coats illustrating "Long and short bodied structures".  Essentially the top of the pattern remains the same, while the waist is shifted up (or down) to accomodate the difference in body length.  This will probably be easiest, especially if you already have the "proportionate" draft done.

Hope this is helpful and I'll be glad to answer more questions.

Thanks,

Jim R.
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Tom_Nixon
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« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2007, 09:36:04 AM »

Jim you RULE:
This is a truly noble undertaking --of the kind not seen since Monty Python summarized Marcel Proust!* One of the many great things about it is that it will encourage SA readers not to be afraid of the unnecessarily intimidating task of starting a suit by looking at a large blank piece of paper. It can be done--lesser men than you (me for example) have done it. As good a job as your doing, I'd like to encourage those interested to buy the Shep reprint of DeVere's. So much detail as to dealing with different body types and misfits (the clothes not the wearers Wink) is worth the money and will pay for itself in time and patterns saved.

Let's all dance the Devere Dance: Cheesy



~Tom
*http://www.intriguing.com/mp/
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amymckinney
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« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2007, 10:22:44 AM »

FABulous!  :-)  Many thanks!  I will try that during this holiday weekend.  Here's to a successful draft.
Amy
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amymckinney
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2007, 11:52:05 AM »

One more question... The Centre Point.

The book says it's two fifths of the waist measure.  So, if the waist measure is 34", that's 13.6".  But then it says you mark the CP from the center back, and it lands "approximately" behind the side seam.  13.6" measured from the center back would land mid-front, so that tells me I need to take that 13.6" and cut it in half, so it'll be 6.8".  Is that correct?

-Amy
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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2007, 12:34:13 PM »

Quote
One more question... The Centre Point.

The book says it's two fifths of the waist measure. 

Hi Amy,

For widths and circumferences DeVere usually works with the half measure.  So the CP is located at two-fifths of the half waist, or one fifth of the full waist.  For a measured waist of 34", the CP is 6.8" from the center of the back.

Hope this is clear,

Jim R.
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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2007, 12:52:47 PM »

Quote
His chest measure is about 42".  His waist is about 34".  His back length is about 17.5". 



Hi Amy,

Using these measurements here are the adjustments you need to make.  I'm looking at Plate 6, just after page 20 in the Shep reprint.

Body length:  The proportionate body is 17.25 graduated inches long (18.75 curve measure minus 1.5 inches).  For a 42 chest, this works out to:

17.25*(42/37.5) = 19.32 ("common" or "real" inches) 

Your fiance's back is shorter by:

19.32 - 17.5 = 1.82 inches (about 1-7/8).

Look at Fig 3, plate 6, and the alteration will be obvious.


Waist length:  The proportionate man's waist is "3 less than the breast", i.e.

18.75 - 3 = 15.75 (graduated inches)

These are half measures, though, so the proportionate full waist is:

15.75 * 2 = 31.5 (graduated inches)

For a 42 chest, the proportionate waist is:

31.5*(42/37.5) = 35.28 (common inches)

Your fiance's waist is 34, so the difference is:

35.28 - 34 = 1.28 inches (about 1-1/4)

You may want to allow this in the draft as "ease" so the coat won't be too tight at the waist.  If a snug fit is desired, though, divide this into four parts:

1.28/4 = 0.32 (about 5/16)

Look at Fig. 4, plate 6, and take this amount off the front of each forepart and the back of each side body at the waist.

Hope this little exercise not only helps you, but illustrates how graduated and common inches relate.

Thanks,

Jim R.

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Joseph Stevens
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« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2007, 01:14:02 PM »

Jim you RULE:
This is a truly noble undertaking --of the kind not seen since Monty Python summarized Marcel Proust!* One of the many great things about it is that it will encourage SA readers not to be afraid of the unnecessarily intimidating task of starting a suit by looking at a large blank piece of paper. It can be done--lesser men than you (me for example) have done it. As good a job as your doing, I'd like to encourage those interested to buy the Shep reprint of DeVere's. So much detail as to dealing with different body types and misfits (the clothes not the wearers Wink) is worth the money and will pay for itself in time and patterns saved.

I've got to second that.  I had never drafted patterns before, merely altered commercial ones, but with my copy of Devere's and assistance through email by Jim, I managed to draft patterns for myself that fit me better than what I could have purchased online.  I'm sure someone with more experience could have gotten a better fit (the shoulders seem a bit off to me because they end up with some wrinkling--I probably just need to play around with what Devere refers to as the "slope"), but as you can tell from the photo below, what I ended up with looks better than what is typically seen wandering around most events:



Its not as intimidating and scary as it first seems.  I'd maybe recommend starting with a vest first to cut your teeth and gain some confidence, but this system is incredibly easy to use and once you've used it, it readily becomes apparent why Jim likes it so much.  I don't have any pictures yet of my frock coat, which is what I started with, but I'm extremely happy with the shell jacket I'm wearing in that photo.  Its pretty much nothing more than a "close fitting wrapper of the body" with some length added through the waist, a collar, and sleeves.

And I know I know, an Infantry 1st Lieutenant on a cav horse.  It was after hours, and I'm learning to ride Smiley

~Joseph
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Dean McElroy
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2007, 12:39:14 PM »

..have been looking at Civil War Gentleman(shep) for the last fortnight...and I've printed up the first dozen or so pages of the two volumes of Devere's Centre-point system for study..I also have Tailorsguide(1901). I bought these back in the 90's at an event and subsequently stored said items..till discovering this forum..many  thanks to all those that are sharing their research here on this forum..anyone here have any experience with the Salsbury system?..if not, I can be the "Salsbury guy".. Let's have three cheers for Mr.Stevens,clever chap that he is, with the result of his shell jacket project..pretty impressive!

-Dean McElroy
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Dean McElroy
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« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2007, 10:17:56 AM »

...after looking through some of my books and at some of the patterns I bought back in the '90's,I'm coming to the conclusion that one does not need to have a perfect pattern,per se. It seems that the most useful part of a frockcoat say,appears to be the frontpiece,side piece and the triangular back piece. The sleeve you'll probably put together after one knows what the armscye will look like.You can take a pattern that features a modern sleeve and alter the aforementioned pieces and cut a proper 1860's balloon sleeve to go with it. My feeling is one would spend as much time doing that as trying to draft with a blank piece of paper.IMHO some of those measurements will get lost in the actual cutting. Or if you are clever with drafting maybe take the pieces from a pre-cut pattern and adapt the drafting to what has already been cut..check measurements,ect.

I have several commercial brands of patterns and they are not radically different it seems..the size 50's and 54's do not measure out to a huge difference from one another.what can be done is to see where all the important measurements lie with range of one another..anything within size 40-44 or more,say..you'll wind up doing that even if you draft from scratch..experiment with the ballon sleeve patterns and also the more modern patterns..see if your customer wants one or the other..after all if the cut is exemplary on the coat or vest and looks marvelous..IMHO that what we are all after..
-Dean McElroy
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Phil Graf
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« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2007, 07:31:27 PM »

I've had just about the opposite experience.  Since beginning to draft my own patterns using period tailoring manuals, I've noticed just how important the details are, as well as how much garments made from a poor pattern stand out. 

I'm currently in the process of recutting and reassembling a fustian frock coat I bought close to 10 years ago, near when I began reenacting.  Back then, I thought it fit just fine.  After taking it apart, I realized just how bizarre the cut was.  It looks almost as if whomever put it together originally morphed a period correct pattern with a modern jacket.  The difference is most apparent when the correct pattern piece is laid over (or under) the cloth.

I don't mean to be critical, but I don't think that any modern garment is suitable as a guide for putting together a properly fitting reproduction garment from our period.  The style and fit are completely different, which in turn requires a totally different cut to the pieces. 

Once you've stared at these cutting diagrams long enough and tried a few, it's easy to spot the reproduction garments that don't come close.  I saw one this summer at a Civil War on the back of a man who was explaining how it was made for cowboy action shooters, but "frock coats really didn't change much from the 1850's to the 1890's."  Unfortunately, his coat was appropriate for neither period.  It had modern shoulders and shoulder pads, and the maker clearly had no clue what the side back seam was for, nor how to cut it.  Rather than a single or complex curve, it was curved at the top, then proceeded straight down.  It looked goofy.

I've had great luck (and fun!) drafting my own patterns using the techniques of the period.  Combined with proper materials and sewing methods, it produces great-looking and authentic garments.
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Dean McElroy
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« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2007, 09:32:58 PM »

..agreed. I'm certainly not advocating taking a jean jacket pattern from Buttericks and trying to make a Union or Confederate roundabout with it,that's for sure...I realise that it is easy to spot those things if one has been looking at period construction...what i'm suggesting is taking say,something from Homespun Patterns and something from Period Impressions and do a comparison(these are known reproduction 19th century pattern drafts available at retail.) Look at some of the details and try putting some together,for good or ill.I have some of these and they aren't bad. And if the said patterns aren't bad and to your liking then constructing the garments,as a tailor would,would be the thing to concentrate on..for instance,if you are learning to backstitch by hand,learn how to stitch the seam flat and to also create fulness,learn how to provide seam allowance and to cut correctly(learn of biases,grain ect.)

As far as pattern drafting(draught) is concerned I'm all for it. I plan to learn one of these(I'm studying Salibury's)but I'm not limited to only the Salisbury system..at this point I'm probably ready to draft the triangular back piece. It looks like I'm going to need a beam compass so that I can perform the 121/2 inch and 17in. sweeps required on the frontpiece(forepiece). But as far as trying to do both cutting and putting the pieces together,initially yes,but once I'm proficient I may have  someone I can train to put the clothes together and I'm going to do the drafting and cutting..no way am I going to attempt to do both these jobs myself and then tell people that they have to wait 7 months for their stuff..as far as a tailoring staff I can probably hire locally..I've noticed that the latinas in our area are heavily into decorating their jeans and a close fit is standard in their jeans and slacks..regardless of their size..most likely these gals understand fit and hand stiching and home sewing.. Smiley
-Dean Mcelroy
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amymckinney
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« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2007, 07:52:43 AM »

Hello Jim,

Okay. This last weekend, my beloved was in town and I was able to get an accurate set of measurements from him:

20.5 breast;  19.5 waist;  19 curve;  22 bust;  8.5 side;  13.5 depth of scye;
16.5 back stretch; 14.5 front of scye; 7.25 chest; 2.5 slope

I drafted some patterns, but it's not working out very well for me.  But I really want to get this down so I can draft well in the future.  Bear with me.  Here's what I did, step by step:

1)  I drafted to measurements a "close-fitting body" using both measure and graduated measure of 20.5.  It looked like this:



2)  The draft looked pretty cool to me, so I did a muslin of it with 1/4" seam allowances and tried it on my man.  It fit pretty darn well everywhere except the front.  All around the back and sides were fine.  For some reason, at the front waist, it fit together perfectly after adding a 1/4" seam allowance.  Gradually moving towards the chest, though, the seam allowance got wider and wider until it appeared the chest was about 3" too large.  So I applied the "supplemental measures" that I'd forgotten to do, but they didn't make much of a difference.  So I just made the adjustments by hand -- I simply brought in the chest and the shoulder point and brought the neck edge up.  Everything else was the same.  Here's what the result was:



Here's what it looks like overlaid on the old close-fitting body.  You can easily see the changes I made to it:



I made a muslin of that draft and it fit like a 2nd skin (okay, not THAT tight--he could move in it) so long as I added a seam allowance.

3)  So I went on to draft a waistcoat.  I followed the instructions on drafting a waistcoat to measure, using measures for waist, side, and length, and graduated measures for the rest.  Here's the result as it stands side-by-side with the close-fitting body:



And here's what it looks like overlaid on the new close-fitting body.  The book says that the "straight-form waistcoat" is not much more than the close-fitting body forepart with minor adjustments made.  That's what I have here, but it looks nothing like my close-fitting body.  I added buttonholes, but I was just doodling, so ignore those.  :-)



So....am I doing this right?
Is the close fitting body supposed to fit just that way -- closely?
Why are there so many differences int he close-fitting body and the waistcoat when they were both drafted to measure?

Thank you a million times for your patience and understanding.  I really want to get this right.

Amy
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