Winter Jacket Alterations

By Tiffany - Saturday, November 02, 2013

So, it took me almost all day yesterday fixing up my pattern pieces. I did a lot of alterations to them and then traced them out on Swedish tracing paper. Without further ado, here are some of the alterations you might have to make when making a winter jacket.

Bust Adjustment

Even though I decided not to go with Simplicity 2149, it taught me how to figure out what size cup I am.

Measure your high bust and bust and see how big the difference is (see the handy instructions and chart here). I only have a 1" difference, so I am an A cup. Patterns are drafted to a size B cup, so I have to do a small bust adjustment.

Doing a bust adjustment on a pattern with princess seams is really simple. You take your front pattern pieces and draw a bust line across them. To go down a size, a 1/2" of fabric needs to be removed a the bust. So, you cut or fold the front center piece along the bust line and overlap it by 1/4".

For the front side piece, you cut along the bust line leaving it attached at the side seam end. You then pivot the piece so there is a 1/4" overlap at the bust and the side seam remains the same length. Tape the pieces in place and your adjustment is done.

Although it may be hard to see, I've made this alteration in the pieces above. Basically, I removed the extra length that is in the princess seam.

For more details, see this Thread's magazine post about Princess Seams and the Small Bust. If you need to make a full bust adjustment, there is a good tutorial with links to even more tutorials on Sewaholic.

Increase the Sleeve Cap

This adjustment was necessary to make it easier to fit my jacket over my inner polar fleece jacket. This is also an easy adjustment with slashing and pivoting.

Cut the sleeve piece down the centre from sleeve cap to wrist. Cut the sleeve from under arm corner to under arm corner. See the purple lines in the picture above.

Then you move the sleeve cap downwards and this spreads the sleeve open, while keeping all seams the same length and shape. I knew from my muslin that I needed about 1/2" of spread.

Because this shortens the sleeve cap, you should trace the sleeve cap on a piece of paper before you move it downward. This is so you won't loose the sleeve cap ease. I, however, did not do this, since I knew from my muslin that I had too much sleeve cap ease. So, I was able to fix two problems with one adjustment.

Adding Underarm Ease

This next adjustment allows for better movement in your winter jacket. It will also make it easier to fit over my inner shell jacket.

Attach a piece of paper to your paper to each of you pattern pieces at the underarm area. Extend the underarm area and grade it down into the side seam. Cut out the new piece. You should have a triangle shaped piece like this.

Make sure to extend the under arm seam by the same amount for each piece. This will keep the armhole seams the same size. I added 3/4" on each piece.

Here are my four pieces with their new gusset attachments.

I also went a size bigger on my bodice side seams, since I found out that I needed a little more room when wearing the muslin.

Reposition the Shoulder Seam

I also decided to move the front should seam downwards a little. This will keep the seam a little less exposed to moisture sitting on my shoulders.

I pieced together the three pieces and then cut it along my new seam line (note: I am using a Burdastyle magazine with no seam allowances included). I also thought it would look better in this position.

Make a New Collar

I enlarged the neckline and extended the collar. A short little collar will not do in the winter.

I walked my new collar piece along the neck line to make sure it would match.

I also took a look at my husbands winter jacket to see what other features I want to include in my collar.

His collar includes a zipper for the hood that tucks up into a pocket in the collar when the hood is not attached. It also has a pocket at each end of the collar for the hood ends to go into and attach with velco. Neat! So, I will have to make a few little pieces for that.

His collar also has a triangle shaped pocket on the inside of the collar. This is to keep the inner shell jacket's collar in place.

Zipper Facings

I also have to add zipper facings to the jacket. I will show more detail on this when I get to this step. For now, you can have a look at this post to see how the Mad Housewife added a zipper facing to her Sewaholic Minoru jacket.


Using the rub-off method, I copied my husband's jacket hood. Here are my two pattern pieces.


There are a lot of other little extras in a winter jacket. I'm just going to keep an old winter jacket and my husband's jacket near me when I'm putting my jacket together to see what I should incorporate into my design.

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  1. This is really going to be a great custom jacket when finally sewn up! The zip-in hood will be an awesome hidden feature. :)

    1. Thanks Diane! It's a lot of work, but I hope it will look good (fingers crossed).