A blazer was the first thing I attempted to make when I decided to learn how to sew. For reasons that will be apparent if you look at a photo of the sorry results of my first attempt (http://sewingbrain.blogspot.com/2011/06/why-learning-to-sew-is-good-for-your.html) I decided to take a break from blazers and try something easier while learning more about tailoring. I bought a book with step-by-step instructions, published by Creative Publishing International:
There was a very sensible suggestion early in the book to make the garment in an inexpensive fabric with the same general texture and weight as the fabric one intends to use for the final garment. I'd been using old sheets for that purpose, but this clearly would not do for a jacket. What to do? Even the least expensive woolen and silk fabrics are expensive, so I decided to buy a jacket at my local Goodwill Store. In addition to using the fabric to make a test garment, I could also learn how the thing was constructed by taking it apart.
I bought a silk jacket several sizes larger than I'd need. I reasoned that if the original jacket was on the large side, there would be room for alterations. Here's a "before" photo:
So far, I'm still working on taking it apart, but I've already learned something useful -- how to make shoulder pads. See, I have one shoulder that's lower than the other, and both my shoulders slope down, and my hips and thighs are huge compared with my shoulders. Some of the books on fitting advised altering the pattern to accomodate the sloped or uneven shoulders, but I wanted to build my shoulder up, not cut the pattern down. Since one shoulder pad has to be a bit thicker than the other, it makes sense to make the pads myself, which is what I did for the third thing I made, which is a top. I was very pleased with the results. It would have been far more time consuming the figure out how to make shoulder pads through trial & error. What a lucky thing to have found hand constructed shoulder pads in that suit!
Here's the pattern I'm going to use when I rebuild the jacket. It was the only one I could find that has pieces similar enough to the Goodwill jacket to work:
I love all the little compartments inside the jacket. Why don't they put these into women's jackets? I shall have them in mine!