Fitting Serena

Tailocat---Fabric and sketch

Remember how WAY BACK in March I promised my friend Serena I’d make her up a showy tailcoat to wear for a photo shoot and (hopefully someday) performances? Well, I’m a champion procrastinator. You may not know this only because sewing is generally what I do to procrastinate from other things, and hence my sewing progress is relatively consistent. Obviously I need to start sewing professionally so that I can procrastinate by writing my thesis. Anyway. Having agreed to this exciting bit of unselfish, semi-professional sewing (yes, she even gave me money!), I promptly procrastinated like mad.

Fortunately, Serena is just as good at procrastinating as I am, so the photo-shoot hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, FINALLY I got a muslin made up (an altered version of this pattern) and last weekend I got over to her place to do a quick fitting.

Serena's Coat---First fitting. Yeah, I know, big prints make bad muslins. I had meant to stitch it inside-out so the print would be less glaring. I forgot.

Now, Serena is one of the friends who’s closest to my size. In fact, generally since high school, I’ve benefited from the fact and received any number of stylish hand-me downs… I remember fondly the snake-skin suit, the black vinyl shorts, the jean-short cutoffs with barely a thread still holding the crotch together… fun times. But despite these items generally fitting, they never really fit, if you get my meaning.

So when I made up the muslin, I tried it on myself. Most of the alterations I had made were for style, leaving the basic fit of the jacket unchanged. And it had the predictable issues: too much room in the bust, huge swayback puddles, too long through the upper torso.

But, of course, it wasn’t being made FOR me. So I left it, and bought a crapload of little safety pins for the fitting.

And, as I’d long suspected, Serena’s fitting issues, despite our generally similar-sized bodies, are very different.

The bust curves that were swimming on me were perfect on her (I’m sure you can tell she’s a little, ah, better endowed than I). In fact, the whole front fit marvelously. The back was roomy, but instead of pooling at the small of her back, it was a bulky, all-over excess easily pinned out along the princess seams. The curve of the waist was in the perfect place. Although looking now at the way the tails hang open, I am wondering if I should widen them to hang more straight. There’s a seam down the middle of each tail, a continuation of the back princess seam, so it wouldn’t be hard to add. Hrmm.

So, I will take in the back princess seams, and make a few other alterations—the sleeve puffs need to be much, much bigger; the shoulders can be a little narrower; the sleeves will be narrower, too, below the puffs. She wants the tails a bit longer, something I’d initially suggested but she declined. I’ll also add some lacing at the back, so the jacket can be adjusted if she decides to wear a corset for the ultimate shoot.

Now, I just need to finish drafting my collar and cuff pieces, make up another test of the sleeve, and get to work with the real construction. Oh, and decide about the tails.

So naturally, I’m procrastinating again.

I did finally re-hem the Grecian Goddess dress to a wearable length, though, and wore it. I think it needs a slip, however. Even with nude underwear I felt a little bit, mmm, exposed. It’s not super sheer but it’s very, very close.

A few of you have commented that the weather here seems to have improved. I will cheerfully confirm this! We’ve had two weeks of what may be the loveliest weather I’ve encountered since we moved to southern Alberta, lots of highs in the upper twenties (80s to low 90s) with nighttime lows still mercifully cool (low teens C, 50s F) so chilling the house to prepare for another hot day isn’t a problem. A few humid days, too, which is unusual and really breaks my poor dry-lander brain. And thunderstorms, plenty of them, usually timed to correspond with the evening after I give in and water the lawn. Anyway, this is happy, gorgeous, wonderful summer. Though I am still hoping for some brutal, miserable hot weather later on, maybe come August when it might not be so bad for the crops. One mustn’t forget about the poor farmers. Although it generally seems like they’re hosed one way or another.


More goodies!

In other news, Lonsdale came! And so did the seam allowance gauge I won in Sherry’s giveaway way back when. Which I think means I’m up to date on all the goodies I’m expecting in the mail, unless I go and order something more. Which I shouldn’t the budget is not exactly happy with the amount I’ve been spending on sewing lately (yes, there has been Stashing.) Actually it has more to do with the amount my sweetie-pie has been spending on the motorcycle lately, but it all comes out of the same budget. It is time for both of us to Be Good.

Now here’s the question: how the HECK am I supposed to be motivated to sew other people jackets when I have a pattern like Lonsdale burning a hole in my sewing table?



Filed under Sewing

22 responses to “Fitting Serena

  1. See, this is why costume sewing looks like so much fun. Puff sleeves? BIGGER! Tails? LONGER! This project looks like so much fun! In that terrifying, tailoring kind of way. (Making a jacket is the one thing I put on my 2011 to-do list that I’m not sure I’ll actually work up the courage to try…)

    I’m excited to see what you do with Lonsdale. I got so far as cutting out my bodice muslin before I came down with the plague and lost all energy to sew… or do anything, for that matter. For an unemployed, childless person I’m shockingly unproductive sometimes!

    • Check out Sherry’s rtw jacket sewalong. It took most of the fear of jacketing right out of me.

      I think this coat looks wicked. The gap between the tails doesn’t look bad to me. It doesn’t precisely copy the tailcoat as a historical costume, but re invents it in a delicious way.

      (I forgot how much I enjoyed reading your posts like this!)

      • I second Sherry’s sewalong—there’s a lot of steps, but she walks through everything in great detail. Gertie’s Lady Grey coat sewalong from last fall was great, too, if you’re more interested in the hand-tailoring stuff. Also, I’m temporarily childless (for another week and a half) and it’s astounding how much more time I spend just sitting on the couch. I could be getting so much done!

        And Steph—aww! thanks! 🙂 It’s always great when you stop by.

  2. Oooh, a tailcoat! What an incredibly cool garment, and it does seem to fit pretty well! I totally know what you mean about procrastinating, I’m writing three exams later today and instead of doing some last minute revision, here I am catching up on my blogfeed… And don’t start me on the number of patterns I have recently received – Lonsdale dress & Pendrell blouse, Rooibos and I still have the half traced-out Macaron…

    • Ah, the exams. Although, I find I reach a point of brain saturation, where you just have to trust that it’s in there or it’s not… last minute cramming never helped me very much.

  3. ha ha! I’m with you on the procrastinating page! Dear hubby’s birthday shirt is due on Sunday, and I haven’t even cut it out or thought about itmuch. And mostly because of all the “Lonsdales” that sweetly land on my sewing table. Aw.. go ahead! You can sneak the dress in before the jacket!!! (And love that jacket, BTW. Costume sewing is something that I would move house for.)

    • Well, I’m glad I’m not alone. I’m also procastinating on a jacket for the hubby… it hasn’t even made it to the muslin stage, although I did print out the pattern and do some of the alterations…

      I used to be all about the costume sewing, but somehow I’m less thrilled by it now than making everyday garments. I think it’s something about the hours-of-making to hours-of-use ratio. /sigh.

  4. First of all I love the tailcoat! It looks fabulous and now I wanna make myself one. 🙂 Cuz you know I don’t have enough sewing projects already! lol

    Secondly, here’s my technique for when I have sewing I want to do for myself and sewing I have to do for someone else — take turns working on each project. For example, work on the tailcoat for a while, then cut out the Lonsdale, then go back to the tailcoat and so forth. If I try to just sew for someone else, I end up getting fed up and working on my own sewing and not theirs, so going between projects works the best for me.

    • Thanks!
      That’s a good idea, and probably something like what will really happen. Hmm, I wonder if I can coordinate a Lonsdale to the tailcoat fabric so I don’t have to keep switching my thread… 😉

  5. I am so impressed with this jacket. It looks fantastic on her! You have some mad tailoring skills! Can’t wait to see the finished jacket!:)

    • Hmm, no tailoring yet! Although I am rehearsing what I plan to do in my mind. No couture for this piece, lots of fusibles. Although I am debating some wire in the standing collar, and possibly even some stays. Now that’s scary! 🙂

  6. The tailcoat will be great. I agree with you on the gap with the tails. Will be fun to see that all made up!
    I used to think I was a procrastinator as well. But my new thinking is that I just am always trying to do to many things at all times and so it just takes me a while to make the rounds on all of them. Well then add in the things that one must do ugggg …Sounds like you have a darn full day yourself and well there are just so many hours in one! :O). So see that isn’t really procrastinating that is just having more to do then you can fit into your available time. :O). Thats my new theory! :O)

  7. How do I get through that stuff — by rewards. Work on the coat, give yourself an hour with the Lonsdale pattern, take a break and work on the coat again. Although sometimes my breaks turn into an hour watching TV. It’s horrifying how much TV I have backed up on my recorder, LOL.

    Also, sometimes I find it fun to challenge myself to work through my stash. I end up taking more creative risks that way.

  8. Ooh, fun! What sort of photoshoot is this? I actually haven’t done any costume sewing yet. J and I dressed up one Halloween as day of the dead skeletons and it was super stressful. He’s obsessed with being completely accurate. We haven’t dressed up since, but this year we are talking about going full on pirate. Maybe I’ll do some pirate sewing– better start now!

    • If all works out well, it will be for her forthcoming album, which she has been working on recording the last couple of years. I’d link you to the website but it’s not really up yet, waiting on—yup, you guessed it—photos.

      I’ve never done a couples costume, although I did do a half-ass pirate costume a few years back… I think if your hubby is obsessed with the accuracy, though, he should be in charge of the sewing it up! 😉

  9. Amy

    This is fun, and what a cool costume! I so love tailcoats – and have a couple in my closet. I like Sandy’s theory… you’ll make the rounds again on this one. My Lonsdale pattern came this week, too, and is definitely burning a hole. I want to wear it yesterday.

  10. Sewista Fashionista

    Shove the new pattern at the very bottom of the current tailcoat project stuff, so you have to root through all of that guilt-inducing, really-need-to-finish-this material in order to get to the temptation. Or promise yourself something for finishing the tailcoat, like more patterns. 😉

  11. What a cool pattern. Love the fabrics and notions chosen for it- going to look amazing.
    Being a guy, the leaking tap and the broken chair are my duties to procrastinate on.

  12. I think you should do a sway back adjustment to bring the tails closer together. IOW take a wedge out of cb at the waist until the tails are roughly parallel, tapering to nothing at the side seam.

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