Tag Archives: tailoring

The jacket that nearly killed me

Or should I say kilt me? (Feel free to groan away)

If you read any of my posts from January, you probably noticed me whining about this jacket in the background. Well, it’s done! And you can read the full whinge over on The Sewcialists website, as part of their February “Sew Menswear for Everyone” theme month!

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A very distinguished fellow

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My uncle has received his vest. Fortunately for me, we didn’t make it down to the farm until a few days after Christmas, so I had a few days extra to finish off pesky little things like the back buckle and buttonholes. It fits well enough (OK, it may be on the snug side, but then I feel like the next size up would’ve been too big…), and he’s more than happy with it. The only thing that’s a bit odd is the length—it’s very short. And my uncle isn’t unusually tall—I’m pretty sure that it’s meant to go over antique-style trousers, you know, the up-to-the-armpits variety.

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I basted hair-canvas to the vest fronts, and then added in (as per the pattern) two layers of batting, with the edges feathered.

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A closeup of the hand-basting and padding in the vest front. I haven’t done this kind of handwork since Gertie’s Lady Grey Sewalong. It was fun, though.

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I even padstitched the undercollar.

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And then there were the welt pockets. I made samples. I marked. I basted. I tailor-tacked. And still, my first welt wound up uneven and just UGH. I could’ve cried. I couldn’t imagine making two more, when those two had to be… ulp… matching.

So I didn’t. My uncle’s vest has only a single, sad and uneven, welt pocket. I’m not going to mention it if he doesn’t.

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I added a patch of outer fabric inside the pocket, which was not in the instructions. The instructions, incidentally, were good but not verbose. They told you what to do, but not how to do it. And I added a few thing here and there, because I could. Like padstitching. And this little patch.

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I used shiny silver vintage buttons from my stash. Making the buttonholes was also a beast, although at least my thread matched very well, so their nasty quality isn’t obvious. I was so hoping for neat, beautiful keyholes, too…

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The buckle was also from one or another thrift-store baggies. I do wish, in hindsight, that I’d interfaced the straps here. And that I had two-piece eyelets—these are one piece and I’m worried about how they’ll hold up. Although I suppose it’s not a super-high-stress area. (And, yes, the back’s made out of fashion fabric, not lining. This is because I didn’t have enough of the silver Kasha lining fabric left, and my local Fabricland didn’t have any in the silver colour. Yes, I could’ve used another kind of lining. But I hate every other kind of lining out there…)

Understitching would’ve helped this back bit. Although I suppose if the outer back were in lining fabric as well, it wouldn’t’ve been an issue.

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All in all, though, I think he’s a very distinguished fellow.

He still wants a kilt, though…

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Uncle!

This year, for the first time, Osiris and I put our names in with the older generation for my mom’s family’s Christmas draw*. Yep, apparently we are officially All Grown Up. My favourite uncle said (before the draw even happened) that he’d very much like me to make him a kilt, in the event that I should draw his name.**

So naturally, when I did draw his name a few moments later, I figured I knew exactly what to make him. I even picked up a kilt “pattern”*** at the thrift store just before Hallowe’en.

Then I checked the fabric requirements and, um, there’s no way I’m getting five yards of any halfway decent wool tartan for under the spending limit. So I decided I’d make him a vest instead. Possibly a tartan vest. It just so happens that at the same time as I’d picked up the kilt pattern, I’d also gotten a rather intriguing “Fashion Historian” pattern, Simplicity 5037, for an old-fashioned vest and braces. A vest seemed about the right amount of work/cost of materials for a family gift, and I’m pretty sure Uncle will love it anyway. He’s gone out of his way to praise my sewing every time I’ve talked to him in the last couple of years.

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Well, today I pulled out the pattern, picked a size, and started tracing. I had been secretly a) wondering why the heck a vest and braces constituted an entire pattern, and b) worried that this would be another lame costume pattern. B) was quickly allayed, though—this appeared to be a sophisticated pattern after all, with neat little details like a dart under the front lapel and more welt pockets than you can shake a pocketwatch at.

Vest front, Piece 1. Perfect. Vest Back, piece… 12?

Really? Twelve pieces in the vest alone? I guess that answers why it has its own pattern, practically…

So I went and did what I hadn’t actually done yet, looked up the pattern information.

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I mean, it’s a handsome vest with some neat details, but really, twelve pieces? OK, there is a separate, bias-cut under-collar piece. That’s a good feature. And I suppose those welt pockets have a few extra pattern pieces too. Now what are those oval things?

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Oh, my, lord.

Eighteen pattern pieces. Including three separate “padding” pieces. There’s actual tailoring on this vest. I’m still kind of in shock. (Also, apparently I need to buy batting.)

And I’m strangely excited. A tailored vest.

But I may have to re-adjust my Christmas sewing timeline. >_<

*Where we all put our names in a hat and draw out the person we'll get a present for. Just in case that's not a widespread phenomenon.
** This is not the Scottish side of the family (although if you want to get all genealogical, I'm like a quarter Scottish). But Robbie Burns Day has become a big thing in their rural municipality in the last few years and, well, in a small town you take your amusements where you find them, I guess.
***I'm not sure which I loathe more, "costume" patterns or paper patterns for things that consist entirely of rectangles. I'm pretty sure this particular "Scottish attire" pattern hit both categories, however.

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Holy Frock!

A tale of terror, tailoring, and tragedy.

The Coat.

Okay, I’m no good with suspense. I need to get this over quickly. I finished Osiris’s frock coat.  This is what it looked like Friday evening, as we headed out for a night on the town.

Closeup.

Here’s a slightly-clearer closeup.

And this is what it looked like Sunday afternoon…

Continue reading

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Oh Frabjous day!

… to keep up the literary theme, although it’s been a while since I read the Jaberwocky, so I don’t think I’ll go any further with it today. My mother preferred reciting “The Walrus and the Carpenter” for some reason. Which always made me sad when they eat the oysters. That might be why I don’t much care for Lewis Carroll (shocking, I know).

Patterns!!11!1!!!!!

Anyway.

My patterns arrived! Happy dance! I made my firstest-ever Etsy purchase a month or more ago, two vintage patterns from the Cupcake Goddess’s Etsy Store. I excercised great, great restraint and did *not* order one of her darling tailor’s ham and sleeve roll sets, although if she ever does some in spiderwebs or skulls (preferably black and pink) I might not be able to resist.

Why so long? Well, aside from the fact that I payed by echeque, which takes some time to clear, the package arrived in a plastic sleeve from Canada Post apologizing for the damaged condition “it was received in”—edges chewed up and water-damaged; it apparently spent some time lost in transit. My heart pit-a-patted.

Fortunately, Her Divine Cupcakeness had packaged the envelopes in a sealed plastic sleeve (complete with well wishes) within the cardboard shipping envelope, so all was well. I am now the proud owner of Butterick 3364, a fitted men’s shirt pattern, and Simplicity 5728, an adorable little dress. Both date from the 70s, the dress earlier, the shirt, I think, later.

Butterick 3364 and Simplicity 5728

Let’s start with the dress.

I bought this pattern for one reason and one reason only. At my grandmother’s house on the family farm, in the closet of my mother’s old bedroom, hangs a dress of almost exactly this same pattern. Even the colour and print are very similar to the long version. The only glaring difference is the fold-over collar. And I always have liked that dress—which fits me divinely, or at least did last time I tried it on, probably when Syo was a baby—except for the fabric, which is a godawful, polyester-knit-flannel-scratchy stuff that could only have been spawned of the 1960s-70s. The little floral print is a bit twee, as well—I don’t really do prints, as you may have noticed. But the bones of the dress, the lines—killer.

So when I saw this pattern, in a 34 bust, I almost bought it straight away. I forced myself to wait on it, but a month later it was still there, and I still wanted it. So I jumped.

The only downside is while it’s a 34 bust, which is only one inch over mine, it’s also a junior petite. The junior part is good—I am not exactly full figured—but, er, it’s drafted for someone five foot nothing. That’s 1.5m for the metric folks who aren’t clinging illogically to an arbitrary and outdated measuring system. That’s a more than half a foot shorter than me.

Still, adding length can’t be that tricky, right?

So, stand by for Adventures in Grading… although given how prolific I am when it comes to sewing dresses… well, it may be a while. Ceylon has been marinating for several months now, after all.

Butterick 3364 Views

The shirt, obviously, is for my hubby. I’ve been wanting a princess-seamed shirt pattern for him for a while, ever since I saw Peter’s version. You see, y’know how you look at the measurement charts, and very often ones’ bust measurement, say, is several sizes smaller than one’s waist measurement?

Well, my husband has the opposite problem. In fact, the man has a 40″ chest and a 32″ waist, which would make him spot on for his size… if he were female. This is when he’s “fat”(he also has Body Issues to do an anorexic proud)… any number of times during our marriage he’s had a 28″ waist, which is the same as mine on a good day. That’s an 8 to 12″ drop from chest to waist. Mine is about 5”. On a good day. The bastard.

McCall's 7123 front view

Anyway, all bitterness aside, this means that most dress shirts fit him like the boxes they are. Which is fine if that’s what you’re going for, like the shirt I made him last summer… but I can’t help but fantasize about something different. Something a little more fitted, that actually flatters the body he’s got. Especially nice, this pattern has options for with and without princess seams, including back darts like the tailored men’s shirt draft Laurianna posted on.

And I love the idea of making him shirts because, although he wears them frequently, he won’t wear any with breast pockets, ever, and far prefers a mandarin collar to a roll collar. Which reduces the selection in RTW by about 80% right off the bat. But for me—it just means I don’t need to fuss with de-70s-ifying the collar that comes with the pattern (although really, it’s not at all bad by 70s standards anyway).

Now the only trick will be getting him to actually wear a fitted shirt. (See above about Body Issues.)

In Lady Grey News

Padstitching in action

… a relentless weekend of hand-stitching has produced results. I have pad-stitched lapels!

I did something resembling pad-stitching on the collar of Tyo’s coat, if you recall, but only after it was constructed, relying on the thickness of the fabric to let me bury my stitches within the fabric; the actual stitch used zig-zagged back and forth, rising to the surface in a tiny bite at each corner of the zig zag. Anyway, another idiosyncratic feature of an idiosyncratic coat.

But this time, I determined that I would do my research first. Unfortunately, the

format of Gertie’s video on padstitching wouldn’t play on my ipod, the main computer was off because it’s been randomly shutting down lately, and the padstitching illustrated in the taloring book Santa’s going to put in my stocking didn’t look much like Gertie’s either (it was pretty much straight along the lines). I also checked out my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, which had padstitching more like what I thought Gertie was getting at.

Pad-stitching for zig-zags

After a certain amount of experimentation, I got it figured out (or I think I have), and if you do it right you can get the illusion of a series of zig-zags of thread across the surface… I don’t know if that’s actually important, but it looks nice. Now I just need to brace myself to finish the bound buttonholes. Inspired by Kbenco’s long version (in turn, apparently, inspired by my winter coat, yay!), I decided to go for four, functioning buttonholes, because A) I liked the higher, shorter roll of the collar, B) I think it looks better if I am not wearing a belt, and usually I don’t like things belted at my waist), and C) it’s more like Tyo’s coat this way.

This is what happens when you hold the pad-stitched lapel upside down

Hmm, maybe C) isn’t actually a good thing.

Now, the miracle of pad-stitching is not really obvious when you look at it flat on, or even when worn, so let me demonstrate (see left). Even if you hold it upside down, the curl remains, flexible but undeniable. Nifty!

Anyway, that’s already more post than I imagine any of you wanted to read, so I’ll let it go at that.

And, as the Cupcake Goddess says:

Happy Sewing Adventures!

 

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Look what I did!

I spy, with my little eye, something that looks like a Lady Grey!

Oh, oh!

Oh, see!

See what I did?

Look, look! Funny, funny sewing.

Sorry. Syo’s on a Dick and Jane kick, believe it or not. My aunt gave her a set of board-book reprints featuring such classic tales as “Jane and Mother” and “The Funny Baby.”

Now, I’m a big fan of classic children’s books. Maurice Sendak and Dr. Seuss; Robert Munsch and Dennis Lee (those two might actually be Canadian phenomena, but they still rock). A dozen more that I could reel off. Top-notch children’s literature is critical, not so much for the kids—they’ll listen to pretty much anything—but for your own sanity, because you’re going to be reading these books again and again and again. I think I made my parents read me “The Secret Garden” seven times when I was Syo’s age.

… But somehow “Dick and Jane” were notable in their absence in my literary upbringing.  I suspect my mother may have had an active role in this, although maybe it was just the 80s. I was sort of under the impression that “Dick and Jane” were dull, cruel readers that children of an earlier time were forced to read in grim school-rooms, probably under threat of The Strap.

Apparently not. Apparently, they are fascinating, enthralling masterpieces of prose for that child on the cusp of literacy, craving the familiarity of a limited, repetitive vocabulary. Apparently the serene, white, nuclear world where Mother vacuums in heels and pearls while Dick and Father throw a baseball and Sally ties Spot’s ears above his head so they don’t splash in his water dish, is just what my younger daughter relates to.

Hrrm.

At least she’s reading, right?

As long as no one’s expecting me to vacuum in heels. Pearls, maybe.

Anyway. Look at that! Genuine Lady Grey progress! I laid out my fabric (this is the remnants left after Tyo’s Russian Princess Coat). There was just over 2m of the red (although functionally not very wide since it’s so off grain) and just under 1m of the black. And, I had enough fabric! The belt may be touch and go (I’m not worrying about it at this point… worst case scenario it will have a seam down the centre and lining fabric on one side), but I had enough! The collar and facings will be black, which I think will be supremely striking.

I managed to squeeze both fronts and side fronts and a collar out of the 2m of (very narrow) hair canvas I had bought a while ago, but there won’t be enough left over for a back stay, which I would really like this coat to have, so I’ll have to pick up more. I also didn’t have quite enough of the super-light-weight interfacing I used to stabilize the whole back pieces (this is a knit fabric, remember, with a disturbing amount of lengthwise stretch), and I can’t find the rest of the pattern to cut the lining, but I did what I could with what I had today, and I should be able to keep busy with the hand-stitching until I can make it to Fabricland to get the other bits and pieces. Hopefully the rest of the pattern turns up before I need to cut the lining, otherwise I’ll be winging it. Which, given the number of fitting tweaks I made might not be a bad idea, but I’d like to have the option, anyway.

If Tyo’s coat is the Russian Princess Coat, will that make mine the Czarina Coat?

Coat back. Ready to catchstitch down the seam-allowances by hand.

Anyway.

See Tanit-Isis! Look, look!
See Tanit-Isis sew.
Tanit-Isis sews and sews.
Funny, funny Tanit-Isis.

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