Saturday, September 11, 2010

Getting Started: Pattern for a Tailcoat

After all digesting all that research, it's time to get a pattern going!

My top 2 choices came down to the Tidens Toej pattern and the tailcoat from the Cut of Men's Clothes (see my previous post for links to these resources). These two patterns fall in the period we want (1800-1830), and seem to be the most historically accurate - I'm willing to take shortcuts some places, but I don't want to deviate too far too fast.

I chose to start with the Tidens Toej pattern for a couple reasons - I like that you can see the actual garment from which the pattern is taken, and it comes with a grid already on the page! It's the little things that matter in life. 

I scaled up the pattern using the scale of 1 box = 2" square. I used pattern paper/aka alphabet paper/aka dot paper, which has 1" markings, so I made a 2" grid for myself and just freehand drew the pattern, using the grid as a guide. 

First Pattern scaled up, Terrible overview

This is actually easier than you'd think! Just get the approximate shape of each line in the box. It's just a starting place, so don't worry about making it perfect.

Collar, Close-Up and Upside-Down. Note the 2" grid.

Next, true up the pattern. This mean making sure all your seamlines are the same length by "walking" the pattern pieces. Put one piece on top of the other and wiggle them along the seamline to check the length (pattern paper is slightly transparent in order to make this easier). This method is faster and more accurate than measuring the seamlines. Check the front and back at the shoulder seams, sideseams etc.

Last, add seam allowance - I add 1/2" all around for mockups because that's easiest for me to remember while sewing, but for the final version I'll do 1/4" at the neckline (for the ease of sewing the tight curve) and 1" at the major seams (for potential alterations).

Back, with 1/2" seam allowance all around
EDIT: I forgot about to mention the grainlines! One thing that really confused me was the grainlines on the pattern. If they follow the grid, then the Center Front would be off-grain. So I changed the grainline so that the CF is on grain and the bottom edge is on the crossgrain. I'm not sure if that's right or not, but it's what I did.
Front Body - arrows indicate new grainlines

Next Up: First Mockup
**plus I promise to take better pictures. It might be nice to actually see what I'm talking about! :)


  1. Nice blog! I remember my daddy he is always wearing tailcoat and every time he go in especial occasion his look more elegant

  2. Aaah, Beth, I know this is super late (you wrote this 2+ years ago?), but I am so happy to have found your blog. I am all set to walk through this blog step-by-step as I build my husband's coat. Thanks for posting so thoroughly!