Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 New Year's Resolution

A trend among bloggers is doing a year-end review and rundown of their work for 2010. I'm not doing this, but it made me think about my 2010 New Year's resolution - my only resolution was to make a tailored jacket. Originally I had a completely different project in mind (a practice jacket where I didn't have to worry about it fitting someone!), but as the year wore on, I chose to make this tailcoat instead.

I still have a lot to learn about tailoring, and a lot of techniques to refine and practice, but now I have taped a roll line and tried padstitching - albeit by machine, but it worked out pretty well. I'm proud of how the jacket is looking, and proud that I'm meeting my deadline!

Shears! I mean, Cheers!!
Thanks for joining me on this journey - here's to having more fun in 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


More progress! I've done the sleeves and the sleeve lining, so we're getting close!

I basically flat-lined the sleeve instead of doing a traditional lining - I put it in to prevent the elbows bagging out during wearing than anything else. I did the inside of the cuff with my self wool, since Chris wants to turn the cuff back sometimes.

Sleeve & Lining, Inside View
The sleeve and the lining are sandwiched inside the cuff, and I finished that seam before attaching it to the jacket. I did have to handstitch the lining to the jacket though, and I want to show you a setup I like for handsewing:

Rather than holding the garment in my lap and crouching over it, I like to sit at the ironing board so the garment's weight isn't on me, and so it's closer to my eyes. I find it much more comfortable for long sewing sessions. Sorry I'm never in any pictures, but I do a lot of my sewing before Chris gets home, so there's no one else to take pictures!

And here it is, with his pirate shirt on underneath. Hopefully he won't be wearing low-rise Banana Republic chinos...that was a failed experiment. The sleeves are intentionally long to accomodate the turnback.

Now it's just the faux pocket flap, buttons, & buttonholes! (But boy do I hate buttonholes.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Greetings and a New Blog!

I was poking around the internet looking for vintage Christmas images, and found this article on Wikipedia about the first Christmas card - it was created in 1843, and with the reformed Penny Post in London to help it along, the idea quickly gained popularity. Here's the image of the first Christmas Card:

Very Merry Indeed! (even the child in the center gets to join the festivities!)

In other news, I've decided to start a new blog - V is for Vintage - where I'll be posting about everything not relating to Regency Menswear. (I didn't want to have to stop blogging when I take a break from sewing for Chris!) I hope you'll join me over there.

Don't worry, I'll still be updating this blog, especially in the next few weeks!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lining the Tails

I was a good girl last week and worked on lining the tails - as tempted as I was to do the sleeves, I knew that doing the lining after the sleeves were attached would be a huge headache.

First, here's the image from the coat interior from Fashioning Fashion. It's the only real reference image I've managed to track down. I was relieved to see that the linings were pieced together and didn't match terribly well, and I think I managed to replicate that aspect quite well. ;)

So first up with the tails lining is making the pocket. This is the only functional pocket in the coat, so don't skip it. It doesn't have to be pretty, either, since it's on the inside, so don't let that intimidate you. I just did a standard welt pocket, and just made an educated guess as to the placement. Function, not form.

And here's the final inside view - it's a little awkward because I never figured out how the lining would work during the mockup phase, so I had to wing it. The first lining for the front tails was a little short and didn't go all the way up to the dart, but I thought that was awkward so I recut the lining for the front to extend up to the dart. Next time I'll raise the back tail vent a little higher so it's all at the same level. 

The side edge of the top body facing is just raw edge, joined to the inside body of the coat with a whipstitch. The melton wool doesn't really unravel, so a raw edge is fine, and the stitches are barely visible on the other side. I hope. 

The outside view is much prettier! I promise! :)

One of the things I'm really enjoying about writing this blog is how I can make notes about something, and then come back later to reference it. I'll definitely be coming back to this post next time to remind myself of what to improve!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Girly Stuff

I'm trying to keep most of this blog relating to menswear, but since most of you who read it are women, I figure you won't mind a little girly stuff. :)

Last weekend a girlfriend and I went shopping for fabric for our dresses, and we both scored! Fabric, trim, gloves, shawl, and purse (we both already have shoes). I haven't had such a productive shopping trip in a LONG time - having a second pair of eyes definitely helped. Love the LA garment district!

My loot displayed for our hubbys to admire...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fitting the ACTUAL COAT!! :)

Hal & Betty - LA Balboa Dancers, 1939
This past week has been busy! Last weekend we drove up to San Francisco to visit my sister and do some dancing - and in some exciting news, yours truly is the 2010 North American Balboa Champion! Okay, Chris and me both, not just me. That sounds much more impressive than it really is...but then, that's usually the case with Titles. 

Enough with this mid-20th century junk, let's go further back in time.

I've gotten the tailcoat body assembled and the collar attached - looks pretty nice, if I do say so myself! I love love love sewing with this melton wool. It's smooth in the machine, presses beautifully, and is even a dream to cut. I hate cutting! I've adjusted the brightness on the pictures so that hopefully you can see the detail. The actual jacket is deep black, not splotchy. My tailoring book actually recommends using a dark fabric for your first tailoring project, so that mistakes are less likely to show. Good call!

As you can see, I went with modern construction techniques, machine sewing the inside and flipping it right side out. If I had known I was going to use that method from the beginning, I would have picked easier/less pointed collar shapes. The M collar point would be much easier to handstitch together on the outside edge - but I felt that I couldn't just do the collar and not do the rest.

I'm not thrilled with how wide the gap is between the collar point and the lapel - I think that on my mockups the points were closer together, almost touching. I think the difference might be partially because of the thickness of the fabric, and maybe something to do with the roll line/breakpoint placement? Anyway, the right and left sides are even, so that's fine. Something to worry about next time.

I used French Collar Canvas from B. Black, and boy is that stuff heavy-duty! I doubt I'll use it again, and instead opt for a medium weight hymo. But I don't have to worry about his collar drooping!

In the back, I took in a little at the shoulder seam at the armhole, because it was gapping away from the body. That's why the seams don't match at the outer edge. To compensate, I might set the sleeves in toward the center back a little further, but this was an Era of Small Backs, so that should look good.

I haven't touched the tails yet, but already the wool is draping in the back much more nicely than the muslin did. Love that wool melton!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jacket Entrails...err...Innards

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who responded to my last entry - I'm going to take your advice and just focus on one project at a time from here on out. I don't think we'll have complete outfits in time for the ball in January, so we'll have to beg, borrow, and steal the missing pieces (or maybe just rent them ;)

Subject to change, I think I'll finish the jacket first, then do my dress, and then go back to the trousers etc. if there's time (which there won't be). That's kind of killing me, because the trousers are about halfway done, but it's really best to not risk distraction. Big Picture!

Here's my progress with tailoring the undercollar and front body. As I said before, I'm opting to machine stitch as much as possible. I'm (more or less) following the machine tailoring instructions from Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket, which has options for hand tailoring, machine tailoring, and fusible tailoring on every step. I'm having to improvise a little because the shape of my pattern is a little different from what the book demonstrates.

Undercollar - you can see my
padstitching lines, all drawn out
before I decided to machine it!

Hymo for Front Body -
With Shoulder Patch & Waist Dart
Zig-Zag joined Jacket Front
and Hymo at edges -
Taped Line is machined until
a couple inches from CF,
then the exposed section
is handfinished

We're heading out of town this weekend for a dance event, but hopefully I'll have a nice collar to show off next week. I'm working on getting the collar roll right - that whole "turn of the cloth" thing. It's so fiddly!