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!


  1. Looks amazing!
    I had the same issues with the M collar. I used B Black Melton wool, too, and it was a dream!

  2. Thanks guys! It feels like it's finally coming together!

  3. Great job! I am way impressed! And congrats on the Balboa title. Sounds like a great time in SF!

  4. Congratulations you guys!

    The coat looks beautiful so far -- I wish we had been able to get tickets for the ball this year so I could see it in person.

    Any chance you can make it back up north in April for the PEERS Jane Austen ball?

  5. oh gosh, that *would* be fun! But it looks like it's the same weekend as Balboa Rendezvous, and we promised ourselves we'd go to that this year. Too much fun stuff to do! :) Keep me in the loop for other events up there, though!

  6. When I made my M collar, I had the distinct advantage of owning a CDG vest and CDG jacket from the late 80s, both of which feature M collars. It was tremendously useful to be able to study something in hand, rather than just a picture. I also used Judy Barlup's Japanese tailoring method to connect the label and back collar. It's tricky, but works like a charm. If you get a chance to study her technique, you might find it of interest. My M didn't gap and the points stayed very pointy. But I think it was more luck than skill as I'm a terrible pattern drafter. She also covers the turn of cloth issue very thoroughly.

  7. I'll look for those resources on my next go with this coat - is it bad that I'm more excited about my next coat than this one? ;)I'll definitely keep my eyes peeled at the thrift stores for good examples of tailoring - so true that looking at a garment is the best way to go!