Saturday, February 19, 2011

Edwardian tailcoat

I've been very, very busy these past few weeks and along with my regular gig, I have a small side project that involves making a set of Edwardian tails.
I finally got a chance to nail down the details and the measurements and fabric just arrived this week, so off I went to make a pattern.

First, I have a good number of visual references for this look but since I left them at work I will have to show you an image from a fairly popular book depicting menswear of the period.

This gives a good illustration of the ideal silhouette and gives me a lot of information about the detailing required for the period.
The trousers are flat fronted, cut with a high rise and are quite narrow at the hem.
I look at the waistline of both the figure and the garment to determine where the waist shaping is in the garment, where the front hem of both the waistcoat and coat sit in relation to the body's proportions. You always have to take into consideration that these are fashion illustrations, and then, as now, they can be disproportionate in order to show off an ideal look.
I will be making a DB white pique waistcoat with a deeply cut out front and a laid on collar.

These coats have a long low rolling lapel that can be cut on or grown on. The lapels are either fully faced with lapel satin or have an inset facing of satin (not shown in this illustration).
The tails also generally retain the "strap" at the waist. If you look closely, you can see a narrow horizontal waist section that is part of the tails. A remnant in my view of the time (1820's) when the tailcoats first developed a horizontal waist dart that later developed into a seam, before the seam was discarded in favor of the separate "tail" that does not have a horizontal component.
I also have a draft for a tailcoat that I think is quite similar to what I am after, so that also gives me an idea of how the shape in the pattern is created. This gives a good idea of interpretation of proportions for the period, so with all this in hand along with the design sketch, I have come up with a pattern.

It was difficult to get a photograph of the pattern on my cutting table, so I brought it home but between the distraction of the floor, the lighting, and the cat trying to sit on it, I could barely get an adequate shot, so this will have to do.

I am going with the cut on lapel and the strapped tail in my pattern. The sleeves will also have a seamed on cuff detail or else a trim applied to delineate a "cuff".

My pattern isn't quite the same shape as the one in the book because my client isn't the shape that the book uses as a standard to ilustrate the draft. Also, when I draft, I like to have seam allowances bigger than the 1/4" standard of the time (I prefer a full 3/8" or 1cm) and I like my armholes to have no seam allowance so that also changes the visual aspect between the draft and the pattern.
I have to cut this right into fabric for someone whose measurements I did not take, which makes me a bit nervous, but I tried a quick half muslin on the stand to make sure I was happy with it so tomorrow I will lay out the fabric and start cutting.
I'm hoping to have it all together for a fitting by mid March so I'll be posting its progress.


  1. Hi Terri,
    I am intrigued. Can you elaborate on the way you do the armhole? Do you mark it with a pouncer? What size seam allowance do you prefer? I am looking forward to following along as you construct this coat.

  2. We mark everything with tailor tacks. My patterns usually have 1cm seam allowance included where It makes sense for tailoring and other places such as armholes, necklines and the CF line, I draft nett so I know that tailor tacked line is the finished or style line exactly.
    When I cut something out I leave inlays or extra seam allowances in places for alteration purposes. if they are not needed they are trimmed away later.
    Off to the studio to cut now.

  3. Terri
    Cant wait to see this finished, tails are always a challenge to get right. Have fun.

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