Sunday, May 30, 2010

linen trousers

Just a quick photo of a pair of linen trousers that we put together last week. I wish I had grabbed the picture with the suspenders and the shoes on because they hang much nicer with suspenders and with the shoes you can see the hem properly.
Anyway, you'll have to take my word for it that the fronts don't really break like that on the foot.
What I really liked about them was the fit over the seat and up into the small of the back. These are cut to sit at the natural waist- about belly button level.They have double outward pleats, the main pleat being developed from the hem to the waist, a separate front waistband, a grown on back waistband with fish tail backs and plain side seam pockets.

I have been looking at the pros and cons of my standby trouser draft and I've been experimenting a bit here by incorporating aspects of a 1930's draft that I had a reference for. It is really important for me to have a draft that produces something that I know will fit since we are often so pushed for time. If I know the basic shape works, I can then concentrate more on the details that make it look more "period".
I've been happy with the way it has fit a number of different people, so I am going back to my notes and drawing up a 1/4 scale draft with instructions, and when I resume teaching I'll be trying it out some more on our fit models.

These needed to be fully lined in the front and back to support the fabric. This is a nice weight of linen, quite crisp when pressed, but like all linens, just softens and creases at the mere thought of body heat.
I'll get them back and take a photo of the inside of them to show you how we have put the linings in.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

tailcoat finished

Here is the tailcoat all finished- We were still waiting for the shirt to arrive but took the picture anyway. I found another stand to put it on- one that is longer in the body but it has a strange shape overall and very square shoulders. Maybe the state of stands/dummies should be addressed! That's another post.

Well, I'll get to see this being worn this week so I hope I'll be just as happy then.
I find that doing this kind of work with two fittings is a bit pressured, but the time constraints don't ease up and we try to do the best we can in the time we have.
I also try to take a look when a coat is finished and analyse it a bit, looking for areas that I, as a cutter can improve on for the next time. On this it's the sleeves....I think I should tweak the pattern a bit- something for next time.
Susy did the tailoring on this one and I think she's done a fabulous job, as usual.
I am continuing to wonder about the term in my reference to French press the pleats- (in the text image).
Evan and I think it means to press the back skirt pleats of the tailcoat so they form a ridge rather than a soft pleat. He is going to try that press on his tailcoat and I am going to leave mine as is and we'll see if it makes any difference on stage. I have one more person I think I can ask about that because I think his tailcoats are pressed that way so I'll have to give him a call when I get a moment.

Next up for us is a bit of late eighteenth century menswear, which I haven't cut for a number of years. I've already started by drafting some fall front breeches and I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

jacket pattern development

I've been thinking a lot about the process of pattern making especially since I will again be spending some time teaching this fall.

I find that if you understand how drafting works you can more easily adapt it to your situation by starting with the basic shape and methodically work through the changes required for individual proportions or figure challenges. I find this much easier to explain and demonstrate than decoding the old methods for disproportion which never fully explain "why".
I want to know that the changes I make originate from a logical progression of applying what I see in the body of the person I am drafting for.

This jacket pattern is another exercise in dealing with disproportions. I'll give you the info-
height: 6'5" tall
chest 114 cm (44 1/2")
waist 107 cm (42")
hip 120 cm (47")
Full upper chest, full front waist but not a belly, bigger hips, head forward and a bit of a dowagers hump, sloping shoulders.

On the left is more or less where I started. I drafted/outlined a proportionate pattern for a 114 chest for a person of this height.
The back:
His proportionate waist length would be about 1/4 height, but he measured longer due to the shape of his back. That lead me to slash my pattern across mid back and add extra length. I started with an inch right across then I reduced that amount in the back armhole by half.

The front:
step 1: he needed more width in the front waist area where his body is full so I slashed the front from hem to neck adding in what I needed at the waist.
step 2: the result from step one is extra fabric below the fullest part of the belly, so I reduced that by cutting along the pocket line and folding out the excess from the hem up to the pocket - creating a horizontal dart along the pocket line.
step 3: Extra length is required for extra chest girth , so I slashed the pattern across mid chest and added what I required here.
step 4: I don't need the armhole to get all that much bigger which is a result of the step above, so I then darted out the armhole into a gorge/neck dart that is hidden under the lapel.

Make a toile and fit it. Figures like this are worth the slight extra time a toile takes. On the left you will also see the changes from the toile fitting marked in red.
On the right is the cleaned up pattern that I used to cut the real fabric.

In these cases I adapt my drafting method so most seam allowances are eliminated (I kept them on the side seam here for some reason). When I do the final pattern I add them back in where I want them to be, which is usually adding them to the shoulders and vertical body seams. Unlike traditional tailored drafts, I never draft with seam allowances included in the armhole or style lines -I find it to be more accurate to mark the sewing line.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Today, I thought I'd show you a couple of examples of fabrics being used to create textures. The one on the left has been created out of one fabric-organza- cut into thousands of circles. Laser cut, delivered by the box load and then all the circles are joined to each other before being stitched to the supporting structure to form this amazing texture.
The photo on the right is an example of layering of different fabrics to create a dense and very organic look.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

tailcoat progress

Here are a few pictures of the tailcoat in progress. After we fit it, it came back to the table for the alterations to be marked and the main construction to begin. That means it came apart. So, the chest canvas comes out of the left front so that the breast welt pocket can be made. Once that is done, the chest canvas is rebasted in. The roll line is basted and then taped and then the lapels are padstitched by hand. After padstitching the canvas is trimmed to just inside the finished line, then the edges are taped.
The lapels will be finished with a heavy silk and cotton corded fabric, but before the fronts are covered, Susy sewed a layer of washed and preshrunk flannelette that covered the padstitching. This flannelette is trimmed up to the inside edges of the tape and provides a layer of cushioning between the thickness of the seam allowances that will remain in the front edge and the rest of the lapel. In other words you won't have a thick edge and then a thinner area- the lapel will have equal thickness from the edge inward. This will help when the lapels get pressed, now and in the future.
You would also cover the padstitching with flannelette for a satin lapel. In that case the flannelette also keeps the padstitching from marking the satin when pressed. You have to sew the flannelette in very carefully because you don't want any of its stitching showing through.

The third photo is of the step vent in the centre back of the coat. We usually finish this area before the whole coat goes together- it is easier to handle before it is joined to the fronts. The lining is also easier to arrange and slip down while the coat is apart. I only mention it because some people like to make up two complete halves or a tail coat and join them in the centre back last.
The curved back or "frock seams" are sewn to within an inch or so from the waistline. Once the side seam is sewn, the skirt will go on and then the frock seam will be continued to the waist and then down the skirt to the hem.