Join me in my adventures as I write romance novels and sew vintage and contemporary fashion.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

1940's Plaid Coat

Presenting the pink and gray plaid 1940's jacket!

To be honest, when I started this project, I wasn't certain what I'd end up with. I'd ordered the fabric online and when it came, I loved it, but wasn't certain what to make with it. Then it dawned on me that 1940s coats were often made with large odd colored plaids. Perfect, because I had a large oddly-colored plaid. And...I have a pink fedora-type hat that matches the fabric.

The pattern is a size too small for me, but I thought that it might fit, given the boxiness of 1940s coats. I made a muslin and other than adding 1/2 inch across the back, it fit well. In fact, it's a bit roomy.
The fabric is very loosely woven wool, but I didn't underline it. I interlined the charmeuse lining with thick flannel and even though it seemed like I should stabilize the wool with batiste, I didn't. Four layers seemed like one layer too many. Luckily, the wool did very well without underlining.
This coat was another exercise in tailoring. This is the first vintage pattern I've encountered that suggested pad stitching the lapels. The directions were for the most part pretty terse and there wasn't a lot of directions given for techniques such as pad stitching, but I guess that's what sewing books, mothers and grandmothers were for back then.
I stabilized the hollow of the shoulder area with hair canvas
The lapels have a cool rounded shape that I really like.
I stabilized the sleeve tops, then put in sleeve heads (no photos, sorry) and 1/2 inch shoulder pads. True story--the first time I put on the coat, it made my head look small. I kept checking in different mirrors around the house to see if it was just an illusion. These shoulders take some getting used to.

I did my best to match the collar to the plaid in the back. One thing about pad stitching--the collar rolls beautifully. It's truly a well-tamed collar.

The pattern called for welt pockets, but this wool was totally unsuitable for welts. I'm sure there are people out there who could have welted these pockets, but after all that pad stitching and plaid matching, I decided to put in patch pockets. It would have killed me to watch my coat unravel before my eyes.

I started to sew the first pocket on by machine with top-stitching thread and got about two inches into my seam when I realized that it looked sucky. My tailoring book had instructions for applying patch pockets by hand, so that's what I did.
First you pin the pocket in place, then stitch 1/4 inch in from the edge.

After that you sew the edge to the coat, so you have  double seam. It makes for a very nice looking and nearly invisible pocket. I wasn't going for invisible, but I like it.
As you can see, I'm a sucker for big buttons.

After making the buttonholes by machine, I decided that they didn't look finished enough, so I bound them by hand using regular sewing thread rather than button twist.

I love the flannel interlining. The coat is heavy and warm. Here are a few outdoor shots.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Butterick 3721 Men's Victorian Cutaway Coat -- Finished!

I'm happy to report that I finished two coats during my absence from blog writing. I also finished a book for Harlequin and I sold a book to a new publisher--Tule Publishing. I'll be part of their Montana Born series. The book will come out next summer. And now to the sewing...

The first coat I finished was the gray men's Tailoring -- the Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket and Simplicity's Sewing for Men and Boys.
Victorian cutaway coat. I learned a lot while making this coat. Instead of following the pattern instructions, I decided to practice tailoring, so instead of getting done in two days, I got done in a month, working in my spare time. I used two main resources:

After doing the pad stitching that I discussed in the last post, I used 1/4 inch twill tape, sewn in by hand, to establish the roll line and to stabilize the edges of the lapels.

I also used twill tape to stabilize the armholes.

I made a chest piece, following the instructions in Sewing for Men and Boys, to keep the hollow of the chest from collapsing.
This is the right chest piece in the photo above and the left coat front in the photo below. Poor photo
planning on my part. :)

I put in an interior pocket, again following instructions from Sewing for Men and Boys, because my husband and son have both commented many times that they wish their coats had an interior pocket. It was actually pretty easy.

I put in a back stay.

Stabilized the bottom of the cutaway with strips of hair canvas.

Left Floydie alone after cutting the lining. Note to self: Do NOT leave Floydie alone.

I sewed the entire lining in by hand. It was fairly relaxing, since I sewed during football games and Boardwalk Empire. I used silk thread to mark the line along which I sewed the sleeves to the body of the lining. I put in a half-inch shoulder pad, but the sleeve head didn't look good, so I took it back out.

Sadly, now that I'm done, I have no one to model the coat, since the future wearer is miles away in San Francisco. So until next Dicken's Fair, I have to make due with Tillie, my unpaid assistant. Her hips are a little too large, and her shoulders a bit too narrow, but she'll have to to do. Please forgive the drag lines.

My one regret...this is a soft, loose weave wool that I used and it's too soft, too droopy. I stabilized it by underlining it with batiste, but it still has a wee bit of a droop. From now on, I'll use wool with a tighter weave when I put this much work into a coat.

I also made a vest to go with the coat. You can just see it peeking out here.

The nice thing about the vest is that I was able to use the gray charmeuse I bought to line the bodice of Vogue 4617. It was too heavy for bodice lining, but perfect for this vest.

Next up--the pink plaid 1940s jacket. See you all soon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Progress on Butterick 3721 and a Bad Thing

I made some decent progress on the gray Victorian cut away coat over the weekend--and had a bad thing happen, which I will get to in a bit. I followed the pattern directions for the most part, except for a few added stitches here and there.

The entire front of the jacket is interfaced/underlined with hair canvas. The darts are sewn treating the fabric and hair canvas as one fabric and I did that, thinking it'll help stabilize the loosely woven wool.

I debated, then decided to pad stitch the lapels and under collar. It gave me something to do during the 49er game. There's a victory stitched into that under collar.
The under collar was cut in one piece, rather than two and I went with it. Bottom line, this is a costume coat. The pad stitching really helped the roll of the lapel, though and this is good practice for pad stitching non-costume wear.

I decided to make the slanted welt pocket in the jacket front before doing the pad stitching on the lapel. I have enough fabric to cut another front if something unfortunate happened--but I don't know if I have the patience to pad stitch another lapel. That's probably why the welt pocket went in smoothly. It's even on the correct side.

The welt is actually a lot crisper than it looks in this photo. This wool
photographs lumpy.

Photographed pre-thread-trim.
Now that I'm done with the fronts, I'm underling the rest of the pattern pieces in black batiste...

...and while doing that I discovered the bad thing. The thing that would have been devastating if I didn't have almost two extra yards of wool.

The flaw. And not just a little flaw--a put your finger through it flaw--on the sleeve. And I found it after doing all that pad stitching.

How many times did my mom tell me to always check both sides of my fabric carefully before cutting? Like a zillion. Usually I iron my fabric and thus examine it, however, I steam shrunk this fabric in my dryer, then hung it to cool. Since it was wrinkle free, I simply laid it out and cut. Won't be doing that again.

So that's were I am as the work week looms ahead of me. I'm just thankful I'm still making a gray coat and not a long gray vest.