Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wedding Suit -- The pant muslin

All that remains on the jacket are the finishing details, things like sewing on buttons and adding some pick stitched details. These are all little projects that can be done in little snippets of time. If I have a few minutes I can sew on a button or two. But my deadline is looming, so it's time to move ahead on the pants.


I've only made one other pair of pants, so my knowledge of them is pretty shaky. I know that they can be difficult to fit (I struggled a bit with my Jeds), but I've decided going into this project that I'm not going to agonize over them. I don't have either the time or the desire to work through muslin after muslin, looking for that elusive "perfect fit". I'll be more than happy if they fit around my waist and aren't too saggy in the butt.

So, I made a very quick and dirty muslin out of a flimsy Goodwill sheet. It's about as minimal as I could make it. No zipper, no pockets. Just the basic shape sewn onto a waistband of sorts. So here's what I learned about these Bill Blass pants right off the bat. They are very straight legged.


Here I've laid a Jeds leg on top of the white Blass muslin. The Bill Blass pant leg is at least 4" bigger. Palazzo pants? The Jed pant leg is a little too slim for a suit IMO, especially for a guy my age. So I've decided to split the difference and remove 2" of width from the leg.

I also need another inch in the waist to accommodate my little gut. This was actually an easy fix.



Here's where the side seam is hitting the waistband. I added a 1/4" to the seam (sewn in the darker thread), which will give me an extra inch of waist circumference. This adjustment also straightens the hip area, which I'm learning is usually too full on most patterns. I'm just not that curvy in the hip.



The left leg has been tapered, removing 2" of width at the hem. Look how that change has improved the fit at the bottom of the buttocks! I never anticipated this. Fitting Score!



Here the extra fabric in the right pant leg is more evident. It makes the pant visually bottom heavy. Of course,the pattern appears to have been drafted for a 6' 4" man. I've shortened the inseam by 6" and they're still too long!



Are they the perfect fitting pair of pants? Hell no! Will they work? Yes! Time to cut out these bad boys and delve into the mysteries of sewing trousers. Zippers, flys, crotch shields, Oh My! So much new sewing territory.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back from a break. Soldier on, Dad.

I took a much needed break from this project. It's easy to forget just how labor intensive a tailored jacket can be. But it's time to get back on the horse, as they say.


When I left off I was completely baffled by the collar construction. I read and reread Cabrera's instruction to the point where I felt comfortable just jumping in with both feet. Why so reticent? He has you discard the pattern piece for the collar. The entire collar is hand stitched using just the undercollar as a reference. "Sewing without a net" I call it. What follows is just a glimps of the process.



I trimmed the seam allowances off the collar pattern to use as my undercollar pattern. I just didn't trust the Vogue undercollar, which seemed too small. I cut the undercollar from felt (B Black and Sons) and interfaced it with a fusible French canvas that I picked up at Steinlauf and Stoller in NYC a couple years ago. This proved to be a huge time saver. Otherwise, I would have been back to padstitching. I'm always a little leery of fusibles, but this stuff worked perfectly. As you can see, the canvas is cut a bit smaller than the felt so that none of it will be visible in the end. Here you see the interfaced felt, cross stitched to the neck opening.



This is where it gets scary. There is NO pattern for the upper collar. The felt is basted onto a rectangle of the fashion fabric, and the entire collar is created "on the fly" around the felt.



Baste here, baste there, trim, fold, slipstitch here, cross stitch there.


Did I mention basting?


Thankfully, it all comes together in the end. Simple or fast, it IS NOT! The result, though, is probably better than what could be achieved by following the pattern instructions. I'm glad to have this step behind me, and relieved that it turned out as nicely as it did. Trust me, there were moments when I really had my doubts. And really, is there anything more strangely constructed than a man's jacket?


The buttonholes are done. I always hold my breath at this point. The last thing I need is for my vintage Singer buttonholer to start acting up. I'm pretty sure we've all had that OH F$&@ moment with buttonholes. I owe the sewing gods for sparing me this time around. I will cut these open later so that they'll be functioning, a "distinctly custom touch" according to Cabrera.



An entire day was spent handsewing the lining. Working with polyester acetate is my idea of hell on earth. Next time I'm picking a jacket pattern with a single vent! Working around two vents was almost enough to break me. Fortunately, I'm pleased with the result, but my enthusiasm for this project is flagging. I really need a break from all the handsewing. Hopefully the pants will be easier. It will seem novel to actually use a sewing machine! Forward March. The end is almost in sight.



Plank # 3 is finally on the boat.





Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tailoring Progress

I'm making steady progress on the wedding suit.

It's been awhile since I've done any tailoring, so the amount of basting and handsewing has been a little overwhelming at times. I'm using the Roberto Cabrera book on tailoring which is usually helpful, but tonight he has me totally baffled about constructing the collar. It's almost more confusing than putting in a zipper fly! So I'm just going to walk away for the night and pick it up in the morning when I'm fresh. I do that a lot, hence I'm one of the slowest sewers out there.

The sleeves are essentially done, they just need buttonholes on the vents. I do like Cabrera's method of making and lining the sleeves. You do have to make a muslin first because the length will be set when all is said and done.



A wide piece of bias muslin is basted into the cuff along the hemline and fold lines of the vent.


The hem is pressed up and attached to the muslin. This way there will be no stitches visible on the outside of the cuff. The sleeve and lining are then sewn up as usual.


Both the sleeve and the lining will be wrong side out. They're stacked up and the corresponding seam allowances are quickly stitched together with a diagonal stitch. Nothing fancy here. Then the fun happens. Reach down through the lining and pull the sleeve up through it. Voila! A perfectly lined sleeve (inside out) ready to have the lining finished at the vent.



Here's the finished vent. You just have to fiddle with it until it works. Once it makes sense and comes together, I press it into position, baste to hold things together and then slipstitch with silk thread.



The sleeves are done for now and set aside.

Next I've worked on the lining and added an inside left chest pocket.


I used some of my left over shirting fabric for the welts. A fanciful touch. This is the same pocket construction as the outside pockets, just a bit smaller. I'm not bothering to make a right inside pocket because I would never use it, not to mention the time required to make it.



It looks like this from the inside.



I've put in the shoulder pads. The front of the pad is padstitched into the canvas. It's kind of a wrestling match, and I'm always glad when this step is over.

It's not pretty, but it works.

And here's where I leave off. Is there enough basting???? :)