tailoring

Hello, here I am again. I’ve been neglecting my blog and online presence for too long now, but I have been sewing quite a bit, in my defense – and also put myself on a very healthy ban on frantic last-minute sewing of overly ambitious party outfits. My stress levels are down (slightly) and my nerves are thanking me.

I’ve been making a lot of things lately, several everyday garments that I need quite badly, but this is the one I’m the most pleased with; a wool/poly gabardine jacket inspired by Steirer jackets and German and Austrian traditional costumes in general, with leather oak leaf appliqués, abstract bakelite acorn buttons and a pleated, skirted back, the cut nicked from a late 1940′s jacket that I have loved almost to pieces.

The original sketch made three years ago or so, when I got the fabric.

It’s been in the pipeline for several years, in other words, but I’m glad I waited.

Front and back panels sewn together, interfaced with horsehair canvas, wool and a heavy linen canvas at the front shoulder, with pockets nearly done.

It has bound pockets with the leather oak leaves applied after the pocket was practically finished, but before I closed up the pocket bag. The whole process of figuring out the best order in which to do the pocket and appliqué steps to create fully functional pockets with the appliqué took a bit of frustrating trial and error. I added top-stitched leaf veining after some consideration – it felt like an idea that might go spectacularly wrong, even with a teflon foot, but it actually turned out quite well.

Fitting process. The back came together beautifully at once, the front took a lot of fine-tuning.

I added a lot (a LOT) of extra hair canvas and wool fabric pieces to the body of the interfacing here and there around the bust and front of the shoulder to get the pocket to lie reasonably smoothly, for instance, and get a nice, smooth shape. It was worth it, and I highly recommend spending some time fiddling around with stiffening, shaping and filling out the silhouette like that if you have the time. I certainly will. Also added horsehair braid along the hemline, from the side pleats in the back, around the curve in front and up to the waist. Also worth it.

SO worth it.

The finished jacket, with a peaked cap in the same fabric and a new skirt with scalloped button edge.

The back is my favourite part of the garment.

Right, and I did leather-bound buttonholes on the sleeves, with leather that is not what you’d call thin or supple. That may have been one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. They look pretty awful up close, but not half as awful as making them was. I wanted to do that on the rest of the jacket as well, but no. Just no.

I’ve been wearing it constantly for several weeks now. Very happy with this one.

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I finished a UFO that got stuck right after the first fitting, oh, about seven or eight years ago. That calls for celebration, doesn’t it? It’s a fitted suit jacket, aiming for a 40′s silhouette, and it was left unfinished because tailoring is, or was, kind of intimidating; but I really love the fabric, a heavy, bright green vintage herringbone weave in what I’m pretty sure is linen, and I needed a jacket for spring, summer and fall wear, so I went ahead and did it.

There were a few problems, to begin with; I made the pattern a very long time ago and had lost it, of course, so I made a new one from the cut-out pieces for the lining. I also had a couple of remnants of the fabric that I really wanted to make a skirt out of, but the fabric, having spent a number of years in someone’s attic, had a few large sunbleached areas that were unusable and needed to be cut around. I managed to puzzle out a skirt from tiny pieces anyway before I got to work on the jacket, which was stupid, because as it turned out, I hadn’t cut the jacket collar when I cut the rest of the garment. And this green, let me tell you, was not an easy shade to match – for a while I toyed with the idea of making the collar from the only matching fabric I could find, an upholstery canvas, and then covering it with tiny cross-stitching in a matching green mouliné yarn. My mother came to the rescue with a beautiful green silk twill from Burma, though; I sent a small sample of the original fabric with her. The rest of that fabric will hopefully make a nice dress some day.

Also, I had to refit the jacket, again, mostly because I made a false start at it about four or five years ago, did another fitting then and remembered it as being a bit tighter than I like jackets now, for whatever reason. So I put it together with a smaller seam allowance than originally planned to give it some extra ease now, only to find that it was huge on me and needed adjustments in the opposite direction. On the bright side the fabric was lovely to work with, firm but still pliable, with a nice drape for such a heavy fabric. It certainly wrinkles like linen, but that’s mostly only noticeable in the skirt.

The end result is alright for a jacket I made the pattern for almost ten years ago, and a skirt made from impossibly small scraps of fabric. I still love that shade of green and the herringbone texture. I could be happier with some of the details, but I always could, every single time. And I’m getting a lot of wear out of it at the moment. Mission accomplished.

Green linen suit

Suit in action. The snow is gone now, thankfully.

 

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