Category Archives: tailoring

Starting a New Regency Tailcoat

I’m back from Costume College (photos to follow soon) and I’m really excited about my new sewing project.  I have decided to make my husband a new Regency era tailcoat.

Pictured below is the previous tailcoat.  You can read all blog entries on that here.

At Costume College last year I bought the Laughing Moon Men’s Regency Tailcoat pattern #121.  The coat is a little late Regency, but I love that she said she took it from an original period garment.

P121-2TI made the mock up tonight and we tried it on.  My husband has more squared shoulders than the original and we had some other alterations to make, but the thing we noticed after the initial fit concerns was the strange roll line.  The roll line really popped up, and stood away from the neck.  It’s so against modern “classic” tailoring rules, and I started to make a new neckline, but my friend Ginger pulled out some books and we started seeing that my engrained view of collar roll lines was incorrect in this period.

For example:


Look how far Mr Brummel’s coat stands away from his neck, and how high it pops up at the roll line.

And looking at period paintings and fashion plates, and comparing them with modern period movies, we see the same.  The modern movies make the roll line where we’re accustomed to seeing it, while the original period sources make the collar stand up and out from the neck.

collarresearch2 collarresearch1

So, while this post doesn’t show any actual progress, I thought I’d share this little revelation.  It makes my mind kind of turn inside out and I’m really trying not to look at it from our modern comprehension of fit, but the period one.  I have to keep batting my hands down from drawing or pinning alterations, because the way it is in the Laughing Moon pattern is actually the way the collar is supposed to fit in the period.

So, for those of you who are also interested in Regency era menswear, I thought this might be useful information for you on fit.

Have you made any Regency era menswear?  If so, share your info with me.



Finished UFO Project, and a Peek at Things to Come…

Did you know that The Dreamstress is hosting a neat Facebook sewing motivation group for this year?  It’s called the Historical Sew Fortnightly, and every two weeks there’s a new challenge.

I missed the last challenge, but I got this one finished in time for the UFO theme (unfinished object).  This jacket was based on an 1899 jacket pattern from La Mode Illustree, and I don’t mind saying now, that this is the pattern that I’ve slowly been working on in my free time as the next Wearing History pattern release.  The project was started a year or two ago, with an original pattern, but gradually morphed into a grande project, as I kept finding more and more that I needed to do to make the pattern more accessible and understandable (markings, seam allowances, grainlines, and instructions were all missing, and the pattern pieces needed alterations to get them to fit together correctly).  I’ll have more info on it once it’s completely finished and I have the pattern up on my site, but for now I’m just glad to share preview pics I took at work today :) I went all out on this jacket and did a bunch of tailoring on it to make it extra nice.


>A New to Me 1930s Coat


Remember the 1930s coat I was making from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library pattern?  Well, today I met and bought it’s twin.  Sure, they’re a little different but the design of the collar and cuff accents are so similar- even in color and tone to what I am making my coat out of!  It’s taken the wind out of my sails a bit for my sewing project because it’s so similar, but this one is finished!

 The coat really is in exquisite condition for it’s age.  It most certainly dates to the earlier part of the 1930s and is an interesting weave- the fabric feels like mohair and it’s woven into a corduroy like design with a nap.  I am completely amazed that I can find NO moth holes in it- it looks like it was rarely worn- so I knew it had to come home with me.  I found this at an estate of a family who moved to California in the 1950s- apparently they owned a restaurant out here and were interested in all sorts of medical quack type things- I believe the man was a doctor.  Kind of a bit of fun history of the lives of the past owners.
I think the coat was modified a bit- but nothing outrageous.  I have a suspicion it might have been shortened at one point and the buttons changed out.  It has the layered button thing that was so popular in the wartime 1940s- and I also found a 1940s hat that had been pinned with matching fur decoration over the past decoration of sequins.

Without a doubt my favorite part is the convertible collar.  It can hook and eye to one side and button on the other to be snug at the neck, leave part of the collar close around the neck and let the other flap hang down, or leave both flaps open.  So fun!  And it was very cleverly designed so that the buttons fasten between the join of the fur and the wool- both are finished independently so there’s a slit for the button to pass through.

The construction of the side back pieces are interesting- with a seam line going across the piece near the waist that meets the side dart from the front coat to make a bit of a deco style interest.  The inside of the coat fastens as is normal for a lot of 1930s coats- with ties made from the lining fabric that loop through a little wool loop attached to the coat.  You could tie it snugly or a little loosely- whichever hung best.   I also love the plaid lining! It feels like a taffeta.  Very pretty!

Thought you all might enjoy seeing pictures of my latest vintage find! Maybe if you’ve got a coat you’re in the process of making you can use some of the little details as inspiration.
Happy Thursday!

>A Fur Collar from a Vintage Fur Coat- Part II

>Continuing making a large collar from a recycled vintage fur coat.  This is part of my Vintage Pattern Lending Library coat project.

After sewing together my pelts in the last post to create pieces long enough (this is quite a long collar), I had to continue construction.  You can see the first part here.

After the pieces were put together individually it was time to sew them together.  I used size 4 stitches on my machine.  All references for using fur that I can find suggest hand stitching the pieces together but since my vintage fur was quite soft and supple I decided to use my sewing machine.  After the long outside seam was finished I picked out the fur from the seam using a needle, just as done for the first time.  Then, using scissors over the trash can I snipped all the long fur from the seam.
When using the interlining the original pattern called for flannel and then some sort of interlining.  The original vintage coat I repurposed for this project used felt.  I didn’t have either flannel or felt so used a lightweight hymo I had on hand from a previous project.  I sewed the outside seam and then zig zagged the seam allowance into place.  The original instructions said to cut the seam allowance from the edge of the flannel so I zig zagged 1/2″ from the edge (to keep my hymo from fraying) then clipped the allowance.  After this I flipped my hymo and ironed it flat, then matching edge to the center seam of the outside edge of the fur I basted the two together.  I forgot to take a picture so I had to undo some of my stitching so you could get a peek inside.  You can see the fur seam allowance opened and the hymo is basted right in the middle of that seam using long whip stitches.

After this I laid it flat which was quite a chore- the hymo wanted to disfigure.  If I were to do it again I would stick with wool felt like the original vintage coat had since it wouldn’t be as fussy to work with.  Using the fur piece as a guide was helpful when placing the hymo inside, and it was very difficult to get into the curve.  It’s not possible for it to line up correctly if you simply flip it inside out since the curve including the fur is so wide- it would make the hymo buckle when you flipped it back.  It was necessary to work on the inside of the piece, which was interesting.  The original instructions did not include this step, but I fumbled the idea together from previous tailoring I had done and looking at the original coat when I took it apart.  I used VERY large (and somewhat sloppy) padstitching to attach the two together.  If a coat was in the least bit dry I wouldn’t do this step since it would probably just make a bunch of little holes.

The next step, as per the original instructions, was adding a seam binding to the edge of the fur.  I then went all the way around the outside edge with a pin and pulled all the fur out of the seam.  You then catstich the seam binding to the hymo (or interlining).  Doing this makes a lot of sense to me, simply because if you want to have your coat cleaned you would be able to remove the fur collar.  I plan on basting my neckline together so I can do just that, then sandwiching the collar on top and basting it on for easy removal for cleaning.
The last step I did, which was not in the original instructions, was use a wide catstitch with cotton basting thread to baste the collar together near the center.  I have used this technique for coat facings and since I want this to be one and not  balloon out when it’s on the coat I thought this step might help keep the collar flat.  I would use a completely different method of collar construction if the collar was meant to roll at all (since the catstitch would prevent the collar from rolling and make a ridge), but since this one is meant to stand up I thought it would help.

Ta da! That part’s finished! Now on the cuff accents and this part is done. Yay!

**As mentioned in the last post, my apologies to ladies who are against vintage fur.  I know there’s a lot of debate on views of faux or vintage fur, and I respect everyone’s opinions, but it is my sincerest hope that this will not turn into a debate on the subject. If you want to express your views there is a long thread on the Fedora Lounge devoted to this subject.

>Piecing A Fur Collar from a Vintage Fur Coat

> I finally started cutting out my coat from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library coat I posted about a while back.

This coat is too divine and I’ve been putting off starting as I find I really have to be in the  mood for a large project.  I was perfectly in the mood last week but then you can’t imagine my disappointment when the vintage fur coat I had been holding onto for use on another project ended up being moldy inside.  Gross! No moldy fur on my new coat! So the fur idea was scrapped.  I toyed with simply making it from the same wool but I really want this coat to be dramatic.  Then I thought about removable fur, but thought it would be too much work.  I even went and looked at faux fur at the local fabric store and decided it looked TOO faux.  So I settled down into putting the project off until I found a decent fur substitute.
After church this last sunday my husband and I went to a few thrift stores to have a poke around and see if there was any goodies worth bringing home.  I found a killer 1950s skirt at one (will post pictures later), and he found me a fur coat in a “Halloween costume” rack at another.  I would have passed it by- the fur was all shreaded at the shoulders which usually means it’s too dry and stiff… but the rest of the coat ended up being very soft and supple.  I think it was probably just torn from bad storage!  In any case- the coat probably is from the early 60s and deserved a second chance rather than being thrown in the rubbish bin, so I picked it up and that night my husband and I went about picking it all apart and laying it out to fit the pieces on.

**I personally don’t have anything against vintage fur, but I admit the task made even me a little grossed out.  So if you’re a bit on the squirmish side or anti fur you might want to just pass this post on by, but for those of you who are thinking of refashioning a vintage fur piece it might be useful.**

Keep in mind I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing… I could be doing this all wrong, and my fur could end up splitting when I wear it, but heck- was worth a try.
This coat was cut with two pockets, so the slits happened to go right across where the big collar pieces needed to go.  Since my fur was still soft and supple I put my machine on the widest zig zag I have and zig zagged the piece together.  The pelts looked pieced in this way so I gave it a try.  I didn’t have enough to cut a second collar piece, so I also needed to do this with larger left over pieces.  I tried to pay attention to the direction of the fur and I think it worked.  After zig zagging I went back in to the outside and using a pin I carefully pulled the hair from the seam.  It worked pretty well- you can barely tell the join.  In retrospect I think I should have used a stabilizer underneath to have something extra for the stitches to grab hold of.

The zig zagged pelt when opened flat.  I will probably trim some of the hair from the back.

The pelts when opened flat from the outside, after you pull the hair through the seam with a pin.  You can barely see the join.

 The big pieces all together.  I don’t know what kind of fur this is- does anyone know?

Apologies to ladies who are against vintage fur.  I know there’s a lot of debate on views of faux or vintage fur, and I respect everyone’s opinions, but it is my sincerest hope that this will not turn into a debate on the subject. If you want to express your views there is a long thread on the Fedora Lounge devoted to the subject.

>Fox Fur Collar Coat, Circa 1936, and Coat Musings


 Another image from Fall/Winter 1936-1937.  Click to enlarge.

Today was my first real day venturing out since getting sick this week, and unfortunately I didn’t hold out long, but sitting at home allowed me to take out all my coat info and books and instructions to prepare my plan of attack for my upcoming coat project, the 1930s overcoat from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library that I posted about a few days ago.  I’ve got a lovely black wool and an old persian lamb coat I plan to use as accents as well as some lovely vintage buttons.  I pulled out my hymo, fabrics, and started researching how exactly I’m going to put this thing together.  I admit I’m a bit overwhelmed.  I’ve made a few tailored coats and jackets- some I worked on with help when I was working at the Opera, one with a friend, a few for myself, and one for my husband… but I still feel a tailoring novice.  It seems like the sort of thing one could work at their entire life and not fully master- plus it’s such a lost art I really want to fight to learn it while there’s still folks who do it the old fashioned way.
Since the cut of this overcoat is so much different than the others I’ve done, after a lot of thought and pouring over some books I’ve decided to scrap my tailoring books and pretty much follow the vintage instructions- which I’m still feeling pretty uneasy about.  One of the things I really admire about tailoring is how crisp and finished the edges look- what with the lovely way the hymo holds the shape, and the pad stitching, layering the interfacing a the shoulders, and roll line and pockets and whatnot- but my coat doesn’t have a fold over collar, lapels, or outside pockets… and it’s not cut all in one at the front, so I’m really left scratching my head over how exactly I can re-enforce the front without it being too bulky.  I guess I’m just waving the white flag on this one and doing it the original way set out in the instructions, which is to cut the interlining on the same line as the facing.  I’m nearly sure there’s a “tailored” way to do this that I’m completely unaware of.  I kind of feel like I’m cheating, actually, but I’m just going to go with it, cross my fingers, and hopefully it will all end up all right in the end!  Most vintage patterns, and modern patterns for that matter, include little to no help with old fashioned tailoring, but this one actually does include quite a bit more than I expected so I’m interested to see how it turns out.  It does look pretty darn complicated though… and it will be interesting trying to work with the vintage fur, though the thought of it already is giving me the heebie-jeebies ;)
Sorry the shop has been a bit neglected of new goodies. Early next week I’m hoping to have some cute vintage things and a Halloween inspired something-or-other.  I’ll be sure to post on here as soon as they go up.

>The Answers to the Coat Question- The Polo Coat, 1934

>I know I’ve been tempting with beachwear lately, but today is a gloomy and rainy day, so even I’m having a hard time fantasizing about terrycloth beach pajamas right now!
What I’m craving today is this smashing Polo Coat.  I wish one would just magically appear in a light tan mohair…

click on the image for a hi res version
Apparently this was quite the style for 1934, as a quick google search showed me the results of a fabulous McCall pattern posted by a lady on the Threads website.  And another pattern added to the “someday” wish list.
click on the image for a hi res version
Also found is a little snippet from this article from the Fort Scott Tribune, 1987 
“Originating in England as a casual coat worn by polo players between periods of play, the polo coat was adopted by fashion leaders in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s when polo playing became popular here and international matches were held at Westbury, L.I.
The real heyday began when college boys went all-out for the style and it became a campus hit.”
And now that they mention it, I do remember seeing coats just like the ones pictured above in collegiate films of the mid 1930s.
Somewhat unrelated, but my search also turned up an AMAZING coat owned by the Duke of Windsor, circa 1934, on The London Lounge.  Even if you aren’t a menswear lover, you have to admire the beauty of this navy blue coat with an Astrakhan collar.  Alright, so not a polo coat, but a darn beautiful coat nonethless and from the same year.