Category Archives: tailoring

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.

 

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>A New to Me 1930s Coat

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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

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 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.

>More Progress on the Regency Tailcoat

>Two steps forward, one step back- but at least I finally have the sleeves set! I did add a little padding to the sleeve cap to give it volume, but after seeing it on the form I think I’ll take it out.  I’m pretty happy with it, even though it’s being a complete bear!  Mostly lining to finish now plus buttons and buttonholes.  Our event is two weeks from tomorrow and I still don’t have his vest finished or a gown for myself!

>Regency Tailcoat

>After spending most of the day yesterday neglecting my duties around here and spending hours and hours handsewing, I’ve got the front of the jacket together!  The body is basted so my husband can try it on and we can make sure it still fits well before I start with the lining and such, but we’ll see how it goes! Crossing fingers…
I’m already really pleased I added 1″ seam allowances on this thing.  This is NOT something I will want to revisit soon. For prior posts on the project see here, here, and here

I have spend an absolutely ridiculous amount of time on this so far.  I was nearly going cross-eyed yesterday! If anyone has the gall at the event to “critique” it, they’ll get a good punch in the nose.  Ok, maybe not- but definitely a cold shoulder a la Elizabeth Bennet.  I drafted up these patterns from The Cut of Mens Clothes and made three muslins to get it to the finished pattern.  My husband and I spent hours scouring the internet and books for coat lengths and found they were pretty much all over the place- so we’re leaving it to the wearers discretion.  This coat dates to the 1820s- and though I miss the wide revers like on earlier coats, Matt prefered the more tailored look to that of the Incroyables.  Maybe, some year, when I’m not sick to death of making a coat I’ll make him a 1790s ridiculous outfit.  I heart 1790s fashion- it was so bizarre.  Look at the fashion plates here by date.
I realized while I was working on this yesterday that I don’ have very good pictures, or pictures of every one of my Regency costumes up on my website.  I really should remedy that soon- my poor website has been so neglected this year.

In other news- the Etsy store has been updated this week with some fun goodies.  There’s a couple more vintage dresses and a few more patterns up! Yippee!

I want to put the word out for the new Etsy store that a wonderful friend just opened- Top Tottie Vintage.  She has some absolutely beautiful things and they just seem to be flying out of the door!  I already bit the lure and purchased this knitting magazine from her this morning- and quickly, since a few other things I loved of hers sold very quickly.  Take a peek! She’s got some glorious McCall patterns up. 
I didn’t get compensated for this mention in any way.  Apparently the goverment now requests that you disclose if you do get compensated for posts, and unless I mention it in the future all reccomendations here are just because I feel like it and I’m getting nothing monetary for their mention.  Silly new rules.

>Sewing, sewing, sewing!

>First off, thank you all SO much for your super sweet comments on my Queens of Vintage nomination! Hooray!  You are all so very sweet, and I was very blessed by your encouraging comments :)

I’ve had a few sewing projects up my sleeve! After a while of not having an excuse to make something silly, nonsensical, or on a whim, I whipped up two quick projects in the last few days.

After finding some awesome dresses for the Etsy store, I realized I needed a light colored petticoat to photograph them with- my bright orange or black and polka dot skirt just wouldn’t cut it, so I whipped up this little off white petticoat in an evening using fabric and lace I had in the Stash of Doom.

I used Simplicity 3813, which I actually have up in my etsy store right now.  I didn’t follow the guide for the ruffles, however, and just made mine up out of straight lengths of tulle edged in a narrow lace.

Last night’s project was a fun wrap dress made from McCall 3514, from 1955.  I actually bought this pattern especially for the fabric.  The print is called “Housework Whenever” from In the Beginning Fabrics.  When it arrived my husband actually asked if I designed it! Hehe- guess it’s very “me”.  It’s printed all over with vintage gals like shown in old ads with funny sayings like “A clean house is a sign of a broken sewing machine” and “When I learned how to sew I forgot how to cook”. So fun!  For trim I have another fabric from that collection that I cut into bias strips and used for the pockets. The ties are trimmed in a twill tape printed to look like a tape measure that I picked up at a local quilting store, Fat Quarters.

I purchased this pattern from KallieDesigns on Etsy, and it has since become one of my favorites!

And finally, the project that never ends.  I put this down for a while because of Christmas prep, but I’ve been slowly ticking away at Matt’s Regency tailcoat.  The inside fronts are almost finished- which is good, cause I’ve got less than a month until the event and still don’t even have a ballgown for myself!

Guess that’s it here! Hope everyone’s having a lovely week so far!

>Regency Tailcoat Progress

>I’ve been working away at the costume I posted about previously that I’m making my husband for the Jane Austen Evening event.  Oh dear! Men’s costume is such a funny step away from women’s costuming.  Generally I know what to do to fix problems, and with a little creative problem solving I have finally tamed the wild tailcoat pattern!  I am using patterns from The Cut of Mens Clothes book and they have taken quite a bit of tweaking to get them to their current state! The vest took two muslins, which I was expecting, and in the end I pretty much ended up draping the front the way I wanted it and made it single breasted instead of the double breasted 1790s vest with lapels like it was originally.  I have saved the other pattern, though, in case we ever want to do another impression!  The coat had three muslins and I finally have it tamable and it’s all ready to go! Just a few more minor adjustments and it will be as good as it will get.
It seems with this project it’s two steps forward and one step back.  First we order fabric, then we remember something else and order that fabric, then that fabric’s not right and I need to order more fabric.  Goodness!  The materials alone for his ensemble are about to the cost of a silk gown for myself!  But the good consolation- I am adding additional seam allowances so that this coat can get some life. For every Regency event we go to I hope this coat can make an appearance, and I hope it comes out looking good enough to show up every time.  For everyone complaining about the cost of custom sewing- let me tell you- I would never ever make one custom.  I would say we’re already a good 12 hours into this project and the fabric hasn’t even been cut!
My husband is thrilled with it so far, and his excitement is contagious, I admit! I really love seeing his face light up- and he loves that I’m taking the time to make something especially for him!
No real pictures of this, but I’ll leave with a close up of the M collar.  Hopefully I’ll have some progress pics soon! I’ll be padstitching my little heart out soon enough and that will give something to show :)