Tag 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.



Sophie Jacket How-To: Assembling the Upper Collar

In this post we’re going to focus on the upper portion of the collar, which is probably the most complicated of the whole jacket pattern.  After you have this down, you’re home free!

If you missed the first post, on pad-stitching and hymo, you can find it here.


Assemble all the collar pieces together, matching the notches.  Don’t catch the hymo!  And stop at the dots, leaving the top edge free.  Press these seams open.


This is what it looks like from the back side.  My basting is still in, as you can see.

collar4 Assemble the collar facing in the same way, leaving free above the dots.  You can see here that I had thread marked where to stop my stitching at the top pieces, and also the placement for the hooks and eyes.  It’s a good idea to do this on yours, too.

NOW, the tricky part.  I didn’t take as many photos as I should have of this process, so if you need help, please comment and I will make a mock up of the collar as I am able, to walk you through it further.

Put your collars right side together.  The collar with the hymo, and the collar facing.  The hymo should be facing you.  Match all your little dots at the top of where each piece joined, where you stopped your stitching.


Start at the front, and stitch the collar and collar facing together, all the way around to the top dot, where you stopped your join between the collar pieces.  All seam allowance should be pushed AWAY, from this seam, so you can get in there without any bulk.  Notice my finger is holding it away from this piece, so you can see what I mean.  Back stitch.

Now you’re going to do the same, around the top of the next piece.  Push the seam allowance toward where you just stitched, so you only have two layers to go through, do the curve from that dot, to the next dot, making sure that seam allowance is pushed away also.  You continue in the same way, all around the top of the collar, making sure that you aren’t catching any extra seam allowance, because that creates extra bulk and won’t make our scallops so nice and flat.


In the end, your piece should look something like this.  Notice my seam allowance between all the collar pieces are free, just the top edges are sewn together.


Now, clip, clip clip, and grade, grade, grade those seams!  You don’t want ANY bulk.  Of course, be careful not to get into the seam allowance, or to get too close so that it will fray, but you’ll need to clip pretty close to get those sharp little points of where the collar pieces join.


Now, flip the collar right side out.  If you need to go back in and trim more, you should know because it will either be too bulky, or it will have pull lines at the seam joins.  This is what your collar should look like, after you iron it.  Some of your little stress lines MAY steam out, but not the big ones, so make sure you clip well!  If you have a “clapper” to press with, it’s a good idea to use it now.  Use lots of steam!  Wool likes steam.


You may want to do your top-stitching now.  The topstitching gives the collar even MORE body, so you’ve got extra support with hymo, pad stitching, and top stitching!  There’s pros and cons to doing it now, vs doing it after the jacket’s done.  I actually had trouble matching my stitch lines once I added topstitching to the front of the jacket, so I may try topstitching last next time.


And here I got lazy!  I should have drawn my lines, but instead I just went a sewing machine foot’s width between stitches.  Some got kind of wonky.  Whoops?  But you really can’t tell if you see the finished garment anyway (and if anyone gets close enough to tell, they’re kicking distance ;)  )

That’s it for this time!  See, that wasn’t so bad, right?  That’s the worst part!  If you’ve got the collar down, you’re golden on the rest of the project!

Tailoring How-To: The Pad Stitch & Prepping Collar Pieces

Hello there!

Smart gal that I was, I took photos of my process as I sewed up my sample of the Sophie Jacket last year!  My plan was to show you photos of the more advanced techniques you can use as you construct this jacket.  Of course, these can all be simplified, or omitted, if you want a simpler jacket.

The collar is the most difficult part of the Sophie jacket, so instead of starting at the beginning, I’m going to start at this part.

To Fuse or Not to Fuse, That is the Question

There are TWO different ways to do the collar.  My sample was pad-stitched.  Pad stitching is used to hold the hair canvas to the fabric. It’s sort of like quilting, from the reverse side, and then the stitches are covered up.  When the stitches are covering a piece of fabric, the fabric has more stiffness and body to it.  Pad stitching is a quite old technique, and most often seen in men’s clothing.  Modern tailors often omit this, and go for fusible interfacings (which you can also do, if you chose), but tailoring, especially in periods like the 1890’s, when things were “man-tailored”, can help you obtain a really sharp period look.  If you’re looking for a quicker way to assemble this, stick with a heavy fusible interfacing.  You really want the body.  You can also buy fusible hair canvas, which may be better for this project than store bought regular fusible interfacings.

Prepping the Collar Pieces

Cut your collar pieces from the fashion fabric.

Cut your hymo (hair canvas) from the same pattern pieces.

Using a clear ruler, measure and mark 1/2″ from the edge all around the sides and tops of the pieces.  Cut off this 1/2″, so you don’t have the excess bulk in your seams.  I actually cut a hair more than 1/2″, because you don’t want your stitching when you assemble the collar to catch ANY of the hymo, but be right next to it. On the front collar, this edge would be taped, but I did not tape this edge for the stand up collar.

DO NOT cut the hymo from the bottom edge, where the collar is sewn to the jacket. You need the hymo there for support.

Baste the hymo to your jacket fabric like this:


I use a nice Japanese cotton basting thread.  It feels so nice!  I’d rather use thread I like, when I have a bunch of handwork to do, than thread I don’t like the texture of.

Now you can either pad stitch these for more body, or set them aside to be assembled if you’re not worried about the collar stiffness.  On my sample, I pad stitched all the collar pieces.

The Pad Stitch

You will need-

-nice, sharp hand sewing needles

-waxed tailoring thread OR thread and wax (you wax, then iron the thread between a cloth so it doesn’t get on your iron, and the iron melts it nice and smooth)

-hair canvas and your project

The idea of pad stitching is to go through the hair canvas, catch a thread or two of the jacket fabric, and then come back up.  This is done in a single motion- you will work on the wrong side of the piece, and not bother putting your needle all the way through, pulling it, then putting the needle back in, and pulling it back to where you started.  That’s too time consuming.  One easy motion- in, grab a thread or two, out- I rock it back and forth on my finger, to make it easier, but my finger does get a lot of pin pricks in it by the time I’m done with a big collar or a lot of pieces.  People tell me that’s what thimbles are for, but I’d rather just poke myself.


Here you can see, in and out with a single motion.  The way it curves over my hand is GOOD.  This curve will help you get a nice roll to your collar. If you lat it flat, it won’t roll away as nicely.  This picture is sideways and I’m too lazy to fix it, but you can see it.  You go all in a row, up the piece, so it forms a little diagonal line.  Here I follow the tape at the roll line of the collar.


And then back down the other side, so you get neat little “V”s.


When you’re all done you get a neat look like this. It’s almost a shame to cover it up after all your hard work!  This is the larger part of the fold back collar.


Here you can see one of the collar pieces all done and ready for assembly!  Notice I didn’t pad stitch all the way into the seam allowance at where the collar attaches to the jacket body.  Since some of this might need to get trimmed away, I didn’t want to have to cut away my stitching!

OR you could just fuse it and call it a day.  But fusible will never have the final effect of hand tailoring.  Both have their pros and cons.

That’s it for this time!

Next time I will show you how to assemble these little collar pieces to make the upper collar that goes around your neck.

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.