In Progress…

DDay 24 of #VictorianFebruary is: “In Progress”…and this pretty little wool and silk dress is on my work table being photographed and patterned. She’s not haute couture, but her hand sewn details tell stories of a life in which she was well worn. I’ll make a sample soon with the draft, these classic lines are SO 1879-1890. 🙂






At The Atelier- Design Creation, Part 4

In out last post, we started construction on the canvases for the two front pieces of the Eton jacket as well as provide some patterning and construction details on the collar. As noted previously, this jacket pattern is one that we drafted utilizing a pattern drafting system developed by Charles Hecklinger in The Keystone Jacket and Dress Cutter. So now we move a bit away from patterning and into the realm of tailoring- or at least “tailoring light.” Full disclosure here- we’re not trained tailors and a lot of this is new territory for us so there will be mistakes but that’s all part of the learning process. So let’s take a look…🙂

One of the most time-consuming and pain-staking parts of jacket construction is pad stitching the canvas around the lapels.  Essentially, pad stitching is used in conjunction with an interfacing, typically some sort of hair cloth, and the whole idea is to provide a shaped/formed base that will give the lapels some stiffness and definition; if you take a look at any well-tailored suit coat and you’ll notice that the lapels almost have a life on their own, maintaining their shape while giving definition to the jacket as it’s being worn.

The first step is to cut out the two pieces, basically covering the lapel area but making sure to cut away the seam allowance- to reduce bulk and make for clean edges, you don’t want to get the interfacing caught in the seams. These are pinned in. And next, on to pad stitching:

Pad stitching is meant as a way to bind the interfacing to the underlying canvas as well as the fashion fabric with a series of very small (in theory) stitches as a means of shaping and forming the lapels so that they roll smoothly and keep their form. The stitches are supposed to be almost unnoticeable on the fashion fabric side (but mistakes do happen, especially when dealing with a non-wool fashion fabric). Since the pad-stitched fashion fabric is going to not be visible, any flaws in the stitching are hidden. Below is a depiction of how the lapel will look from the front:

Not the most even pad stitching by any means…

Pad stitching can be tricky in gauging the stitches. Technically, at least according to most manuals we’ve come across, they should be about 1/2″ while ones closer to the edges should be 1/4″. To be sure, one can actually trace 1/2″ and 1/4″ grids with a ruler and chalk but we opted to not do this because of the irregular shape of the lapels (and it can be a real pain, especially towards the edges). Finally, once the pad stitching is complete, the perimeter of each lapel is outlined with tailor’s tape which is attached with a catch stitch. This will further give the lapels definition and a maintain a firm shape.

(To be continued…)

Going Out- Opera Capes

Going to the opera, or any formal occasion, required the right outerwear and especially in colder weather. Outerwear during the late 19th Century could range from short capelets all the day to full-on coats and naturally, each couturier had ideas on outerwear styles. Here’s just one style, in this case a circa 1890 opera case that was made by Jacques Doucet:

Doucet, Opera Cape, c. 1890; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1995.177.2)

This cape is constructed from a gold silk floral patterned brocade and trimmed along the collar and shoulders with fur. The capelet and lining appear to be be a yellow/gold silk, probably a satin but it’s hard to tell from the picture- unfortunately, there are no further details on the construction or materials used.

Now, although couturiers often convinced their clients that garments were custom designs made just for them, this wasn’t always the case as with this second opera cape that was also made by Doucet about the same time:

Doucet, Opera Case, c. 1900s; Whitaker Auctions

Unfortunately, no other photos are available but it’s safe to say that it appears to have been constructed of a copper and black silk brocade with a floral paisley-like pattern motif. The collar and shoulders are also trimmed in fur and the top capelet is in a gray/lavender silk satin- it’s probably the same as the lining if the first example is any guide. The above two capes are an interesting style and definitely worthy of reconstruction. 🙂

And Today We’re Gothic…

Today’s theme for #VictorianFebruary is: “Gothic” and the cemetery just outside of Tombstone is Old West Gothic with windy vistas and hosts many important locals, the perfect reason to get out my bog oak jewelry and go for a visit.

At The Atelier- Design Creation, Part 3

In out last post, we detailed constructing the basic toille of the Eton jacket pattern that we drafted utilizing a pattern drafting system developed by Charles Hecklinger in The Keystone Jacket and Dress Cutter. Before we move on, just for some added detail, here’s the front pattern piece with some annotated details:

The one thing we want to note here is that as you can see from the multiple darts on the above pattern piece, the dart(s) have migrated quite a bit. Originally, per Hecklinger, there was one very large dart. Because of the size, we decided to break it into two smaller darts but that proved to be impractical from a construction perspective (there’s theory and there’s practice). So, we opted for the single dart BUT with half the width that was originally calculated using Hecklinger’s formula. Also, we opted for a straight dart rather than curves. Please note that part of the “take up” that the dart is meant to do is also accomplished by  the side seams which have been curved. This seems to have given satisfactory results and worked well on our fit model.

Next, as previously noted, I was not happy with the first collar pattern piece (Collar Version #1) that I drafted and it just didn’t work well on the toille so I drafted a second one (Collar Version #2) as shown below:

By moving the front edge back, it doesn’t interfere with the lapel edge:

Finally, before we move on, we just want to reiterate that while Hecklinger provides fairly comprehensive details, you really have to parse some of his instructions because they ambiguous on first reading. Also, for the collar, I had to “fill in the blanks” with basic pattern drafting knowledge that’s not readily apparent in the book- this isn’t a complete cookbook for tailoring by any means but pre-supposes a lot of knowledge on specific details. You have been warned! 🙂

So now onto the next phase….

Aas part of the development process, we decided to treat to treat this as a semi-  tailored jacket and as such, we decided to utilize a canvas combined with hair-cloth interlining on the lapels. The “canvas” that we utilized is actually medium-weight cotton muslin, the same fabric we use for toiles and it’s stitched to the fashion fabric with a basting stitch:

Below is a picture of the canvas fully stitched onto the fashion fabric and the roll line has been taped. The next phase will be to apply hair canvas to each lapel and then pad stitch it down.

(To be continued…)