Modernless March

Day One of #modernlessmarch hosted by @pinsent_tailoring is: “What am I?”
I’ve been an Artist all my life, after I retired from being LA City Calligrapher, we jumped into Lily Absinthe full time. Our time is divided between our Woodland Hills house and our Victorian house in Tombstone, Arizona…and always with Angus and Fiona, our two fur peeps. Bringing old things to life is how I approach projects, old houses, old lace, old hats, old gowns, old sewing machines…they all need some love and a little magic. 🙂



At The Atelier- Design Creation, Part 5

In out last post, we completed construction on the canvases for the two front pieces of the Eton jacket and now it’s time to move on to completing the rest of it. 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 let’s move on…🙂

Turning to the sleeves, we note that these sleeves have near-90 degree elbow bends and curves which present some challenges for sewing. We found the most practical method to be to first sew and finish the inside seams first. Next, the outer seams are sewn up. We must emphasize that these require a high degree of clipping along the seam allowances and ironing in order to maintain smooth lines and preserve the shape. It’s a definitely more complicated than conventional straight sleeves.

And now, time to put together the lining:

We  decided  to use a moiré for the lining…

Above is the assembled back and side pieces…then the two fronts which combine the lining and facing fabrics:

And finally, assembling the outer layer:

And here’s the lining all assembled:

And finally the outer body:

We’re happy to say that all the pattern pieces fit together very nicely and only a minimum of adjustments were needed. It’s hanging very nicely on the mannequin and we look forward to finally putting the main body together. 🙂

(To be continued…)

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…)

And Today’s Theme Is Lace

“Lace” is the theme for #VictorianFebruary…restoring and using antique lace is one of my favorite things. Lace has the ability to transform or overwhelm, it has to be carefully used as part of the gown’s design and not an afterthought. I’d wear lace every day if I could, wouldn’t you? 🙂