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Wicked Lady

katexxxxxx in dressdiaries

White Tie Tales...

There really wasn't time to do a full report in progress on this one...  Deadlines were rather tight.,  We did what we could...

fractalgeek wanted a tailcoat for the Lullaby on Broadway game weekend.  He couldn't find anything quite as theatrical as he wanted that fitted properly...  There was JUST time to make it.

Measurements were taken and fabrics chosen: the outside body of the coat was to be Abimilech Hainsworth's finest black Dress Barathea, the revers of the collar in a very splendid wool satin left over from my 18th C project for Masqueraders, and the lining a nice black cupro taffeta.  Sleeve linings are the traditional white, in a silk/rayon mix twill lining.  This was also chosen for the waistcoat, with a front made in a splendiferous twill weave raw silk suiting: a complex, textured and interesting piece I bought some years back.

The Barathea:


We started by drafting a pattern for the coat, and sizing up a weskit pattern we had on hand, and making toiles.  The coat was a bit too big!  So we trimmed it down and refitted it, and that was MUCH better.  In doing this we determined that the gent in question, who is Large LARPER size (being tall and of a cuddly figure), has, for his height, quite narrow shoulders and they slope.  One slopes more than the other.  Well, he also plays golf!  To even him up a a bit we put one large and one medium shoulder pad in one side of the coat, and one large and one small in the other.  He ended up with good square shoulders!  But take this into account when seeing the coat on the stand.  Fred the tailor's dummy has very square and manly shoulders for a gent of his delicate stature, and when dialed out to his largest, his shoulders are rather more prop forward than our dear customer!  The coat does not hang as neatly on Fred as it does on fractalgeek...

Once the fitting issues were sorted and the pattern altered to reflect this, I could go ahead and cut out the coat.  This first entailed drafting off pattern pieces for the canvas: a chest piece covering most of the front of the body of the coat, shoulder piece, and a weight for the reveres, plus collar pieces...  There were cut in fusible canvas.  This coat needed to be speed tailored, so we used the finest quality fusible canvas, lots of steam, and some carefully scalded fingers!


After cutting came fusing.  The slot in the shoulder piece is for the breast pocket. 


The triangular bit on the point of the lapel is the weight.  This little extra bit helps the wide lapels to lie flat rather than bouncing and flopping in an unseemly manner.  Taping the roll line stops it gaping.

The pocket welt on the outside:


There was also a rather less interesting inside breast pocket...  That goes through the lining and the lapel/facing.  I made both pockets as large as I dared.

Next the coat was assembled and the collar applied.


One of the lovely things about working with wool is the way you can press structural ease away into invisibillity.  You get all the space needed without ripples!

Once the main assembly was done, we could get busy on the detaols...  One of these was the collar:


While sitting sewing the collar in I had supervision...

It's all finishing from here.  Cuff and buttons and masses of pressing, and getting the tails to hang properly...


TRhe buttons are a lovely corded silk.  We found them at The Lining Company.  They are Really Useful People, who have lots of lovely linings, hair canvas,and other tailoring supplies.

By this point the coat and waistcoat were about done!

  This looks darker than it was...  There were two daylight lamps up!  

  Here the raven is waxing and pressing silk thread!  This makes it smoother and stronger and less liable to tangle as you sew.  See the great lengths we go to?  ;)


Division of labour on this project was interesting.  ravenrigan did the bulk of the initial drafting of the block and the coat pattern, and scaled up the waistcoat pattern.  She also cut and assembled most of the toiles for both coat and waistcoat, and cut, fused, and assembled most of the waistcoat.  I drafted off the internal structure patterns once the coat pattern was finally adjusted.  We seemed to share the pattern adjustments and most of the fitting.  Because of the timing fairy fail, I ended up cutting the coat and lining, doing the fusing, making the pockets in both coat and waistcoat, and assembling the body of the coat.  ravenrigan assembled the majority of the lining and did the very splendid buttonholes in the waistcoat by hand, covered the waistcoat buttons, and did all the hand finishing on that.  I did the pockets and made up the strips for the straps!  I put the collar on the coat and put the lining in, she put the sleeves in, finished the cuffs, and put the sleeve linings in.  She also put the buttons on.  Looking at the time sheets, we seem to have spent equal amounts of time on it over all.

Ok there it is.  We drove up to London to deliver it, and stopped off at Applegate Farm shop to get eggs and sausages.  There were new piglets in the orchard.  So rather than another cat pic, we finish off with piglets from what ravenrigan refers to as The Happy Piggy Farm Shop!


What a beautiful tailcoat and waistcoat combo. I love the detail shots, especially the handsewing (why I love that so much, I have no idea, but there's just something wonderful about a beautiful bit of hand finishing, whether it's on the inside or the outside).

Beautiful kitty too ;) And awww, it's so nice to see outdoor raised happy pigs.
Thank you. We had quite a bit of supervision from Mr Kitty. Miss Kitty was also there...

Waxing and pressing the silk thread for the hand finishing makes a remarkable difference to the ease of use, I must say.

And I am here to say the Happy Piggies taste excellent! We had gammon and pork form there for Christmas.
I bet the kitties were helpful, although in a very different way to waxing the thread.

Mmmm, good pork is always a joy.
Beautiful work.

Any hints on how to get those welt pockets to lay right?
Thank you.

Lots of practice on the pockets! I once did 50 in one week. After that they hold no horrors for me...

You HAVE to snip right to the corners, and for sewing the welts up the sides in thicker fabrics like this, you need to sew into the bottom layer of cloth on the welt. And press! FIRMLY!
Amazing work as always!! Fusible canvas and pressing and waxing thread...I have new tools. Just curious, do you press it first or visa versa?
Thank you.

Wax the thread, preferably with beeswax, and then press. The wax sinks into the thread, strengthening it and smoothing it. You get far fewer tangles and a smoother pull through of the thread.

For the fusible canvas: it takes a bit more effort than boring Vilene, but also sticks far better. It tends not to shrink like Vilene/Pelon can, so you don't get the puckered and bubbly look you get with them.
Gorgeous tailoring, I can't wait to try my own hand at that kind of work soon. Lovely work as always, I'd missed your presence here.
I've been here... Just busy!

And thank you. It's been fun working on this with ravenrigan.
Wow, that is gorgeous. Tailoring gives me the fear!
It's cloth, with no brain cells... What's to be scared of? ;)

And thank you. It was a good project collaboration. :)