I am presently working on a series of custom shirts, for a man who, like many people, is not an “off the rack” size.
I have made him shirts that fit his girth without being large in the shoulder like his store-bought shirts. He is very happy with them. Here is the shirt being cut out, and you can see how I altered the pattern to gracefully cover the belly:
Happy New Year! My first completed project of 2018 was this warm, loose dress. It is made from vintage fabric of an unusual type: it is a waffle weave thermal (like “long johns” undergarments) but out of silk fiber. So it is drapey and a bit stretchy, ready to accommodate another layer worn underneath it (or perhaps several, as the weather demands).
Of course it has pockets. You also see here a cowl I knitted to fill in the neckline.
I would call this dress a size 18, but it is not a “standard” size; the pattern is one I drafted for this woman’s body type. If I made this dress for you, I could adjust the garment to best flatter your size and shape, whatever that may be.
Another beautiful outfit is finished. This suit is charcoal grey wool.
The trousers are high waisted, designed to go across his belly button. While they are closely fitted, there is still room for his back brace.
I based the waistcoat on photos dated 1863, and it shows off his slim physique.
Here is the back of the coat, showing the long straight lines and lack of waist seam. While I could have deduced the shape from period photos, I was glad to find this pattern drawn in one of my books: The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh.
Photos of the construction process for this project can be seen in the adjacent post.
I was recently commissioned to build a gentleman’s suit circa 1861. In my usual bespoke fashion, I measured the actor and drafted the pattern by hand to fit him. The construction process was long and detailed, but here are some glimpses to give you an idea.
Cutting out a sleeve, by tracing around my pattern pieces
Hair canvas I pad stitched into the chest front. The reinforced area is often as wide as it is tall, but this particular gentleman is quite thin.
Placing the welt, to begin making a pocket
Setting the sleeve. The loosely woven wool I was provided with frayed easily, requiring extra caution during most steps of construction.
Pressing the trouser hem on a roll. The hem has a gentle curve to it, so the trouser leg is longer in back than in front, as often seen in Victorian pants.
Pressing the coat collar over a ham. Traditional tailoring brings out many pressing tools that a non-sewist may never have heard of.
More of the 2017 Halloween collection. This cotton hat in a ghost print is sized for a school-aged child.
A skirt of silver spiderwebs, and a pumpkin orange scarf (hand knitted of alpaca yarn). You’ll also recognize the bat clip from the previous post.
To make your costume the right shape requires some structure, usually on the inside. This is a crinoline, a petticoat made with several tiers of stiff ruffles so it holds your skirt out. I made this one with a base layer of twilled cotton, so it will be comfortable and give some “swish” as you walk. I have used the same cotton for the large ruffles in previous crinolines, but used nylon netting for this one so it can be lighter weight. I designed this crinoline so that it gives the skirt the shape of the 1840s.
To compare how foundation garments shape the costume, see my previous post where I had this same skirt over a hooped petticoat.
The finished corset is curvy and supple. It is all cotton so it breathes well. My lovely model lost some weight since the corset was made (kudos to her) so it is a tad loose, but you still see how it hugs the right places and supports the right places.
This last photo is a good example of how a corset should fit. Rather than squashing the bust, the corset should lift and support it. When drafting corset patterns for women above a D cup, I create a different shape of gusset, and different boning placement, than I do for a petite bust.
The making of this corset was illustrated here: Part 1, Part 2