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.
It’s ours this time! Getting ready for holiday shows means making ornaments. By crocheting with cotton thread, I made a traditional white snowflake, then another one with silver beads, and then a black pinwheel. Here you see me starching them, and after they dry they will be ready to hang.
I also made some Christmas cards, using stamps, markers, and whatever else is on hand. Cards are an easy project to do with kids or with a craft group.
Recently crocheted a custom skull cap for this gentleman. He asked for cashmere in fall colors, and was very happy with the way his hat turned out. This was my first time working in bulky yarn.
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.
Most design houses have a fall collection, but here at Fitting and Proper we also like to pay extra attention to that most important event which livens up the beginning of fall. So here are some creations for the Halloween season! Spooky earrings, with skulls and black crochet.
Clip made of a silver bat on a bed of cotton lace. The lace is a scrap leftover from a friend’s project; another example of zero waste sewing.
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