Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The 24-hour Suit

Okay, it's not a complete suit, and I didn't sew for 24 hours (I took five hours to sleep), but I did manage to mostly make the majority of a new 18thC suit for my fella.

I had good intentions for the event - I was going to finish up the embroidered waistcoat and make a quick new coat and breeches to go with it. But as the event drew closer it became clear that I wasn't going to have enough time to properly finish the embroidery and hand-sew the waistcoat like I wanted.

It was time for Plan B. I went to the fabric store the day before the event and found a suitable fabric for the waistcoat - a cream drapery fabric with a diamond pattern and small burgundy flowers. Since the coat and breeches were going to be burgundy, as well, it seemed meant to be! It was $35/yard, so I picked up half a yard and used my biggest available coupon to drive it down to an $8 purchase. Huzzah!

I cut the two front panels of the waistcoat from the drapery fabric and used a gold taffeta for the back panels. Because of poor planning on my part, I ended up having to piece the shoulder of one of the panels. Doh! Thankfully, it doesn't show when he has his coat on. I also decided to try and fancy up the waistcoat a bit by making some fabric-covered buttons with the little burgundy flowers on them. I cut out the little pattern on the back of the box for the button kit and then traced around one of the buttons to give myself a little window so I could center the flower in the middle of the button. It worked pretty well, though my button assembling skills still leave something to be desired, and I ended up with a lot of off-center flowers. Thankfully, I only needed 8 buttons, so I had the luxury of picking out the best ones and leaving the rest as backup in case I need to replace any in the future.

The waistcoat went together really easily, but making the buttons and piecing the shoulder took more time than I had anticipated, and I need to get onto making the coat and breeches. The coat was the priority, so I did that first. I used the Butterick colonial pattern again, the same one I'd used for his wool coat last fall, except this time I didn't make any adjustments, I just used it as it was made. I ended up really like the result, and it's great for a straightforward 1780s or 1790s impression. The coat isn't lined, so there is some pretty obvious machine stitching on the hem and sleeves, but overall it looks really nice. The duchess satin I was using really liked cooperating, too, so everything went super smoothly.

Too smoothly. I was getting suspicious. Nothing had gone horribly wrong, nothing had needed a great amount of fixing. Something was bound to go sideways.

Turns out, it was my time management skills. I had left the sleeves to my own gown to the last minute, and it turned out they needed a ton of piecing and extra trim to make them wearable and presentable to the world, so it cut into my time to work on the suit significantly. I had to settle with just sewing on the waistcoat buttons and pinning the front closed since I didn't have time to make buttonholes, and I didn't have enough time to do anything more than glance at the breeches. I had cut them out, but now they sit in my project basket to be assembled another day. Oh, well. He ended up wearing a pair of khaki pants with his coat and waistcoat, and they looked somewhat like buckskin trousers with the rest of the ensemble, so it all worked out. Someday, though, I will have an entire suit for him. (And shoes so he's not wearing Sperrys with his court suit!)

Also, ignore the funky neckline in the photo to the right, it just isn't sitting right on the mannequin. I promise, it's not off kilter in real life.

I'm toying with the idea of making a new coat entirely and leaving this one as a backup, but there really isn't anything horribly wrong with it. It really just needs the cuffs redone and the hem attached by hand rather than by machine. I neglected to add the pocket flaps, so I'd like to add those, as well, and I would love the chance to go back and add some embroidery to the front edge of the coat, but with the simpler waistcoat, I actually like it plain. I do have a good bit of fabric left to make another coat, so perhaps that can be the embroidered one in the amorphous future. That way he can have the option to be fancy or simple depending on the event and his mood. It's good to have options, after all!


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