Monday 20 April 2009

Notes on a suit

While I am a little distracted with some work on my new Tennant coat, I thought I would share with you all some thoughts and comments on the suit from a follower of this blog, Seth.

Seth is a third year apparel design student who drafts his own patterns. He has just revised his Tennant Suit pattern and is now half way through the drafting of his Coat.

He is the owner of a Magnoli suit or three, all he reports, being slightly different from each other!

Being a trained pattern cutter, it was inevitable that he would attempt to deconstruct and then reconstruct one of his suits, where possible putting right the errors and inaccuracies down to the last detail.
I would like to thank Seth for his input for my blog. 
I will be referring to his notes when I cut my pattern. Finally, I would also like to thank him for agreeing to let me publish them.
All the pictures on the left are Seth’s adapted suit, and those on the right are my own un-altered Magnoli suit.

The problems he encountered and solved were:

Straightening the Collar points and Lapels to follow the pinstripes.
Seth noticed on Tennant’s suit that the Collar points are a tad bit longer than the Lapels. He cut his to 1 3/4 inches for the Collar point extensions and 1 1/2inches for the Lapels extension.

For Series 3, he also noticed that Louise Page (the costume designer) no longer followed the pinstripes on the Collar extension, as the pinstripes noticably trail off and are interrupted by a more “steep” extension. This has carried through to Series 4. Seth personally prefers the cut of the original Series 2 Collar.

Moving and re-sizing the Box-Patch Pleat Pocket on the front of the suit.
Seth found the Patch Pleat was a real problem. He was stuck with the Suit rations in the form of button placement, side pocket openings and lapel slants. Tennant’s suit is actually on the long side.

Seth ensured that it sat 1/4 inch away from the slant lapel and 1/2 inch above second buttonhole (his buttonholes being spaced 3 1/4 inch apart). The bottom of the flap sits right above the top of the first button at around a 1/4 inch.

He reconstructed the Box-Patch Pleat Pocket to a 4 inch width. The Curved Flap measuring 2 inches long, sewn off a 1/4 inch at the top, with a Curved rise of 1/4 inch. The overall height by width when sewn on the jacket worked out to be 5 3/4 inches high by 4 inches wide.

Heightening the vent openning on the back and lowering the Back-Belt.
The Back-Belt needed to be lowered as it was sitting exactly at middle back.

His vent now sits at 9 3/4 inches and like Tennants Suit, the Vent begins at the bottom of the Back-Belt, which is at a 2 inch width.

Correcting the positioning of the Inverted Faux Flap Pockets.
The two Inverted Faux Flap Pockets were the biggest struggle. They were cut 1/2 inch too high and the Flap was set right where the Jacket front facing meets the pocket back. So there was this UGLY seam exposed making it obvious that it was an Inverted pocket and not a traditional flap. The top of the pocket is set flush with the last button hole on Tennant's Suit. To fix this, Seth had no choice but to raise the openning of the new altered pockets by a 1/2 inch, just a tad too high for the look he wanted, but there was no other alternative.

Not only are the pocket opennings/tops level with the bottom buttonholes, but the seam that I spoke of being too high and not hidden by the inverted flap (where the jacket facing meets the pocket back) needs to be recessed anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inches below the pocket flap top.

Seth adjusted the Flap length from Magnoli’s 2 inches to 2 3/4 inches to give the illusion that the pockets weren’t too high. Ideally they should line off the bottom buttonhole, and the Flap length 2 1/2 inches.

Like me, Seth also does a lot of his working out in calico. Seen here (below left) are a couple of pictures of his outer pocket with marked positions of the lowest buttonhole and the Back-Belt. The other photo (below right) nicely shows the peculiar way the pocket is behind the flap, not under it, as it would conventionally be done.

Making the front corner hems more rounded.
Seth also rounded off the bottom front of the Jacket on either side as well.

Reducing the cuff diameter.
The cuffs needed to be reduced to 10 1/2 inches as well as reducing the size of the armhole significantly so it sits closer to the body like Tennant’s. Seth aimed for armholes around 19 inches in circumference.

Reshaping the sleeve head.
Lastly the sleeve caps were extended a half inch off of the shoulder point, following the curve of where the arm meets the shoulder. In sewing the new sleeve Seth made sure to set the shoulder pad exactly 1/2 inch from where the shoulder meets the sleeve. Any further and it starts looking like a zoot suit.

He replaced the shoulder pads with softer ones, using a standard Fabric Shop 1/2 inch shoulder pads to give it a more relaxed and dressy/casual look that our Doctor is so good at pulling off.

Minor alterations to the trousers.
The Trousers are a simple flat front with a front rise of exactly 9 inches from where the crotch and rear seam meet. Half-belted front closure at 1 1/2 inches in width. Seth prefers the waist on his Trousers in the “low-rise” spectrum, , so he was happy to notice that Tennant himself sports a low-rise look which helps in making it look modern with a classic flare.

Nobody wears four buttons anymore and it is all but shunned by the Zegna, Brutoni and various Italian designers for being too retro. Well, I say forget them as the High gorge collar and four buttons are fantastic and speak of a confident and distinctly individual style.

All this said, Seth is aware that we all have a different body type, so the placement of button holes, pockets etc are going to have to be slightly different from suit to suit. Luckily for Seth, his body type is not that different from David’s, so he was able to make his alterations quite accurate.

Good for Seth.

Finally, here is good front and rear view of Seth’s suit.
I think it has been brilliantly altered to correct the problems, and the fit is now fantastic.

The gauntlet has been thrown down - gulp - hope I can do an equally good job with mine . . . . !


  1. wow this is the best replica i have seen. if i can get a suit that fits like that i would be incredibly happy. none of my suits fit this well.

  2. hey there, I just read it properly, you are showing what Seth has done, either ways, I had a look at your very cool blog and maybe you can help me: Im looking for a way to fix a new baggy suit but its so difficult to find a solution without destroying it...Im the sort of do it yourself person, and have my own bermina machines so i thought of giving it s shot...the thing is that the body is a little baggy for me, for some reason it looks like a box with sho arms, and Im a quite skinny young male,so i would want it to look sharp (tight...) on my hips and waist...

    Anyways, great blogs and great designs! I loved every single coats and suits you have been working on your posts. Keep it up!

    My email is and can send you images of the suit so we can even work on some ideas together and you can have one more story to publish!