Sunday 21 June 2009

Mind the GAP

I have now formed a game plan for getting my Tennant Suit trousers made!

I have already learnt the basics for making trousers by making a pair of Six Trousers (see left), which was certainly a worthwhile exercise. They were made to a Laughing Moon Mercantile pattern and the cut was quite loose, so very forgiving if I was a bit out with the fit.
The result was not a perfect screen-accurate garment (the real thing should have a plain waist band, not a V-split; there shouldn’t be the back brace; the real thing does not have back pockets), but the exercise was in following a pattern designed by someone else, and learning the skills and principles of how trousers are formed.

In the meantime I have positively identified the originating trousers for the Tennant Suit as coming from GAP (see right). Full details can be found in Revelation of the Trousers.

Finding these opens a wealth of possibilities, not to say a few dilemmas.
I could track down a pair in my size, meaning I wouldn’t need to make my own - but then I wouldn’t have a matching jacket. The only way round that would be to find more pairs of the trousers and deconstruct them to make the jacket, in the same way Louise Page’s costume department had to do for the original suit.
That could take a long time and I would need to find the largest sizes possible to give me as much width of fabric to make the jacket.

On the other hand, I now know the fashion house (so to speak!) that made the trousers, and since it is a major high street retailer it would seem probable that they still use the same basic pattern for the trousers, though using different fabrics.
According to the label, the Tennant Trousers are a “Straight Cut” a (see left).
With that in mind I went to Oxford Street and the GAP store there to take a look.

Sure enough, they still stock trousers under the Straight Cut style, and I found a pair in my size, making sure they were a good fit, and also displaying the design points as the Tennant Trousers: zip fly; vertical front pockets; two button back pockets; and the same waist-band closing.

I will take them apart to ‘discover’ the pattern, which with the skills I picked up making my Six Trousers, will mean I can replicate them, but in the JoAnn fabric.

Well, that’s the plan.

First thing I do is carefully take the trousers apart at the seams, looking at how things go together along the way.
While I am doing this I notice a few points that I picked up while doing the Six Trousers, so I realise that was well worth doing, as everything is making sense.

I then press the pieces flat and lay them out to take stock (see below).

Note I have only taken one of the front pockets apart and removed one of the back pockets. I have kept one set complete so I can study its finished construction as well as have its constituent parts.

The other pieces I have gleamed are the front pocket parts (below left) and the front fly (below right).

It is then a relatively simple case of taking the pressed parts (below lefts) laying them over some pattern paper and tracing round them to make my own copy (below centres). From that I can cut them in calico to create a quick test to make sure I understand how to put them back together, and to check the pattern still fits (below rights).

Note that I have marked the grain line down the centres of the patterns. This makes sure I get the pinstripes running in the correct direction.

I do the same for the other parts, though I have opted to simplify the front pocket bag to be a single piece of fabric folded in half, rather than two pieces sewn together, though I have picked up a tip of how to enclose the seam so it is neat and does not fray inside the trousers.

The one skill I now need to master is setting a zip fly, which I have never done before. I will read up on it, and I have a planned project that uses one which I can do just prior to making the suit trousers . . . .

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