Wednesday 18 November 2009

Blue Suit - cutting a new pattern

I’m getting a slight feelings of dejvue here, but having found the perfect blue fabric for a Tennant Suit AND with the new skills I have been picking up at college, I think it is time for me to start over on my suit pattern.

To quickly recap, at my college course I have learnt about cutting a Block – a master pattern designed to fit me, from which a majority of patterns to any style can be derived.
Instead of cutting a modern Block, I opted for one based on notes contained in The Cutter’s Guide to Lounge Jackets, (see right) a manual written for the tailors of the 1890s to use for making the latest fashions. This was perfect for me to use, as a lot of The Doctor’s costumes are turn of the century or Georgian in styling.

I followed the guide to plot out the basic shape, using my measurements, firstly at a quarter-scale to gain an understanding of how it is drawn up (see left), then later at full size (see below).

This was then traced to make a basic pattern, and subsequently a twill, or calico test.

Putting it on for the first time exceeded expectation as it fitted perfectly, and my tutor remarked that it needed little or no revision for it to be usable.
That stands as good testament to The Cutter’s Guide as a good source of material!

Monday 16 November 2009

Blue suit fabric - dyeing

After the excitement of finding what I believe is the fabric used to make the blue suit, I now need to work out how to over-dye it to match it to the screen-used fabric.

I am using a standard machine washing Dylon dye, in the same way I did when I needed to dye the pillow ticking for the Six Trousers I made earlier this year.

First thing you do is put 500g of table salt in the drum of the washing machine (see below, left), before adding the dye (see below, centre). I then adds the fabric (see below, right), put the machine on for a 40 degree wash and cross my fingers!!!

It took me a few attempts to get it to a colour I was happy with. Here are the stages I went though:
This is the un-dyed fabric to see how it started out.

Version 1 - too electric

My first attempt used a mid-colour blue dye, which although it gave a good result, and toned down the bright red pinstripes to somewhere near the correct shade of dark red.
However, it is a bit too electric and vibrant.

Version 2 - far too dark

The next thing I tried was to move to a different shade of blue, tis time using a dye akin to blue denim.
However, this come out shockingly dark, and the pinstripes are almost completely lost. You can just see them in the inset, if you click to enlarge.

Version 3 - on to something
Having failed dismally with the latest attempt, I returned to the colour I used for the first version.
Looking at it I realised that although it was too vivid, it was the right colour, but needed to be toned down. I could do this by using less dye or more fabric, but this would make the resulting colour lighter, and that is not what is needed.

Blue suit fabric - discovery

Now I am back working on my Tennant Suit, a series of happy coincidences arrived at an amazing discovery.

I had recently finished a pair of Season 19 Five Trousers for a client, and with a lot of uncertainly over postal strikes in the UK, I was reluctant to post them to him fearing they may become part of the mountains of undelivered mail that have been collecting in sorting depots over the preceding few weeks.
Luckily my client only lived the other side of London, and given he had an interest in the fabric sellers based in Soho, we decided the best thing to do was meet up for a joint trip around the shops and to hand over the trousers in person.
Irritatingly a combination of freelance work placements and my need to attend college in Hemel Hempstead prevented us from meet as soon as we had hoped, so credit must go to my client’s patience while we waited for a mutually convenient day to happen, and today (16th October) was finally that day!

We meet just after lunch in a Starbucks on Wardour Street and had a good chat about Who costumes before setting out on our tour.
First stop was Kliens (see left), where I needed some 4-Part Hook and Eye Trouser Fastenings for another pair of Five Trousers I was working on.
Kliens is a great little shop for hard to find professional quality haberdashery.
One range they do have which I find an inspiration for a future project is of frog fastenings (see right), like those used on Jon Pertwee’s smoking jackets and Inverness Capes. (see right, inset)
Knowing I have a reliable source of these makes creating these garments all the more tempting, and as you may have read, I plan to do so in my Tailoring Class in the near future.

We carried on our journey, taking in a number of shops, with a shortlist of fabrics we wanted to try and track down, such as the houndstooth check used for Tom Baker’s waistcoat (see below, left); various velvets and tartans for Jon Pertwee’s costume (see below, centre); we well as the elusive beige fabric for the Five Coat I am also working on right now (see below, right).