Friday 25 December 2009

For the tailor who has everything

It’s Christmas!

Yes, it’s that time of year and I asked Santa to bring me a few extra tools and tailoring equipment to help me in the coming year.

In our household we have two present opening sessions on Christmas morning: the first is from the stockings at the end of our bed, so are small, modest gifts; followed later by the bigger presents from under the tree.

Talking of which – do you like our tree? (see right)

So here’s my selection from the stocking.

Saturday 19 December 2009

Happy Christmas to all my readers!

You may have noticed that I recently added some hit counters to my sites, and I have been amazed as to how many readers I have out there!
When I started out I was writing it mainly for myself and one or two friends who knew I was about to make a new, and possibly ultimate, Tennant Coat.
From there my blogs have grown, and I never really knew how many cosplay enthusiasts were bothering to look.

Well, now I know it is more than just a few, I want to thank you all for taking the time to follow what I have been up to this year, and hope you will continue to see where I go in 2010.

I have pretty much written the last entry for 2009 (don’t worry, I’ll be back in January fired-up with ideas!) so all that remains now is to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!
I wish to especially thank a few people for
their support this past year: 

Ramie for showing faith in my work

Lisa for aiding the breakthrough with the GAP trousers

Timelord25 for his faith in me to make him a new Five Coat

Seth for his invaluable input and eye for detail, giving me something to live up to

Finally Primrodo for being a sounding board for ideas and direction, and for the use of the image of his TARDIS,
which appears above

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Burgundy Suit - work continues

For once I am really excited about putting a garment together.

So much so, I have been too excited to even take any pictures of me making it! (Very bad of me – sorry!)

Anyways, the next stage was pretty simple and straight forward, and there wasn’t really much to see as such anyways.

I sewed the side seams to join the fronts to the back, and the shoulder seams to finish it off.
I then sewed the sleeves and set them with a little extra ease across the shoulder to create a decent sleeve head. I then added a standard lightweight shoulder pad and some sleeve head padding just to create a good shape, but kept this to a minimum as it needs to be quite a loose fitting.

This then gets the jacket to the following stage.
The lapels are missing at the moment, so what you see here is the underside of the lapels with seam allowance, so they look a bit over large for now (see below).

Saturday 12 December 2009

Burgundy Suit - assembly starts

I have now designed the bulk of my Tennant Suit Pattern, and have cut the main parts in the Burgundy Pinstripe Fabric I have created. Time now to start making it up.

As I do with the Tennant Coats I have made, I have found it much easier to work the panels of the garment flat, setting the pockets separately as I go, rather than trying to do them in a bulky, already made-up coat.

I start with the breast pocket, repeating what I did in the Calico Test.

I sew the front panel of the pocket to create the pleat which is exactly two pinstripes wide (see above, left), and press it flat. I then attach the lining along the top edge and fold it in half, making the pocket front (see above, centre). The edges are then press over and stay-stitched ready to be sewn onto the jacket (see above, right).
The flap above the pocket is sewn from two halves, and simply attached inverted in place and pressed firmly into its final position (see right).

I then make the flaps for the faux flap pockets. To make sure they don't curl upwards after they are in place, I use a simple little trick: I put in a pin pointing towards the tips of the corners (see below, left). This pushes the top over the underside by the slightest amount and when it is sewn (leaving the pins in place) and turned rightside, this subtle distortion remains and the corners curl slightly, but in the direction I want them to (see below, right).

The flap is then pressed in half to its final size (see above, right) ready to set. I do this now, because if it is pressed after it is sewn in place, it can leave a nasty footprint on the body of the jacket under the flap.

The flap is then sewn in place on the jacket, inverted, at the level of the lower welt (see above, left). The pocket facing is then sewn above it, also inverted, and sewn at the level of the upper welt (see above, centre). The pocket opening is slit between the two welt lines (see above, right) then the pocket facing and the tail of the flap are turned to the back, making the finished pocket (see left).

Friday 11 December 2009

Interfaced on the inside

Today I start making my burgundy pinstripe Tennant Suit jacket. Now I KNOW it’s not a screen accurate colour - don’t write in! - I’m only doing it as a dry run before cutting into a single inch of my blue fabric.

I have dyed the blue fabric to the right colour, so have dyed some red pinstriped fabric (from the same source as the blue) to a burgundy so I am comparing like-for-like material (see below).

Having started (but not finished) a similar jacket earlier in the year, and a Calico Test only a couple of weeks ago, making it up should be relatively easy and quick.

Before I can do any cutting I need to stiffen the fabric. It is, in reality, a shirting fabric, so quite a lightweight cotton. I did initally wonder if I had found the right material, but a friend pointed out that there was a publicity still where you could see the inside of the trouser ankle - and it was white, which had puzzled him (see below). This made perfect sense to me - it had been interfaced! What I needed to work out was how stiff I needed to make it.

In the UK we have a main manufacteurer for interfacing, Vilene. Their basic range is a Light-weight, a Medium-weight and a Heavy-weight version. This determines the thickness. Each then comes in either a Standard or Ultrasoft option. This controls it’s flexibility.

Since the fronts of jackets are usually interfaced, I am going for a Medium Stanard for the body, but I want the sleeves to be more supple, so I will use a Medium Ultrasoft for the arms.

Usually you would cut the fabric then cut matching shaped interfacing and press them together. But since I need to interface everything I am going to press it first, then cut the pre-interfaced pieces after.

Annoyingly the fabric and the interfacing come in different widths, so I do a strip of the fabric and save the off-cut for later.
These off-cuts, once interfaced with the Ultrasoft, will be fine for the sleeves, so nothings really going to waste.

Thursday 10 December 2009

Suit of a different colour

So - I am gearing up to finalising the pattern for my Tennant Suit’s jacket, and yet again I am in the annoying position where I have the perfect material to use, but only a very limited supply with no chance of replenishment!

Some readers may remember the mad scrabble for the JoAnn Brown Pinstripe Fabric a couple of years back, when it was discovered after it had been discontinued and only short end rolls remained in a handful of stores scattered across the US.

This time I have a few metres of the Blue Pinstripe Fabric, which I am still 99.99% sure is the material used to make he original suits.

But although I have cut a very respectable pattern for my jacket (see above), I want to produce a dry run on similar fabric before cutting a single inch of my precious blue material.

A recent thread on the forums entitled “Which is better? Brown suit or Blue????” got people talking about which suit they preferred: the brown or the blue.
One poster, jjlehay, bucked the trend by letting his mind wander onto what other suits The Doctor may have worn if he had remained for further seasons.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Blue suit - jacket pockets

So far work on the new pattern for my suit has gone very well, far exceeding my expectation of how quickly and well I could cut it to fit.

The Five Coat pattern I cut, although I am totally happy with it, took a while to arrive at, doing through a process of cutting - adapting - cutting - revising - cutting - altering . . . . . before I got to something I was pleased with.

This time round I have cut a block (a base template) from which I then cut my pattern, both of which fitted perfectly first time (see above).

So it is now time to cut the pattern for some of the details of the suit, such as the breast and outer pockets.

The Breast Pocket
I had previously tackled the Breast Pocket before, and had made some decent, but crude samples (see left), so I know the the construction of the pocket already.
I do, however need to work it to the new pinstripe dimensions I have.

This time round though, my style will be a lot better and my work a not neater!

The new techniques I have learnt from my tailoring classes have shown me the best, methodical approach to use, so I first draw up the pocket as a block (see above),  to the finished cut size, then trace a pattern, adding seam allowances only at that stage (see right).

The pocket is made from a front, which is pleat fronted; a lining, which is just the width of the finished pocket; and the flap, which is cut in two parts.

First I make the front by sewing the pleat together, and pressing flat. The lining is then attached to the top edge of the pocket, and it is folded flat, with a one-inch turnover of the front into the inside of the pocket. I then stay-stitch around the pocket to keep the edges stable (see left).

Blue suit - pattern cutting the body

Last time I had created the block for my standard jacket that would fit me, and now I need to create a working pattern from it, that I can then use to make my suit.

For the moment, I am going to concentrate on the front, so am repeating the back from my basic jacket (see below, left).

The front needs to be done in two parts, splitting it at the fitting dart at the side. This creates a narrow side panel (see below, centre) and the front panel (see below, right).

Being a pinstriped suit, it is critical how the design aligns to the pattern.
I have therefore actually drawn the pinstripes onto the calico, using a swatch of the fabric as a ruler (see left).
Many of the spacings for the pocket positions, the size of the pocket and flaps, width of the lapels etc can be measured by counting their sizes in spans of pinstripes.

Firstly, the size and position of the breast pocket. This has a pleat three pinstripes wide, with four visible pinstripes either side. I can then measure how high it is in pinstripes on my reference photo, and translate that to a real-life measurement working to the blue fabric.
For its position, I can see its base is in alignment with the second button down, and is set five pinstripes in from the edge. I incorporate this into the pattern (see below).