Thanks again folks for being so patient with me as I update and migrate all my great sewing project information into my blog.  I know I have been behind on writing these updates.  I am currently trying to work out a good system of organizing all my fun updates and material to keep you posted on all the wonderful projects happing with me.  With that, I have decided to do regular “Project Chronicles” and “Video Logs” via my and youtube channel for you stay up-to-date.   Unfortunately, some of the information may seem “dated” and behind schedule.  Namely, I have yet to complete the video editing and migration for all of the September Wardrobe Challenge and the October Halloween CosPlay costumes I did for my family.

VLOG #1- Sewing for Mom, Pants & Cape Jacket, and Studio Update 11/4/2016
Click on picture to go to youtube

Okay, I have been waiting to post this coat make for some time now, but I just couldn’t get any cold weather!!!  I started sewing and preparing it back in October 2015…and finished it at the end of November 2015.  We just don’t get the weather everyone else gets to justify a heavy coat like this.  How do the models do the swimsuit shoots in the cold and snow….?  I guess the same way southerners do the photoshoots for cold weather attire in the desert heat!!!  Hot and sweaty!!!

Simplicity 1015

Everybody would think that since I have been sewing for such a long time, that I am well versed in the art of coat-making.  Besides, it’s just a “jacket” with extra stuff inside, right?  Well that isn’t true…at least not for me. I put a lot of work into this coat…knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get much wear from it here at home.  I just wanted the full experience of making a coat.  Aside from that I just didn’t want to spend money buying one.  I wanted to feel the satisfaction so many of my sewing community enthusiast feel when wearing a coat they have made themselves. I got that feeling of satisfaction, it was like building a house or wearing a work of art!!!

Simplicity 1015

However, I have only been able to wear this coat one time…..yes!!!  ONE Time wear– and that was out of town.  I have yet to wear it again. Aaagh!!!

Simplicity 1015

Oh, about the trip that encouraged this make…Chi-Town!!!  The Windy City and snow to make this southerner feel at home and cozy warm all at the same time.  That was such a great deal.  I didn’t feel out of place, in my synthetics, as with my first winter snow trip to “Chi-Town” back in the 80s.  Oh my goodness, I froze my toes off on Lake Michigan!  I ended up wearing my cousins coats, clothes, and boats.  (Oh yeah, socks too.)  I had no idea back then, but now I’m just a tad older and wiser.  So this time, I really put in the required homework to have a warm over-coat for the “real” cold that is only known by my northern neighbors.

Simplicity 1015

SNOW!!!  Yes, I got to play in the snow.  The lining, a pre-quilted cotton with flannel backed satin sleeves, was put to the test, on this visit, and it did quite well.  I was warm and cozy the entire time.  What a fantastic feeling inside and out, knowing I wouldn’t need to borrow anyone else’s cold-weather gear.

Simplicity 1015

Simplicity 1015I even put in the extra time and consideration for a button-out lining for wearing it in less than freezing temps.  No go…not with this weight of wool (a melton) it is just too heavy for South Texas.  Just so you know…I had a fantastic time traipsing around in the snow.  I felt like a fabricholic in the garment district on christmas with no budget limitations.

Pattern & Construction Details::

  • Simplicity 1015, view B
  • Hongkong finished seams 
  • Poly silk lining 
  • Taped shoulder seams
  • Quick tailoring with fusible interfacing

Simplicity 1015
Has it been wasted, over $150 worth of materials and notions.  Would “fast-fashion” have been a better purchase, and the rest of my money and time be spent on more weather appropriate makes?

After an unusually long respite, I now question myself on my organization and planning skills.  But I say to you “What does tailoring have in common with quilting?”  Is there a special skill required besides a single straight stitch, what mathematical calculations or algebraic algorithms are required to become skilled in the art of piecing squares and triangles, binding edges, planning fabric, and sorting techniques.  Could they be one in the same when time is considered.  I know precision is a necessary component in the equation.  Yet, now, I am convinced that there is more.

Menswear tailoring

The suit Jacket was finished in March and engagement photos were taken then as well.  But it’s no secret, by now, that I didn’t finish for his birthday! (I intended to finish Last Year 2014!!!)  I had all intentions of doing something fast and furious.  This time, I think maybe I bit off more than I could chew given the timeframe and all the holiday affair, moving my sewing room, and, of course his brides wedding dress.  I believe I know what I’m doing, but am I a perfectionist to a fault?  I saw several other options for designing his jacket and pants, and they all included unlined, patch pocketed, floppy lapeled renditions of a mans sport coat.  None of which I wanted to make.  Here ye, here ye, though I did often try to figure a way off the path I had already started, a direction of which there was no return.  The jacket was cut to be a fully lined, multi-pocketed, pad stitched, lapeled, sport coat with working sleeve vents and tail.  I was in it to win it now.  Yet, I also had an “heirloom gown” that had to be completed.  More on that later.  Just know, however, that both were for my son and his bride-to-be. Both equally as important.

I’d scratch my head too if I was avoiding saying what I wanted to say about you taking for EEEVAA!! to finish my suit coat.  Come on MOM let’s get this over with can we please????
The scraps after cutting the suit, and I still need to work a waistband out of this, plus welt pockets.  EEEK!!!

Taking off from the gates in such a rushed unorganized manner did cost me dearly. Number one and most importantly, I ran out of fabric to properly cut all the pieces for the entire suit. The fabric, a bamboo linen blend was originally purchased for a women’s suit. Thus, I only had four yards. I usually buy five. Number two, I did not plan which techniques would work best with the style jacket I was making. I usually just stick to the old “long” way of doing things, no tricks, no short cuts, just straight forward simple techniques. But this time, I stirred too far into unfamiliar territory in an effort to finish quickly, trying methods from popular names currently on the sewing horizon. Number three, my tailoring supplies were no longer plentiful since I hadn’t truly done a men’s suit in over 15 years. Why I have stayed away from such a fine art for such a long time, I couldn’t say. What I can say, however, is it hurt my pride for sure, to flutter along so amateurishly. Especially since I had always prided myself for how quickly I could finish any suit, and the fact, I actually have professional training and college in this field, just added salt to the wound.  Does the old saying ring true in this instance: “It’s like riding a bike?” Finally, number four, I had not secured all the findings needed to finish. i.e. buttons, linings, etc.  All the gory details are in this first post here, and the second post here.

I don’t know why he just wasn’t excited to be fitting his jacket…does he suspect it will still be another few months before I get around to finishing.

With the last post, part three, here, regarding the construction of this suit I left you with a “few, yes a few task remaining undone.  Today you shall get the rest in all its glory and this than shall bring this saga to a close.  I owe you at least that much.

This was the To Do List I left you with:  Narrated of course with as many related pictures that I could find from the number of SD camera cards I have been using. They will get my point across.  
  • Shaping and pad stitching of the lapel, roll line and front, (est. 3-4 hours if I’m lucky)  This took more like 15-20 hours, give more for stopping and starting to work on other things and to give my hands a much needed break from the chore.

  • The hair canvas was basted in and roll lines were drawn on to match. 

  •  The pad stitching was done over a “sausage” I created by wrapping a rolled towel inside of a cut of cotton broadcloth.

  • I drew in my pad stitching lines to remind me when to tighten the stitching for the “roll”.  The breast pocket looks a little off because I still needed to stitch it down…I loosened it because I had to flatten it out after I had it hanging over the “bust” on my dress form, which gave it “breast”…lol.  after that, I padded out the form to avoid womanly bulges.

  • Sew in the lining and hem- by hand!  (est. time: 1-2 hours because my hand hurts when I do hand stitching, so I have to take lots of breaks.)  HA!!!  Did I say 1-2 hours..who was I kidding!!!  This was a big stretch to say the least.  
    I decided to include the red piping because it just looks nice in RTW and so I wanted that look here.
  • install inside breast pocket (est. 1-2hours, if I’m not distracted.) 

  • Collars and buttonholes (est time:  “I DON’T KNOW!”)  By now the planning and prepping to make the wedding dress is in full affect and the jacket has been put on serious hold.  It is now December, time to prep for holiday affairs and finalize wedding dress fabric orders, sew muslins and have fittings, while the bride is in town for the holidays.

  •  Underneath the lapel, the pad stitched pricks.

  • Set-in sleeves of body and lining (est. 1-2 hours) It is now February I have moved to my new sewing space that now gives me room to breath and work on the wedding gown.  I have got to hurry, because I have some traveling planned and they have their engagement photo shoot date already set.

  • I am sewing in the collars and making sure it is all flat and non-bulky.  A hard task since I have been handling this for so long.  Some things have shifted or I just forgot what the heck I was doing.  Who knows?  (bug eyes rolling in my head!)

  • Shoulder pads (1 hour maybe)  Well, this is probably the only thing that took the estimated amount of time.  Go figure.  I had to make these.  Forgot to take pics…just take my word for it, they are in there.
  • Sew in the lining and hem- by hand!  (est. time: 1-2 hours because my hand hurts when I do hand stitching, so I have to take lots of breaks.)  Lots of breaks were indeed taken…say about 1 week at a time.  hehe!.
  • I guess he will get the pants in January, or in time for Easter.  LOL.  Insert:::::Loud Laughter!!!! followed by rolling on the floor with tears in my eyes.  It is now November, and they have yet to get done.  HeHe.  I hope he never mentions them!!! 
Did I say this young man is really patient with me!!  I LOVE this Baby Boy of mine. 

Fitting was extremely limited for me.  I was very adamant with him to come over and fit this along the way, yet I did not prevail.  His bride won out on his limited amount of time available for me to work with him.  Prepping for the wedding was starting to test all our patience, and time.  So I just closed it up and “LET it be DONE!!” It is now March 2015!!!  How about that!!.

I did go back and move the top button and added a longer shank so it would not cause a pull under the roll line.

Who’s sleepy in the picture.  Definitely not me.  He was in a real rush to get out of town to meet his finance’ so they can take the engagement pictures. 

The back is slightly big.  But no time to fix it and for being on hiatus from tailoring menswear for 15 years, I think I did a Damn Good job!!!! Now put that in a pipe and smoke it!!!  I”M BACK!!!!

I was really excited that he would be wearing his new jacket for the engagement pictures.  I ended up truly being an integral part of the entire wedding from engagement all the way to the alter.  I love what I do, especially when it makes my family happy.

Thus, I ask again, how very related is tailoring to quilting?  They seem one in the same where planning and preparation is concerned. Most importantly, in this instance, finishing after such a long journey is euphoric.

Until next time….keep on sewing.

I am excited to get back in the “saddle” with the suit for my son.  I know, it’s been almost three months since I last worked on the jacket, or the pants for that matter.  “Man!, talk about procrastination!!”.  This is why having someone help nudge you along is important.  Here’s to having a fun, caring “online” sewing community.

These people are ones to keep me motivated and also, hold me accountable.  At first I thought it would be terrible to post an incomplete project with status updates.  “What happens if I don’t finish it when I say?”  At first, I felt I would be stressed and have a lot of guilt or be crucified by the evil demons of the  “WorldWideWeb!”  Thanks to Faye’s progress updates on her coat, The Mahogany Stylist’s encouragement, and Andrea of Knit-Knac I am back at it now.  And guess what, I don’t feel bad.  With the gentle nudging of a few, I actually feel inspired to keep plugging along.

He was so tired when we did his fitting.  
EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES!!!  Yes, there was a good reason I didn’t have it finished by now.  Here are just a few of the hurdles I have been faced with along the way:

  1. I ran out of fabric for the pants waistband…sooooooo, I had to create a new design detail.  You will never know where, and I will never show you a picture.  (It took me a while to recover and trouble shoot that hangup.
  2. When I completed the front lapel facing, I forgot to make a waist seam to match the front for the seamed buttonhole which sits at the waist.  Soooooo….I will be creating a bound-type buttonhole backing for this area.
  3. The lining was to be a rayon bemberg, but it was just to lightweight, so I had to order the proper “mens” suit lining from B.Black and Sons.  Now, it is so much better, and weightier, much more suitable for a mens suit.  The red is piping.
    Piping is complete for the lining and back facing.
  4. The big one::: I am working on “THE WEDDING DRESS” for my son’s finance.  The wedding is in June 2015.   (This isn’t the wedding dress.  This is one I made back in 1986. I just thought you would see the importance.)
    My sisters Prom dress in 1986.
  5. And, I do sew for others, and because of that, it really is hard to focus the kind of attention to tailoring menswear, when your brain is being pulled from one project to another in short order.  I just don’t know how “short order” cooks do it.
  6. Of course I had to take interim breaks from the “work” sewing along the way and make a few quick things for myself.  This Watson Bra set (not blogged yet)…,

    A cardigan (which I hate), some StyleArc Cassie pants, and of course I had to finish my StyleArc Amber top for a party.  Oh, yeah my shrug tutorial.  I did a whole lot of other stuff, but you don’t want to read about all of it, do you?

  7. These StyleArc pants are a blog post all to themselves!!!  They wore me completely out!!! I hate bengaline fabric y’all!!!
He really is happy in this picture.  He tries not to smile whenever I come around with my camera.
Moving forward, these are the things still remaining before I can get this fine wearable to my baby boy.

To Do List:

  • Shaping and pad stitching of the lapel, roll line and front, (est. 3-4 hours if I’m lucky)
  • install inside breast pocket (est. 1-2hours, if I’m not distracted.)
  • Collars and buttonholes (est time:  “I DON’T KNOW!”)
  • Set-in sleeves of body and lining (est. 1-2 hours)
  • Shoulder pads (1 hour maybe)
  • Sew in the lining and hem- by hand!  (est. time: 1-2 hours because my hand hurts when I do hand stitching, so I have to take lots of breaks.)
  • I guess he will get the pants in January, or in time for Easter.  LOL.
Did I say this young man is really patient with me!!  I LOVE this BOY of mine.  
Okay, hello everybody, I am back to share more tailoring escapades of my son’s suit.  Of course, I will admit this will not get done by tomorrow.  I slowed down a little bit because I made some really silly mistakes, maybe because I was sidetracked, or just maybe because I was tired, either way it is getting done.  I would rather it be done right then it to be done fast and wrong.  So keep reading if you want to find the mistakes I made.  I know you want to…we all have it in us to see what someone else did wrong.  Be my guest, I’ll even help you.  
There’s my handsome baby boy fitting the shell of his new suit.  Doesn’t he look excited?
Here are the things I’ve gotten done so far.  Some of the techniques and changes I made are from various sources, but the main one I use for tailoring is my book, Classic tailoring techniques, a Construction Guide for menswear, by Robert Cabrera and Patricia Flaherty Meyers

For you techie folks: here are the details about the pattern adjustments that I made before cutting the fabric.

  1. Altered the roll line on the jacket front to be 5/8 inch above the first button and then I made sure that it ended at least 3/8 inch out from the neck cutting line at the top
  2. Changed the back shoulder seems to be at least 1/2 inch longer than the front shoulder
  3. The center back vent was changed to 2 inches wide near the top and graded it to 3 inches at the hem.
  4. The front facing straight of grain orientation straightened to line up with the center front and the size was increased to 2″ inches wide at the shoulder,  3 inches wide from the midpoint of the roll line and 5 1/2 inches wide at the hem. 

Before I laid out and cut the fabric, I made sure the grain was straight.   The pictures above just show you a few steps that I took to make sure the grain was completely straight.

Interfacing: Before I installed the pockets and sewed the darts, I underlined the entire jacket with fusible weft interfacing cut on the same grain as the jacket.  It is a Rayon/polyester medium weight weft interfacing called “Perfect Fuse” from Palmer/Pletsch.

Stabilizing:  The jacket was steam pressed by hand to cause as much shrinking as possible beforehand.  This is not the only interfacing we’ll be using for this jacket, horse hair braid and canvas will be used to further stabilize only the jacket front, should/breast and upper back and sleeve cap.  
Marking each piece was done after all underlining/interfacing was completed by placing the pattern tissue back on the fabric to check for any distortion and make sure the size was okay. then using tailor tacks or tailors chalk to mark placement lines, etc.  (With the interfacing in place, I was free to mark as needed without worry of show through.)
OOOPs!!!  Yeah!  I ran out of fabric, so this became a real Tim Gunn “Make it work.” moment.  You will find out some of the places I actually made it work as the construction moves forward.

 Here you see I hand basted the chest pocket placement lines on the left front panel.

The single welt pocket was finished and hand stitched along the sides to secure the welt.  The pocket isn’t shining, I think its the camera angle.  Do you see the dart under the pocket? 
Looking inside the chest pocket: you can see I have the base shell fabric on the bottom towards the body and the lining is actually on the top facing the jacket, but hidden from view when worn.

Stylish design lines: The picture above is of the jacket front.  The entire jacket is designed with upper and lower parts, which can be color blocked if desired.

Lower Pocket:  You see in this picture (which is upside down) the flaps have been sewn and placed and now it is time to sew the inseam pockets that are actually part of the waist seam.  The flap was cut with the none public side 1/8″ smaller on each end to cause the seam to roll to the inside when turned.

 OOOOPs!!…do you see that??:  

More sleepy sewing.  I put the pockets off towards the back too much.  EEEkkk!!!  Wake up Andrea!!!

OKAY!! That it, I’m done!….Now I have gone and done it!  I put the pocket inside out!  Time to take a break and get back to this later.

Stay tuned in for the fitting and more “Make it work.” moments.

I am working on a tailored suit for my son, JP.  I actually promised him a suit as a birthday gift back in 2009.  Of course I know this makes me look like a really bad procrastinator based on the timing of this project.  But let me assure you that I haven’t just been twiddling my thumbs on this one,  I have been quite busy with so many projects, including having made him a shirt along with many other custom alterations.  So, don’t think I totally neglected my baby boy.  Besides, like any good procrastinator I have thought through the entire process ahead of time, and now I am ready to put this behind me.

This is a model not my son…although my son may be more handsome.  
So, I hope you enjoy the process as I share my style of tailoring and the steps I take to get my kind of outcome.  Some of the process will be shortcuts, my way, and other parts you may be familiar with from the Internet or other books.  I don’t really like to take very many shortcuts when I work with menswear, since they wear their clothes longer and harder than women.  
Either way, I am just going to work through my tasks and give you the pictures and points that help me to stay focused as I work. 
The Fitting:
After measuring his chest size(42) and taking the waist, I selected the pattern as listed on the envelope for the size 42 and pants size 38.  It seems that the pants run really small because of the European cut…slim fit.  I tissue fit the jacket front, back and side panel.

The jacket is pinned to the t-shirt

Here he has the pant muslin pinned tightly over the jeans.  I used a muslin to check the fit of the pants.  I had to make it work in this case..since he had just gotten off work and had road the motorcycle for an hour before making it to my house.  (I failed to inform him of the reason for his visit.)  Needless to say, he nor I were willing to venture into a messy fitting.  So, in the true spirit of the “make it work” process, I ripped the pant muslin apart and fitted over his jeans.  I knew how tight to allow it in order for me to check the fit, since the pants pattern is a slim “European” fit.    
Back of the jacket fitting.
I know, that what I’m looking for in the pant fit, is to have enough rise in the back and enough in the front of the crotch, and to check knee placement so I can get the flare correct in order for him to wear his cowboy boots with the suit.  My son!! I would not ever had imagined him loving cowboy boots.  Maybe it was all those years of us going to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Burda pattern changes and alterations. JP
I will tell you about all the pattern preparations needed for men’s suits compared to the women’s, and all the actual fitting alterations I had to do for JP in the next post.  But for now, here are a few other tidbits on this project.
Fabrication:  I had this really nice Linen/Bamboo in my stock of high end suitings. I say high end, because it is lux for real!!!  I bought it in Los Angeles on a sewing guild trip back in 2010.  I can’t believe how I remember so much about my fabric purchases.  It seems that I have some kind of personal connection with every fiber in my stash.  This one almost didn’t get used for JP’s suit because I have hoarding tendencies.  Does anyone else have that problem?  Because it is a problem, if you are will to admit.

Oh how I miss tailoring. For the last eight or ten years I have not tailored a single jacket or men’s shirt. It comes so naturally for me, so why haven’t I done anything tailored. After all, I have a Certificate of Tailoring from Design School, on top of many many years of experience with both men’s and women’s tailoring. From pad stitching to welt pockets, nothing intimidated me. One needs to first understand what it means to be a “tailor” today. (See Tailor vs. Dressmaker)

My departure may have come because tailoring in its true sense was not “in vogue” since the nineties. Thus, I concentrated on proms and daywear for women. I know dresses can actually be “tailored” in a sense, but I naturally lean towards a sport coat or jacket when I want to pull together an outfit. As for clients, they REALLY must appreciate the craft for me to break out the hymo-weft and shoulder pads.

I lingered in the shadows watching to blogger after blogger practice their skills at tailoring and participating in various sew-a-longs. Although I had yet to participate, until two weeks ago, I watched and dreamed, waiting for the day my long lost love would come once again knocking at my door.

Christmas 2013 brought something out in me! I made some men’s shirts for my loved ones. Oh! How exhilarating!!! The task was so satisfying that I didn’t want to do anything else.

I had hoarded these fabrics since 2008. I bought them at an American Sewing Guild conference in Atlanta. How about that for hoarding? 

Then Two weeks ago Peggy Sagers with Silhouette Patterns offered a free webcast jacket sew-a-long and ASG also offered a free tailored jacket sew-a-long.

There my love was, standing at my door, beckoning me to allow him in once more. I responded in kind and pulled out my green leather which I bought on a NYC fabric buying trip last year with Peggy Sagers.

More to come…leather jacket. Here’s a sneak peek.

Until next time.. Thanks for reading.