Saturday, March 28, 2015

A fall front variation

We make a lot of period clothing, so that means quite a few fall front style trousers and breeches.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, a fall front is an alternative to a fly closure for trousers or breeches.
The front of the trousers can open close to or right along both of the side seams in which case they  would be "broad falls"or "whole falls" or you can make a narrower front panel that would be called  split falls. There is an under lap which includes the waistband, and then the trouser front is closed by lifting up the fall and buttoning it onto the waistband.

We most often make split falls as they were very common from the mid 18th century through to the Victorian age. They were certainly still used for "court" dress into the 20th century, and used for sailor trousers into the 1970's if I recall correctly, and still used on Lederhosen for instance.

Anyway, there are many ways of cutting and making split falls, the most commonly used technique has a visible placket and the placket is quite often plain and straight.
For one pair of our 19th century breeches I cut a split fall with a variation of the usual placket shape.

These have a curved placket that is cut on the bias.
I like to inset the seam for the under lap so when the fall flap is closed it is hidden, but these also would have worked if I had cut them so the end of the placket was more like the end of a welt pocket.

Here you can see what it looks like underneath the fall front. The waistband and under lap still need buttonholes and buttons. You would close them first, then the flap will have buttonholes and it will button up and close as in the first photo.

The placket itself was a plain bias piece which was fused with bias fusible, then shaped into a curve at the iron. Once that was done, the pattern piece drawn out on it, then sewn to the fronts. I cut a separate flap facing which was then used to finish the top and the edge of the curved placket. 
The under lap is composed of the fabric layer and finished on the inside/lined with silesia. 
I didn't take a photo of that, sorry! The under lap piece is deep enough that the placket is secured from the top through all the layers and the silesia extends right across to the side seam giving support for long term wear and tear.

Variations on the theme make work interesting! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

weeks 10 and 11 plus waistcoat update

Week 10.
Unbeknownst to me ( I obviously need to get out and read the posted calendar updates) one of my designers was returning but only for a short period of time. So in the midst of preparing for the other designer who would only be here on three specific days this week, I had to drop things and switch over to the other show to get ready for fittings that I had though could happen a little later.

I only got one of the three fittings I had been rushing to get ready. Blah!
Week 11
I got all three of the other fittings with my other show on Monday, and this is my table after coming back from one of them.
I also had a fitting with my third show which will be on stage first, so I am still trying to juggle that one so it doesn't get left behind.
Those beige trousers on the table were not a happy fit, I need to have a good look at what I did wrong there....maybe too many things going on and I forgot to make a change from the toile...who knows but arrrggh it bothered me looking at the photos later.

I was able to fit my corrected pattern for the waistcoat I showed you earlier.  Sorry about the photo quality, but it was taken on the fly in the fitting.
I didn't put the pockets in and it was no more than a baste up in the real fabric. Much improved, although I can still see a bit of tension above/over the chest- which I made a note of -and will try to correct that when I take it apart to mark alterations. I will try to take a photo of the pattern to show you what I did, when I have more than 5 minutes to think.

We don't have a lot of time in fittings as there is so much to do and so many components beyond the clothes to be fit. That fitting included armour so the props department shared the one hour we had.

There was debate about whether we needed to make a coat for this gentleman, so finally it was Ok'd and I quickly put together a toile of a great coat seen below.

I am going to leave it here for now as I have to go and have a glass of wine and put my feet up so I can do it all again tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

work table weeks 8 and 9

Time is flying by.
Week 8 saw the delivery of a missing fabric.
This jacket was based a bit on this reference, below.
Menswear is interesting because there are many options to play with, but for many people the details elude them because, lets face it, they are subtle. The changes are more easily seen over the decades rather than the season or the year. If you delve into it though, you are rewarded with many interesting details, and I have fun with these details, encouraging designers to consider incorporating them into the suits they want me to make.
 Nowadays- everything looks the same, whereas say in 1938 as this catalogue page shows, there are more "sporty" or casual models available. Still a three piece suit but a different vibe than one for business wear. The one on the left offers a two button, notch lapel, patch pockets, the bottom ones with flaps, and the back view has an expansion gusset, as well as a bit of fullness pleated into a half belt at the waist. The one on the right is a 2 button, semi-peak lapel, three patch pockets with inverted pleats, lower pockets with flaps and the back pleated into a half belt. Both have top stitching detail. We are going to go with the one on the right but with the plainer pocket style of the one on the left.

I have been given a nice blue plaid flannel to work with. I had a devil of a time getting it all laid out nice and square on my cutting table, so in the end, I had to cut the yardage in sections then block it at the iron table, using my metre stick and a square to then press it properly just to get it in a better shape to cut out. It literally took me most of the day to cut that three piece suit. 
Here is the back, just ready in week 9 with a fitting yesterday. 

Yesterday, week 9 also looked like this (below). I managed to cut out the shell of a velvet coat, cut all the bits and pieces needed for a pair of breeches that I fit earlier in the week, I cut out my last 1840's waistcoat and trousers, and switched back to the eighteenth century today so I can call fittings next week when that designer is back in residence. I cut another cloak and made a coat pattern and cut it in muslin. The I will have to flip back to my 20th century things, have a few last fittings, and cut some of the final bits like top collars and mark alterations. 

Tomorrow is already Thursday! I have so much to get done and I really could use another pair of hands- not so I have four myself, but another set of sewing hands. We have a lot to get done.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

week 6 and 7

I meant to get last weeks table posted on the week-end but life ended up getting a bit hectic so this week you get another two for one special!
Last week:

a view from my side

This week:
I had a technical fitting with this jacket, so we were able to move forward. The technical issue was the amount of shoulder padding needed to achieve the shoulder line that the designer was after. I didn't have quite the right profile in the first try so I needed to make sure my alterations were correct before moving on. Today I cut the sleeves so it can be finished. Yay!
Here's a little detail SA stitched at the top of the back pleat.
The frock coat mock-up in last week's photo is cut in real fabric and bundled up on my table. The waistcoat that I was about to cut out in last week's photo is almost put together, and I have also managed to draft up and cut in toile one of the 18c costumes- breeches waistcoat and coat and got another 18th c coat toile cut out and stitched up, and am awaiting fittings at the end of this week. I have SW working on the trousers for the tailcoat she put together, KM on the military frock coat, SA and DB on the modern suits. One more stitcher to arrive on Monday so we will be pushing ahead and making lots of progress.
I have lots of pattern alterations to do on the rest of my 1840's costumes as I had all my toile fittings as of Friday. I am still waiting for fabric on a few costumes yet, but I think we are making progress.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

week 5 with a waistcoat fitting

Table- taken at a random random time during week five.
Well, it is getting busier! was surprised to get two major fittings on the first day of rehearsal as  that day is usually eaten up with meetings and a read through of the play.
Those costumes are hanging on the left of the picture. I fit two suits on our leading man- he came in a bit smaller than the last measurements I had. It is better that the costume is too big rather than too small, but, it does mean a bit of extra figuring out time.
I confess that cutting right into fabric is not my favourite thing to do, it certainly doesn't save time or money. It is much more efficient to cut a quick mock-up or toile- especially when you are not sure of the details of the design or the measurements of the actor.
The toile in the foreground is a waistcoat for an actor I have never had to build for up to now. Well, I lie, I made him a shendyt last year, but now I have to put him into some nice early Victorian clothing.
So I made a toile mostly because I thought he would be a challenging fit. He has a 45+ chest and a 34.5 waist and a 47.5 inch hip. Actually, the chest measure was incorrect, as I found out in the fitting. He really is 47 inch chest, so making a toile was a great idea, as I had to make more changes to the pattern than usual.
When I put the toile on him, I could easily do it up at the CF waist. right on my drafted CF line. As I pinned it closed in the front I could see that it would not be lining up on my line, the further up I pinned. So I just pinned it where it wanted to sit, and had a look at what was going on.

This is the fitting photo, in profile and you can see that he has a very prominent chest. Please note the drag lines from the full part of the chest towards the side waist. This was the second big hint to remeasure his chest. This is a really good example of why it matters where the fabric is distributed around the chest, and especially where you make the waist suppression. I need to make sure that the waist suppression happens where he needs it which is directly underneath the fullest part of the chest. Now in this case, I would end up with a very large front dart, so I will split that dart up and rotate it elsewhere, likely a little into the armhole (which will be eased in) as well as through the neckline dart which will be hidden by the lapel of the waistcoat.
If I released the side seam and let the front hang there, I could pin out a larger dart pointing to the chest and then if I re pinned the side seam where it lay, it would have swung downwards and towards the front, adding the amount taken in the dart fabric back at the sides.

This is a good example on why you cannot make the waist fit better just by taking in the side seams.
You will see this on Internet gentlemen who keep trying to get rid of fabric at the waist of their shirts. Usually these drag lines appear in the back, where a dart would better serve the purpose, but on a gent with a very full chest, taking in the sides aggressively will give you this look too.

That is it for now, I must get outside and contend with the snow which seems to be relentlessly falling! I cleared three inches from the sidewalks and drive this morning already, but more has fallen. The good news is that it is great for cross country skiing. I can walk out the door, put the skis on and go, which I did already today!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

the work table week 4

Week 4! How does the time go by so quickly? As you can see, I have made quite a few patterns already- I have all the patterns done for the musical, and in fact this week I finished making all the patterns for the early Victorian show and also cut toiles for them.
One of our musicals starts rehearsal on Monday and that means the actors are in house and available for fittings! Yay!
I will have three tailors to keep gainfully employed next week, and four the next, so bring on the fittings.
Now I am onto my eighteenth century show and will try to get a lot of those patterns done before it gets too crazy around here.
One issue that I am struggling with is that some of the measurements are quite outdated, and/or seem off, or photos are missing or just bad. I think if an actor haven't been measured in four years, it is time for an update.
         Things I hate to hear: oh, you know Mr.X - he never changes size-

I am a stickler for taking accurate measurements. I cannot stress it enough. The measurement that seems to be most often off is the chest measurement- it is easy to let the tape sag or drop slightly and poof! an inch or more is gone. I experienced that today when the actor  I tried a mock-up waistcoat on had a 47 inch chest not a 45 3/4 inch chest. Good thing I didn't cut right into the expensive fabric.
The trick is to be careful and consistent and use a waist tape- we have 1" wide fitting belts made out of webbing with a hook and bars at one inch increments that we put on the actor's waist. This stays in place and gives a defined place to take measurements to and from. It also stays in place for the photos we take. Regarding the photos, it is not useful for the person to be wearing an oversize untucked shirt over baggy jeans for these photos.
     It makes me wonder what people are thinking the photos are for if you can't see anything!
I recommend giving the actor a white t shirt in a size smaller than they would normally wear, so you can see the outlines of their shape. White t shirt, dark fitting belt, photo in front of a contrast wall or door.
Ok that is the end of my mini rant, and I will be able to show you some works in progress next week.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The weekly table

I thought a weekly table photo would be interesting, and dutifully took a photo last Tuesday. I have made a bunch of patterns, in fact almost all the patterns I need for one show, and I have cut straight into fabric for three suits.
I have to wait on the military frock and the tail suit as I do not have the trim for the trousers yet. It will be good to get these things on the actor and know how they fit so I can go ahead. That should happen in a week and a half.
In the meantime I have quite a bit of eighteenth century costumes again, and some nice 1840's early Victorian pieces to make.

Here is this week's table picture- I started on some research for the Victorian waistcoats, and drafted one up, making allowances for the actor's shape.
I drafted it up and then cut one half out of some scrap muslin to see if It felt right.  I think I should reduce the height of the shawl collar stand. I think this is going to be made in a brocade, of which I fear there is not enough.....I think I should raise the crossover point too, as the drawing shows the waistcoat showing when the DB frock coat is worn buttoned up.
I do have the cloth for the frock coat and it is very, very nice- maybe even a bit heavy- I can't believe I am saying that - but after getting paper thin fabrics, the real deal feels more than substantial!

So progress is being made, but what I would really like is a fitting, as it all feels so speculative until you put it on a body. That should start to happen in another week and a half or two, so I am trying to forge ahead in the meantime.