Adventures in Mens Tailoring…

Ok, so it’s not really tailoring, but hubby wants a waistcoat (vest). Well, I did offer and it’s nearly 15 years since the only other time I made him one (which he nearly cut up for rags for the rag coat but decided against it in the end). His request is for one that’s not too farmer-ey (I think that means no checks, which is fine by me, no evil pattern matching) and has the main fabric on the back so he can wear it like a body warmer over a shirt without looking like he’s misplaced his jacket. I took him with me to the fabric shop down the road and he chose Burda 7799 view A, with lapels, welt pockets and shaping front and back. The pattern is for a single layer of fabric, but he wants it lined (just all the lining fabric on the inside, not on the back panel like a traditional waistcoat).

I decided to be good and make a toile to check the fit and get my head around how I was going to add a lining with the lapels and all. My instant reaction was what yucky instructions and would it really hurt to have all the english on one sheet. I read through them and drew a japanese style overview to get my head around what was going on. (And to stop me just scan reading).

My attempt at an overview diagram and summary of instructions

Then there were the patterns pieces, 9 sizes all together on top of each other in assorted styles of dashed line and no help distinguishing which of the 9 little circles (hmm, bet there’s a technical term for them, tailors marks?) relates to your pattern size. Which is fairly ok for the ones in a line, just count in to your one, but the one where 4 of them are in a line at right angles to the line of the other 5? No idea.

Anyway, to start with I just cut the fronts, backs and belt pieces for fitting purposes. I skipped the pockets (I figured I could add them later if I wanted) and went straight to doing to shoulder and side seams and darts. Hmm, darts, a new technique for me. But fear not, Tilly rounded up several methods of sewing them in a handy blog post recently. I tried a combination of a curved end plus small stitches to stop it unravelling. But my main problem was pinning them. They were quite narrow at the bottom, then widened slightly before tapering to a point. I had great trouble matching the two sides of the fabric up, probably not helped by my rather fient carbon paper markings. I decided not to worry too much as it was a toile. I’m not convinved by the end points of the darts, which creates a slight bagging out of the fabric. More practice needed methinks. I was glad that this is toile. I also abandoned the belt loops as I accidently sewed up a back dart (which they should be inserted into) and couldn’t be bothered to unpick it.

It worked well enough to try on and he liked the fit but wanted it straightened at the bottom and 2″ longer. I’m going to straighten the bottom on this one but leave the lengthening for the real thing otherwise I’d have to recut my pieces and start again. There are lines to lengthen on the pattern so it should be fairly straightforward anyway.

Next I tried the lapels, ironing on the interfacing before marking and cutting. It sounded fairly straight forward, sew the edge, turn right way and topstitch, but I got a bit confused. You see the piece is cut without the triangular divot, which is marked on as a triangle to be sewn and then cut. I wasn’t sure whether to sew my 1.5cm seam allowance outside the triangle, or on the triangle itself, like a dart goes on the marking. The instructions and diagram didn’t help.


I decided to sew on the triangle and see what it looked like. It was too small a divot, so I tried again going around the triangle, which was surprisingly hard because I couldn’t see the guides marked on the machine as the fabric was in the way.


Looking at them side by side it’s not hard to see that the second way must be right.

That sorted I basted them to the fronts. Which meant unpicking some of the shoulder seams as they’re designed to go into the shoulder seam, there is no collar at the back. Once you know this it’s clear on the pattern packet, but it was a bit of a surprise. It’s kind of a fake lapel really. Needless to say hubby would much rather have a proper collar, so I’ll have to think on this one. Looking at his coat collar, there the divot is at the point of the join between the lapels and collar piece.

made them both like the one on the left in the end.

spot the difference

I am really happy that I’m making a toile now with all these alterations (lining, shape of hem, lengthening, collar) to consider. And the upside of having so many projects on the go is that I can put this on one side to cogitate on whilst I work on another.

2 thoughts on “Adventures in Mens Tailoring…

  1. Pingback: Prolific Project Starter | 2 / 3

  2. Pingback: Prolific Project Starter | Wearable Waistcoat

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