Gentleman’s Waistcoat

I’m working on the waistcoat in Burda 2767 for my husband.  He asked for the Greatcoat; I figured the waistcoat would make a good removable interlining, and would afford me a chance to work with the fabric before sinking my teeth into the coat.  Last night I made the muslin.

The waistcoat is cut on generally the same lines as the coat, though the back is simplified:

This also allows me a chance to work on fit.  I knew ahead of time that waist length and shoulders might be an issue.  His shoulder seams never sit on his shoulders, and he usually has little hollows of fabric at the front shoulder.  These are things only a fit-crazy wife would notice.

Based on his measurements, I traced off a size 38.  Nearly every one of his measurements fell exactly between size 36 and 38.  Usually I just go for whichever size is closer; in cases like this I find it prudent to go for the larger size and adjust a muslin.

I took flat pattern measurements of the center back, the waist, the chest, and shoulder length on front and back.  Then I subtracted the size measurements to give me wearing ease.  I like to know how much ease I’m working with, otherwise I would just add or subtract based on size measurements/Husband measurements.  For example, if I didn’t care to know how much ease I’m working with, I could look and see that the waist measure for size 38 is 34″.  I could compare that to husband’s 33″ waist and easily surmise I need to take off 1″ from the waistline.  Incidentally, the waistcoat has 6″ of waistline ease.

My flat pattern measurements told me to shorten the waist length by 1″.  For some reason the chest flat measurement worked out to be perfect so I left it alone, and I took off 1″ total at the waist.  I did that by measuring .25″ from the edge of the pattern and tapering the side seam into it.  Shoulder length was correct.

Then I put it on Husband.  The fit was ok.  On the left, I trimmed and tucked the armscythe seam allowances, that made it sit smoother.

Again, the fit was just ok.  I could probably get away with making it up as is and no one but me and a few other picky-pickies would notice.  But I love my husband, and I think he should wear a well-fitting garment for once.  It makes you feel completely different about your body when your clothes conform to your build, rather than highlighting your “flaws.”   

Notice my finger, that is for your benefit to mark the shoulder seam.  Notice how his t-shirt sleeve pulls funny because of the forward rotated shoulder.   I consulted Betzina and FFRP.  I find both of those books good for diagnoses, but still somewhat lacking.  Anyway, I unpicked the shoulder seam, and adjusted it to sit where it ought to.

I had to pivot the shoulder seam 1″ forward before it sat where it should.  Then I unpicked the back yoke seam on the same side and re-adjusted.  From the neck to about 3″ down it sat beautifully, then the seam went awry.  I ended up taking about 3/8″ bow shape out of the back at that seam.  The seam on the back yoke piece became straighter.  I don’t really understand the geometry of it, but it worked. 

(Upper seam on back piece, adjusted with green chalk)
(Adjusted seam on back yoke piece, curve flattened slightly.)
After those adjustments, it sat beautifully on him.  I think there is a little too much ease through the chest, but I decided I can adjust that when I put the lining/underlining and exterior pieces on him before I sew them together.  They will act differently than the cheap nasty lawn I used here.  I see some funny wrinkles down near the bottom, that tells me that he needs a little more room in the seams below the waist.  
My instincts tell me the bottom of the waistcoat should hit at the top of his pants, or overlap a little.  Currently the waistcoat ends about 2″ above where he wears his pants.  I think I should lengthen it below the waist, to make it longer.  I hate editing the style of a garment, but I think it would be stupid to have the gap there. 
I hope when I make his coat muslin I can extrapolate these alterations and streamline the fitting process.
The next step will be learning piped buttonholes/pockets from Kenneth King’s Cool Couture.  One of the problems inherent in working in a sewing centre is the constant stream of temptations.  When I used to be cash-strapped, it was all well and fine to just avoid entering a sewing shop.  Now it is very hard.  I bought the book because it picks up where my Palmer Pletsch Jackets for Real People leaves me cold.  Don’t get me wrong, I think JFRP is a great book, but a little bit “home-sewing.”  K.King kicks it up a notch, very carefully lays down the law about equipment and needle positions, and takes no prisoners.  It’s exactly my kind of book, I sat down and read it one end to the other.  
So this week I’m practicing his piped buttonhole technique, no less than 10 times (Nancy!) or until I reach perfection.  I ordered the wool flannel from Charles Parsons, they delivered like lightning, special delivery, and it came on rolls.  Like I’m a fabric store.  I ordered charcoal for the waistcoat and black for the coat.  I find their lengths of fabric very generous.  In JFRP, they recommend putting a steamy wool setting iron on your wool for a few seconds to find out if you need to pre-steam it.  If it shrinks up, then yes.  Mine didn’t, I don’t have to steam 5+ yards of flannel!  Calooh callay!  
For lining, I’ll use a bit of cotton silk that dyed funny, and the interlining an old sweater of Husband’s that I shrank when he was still Boyfriend.   Recycling!
Finally, the buttons:

(I also made that Vogue 8379 wrap dress this weekend, but no witty remarks until I have a picture of it on and I know she loves it.  I fell in love with it myself while working on it, nothing but iron willpower prevented me ordering more rayon doubleknit to make one for myself.  Having a great time dyeing, no conclusive results yet but my fingernails are green.  For now, the flying geese have gone north for the winter.)


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