Finished Object: Gentleman’s Waistcoat

(Adjusted for clarity.  I could not get a good shot of the back to save my life.  I think I may have to choose between decent lining fabric for his coat and a camera.  Too bad the hemp silk will win.)

The jury’s still out on whether I’ll make the back buckle or not.  I’ll let him decide.

I love:

  • The black piping on charcoal wool
  • The eeny silver screw buttons
  • Inner collar lined with the cotton side of the cotton silk, for comfort
  • Overall interplay of the various colors and textures- deeply pleasant
  • The piped pockets.  I want them on everything
  • Sharp, sharp edges

I learned:

  • Trim the haircloth out of the seam allowances, for the love of Pete
  • Do not stitch the haircloth into the dart.  Cut the haircloth and lap it over the dart, and catch stitch the edges together.  I have done this on other projects, but it escaped me until I neared completion of the waistcoat.  I kept wondering why the thing would not press neatly.
  • Piped buttonholes and pockets may look fantastic, but they might not be the best choice for 5/8″ buttons.
  • To fit Husband (!)
  • I have no idea how to face buttonholes properly
  • Wool flannel is exceptionally lovely to work with
  • Solvy greatly facilitates buttonhole and pocket placement
  • Tailoring is not actually hard; it is time consuming and requires a great deal of knowledge and “finger-tip” skill, but is not particularly difficult.
  • Do not use a seamed piece of piping for a pocket.  That might seem obvious to some, but at the time I couldn’t make up my mind.  The choice was use a piece of piping with a seam or assemble a new piece of piping, including cutting more bias from the black wool.  Cutting into the black wool for piping before I cut the coat frightened me; I did it with the utmost timidity.

I dislike (self-critique, please do jump in as long as it is constructive):

  • Left side seam, especially the lining.  I stitched and trimmed the exterior side seams at the wrong time and had to then unpick them.  I worked hard to make the seams come together nicely (at the appropriate time), with mixed results.  The left side seam hand-stitching looks like rubbish.  If my fingertips would stop smarting, I’d rip it out and re-stitch today.  
  • The buttonholes are rather stiff.  This is the logical effect of thick interfaced wool edges, tiny buttonholes, small buttons and stiff wiry mouse tail cording used to make the piping.  I’m glad I didn’t spring for rat tail.  You must button it up using the button as leverage.  Had I made the buttonholes (by usual estimation) too large, the buttons would slip in easily and stay.  That piping clamps tightly on the buttonholes.  I’m using 1 1/4″ buttons on the coat, so I’ll stick to what I know- piped buttonholes.
  • The buttonhole facing disgusts me, a MacGyver-esque attempt to make them work. I tried facing them with a little organza patch window and snipping.  Did not work for me.  I ended up slicing all the organza out and making buttonholes in the facing by hand.  Of course I could not get all the organza free of the stitching.  Of course I am terribly out of practice with hand-worked buttonholes.  I will say that they turned out excessively strong.  Nothing is ruined, but it could be much better.  Next time I think I will face piped buttonholes as soon as I can in order to allow the best access possible to the spot.  Part of my problem came from lack of accessibility.   Next time I will carefully mark the buttonholes and work them by machine, unless I find another way or decide the organza patch method can be brought to heel.
  • The CF buttonhole edge is a little funny.  Not funny ha-ha, funny like I stitched it just a little weird.  It is not a perfectly smooth curve.  I did not care enough to fix it.
  • Not sure I got the below-the-arm fit correct.  I suspect it would be straightened out by the little back belt.
  • I forgot to under stitch.  This is why I need a comprehensive map of where to go.  The lining was cut smaller than the shell in order to allow the outside edges to fold under, but I still feel uneasy.  Especially around the back armscythe.  The lining doesn’t show, but it could.  I pressed rather aggressively, and clapped it to death.  Facings and linings that show seem to me to be the hallmark of lazy sewing.  I don’t want that!

Overall, I give it a C+.  I feel a little let down by the finished product after all the work that went into it, but I suppose it served its purpose.  I gained confidence with Husband’s fit, with the materials, the techniques, the pattern, and my tools.

I’m not sure how much Husband likes it.  I can’t get pictures of the flaws to post because he’s still wearing it.  It may be because he can’t unbutton it.  I suspect it has something to do with me being slightly cross because he told me he’d only wear it with the coat.  It is a new type of garment for him, it may take some getting used to.  I really like it, despite its flaws, and I think it is a good benchmark.  It is better than my previous tailoring attempts.

Expect a little follow up with flaws and lining.

Also, opinions on a little black top-stitching?  


    1. It looks terrific in the photos–can't see any flaws at all! As for topstitching–I would leave it as it is. It's very elegant looking.

    2. I think it's turned out beautifully. I know how easily it is to be disappointed when it's not the perfection you saw in your mind, but I bet if you put this away for a month and look at it again, you will see what wonderful work you have done. Recently I came across a short story I wrote ten years ago and forget that it was languishing on my hard drive. When I reread it my first thought was "Wow! I'm better than I thought". I agree with Gwen, leave the topstitching off. It looks fantastic and you should be very proud of yourself.

    3. Wonderful! I'll chime in with the topstitching: Leave it off. Topstitching, imo, is always a little sportswear-like. This is elegant.

    4. Pingback: Coat Progress: Alternative Collar Instructions « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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