Friday, 21 September 2018

Summer madness; A Belle Epoque gents summer suit.

This French fashion plate from May 1899 is basically the look I was going for with my husbands suit. When I thought of Belle Epoque/Great Gatsby linen summer suits the color that came to mind was white, creme or beige. 

Like this lovely original 1918 creme linen mohair blend suit, that is for sale on Etsy, that popped up on my timeline  on Facebook when I was working on mine. Serendipity much? 

But my husband isn't someone who like the wear light colors neither am I as a matter of fact. So when I found the blue and gray suits in the French 1899 fashion plate we decided to go for a blue suit and fearing a solid blue suit would be to dull for his liking we decided to try and find a striped blue linen fabric and to avoid the association with pajamas we didn't want the blue to be too light either. While looking we found out that we were also particular about the amount and width of the stripes.

So finding THE right fabric was easier said than done, especially when you don't have an enormous budget. So we where over the moon when we found this half linnen at a local fabric market and being so happy we finally found something I didnt bother to check what the other fiber was. A decision I came to regret later! When we bought the fabric it felt like the right weight and stiffness for a suit but after washing it. It became soft, stretchy and flowy perfectly right for a lot of things but a suit. Thinking I could always use a fabric stiffner later I decided to start on the trousers.

Putting together the trousers went pretty smoothly. I had made the same pattern, Laughing Moon #106, California Pants, several times before so no surprises there. The big surprise came when I tried to stiffen the fabric with fabric stiffner spray. It didn't do anything than I tried the stiffner for the washing machine. It did something, but very little and in patches. Only than I tried to find out what the actual fibre content was... it was half linen alright but not a linen cotton blend but a linen viscose blend.


So I ended up using soft or medium fusible interfacing on all pattern pieces for the vest and the coat and on some of the hottest summer days of this summer. Great, really really great....

The pattern I used for the coat is Butterick b6503 Men's Single-Breasted lined coat with back vents aka the Fantastic beasts suit pattern or the Peaky Blinders suit pattern, depending on which fandom you are from., team Fantastic Beasts here!

I will kid you not, making the coat was really tough. Especially putting in the lining was really difficult and in doing so I have made some mistakes that will need correcting later. I was way out of my comfort zone with lots of sewing techniques I had never done before. Fortunately my mother-in-law could explain some for me!

Before you sew in a lining at the hem it is wise to let the garment hang for at least a week. While the coat was hanging I started on the vest. 

Folkwear #222, Vintage vests version A, was the pattern I used. To save time I skipped making a mock-up version and omitted the two top pockets. I went by measurements on the envelop alone and ended up taking in the whole vest a size or two. Feeling the stress of a rapidly approaching deadline I made some rookie mistakes. Which, as long as I don't point them out to you, won't be visible but as I can't unsee them I will probably end up making a new vest eventually.

After a long last struggle with the lining of the coat the costume was finished the day before the wedding of our friends around 17.00 pm. Or at least we thought so...

And then this happend...

The hand stitched welts of the vest pockets came undone after putting in the pocket watch and watch chain. So my husband did some emergency repairs on the morning of the wedding but the end result was worth it!

Eventhough every piece of this costume has to be redone. The trousers have to be (flat)lined to give the fabric more body and stiffness and they have to be taken in as my husband recently lost some weight. I have to make a whole new vest as I switched the front left and right pieces. The lining has to be taken out of the coat and partially replaced and sewn in again I will also add one button. 

For now I am taking a week, maybe two of sewing before I start working on my outfit for our Late Victorian event in December. The outfit still needs a chemisette and sleeves and a winter coat!

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