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!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

1920's Downton Abbey Garden Party style outfits

Some months ago we were invited to a wedding of friends with a 1920's Downton Abbey Garden party theme. On one hand I was thrilled I love any occasions to dress up especially in a historical outfit. On the other hand I was a little bit scared I wasn't going to make the deadline. It was an era we didn't have in our costume closet and I didn't want to cut corners by buying or renting costumes. The couple getting married are two of the people who inspire me to set the bar high on authenticity and quality. So I wanted us to look really good to honour this fact.

Last Sunday they got married and my husbands 3 piece suit was finished the day before around 17.00 pm. It was a nerve recking experience but this was the end result.

I could bore you to death with a the things I think that a wrong with my husband his suit. The whole thing was a challenge and a learning experience, and boy did I learn a lot! 

As I am not particularly fond of this square lowered waistline style dress chances are I won't be wearing my dress again any time soon and I took that fact in account when I made it. My husbands suit however is a whole different story. It cannot only be worn as a 1920's suit but could also work as a 1890's summer suit. This is the other reason I put so much time, energy, money and affort in it and I think he looks really smart in it!

I would like to make some changes to the costume before he wears it again. The trousers have to be taken in and (flat)lined to stiffen the horrible stretchy and saggy fabric. The linen/viscose mixture was a true nightmare to work with. I only found out it had viscose in it when I had washed the fabric but if we had know on forehand. We would still have bought it, it had the exact look my husband was looking for. Also I would like to make some changes to the vest and the lining of the coat. Eventhough it still needs work we both we really happy with the overall look.

I had purchased a roaring twenties dress pattern (butterick B6399) but found it needlessly complicated and time consuming. So I used a version of the 1920's one hour dress pattern on-line. I took more than one hour to make the dress but that was due to the lace inserts. The top dress is blue batist cotton with a separate blue silk sash and a (unfortunaly) synthetic lace overlay. Which had been part my stash doing nothing and looked really amazing with this costume so how could I resist.  Underneath I am wearing an off-white silk slip dress, which I also made with fabric from my stash. 

More information on my costume can be found here in a previous blog.

My husband his three pieces suit was put together with three separate patterns. The coat has been made with Butterick B6503 (aka Fantastic beast or Peaky Blinders suit). The vest was made with Folkwear #2222, Vintage vests and the trousers were made with Laughing Moon Mercantile #106, Late 19th century California pants.