Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dabbling in Haberdashery

    My husband, Mike has been begging me for months to make him some work clothes and I just finished a complete outfit.  Here is my adventure making a waist coat.  I started with Burda's pattern #3403 and make some alterations on the shoulders based on his dress shirt slopers.  Mike is a child of the 90's and his posture reflects that mellow, laid back era well.  He has sloped shoulders so the pattern was altered to fit them better.   I found that this pattern could easily be used successfully without many alterations.  I do believe the vest runs a bit big for modern styles and I took it in 5/8" on each side. Otherwise the length was perfect, he is 5' 10" and it falls right where is should at the waist.  As with my past experience with Burda patterns the directions leave something to be desired.  This is not the first time that a step was left out but if you read ahead I will be adding in the missing information.

    I chose this green silk taffeta for the lining because it is breathable, which is very important in Florida, has a bit of a stretch and above all it was very inexpensive.  I found it at Walmart- yeah Walmart!  I was on clearance for $1.00 a yard and given the choice I would have gone with a different color, maybe burgundy, but olive green was the only option.  


   I started this project with stitching the darts.  I remembered why I hate using commercial patterns vs. slopers with this project.  Using a tracing wheel and tracing paper is tedious and clumsy but it works.

 On to the task of pocket making, which can be a chance to show your personal style. In my opinion there are not many opportunities in menswear to do so but since this was my first attempt using this pattern and making a vest I chose to follow the pattern's detailing.  I interfaced the two welts, pressed them in half and stitched a 1/4'' seam allowance in the two short ends. 

    Then I turned them, being careful to make the corners a fine point- thanks to my point turner, and top stitched the edges.
    My first attempt at positioning the welt on the front was very, very wrong.  I positioned it so that the raw edge was pointing up instead of down.  I then realized my error after almost completing the pocket to the point of turning.  Duh!  Something didn't look right, so away with the trusty seam ripper.  A half hour later and some new scratches in my left thumb nail I positioned it correctly and basted it in place.  

   Then I positioned the pocket facing right side down and pocket lining on the vest front perpendicular to the welt's position.  All pieces were basted in place then finally stitched with a 3/8'' seam allowance with the pocket facing 1/4'' shorter on each end of the stitch than the lining.
    On the wrong side of the fabric I then drew a middle line between the two final stitching lines and made two arrows pointing in.  This will be my cutting line.  This technique I have done previously in making double welt pockets on trousers and on the sleeve placket on dress shirts.  Everything is sewn on to the right side of the garment then slashed allowing for turning with perfectly finished edges.  I start the slash with my rotary cutter. 

   The little triangles can be tricky to control when turning so I broke out the "Stitch Witchery" to hold them on place.  I first discovered this ingenious product when I was making trouser pockets a few months ago and since then I have found a time saving use for it on every project.  It is more sturdy than glue basting and more consistent than trying to pin something tiny.  I'm sure Stitch Witchery will be mentioned again in the near future. 

   After lots of pressing the welt and pocket edge when the facing and lining meet are ready to be edge stitched.  I used black embroidery thread for this and payed close attention to the pocket bag so I didn't catch it in the stitching. 

   Then I pulled the pocket out, pinned the seams together and stitched a 1/4'' seam allowance.  I then trimmed the seam allowances a bit and turned it right side out.  Now the raw edges are inside the pocket.

   Then I edge stitched the pocket bag enclosing the raw edges.  This is a neat trick that I adopted from trouser making.  It was lucky that I had previous experience finishing pocket bags because this step was very vague in the Burda pattern.  

    So here is the finished pocket.  My next vest I am going to play with the design because all though it is fine, I don't care for the large opening.   The edge of the pocket is directly lined up under the edge of the welt and leaves an opening almost as large as the welt itself.  I haven't quite worked out how to make the opening smaller but I will let you know when it has been done. 

 The next step is to sew the shoulder seams. With right sides together I stitched a 5/8'' seam allowance and pressed the seam open.  At this point I took the chance for a fitting. According to men's fashion a waistcoat should fall right above the belt line but not be too short as to expose the shirt fabric in the front. Mike wears a short jacket so the possibility of it being too long was looming in my mind. Luckily it was a perfect length! 

   Then next step in the pattern is to sew the facing to the lining.  This step really could have been done at any time previously and in the future I will do it along with the dart sewing.  This seam requires a bit of easing because you are joining two unmatched pieces. With right sides together they will not lay flat.  I used a 5/8" seam allowance and pressed the raw edges toward the lining.

 This step is where I initially got confused and had to beg Mike to pause Dr. Who so I could have quiet to think.  With right sides together the lining and fronts are stitched together at all seams except for the sides and shoulder seams. Then the seam allowance is trimmed, curves  clipped and the whole thing is turned right side out through the side and shoulder seams.    

Why I was confused is because the directions state sew all seams except the side seams.  It didn't mention the shoulder seam so I pinned everything together and tried to turn it realizing everything needed to be pulled through the shoulder seam as well as the side seam. I am glad I didn't follow the pattern blindly or I would have gone after the seam ripper yet again. 

   This next step is where the huge flaw is in this pattern.  It completely leaves out the back lining. So again Dr. Who had to be paused and Mike may have been questioning if his begging for men's wear was really worth it ;p  I stitched a 5/8" seam allowance at all seams except for the side seams and shoulder seams, clipped curves and trimmed seam allowances.  

   Then the fronts were pulled though the shoulder seam and the back was turned through the side seams.  This technique is pretty awesome, leaving all seams except for the shoulder and side completely enclosed.  I will definitely be adding it to my bag of sewing tricks.

   The shoulder seam is then opened and the lining pressed so that the raw edges are enclosed and the front and back linings are perpendicular.  

    Again I cheated and used a bit of Stitch Witchery to hold the seam nicely in place.  Which was very helpful when hand sewing this slippery material while watching Dr. Who :)  I used a slip stitch and while my hand sewing is not very pretty it makes a nicely finished seam.

    Next, I made 5 keyhole button holes 2 1/2" apart and 1/2" away from the edge of the opening, with the keyhole oriented towards the edge.  Again I used black embroidery thread for this.

    I used 1/2" buttons and a crow's foot stitch to hand sew them on.  My machine can automatically sew on buttons but I have never tried it for fear of braking a needle x_x  

   This is another great opportunity for a fitting before sewing the side seams.  I want to be sure this vest was not too loose for Mike which it most definitely was.  I ended up cutting off 1/2" on each side except for the widest part of his stomach, which ended up being the right size.  Then with right sides together I stitched a 5/8" seam allowance being sure not to catch the lining.

   The seam was then opened and the lining pressed so the raw edges are enclosed.  I would have wanted to have the two edges of the lining touch so I didn't have to hand sew as much.  In the future I will cut my lining a bit larger than the outer cloth so I don't have as much hand sewing to do.  Oh, did I mention I hate hand sewing!

And here is about an hours worth of some slip stitching I did while "watching" (it's really just listening to) some more Dr. Who.  I am thinking at this point...."grrr, he is lucky I love him" <3  But, maybe you don't loathe hand sewing as much as I do.

     So here is Mike looking dapper in the shirt, trousers and waistcoat I hand made with love for him.  Although men's wear is very challenging and requires a lot of patience it was well worth it to see him wearing this outfit for work.  Plus total cost is was about $38.50 to make the shirt, trousers and waistcoat.  The tie was purchased on clearance for $7.00 and although I think it may be a Christmas tie he plans on wearing it year round :)  Again, the shoes cost about six times more than the whole outfit but eh- you have to spend your money on something.  A trouser tutorial will be coming next!


  1. I'm about to make this waistcoat (for my daughter's fiancé) and was please to find your post via your review in PR. Your husband looks good in your outfit.
    I thought I'd follow you but can't see how to do that!

  2. I'm about to make this waistcoat (for my daughter's fiancé) and was please to find your post via your review in PR. Your husband looks good in your outfit.
    I thought I'd follow you but can't see how to do that!