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B&T Workshop--Waistcoat

Just back from another Burnley & Trowbridge workshop on making waistcoats led by the very talented tailor Neil Hurst. It was a lot of fun, productive--and as usual, eye-opening. 

The dynamic was a little different from other B&T workshops, however. The workshop was much more relaxed, since it was Level One, with concepts covered more slowly. Also, many folks had spouses or children as "customers" so there was a constant hub of socializing. My customer--Rick (aka, DH)--was mentally caught up in a novel he couldn't rip his eyes away from, so he wasn't into much socializing. So, when I had down time in the beginning (after I measured up my spouse and made my pattern), I sewed up half of a cap for myself! In an odd way, it kind of reminded me of what a real period shop environment might have been like...

It wasn't all work and no play, though! We shared an apartment rental over the weekend with another couple, the Dobyns--and had a wonderful time keeping company while doing homework, watching movies and dining with other workshop participants. 

The class featured a very detailed process of measuring, pattern drafting and fitting. Once I drafted my pattern, I cut it out of my lining fabric, test fit it on Rick and fussed over it. He picked (after considerable indecision over fabrics) a gorgeous light wool broadcloth fabric that handled like butter. Combine the right pattern with amazing fabric and correct tailoring techniques--the result was stunning, even in the partially sewn version I left with!

Afterwards, we all were remarking how distinct the period fit really is--maybe it's just the result of more trained eyes, but our hand sewn waistcoats look astonishingly better. Machine sewing using commercial patterns is far from the period methodology. Modern patterns seem to always reflect modern fit details and machine sewing leads to a garment that really does not hang correctly. 

As a bonus, I sat down with Angela Burnley and figured out all the things I was doing wrong with my gown construction from the workshop I took last summer. I am very glad I held off on sewing to ask her--I was headed in slightly wrong directions on a couple of small finishing points. Fortunately, not much more left to complete on that project (well, not counting trim)!

Additionally, I brought  along the child stays I'd made previously (in another B&T workshop). It done, except for binding--and I had promised to donate it to the Yorktown Battlefield museum. I brought it and showed it to the costume director and he was thrilled--that was gratifying.

A bit of homework remains, but it's been totally fun! Can't wait until the next workshop!


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 3rd, 2011 01:36 pm (UTC)
Even today, the very finest "bespoke" suits are not just hand-tailored and custom-fitted, but hand-stitched or -sewn. And it does make a world of difference in the finished appearance of the garments comprising that suit of clothes, as well as how they sit on or hang from the body.
Oct. 4th, 2011 12:48 pm (UTC)
I would imagine so--I think it's the attention to fitting that helps the most. The hand sewing (I think) is mostly to accomplish stitches that aren't possible by machine. There are a lot of tiny stitches to attach lining and layering thingies that don't go through to the front of the garment. I don't think a machine could do that. And now, tailoring I think is about the same process. I am getting to like it more and more...
Oct. 4th, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
The attention to fit in modern tailoring, or in the 18th century pieces you're doing?
In modern tailoring there is a lot of hand-stitching, even if the joining of the various pieces of the garment is accomplished by machine. The pad-stitching which creates and holds the roll of the lapel and the back of the collar, for instance, must be done by hand and the thread gets carried to the outside of the fashion fabric (with those stitches showing on the outside being only a thread's thickness in length!), but on what becomes the underside of that feature due to the roll or the folding back of the piece. In other words, there, but not noticeable.
And of course there is a lot of structure built into modern suit coats which isn't intended to be seen in any way other than the effect created by those structuring techniques, which do affect how well the suit coa fits.
And there are still suits being made entirely by hand, including the joining of all the various bits such as the upper sleeve to the under sleeve and then the setting of that sleeve into the armscye, or the two halves of the back of the suit coat, the French fly of the trousers, and so on. Everything.
(Apologies if I haven't taken your meaning.)
I love doing all those hand-stitched bits, love shaping the material into the subtle curves over the body.... Like a kind of magic....
Oct. 5th, 2011 12:27 pm (UTC)
I meant that the way it was sewn couldn't have possibly been done by machine (on the 18th century garments) and that I think this is the root of modern tailoring. It is so cool, all the details and how they make things look better...
Oct. 5th, 2011 01:31 pm (UTC)
I'm assuming here that "the way it was sewn" is more than the mere joining of right back to right side back, or sleeve cap into armscye?

Modern tailoring begins (say modern tailors) in the 14th century, although I'm not positive at least one of them doesn't mean the 1400s. In the 1500s, you'll find many, perhaps most, of the tailoring techniques used today---if we don't count fusible interfacing, of course---with only the cut or style of the garments being the obvious difference.
What is it about the tailoring of the 18th century, then, which you feel connects it so closely to the twentieth or twenty-first?
Oct. 5th, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
Sounds like a wonderful class! What workshop have you signed up for next?
Oct. 5th, 2011 12:29 pm (UTC)
It was great. Next one is on tailoring details. Honestly, until I took these classes, tailoring never appealed. Now I'm quite converted!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )