Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tailoring Books

A growing list of free books on the internet dealing with tailoring, drafting, and dressmaking.

The Taylor's Instructor, 1809. Figures for men's garments and a ladies habit.
Rules and Directions for Cutting Men's Clothes, 1822. Basic Drafts.
A Treatise on Cutting Garments to Fit the Human Form, 1841. Measuring and numerous drafts for coats, waistcoats, trousers, and more.
A Plain and Concise Treatise of the Art of Tailoring, 1844. Drafting, unfortunately the plates are not unfolded.
The Archetypal Consummation, 1845. Measurements and drafting for coats and waistcoat.
The Tailor's Transfer, 1846. A method for measuring and drafting.
The Tailor, 1840s? The tailors methods, caring for garments, detailed construction, and basic drafts.
Art du Tailleur, 1855. Drafts to standardized measures.
Manual, 1866. Basic Drafts.
The Tailor, 1867. Method for measuring and drafting.
Gazette of Fashion, 1868/9. Fashion plates and their drafts.
Gazette of Fashion, 1869/70. Fashion plates and their drafts.
H. Matheson's Scientific and Practical Guide, 1871. Cutting layouts and fashion plates.
Systems for Garment Cutting, 1872. Basic Drafts.
A Scientific Guide to Practical Cutting, 1873. Basic Drafts.
Gazette of Fashion, 1881. Fashion plates and their drafts.
Vest Cutting, 1883. A variety of vest drafts.
Practical Handbook for Tailors & Seamstresses, 1883. Basic Drafts.
Standard Work on Cutting, 1886. Basic Drafts.
The Science of Coat and Vest Cutting, 1891. Basic Drafts.
Stone's Paramount Cutter, 1891. Basic Drafts.
Garment Cutting in the 20th century, 1892. Basic Drafts.
The American Tailor & Cutter, 1892. Basic Drafts.
The American Coat, Vest, & Trousers System, 1895. Basic Drafts.
The Modern Designer, 1900. Basic Drafts.
The Americanized French Cutting System, 1906. Basic Drafts.
The A.D. Rude Great Modern System, 1906. Basic Drafts.
Grand Edition of Supreme System, 1907. Large variety of drafts.
The Standard Work on Cutting, 1908. Women's drafts for tailors.
Stone's Scientific System, 1912. Grading drafts.
New Supreme System, 1917. Large variety of drafts.
Designing Sack Coats, Dress Coats, & Vests, 1918. Basic Drafts.
Streiff's Ideal System of Garment Cutting, 1920. Basic Drafts.
Coat Making at Home, 1941. Instructional tips, including fur trim.
How to Tailor a Woman's Suit, 1946. Step-by-step instructions.

Artistic Dressmaking and Cutting, 1895. Construction for basque and skirt.
Standard Tailor System, 1896. Drafts for women and children.
Artistic Ladies' Tailor System, 1902. Drafts and instructions for men, women, and children.
System of Garment Drafting, 1904. Dressmaking drafts for women and children.
The American System of Dressmaking, 1907. Construction techniques, including "Tailor-made suits"

Monday, April 18, 2016

Finished Suits 2

I launched myself back into tailoring women's garments last Spring with this 1914 suit. I based the design on a few photographs of women at Longchamps or in Paris. (I'd love to have sources for either of these beyond the Tumblr/Pinterest infinite circle).

The pattern itself was drafted from Thorton's, starting with the "Shoulder-cut Jacket" and making a few alterations to get the right lapel shape.

The skirt is the "New Peg-top Skirt". 

The fabric is a heavy wool, from Burnley & Trowbridge, that has the most amazing hand of anything I've ever worked with. I bought all they had left and still lament I don't have more! The waistcoat is a twill linen with a glossy sheen. Accessorized with Italian leather gloves I bought in Florence, this is one of my favorite ensembles I've ever made.

I didn't take nearly as many photographs of the process as I should have, but there are at least a couple of important ones. I tailored the jacket very similar to how men's coats would have been done during that time. The waistcoat also had a layer of canvas in it, but there wasn't any pad-stitching.
Linen buckram for the main body with horsehair for the chest.

Once pad-stitched together a strip of tailors tape keeps the ends of the hair from poking. There was also a layer of flannel that covered to just outside of this piece.

Ironing done to stretch and shrink the neck and shoulder areas before applying the canvas (which was worked with darts, splits, and ironing to achieve the same shape).

The hat was made from a buckram shape, rounded to fit a head, and I added on the buckram for the brim shape. It was then finished off with wire and tape and covered in a silk-mix fabric (the same lines the jacket). The feathers are an antique spray that easily pins in.

Back in 2012 I made all of the undergarments needed for this time, just in case I wanted to use them for some of the Titanic projects I was doing. I ended up choosing to go corsetless for the dinner (thank goodness), so these pieces had never really been used.
A bottom slip of cotton using wide eyelet lace for the bottom and for a sort of empire style top section (gathered on a bit to allow for bust room). It buttons up the back and ribbons threaded through the eyelet pattern work as straps (and can also be removed if the straps are visible on an evening gown style).

The corset is a layer of coutil and a thin (but strong) figured cotton. The boning channels are made from strips of coutil.

There was a project series done that year with making 1912 patterns available digitally. This slip was one of them, though not quite finished in the picture. There is lace inset between each piece and it too buttons up the back. This goes over the other slip and corset.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Finished Suits I

Taking a break this week from instruction so I can catch up and get pictures of a few detail options like pockets and buttonholes. Instead, I figured I'd show you some of the finished pieces I've been using as examples.

First is a 1940s coat made using Wearing History's Veronica pattern. I chose a Pendleton wool plaid for the outer and a rayon bemberg lining, which I usually get from Britex. It's weird for me, but I didn't make any alterations to the pattern, just used the smaller sleeve top provided as an adjustment. I did end up with a much more complex interfacing than was instructed or needed, however. This was the coat I used for as the main example in Collars & Lapels as well as Tailoring Stitches, so there's plenty in those posts about it's construction!

 This 1950s suit was a much more complex process. I purchased a single sheet French pattern on Etsy and it came with minimal instruction. I had to adjust the size of the pattern down a fair amount after copying it to individual pieces, but it's still a little larger than I would like. I based the interfacing structure on a couple of examples I was able to handle, trying for the New Look stiff hips. I used an olive wool from Burnley & Trowbridge (I stocked up on wools from them recently, so expect quite a few suits!).

Monday, March 7, 2016

Collars & Lapels

This will be a walk-through of a very basic construction for the collar and lapels. There are so many different ways to adjust this, particularly around the shoulder area. As I continue making different styles of suits I'll make more posts of their innards, but this will stand as a good base.

Before we baste the interfacing to the fronts we need to complete any work done to it like darts, splits, or extra layers. The darts are worked by cutting down the center of the dart, overlapping, and cross-stitching both raw edges down. You'll see the same method used below for seaming. If there are multiple layers involved, as above, they'll need to be pad-stitched together and any taping of the edges done. I then pad-stitched a flannel layer over the horsehair section.

The finished interfacing layer is then basted onto the front. Baste along the inside edge as well as up the outside and along the roll line. Don't baste around the collar because the pad-stitching will shift that edge.

Tailors tape is stitched along the roll-line. You can end the tape before the seam allowance on both ends or leave the top long to extend into the collar later. I've used both, but haven't found enough of a difference to have a preference yet.

The collar is then pad-stitched.

Trim back the seam allowance and pin tailors tape around the edges. I prefer to do it inside of the stitching line so the fold isn't as bulky, but you can set it further out so it's stitched through when attaching the facing later.

The tape is stitched down, making sure to press everything well to reduce bulk.

The collar interfacing is cut on the bias, just as the undercover is. The seam is overlapped and cross-stitched. I basted only along the roll line. If I had not kept the front tailors tape long I would have placed some across this line at this point.

After pad-stitching the collar into shape, trim back the seam allowance. The collar can be hand or machine finished. I always hand-stitch the neck seam, but vary on the outer edges. Whatever edges will be handworked should be folded over and cross-stitched down.

When it comes to the body being assembled there are a few options for the interfacings. They can be left a little long and brought out to overlap the open seams and cross-stitched down to them, caught in the seam being stitched, or cut back and the seam allowance stitched down to them. If you aren't using an interfacing that will extend and support the entire shoulder seam you'll need to tape the seam. In some cases the shoulder pad is inserted between the interfacing and exterior (and pad-stitched in); that seam will also be taped.

The collar is overlapped onto the neck and felled down. The seam is then opened and pressed.

The front neck seam allowance is folded down and cross-stitched to the interfacing. It's left loose along the back.

The tailors tape is stitched across if you're using this method. It doesn't need to extend all the way to center back.

After the front facing is attached the seam allowance is folded to the interfacing and cross-stitched down.

Fold the facing back and press. The neck edge is felled and the inside edge cross-stitched.

The upper collar is then attached, the seam allowance stitched down if done by machine before turning. If by hand the edge is felled instead. The neck edge is then clipped at the shoulder seams, the front edge folded back and felled to create a finished seam, the back is left hanging down and will be covered by the lining (if not lining then all is folded and felled).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


The next step in our tailoring process will be the actual cutting of the fabric. While you may be using a pattern complete with seam allowances, facings, and details, many pre-1950s patterns will be missing these pieces. If you are drafting your own you'll find it necessary to account for all of these in the process as well. In my case I'll often adjust the modern patterns, or at least double check, for many of the details I prefer to have.

Seam Allowances
In professional tailoring seam allowances are not put on to the pattern. This is standard practice for all time periods and something I swear by. A great deal of tailoring is done by hand, but even in the case of machining the seams it helps to have the actual stitching line drawn or basted out. This practice is done with corsetry as well- if every seam is cut just a little wide and adds 1/16" it can be disastrous overall. There is no standard size of allowance either. It varies widely depending on the area of the pattern, the fabric, and personal preference. I consider 1/2" to be my "standard", though I'll cut anywhere from 1/4" to 1 1/2" on the same piece.

I generally add extra to the center back just in case the shoulders end up too narrow. The side of the front piece to adjust for overall size, but also a flare to the fronts armscye in case it needs to be taken in. The shoulder excess is due to my large shoulders being a common problem, but it's useful if doing an older pattern where our modern shape and posture might be an issue. The neckline I sometimes add to, but mostly when working on a body that has a tendency towards bad posture. If the head is kept further forward the collar will gap in the back.

For the sleeves I only add extra to the curve of the upper in case of fitting issues. If your pattern is for something tight in the sleeve then adding more to the allowances of the top piece would be a good choice. The extra at the bottom of the seam is if you are dealing with a vent. This can definitely be stitched on in different ways, but if you can remember to do it this can be easier.

Most of the extra goes into the back of a pair of trousers, not just in the out and in seams, but flaring out the center back seam. You'll find this done even in modern men's suit trousers because it allows for you to adjust the waist measurement later (unlike the extras in the jacket, trousers keep their larger seam allowances). The weird shapes on the side seam are for a pocket on the seam. No matter how large I make the hips in my trousers I can never get it enough that that style of pocket doesn't gap. So, rather than have pocketing visible I make sure that the back extends far enough.

Remember to stitch just inside of the chalked stitch lines so not to add the width of the line itself to the pattern. I do the same with the cut line, cutting just inside.

In addition to regular seam allowances you might decide to put in elements like pockets on a seam or buttoned vents on a jacket sleeve. These can have pieces seamed on, but it's much easier to cut them on ahead of time, reducing bulk along the edges. The fly for a pair of trousers can also be included in this.

Facings & Upper Collar
These have similar needs, both expecting to be rolled. If these pattern pieces are not provided for you'll need to adjust the front and under collar slightly. In order to have these roll over the outside and not pull they'll be ever so slightly larger- only about 1/8" larger around the outside edges. The front facings will only cover part of the inside of the front, usually going from mid-shoulder and down to around 4" at the hem. If the shoulder has a dart, which is common in women's jackets, the lining can accommodate this rather than the facing.

Under Collar
This is typically cut on the bias with a seam down the middle. The interfacing for the collar is cut the same way.

1 1/2" or 2" is a comfortable hem size for the bottom of a jacket or sleeves. I sometimes go a little over for pants, but 2" is preferable there as well.

There's not going to be a huge difference between your lining pattern and your regular pattern. It's important to leave at least 1" seam allowance center back so that you can put in a slight pleat from neck to wait. The outer fabric usually has a bit more stretch than the lining so it prevents stress across the shoulders. You'll also account for the front facing and not needing as much hem. I either cut on the fold line for the hem or add 1/2".

This can seem like the most complex part of cutting simply because there are rarely separate pattern pieces or instructions for this section. Keep in mind that you should add on seam allowance for these pieces, even if you are going to trim it down in the end. Pad-stitching and slight cutting differences are much easier to correct for after everything is basted and stitched together. Other small interfacings like those for pocket slits or sleeve hems I cut as I get to them, often utilizing scraps.

This example is from a 1914 women's suit I constructed. The main body is buckram and the chest piece is horsehair. There is piecing that will be cross-stitched on both sides. The roll line and shoulder dart are marked. This style is the full width of the shoulder coming down to a point because of the jacket shape. If the jacket had a straight front it would be roughly 3-4" wide at the hem.

This 1950s coat uses medium weight hymo for the body and no second layer in the chest. The shape not only is the width of the shoulder, but extends to the side seam as well.

A two layer interfacing was put in around the hem after the body was assembled, about 8" wide. This was done to achieve the Dior New Look style iconic of the early 1950s. The first layer was the same hymo, the second of horsehair. This has a back seam and side seams to keep with the curve of the jacket.

Less coverage is also an option. This interfacing of a 1940s overcoat doesn't extend the full width of the shoulder. It's done in a heavy hymo, mostly because I have a lot of that fabric sitting around and the heavier weight of the wool allows for it to be used.