For years I used to teach the apprentices at work. Every November we have an end of year show for them. It’s a great event, all the apprentices present on stage, the staff as well as all the mums & dads come to cheer them along. I’ve always had to introduce my group, but now that I no longer teach it has somehow fallen to me to host the entire evening! I did it last year for the first time and even though it was nerve wracking, once it was over I realised I’d enjoyed it!

Well, this year I figured I’d get some courage from a smart new outfit. I’d bought this beautiful wool from the Holland and Sherry stand at the Great British Sewing Bee Live. It feels SO soft! It may only have 1% each of cashmere and silver mink (… SILVER MINK!) but it feels totally luxurious for it.

2.5 metres is plenty for trousers and a waistcoat. I decided on the waistcoat pattern from the book The Gentlemans Wardrobe, I checked the measurements and cut out a medium. I only just had enough lining fabric in my stash to cut out the back and lining.

So I cut the inside back lining out of a little leftover fabric from Corkys GBSB top. The colours sort of go…. I love it! (… spoilers…!)

I like the look when waistcoats have a band of front fabric around the back of the arm. This pattern doesn’t have that, so I drafted a 2.5cm band from the pattern piece. I put a notch in the middle to help pin together the opposing curves.

The whole thing came together really nicely. I generally sew a lot with cotton, drill and denim, so it’s really nice to be working with lovely soft wool and silky lining. Unlike other waistcoat patterns I’ve used, this one does not involve interfacing the entire fronts. Just the front facings, so much easier to find pieces in my stash.

I love it when all the fiddly bits are done and you get to sew the outer to the lining. I love this waistcoat so much, I even hand stitched the insides closed!

I had a bit of a nightmare putting the buttonholes in; the thread kept snapping halfway up the other side of the buttonhole. All my samples and tests worked fine, but on the garment it just wouldn’t work. I was pretty hacked off about it, I’ve got to say. But then I took a deep breath and showed my machine a bit of love. I took off the plate & hooked out a ton of fluff, changed the needle, threaded a new bobbin etc. By the time I started sewing again the buttonholes were going smoothly. I’d had to unpick 3 botched attempts but thankfully hadn’t ruined the fabric.

I’m really happy with the finished waistcoat. It did turn out a bit shorter than I thought it would. If I make another one I might lengthen it a bit.

So then of course I had to make some trousers. Out came my tried and true Men’s Clothes For All Seasons chino pattern. I wrote about making them (following all the instructions!) HERE, if you’re interested in the construction.

The pockets came together nicely. I didn’t want to topstitch so I understitched the seams by the pocket opening. And the welts went in neatly. I haven’t done any for a while and found it useful to reread a few old blogs!

I’m guilty of sewing when tired and made a HUGE mistake on the fly… I hastily rummaged through my stash and found a blue zip that was too long but would cut down easily. Somehow I’d managed to sew the entire fly, topstitching and everything before realising that I had sewn in an invisible zip…. BACKWARDS!

You can just image the colour of the air as I cursed my way through unpicking the entire crotch and fly. I found another zip and put it straight in. Annoyingly it didn’t go as cleanly as the first attempt, but I couldn’t face anymore unpicking!

I’ve got a neat little tip (if you haven’t heard it already) for the inside of the waistband… I overlocked 5mm off from the inside edge, then, when I sewed the corners, I folded the inside corner up so that the overlocking thread wouldn’t be visible at the front edge.

And I found a nice button for the front…

I sent them to the dry cleaners, to get the chalk off and give them a professional press, and they’re looking pretty sharp. So let’s hope they do the job and help me through presenting this work event!


The presentation evening went really well. Everything went smoothly, the apprentices showed some amazing work. And I was very comfortable in my outfit. I even managed to get a couple of photos…

Happy Sewing!

Notes to self;

  • Lengthen waistcoat next time, maybe just a centimetre.
  • Google who the buttonhole God is and make some kind of offering before sewing buttonholes in anything other than a shirt!
  • I tried googling the fabric, but couldn’t get a firm explanation of the Silver Mink… please don’t throw red paint on me.
  • The fancy fabric feels lovely on, I should treat myself more to some nice bits.
  • The peacoat is coming…!