Hello there. The clock is still ticking towards my nephews wedding; the deadline for my handmade suit. Burda 6871.
If you’ve been following so far, thank you for all your comments & encouragement! If you’d like to catch up click the links below for the full story!
Still to come (hopefully before the wedding!)
- Top coat
But, for now, although buttonless & shirtless, I (almost) have a three piece suit to wear. Here’s how it went…
The trousers and waistcoat, I wasn’t too daunted by. In retrospect I should have been more reverential of the patterns ‘advanced’ status and approached it with more preparation. There were a few head-scratching moments over the pocket stripes and construction details, but I got there in the end.
After the first two pieces I felt I was match-ready to step up to the jacket.
After checking the measurements and the amount of ease, I traced out a size 36 instead of a 38 (like I did with the waistcoat). There were two lengths marked for the different sizes (not including the long line jacket) so I traced to the longer length.
I was much more methodical cutting out… I ticked off all the pieces as I traced them and as I cut them out I seperated them into order. I cut all my interfacing pieces first. Then all the lining pieces, then all the fabric pieces, leaving enough fabric off-cuts to cut out the pockets as I needed them.
The dart in the front piece alarmed me right away. I haven’t done this before, and slashing the front pieces practically in half then sewing them up again (before later cutting them open again!) seemed like a wild move… and quite a hindrance to any quality stripe matching.
But, I read the instructions a few times (In my head, and out loud to a supportive, sympathetic but, still, ultimately oblivious MrA) and it wasn’t as scary as I thought.
I had to sew on the side panel before I could tackle the pocket and those stripes. I traced the stripes onto the paper pattern, I folded my welts and flaps along the sewing line, I basted, checked and sewed, and to be honest… I could be happier with them. (Next time I’m going to try to focus more on the stripes of the main piece first then worry about the stripes on the welt… I don’t intend to over analyse it, and I certainly don’t want to lose any sleep over it, but sometimes, when you stare at stripes and welts for long enough, they start to stare back at you.)
Recently I was advised that the top pocket should not sit inside the lower pocket, so I double checked the pattern placement and the pictures, and yes they are positioned inside the lower ones on this pattern… So, technically that would be wrong? By the time I’d remembered this I’d already done the lower pockets, and the top one didn’t have much wriggle-room before it ended up in the sleeve seam, so I shuffled it over one stripe and hoped for the best.
After the darts and pockets I could let loose on a couple of seams (back seam and shoulder seams) before some more nitty-gritty with the collar. I cut this out with the centre in the middle of two stripes (another piece of good advice – although I feel it may have been easier matching to the stripe rather than between it… I’m not sure if that matters too though…?) anyway, I cut them out flat and folded the piece over to mirror the other side;
I had deluded myself into thinking I might do some handstitching around the collar of this jacket. Believe me, there’s nothing I would love more than to sit night after night hand tailoring this lapel. I’m sure, one day I will, but I doubt that my first attempt will be much of a success and I really need to wear this outfit soon.
(To be honest, if I were going to put money on it, I’d say I’m more likely to knit a jumper before I hand tailor a suit. But I’m not much of a gambling man.)
There’s this extra-fiddly bit with the collar, a little collar stand (that hasn’t featured on the other jackets I’ve made) which seems to give it a really nice shape.
The collar was a bit fiddly to go in compared to some. You definitely don’t want to miss out any of the marking numbers, and make sure you line everything up really precisely. You get to do it twice, for the upper and under collar, they get attached to the main body and the facing respectively then joined together.
It was another late night and MrA had suggested that it would show signs of mania to sew beyond 11pm. So instead of finishing the collars, I took to sewing up a bit of the lining before bed. Something nice and simple to finish off with, no major thinking required…. until I sewed the front sides to the back sides without putting the side sides in!
I proudly announced that I had finished sewing for the night and my first task upon recommencing would be to unpick those last two seams.
The following night I did it in front of the telly. It wasn’t so bad. It was a bit more fiddly when I came to sew them up properly. I’d already pinked the seams, so before I unpicked, I marked the stitching line. I positioned & pinned this to the errant side piece and stitched along the line, removing the pins as I went.
The fun thing on the lining was this back seam. The drawing and markings on the pattern were pretty clear on the shape, but I was left uncertain of how much of it I should sew. So I did the back seam as normal then the extra pieces to create the ‘tucks’. I wasn’t sure if they should come from the seam line, connected. Or just the parallel sections… I couldn’t see any harm in it, so I did the lot.
I went off the instructions here for a bit. Instead of sewing the facing to the jacket front, I put the lining and facing together and snuck in an inside pocket (that was lacking in the pattern) and my name tag.
I’ll admit that this wasn’t my neatest sewing ever: hence the wide-shot-photo. This also highlights an issue I found with the previously forgotten side pieces… they’re too short! I’m assuming that when I oh-so-diligently traced out the pattern pieces, I’d omitted to lengthen all of them. Major downer.
There’s some kind of devilry going on with the hem line of the outer jacket too (… was I even paying attention at all…?) so rather than unpick, re cut, re sew. I decided to ignore it for now and deal with it later.
Time to put the sleeves in. Wisely, I decided to do the lining ones first. The day I put the sleeves in will hereafter be know as sleeve-gate. For some reason I just didn’t seem to have my mojo with me; I’d ripped out both sleeves twice before I realised I was trying to sew left into right and right into left. Maybe I also missed a notch, but I didn’t seem to have the usual ‘one in the front – two in the back’ notch pattern. Rather than keep on staring at them and turning them inside out repeatedly (like a madman) – I finally slipped the sleeve on my arm and it was instantly obvious which one was which, so I quickly pinned them down.
Putting the sleeves in the main body was a bit less of a headache. Most of the sleeves I put in are on shirts. I’ve got a nifty method of easing the caps in which I explained with a little video on Instagram and in further detail Here. With coat and jacket sleeves, although I haven’t done many, I have generally got away with using the ‘Million-Pin’ method. If this looks like it’s not going to work, I fall back on gathering stitches and hand basting. My advice with this jacket is; mark EVERYTHING clearly and do all the gathering and hand basting that you can. Don’t cut any corners. Thankfully, once the sleeves were gathered and pinned, the basting was easy (I use a strand of embroidery thread).
I went round with the machine really slowly, stopping often to check that the fabric was smooth both on top and underneath. In this next photo, I’ve just got the jacket outer on. No lining, shoulder pads or anything, just a quick press on my tailors ham. On the one hand, It shows a high level of negligence on stripe matching, which kind-of makes me want to rip them out. On the other hand, they are my most non-wrinkly-sleeves-to-date (& I’m up against the clock!) so I’m keeping them.
With an outer and a lining, the only thing stopping me from sewing them together was … Shoulder Pads. On a recent ‘Big-Tidy-Up-And-Clear-Out’ I kept coming across a single shoulder pad. I diligently put it ‘somewhere safe’ …each time! I must have found that single pad four or five times over, but at no point did I have two shoulder pads. (Does that just happen to me?) So I decided to make them.
I snipped off a bit of faux shearling and tacked it to the seam allowance over the top of the shoulder.
I made the shoulder pads with a bit of felt. Bright pink felt. I cut out the shapes and added a bit of quilt wadding. I cut a couple more pieces of wadding, decreasing the size a little each time. Then loosely basted it all together.
I safety pinned them in and fiddled around with the placement until I was happy, then tacked them in place. Shoulder pads seemed like a scary idea, but (even though I’ve probably broken a thousand rules) it all went pretty painlessly and I’m really happy with the results.
Sewing the lining and outer together was a tale of two halves. I’d already veered from the instructions when I sewed the lining to the facing (so I could add an inside pocket) … I knew I was on my own now. I say two halves because I still had that can’t-look-at-it-yet-hem-issue to deal with. The first half was the easy half; the top and sides around the collar; pinned together and stitched. Close enough.
The second half involved the hem and back vents, which , although I think I pulled it off, didn’t go as smoothly.
I’m sure that if you cut everything out correctly and stick to the (sparse) instructions this will all go winningly for you. I however had got myself into a pickle right from the start by not lengthening the pattern at the designated-lengthen-line and ended up with a hemline more reminiscent of a city sky-line. There were also the back vents to deal with.
I tackled the hem first.
- I sewed inserts into the lining sides. Then realised that I didn’t really need to.
- Press up the hem of the main jacket to match the front.
- Lay flat (the jacket, sadly not me at this point!) and carefully pin the lining in place, to the hem and around the vents.
- HAND SEW the lining in place making sure all the seams are tucked in as you go.
Not exactly by the book, but somehow I ended up with something resembling what I should have ended up with. I’m still in the dark about how to line a vent – at least all the nonsense is on the inside! I’ll be honest, this one’s been a tough sew – the journey could have been smoother, but I’m really happy with the destination!
A good press (& some buttons!) and I have a jacket! I think I was right to make the 36. It is closer fitting on me but not too close – more flattering, I think… hope. Next stop, button holes. I am lucky that there is a professional button hole maker not far from where I live so the big reveal will come after that fun excursion.
I haven’t forgotten about the top coat though. I’m not sure there’s still time to make it. Maybe after the wedding. I want to be certain that I’ve got a full outfit first, so next up it’s time for a new shirt.
Notes to self;
- Thoroughly check all the pattern pieces before cutting out the fabric.
- Lengthen at the designated lengthen and shorten lines, doing it at the extended-hem doesn’t work.
- Next one, try making the collar before attaching it, this method is so fiddly, is it worth the effort?
- Buy some shirt fabric. I have nothing suitable in my stash.
- Practise vents before doing them again. cut out swatches and line them, you know its the right thing to do.