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.
Excellent. Love you bro.
Hello! I am currently making the same jacket and could really do with some help, I don’t understand why I have to glue together the back pattern section and the back extension, does this not create a strange seam half way done the back? Why is this not just one piece?
Any help would be really appreciated, thanks!
What an inspirational post! Thank you so much for sharing your making in such helpful detail. You really are sewing ninja! 🙌👍I was telling my mister how you had your deadline, you’re doing amazingly well. You must be so pleased, it’s such an achievement! 😁
Thank you! It’s definitely ‘wordy’ detail, I’m so glad to hear it might be helpful too! 😅 I was just telling MrA that I was feeling a calm coming over me… I know it’s not perfect (what is?!) but I’ve (almost) made it!
There’s a few last minute sewing surprises to factor in, and a week to go – so definitely a couple more blog posts to write too!
Very nice. When you are finished, take the suit to your dry cleaner and ask for a “press only”. Your dry cleaner will be able to press it better than a home iron.
Thank you. Yes, nothing beats a professional press does it? I’m lucky to have a good place just on the corner 👍🙏
I’m in awe, so difficult to do particularly with the added challenge of matching stripes. Looking forward to the next installment X
Thank you! If it wasn’t for the deadline, I’m enjoying the challenge 😅👍🙏
What a project, reminds me of my first jacket. i made a suit from a Simplicity John Weitz pattern from 1979/80, when I was starting high school. It was a very difficult project and took me 2 months of weekend sewing to complete it. I think I wore it for about 2 years until I final ditched it. I didn’t make another suit/jacket for about 6 years that which again proved to be another difficult project. Over the years I have come to follow “garment factory industry construction techniques used in ready to wear” These techniques have proved to produce good results that look professional. I have never gone down the route of all that pad stitching. Not sure I have the patience for it?
How did you handle the interfacing on the jacket ?
Thank you. Yes, I haven’t made many and each one comes with it’s own dramas!
I’m hoping to get a lot of good years out if this one too though 🤞.
For interfacing I just paid out for a nice iron-on and took my time with it 👍.
Well done. It´s a lot of work, isn´t it?
Cause you asked wether matching the center back to the stripe instead of inbetween: maybe it would have been easier, but when you have the very narrow stripe exactly on the center back at the neckhole, it will dissapear in the seam. It´s not possible to sew that perfectly that you get half the pinstripe to the left and half the pinstripe to the right of the back seam. In a perfect pattern matched jacket the stripes of the collar at the center back will exactly meet the stripes of the back when worn.
It´s a bit of a shame that the pattern has some flaws and I wonder that a so well known pattern maker makes such mistakes like a protruding chest pocket. It also seems the center line of the chest dart is not parallel to the grainline of the pattern, wich would be an absolut no-no for patterned fabrics.
When you want to dive into classical coatmaking a bit more: time lif series: The Art of Sewing: Basic Tailoring (1974). It´s easy to get and quite cheap. It will also show you how a collar is done the traditional way.
Thank you, that’s great advice. I’ll look up the time life books… there’s a lot I’m not reading at the moment, but hoping to make more time soon…!
It probably says somewhere on the pattern that it’s ‘not suitable for stripes’ it’d be just my luck to have missed that!
Wow, I admire your hard work and determination!
Thank you! I have no choice, the weddings in 10 days! 😱😅🤞👍🙏
Sewing an entire menswear ensemble takes such fortitude! I’m so impressed with how you’ve been rolling through it all–I hope you are proud of yourself too! In some ways, those of us who wear dresses have it much easier. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how it all looks with buttonholes and buttons! Thanks for sharing your process!
Thank you so much! Maybe not perfect, but I’m getting it done!
Yes, me too, I can’t wait to put it all on together! 🙏😊
Amazing!! The jacket seems perfect! Great post and great make! Thank you for sharing the details!!
Thank you! I’m looking forward to wearing it all 👍🙏🤞
I have a lot of admiration for you and your ability to follow patterns, this is coming along great and I appreciate you taking the time to post. I usually manage to mess up my first attempt at a new pattern by not understanding the often poor instructions but you appear to manage to sort these things well. Very brave project to do let alone in a time limit great.
Thank you so much. I’m not so sure how I did on the instructions of this one, there was a fair bit of fudging towards the end! But here it is, warts & all 🤣👍🙏
This is coming along beautifully. I love love love that you share all the details! The evidence that your clothing is not only finished, but finished beautifully, gives us all a boost! Thank you.
re: jacket fitting — going up a size was a good choice. Some garments should skim.
Haha… all the gory details 😂!
Thank you… I’m starting to not-see the imperfections and really loving it now 👍🙏