My latest project to complete is a vest woven from linen and dark wool.
Although a seemingly simple garment, I tore my hair out over for hours
trying to understand how to get the back neck and shoulders right. I
drafted it from the same book that I got the jacket formula from but
there is obviously something wrong with it.
I managed to plow through and get it done but I need some help before
doing this again.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK:
First of all, the narrow flap that goes around the back to make the neck
line did not lie properly and I had to futz with the shape till it did.
The main problems were in getting the front and back shoulder seams to
meet at the correct angle, join neatly at the edge and not cause rumples
in the back. Again, the shape of the draft was not correct and I had to
do a lot of fudging, basting and rebasting.
I got most of the bugs out with the army blanket "muslin" but some of
them didn't translate well to the back material.
Other than that, just a lot of work but it's fun work.. the other stuff
The end results are great, but you shouldn't have had such trouble.
The back neck facing is traced off the back, rather than drafted from
scratch; then, if it's cut on the bias, it will fit easily around the
neck. Pressing with lots of steam also helps to shape it. This piece
should be added to the back before the fronts are sewn to it.
Try finding a book that shows you how to draft a tailored men's shirt.
This is what is used in industry as the basis for all menswear tops.
You would then always start with the correct slope at the shoulders.
The basic shirt does not have yokes, collar or front bands; these are
all details that are made from the basic shape, and are drafted from
your personal measurements. To design, you simply trace around the
template to get started, then add the details desired.
The buttons are beautiful. I hope you're putting labels or some other
documentation on all your pieces, not only your clothing projects, but
everything. All will someday will become valuable heirlooms.
Indeed they do! I get mine from a company in Washington New Town, Tyne
& Wear (up near Newcastle), called Dainty Supplies. They print what I
want on them, they last longer than the garments, and I get my details
and washing/cleaning instruction labels, fabric content &etc all printed
for less than most places. They'll print as few as 25 of any one type
Another idea is to try making up labels on the computer and printing
them on an inkjet printer onto specially prepared and mounted fabric.
You can buy the fabric blanks at places that sell sewing supplies.
Quite a lot of quilters use them, though I haven't done so yet myself.
Hm... Looks like the slipery lining/back fabric slid and grew in the
cutting process. Best thing is to make sure right and left shoulders of
the FRONT are exactly the same, stay-stitch them, and then trim the
back, back lining, and front lining to match. Forget, at this point,
that they may no longer fit the pattern you drafted, or match the shape
of the toile. What they need to do is fit YOU and each other!
Another thing I like to do when making a waistcoat from a heavy fabric
is make the back weigh as much as the front, so the weight of the front
doean't pull at the neck and shoulders when it's being worn. This can
be done by using a heavier weight of back fabric and interlining the
back with something like hair canvass. If this isn't quite enough, but
you don't want to add more bulk, then you add weights! Literally!
pennies are good, as are tap washers, curtain weights, whatever. Coco
Chanel used to weight the backs of jackets with chain stitched to the
interlining just above the hem. With the chain, just gently catch
stitch it to the interlining on the body side. With the pennies and so
forth, make up little bags of cotton or lining fabric and catch stitch
them to the interlining... Pennies are flatter than chain and will be
more comfortable than chain for leaning against when wearing.
If I understand what you are saying, this is not the way this one works.
The back neck is an integral part of the front... sort of like a long
handle. Incidentally, very wastefull of hand spun/woven fabric.
Interesting... now where is that book?
I toyed with that but seems like I have to invest big bucks in a
computerized sewing machine to make them. I suspect someone out there
makes custom labels for peanuts by comparison.
I posted a picture of the left shoulder that pretty much says it all.
The right looks fine and if I scrunch around when putting it on the
problem goes away, more or less but it does not hang properly by itself.
This is where pressing and steaming to shape the piece using a tailors
ham come in.
I must admit, I've never seen a vest with that construction at the back
previously! All the ones here in the UK (called waistcoats) that I have
seen have the complete back made out of either the same fabric as the
front or an alternative slippery material - they don't have this neck
band. I can certainly see why you had problems - it doesn't look like a
pattern construction I'd want to tackle (but then I'm still learning
myself....). Maybe you should try a different pattern for the next one?
I've turned out a couple of vests with solid backs for my DD and DB and
they've come out without any problems in the neck / shoulder area.
That could be another thing that might not have helped - did you use
army blanket as the "muslin" for the main back piece? In which case the
alterations wouldn't have been quite right as it wouldn't have behaved
like your actual material. Your "muslin" needs to be similar to the type
of material to be used - so if the back is a slippery soft material,
then your practice piece needs to be similar.
I know how you feel - when I made my posh frock earlier this year, I
ended up making 2 muslins to get the fit right and still had a couple of
fiddly bits to tackle when I made the real thing!
I notice Kate has given you some excellent advice on how to deal
withyour vest back, so I shan't repeat it.
Enjoy the weaving and sewing - I'm looking forward to seeing what you do
There is a book called Professional Patternmaking for Women's Wear and
Casual Menswear by Jack Handford. I used it in the classroom for
years, and it was the basis for the instructions I wrote for
computer-aided design patternmaking. Although most of the book is
devoted to women's wear, the instructions for menswear are among the
best that I have ever seen. They're easy to follow, and once
perfected, will serve as the basis for all of your clothing. You would
start with a shirt and pants draft, and then progress with your own
designs, using these drafts as templates. There are suggestions in the
book for jackets, and you can follow the instructions for women's wear
to enlarge the templates for coats.
If you have a drawing program in your computer, you can make life-sized
patterns from the instructions in this book.
While I agree that a piece cut on the bias in hand-woven fabric seems
wasteful, you should be able to find a small piece cut from the sides
of the body pieces that would be large enough. Say, the armhole
leftovers or the fronts above the buttonholes? This "handle" feature
was present in almost all of the historic pieces I've observed, and I
think its purpose was so that the cheaper back fabric could not be seen
under a jacket.
I tried the computer printable fabric that was supposably washable, but in
just a few washes they were almost completely faded. The hold up for quilts
since they are not washed frequently. Don't know if dry cleaning has the
Funny you should mention that. I have two vests that I pondered while
doing this one and I never even noticed that one of them had no neck
band of fashion fabric. Now that I look at this, it is obvious that
this would have been a much easier design for a beginner.
Jack, I think she may be referring to fabrics that have been specially
treated to prevent this running. They are sold in 8.5 x 11" sheets at quilt
stores, possibly WalMart too, although I don't know. Anyhoo, it's white
cotton fabric that has been treated, and then adhered to a thin page of
paper such that you can run it through your printer. I have used it with no
problems in my HP printer.
By the way, I ran across your postings here by accident and it was deja vu
all over again. ;) I found your sausage page a couple of years ago and used
your recipes to make my first fresh sausage. YUM!!! Didn't realize you
were into so many other things.
Lisa in NC