Tailoring Class Update (Part 2)

It’s been about a week since my last blog post, and here’s a quick update on my Tailoring class.


I’ve already had a reversal of fortune; the beautiful steel-blue windowpane wool I planned to use is out for the project.

Knowing plaid matching would be a challenge, I researched it further up front. The Threads magazine article I mentioned in the first post of this series (“Plaid Ambition”, Threads #177, February/March 2015), has a few deficiencies.

It covers notched collars, but it only deals with straight-edge lapels; curved-edge lapels like those on my chosen pattern (Vogue 8890) are more difficult and are the subject of a web extra. The article also doesn’t cover two-piece sleeves (which my pattern has as a class requirement) and it also doesn’t cover matching a jacket with a side piece (which my pattern has for the back vents).

I do have another tailoring reference book that covers these topics: “Tailoring: A Complete Course on Making a Professional Suit”.  I stumbled across this book at Kinokuniya Books in San Francisco one day.  I’ve never heard anyone else mention it.  It covers hand tailoring with classical techniques.  Like the Singer book “Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket”, no author is credited.

This book’s instructions for plaid layout of just the jacket go on for four pages.

It’s pretty clear the scope of the work is bigger than I initially thought.

Plus, there’s the question of whether or not I have enough fabric to cover the plaid repeats. I could answer this by doing a trial layout, but after making duplicate copies of pattern pieces I had my realization: What the heck am I doing? This class is already challenge enough, and I’m already pushing it in terms of time commitment.

So I put the windowpane wool back into that special place in my stash and decided to look for something more in line with the class requirements. I found this charcoal-grey Zegna wool at Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley.

This ticks all of the boxes for the class; it’s not a plaid so its easier to work with. It’s not a hard-finish wool, so it is easier to tailor.  It’s the right weight for a suit.  I even got a student discount from store owner Suzan Steinberg.

This change in direction has a silver lining.  (Actually, navy blue but I’m getting ahead of myself). Because I’m purchasing new fabric, I have the opportunity to buy a suit length and make myself a complete suit. I will be fitting the pants portion of Vogue 8890 as a class assignment for Fitting class, as well as Vogue 8987, a vest pattern.

Our Fitting class requires us to make one garment out of fashion fabric.  So I can make the jacket in Tailoring and the pants in Fitting.  The vest is something I can complete outside of classwork.

I was able to purchase enough yardage to make an entire three-piece suit. Together with the extra fabric for making samples as class assignments, I bought over 6 1/2 yards of fabric. If this doesn’t wind up as a suit, maybe I’ll sew up theater curtains instead.

For lining, I went to Britex Fabrics with a swatch and shopped their selection of Bemberg rayons. On the fourth floor, I found a remnant in midnight navy blue – a navy so dark it is close to black. This will result in a pretty conservative suit, yet one that is versatile. It can be accessorized with any shirt/tie combination and can be worn to any occasion.

The fabric is currently at the neighborhood cleaners, getting steam-pressed for preshrinking.

Muslin and Fitting

For homework we traced our patterns, added 1-inch seam allowances, and made the muslin. Neckline curves were staystitched, and we thread-traced horizontal balance lines and grain lines for fitting. We also thread-traced center front and the roll line on the jacket. The undercollar is sewn into place, as well as details like pocket openings, so we can judge how style details look and alter them if needed.

Our most recent Tailoring class was focused on fitting.  The jacket muslin is fitted with shoulder pads pinned in place, as well as with the clothing we plan to wear underneath the jacket.  I came to class in a suit vest and my Pink Shirt.

The biggest alterations I needed were:

  • In front, a horizontal slash, tapering to nothing at the side seam for excess tummy
  • In back, another horizontal slash tapering to nothing at the armhole for a forward shoulder adjustment – my reward for years of working at a keyboard is poor posture.
  • All around, I let out the side seams to add about 4 inches of circumference for ease – again a result of excess tummy.

After basting the alterations and restitching the side seams in class, I tried on the muslin again and discovered the lapel had started to gape. So the instructor also pinned out an adjustment to shorten the lapel a bit.

The pattern adjustment for this one will be interesting.

What’s Next

I’m currently shopping for notions.  Matching buttons for jacket, vest and pants.  Pocketing fabric.  Cotton thread for construction (polyester thread is too strong and can cut the fabric). Shoulder pads.  Hair canvas for constructing the jacket was already in my stash; mine is purchased from Fashion Sewing Supply.

As homework, I am adjusting the paper pattern to incorporate the fitting changes.  Next week, we will learn how to create the extra pattern pieces for facings, linings, etc from our adjusted pattern.

As time permits, I’ll keep you updated.  See you next time.

1 thought on “Tailoring Class Update (Part 2)

  1. Testosterone

    Zegna – a most stylish, if not down right delicious choice!
    Tummy or gut, your honesty is admired (says the man who is inhaling while he comments).
    A vest to boot! Covering so many bases (such as Mr. P. wearing the vest and trousers, no jacket, for a natty look on a temperate day).
    Ever encouraging, and always impressed,
    One of your man fans (the most well-mannered of the bunch)


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