Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Le Smoking Jacket" Tutorial, Part 1: Purchasing the Pattern

Hey, gang!  As part of the development of a "new direction" for this blog,  I'm especially excited to bring you this next series of walk-through tutorials!  I'm starting a new project that I mentioned in previous posts, and I decided this would be a good opportunity to simply share how the process is going as I finish each step of the garment.  Not only is it a good educational opportunity, but it's a chance to discuss some pseudo-tailoring skills that I, personally, haven't had a chance to practice in a long time.  You get to see how a garment is made for Relished Artistry, and I'll get to go off on interesting tangents about applicable topics!

So.  Here we go.  "Part 1: Purchasing the Pattern".

I have always wanted to do a smoking jacket for Relished Artistry.  In my past, I've had lots of opportunities to work on menswear--it's one of my strengths, I feel, especially the construction of pants.  I have a book of "how to's" that's I've collected over the years through my theatrical sewing experiences, and it's come in quite handy.  I'm fortunate enough to have developed some speed through the years, so I'm often hired specifically because I can sew quickly.  Of course, that doesn't mean I have developed fitting skills, so if something doesn't fit or hang correctly I'd have to figure out how to fix it before I could launch into sewing anything...  That's what "mock-ups" are for, really.

Anyway, I don't personally have a lot of menswear patterns--I've not been in the loop for the pattern development steps of the process, just the other end where all that's been figured out and I'm sewing it all together.  As a consequence, my personal collection of suit jackets doesn't exist.  I have some books that walk through drafting up period suit jackets and such, but I don't have the patience nor time to do that right now.  So I opted to purchase a commercial pattern to get me started.

Folkwear Patterns specializes in period and ethnic patterns.  I've used their patterns before, and they've been around for a very long time (in the "specialized pattern industry" anyway).  Their instructions are clear and their garments visually remarkable when completed.

So I opted for their smoking jacket pattern in lieu of making my own.  It's a great jacket--I ordered it through their website and got it 3 days later through the mail.  Inside are a couple pages of instructions, the patterns themselves, and some promotional material as well as a newsprint catalog of the entire line.  It also comes with a knit pattern for a tank top for women.  I don't knit, but maybe someday... hehe...

Because the pattern comes with several sizes printed on the paper all at once, and I want to retain the capability of making multiple sizes, before I even get started I will transfer the different sizes of the pattern to different sheets so I can store them separately.  There are different pattern papers that you can use for this--all the way from simple Kraft paper (which is the brown kind you wrap packages in for the mail and can purchase at a corner store) to specific fabric-esque materials specifically for transfers.  Folkwear patterns come with an insert that contains a sample of a type you can purchase from them: Here.  I use a roll of something that I bought locally.

You'll also need some sort of transfer paper to trace the lines from one fabric through to the other fabric.  You can get the kind that I use from Richard the Thread, in Los Angeles. This kind of transfer paper isn't the kind that you can purchase normally at your local sewing store--this isn't chalk based, it's more like carbon paper.  The lines produced are clearer, don't rub off as easily, and the paper is much bigger to accommodate less shifting around.

The pattern is appropriate for several different kinds of fabrics, but I am going to use the black cotton velveteen that I purchased from Fabric Direct.  I've used this almost exclusively for several projects, and I'm almost at the end of my 25 yard bolt, so I'm going to have to purchase more soon.  The coat is unlined, so there isn't a need to purchase any lining fabric.  For this first try, I'm goign to follow the directions on the pattern itself, but for future endeavors I will certainly add a lining--they make the garment much more complete and somehow more upscale (in my opinion).  The pattern also requires 1 3/8 yds of wide flannel for interlining, 1 yd of wide light to medium-weight interfacing, and optionally 1 yd of 1/2" doublefold bias tape for the armhole finish (which I don't need since I'll use my overlock machine instead) and optional shoulder pads.

If you'd like to join me on this little tutorial, I'm going to post each chapter of the tutorial with copious photographs as I move along, probably once or twice a week.  I'd encourage you to purchase the materials if you'd like to make one yourself--it's going to be a lot of fun!  I plan on embellishing the back of the jacket with some masculine fabric painting, expanding my repertoire from leaves and roses and greenery to maybe... ducks or something.  I dunno.  I'll have to experiment.  Maybe a nice pipe with twisting, swirling smoke up and over the shoulder...  hmmm...  : )

Until next time, Live Life with Relish!

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