Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


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Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 4 – Customising Part 2

Let’s continue with our Belvedere Waistcoat customisation today!

I’ve printed and assembled my PDFs, if you haven’t done this already, now is the time!  Check out our PDF assembly tutorial for help with this.

Okay, let’s get our rulers out and dig in…

Change the shape of the hem

waistcoat with straight hem

 

While most waistcoats feature angle points at centre front, you are not limited to this conventional shape!  It is very easy to alter your Belvedere to feature a straight hem or to have round points.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-1

To adjust our hem we will be working with the Front, Front Facing and Front Lining pieces.  For small adjustments to the points you likely won’t need to make changes to the lining piece but for larger adjustments, such as a removing the angle to create a straight hem, you will need to adjust this third piece.

First I’ll show you how to create rounded points:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-2

Always begin pattern adjustments by drawing in your seam lines. We will be making the changes to the seam lines and then will add seam allowances back on.  The seam allowances included in this pattern are 5/8″.  I just measured in 5/8″ from the paper edge at various points and then connected the dots.  Above you can see the Front and below you can see the Facing and Lining.  I only added the seam lines to the relevant area that we are going to be working on.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-3

Grab a French curve ruler or find a curved object (a cup, egg cup or small bowl for instance) and use it to draw the shape that you would like.  If you can’t find something to trace along you can try drawing your curve freehand!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-4

Begin by marking the curve on the Front and then mark the same curve on the Facing so that they will match perfectly when you sew them together.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-5

Since our curve was small enough that it intersected with the original seamline before reaching the right hand edge of the facing we do not need to make changes to the lining.  If you draw a long gradual curve you would need to continue it on to the lining piece.

Now let’s add our seam allowances back on!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-6

Measure out 5/8″ from your new seamline at various points and mark with dots.  Connect all of the dots.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-7

Now you can trim off the pointed tip along your seam allowance  and you’re ready to use your customised pattern!

To make a larger change to the hem such as removing the point entirely so that the hem extends in a straight line across the front begin by once again drawing in your seamlines…this time along the entire hem and up the side seam and centre front.

You can see in the photo below that I did not extend my seamline up centre front very far…this ended up being a mistake as you will see very soon! I’ve included it in this post so you can see how easy it is to accidentally switch to using the edge of the pattern piece and not the seamline…its actually a lot more fool proof to just fully cut off your seam allowances entirely when working with a pattern.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-8

Use a ruler to draw your new hem angle.  Position the ruler so it begins at the bottom of the side seam (the seam line, not the edge of the paper).  You can still create a slight angle as I have done or you can make your line completely horizontal by making sure it is at a right angle to the grainline.

You can shape the centre front corner so that it is pointed or rounded.  I’m showing you how to do a rounded corner here.  Begin by extending the centre front so that it no longer angles to the right.  You will need to glue or tape your pattern piece to another piece of paper for this extension.

Now watch out, here is where I make my seam allowance mistake!  Can you see what I’m doing wrong in the photo below?

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-9

I’ve extended the straight line downwards using the pattern piece edge rather than the seamline!  Now, when I go to draw my curved corner with my french ruler I am drawing it from the seamline to the outside edge.  If I were to sew the hem like this the curve would be a different shape from the one I am drawing.  Don’t worry, I will fix this in a moment!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-10

Now it is time to add in our seam allowances.  You can see my corrected seamline in the photo below (the yellow line) and my added seam allowance (the green line).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-13

We are ready to transfer these changes to the lining and facing!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-12

Place the lining on top of your altered waistcoat front and trace the alteration.  If you can’t see your line through the paper you could cut off the extra paper and place the front on top of the lining so that the armholes and side seams match.  Then cut off the lining where it extends below the front pattern piece.

Repeat this process for the facing:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-11

Now let’s change up the shape of the neckline using the same techniques!

Change the height and shape of the neckline

seven button waistcoat

If you would like to raise the neckline and add another button to your waistcoat, here is how to go about doing this.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-14

We will be using the Front and Front Facing pieces.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-15

Draw in your seamlines along the entire neckline and shoulder seam.  Position a large sheet of paper underneath your pattern piece and tape or glue it in place.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-16

Use a ruler to extend the centre front (no need to measure right now, just draw a line 5 or so inches long so you have lots of room to work).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-17

Measure the distance between the existing button markings (2 1/4″).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-18

Add a new button marking 2 1/4″ above the top button.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-19

Use a french curve ruler (or freehand) to replicate the curves of the neckline.  You can choose to keep them the same as the existing neckline or you can alter them to suit the style you would like (more v-shaped or more scooped).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-20

Taper your new neckline so that it meets the original one before the shoulder seamline.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-21

Add your seam allowance back on:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-22

And now transfer your changes to the Facing so that it matches the shape of your new neckline.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-24

And voila, you are ready to sew a seven button waistcoat!

 

Add a collar

Shawl collar waistcoat 2

Last, but certainly not least, I’ll show you just how easy it is to add a shawl collar to the Belvedere – I’ve done this change to the pattern free hand (using only my measuring tape and a pen) to show you that you don’t even need to have fancy rulers to do this.

The shawl collar we are drafting will look like this:

shawl collar waistcoat 3

Notice that it does not extend around the back of the neck making it easy to draft, super easy to sew, and comfortable to wear under a suit jacket.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-25

We will be working with the Front and Facing pieces.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-26

Begin by drawing in the neckline seamline.  You might like to draw the shoulder seamline as well.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-27

Now sketch in your finished collar shape beginning just above the top button and curving up the the shoulder seam.  This sketch is not actually part of your revised pattern piece, it is just a way to help you visualise the finished collar shape.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-28

When you are happy with the shape of your collar, you can use this handy technique to mirror it so that it is positioned correctly on your pattern piece.  Measure from the seamline to the edge of your collar sketch.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-29

Next, measure the same distance out from your seamline to find the position of the actual collar edge.  Do this at various points the entire length of the collar and then connect the dots.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-30

The top edge of the collar will be sewn in to the shoulder seam so it needs to match the angle of the shoulder seam when the collar is folded as it will be when the waistcoat is finished.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-31

Sorry for my messy sketching lines!  Without the aid of a ruler they don’t look very smooth…if yours are a bit wobbly too just keep smoothing them out until you are happy with how they look.  And remember we have nice large 5/8″ seam allowances to work with so if you can cut and sew straighter than you can draw you will be able to hide any wobbles within your allowances!

Let’s add those allowances back on:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-32

And finally, we must add what will actually be the visible side of the collar to the Facing pattern piece:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-33

I can’t wait to sew one of my waistcoats using this shawl collar design!

If you would like to try a different collar style, here is a couple of tutorials for you to check out:

 


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Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 3 – Customising

They’re here: Two of the Belvedere Waistcoat add-ons that you have been waiting for!  I have added two free downloads to our shop featuring adjustable belts and patch pocket styles.

I had been planning to cut out our fabric today and to share several tutorials (as I mentioned in Monday’s post) but I’ve bitten off considerably more than I can chew so I’m going to share these add ons in smaller segments.  The cinching belts and pockets are available today and I will continue with some photo tutorials tomorrow.  I hope that this slightly slower approach will work for you!  It will certainly work better for me (I’m a tad square eyed from staring at the computer for so long over the last three days).

Add a cinching belt

In our Belt Add-on download you will find a classic narrow belt that can be cinched using belt hardware and a rugged alternative featuring wide tabs that would look great on a casual canvas waistcoat.  Would you like to add one of these to your waistcoat?  I will be adding one of each to the two waistcoats I am making for this sew along!

We’ve also added gorgeous gun metal finish narrow waistcoat belt hardware to the shop that will suit a formal waistcoat with a silky Bemberg or acetate back beautifully.  This hardware is 3/4″ wide which is narrower than the 1″ cinching belt that I’ve included in the pattern.  This width has purposely been chosen so that your lining material will be gathered by the hardware when it is threaded through the slots.  The bulk added by the gathering helps the slippery fabric grip so that the cinched waistcoat will hold in place when tightened.  I also think the gathered lining material looks very elegant!

If you are sewing your cinching belt from a bulkier fabric such as wool or canvas I would recommend finding a different style of hardware that is 1″ wide and features a locking mechanism (such as serrated teeth).  I have been on the lookout for this style of hardware to add to the shop and will let you know if I manage to find some!

Here is an excellent review of various store bought waistcoats and their corresponding cinching belts on the menswear fashion blog Well Dressed Dad.  Read this through before you choose your buckle style so that you can be sure to create a belt that not only looks attractive but also functions as it should!

Add patch pockets

Patch pockets are a great option for casual waistcoats.  You will commonly see these on waistcoats worn without a suit jacket; if you are sewing a formal waistcoat however, I would recommend using welt pockets or no pockets at all.  The pocket shapes included in our download give you two options to choose from that can greatly change your overall look!  Have a look at this inspiring selection of waistcoat photos to view similar pocket styles in action.

Photos from Articles of Style: A Guide to Men’s Vests and Waistcoats

I’ll be back tomorrow with more tutorials!  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy playing around with design ideas now that you have these extra pattern pieces in your hands!


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Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 2 – Fitting

Belvedere-Technical-Illustrations

Today we will be examining the Belvedere size chart and then discussing a few fitting options that you can pursue to create a waistcoat that is beautifully tailored to the wearer’s proportions.  If you have already looked through the instruction booklet you will notice that I go in to a fair amount of detail about measuring and a few fit adjustments.  I have elaborated further on these below and I’ve also attempted to phrase my instructions differently.  I always attempt different phrasing during sew-alongs in case you are finding a step within the pattern instructions difficult to understand…different phrasing may make things click for you!

Pattern-info-Belvedere Waistcoat

Step 1: Take Body Measurements

To choose your pattern size, begin by taking accurate measurements of the wearer.  Have him put on the shirt and trousers he will most likely wear with his waistcoat.  Next, have him stand tall with good posture and a relaxed body (no sucking in the tummy artificially!).

Chest

Circle your tape measure under the arms so that it is around the widest part of the chest.  Make sure that it is sitting horizontally.  If you notice that the tape measure is sitting under the protruding shoulder blades, it is acceptable to raise the tape measure slightly on the back only so that it is across both the fullest part of the front chest and the fullest part of the shoulder blades.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-1

Examine the Body Measurement chart and circle the closest chest measurement.  Circle the larger measurement if you are between sizes.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-6

Waist

Now circle the waist with your tape measure in the same manner.  It can sometimes be difficult to determine the waist position as it is not always the narrowest point depending on the man’s proportions.  Measure at approximately navel level.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-2

Circle the waist measurement in the Body Measurement chart.  If it falls under a different size than your chest measurement, don’t worry, it is easy to use both sizes!  This is called “grading between sizes.”  I have made a tutorial on how to do this (featuring our Jedediah Pants).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-7

If you are intimidated by grading between sizes and would prefer to stick to a single size, it is perfectly okay to do this (as long as your chest and waist measurements are no more than two sizes apart).  Just choose the larger size.  For example, if the wearer’s chest measurement is 40 1/8″ and his waist measurement is 33 1/2″, cut out the size M pattern. You will be able to adjust your actual waistcoat near the end of the construction process by taking in the side seams if the chest or waist is a bit too roomy.  In our example the waist would be too roomy so you would need to take in the side seams.

Height

The Belvedere is drafted proportionately which means that the larger sizes don’t only get wider, they also become slightly longer.  The heights selected for each size are based on a census of a large number of the German population (where our patternmaking software is developed).  How tall is your wearer?  Even if the wearer matches the height listed under his size, there is a good chance you will need to adjust the length of the pattern.  This is because a properly fitted waistcoat should extend to the bottom of the trouser waistband and the rise of the wearer’s trousers might be different than the one we drafted for!  Which takes us to our next step…

Step 2: Analyse Garment Measurements

Centre Back Length

The Belvedere has been designed to cover the waistband of dress trousers which traditionally have a high (navel level) rise.  We have given the centre back length of the finished waistcoat in the garment measurement chart so that you can compare the pattern length to the length that you need to suit your wearer’s trousers.  If the waistcoat will be worn with jeans or lower rise trousers, it will need to be lengthened so that it fully covers the waistband.

Even if you make no other fit adjustments, I highly recommend performing this simple one so that the wearer can enjoy a waistcoat perfectly tailored to his outfit…this is hard to come by when shopping for ready-made waistcoats!

Here is how to check the length of the pattern compared to the wearer’s measurements:

With the wearer dressed in the trousers he will most often wear with the waistcoat, place the measuring tape so that it extends from the top of the spine (where the base of the shirt collar stand sits) to the bottom of the waistband.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-3

Look at the Centre Back Length in the Garment Measurement Chart.  Does the measurement you took differ from the one in the chart?  If so, check out our tutorial on adjusting length later in this post!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-8

Neckline Drop

The Neckline Drop is an important measurement if the wearer plans to pair his waistcoat with a suit jacket or blazer.  He will likely want the waistcoat to peek out from under the suit jacket along the neckline.

The Belvedere has been drafted to include a moderately cut neckline which looks smart and modern worn without a suit jacket.  It would also be a great match for most 1 and 2 button suit jackets.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-5

If the wearer will usually be wearing suit jacket with a high neckline (a 3 button suit jacket for instance), have him put on his suit jacket with it completely buttoned up.  Measure from the base of the neck down the centre front.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Sewalong-4

Does the Belvedere neckline extend below the suit jacket?  You will need to raise it so it is at least 2″ higher than the suit if you would like it to be visible!  We will discuss how to do this during the next post (during which we customise the style of our waistcoats).

Ease

The last two measurements to discuss are the Chest and Waist measurements listed in the Garment Measurement chart above.  I have just added these to the chart so that you can determine the amount of ease (room for things like breathing and movement) the wearer will have.  As I mentioned earlier, the order of construction I have used for the Belvedere will allow you to play around with ease when you are very close to being finished the waistcoat!  You will be able to try it on the wearer and take in the side seams or let them out slightly (using the large 5/8″ seam allowance) to create a close fitting garment that hugs the wearer in a very flattering way.

Step 3: Fit to Unique Proportions

Now that we’ve determined base measurements, let’s talk about fitting the pattern to unique proportions.  Male proportions can differ hugely.  Our size chart is suited to average to slim men with just a hint of an athletic figure (which means slightly broad shoulders, a narrow to average waist, and average to lanky proportions).  If your waistcoat wearer has a full tummy or stocky build you might need to make some adjustments.

Here are a few common areas that may need adjustments before you begin to sew!  Please comment if I’ve missed an alteration that you would like me to help you with!

Tall (or average with plans to wear low rise pants)

You will need to lengthen the following pattern pieces: Front, Back, Front Lining, Back Lining, Front Facing.

Untitled-1.jpg

Determine how much length you need to add with the following equation:

Your Centre Back Length measurement – the Centre Back Length Measurement found within the Garment Measurement chart = Amount you need to add.

Cut along each “Lengthen and Shorten Here” line and place the pattern piece over a new piece of paper.  Tape the cut pieces to the paper and extend the lines, smoothing a little if necessary.  Cut out your newly lengthened pattern piece.

lengthen-or-shorten

See a more detailed tutorial (using the Jedediah Pants) here!

Stocky/Broad Figure

The Belvedere features some nice details to fit to the body’s curves.  Even though men generally feature straighter figures then women, most still do feature distinct curves.  Stocky body types will have far less pronounced curves than average or athletic bodies.  The curved areas include the small of the back and the waist.

Endomorph-Mesomorph-Eectomorph

Image from: MenStyleFashion

If your wearer has a very rectangular or full figure you will probably notice that there is no curve along the small of the back and not much difference between the chest and the waist or hip measurements.  You might like to decrease the curves drafted in to the Belvedere so that there is more room for the fullness of your wearer’s figure.

It is quite easy to do this!  Just draw and sew straighter lines for the centre back seam and the darts.  Here is an example illustration.  You could keep more curve or remove more curve depending on the shape of the wearer’s body.

adjust-for-stocky-figures

Full Stomach

Waistcoats are notoriously tricky to fit to rounded stomachs because they are already so closely fitted, there is no room for the fabric to blouse over the roundness of the belly.

To combat this problem, rotund men (and now all fashion conscious men) have left their bottom button undone for over 100 years.  This tradition of leaving the bottom button open (on both suits and waistcoats) is said to have stemmed from the rotund Edward VII’s practice.  There are several other theories but this is the story most commonly accepted by menswear enthusiasts.  The problem of fitting a waistcoat to a round belly is alleviated by adding more room at the waist, be it through leaving a button open or making adjustments to the pattern.

Here are two approaches – an easy and a more difficult option:

  1. Sew 5 buttons and leave the 5th open.  Use the button layout for Variation 2 which features five functional buttons.  If the waistcoat is worn with the 5th button open the wearer is both very stylish and gives themselves more ease in the waist and hips.
  2. Angle the centre front: If the wearer’s belly sits roundly at centre front the waistcoat would look baggy and ill fitted if you added more room at the side seams because you only really need more room at the front.  The Body measurements are likely 3 or more sizes apart (for example, the chest measurement is a size S and the waist is a size XL.  All other proportions suit size S).  Using the size S pattern, cut in to the pattern from the armhole to create a hinge at the dart point.  Pivot the centre front so that it angles outward causing the armhole cut to overlap.  Angle the centre front until you have added enough room for the size XL waist measurement.  Draw in a little bit of extra armhole length at the shoulder seam and side seam to accommodate for the overlap (since the armhole length needs to match the Back side seam).  You will notice that the angle of the shoulder seam and neckline also changes; you may need to make an adjustment to both of these so that they are closer to the original angle.  Adjust the size of the dart to also be the original size.  These adjustments cause all of the extra room to be added as close to the centre front as possible.  I would highly recommend sewing up at least one mock up to tweak the fit since this is a large change to the way this waistcoat is shaped.

Adjusted-for-full-belly

Very Thin or Very Thick Arms (or average with a style preference)

The shape and depth of a waistcoat armhole can vary greatly based on style preference and also to suit the wearer’s proportions.  You can raise or lower the armhole if your wearer has thin or thick arms.  I drafted the Belvedere to have quite large and deeply curved armholes so that they fit like this:

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-2

If you would like to alter this curve, you can do so by drawing a new curve along the Front, Back, Front Lining and Back Lining pattern pieces.  Make sure the waistcoat and corresponding lining curves match in length and shape so that they sew together easily.

Adjusted-armhole

Square or Sloped Shoulders, Round or Straight Posture

The shoulder seam of a well fitted waistcoat should sit very flat against the body and should sit along the top of the wearers shoulder.  If your wearer has very sloped or square shoulders you may need to adjust the angle of the shoulder seam (on the waistcoat Front, Back, Front Lining, Back Lining, Front Facing and Back Facing). You can add or remove the extra to the underarm to keep the armhole the same size.  Here is a diagram to show you the change for square shoulders:

Adjusted-for-square-shoulders

Adjustment for square shoulders

For sloped shoulders you do not need to make changes to the pattern pieces.  You can take in the seam while you are sewing the waistcoat (baste the seam and try it on the wearer).

If your wearer has over erect or very rounded posture, you might need to angle the shoulder seam backwards or tilt it forwards.  Since the Belvedere includes large 5/8″ seam allowances you likely don’t need to make adjustments to the pattern and can instead work within the seam allowance by adjusting while you sew.  Sew your seam something like this for rounded posture (and the opposite for overly erect posture).

Adjustment-for-overly-erect-posture

Adjustment for overly erect posture (angle the seam towards the back).

The wearer is a woman!

I have already received quite a few requests to draft a Belvedere for women.  I don’t have any plans to do so at this time but you should give it a try!  I’ll be sewing one of the sew-along waistcoats for myself so we can see how the ideas I’ve listed below work out in reality.  I’ve created a Pinterest board featuring some great looks for inspiration too!   Here are a few thoughts on adjusting this menswear pattern to suit female curves.

Your approach will likely be different depending on the size of the chest in proportion to the waist:

Small Chest:  For small chested women only small adjustments may be needed.  Choose the waistcoat size based on the woman’s chest measurement and then adjust the shoulders, waist and hip by taking them in.  Increase the curve of the centre back seam, the size and curve of the darts, and the curve of the side seam to suit the wearer’s figure.  Since many women have more sloped shoulders and thinner arms than men, it may be necessary to raise the underarms and increase the slope of the shoulders.  When sewing the darts it may be necessary to lower the point to make sure that it sits slightly below the bust point.

Adjusted-for-women---small-chest

Don’t worry, this isn’t as daunting as it looks in the diagram!  Just cut out the waistcoat pattern and baste or pin the seams together so you can try it on the woman’s body.  You can then pinch and sew your changes in a very visual, step-by-step way!

 

Larger Chest:  This is quite a bit trickier and I must emphasise that I have only tried this as a thought experiment (not with a real fit model or mock up).  Choose the waistcoat size based on the wearer’s chest measurement and grade between sizes to suit the waist measurement.  The curve of the bust will cause the armhole to gape so it is necessary to reduce the size of the armhole by adding a dart.  Since adding an armhole dart is not often an attractive design feature, it’s time to bust out the princess seams!

Pinch out the gaping armhole to create a dart.  You can cut out a quick mock up and use pins to pinch the dart to suit the wearer exactly.

Now extend the darts to meet near (but not directly on) the bust point and curve to create a flattering princess seam.  Here is a rough approximation of the curve but you will want to adjust the shape to suit the wearer’s figure:

Princess-seam

I’ve also seen some beautifully cut women’s waistcoats that feature two sets of waist darts.  One is positioned as per the Belvedere pattern and a second one is added closer to the side seam.  This second dart, paired with a sloped shoulder seam could serve the same purpose as a princess seam by curving the fabric around the bust in a way that does not cause the armhole to gape.


 

On Wednesday I will have some fun tutorials and pattern downloads ready for you so that you can customise your Belvedere to your heart’s content.  Stay tuned for patch pockets, a collar tutorial and belt options!

Oh, and if I’ve overwhelmed you with all of this talk about fitting, please take a deep breath ignore the bulk of this post.  Keep in mind that when you shop for clothing at a store you are buying something that has had no fit adjustments to suit the wearer.  If you sew up the Belvedere with just one of these fit adjustments (such as adding a bit of length) you will end up with a garment that is better tailored to the wearer than a store bought waistcoat!  That’s what makes sewing awesome!


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Waistcoat Sew-Along: Day 1 – Supplies

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-10

It’s time to begin our Belvedere Waistcoat sew-along!  During this sew-along I will be completing two waistcoats – one that requires an intermediate level of skill and one suited to beginner menswear sewists.  In addition to following along with the Belvedere instruction booklet we will be trying out a variety of fitting methods and adding some bespoke details to our waistcoats.

Best of all, we will be finished on June 9th which means you will have lots of time to wrap up your waistcoat to give to your Dad on Father’s Day (June 18th)!

Here is our schedule:

Day 1 – May 19: Gathering your supplies (and Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit launch!)

Day 2 – May 22: Choosing a size and thoughts on fitting

Day 3 – May 24: Cutting out fabric and adding custom design details (collar, belt, pockets, changing the shape of the neckline and hem)

Day 4 – May 26: Apply interfacing and sew darts

Day 5 – May 29: Assemble the lining

Day 6 – May 31: Sew the welt pockets (or add patch pockets)

Day 7 – June 2: Finish the waistcoat fronts

Day 8 – June 5: Assemble the waistcoat back

Day 9 – June 7: Finish, press and add buttons

Day 10 – June 9: Styling and Belvedere Parade

Ready for all of this?!  Let’s dive in:

Supplies

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-3

A waistcoat can consist of up to three different co-ordinating fashion fabrics: The front, the back and the lining.  Here are my top choices for each:

Image credit: Silk: Neal & Palmer Finest British Bespoke Tailoring Quilted: Articles of Style: Not your Grandma’s Quilt Linen and Tweed: Belvedere Pinterest board

1. The Front: There are very few rules to follow when choosing this fabric!  Depending on the style you are hoping to achieve you can select from a huge variety of fabric types.  Choose a wool suiting for a classic waistcoat to pair with trousers for formal events.  Use a wool tweed for a winter waistcoat that pairs nicely with trousers or jeans.  Or use a canvas fabric (such as the hemp and cotton canvas from our shop (this is what Matt is wearing in these photos!) for a summery waistcoat perfect for weddings.  Other great choices could include linen, silk, textured upholstery fabric, or even a thick and fairly stable knit!  Choose whatever fabric you would like to showcase.  If you are sewing welt pockets on your waistcoat, limit your choice to something that is not too bulky, does not fray exceptionally, and presses well.  If you are skipping pockets, don’t worry about those limitations!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-12

2. The Back: There are several approaches to choosing a waistcoat back fabric – choose a statement fabric, a neutral fabric or the same fabric as your waistcoat front.  If you have opted for a neutral waistcoat front you could add a ‘surprise’ back as I have for Matt’s waistcoat.  Choose a slippery acetate or Bemberg lining material so that it sits nicely under a suit jacket.  If you have used a statement tweed or silk for your waistcoat front, choose a neutral lining material for your vest back that will coordinate nicely with the wearer’s trousers.  If the waistcoat will be worn casually, without a suit jacket, it is common to use the same material as the front instead of lining fabric or you can opt for a contrast fabric that is not slippery since it doesn’t need to sit nicely under a jacket.  For instance, I sewed my Dad a waistcoat with a wool knit front and a cotton canvas back (which I waxed with Otter Wax!).  I didn’t get any great photos of the back – I will do so at a later point and share them with you since I love how rugged the waxed back looks!

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3. The Lining: Select a good quality slippery lining material that will not catch on the wearer’s shirt.  My favorite is Bemberg (a type of rayon lining) but acetate or silk lining will do nicely as well!  While it is important to choose a strong lining fabric when sewing a suit jacket, there are very few pressure points for a waistcoat lining (because there are no sleeves) so delicate silk linings are an option.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-6

Okay, now that our fabric choices have been made, let’s talk about structure and notions!

The entire Belvedere Waistcoat front is interfaced to create a beautifully crisp garment.  The idea behind interfacing is to attach a crisp and stable fabric to your main fashion fabric to change the way that your fashion fabric behaves.  For example, wool suiting tends to sag and stretch out over time; when you attach a fabric that is not prone to stretching out you will prevent your wool from looking limp, worn and sad after years of wear!  Another example is silk – it is usually thin and without much body.  A waistcoat front made of one layer of thin silk dupioni would likely ripple and cave when the wearer moves.  It may also be quite weak and rip at the buttonholes.  Adding a stronger and stiffer interfacing to the back of the silk would add more body and strength to the silk.

Because you will be interfacing a large area of fabric, it is important to pick a good quality stabiliser that suits your fabric choice and also your skill level.  Here are some great pairings:

Wool fashion fabric: Use a wool canvas or hair canvas sew in stabiliser if you are proficient at padstitching (No idea what padstitching is? I will be covering this later in the sew-along!).  Choose a medium to heavy weight fusible such as cotton interfacing if you would prefer an easier solution.  Fusible interfacing has glue dots on one side that are melted to your fashion fabric with the heat from an iron.  Test the fusible on a scrap of wool to make sure that the glue adheres to your wool.

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Silk Organza: A very light weight but stable fabric.  Image from Gala Fabrics.

Silk fashion fabric: Sew in silk organza by basting it to the seam allowances.  Or, choose a light weight fusible but be sure to test the glue on a scrap of silk to make sure that the glue doesn’t soak through or create the appearance of visible dots on the right side of the fine silk.

Canvas fashion fabric: Most medium weight fusible interfacing will pair nicely with canvas.  Make sure to pre-shrink both your canvas and your interfacing because cotton canvas, in particular, is prone to shrinking!  Even if you don’t plan to machine wash your finished waistcoat, it is a good idea to pre-shrink fabrics because they could still shrink without washing.  For example, you will be doing LOTS of pressing while sewing your waistcoat with a hot and steamy iron.  This will shrink your canvas if it has not been pre-shrunk.  Pre-shrinking fabric could include washing and drying it (sometimes several times until it stops shrinking) or thoroughly steaming it with an iron.

 

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Bubbling occurs when fusible interfacing is no longer bonded to the main fabric.  Image from Tolemans 1hr Drycleaning.

 

 

Linen fashion fabric: Linen is notorious for refusing to remain fused to fusible interfacings.  The end result is the appearance of ‘bubbles’ where the interfacing and linen have detached.  I would recommend using a sew-in medium weight interfacing when working with linen.  Baste the interfacing in place within the seam allowances.

 


 

Lastly, it’s time to choose your buttons!  There are many styles you could select for your waistcoat buttons but generally I would suggest choosing ones that are between 1/2″ to 5/8″ in diameter.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-9

The ones pictured on Matt’s waistcoat are 5/8″ and are quite low profile making them a nice neutral choice.

I find that the more thick and textured your waistcoat fabric is, the more likely the waistcoat is to suit bulky or unusual buttons.  Harris Tweed waistcoats, for example, often feature quite large braided leather buttons.


 

Now that I’ve overwhelmed you with all of my thoughts on material choices, let me simplify things by introducing the brand new Belvedere Waistcoat Sewing Supplies Kit!

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit-1

I assembled all of my favourite materials to line, back and stabilise your waistcoat so that the only need to choose your waistcoat front fabric.  The linings in this kit would pair splendidly with wool suiting but also works nicely with canvas (as pictured on Matt), silk or linen.  The interfacing included is my favorite 100% cotton fusible interfacing which will work nicely for wool or canvas materials (as I mentioned above, I wouldn’t recommend a medium weight fusible for silk or linen!).

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-2

The main lining fabric featured in this kit is a delicious high end burgundy Bemberg.  I’ve included enough to line the inside and create the back of the waistcoat.  I’ve also included a paisley acetate lining that you can use to create a show-stopper waistcoat back or keep as a hidden special touch inside your pocket bags.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit-2

You can choose to buy the kit with or without the PDF pattern.  The PDF pattern is offered at a discounted price when purchased with the kit!


 

In addition to the Belvedere kit, the shop includes a great selection of tailoring fabrics.

The burgundy lining materials are both available by the 1/2 m (paisley and solid) and, of course, my favourite cotton fusible interfacing is also available.

There are three new tailoring materials just added yesterday: Two stabilisers (wool and horse hair) and one lining.

I will be testing out my bespoke menswear tailoring skills by padstitching wool canvas to one of the sew-along waistcoats.  I’ve added both wool canvas (left) and hair canvas (middle) to our shop so that you can join me!  I may even use the hair canvas to build up the chest area…we’ll see how ambitious I am!

I’ve also added a second Bemberg lining (right) to our shop!  If you prefer subtle pin stripes over bold burgundy, this is the Bemberg for you.  This striped Bemberg is traditionally used as a suit jacket or coat sleeve lining.  I purchased it from my favourite tailoring supplier (a lovely Italian gentlemen based in Ontario who sells predominantly to bespoke tailors) who proudly told me he is the only supplier of striped Bemberg sleeve lining in Canada.  I was surprised by this statement for several reasons: What is special about striped sleeves?  Why are Bemberg stripes desirable?  After a little bit of Googling I soon discovered that bespoke tailors are often frustrated by how difficult it is to source good quality traditional sleeve lining.  A striped sleeve lining used to be a sign that your suit jacket was traditionally tailored and not mass produced.  It is more cost effective for large scale manufacturers to use one lining material for the sleeves and body of a jacket so the use of contrasting sleeve linings set the bespoke tailor apart from their industrial competition.  In addition to this distinction, sleeve linings must be exceptionally smooth and strong to allow the wearer to slip their jacket on easily and to bend their arm fully without risk of tearing the material.  Using a contrast Bemberg sleeve lining frees the bespoke tailor to use a more delicate lining material (patterned silk, for instance) for the jacket body.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat Supplies Kit Sample-7

I hope you learned something today and that you are looking forward to creating your Belvedere Waistcoat!  I’ll leave you with a list of my favourite waistcoat construction resources.

  • A Youtube video by Professor Pincushion which is very approachable for beginners.  Learn everything about sewing a Simplicity vest pattern from reading the pattern envelope to adding easy faux welt pockets.
  • A video class by Gentleman Jim suitable for intermediates.  It costs $24.95 US which might seem pricey compared to free Youtube videos but I found it to be well worth the money!  The pace is easy to follow and Gentleman Jim is so lovely to listen to!  He is full of opinions and tricks for efficient sewing practices which are just as valuable as the waistcoat sewing instruction.  It felt nice to pay directly for all of the work he put in to making the video.
  • A large series of videos suitable for beginner or intermediate sewists detailing EVERY step to create a waistcoat.  This series by The Sewing Guru is lengthy and detail oriented.  I found the pace to be far too slow for my needs but this is a huge advantage if you are new to sewing!  You will have every question answered.
  • A blog post that gives a peek inside the process of fully tailoring a waistcoat.  This post created by Rory Duffy of Handcraft Tailor (who I featured on the blog two weeks ago) is an interesting glimpse into the process but doesn’t fully instruct.  I would recommend avoiding this post if you are fairly new to sewing (it might be overwhelming!) but it is educational and interesting if you are looking to delving in to at least a few of the tailoring techniques that he uses.


2 Comments

Your tailoring projects

Thank you for your enthusiasm over the Belvedere Waistcoat!  I’m really looking forward to seeing how your waistcoat projects turn out!

The other day, Amy, one of the helpful Belvedere test sewers, sent me a link to the blog post which featured her husband’s finished vest.  I enjoyed reading about her fit alterations, her thoughts on the garment design, and her perspective on construction methods…plus, we both agree that her very PNW photos could fit right in on our website!

I’ve also received a couple of emails lately with photos attached featuring absolutely gorgeous tailored Goldstream Peacoats.  Here is Zak’s rendition featuring a surprise lining!

Zak did a very thorough job canvasing the coat front.  He recommended a series of Youtube videos called “The Making of a Coat” by tailor Rory Duffy.  I somehow hadn’t come across Rory Duffy’s channel and am so thankful to Zak for pointing it out to me!  Duffy is a Savile Row trained Master Tailor who founded the Handcraft Tailor Academy in Ireland.  His videos are beautifully filmed and very informative.  Well worth a watch!

The second set of photos that I received was from Rachel who has been working hard over the past months to create not one, but two carefully fitted Goldstream Peacoats! She made one for each of her two sons.  Here they are looking very smart (accompanied by Rachel’s daughter-in-law).

Goldstream Peacoat by Rachel 3.JPG

Thanks, Amy, Zak and Rachel, for sharing your project photos!  I hope you are as pleased with how your tailoring projects turned out as I am. 🙂

Matt and I are heading off on a camping holiday all of next week (EXCITING!!!) so I won’t be blogging next Friday…but when I’m back I will be raring to go with the Belvedere sew-along.  See you then!


7 Comments

Get to know the Belvedere Waistcoat

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The Belvedere Waistcoat PDF pattern was launched in our shop last night and now it’s time to delve in to the details so you can get to know our newest menswear design!

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The Belvedere is a classic fitted waistcoat with a moderately low neckline, angled hem, and long darts on both the front and back.  The waistcoat is fully lined and includes a back neckline facing for a high-end finish.

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There are two variations included with this pattern:

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Variation 1 (modelled by my Dad) features some really nice details such as three welt pockets and small side seam vents.  This version was created as a satisfying tailoring challenge.  There are tips and suggestions spread throughout the instruction booklet that encourage intermediate sewers to expand their skill set.

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Variation 2 (modelled by Matt’s Dad and also seen pictured on my Granddad), is a very minimalist take on a traditional waistcoat.

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It includes fewer buttons, no pockets, and no side seam vents.  This is an excellent project for a relative novice who would like to push themselves to learn a solid foundation of skills.  By the time you are finished sewing the Belvedere you will have learned how to stay stitch, under stitch, sew darts, line a garment, and add buttonholes!  You will be ready for all manner of menswear projects.

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I wanted to make this pattern suitable for both novice and intermediate sewists because it is rare to find a menswear piece that is so small, quick, and also satisfying to create.  It is the perfect canvas to practice basics or to take your time and add all sorts of beautiful details.  Also, a waistcoat, depending on fabric choice, can serve so many purposes!  So I wanted the one pattern to operate as a solid foundation for menswear sewists to use as a tried and true pattern.  I can imagine a new sewist trying out this pattern after sewing perhaps a couple of basic bags and pajama pants.  They can then come back to this pattern throughout their entire sewing career, each time increasing the attention to detail, the quality of the fabric they use, and the level of fit achieved.  This one pattern can be used to sew a casual layering piece, an elegant tweed classic, something dressy for your groomsmen, or the finishing touch for a three piece suit.

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I kept the length quite short and the details quite minimalist so that it is ready to wear with mid to high rise dress trousers and will compliment many outfit styles.  Since the rise of your trousers can vary greatly, I’ve included instructions on how to measure and lengthen the pattern pieces to suit any pair of pants.  A properly fitted waistcoat should cover the entire trouser waistband…this is not easy to accomplish with a store bought waistcoat  but it is exceptionally easy to do when you sew one yourself!

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While I talk about fit, you have probably noticed that the waistcoat back is completely devoid of a belt!  This minimalism is rarely found in off the rack waistcoats but is common when you order a custom waistcoat from a tailor.  You can use the curved centre back seam and long darts to perfectly fit the Belvedere to the person who will wear it.  There is no need for a ‘one size fits most’ cinching belt.  If you like the extra flare that a belt adds to a waistcoat, don’t worry!  I will be releasing a free pattern download quite soon so that you can choose one of two styles to add to your Belvedere.

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In fact, I will be releasing a whole menu of free ‘add-ons’ so you can customise the Belvedere to your heart’s content.  Please feel free to request a certain pocket or collar style!  These interesting details will be offered separately from the base pattern so that you only need to print the elements that you need.  I also wanted to avoid over-complicating the pattern and instruction booklet so that it would remain approachable for novice sewists!

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We will begin the Waistcoat Sew-along on May 19th and will roll out all sorts of posts on fitting to a variety of body types, altering the Belvedere to match your suit jacket, changing the shape of the hem, adding thoughtful personalized details, and, of course, the nitty gritty of completing the basic waistcoat sewing process.

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The sew-along will finish in time for Father’s Day gift giving!  Take it from Matt and I…your dad will be VERY honoured to receive a custom sewn waistcoat!

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I hope you will join us during our sew-along!  It will be very informative for both new and experienced sewists.  In the meantime, stay tuned for the release of our Belvedere Kit and all manner of tailoring supplies in the shop!

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Thank you to my Granddad, Dad, and Matt’s Dad for being such enthusiastic (and classy!) models.  All three of them looked exceptionally elegant in their Belvedere Waistcoats.

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And thanks, also, to the White Whale pub for accommodating our rowdy family photoshoot!

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Download the Belvedere (20% off May 2nd and 3rd only!) >


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Imminent Launch Day

I thought you might like to know that we have a new PDF pattern ready to launch next week!  The Belvedere Waistcoat will be here in time for Father’s Day projects and summer weddings!

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I’m working on some finishing touches today to prepare for a large selection of goodies we will be launching alongside this pattern.  So I’ll keep it short and sweet today.

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There will be a release day discount code for this pattern so make sure you are signed up to the newsletter or to this blog to ensure you will be informed of the code.