Cooking Up My Style Recipe

Readers,

Have you ever tried to define your fashion personality and wardrobe style in just a handful of words? Me neither.

At least not till a couple of afternoons ago, when I undertook what I’ve found so far to be the single most important–and head-scratching–exercise in image consultant Imogen Lamport’s 7 Steps to Style program.

Imogen Lamport at her desk - Creator of Inside Out Style

Melbourne, Australia-based image consultant Imogen Lamport.

After months of reading dozens of Imogen’s immensely enlightening (and free!) posts on her blog, Inside Out Style, about figure types, coloring, proportions, color- and value-contrast, and wardrobe-building, I finally took the plunge and bought her program so I could be advised individually and admitted to the Facebook group of sister “7 Steppers,” who encourage each other and offer helpful feedback.

I had gone about as far as I could puzzling out my coloring, figure type, proportions, and so forth on my own but was still perplexed. My closet still has too many wardrobe orphans, and I still sew too many duds.

Uh…Do we have a fitting problem here? (Jack nicknamed this 2013 sewing project “Anoraksia Nervosa.”)

It was time to tap into the knowledge of a pro who had analyzed the figures and determined the coloring of thousands of clients for as close to an objective assessment as I could ever hope to get.

But the subjective assessment was all on my shoulders. In Step 1 of the program, “Personality,” Imogen writes,

During my image consultant training, I had an epiphany. It wasn’t just the shape of clothes that’s important to finding the right styles for each person, but also your personality traits need to be reflected in the clothing, as this is how you will feel the most comfortable and stylish.

“[D]iscovering your personality style,” she continues, “is the jumping off point in my 7 Steps to Style. Without discovering all about who you are and what you love, you’ll never really feel as stylish and attractive as possible.”

This jacket from a 1930s pattern was a technical hit but a fashion miss. That’s a lot of effort to put in for so little return.

And so what occupied me a couple of afternoons ago was, first, taking the Personality Style Quiz, to help determine my preferences for seven styles of dressing: Classic, Relaxed, Dramatic, Creative, Rebellious, Feminine and Elegant Chic.

I appreciated not being confined to one category but choosing qualities I liked from as many categories as I liked and leaving the rest, as if I were filling my plate from a vast fashion “buffet.” I took big helpings from Classic and Elegant Chic, a sizeable portion of Creative, and appetizer-sized servings of the rest. Translated into a wardrobe item my “fashion plate” (ha!) might mean a well-fitted (Elegant Chic) trench coat (Classic) in a nontraditional color like chartreuse (Creative).

The next section, which I also tackled with relish, was answering “What do you love? What speaks to you? Write down the elements that make you excited.”

Let’s see…I love autumn colors, and apple pie, and berets…but not the scratchy wool-blend I used for this capacious coat!

Imogen listed:

  • Colors
  • Textures
  • Fabrics
  • Patterns
  • Design details
  • Jewelry
  • Shoes
  • Handbags

To which I added the category

  • Hats

What sewer doesn’t have opinions on these subjects?  The spaces were hardly big enough to list all the colors I crave (Mustards! Olives! Chocolate and caramel browns!),

Wearing some of my favorite colors.

patterns I love (houndstooths, plaids, stripes of every stripe), or design details I adore (buttons and buttonholes, contrast facings and linings). In my self-generated category Hats, typical of an Elegant Chic I listed berets (and typical of a Creative, I own them in many colors).

One of my many berets.

For 7 Steps to Style participants who dress differently for their workplaces than in their personal lives, there’s a section for defining the wardrobe and style requirements for each area. I pressed on to the last section: Create Your Unique Style Recipe.

“By now,” Imogen writes,

you should be starting to get a clearer picture of the styles of clothes you love, the elements of design that excite you, and your personal style. So it’s time to create your Style Recipe–these are the words that help you make decisions about clothes and outfits, whether or not you should keep them in your wardrobe, or buy them at all.

What you’re going to be doing is creating a list of words that resonate with you as a person and how you want to be perceived. A list expressing your authentic and best self that will be used when you shop for something new, or just when you’re putting together your outfit for the day.

This was the most challenging exercise for me as for almost all 7 Steps to Style participants.  How do you condense your tastes and aspirations into a few words? Just start. Experiment with your words, and modify as needed.  As with a recipe, season to taste.

For me, the stumbling block was addressing the question of how I want to be perceived. If you want to see me cock a skeptical eyebrow in record time, tell me to use words like “bold,” “mysterious,” “edgy,” or “powerful” in my style recipe. I guess the problem I have with this is, for better or worse, I can’t control how others perceive me.

However, I definitely see how not understanding the powerful vocabulary of dressing means not being able to create strong, consistent messages through clothes and outfits.

Forget what the color orange is saying about me–what my face is saying is, “Hurry up and take the picture!”

And for a sewing blogger, such a misunderstanding would be pretty ironic.

I decided not to let myself get bogged down in the being-perceived piece of this question and pressed on. I remained curious to see how I could use carefully selected words to make finer distinctions and chart a more interesting, personal–and enjoyable–wardrobe path.

I asked myself, What am I aiming for in my wardrobe? and my answer came back about what I want in my clothes. And that’s when I winnowed several dozen words down to five and came up with my Style Recipe, Version 1.0.

The words are:

  • Crafted
  • Useful
  • Vintage
  • Enduring
  • Surprising

Here’s why:

  • Crafted.  I realized that it really matters to me to make a significant part of my wardrobe. I enjoy nice clothes–who doesn’t?–but when I slide my arm through the sleeve of a coat I’ve sewn, my enjoyment is multiplied.

    I enjoy wearing the “belted topper” I made from an early ’50s pattern.

    It is further magnified when I recall choosing the fabric, conversing with the dealer who sold me the vintage buttons, or solving the puzzles of designing and constructing the garment. Once in a long while a purchased garment approaches that level of satisfaction, but really, nothing compares with the feeling I get wearing something I’ve made.

    This Pendleton jacket from the 1950s that I discovered in a vintage clothing store is beautifully made and a joy to wear.

    (But if I really dislike the process of making some wardrobe items, I’m fine with buying ready-to-wear.)

  • Useful.  Utility should be the bottom line for wardrobe items, right? Yet, how many times have I settled for a wardrobe item that wasn’t useful enough? A scratchy sweater, a shoulder bag that slips, shoes I can’t walk distances in? On the other hand, there are ingeniously designed items that carry usefulness to a new level.

    This early ’50s easy-to-sew weskit with big pockets is stylish, easy to wear, easy to pack, and so useful for holding swatches!

    And there’s another kind of useful–say, a yellow raincoat that keeps me dry but also makes me easy to spot when Jack and I travel.

    Henry VIII may be bigger, but in my yellow raincoat I’m no shrinking violet!

    “Useful” is in my style recipe to remind me to design multiple kinds of utility into garments I sew. And when I shop I’ll ask “Is this useful?” and “How is this useful?”

  • Vintage.  There’s no getting around it: I have a special liking for the styles, silhouettes, and details of many patterns from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s.  The only time I’m consistently excited about contemporary patterns is when I browse the Marfy pattern company site.
    Sewing pattern Jackets / Shrugs 3223

    When I think of the Elegant Chic style, Marfy patterns come to mind.

    Those patterns come without instructions, which feels scary, but the styles are so enticing I’ll eventually attempt to sew one. Of course, I don’t want my closet to be a costume museum, and it doesn’t have to be. Vintage designs can be adapted, sewn in today’s colors and fabrics and worn in fresh combinations.

  • Enduring. I want to like my wardrobe so much that I would use everything till it fell apart. If not everything in my wardrobe is of enduring design, I will still aim for a much higher percentage. If I want to get rid of an item while it still has much wear left, I’ll want to know what’s unsatisfactory with the object or what’s different in my life now and what would suit my tastes or activities better.

    The weskit? Love. The colors–meh. I can do better.

  • Surprising. I think without Surprising in my style recipe my wardrobe could end up feeling like a bowl of oatmeal: nourishing but not very exciting.

    Flannel pajamas: as exciting as oatmeal. Perhaps pair them with a robe in a fun print?

    Surprising could take so many forms:

    • a classic garment in a nontraditional color (like a chartreuse trench coat)
    • a detail that’s a different size than what’s usually seen (like a large collar or pockets)

      I love the generous-sized collar on this 1959 jacket pattern.

    • a contrast facing for a collar or pocket flap that perhaps only the wearer knows about
    • a clever combination of patterns or colors that “shouldn’t” work–but does

I think of Surprising as the ingredient in my style recipe, like a squeeze of lemon juice, that brightens up the rest of the dish. Surprising is freshness, humor, delight. Whether I’m planning a garment to sew or an outfit to wear, I’ll ask myself where I might incorporate an element of surprise.

Okay, so not every surprise is a good surprise…(from my field trip to The Alley Vintage and Costume, Columbus, Ohio)

Well, that’s the recipe I cooked up on a quiet afternoon earlier this week. After I’ve had my colors analyzed and my figure type identified I’ll evaluate my wardrobe, fabrics, and patterns in earnest. That’s when I’ll really start putting this style recipe to the test.

(Studio photos and the “surprising hat” photo are by Cynthia DeGrand)

Class: Tailoring Details with Kenneth D. King

Readers,

That humming sound you hear is coming from my head, which is still spinning from spending last weekend at Janie’s Sewing Corner in Cleveland, Ohio.

Students gather around Kenneth for a closer look.

Students gather around Kenneth for a closer look.

That’s where I joined 31 fellow sewers to see Threads magazine contributing editor, adjunct professor at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, and self-described “couturier to the stars” Kenneth D. King demonstrate tailoring and couture techniques for about 11 packed hours spread over two days.

The class description on Janie’s website read, “Kenneth will teach a workshop on tailoring details, focusing on old-school techniques the first day and more modern techniques the second day.”

Actually, Kenneth led off on Day 1 with his “new school” tailoring innovations–not that it mattered, since nearly all of us had signed up for both days.

I had e-mailed Kenneth earlier in the week:

Hello Kenneth,
I thought I would drop you a line to say how much I look forward to meeting you Saturday and Sunday at Janie’s Sewing Corner.

I also wanted to tell you that I bought Smart Tailoring the day it was announced on the Taunton website, and made a jacket following your “old school” methods. I was going to follow up with a “new school” jacket, but remained confused about the collar-lapel pattern adaptation, so I will learn from you this weekend and then produce a “new school” jacket—the first of many, I think.

I documented the process of making my jacket using Smart Tailoring on my blog, Getting Things Sewn. In this post, http://gettingthingssewn.com/tailoring-with-kenneth-king/ I explain why I took on this project.

Sewing is not easy for me, but I’m capable of good work, especially with expert help. I look forward to getting my questions answered this weekend!

Thank you, Kenneth,
Paula DeGrand

Minutes later Kenneth replied:

Hello, Paula,

Be sure to bring your pattern, and I’ll show how to adapt the under collar to the body for everyone else to learn….
See you this weekend!
Kenneth

Yippee!

So in class I was prepared when Kenneth asked me to retrieve the pattern pieces for the under collar and front of the pattern I was trying to adapt for a “new school” jacket. He pinned the front to his flip chart, and then pinned on the under collar at the notch on the neckline. He pinned the collar to the chart at a second point, showing a gap between the two pattern pieces.

I was watching intently and scribbling notes at the same time and didn’t even think to take a picture. Here are my notes, in their entirety:IMG_9636 (460x192)Okay: “gap…curve…take out there…add back here…make a muslin…my jacket does have a peaked lapel…this adaptation does work for peaked lapels…” I have fragments here, but not a clear picture.

I don’t write fast enough, and I barely grasp patternmaking principles, which are both big impediments in a fast-paced sewing class.

In short,  it is still a mystery to me how to combine the under collar and the front into a single pattern piece to simplify making a notched collar. How to “finesse some of that gap” remains beyond my grasp. I doubt a photo of the flip chart would have provided the solution to my puzzlement. I needed one-on-one instruction, and that wasn’t going to happen with 31 classmates that day.

The undercollar and front are a single piece, removing a seam and therefore bulk. Notice--no seamline between undercollar and front. The line of stitching is holding the stay tape along the roll line.

See this? No seamline between the undercollar and the front, which means one fewer pesky, bulky seam to deal with. This is the result I want to achieve with my own jacket pattern pieces.

When I do adapt my pattern at last, I’ll post a step-by-step process. Promise!

(See my previous three posts to read about attempting to adapt my pattern.)

On both days Kenneth taught at a steady, swift pace, frequently checking our faces for comprehension. One time I must have been staring back blankly, because he asked again if I was following him, and I said “I’ll have to practice to lock in the knowledge.” It was an honest answer, and it seemed to satisfy him.

When I looked at my notes I was astonished at all the ground Kenneth covered. For example:

  • How to make a muslin framework to suspend canvas inside a jacket front, providing support but avoiding bulky seams
  • How to tape a roll line and machine-stitch it in place through the canvas and fashion fabric

    The stay tape is stitched in place through the canvas and fashion fabric along the roll line.

    The stay tape is stitched in place through the canvas and fashion fabric along the roll line.

  • How to steam, press, and baste in the turn of cloth in a lapel
  • How to stitch a notched collar with a minimum of bulk, avoiding the usual “train wreck” of seams meeting in one place

    A notched collar "new school" style.

    A notched collar “new school” style.

  • How to make mitered cuffs
  • How to make a “hidden pocket” in a jacket front lining
  • How to remove bulk from a pocket flap pattern piece by cleverly relocating the seams
    The "origami" pocket flap means no bulk at the edges because the seam allowances have been shifted out of sight. This is the back.

    The “origami” pocket flap means no bulk at the edges because the seam allowances have been shifted out of sight. This is the back.

    This is the front of the flap. The edges are free of bulk.

    This is the front of the flap. The edges are free of bulk.

  • How to make a bulk-free seams and welt pockets in nonravelly materials like felt or leather
    Sketching a pocket for nonravelly materials like felt and leather.

    Sketching a pocket for nonravelly materials like felt and leather.

    The pocket in felt. Nice.

    The pocket in felt. Nice.

    The pocket bag of the felt pocket.

    The pocket bag of the felt pocket.

  • When a three-piece sleeve is better than a two-piece
  • How to draft a notched lapel from a shawl lapel
  • How to reason out the proportions of a garment in a fashion illustration or photograph from knowing the average neck-to-shoulder seam measurement and knowing that the elbow bends at the natural waist.
  • How to make a surgeon’s style jacket cuff with working buttonholes
    Surgeon's cuff, with working buttonholes.

    Surgeon’s cuff, with working buttonholes.

    The surgeon's cuff, neatly finished inside.

    The surgeon’s cuff, neatly finished inside.

  • How to make bound buttonholes and welt pockets of consistent dimensions and quality

    Kenneth  demonstrated bound buttonholes and neatly finishing the facing. That's silk organza.

    Kenneth demonstrated bound buttonholes and neatly finishing the facing. That’s silk organza.

  • How to smoothly install an invisible zipper
  • How to make fell stitches, tailor bastes, and pad stitches
  • How to stay curves even before cutting out the pattern piece
  • Why cut some seam allowances 1 inch wide and how to press out the ripples along the edges
  • How to make a Hong Kong finish the couture way

Both days Kenneth produced samples from scratch or finished ones he’d started and then passed them around for us to scrutinize and photograph.

Kenneth King demonstrated sewing a notched collar, "new school" style.

Kenneth King demonstrated sewing a notched collar, “new school” style.

What a nice looking felt collar.

What a nice looking felt collar.

He brought several jackets, familiar to users of his DVDs, books, and Threads articles, that we could look at inside and out.

The "new school" jacket that appears in the Smart Tailoring DVD.

The “new school” jacket that appears in the Smart Tailoring DVD.

His tool bag lay open on the table. It was fun to see the tools he had amassed or created over the years and how he used them.

Kenneth King's tool bag.

Kenneth King’s tool bag.

I’d never heard of a Florian pinker. “Pinking shears tend to chew some fabrics,” Kenneth said, as many of us nodded in agreement. When I saw how neatly this gadget trimmed edges, I wanted one for myself.

The Florian pinker

The Florian pinker

IMG_9604 (460x273)

“I’m all about having the right tool for the job,” Kenneth told us, and sometimes that means adapting a tool to improve it. He did not hesitate or apologize when removing a spring mechanism from a zipper foot, pronouncing it useless, and dropping it with a “plunk!” into the wastebasket.

We got more advice on equipment, tools, and supplies:

  • Don’t use a Teflon ironing board cover, which repels moisture rather than allowing steam to move through a garment
  • Collect and use good pieces of pressing equipment–tailors’ hams, a point presser, a clapper, sleeve rolls, a sleeve board
  • Get a really good iron. (Kenneth has a Reliable i600, which has amazing steam–and runs up an equally amazing electric bill.)
  • Have at least one pair of Gingher tailors’ scissors, and ship them back to Gingher to be sharpened.
  • A vacuum table? “Not really. Good for a dry cleaner. Too much for me.”
  • Use a trimmed shaving brush to remove chalk markings.
  • Iron thread for hand sewing, and it won’t twist
  • “Don’t cheap out on needles.”

Then there was the quotable Kenneth:

  • “I wasn’t formally trained except for patternmaking.”
  • “Know the rules.”
  • “Know when to break the rules.”
  • “I’m not wild about wearable art.” In couture, the wearer is more important than the garment; with wearable art the garment is more important than the wearer, he said.
  • “I believe in spending the time you need to get a beautiful result.”
  • “I’m lazy–I don’t want to do any more than I have to.”
  • “You need to put your time in where it shows.”
  • I’m very much about repeatable and reliable.”
  • “I’m known for handouts at FIT.” (And at Janie’s, too: We all got to take home a CD of Kenneth’s ten handouts for the classes.)

    Drafting a notched-collar jacket from a shawl collar pattern. Kenneth makes it look easy.

    Drafting a notched-collar jacket from a shawl collar pattern. Kenneth makes it look easy.

  • “When it’s all said and done, if it gives you a good result, it’s correct.”
  • “There’s this whole thing on directional sewing…” Kenneth disagrees: “I have a life…”
  • “A lot of Bemberg lining you can read a newspaper through, and I hate that.”
  • A tedious or time-consuming task is “a nosebleed.”
  • “I tell my students, ‘I started when I was 4; I’m 57–do the math.”
  • Sewing purists who endlessly debate fine points are “clutching their pearls” or “wrapped around the axle.”
  • Quoting Fred Astaire: “If you make the same mistake long enough, they assume it’s your style.”

Miscellaneous facts:

  • Kenneth takes his own photos for his Threads articles.
  • His next DVD in Threads’ “Smart” series will be about sewing fake fur.
  • He loves Fortuny fabric. (Shocking, I know.)
  • He takes a dim view of mimes.

Kenneth’s recommendations:

  • Better Dressmaking by Ruth Wyeth Spears is “one of those good all-around books from the forties.”
  • Check out the great content on Threads Insider, where Kenneth’s beautiful “bark coat” can be seen.
  • Support your local independent fabric store, which can provide supplies and services that the big chains can’t or won’t.
  • If you have a chance to take a class from Lynda Maynard, do it.

It’s been six days now since Tailoring Details with Kenneth King ended, and I’ve been thinking about what I got out of it.

  • I got to meet and listen to a master. I find being around any kind of mastery has a good effect on me.
  • I saw with my own eyes techniques demonstrated with successful results. (I am a little bit skeptical of most sewing directions–and directions in general.) I’m much more likely to try these techniques now.
  • I made, or renewed, the acquaintance of fellow sewers.
  • I bought myself an impressively large sleeve board.IMG_9632 (460x260)

It would be a shame, though, not to invest a little more effort to yield richer, longer-lasting rewards. Like:

  • Researching irons and buying a much better one
  • Making or buying the right ironing board cover
  • Seeing how far I could get following Kenneth’s handouts for his FIT students
  • Trying Kenneth’s bound buttonhole method
  • Trying his “origami” pocket flap, not only to reduce bulk but as a pattern-drafting exercise
  • Using my Threads and Threads Insider subscriptions more, and more strategically

And, most of all,

  • Continuing to amass experience and knowledge making jackets and coats.

Although I brought my “old school” jacket to class to show Kenneth and to ask questions about it, I may have given him a mistaken impression. If I had listed my specific questions in that e-mail earlier in the week, Kenneth probably would have woven those topics into his talk.

My jacket made following Kenneth's "old school" methods still needs a final press.

My jacket made following Kenneth’s “old school” methods still needs a final press.

Instead, my jacket waited in the wings and never got onstage. And when we wrapped up Sunday afternoon and Kenneth had a plane to catch, I thought it would be insensitive as well as untimely to press him for advice about–pressing, among other things.

But you know what? I’ll just look at my jacket again on my own and figure out what to do next.

Thanks, Janie! I'll be back!

Thanks, Janie! I’ll be back!

The Ripple Effect

Readers,

A few days ago I learned:

  • Kenneth King’s pattern adaptation for notched-collar jackets doesn’t work for peaked lapels.IMG_9104 (370x460)
  • I had picked a jacket pattern with a peaked lapel.IMG_9200 (334x460)
  • I was mistaken to think all peaked lapels look the same. They definitely don’t.

I so wanted to stop thinking about fusing jacket front and under collar pattern pieces into one piece.

Is this easy for an intermediate sewer like me?

Is this easy for an intermediate sewer like me?

I wanted to get down to the business of making a “new school” tailored jacket to pair with the “old school” one I’d made using Smart Tailoring.

Here's a jacket made with "old school" tailoring methods. I was planning to sew a "new method" companion to take to Kenneth King's class.

Here’s a jacket made with “old school” tailoring methods. I was planning to sew a “new method” companion to take to Kenneth King’s class.

But making the jacket any other way would not be “new school,” and I wouldn’t learn what I had set out to learn.

If I gave myself one more chance to learn this technique and succeeded, I’d still have four weeks to produce a “new school” jacket to bring to Kenneth’s class in Cleveland.

So I dug out yet another jacket pattern, one that I was pretty sure had a notched–not a peaked–lapel.  It’s McCall 7379. From 1933, the eBay vendor said.IMG_9224 (358x460)

Since only the pieces for View B were left, she listed the pattern for 99 cents. I snapped it up.IMG_9225 (303x460)

Yesterday I laid out the front and under collar pattern pieces.

The original pattern pieces, with the seam allowances.

The original pattern pieces, with the seam allowances.

The photocopied pattern pieces, with seam allowances cut off.

The pattern pieces photocopied onto tracing paper, with seam allowances cut off.

I sewed a muslin of the back, front, and under collar. It went together easily.IMG_9221 (460x345)I trimmed the seam allowances off the photocopied under collar piece and laid it on the muslin.

The under collar piece fits back onto the muslin, which is laid over a tailor's ham.

The under collar piece fits back onto the muslin, which is laid over a tailor’s ham.

As was expected, the under collar fit just fine, as it should.

Then I ripped out the back piece and laid out the front-under collar combo as flat as I could.

That didn’t mean it laid out perfectly flat, though. There was a ripple, which I could transfer from one place to another but couldn’t remove.

The ripple is between the shoulder seam and the dart.

The ripple is between the shoulder seam and the dart.

Now the rippled is between the dart and the lapel.

Now the ripple is between the dart and the lapel.

And this is where, once more, I found myself lost in a dark wood. I could not fathom what the rippled muslin pieces were telling me.

So a single, flat pattern piece, eliminating a bulky seam leading to a superior notched collar, remains beyond my grasp for a few more weeks.

In the meantime, I think I’ll sew up something from a tried and true pattern. I could use a change.

In Action is Better Than Inaction

Readers,

After I wrote my previous post, about how my plan to make a tailored jacket came to a grinding halt, I rallied. I posed my question in the PatternReview.com forum, Pattern Modifications, Design Changes & Pattern Drafting section:

I composed what I hoped would be a catchy title for my thread, “Success Using Kenneth King’s Notched Collar Adaptation?” Translation:

  • “Success.” We all want to know which instructions really, really work.
  • “Kenneth King.” He teaches online classes through Pattern Review and has an enthusiastic following.
  • “Notched Collar.” A thorn in the side of many sewers.
  • “Adaptation.” You mean there could be a better way? Tell me about it!

Then I wrote my question:

I am getting ready to make a jacket following Kenneth King’s “new school” method step by step on his Smart Tailoring DVD set. (I have only buttonholes left to do on a jacket that faithfully followed his “old school” method, which was quite successful. See my blog for the blow-by-blow.)
Here’s where I’m stuck–right at the beginning of my project. In this “new school” method you eliminate a seam and bulk from the notched collar by combining the front jacket pattern piece with the under collar piece. Kenneth illustrates this (briefly) in his April/May 2006 Threads article “A Notch Above,” which is also bonus material on the DVD. He also mentions this method on his Tailoring CD. I am NOT a natural at pattern-drafting, so I just could not fathom what to do and how to check my work.
Has anybody experienced success with Kenneth’s method? Any tricky parts to be aware of?
I will be taking Kenneth’s tailoring class in Cleveland in July so eventually I will get an answer with the amount of detail I need (which is a lot). However, I was hoping to produce another jacket before the class so I could test all the “new school” instructions and be ready with questions. Thanks for any help.

I hit Post Topic and then waited for replies to roll in.

Pretty soon a Pattern Review member answered. She was curious about this pattern-drafting trick, too.

Then another member wrote in. She scoured the Internet to help me, and found this photo, which she posted in the thread:

IMG_9988 (460x307)

Look familiar?

It’s a little strange to have a photo of a project from your own blog cited as the answer to your problem. But the intention was so very nice.

Even though I didn’t get a tidy little answer to my question, the tone of solicitude and interest from fellow sewers made me resolve to give this patternmaking method another try. I owed it to myself, and to my correspondents who were taking pains to ease me back onto the sewing road.

Sunday morning found me rifling through my patterns for another notched-collar jacket. I chose McCall 6425, a bolero jacket from 1946. I’ve been wanting to make this for years.IMG_9200 (334x460)

I traced off the front, back, and under collar and examined how the paper pieces fit together.IMG_9167 (297x460)

Then I made a muslin, and saw how the fabric pieces fit together.IMG_9177 (460x345)

Looking at my muslin through my light box--my homemade x-ray machine.

Looking at my muslin through my light box–my homemade x-ray machine.

I saw where the under collar intersected with the shoulder seam and transferred the marking to the pattern piece.

Matching the circle and the shoulder seam, I noticed that the seamline on the under collar was barely curved, while the front neckline was much more curved. The distance stitched was the same, though.

When I match the undercollar at the  circle and the shoulder seam, the stitching lines don't match.

When I match the undercollar at the circle and the shoulder seam, the stitching lines don’t match.

So, back to what I wanted to accomplish: combining the under collar and front. If the stitching lines don’t match, do I alter the under collar to compensate in some way? Transfer the difference to another edge? Does this make sense?

I was observing; I was reasoning, but I didn’t know the patternmaking principle to apply to this situation, so I was not solving the problem.

But something I had read on Kenneth King’s “Tailored Jacket” CD book came back to me. He describes eliminating the seam by combining the two pattern pieces, and then says,

An aside: This doesn’t work for peaked lapels, as the edges of the collar are too close together.

Then he shows a photo of a peaked lapel and a line drawing of the pattern pieces of a peaked lapel fitted together.

Peaked lapel. I traced this from Kenneth King's "Tailored Jacket" CD book and flipped it over.

Peaked lapel. I traced this from Kenneth King’s “Tailored Jacket” CD book and flipped it over.

I returned to my muslin and compared it with the drawing.

IMG_9165 (460x345)

The peak of chic.

Does my jacket have a peaked lapel? I’m thinking it does. At least, the pattern pieces are behaving like a peaked lapel.

After I’ve given my brain a good rest I may further investigate this matter of notched lapels, excluding those of the peaked kind.

Or I may wait a month. I will probably get all the information I need in a five- or ten-minute explanation and demo from Kenneth.

At least, Pattern Review correspondents, thanks to you, I made a good faith effort.

Take a peek at la belle in the swell peaked lapel.

Sneak a peek at la belle in the swell peaked lapel.

 

Installing the Jacket Sleeves and Finishing the Lining–Old School

Readers,

Guess what? I finished my 1941 McCall “Misses’ Mannish Jacket,” except for buttonholes, yesterday!  I’ve handed my creation over to my capable photographer, Cynthia DeGrand, to shoot it in her studio this afternoon.

The linings have been basted to the sleeves to avoid getting twisted later. The tops of the linings remain loose.

The linings have been basted to the sleeves to avoid getting twisted later. The tops of the linings remain loose.

This past week found me following Kenneth King’s demos on his DVD set Smart Tailoring to set in the sleeves by hand and machine and complete sewing in the lining by hand according to “old school” methods.

Kenneth likes to distribute the ease over a long distance--the points I've marked with pins, where the sleeve flattens on itself.

Kenneth likes to distribute the ease over a long distance–the points I’ve marked with pins, where the sleeve flattens on itself.

Make two staggered rows of running stitches by hand inside the seam allowance by about 1/8 inch to ease the seam cap.

Make two staggered rows of running stitches by hand inside the seam allowance by about 1/8 inch to ease the seam cap.

The rows of hand stitching are staggered to gather the cap better.

The rows of hand stitching are staggered to gather the cap better.

As throughout this “old school” process, I was surprised how much I liked doing the handwork. Hand-basting the sleeve into the armhole gave me more control over distributing the ease, and I had no pins in my path when I machine-sewed the sleeve in place.

The right sleeve cap has been gathered and steam-pressed and -shrunk to shape.

The right sleeve cap has been gathered and steam-pressed and -shrunk to shape.

Oh--I forgot to spritz the left sleeve before I tried steaming and pressing the cap. Do not skip the water-spritzing step!

Oh–I forgot to spritz the left sleeve before I tried steaming and pressing the cap. Do not skip the water-spritzing step!

Similarly, I enjoyed more control stitching the lining in place by hand than by machine.

I have sewn this jacket pattern four times before and drafted a shoulder pad to fit, but Kenneth shows how to trim a commercial shoulder pad to fit.

I have sewn this jacket pattern four times before and drafted a shoulder pad for it, but Kenneth shows how to trim a commercial shoulder pad to fit.

With fleece from my stash and the shoulder pad pattern I made previously I made shoulder pads in a jiffy.

With fleece from my stash and the shoulder pad pattern I made previously I made shoulder pads in a jiffy.

When I try Kenneth’s “new school” methods from Smart Tailoring for a second jacket project I’m sure there will be more machine work, and I may be equally satisfied with the result. The big change may be that I will no longer see handwork as fussy or laborious. It certainly doesn’t have to be.

A sleeve head fills out the sleeve cap; Kenneth recommends using a a bias-cut wool flannel.

A sleeve head fills out the sleeve cap; Kenneth recommends using a a bias-cut wool flannel.

The 3" x 10" wool strip is folded and pressed, then zizzag-stitched, folded and pressed again to create tiers.

The 3″ x 10″ wool strip is folded and pressed, then zizzag-stitched, folded and pressed again to create tiers.

Press and steam-shrink the sleeve head to help mold it into its final shape.

Press and steam-shrink the sleeve head to help mold it into its final shape.

The shoulder pad aligns with the sleeve seam allowance.

The shoulder pad aligns with the sleeve seam allowance.

The fold of the sleeve head is placed about an eighth of an inch inside the seam allowance and then is opened up.

The fold of the sleeve head is placed about an eighth of an inch inside the seam allowance and then is opened up.

The sleeve head is unfolded and attached to the sleeve cap with a running stitch.

The sleeve head is unfolded and attached to the sleeve cap with a running stitch.

Although I finished the jacket as much as I could, I don’t have buttons for it yet so I can’t make the buttonholes. And without buttons and buttonholes it isn’t done and is still a project, not a garment.

Once stitched in place, the sleeve head will fold back on itself.

Once stitched in place, the sleeve head will fold back on itself.

The shoulder pads are in both sides, but the sleeve head is only on the right. The other sleeve cap looks a little collapsed.

The shoulder pads are in both sides, but the sleeve head is only on the right. The other sleeve cap looks a little collapsed.

I realized a few weeks ago that I might find wonderful vintage or vintage-looking buttons to go with this vintage pattern and fabric. So I’m waiting till I’m in London a few weeks from now to look in earnest.

In a little while I will join Cynthia and my jacket in the photo studio. See you back here in a couple of days, I hope!IMG_6681 (345x460)