Project: Vogue 7711 (1952), Waistcoat, Version 2

Readers,

Remember that black linen big-pocketed waistcoat I made a while back? That was my wearable test, sewn from stash fabric I was willing to sacrifice.  The test turned out very well. That waistcoat was perfect to wear browsing in New York’s garment district. I can stow a lot of swatches in those pockets!

A wool-silk version of a waistcoat I made in linen in the summer.

A wool-silk version of a waistcoat I made in linen in the summer.

A few days ago I cut out another waistcoat, from the same wool-silk blend I used for the McCall’s coat (pattern 8814, from 1952).  I finished the waistcoat this afternoon.

I made this as a relatively quick wardrobe-extender. I’ve also made a skirt and pants from this very same fabric, and with the waistcoat I can now create ensembles.  I can wear the waistcoat with solid complementary colors, too.

This waistcoat can be worn with contrasting solids, or...

This waistcoat can be worn with contrasting solids, or…

I’m showing this with a black skirt and top so the lines of the waistcoat show up better.

...with a matching skirt.

…with a matching skirt.

I really like the waistcoat worn with the matching skirt, which has a smart-casual feel to me. In this I can feel like I put some thought into getting dressed without sacrificing practicality. I can push up my sleeves and cook or do dishes in this (wearing an apron), which I’d never do while wearing one of my jackets.

The lower sections are unlined and the wrong side of the fabric is exposed.

Back view: the lower sections are unlined and the wrong side of the fabric is exposed.

Construction was straightforward. I just have one quibble. There is a point where you expose just a little raw edge, where you clip into the seam allowance. Below the clip you fold the seam allowance to the front and above the clip you fold it to the back. That point of the clipping is a weak spot where raveling could occur. Maybe there’s a professional trick to avoid the homemade look. Until I learn the trick I’ll dab some Fray Check on that point.

Following this instruction exposes some threads to raveling and an unsightly homemade look.

Following this instruction exposes some threads to raveling and an unsightly homemade look.

Closeup: Clipping into the seam allowance to fold it to the back and to the front exposes some threads to raveling. What's the garment industry solution to this?

Above the clip, the seam allowance is folded to the back. Below, it’s folded to the front. Right at the clip are threads threatening to come loose. This doesn’t look professional.

For anyone making this waistcoat I’d suggest interfacing the fronts for additional stability for the buttons and buttonholes. The fronts don’t have facings, only lining, so they risk being a little too soft and floppy.

Back view: the darts of the waistcoat and skirt line up perfectly!

Back view: the darts of the waistcoat and skirt line up perfectly!

It might also be wise to use just a very light interfacing, or an underlining like an organza to give a little more body to the lined pockets. You don’t want the pockets to be stiff, of course, but they’re so big that they might need just a little more support so they don’t look collapsed.

This looks to be one of those patterns worth perfecting for its ease of construction and wardrobe versatility. If I crave some easy sewing between bigger challenging projects I might make up another of these waistcoats–perhaps with bound buttonholes, vintage buttons, and a fancy lining next time.

This pattern is a keeper.

This pattern is a keeper.

 

Project: Vogue 7711 (1952), Waistcoat

Readers,

This 1952 pattern has a contemporary feel.

This 1952 pattern has a contemporary feel.

Yesterday I finished a really nifty pattern I’ve wanted to make for years, and it is living up to my expectations. This is a new favorite pattern that seems destined to become an old favorite pattern. Here’s the description from the back of the envelope:

Double-breasted waistcoat with or without lower sections and patch pockets. Buttoning beneath deep shaped front neckline.

I would add that the waistcoat is lined (but not the lower sections).

This dates from 1952, but there’s nothing dated about it.

Worn with a skirt made from the same yardage, the waistcoat forms a two-piece dress.

Worn with a skirt made from the same yardage, the waistcoat forms a two-piece dress.

This pattern was about one size too large for me. I made a muslin and took it to a Treadle Yard Goods salon, where Michele inspected the fit, took out some length and width, and showed me where to alter the front and back pieces. The changes were easy.

(A reminder: when you change a pattern piece be sure to make any needed changes in adjoining pattern pieces! I forgot to take width out of the lower section and pocket pieces to reflect the width subtracted from the front. Luckily, I had enough fabric to re-cut new pieces.)

The one-inch buttons date probably to the 1930s.

The one-inch buttons date probably to the 1930s.

For this wearable test I used some black linen from my stash and buttons bought at a vintage fashion fair in London in 2012 from Su Mason of Blue Linen Cupboard. The angularity of the buttons’ design suggests the 1930s, and the one-inch diameter looks just right, proportionately. Six buttons provide a lot of design impact, too, which I like.

In all my vintage pattern-browsing over the years I’ve seen a lot of waistcoats, weskits and vests (what’s the difference?), but I don’t recall ever seeing another pattern with this pocket variation. This pattern has always struck me as a wonderful combination of function and fashion. Isn’t it nice when you can have both?

The waistcoat just covers the waist. I'll want to pair this with a skirt or pants with waist coverage to avoid a distracting gap.

The waistcoat just covers the waist. I’ll want to pair this with a skirt or pants with waist coverage to avoid a distracting gap.

Yes–and when such a pattern is also easy to sew, timeless, and can be dressed up or down, I call that a winner.

In my previous post I was ruminating over what qualities make a garment feel right. At a certain point analysis breaks down and you just go with your gut feeling. This waistcoat feels right. Period.

After finishing this wearable test I rummaged around for clothes to wear with it. I came up with a black linen skirt that–surprise!–I had made from the same yardage. (Honest, I’d forgotten I’d made this.) I also had a creamy white, fitted, cap-sleeve angora top, which completed a basic outfit with black pumps. Now I had a kind of two-piece dress.

And that ensemble felt right, too. Apparently my colleagues at the Goldstein Museum of Design agreed, as did my hairdresser and the receptionist at the salon later in the day. I garnered many compliments.

Back home, I tried the waistcoat with pants in a contrast color so you could see the waistcoat better. This outfit worked, too.

Pairing with pants works well, too.

Pairing with pants works well, too.

I don’t necessarily put stock into people’s reactions, but when I feel right about a garment, I seem to radiate a happiness that gets reflected back. And that’s worth noting. In fact, these feelings of rightness and happiness strike me as my gold standard for what to have in my wardrobe and what to sew.

Elongating lines in front, short in back.

Elongating lines in front, short in back.

Doing a figure analysis a few months ago was a somewhat useful tool I’d recommend to others, but that feeling of rightness is tops.

I’d like to try this waistcoat with other vintage buttons from my stash, in wool solids and patterns, in light-colored linen, and with fancy linings. How about pockets with zipper closures for security and style? Bound buttonholes (as prescribed in the original pattern)?

I have enough buttons of each of these styles for more waistcoats.

I have enough buttons of each of these styles for more waistcoats.

And how about coordinates? Will this waistcoat inspire me to learn at last how to use my serger?  I’m seeing beautiful knit yardage that would pair effortlessly with this pattern.

I’m not telling.

A lot of style and function for a modest investment in materials and time. A winner!

A lot of style and function for a modest investment in materials and time. A winner!