Category Archives: General

The Victorian Waistcoat – Sewing Pattern #0516 – Part 1 (Pockets) – Steps (1) and (2)

After the Norfolk jacket and the breeches, we’re now focusing on another essential garment in the men’s wardrobe: the waistcoat.

Similar to the patterns mentioned before, this one also originates from my early days as a pattern maker, marking my initial exploration into men’s tailoring in the 19th century. The waistcoat pattern represented my first endeavor in digital illustration, departing from my usual hand-sketching method. Despite the learning curve, it marked a significant milestone in my journey of pattern-making.

However, despite its age, a detailed blog post and sewing guide for the waistcoat was missing. That’s where this upcoming blog post comes in, especially focusing on the pockets. Join me as I delve into the nuances of constructing the waistcoat, offering practical insights and step-by-step instructions to help you bring this timeless garment to life.

Choosing the materials: A waistcoat, typically worn with trousers and a coat or jacket, evolved in material and style throughout the 19th century. At the start of the century, waistcoats were often crafted from contrasting materials. By the century’s end, they matched the trousers and jacket for informal occasions, forming a three-piece suit as we recognize today.

Similarly to modern practices, the back of the waistcoat was typically made from lighter materials. Polished cotton or fine twill/satin was commonly used for the back, straps, and lining.

Let´s dive into sewing, step by step as usual!

(1) As usual, start with cutting all the pieces from fashion fabric, interfacing, and lining, and carefully transfer all marks and notches, especially the little corner marks on the collar. The waistcoat is called collarless, but that´s not quite true, it´s kind of a shawl collar, just with a collar stand.

Now, let’s proceed straight to the intricacies of pocket sewing. I encountered some challenges with the 19th-century method, especially when working with thick wool fabric. The more angled breast pocket posed significant issues with bulk, therefore, I decided to change this pocket in the pattern to a less angled one. Also the pictures are not the waistcoat, to show you improved instructions, without all the mess I made with my first attempt on this wool fabric.

First, baste a piece of linen or cotton to the wrong side of the front, covering the pocket opening. Mark the pocket opening with a basting thread, clearly visible on the right side of the fabric.

Fold the welt in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Reopen and mark the inside, as well as the half line. Sew the outer pocket bag to the inner half of the welt using a 1/4” (7mm) seam allowance, right sides together. Re-check before sewing, and stitch exactly between marks (x). Trim back the seam allowances as shown and press towards the pocket.

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The Victorian Waistcoat – Sewing Pattern #0516 – Part 2 – Steps (3) to (9)

Part 1 – Steps (1) and (2)

After all that hand-sewing of the first part, let´s do some machine sewing on all the long seams. Remember, the sewing machine had already been invented by then, so there’s no need to feel guilty about using it!

(3) Sew the bottom facing to the front-facing, right sides together, matching all marks. Trim back the seam allowance and press towards the bottom facing. Understitch if desired.

Line up the facing with the front, right sides together, and stitch right beside the bridle tape. Trim back the seam allowances and turn the right sides out. Press the edges, rolling the seam slightly out of sight towards the garment’s wrong side. Baste along the edges to hold the pressed seam in place. At the armscye trim back the seam allowance to 3/8” (1cm) and fold around the bridle tape. First, baste, then fell stitch the seam allowance to the interfacing/bridle tape. Fell stitch the loose edges of the facing to the interfacing, stop 2” (5cm) before the collar notch.

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#0316 Men´s Cycling Breeches Part 1 – Steps (1) to (5)

After updating the Norfolk Jacket, we’re shifting our focus to the breeches pattern, with an upcoming blog post dedicated to its update. Traditional trousers tailoring isn’t as straightforward as it may seem; it took me several years to master, and now I’m excited to offer you a solid foundation for your projects.

For further research, numerous preserved tailor’s books and magazines from that era are available as free PDF scans on the internet, providing additional insights into materials, cutting, and sewing techniques. The breeches featured in this sewing pattern are based on a pattern from the following book: W. D. F. Vincent (circa 1900): The Cutter’s Practical Guide to Jacket Cutting and Making, London.

The trousers featured in the sewing pattern have a fly front, a grown-on waistband, and are designed to be worn with buttoned suspenders. Additionally, the width of the trousers can be adjusted using straps and a buckle at the back.

Durability was paramount for garments in the 19th century, so trousers were reinforced at critical points. They were basted to the wrong side of the fabric first, then stitched in place during construction. I made some mistakes while constructing the breeches, so I ask for your patience as I share my pictures and work through any challenges I encountered during the sewing process.

For the side pockets, the sewing pattern offers two methods for pocket construction: easy-to-sew in-seam pockets and the traditional tailored approach, which will be discussed here in detail. The hip pockets are optional, they are typically absent in most extant trousers.

The sewing techniques outlined in the instructions closely mirror the construction methods observed in extant garments and found in extant tailoring books.

Let’s start sewing step by step, starting with a mock-up as usual!

(1) Cut all the pieces from the fashion fabric, lining, and interfacing, as indicated on the cutting diagram.

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#0316 Men´s Cycling Breeches Part 2 – Steps (6) to (10)

Part 1 – Steps (1) to (5)

(6) Side pockets V1 (the accurate way with pattern pieces #5):

Line up the pocket facing (#5b) with the side edges of the top and undersides, right sides together, matching marks (1) and (2). Sew exactly between the marks with a seam allowance of 1/2” (1,3cm) – please ignore the wrong position and material of the interlining, I replaced that later. Trim back the seam allowance of the facing only, slanted at the end of stitching, to reduce bulk, and fold to the side.

Line up the top and undersides along the side seam, right sides together, matching the marks and sew with a seam allowance of 5/8” (1,5cm). Sew from the top, until reaching mark (4), skipping the pocket opening between (1) and (2) . Notch the seam allowance of the undersides at mark towards the end of stitching and press open the seam allowances.

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#0316 Men´s Cycling Breeches Part 3 – Steps (11) to (18)

Part 1 – Steps (1) to (5)

Part 2 – Steps (6) to (10)

(11) Turn the left leg the wrong way out.  Insert the right leg into the left one, right sides together, and line up along the crotch seam. Sew the crotch seam by hand, using a buttonhole thread or at least a double thread, starting at the center back and stopping exactly at mark (3) – don´t catch the waistband interfacing at the center back. Turn the right way out and press open the seam allowances. Trim back the seam allowances from point (3) to the inner leg seam to about ¼” (7mm). Stitch the seam allowances of the left topside to the fly placket.

At first glimpse, lining the fly-shield seems a bit complicated, maybe the pictures here will bring more clarity. Fold the shield towards the topside, right sides together, and line up the lining with the seam allowance of the topside, the right side of the lining faces the wrong side of the fashion fabric. Sew in the ditch, starting at the top, until reaching the inner leg seam. Fold the lining around the seam allowances and again, stitch in the ditch.

Smooth out the lining over the fly-shield and turn in the seam allowance along the side edge, trim back if needed. When reaching the bottom of the shield, lead the lining towards the inner leg seam, covering the raw seam allowances of the crotch. Fell stitch in place. My lining was a bit too narrow at the bottom, so the tape is showing.

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