Thursday, January 13, 2011

"If you are out to describe truth, leave elegance to the tailor"

I love this Einstein quote for two reasons. First, he acknowledges that the grand work of physics is a messy business. No clean, universal theory of everything for him! Despite being a mathematical and scientific genius, Einstein had great perspective on his own place and the place of his field.

Secondly though, the elegance of the tailor is assumed. I must agree that nothing more elegant exists than a well-tailored garment. In the vintage world, there are no items I love and appreciate more than vintage suits--the fit, the details! ::swoon::

The suit pictured above is my latest ebay acquisition--obtained for a mere $10. Of course it wreaks of cigarettes and needs a trip to the cleaner, but no matter--just look at that collar! It's these little details that make vintage suits so special.

Beyond admiring fine tailoring from afar, the Lady Grey sew along (see my coat here) on Gertie's blog has gotten me hooked on the power and satisfaction of the tailoring process itself. I don't think I've ever felt so accomplished. I finally broke down and bought the tailoring book that she and so many others have recommended: Tailoring: the Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket

Thus far, I am quite pleased with the layout and approach of the book. It's a great compliment to the excellent tutorials Gertie posted through her sew along. The instructions are clear, offering custom, machine and fusible options for each tailoring step. There are so many useful tips and tricks, it just makes me salivate!

I have to say, I've been generally in a sewing rut recently. I haven't been able to get excited about any project...until now. With the addition of this tailoring book to my arsenal, I'm all jazzed up again. I've had a couple suit patterns in my pattern backstock that I've wanted to break out for ages, but didn't feel quite competent enough to try. So now it's time. The first is a Butterick reprint of a 50s pattern from a few years ago:

Isn't it class? It's no longer in print, but easy enough to find around the internet. Interestingly, there are no reviews on Pattern Review or elsewhere, so I'll be jumping in alone! In this case, I think I'm going to go the quick and easy route and use fusible tailoring method. I'm using a tropical weight worsted wool, which means any small basting ticks will be visible. Plus, without a collar, I see less need for custom techniques. I'm not quite sure how to manage interfacing around the neckline with the neck drape the way it is. Any seamstresses out there have any advice? I'm going to make self covered buttons in the method Casey lays out here.

Should be a fun start to the suit making process! I'm going to start on my fitting muslin this weekend.

(note: I found a second copy of this pattern in my stash in sizes 14-18-20. Let me know if you'd like it! I'd love to share!)

Of course, the other side of this is I'm now obsessively scouring the internet for more interesting and complex suit patterns. Here's a few I've been drooling over:
From Etsy
I just go crazy for scallops!

From Etsy
Love the sporting and casual silhouette this elongated collar creates

From Etsy
Seriously, is there anything more charming than asymmetrical buttons?

From Ebay
I love the high standing collar here and the interesting layered peplum.

What are your thoughts on vintage suits? Do you have a favorite style, era or detail? Has anyone experimented with tailoring themselves?


  1. Great suit! I don't sew but I do sell a few suit patterns, I have a 40s one in my Etsy shop now actually.

  2. Oh you should post more your photos and blog is just fantastic.

  3. So glad you won the giveaway! I emailed you but maybe I got the email wrong? Just drop me a line at: myhappysewingplace [at] googlemail [dot] com

    YAY! so happy!

  4. I'm a little afraid of tailoring, honestly, but I want to just jump in. Maybe I will take your lovely projects as inspiration and make a fall suit. I love the suits of the 40's, and I love knowing that a lot of them were made from men's suits because of fabric shortages. I love Casey's method for fabric covered buttons, I've been itching to try it myself!

  5. I just wanted to say hello and compliment your blog! You have a great writing style! I also love your personal style! Too fab!

    That is cool that you are a burlesque performer. That is something I have been curious about getting into myself. I have been living a daily vintage life for over 5 years (even though I wore vintage in high school and college) and I think burlesque is epitomizes vintage chic, class, and femininity!

  6. I saw your comment on Gertie's blog about potentially going to her potential sewing summit. I'm in the DC area, and maybe we could carpool (if it happens, if you wanted to drive with a complete stranger, of course, we could try to get to know each other first!). I'm relatively new to sewing clothes, but I almost obsess about it (need more time). Anyway, hope we can chat. SpittleBug29 at gmail :)