Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Franken-frock Coat: It's Aaaliiive!!

Almost...done.  When I last last left, I was discussing the pockets, and mourning the fact that I apparently did not take any pictures of the semi-complete garment.  So, an overview it is.

To recap, my Frankenfrock is a frock coat made of 11 different wools, patchworked together; all of the shell materials were upcycled from blazers I purchased at the thrift store.  When I designed the garment, it was partly because I wanted a unique coat, and partly for the challenge of pattern matching and forcing myself towards precision in sewing my seams (the other option would be making a quilt...which just doesn't appeal to me).

After stitchripping every single coat, removing as much of the stupid, horrible, sacrilegious fusible interfacing as possible;...you can't tell that I detest the very thought of fusible interfacing, can you?  Good.  I didn't like the stuff before the project, for aesthetic reasons--and after trying to remove it from my wool, and it being impossible and leaving residues which mucked up my iron, I like it even less.  If you use fabric that previously had fusible interfacing, use a pressing cloth--just a layer of muslin between your iron and the fabric.

Anyways, after stitchripping all of those coats--which was rather relaxing, to be honest--, I had to press, then calculate roughly how many patches I could get from each.  I did this by taking my patch template, and just moving it roughly over one half of the coat pieces (then multiplying by two).  Surprisingly, I could get around 90 patches from each.

Next, I had to figure out the pattern--which fabric would be next to which.  I took scraps and placed them on the pattern gridwork in order to work it out, then pinned the scraps to a sheet of paper (along with notes on how many patches I would need of each fabric).

Then assembly of the patch pieces....yada, yada, yada.  See Part One for details.

Then came the tailoring and assembly, which is Part Two.

Somewhere around here, I wrote the Surgeons Sleeve Tutorial ...

More or less at the same time as the tailoring and assembly, I was making pockets--and lots of them.  But, I'm not going to repeat myself on /that/ particular subject, when there is a perfectly good Part Three for you to read.

And now you are caught up...  Unfortunately, I have to give you a wall of text...something which is my key to actually making it through the project without forgetting anything.  Before I even start a complicated project, I make a list of every single step, in the required order.

Order of Operations:
1) Draft pattern.
2) Decide on width of patches, based on double breast piece width/center back width, and efficiency based on materials. Possibly dividing into half chest measure.
3) Draft or cut skirt until patch width is decided/calculated.
4) Sew mockup together.
     a. Back side to front, skirt to vent, back side and back to vent. Shoulder.
5) Check fit. Finalize then remove shoulder seam. 3-29-15
6) Draft sleeves. Sew shoulder, then sleeves in. 3-30-15
7) Work out yardage for lining and underlining. 3-30-15
8) After finalizing fit, mark all seam allowances (red pen), and notch to align pieces. Mark exterior pockets (welt and flap) in brown.
    a. Mark the outlines of the canvassing, padding on the other side of the fabric in red. Mark the major pockets in brown.
9) Make a template of the patch size.
10) Jot pattern matching. Marking only vertically starting with the sleeve—matching horizontally from the sleeve to the front body and back/side body..
11) Remove sleeve, shoulder and center back seams.
12) Begin drawing the patch lines with template (draw in chalk/pencil, then sharpie). Start at the center neck (not including seam allowance in pattern). and work down and out. Even out pattern at all seams.
      a. Match horizontal and vertical seams on body, match horizontal and vertical seams from body to skirts.
13) Remove skirt.
14) Begin flaring skirt pieces at sidebody seam (approx), with a gore every 2-3 pieces. Inset the gores.
15) Reassemble mockup (excepting sleeve) to check drape. If acceptable, Break back to flat. 5-9-15
16) Gather all the materials, then iron them. (3:0 hours) 4-18-15
17) Calculate the number of patches available from each fabric. Divide by two. 5-10-15
18) Make a list of all of them, with samples.
19) Work out the pattern, which fabrics go where, marking such on the mockup. 5-9-15
20) Take apart the mockup.
21) Cut to the new patch template with seam allowances—modified by need (I.e. if a patch only requires ½ the width before there is a seam, only cut it that wide, plus seam allowance. Likewise if slightly wider is needed to include seam allowance.) 5-10-15
22) Begin sewing the patches together according to mockup template (working evenly from side to side). Make sure to check that the pattern is correct with every patch. Mistakes on lining seams up are not allowed. 5-10/18-15
23) Once the rough pieces are together, cut them out (again, ensuring that everything is lined up). Transfer all markings with chalk, then tailors tacks. 5-19/25-15
24) Cut the interlining. Rear yokes are separate pieces of canvassing. 3-30-15
25) Permanently baste the shell to the interlining, stitching in the ditches. 5-25-15
26) Cut likewise for lining, allowing pleat ease behind each shoulder. 6-17-15
27) Cut canvassing.
28) Pad stitch the canvassing/padding. 5-31-15
29) Hand baste the canvassing to the interlining (only along the shoulder, scye, and lapel roll line). 6-17-15
30) Shape Revers
31) Stitch stay tape along revers line. 6-17-15
32) Sew side pockets.
33) Do the hand finishing on side and breast pockets 6-18-15
34) Sew the back facings down.
35) Install the outside plait pockets. Sewing up the back skirt seam.
36) Iron then fell seam allowances, covering them with linen tape.
37) Sew front to side body 6-24-1
       a. Iron, fell, and tape seam.
38) Carefully baste skirt to body, sewing the pleat down separately.
39) Sew Skirt to body, beginning at front. 6-25-15
40) Baste, then sew up the side back seam.
       a. Iron, fell, and tape seam.
41) Sew the plait pockets to the waist seam allowances.
42) Sew up the shoulder seam, easing back shoulder to front shoulder. 6-25-15
43) Shrink back shoulder to smooth any puckering. 7-5-15
44) Sew all inside pockets (including inside plait pockets).
45) Sew the lining together in the same order as the shell, including all the seam allowance steps. 7-5-15
46) Begin hemming the shell fabric (single turn on the wool
47) Stitch the pleat down.
48) Hem the skirt lining. 7-6-15
49) Install lining. Cross stitch skirt to seam allowances; bodice goes over skirting, and sewn “through the waist seam ditch” with a stab stitch.
50) Install vent facings.
51) Sew up the back seam.
52) Side and pad stitch under collar and baste, then sew in place. Relief cut and stitch seam allowances up.
53) Apply facing, 6-26-15
54) Sew the over collar to the lining and facing.
55) Allow shell and lining to hang for several days to ensure they do not stretch.
56) Shrink and press the undersleeve seam smooth.
      a. Hand stitch the seam allowances down.
57) Sew the cuff, turning it under, mitering the corners.
58) Apply the sleeve lining. (which should be partly sewn at the cuff already)
59) Sew down the back sleeve seam, including the surgeons cuff. 7-20-15
60) Install the skirt guard (5-6 inches wide, covering the raw edge of the skirt turn). Same material as the lining. May have to be cut on the bias, or cut to curve.
61) Sew up around the opening. Trim corners, etc.
62) Turn to install the lining.
63) Hand stitch the center back of the lining.
64) Make sure everything lines up, and permanently but loosely baste the lining to the shell “in the ditches” (mainly needed on the side body seams).
65) Baste sleeve to body. Check fit.
66) Permanently machine stitch sleeve to body after fit is correct. Multiply re-enforce.
      a. Trim any batting and canvassing in seam.
67) Hand sew the binding around the armscye seam.
68) Press sleeve caps.
69) Press the edges.
70) Hand sew the lining down to the vent.
71) Sew the guard down.
72) Hand finish the front hems and around the collar with a prick stitch.
73) Mark and sew buttonholes.
74) Attach the buttons.
75) Sew the Plait pocket buttons and buttonholes.
76) Sew the hidden buttons and buttonloops down to close the vent. (Optional)
77) Apply the leaf and matching button. (Optional)
78) Add boutonnière loop on back of left lapel
79) Go over every seam, inside and out and remove any loose threads.
80) Stitch in makers label.

A lot of steps, huh...? This is why I find it necessary to write them down--until I have the experience from making a dozen or more of these, odds are that I would forget something important.  I should say that I forgot to write down the last, most important step--have a celebratory drink then collapse.

Most of the steps are either self explanatory or have been covered in another post.  However, I will go over a couple.

The guard is a feature of some Victorian and earlier era clothing--mostly dresses and skirts.  It serves the purpose to make the hem heavier (and more body), protect the fashion fabric if it is long enough to touch the ground.  In the case of the frankenfrock, I have a free hanging lining, which is slightly shorter than the fashion skirts--to cover this slight gap, I inserted a guard. All it is is a strip of the lining fabric, sewn down 1/4 inch from the bottom edge--covering the single fold hem (that was another purpose, I didn't want a double fold hem)--and cross-stitched at the top.

Historical Sewing has written an excellent article on the subject of skirt guards (or hem facings, I should be saying), which is available HERE.  I highly recommend exploring her webpage--there is a lovely surplus of information (no such thing!).

Underside of the lapel.

The second part I want to discuss is the "prick" (or side) stitching, and the boutonnière loop. The work "prick" is in quotes because I--quite honestly--do not do it correctly. Done correctly, it should be essentially invisible; whereas I used a thicker thread, in a complimentary colour (matching the lining, actually), and larger stitches to make it a feature (essentially a stab stitch)--a "Look at me, I have handstitching" kind of feature. For the correct way to do it, Here is a Tutorial from Brass and Mortar.

As for the boutonnière loop, it serves the purpose of holding the stem of whatever flower you put in your lapel--this is important, gentlemen! It is a form of embroidery stitch known as a picot. In this case, it is simply a thread run in a loop several times (you want it several threads thick), then you cover it in buttonhole or blanket stitches--nice and simple.

But Wait....there's More below the photos!

Pattern matching along the underarm seam.
/sigh.  Oops.  I didn't notice the error until this point...
Bad posture. BAD.
Those wrinkles are what allow me to move.
I admit, I far prefer to wear it with only the top button fastened.

My Sentiments Exactly.

Some of the things I remember learning or would do differently:
  • Canvassing in the pocket flaps--the hip pockets are a bit floppy
  • Go over the seams even more closely.  I was doing so, but I still missed some inaccuracies (1/8 inch off, or so).
  • Next times in the patterning, I need to figure out how to deal with my hips--the cause of the front skirts not overlapping.  I'll probably have to look into the women's tailoring for ideas... *massive sigh*
  • I figured out that the flatlining probably wasn't necessary to support the patchworked fabric (although, I will do so in the sleeves at least, in the future).
  • More pad stitch practice.
  • The revers needs a second layer of canvassing--it isn't stiff enough.  The collar could benefit from it too, but isn't needed 100%.
  • Don't trim the seam allowance when mitering the cuffs.
  • I learned how to do working suit cuffs.

And now for a breakdown of the garment.

Materials cost:
$62.00 for the coats to stitchrip (plus 3% sales tax, since I noted the prices down from the tags).  However, I do have quite a bit of the material from that left--enough to make a duplicate coat, in fact.
Around $60.00 (I don't remember) for the lining materials and canvassing.

16:15 hours for stitchripping, then pressing all of the coats.
116:30 hours for construction.  This does not include time spent patterning, fitting, or cursing at it.

Total cost, including time at 10/hour (which is extremely low for tailoring): $1500 (rounded for margin of forgetting prices and extra time).

Remember that, next time someone asks you to make something cheaply for them--your time is worth quite a bit.  And that was not including all the time drafting and fitting--which would probably be another $150, at those rates.

© John Frey, 2015. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.  Photographs of my work may not be duplicated.

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