Those bottom buttons are perfectly level in real life. Weird.
For some reason waistcoats are inextricably linked in my mind with early episodes of Friends. Doesn't Monica wear some kind of white one in the opening credits? Or maybe it's just that Friends, the early 90s and the shapeless waistcoat all occurred at exactly the same time and therefore linked in my head.
This waistcoat is emphatically not that iconic 90's fashion disaster, the drapey waistcoat. This one has (the clue's in the name) a waist. Incidentally, it actually fits me better than it fits Daphne (the dummy), because for all her many virtues, Daphne simply cannot replicate my very level broad shoulders and ginormo-breastfeeding-boobs. I don't have all that spare fabric at the shoulders when I wear it. I suppose I could have put a bra on her and padded it, but I was trying to take pictures in the four and a half minutes of naptime that Jasper thinks is more than adequate. No modelled shots on me because my sister/photographer/nanny/biscuit provider thoughtlessly moved to London last week.
My waistcoat journey started a couple of weeks ago on a not-terribly-successful shopping trip. Despite the general lack of clothing joy, at some point during the afternoon I gave in to the temptation to try on a waistcoat. I don't know why, but I'm largely blaming it on the beautifully soft twill fabric. It was this Cabbages and Roses one, if you're interested. Although the neckline was too high, the colour all wrong and the price tag way out of my range, I could see the potential. And so I stopped by my local fabric shop on the way home and splashed out on Simplicity 2556. I weighed up a couple of waistcoat patterns, but this one has a collar option, is double breasted and, crucially, has a cool alternative to a stupid adjuster thing on the back (not stupid, presumably, if you need to actually adjust your waistcoat, but irritatingly pointless on a garment that I was intending to be fitted).
This is the first pattern I've ever made actual proper muslins (plural) for, and it really paid off. I also spent a sensible amount of time on the finishing details rather than rushing it once I'd passed the halfway mark. On the whole, I am enjoying the process of garment construction a whole lot more as I become a bit more competent. It is becoming more and more worthwhile, in terms of fit, finish and project satisfaction, to spend more time in the early stages in order to finish up with a garment I love.
The best bit about this waistcoat is that it's really cosy. I know, that's terribly practical and not at all interesting, but when you spend half your day scrabbling around the garden for twigs with a three year old, and the other half marching the streets trying to persuade the 8-month old to nap, warmth becomes an important part of your life. The waistcoat provides a crucial extra layer of insulation without adding any bulk at all, really.
Project notes - Warm and Stylish (for that is what I am christening this)
- The pattern is Simplicity 2556. Please ignore the incredibly alarming envelope images. How on earth do Simplicity manage such appalling styling every single time? It's no wonder that patterns from Built by Wendy and Lisette do so well - they are the only ones without terrifying pictures on the front. 2556 has lots of different options for fastening, back view and collars, and the pattern pieces are relatively easy to play round with
- The fabric is a fantastically cheap piece of corduroy (I think it was about £4 a metre) from Goldhawk Road (street in London with approximately one billion fabric shops. I recommend it, especially for garment sewing). My sister bought this for me a while back to make some trousers for Teddy. Sorry Teddy. it's a lovely navy blue, and I think has some synthetic in it (based purely on the fact that it smells weird whgen ironed). I love the chunky corduroy though - it's really easy to find nice needlecord, but thick cord is much harder for some reason.
- The lining and collar facing is a Liberty print (I would have preferred to make the collar facing from the cord, but just couldn't squeeze and extra piece out of the one metre I had). I bought it on my last restocking trip to London, and somehow forgot to note down the name, but it's nice. And lovely and soft obviously, as all Liberty of London tana lawn is.
- As I mentioned last week, I have more or less given up on fusible interfacing. I hate the way it shrinks disproportionately to the fabric, and the drape it gives just seems weird. I have been informed that better quality interfacing helps (thanks Millie!), but since I hate buying things like that online, I'm trying alternatives for now. This pattern called for interfacing in the collar and the front pieces, so I used a single layer of a lightweight organic unbleached cotton. I am so pleased with the results. The drape is similar to the original fabric, with the bit of extra body I wanted. Plus I felt terribly professional with my lined fabric pieces. I cut the cotton exactly the same as the corduroy, then used the longest stitch on my machine to baste them together within the seam allowance. After that I just treated them as one piece of fabric.
- I made an initial muslin of the original pattern (View C), as I wanted to see how it went together before messing around with the pattern. In future I'll probably be a bit braver about making the odd change before a first muslin, but this was actually a really valuable step for me as a complete novice at adjusting patterns. I saw some areas where there was too much volume, marked it with a sharpie, and simply adjusted the pattern pieces by that amount afterwards. I also changed the neckline from a swoop to a much straighter one, and changed the collar shape, as well as making it a full collar (the pattern has it stopping at the shoulder seams, which is just weird). My collar, despite two muslins, is a fraction of an inch too full at the back, so I need to tack it down to stop it curling up. No big problem though.
- I took my time with every step of ths waistcoat, and I really feel like it shows (to me, anyway). The finish is better than on any garment I've made yet, and I hope to be wearing this one all winter!
- Funny thing - I've had waistcoat envy for months, and it was only as I finished mine that I realised I'd used the same pattern as Tasia. Can't believe it didn't occur to me to check which one she used before starting out.
- Make again? Definitely! I already have another one planned in grey wool, and I'm debating whether to make it identical or change it a bit - perhaps no collar? I don't want to get too carried away with tailored pieces right now though, as I know my shape will change hugely (again) when I stop breastfeeding (again).