January 14, 2011

Obsession, inspiration, coincidence

Thank you all for your thoughts on the jackets. I totally agree with most of you that, for the purpose I described (wearing open, mainly over trousers) the looser shape of number four is way better. I am however seriously considering making a big wide black skirt, in order to take full advantage of the New Look-like potential of one and two (I have studied their one-sided crease in the back, and I think I know wear it comes from: there are no shoulder pads or rigid back stay and I am standing twisted ever so slightly sideways in all the pictures).

Some of you wondered whether the 'wearing open' issue was caused in some way by the shoulder of the jacket. Well, I can tell you what it is. When drafting my first jacket (not pictured), M. told me I didn't need a seperate block, I could just adjust my sloper. And so I did. But, over-enthousiastic as I was, I did so at home. Changing the two-piece (front and back) sloper into the three pieces of a classic blazer. Because I had just made a coat in which I ended up having to take out a lot of the extra ease we added, I hardly added any now. And I didn't pay close enough attention to any other differences between the two slopers.

Yesterday, I checked those two and immediately noticed it. The bust dart. The less fitted blazer sloper has a much smaller bust dart. It also has a larger arm scye and a wider neckline. Between the extra ease and the flatter shape of the front bodice, I think I have found the problem. The narrower fitted bodice block must result in having more material on the upper chest, just under the shoulder.
I drafted the blazer sloper according to my measurements. The front looks good but the shoulder was a bit long and I'm still considering the fit at the back. I'm now trying to tweak it. Unfortunately, it was another grey day so I couldn't take any pictures. Hopefully, this weekend will be better.

You might wonder why I'm so obsessed with a 'perfect classic jacket'. Or even what I mean by that.
I'm not sure why. It might just be because it's such an iconic garment and, partly because of that, one of the biggest tailoring challenges to get right.
And to me, the one picture I'll always have in the back of my mind when talking about a classic black jacket is this (please ignore the text in the picture. I scanned a magazine clipping).
Helmut Newton's famous photograph of Yves Saint Laurant's famous ladies smoking.
I want this suit. And I want to make it myself. I bet most of you would want it too. It's such a strong image.
Funnily enough, I borrowed this book on draping (link goes to the English version, the original is Dutch. If you are Dutch, look for that in the Netherlands. It will be a quite a bit cheaper) from the library last month, and it had a tutorial for 'le Smoking'. Unfortunately, the muslin suit made there looked block-y and dated (which makes perfect sense, if I'm not mistaken, it dates from the early 80's) and didn't live up to the dream image I've created from this picture.
So, I'll just go on trying to create it myself...

P.S. In completely unrelated news, I had a nice surprise on Wednesday. I went to the local market to buy fabric for some clothes E requested (I'll get back to that later). At one of the stalls, I had to wait for the seller to finish unpacking. I was just being me, chatting with the seller and offering un-asked for advice to other customers (yes, I can be little miss know-it-all...). Then one of them, an elegant lady who was picking out jeans, turned to me and said: "do you have a blog called petit main sauvage or something like that?"
I mean, what are the odds??


  1. That Helmut Newton image is one of the first pages I ever cut from a magazine and saved. I was just a kid! And I have Vogue pattern 1026 because the Balmain suit is the closest I've found in cut to the Yves Saint Laurnet smocking see in that picture. But at 53 pieces I have yet to tackle it. Someday.

    How fun! You're a celebrity!

  2. That's so fun that you ran into someone that "knows" you!

  3. Can't wait to see how you make your fantasy real. I have always admired Le SMoking. I don't think I could pull it off though. I think you definitely can!

  4. I sewed an black wool gabardine YSL "smoking" using a Designer Vogue pattern in the 90's. In those days, YSL originals were sold by Vogue everywhere except in France for copyright reasons.
    I'm still wearing it!