November 21, 2015

Case study

So the plan was to make a a fairly simple top, inspired by those vintage cardigans... And then I changed my mind.
Those two last two outfits I added to Thursday's post were just too tempting. Unusual, partly freeform, clearly 1950's but completely different. 

I'm going to make my version of this suit. I will use this sort of tweed-effect knit which I bought a lot of last year (and used here, here and here) which should make it a bit more comfortable than the original, woven, herringbone tweed. 

All I know about the original comes from the text printed next to the picture:

Black- and-white tweed sheath wearing one of the great new surprises -- a spiral wrap of jacket, its sleeves cut like a pair of charming little capes. This look -- with this degree of jeweling, pale furs, velvet hat -- for city afternoons that shade off, casually into evening. By Tarquin, of Rodier wool

I don't really have such occasions in my normal life, nor any of the accessories. That won't stop me from making this suit though.
Intriguing as the description is, It don't think it is making any sense at all about the construction of the jacket. A "spiral wrap"? Sleeves cut like "charming little capes"?
It's a bolero jacket with sleeves which look like raglan sleeves at the front. 

As usual, I am drafting my own pattern. But this time, I thought I would try and talk you through my considerations about the design.

First, I had a look at the visible seams: One side front seam in the dress, curved seams which form side seam and shoulder seam in the jacket. 

These lines (those the blue arrows point at), which seem to break up the jacket, are just folds. They are caused because the bottom edge of the jacket is closely fitted. They stay in place while the rest, which is much wider, moves about.

To avoid too much bulk and warmth at the chest and shoulders, I want to make the unseen upper part of the sheath dress from a thin black cotton jersey. The rest of it, a skirt and mid-riff piece will be made from the tweed-like knit. 
Based on that seam in the picture, I decided to make it a six panel skirt. The original may have been a princess seam sheath, and this will look like that. It will also work better in my fabric than darts. 
It should be a very fitted dress with some ease for walking added by flares at the back seams.

Of course, the real challenge is the jacket. I'm pretty sure it is completely symmetric and that collar is so randomly folded that I'm sure it is just a simple, straight piece of fabric, turned over, not a carefully tailored shawl-collar. 

To make sense of the jacket, I studied the grainlines. The original fabric is a large-scale herringbone tweed so the grainlines are pretty easy to see, even in the picture. 

These blue lines follow the straight grain in several parts of the jacket. 
It looks like the edge of the collar is on the straight grain line, with the bottom front of the jacket at a 90 degree angle. The sleeves meet the front pieces at an angle. That suggests they are not raglan sleeves. You would normally cut those with the straight grain along the center line of the sleeve. These sleeves are almost at a straight angle to that. I think the sleeves are, in their entirety, cut on the back of the jacket. That would put the front sleeves at such an angle.

I started to draft the jacket using my kimono sleeve sloper but It pretty much drew it free-hand based on those observations. It's an experiment and that's fine. 


  1. So glad you chose that suit! I was admiring it, and I can't wait to see how this turns out.

  2. I think Well Suited had a pattern development for that jacket.

  3. I'm excited to see how this turns out. :)