Museum of Victoria and Albert Coat – Part 2 – Sewing

So where I left off on my last post about my V and A coat adventures was that I had just finished ONE part of the coat. For those of you who follow me on my IG ( @sewstine ), you’ve been bored to death I’m sure with sneak peaks of everything in action. In any case, here is the reveal!

It took me about 2 months to finish the other side, the waistcoats, the buttons, the breeches straps, the backs, the collars, the pockets, the waistcoat pockets, the cuffs, etc. Once I had all the parts collected, I started the fun process of sewing it together.

I had him try it on with just the shell.

I actually do something slightly different from other people. I sewed the entire exterior together, and then got each lining piece and just sewed it on by hand to the coat, from the interfacing. Not a usual way to do it, but with the heaviness of the interfacing, it made the most sense.

For the VERY heavily embroidered areas in the front, I used linen buckram, reinforced with gum arabic and blind stitched it to the front. I the covered it with the linen to it wouldn’t be seen. But this prevented some unfortunate buckling in the embroidery- an issue I had with ALL my frock coats to date. πŸ™‚ It seemed to work but I’ll let you judge for yourself at the end of this article.

Once all that was settled, I added pockets to this coat! This is my first frock coat I added pockets to, mostly because I didn’t trust Matt in the past to not stretch it out by putting too much in it and distorting the shape of the garment. And let’s face it – heavily filled pockets usually end up ruining the exterior shape of ANY garment (unless it’s covered by a pocket hoop! Whee!).

I even added the SECRET pocket on the right side of the coat. I first noticed it after it was pointed out by Pinsent Tailor on 18th century sewing group, and wanted it for Matt. I used some heavy handed button hole stitches to make it for Matt as well. His will hold a secret little locket, made for me by Queen and Cavendish, filled with a picture of me (drawn by @belindal.illustrates ). I really do wonder what marvelous little secrets that original pocket held. Love letters? Historic goat intestine condoms? Snuff? I really do hope it wasn’t snuff and something a little more fun in nature.

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At this point, I started making buttons. In the past, I used modern button kits but finding that those buttons break apart so easily, and Matt tends to manhandle his buttons, I decided to go ahead and make them the old fashioned way. I got some button “moulds” from Burnley and Trowbridge, and went at them. After a few attempts, this seemed to work best.

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  1. Cut a GENEROUS margin aroundΒ  your embroidered button.
  2. Give a margin of around 35% of the button diameter and sew a circle around the button shape.
  3. Trim off excess fabric but don’t cut too close to your stitches. And don’t cut your string (did that like 5 times…)
  4. Pull it closed.
  5. Insert your bone or wood button mould.
  6. Sew it shut, and make sure it’s tight

I sewed a LOT of buttons this way.

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I added these, and voila! Coat was done.

Meanwhile, I made up the waistcoat (also using the JP Ryan pattern). However, Matt’s weight fluctuates about 30 pounds in any given 3 months, so I went ahead and made his lace up in the back with some hand-sewn eyelets.

I also made up his pants using the JP Ryan pattern – which I think is a FABULOUS breeches pattern and I don’t think there is a better one out there. Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong – I’d LOVE to learn. I actually did play with the pattern a LOT on these. While her sizing is good, Matt’s thighs are HUGE. I went ahead and added another 2″ to each thigh, and took out about 10″ on the buttocks. While I understand that the “diaper butt” look to breeches is totally HA, I for one like admiring my husband’s fine rear end. So I went ahead and made it a little more tight. It’s still a little baggy to account for movement as well as his weight fluctuations.

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As for the breeches straps, I made it as close to the original as possible. That being said, I noticed the design didn’t print well much smaller than it was, so I made the straps 1.25″ instead of the pattern’s recommended 1″. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but once I was done, I realized my error. Almost all breeches buckles on the market are designed for 1″ straps, and due to the embroidery, the straps didn’t fold very well. I ended up buying two neck stock buckles to compensate, though I may get actual breeches straps now that I found some. πŸ™‚

As for his shirt, I made him a hand sewn shirt complete with THE STITCH (per the pattern by Larkin and Smith) about a year ago so we decided to rewear that. Please note my beloved gathers at his wrist. πŸ™‚

Ok, no more talking. Here are the photos of the finished piece.

 

Some closeups:

 

Seriously, Matt is a fun model to photograph…

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The Waistcoat:

 

 

And for funzies, a closeup of the stroke gathers:

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