Before the SWAP rules were announced I had a rough idea of a capsule wardrobe for Gus, consisting of 11 items:
- Long sleeved T shirt
- High waisted jeans
- Smart shorts
- Casual trousers
- Tailored jacket
- Bomber jacket
- Alpaca “Lore” jumper
- Polo neck jumper
Since the rules were published I have had to rethink my plans a little, mainly because no more than eight patterns are allowed. The obvious thing to do is make shorts (6) and trousers (7) from the same pattern, which I think I will do. The long sleeved T (3) and the bomber jacket (9) could share the same pattern. I may drop the T and do two shirts – one with long sleeves and the other short. Also I am tempted, if I get a good fit on the tailored jacket, to do it twice – once in a wool and once in linen so that Gus’s wardrobe has both a winter (7 plus 3 and 4) and a summer set (to go with 5 and 6). This would mean leaving out (11) the coat.
I have also been thinking a bit more about patterns, especially the jacket. Thank you for your advice on sweater patterns – I will come back to the pullover in a later post.
So back to the jacket. I had another go at the 1940s jacket, and I think I made good progress with altering the paper pattern. Then I thought about another toile, and doing the sleeves later, and trying to get some canvas and shoulder pads that were just right for a 1940s jacket and I felt a bit fed up. The wise words of caution of Ceci and Lynn Mally came to me as I was working away. And mostly what Cherry said:
I too am a lifetime sewer who enjoys a challenge. I also have two sons and the elder is built just like Gus, although a little older. I have also made vintage costumes for the stage.I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but based on my experience this is what will happen:
You will eventually get to a toile which looks something like a fit, although Gus will still be pushing for more modern lines. You will go ahead and buy expensive tweed, sew it up to your best standards, pad-stitching and all the rest. Gus will allow a photo shoot and it will look great, in a vintage sort of way. After that you will never see him wear it again. If challenged he will say “it feels weird” or “I never go anywhere I can wear it”.
If you feel like making a vintage jacket, all power to you. But accept it is for you!
I realised that Gus had not really signed off the pattern. Despite expressing enthusiasm for the vintage project his desire to have a different shape may be worth responding to. During the second fitting he requested narrower lapels, two buttons, and no pockets. But I had no idea what sort of jacket patterns he really wanted. Is he sophisticated enough to really understand the options? When I make for myself I more or less know what I can have, and roughly how to make it. I often get what you might call “indirect” inspiration – in the case of Hila it was the graphic design of a penguin book. Other times it is more direct – say the copying of the Sache silk design from a Schiaparelli dress, and combining it with the Dogstar Napoleon Six design. Other times I directly copy an existing garment.
I have learned that making for someone else is a challenging area. You can either do more or less exactly what they tell you – ie copy this, or you can use your skill and judgement to create something they might have never thought of. I prefer doing the second as it is much more exciting and uses more skills. But you run the risk of creating something inappropriate that wont be worn or loved.
When we designed our new holiday home our architect took our ideas and changed them quite a lot. She didn’t want us to do the design – she wanted us to say what we wanted and how we lived. She did the designing. She said “My job is to give you what you didn’t know you could have”. I loved this.
So I having chosen items for Gus, and apparently getting his sign off, I now feel a bit flat. Have I got the designs right? How much leeway can I have? Gus is fairly tolerant, but I would like to create a wardrobe he loves as much as I do with my SWAP set. So I am thinking again about more modern patterns.
Karen suggested MakeMyPattern which is a brilliant site. Joost has digitised some basic Winifred Aldrich men’s patterns and included an algorithm to size them correctly. How brilliant is that? I have decided to give it a go with a pair of trousers. MMP also has a shirt, and tie, but no jacket yet.
I asked Gus for an image of the jacket he would like and this is what he sent. It is actually a suit and rather more formal than I had envisaged. It has peaked lapels and only one button. I think I know why Gus likes this; the colour, the subtle, smooth look of the fabric, the close-fitting waisted look and the one button which actually emphasises the slim waist line. I am not sure how important the peaked lapels are. It has pockets which he says he doesn’t want (he never cuts them open, preferring instead to stuff things into the trouser pockets). Maybe no pockets is a modern, sleek look – maybe worth a try? It is possible these pockets are fakes – at least the breast pocket.
I found a Vogue pattern that might work. However it is much more casual – it is unlined and appears to be made up in searsucker. Which is strobing and hurting my eyes. Also it is more boxy and looks like an American sack suit (compared to the Italian look of the Reiss – an English brand – suit). Can I taper it in a bit to get a closer fit?
Here is a modern tailor-made jacket with the peaked lapels. I have asked my male work colleagues what they think of this look, and I got a mixed reception.