I bought a lovely old jacket pattern on eBay. Weldons (“For a wide choice of simple styles”) was formed in 1879 and was Britain’s first major pattern company. It seems to associate menswear with pipe smoking, but these nice patterns will produce a genuinely vintage jacket. I bought the Weldon 2253, on the right, for a fiver. I was keen to buy avoid US Men’s patterns for a tailored jacket because of the predominance of the sack suit as a standard US design. I wanted a more fitted Saville Row type shape for Gus, although the ideal is actually an Italian style (the different cuts of men’s suits is covered here)
This pattern has been around since the Second World War – it’s about 70 years old. I don’t think it had ever been used and it was with a sense of great excitement that I unpacked the pieces (most of which seemed to be to do with the pockets), looked at the scant instructions, and decided I had best make a toile.
The size is chest 36″ whereas Gus is a couple of inches wider. But he is slim, and likes a slim fit look. I decided to make it up straight from the packet and then see how it fits on Gus. Adding additional width isn’t too difficult, although this particular pattern has “no side seam”, with the actual side seam moved towards the back, as you may be able to see on the technical drawing. . At the side seam position is long dart. The CB seam is curved creating a distinctive waisted look that I think may be nice on Gus.
Making a toile for a jacket can be fairly quick. One back, two fronts, the upper collar and one, two-piece sleeve – just six pieces. You don’t need the front facing or the under collar for fitting purposes. Leave off the hems. And thankfully the three pockets. When I make a toile I just mark with a felt tip – no need for tailors’ tacks at this stage.
Making a tailored garment in calico is a bit challenging as there is not much give in the fabric. With a decent wool the collar (under collar cut on the bias and pad stitched) and the sleeves (which are shrunk and eased in) work beautifully. With calico not so much. Nevertheless with a little imagination you can see how these features will work in woolen cloth, and at this stage we just want to check the size, the fit, the proportions and the style.
Here is the toile. I was worried that the collar and revere might be on the large side but I think, once constructed, this will be just fine. I am also concerned that the sleeve is a little full. If Gus doesn’t like it I will re-cut it much higher and redraft a slimmer sleeve. The slight gathering at the sleeve head is due to this being made out of calico rather than a wool jacketing cloth.
Gus tried on the jacket, which is one size too small for him. “Didn’t you measure me first, Mum?” I did indeed. Gus 38″ Pattern 36″. However I thought it might work. It didn’t.
However I could easily see what alterations would be required to make it fit. The jacket is too narrow across the chest – you can see the pull at the back shoulder and armscye. But the shoulder length is quite good. I propose to split the front up the princess line (what is this line called on a man?) and add an inch of width at the front. This will extend the shoulder by an inch which is probably OK so long as I get the pitch right. In terms of the back i am going to add a similar amount of extra width. I may add a little at the CB and side seam too, but I also need to get that inch in on the back “princess line”. Then I will review the shoulder at the next fitting. Overall this adds four inches to the chest giving sufficient ease. I hope.
At the moment there is too much in the “skirt” of the jacket (again there must be a better word). I am tempted to leave this for now. I will add a little to the length above the waist, maybe an inch. The rest of the jacket fits reasonably well, eg the sleeve and the overall length are quite good. I also like the waisted look and the size/shape of the collar. I will make up a second toile with these alterations as I feel this pattern has lots of potential. I was particularly pleased that Gus could see it too. I was worried that the sleeve might be too full, but it is actually cut very high – I may have to drop it just a little bit, although I think this will right itself when we get sufficient fabric into the width across the chest.
Any other thoughts or suggestions?
In terms of fabric we are considering a light grey herringbone which I will show you next week. Incidentally I am sorry about the horrible dark corner I am getting on all my photos at the moment. I will have to get a new phone, and have one on order.