MANSWAP #11 – the suprising construction techniques of the Vogue 8988

When I was taught the rudiments of traditional tailoring at college we were told that this was quite different from “soft tailoring”. I am not sure this word is still used much to describe the difference between proper tailoring and the quicker, easier methods of jacket construction which owe a certain amount to industrial methods.

Traditional tailoring

  • Use of duck, canvas, horse hair and other types of interfacing to create the shape of the garment
  • Mainly hand stitched using a variety of specialist stitches
  • The use of pad-stitching to create the roll of the collar and the break of the lapel
  • Collar construction is complex, uses steam, bias cut and pad stitching to mould and create 3-D shapes
  • Collar, stand and fall are uniquely constructed and created to provide a great fit and a lively appearance
  • Hand-stitched button holes
  • Traditional approaches – methods similar to those adopted centuries ago

Soft tailoring

  • Fusible interfacings
  • Collar and facings stitched together by machine and usually with one pass
  • Lined, but usually machine stitched and “bagged out”
  • Very little hand stitching, if any
  • Basic method is derived from factory production techniques

Up until now I had never made a soft tailored item. Many of the vintage patterns I have made I have used traditional tailoring techniques – pad-stitching, hand sewn linings etc.  Vogue patterns are usually based on soft tailoring approaches, although there are some patterns that provide what they call “couture” techniques. Some times there are two options – a more involved approach and a quicker version.

The pattern I used for Gus’s jacket is soft tailoring. This is not an approach I have tried before so I had lots of learn.

V 8988 Front

Fusible, stretch, jersey interfacing

This was the most surprising ingredient. I had to order it specially from Amazon. The instructions included insist this product should not be used on non-stretch fabrics. It worked quite well in fact and was a bit of a revelation. I would say this product stabilises the fabric rather than creates shape and structure. The jacket is really very soft. The interfacing is used on the front and back facings, the collar and the pocket flaps, and at the hem lines. It is very quick as it sticks on with a hot iron and I am not complaining, but it is very different to tailoring.

Unlined jacket

I usually line everything – jackets, coats, skirts, dresses. Usually not trousers but that is because I have tended to use cotton fabrics for trousers. But anything in wool I would line. So I was pretty suprised that this jacket is not lined, apart from the sleeves. I bound the CB seam with some home made bias binding but otherwise the design is such that most of it is enclosed, French seamed (yes – I was suprised too!)

Mitred cuffs

This was a great fun technique.

No pad stitching on the collar or rever

What can I say – big disappointment, but it seems to work OK under the circumstances.

Four pockets

I must have done a few jetted, or welt, or flap pockets in the past, but I had to learn again when I made Gus’s trousers (the double welt pocket). This time I had to do a couple of welt pockets with flaps, a slanted flap and an inside double welt pocket. That was such a challenging piece of work that made up for all the time saving with the stretch interfacing. One of the pockets I did four times! I made so many silly mistakes. Mainly because the kids were around and making a racket and I lost my concentration. Anyway the experience was positive, they look sort of OK and I am much more relaxed about doing these tailored pocket types.

Also I need to make a few alterations at this stage. There is too much width across the back at the underarm. I will put the sleeve in again, taking a little out of the back and the sleeve. Otherwise the fit is not too bad. I am going to take a little out of the back – a little a CB and a little bit more at the sleeve from the pitch point to the underarm seam.

V 8988 Back

In the meantime I have been looking at my button collection, which has recently grown.

I have been buying second hand leather buttons whenever I see them as they are such a great classic button that looks nice on a jacket. I have put them on a few of my own jackets. I like the old ones with a well worn look. My friend Bridget brought me some as a present the other day when they came round for dinner (and two Vogue knitting books). I love the way people in the sewing community do this – it is so kind and always a thrill. I think I will use the dark brown ones. What do you think?







14 Responses

  1. Mags

    The jacket looks great. I was very surprised that the pattern required stretch fusible, I suppose that is to keep it very soft, but do you think it will maintain enough structure over time.

  2. Jules

    Love the dark brown buttons-just check the leather loops on the back to be sure they’re in good shape, I’ve had some vintage leather buttons fall apart after a single wear. The shape of the jacket is quite lovely (probably not the word to describe a man’s jacket-perhaps we’ll go with dashing), and the soft tailoring has netted surprisingly good results!

  3. Kim

    Looking good – and the leather buttons will look great.
    Have you used the English Couture Company? They have a good range of interfacing and other sewing rarities and I have always had good service.

  4. Brenda

    I think the construction has worked well! The jacket looks very professional, and I can see the need for the alterations you’ve mentioned. At the same time, what would a RTW suit look like on him? Probably not this good. 🙂

  5. SJ Kurtz

    Buttons are always a fine present: my sister (who apparently retired from sewing when her machine disappeared behind a wall of boxes) and I exchange them, or lacking wherewithal, exchange photos of them. Consequently, I have buttons I need projects for (and those buttons have driven a fair number of clothing items) and projects that failed that gave up their buttons before they hit the pulp/recycle pile.

    That jacket is just beautiful.

  6. ceci

    I’d love to include that triangular pocket flap in something for ME! What a great detail. The scale of the check in the fabric works so well with the pockets, too. Very promising! Buttons with history are very appealing; agree about the darkest color ones being compatible with the jacket.


  7. Sue

    I also collect leather buttons, but never seem to use them. This jacket is coming along really well and the fit is so close now. That triangular pocket is really interesting and lifts the project into the bespoke.

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