Tailor's Notebook

Tips, tricks, and ramblings on the trade.

Seersucker Waistcoat

Today I began a very 'unique' waistcoat, in that it's drafted using Devere's 1866 manual, has an 1890s or later styled collar, and is made out of a bright and very cheerful pink cotton seersucker fabric. So no, this is not period correct at all -- rather it's for a...

Constructing a Jetted Pocket

The Jetted or Jeated Pocket is one of the most common pocket types, and forms the basis for many other pocket styles used in coats, waistcoats, and trousers. With this importance in mind, we’ll start with this pocket style in this tutorial series, and build upon your skills in future variations. For now, we will practice making the jettings only, without worrying about the pocket bag and other details. I highly recommend making at least ten pockets for practice, out of a variety of fabrics and weights: wool, silk, linen, cotten, using whichever scraps you may have leftover from other projects. This experience will benefit you greatly in the future.

Drafting a Gentleman’s Night Cap

For a slight change of pace, we will learn how to draft a gentleman's nightcap today. I was in need of one a few months ago, and whipped the whole thing up in about in hour - drafting and sewing included. This draft will give you the basic shape of the nightcap, from...

Constructing Plait Pockets in a Frock Coat

Plait or pleat pockets in a frock coat are often misunderstood, construction wise, and can be tricky to do correctly. Studying an original coat in my collection, I have reconstructed the methods of making these pockets, and share them for your edification. Your coat...

Hemming, Buttonholes, and Last Minute Preparations

Things have been very busy around here lately. On Saturday I'm leaving for Switzerland with Connecticut Valley Field Music, and it seems like there is always something left to do. I still have time to write this post, of course! Yesterday was spent hemming two pairs...

Tailoring and Teaching

Besides tailoring, I love to teach people. Outside of the tailoring and reenacting world, I teach both fife and drum to a number of students. As I became more confident in my tailoring abilities, I realized I would like to help others further their tailoring...

The Art of the Hand-Tailored Buttonhole

Hand-tailored buttonholes are a thing of beauty, and in the hands of a skilled tailor, can make a coat stand out amongst others. Properly sewn, they will add a level of detail that you can be proud of, yet at the same time will sit unassumingly against the background...

How to Wear Trousers Properly and Avoid Gaposis

Have you noticed that modern day fad of wearing your trousers too low? Today's trousers are often worn at the hips, or even lower, which can be quite disturbing! This practice has carried over into the living history world, unfortunately, and you can easily spot...

Pinking Shears – A Lucky Find

I'm always on the lookout for good tailoring tools, especially in antique shops. You can find some quality items if you're lucky. While vacationing in Lake George, New York this past month, I was fortunate to come across a pair of Wiss Pinking Shears in an antique...

Cutting a Silk Waistcoat

Today I worked on cutting out a silk waistcoat, drafted from Devere, 1866. I obtained the silk brocade from Needle and Thread in Pennsylvania a few years ago, and plan to wear this with my linen frock coat for summer. To start off, I drafted the proportionate waistcoat pattern with my personal measurements.

Pockets and Collar Details

Here are a few photos of today's work. Since the enlisted frock coats were unlined in the skirt, the tail pockets are exposed. The following photo shows a completed pocket, still with basting stitches in place. It is made out of a brown polished cotton, with a wool...