Tuesday 2 September 2014

Capaldi waistcoat - making up

This week I have been working on my Peter Capaldi waistcoat.

So far I have drafted my pattern, adapted from a good fitting waistcoat pattern; made a quick calico to check the fit; made the necessary revisions resulting from this test; and have now started to trace off the pieces I need to make the finished garment.

The back is simple - a trace of the full pattern from the draft for the silk and the lining.
The fronts are similarly easy, with just a position guide for the placement of the pockets.
The pockets themselves are pretty standard fare, based on the work I did for the Regeneration Waistcoat.

But the lining to the fronts are a little more tricky.

I want a firmer edge on all sides except where it joins the back, so I am going to add a facing 3 inches wide.

First I mark a dotted line on the pattern to define the join between facings and lining.

I’m making the facing in two sections: one that goes all the way from the neck down to the points; and a second piece along the bottom edge to the side seam. The internal lining will be cut from the same black cotton fabric I use for the pocket bags, and fills the remaining space.

The pattern pieces are traced off, adding appropriate seam allowances on all sides.

Once they are cut you can see why the facing isn’t cut in one single piece L-shape. It would be very tricky to stitch around the acute corner, and as I'm sure you can see this way its a simple case of attaching the lower facing to the lining, then joining that with the front edge facing.

Notice how I have slightly swung the vertical seam off at the bottom. This is so that it doesn’t finish behind the point at the bottom of the waistcoat. If I had the seam allowance of this vertical seam AND the seam allowance around the point all colliding together, it would bulk very badly and I won't get a nice sharp tip.

My next task is to make the outer pockets. These are identical in construction to a jacket breast pocket, with a single welt sewn up at the sides.

I make mine from three simple pieces: the welt, which is a single piece of cloth folded in half, sloped to the right shape; a pocket facing, which is visible when you look into the pocket; and a pocket bag which hangs from the welt to the facing.
The pocket bag is very shallow, but it is the best way to do it. I need the pocket bag to finish with a fold rather than a seam so I can get the maximum depth I can.

The welt is pressed inside out and the vertical edges sewn. I clip to the bottom of my stitching, turn it rightsides, and press it firmly. The pocket bag is attached to the bottom of the facing now rather than later, as it is easier.

I prepare the body of the waistcoat by marking the position of the pocket on the front with chalk, and press a section of thin-soft interfacing to the rear, over-spilling by an inch all round to give a little bit of extra support where I will be sewing.

Flipped vertically, the welt is sewn to the lower line of the pocket, and the facing similarly flipped to the upper edge of the pocket.

The pocket opening is carefully cut between the two lines of stitch, with a Y-shape on each end finishing exactly at the ends of my stitch lines.
Turned inside out to the back, I then press the edges.

From the front I now have a nice welted pocket.

To finish it off I attach the other end of the pocket bag to the bottom of the welt and finish the vertical sides of the pocket, then stitch the welt on the front along their vertical edges.

With the pockets complete I can unite the fronts with their linings around the bottom edges, fronts and up to the shoulder as well as around what will form the front of the armhole.

After grading the seams around the edges I turn it through the unsewn side seam and carefully press, rolling the hem to the back so it doesn’t show.

Next I put the back together which is made of an outer layer of red silk lining and and inner layer of black cotton fabric, the same as I used in the fronts.
It is sewn up the centre back and after pressing the seams open, in stitch around the curve of the back of the armhole.

With the back still inside out the fronts are set inside and sewn across the shoulders, down the sides, and along the bottom, leaving only a small opening in the side seam on what will be the lining side.

It is through is small opening the whole waistcoat is turned rightsides.

After a pressing around all the sewn seams the waistcoat is essentially done, just leaving the buttonholes and buttons to finish it off.

While I was sewing the back, I also inserted two straps to brace the back. These are sewn to the body of the waistcoat on the rear, and a traditional waistcoat buckle is used to join them together.

I’m pretty pleased with the result!

The finished waistcoat is great fit and feels nice and snug. The wool fabric is very soft and comfortable to wear.


  1. Excellent work! Looks just like the pictures I've seen on the web. Can't wait to see the finished ensemble!

  2. Hello, Steve! Longtime reader of your blogs here. I would like to ask if you know whether the red lining of the screen-worn waistcoat is identical to that of his coat (red and black pattern) or is simply a plain red—because I see that it's been established that the front of the waistcoat doesn't use the same blue fabric as the outside of the coat either. Would love to have this clarified. Thanks a lot! Greetings from China~ ^.^

    1. It's my belief it uses the same distinctive lining as the coat, but for now - since the back of the waistcoat is unseen - I'm using a plain red to reserve my stock of coat lining.

  3. Thank you, that confirms it.
    But as I say, for the moment I'm using a plain red for prototyping and cosplay as it shouldn't really be seen without the coat, so remains hidden.
    I'll use the real deal for the more dedicated costume fanatics.

  4. Great, thanks for confirm that! If that's the case, then, do you think it may be at all feasible to print the pattern onto a sheet of silk fabric (à la Spoonflower) or would that not be accurate enough to represent the woven texture of the original? It's not a complicated pattern, so I am curious as to how this approach might turn out… =)

  5. Well I think if the fabric is out there it just needs to be sourced.
    Printing fabric is never really satisfactory.

  6. Steve do you have the actual lining ? Are you planning on making waistcoats and Crombie coats for commissions?

  7. Hi Steve. Beautiful work. Did you top stitch the waistcoat front? How did you get that beautiful shape without front darts?

  8. Steve, where did you find the buttons?

    1. Amazingly I stumbled across the exact source of the buttons used, so they are darn screen accurate!


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