Hey there, friends!
Whoa! I’ve sewn something for someone other than myself! This is a late-Victorian outfit for my husband. I made both he and I outfits last month for a Victorian fancy dress tea in Niles, CA as part of the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild. It was quite an effort sewing two outfits at the same time in a short period of time, but I got it done!
My first project was a Victorian frock coat. I had a couple of frock coat patterns in my stash, and elected to use OOP Simplicity 4083. This pattern has a horrid cover photo, but it’s designed by Andrea Schewe, whose patterns I love. It has good bones, but it’s meant to be a one off costume coat, so it doesn’t have any tailoring and is pretty minimalist.
I used a merino wool suiting from Cali Fabrics (more in my post on the Cali site). It’s a really beautiful fabric and probably a little lightweight for a coat, but as we live in a mild climate, my husband can get away with wearing it. The pattern is unlined, but I lined it with a grey paisley poly lining and added inseam side pockets. Even though I unpicked the lining two times to try to fix it, there is still some pulling, which distorts the front of the coat a bit. It isn’t doing it on the back, so I apparently got it in right for the back view. I’m going to unpick it again until I get this coat looking exactly how I want it.
I added covered buttons and there are thread chains holding that dreaded lining to the bottom of the coat. The lapel and collar have heavy interfacing, but I wish I would have underlined it to add more stability to it. Like I mentioned, this is a costume pattern, so it’s not heavily involved with construction techniques. As the wool is a suiting and not a coating, it could have been a bit better with an extra layer added.
I sewed View C in an XL (46-48), although my husband fits in to the L (42-44) according to the measurement chart. He is broad shouldered with a long torso, so I figured it would be safe to size up and I’m glad that I did. I’ve only sewn a few things for my husband, but I’ve found the Big 4 men’s patterns are more true-to-fit with less ease than women’s patterns. My husband likes his clothing a little loose, so I’m probably going to sew a size larger from now on.
For his vest, I used Butterick 6339, a Making History pattern in View B. It has notched lapels, upper welts and lower welt pockets. These details are all very difficult to see with the busy brocade that I used. The black and silver floral brocade was a fabric I had in my stash, that my MIL had given me a while back (I actually made a dress with it). I used the L (42-44) size, but I should have gone up a size, just as I had with his coat as it’s a fitted vest and a little too constrictive for him. I’m going to add a back vent, so it should be a little more comfortable.
I used this beautiful vintage silver lining for the lining that was in my grandma’s stash. I didn’t have enough of it to use it for the vests’ back, so I cut out a piece of the brocade for that. I also noticed when he tried the vest on, that I didn’t put the top buttonhole up high enough and it gaped open, so I sewed on a snap and a hook and eye closure, which keep it shut and looking nicely.
This vest actually took me longer to make than the coat, but of course this is an “advanced” historical pattern and not an easy costume pattern. The only adjustment that I made was to lengthen the vest pieces to accommodate his longer torso. The last time I made a vest for him I wasn’t aware of that (I’m still figuring out men’s fitting) and it was too short. So at least I have that figured out and hopefully a back vent will help with the tight fit.
I didn’t have any vest buckles in my stash and I didn’t want to make the trek down to the valley to get one at Joann’s, so I found this vintage brown pearl slide buckle in my stash. It’s better than a plain metal one anyway!
I used covered buttons, too, and the welt pockets are functional (he has an heirloom pocket watch in there!). If/when I make this pattern again, I’m going to add bound buttonholes. If I wasn’t sewing two outfits at the same time, I would have probably sewn bound buttonholes for both his vest and coat.
The last piece that I sewed was an ascot. I used OOP Vogue 8497. I’ve had that pattern since 2003 and made both a vest for myself and a vest for my husband with it. I had enough of a remnant of some red silk charmeuse in my stash to make the ascot from this pattern. It’s really easy to sew, plus the instructions show you how to tie it, although I wish my husband would have tied it closer to his collar. Next time I dress him, I will tie it that way! I think the red ascot adds a little bit of punch to his outfit. I’d love to make him some plaid Victorian trousers someday, too.
My husband felt like Jack the Ripper wearing this, thus the reason why we call it the “Jack the Ripper” costume. He’s only missing a hat. I didn’t want to make one, so sometime I’m sure we’ll find a top hat or a bowler to finish this outfit off. He didn’t need to wear a hat at tea anyway. 🙂
- Coat: OOP Simplicity 4083 in charcoal merino wool suiting, made by me
- Vest: Butterick 6339 in black/silver floral brocade, made by me
- Tuxedo shirt: JCPenney
- Ascot: OOP Vogue 8497 in red silk charmeuse, made by me
- Trousers: JCPenney
- Shoes: Cole Haan