Monday, August 14, 2006

Ultra-cool biz

Vogue 1753: loose fitting men's four piece suit (ie jacket, waistcoat, trousers and shorts!). I made the shorts. (38-42) I cut size 40. The pattern instructions were OK, but I still prefer the Kwik Sew zipzops fly instructions which seem much easier yet I am sure they produce a better result.

I used a dark grey-green Tencel from ye olde locale shoppe. This is a very unstiff fabric and has a little bit of give in it even on the straight grain. I found basting the seams prior to sewing helped ensure even feed through the feed dogs. It has a kind of slightly brushed/sueded looking surface. Very nice feel. Machine stitches really sink into it, making them quite hard to remove. The fabric will crease up if you take off the garment, throw it all crumpled up onto the sofa and sit on it all afternoon in a hot and humid environment, as had happened prior to James putting them on again to be photographed(!) - but the creases soon fall out again.

I made no sizing changes to the pattern. Cut a size 40 and basted it together. It looked like it was going to fit so I just went for it. I did turn up the hem about 0.5cm less than advised on the pattern (pattern has huge 1.75 inch hems).

I did not slip stitch the waist band, but instead practiced my ditch stitching. Used the zipper foot for this task, and it worked! I thought another secure line of machine stitching was a good idea in this area, since James isn't kind to his trousers when he rips them off and chucks them across the room. I added a zipper guard - an important feature I think, particularly if you use a metal zipper!

I got James to try on the shorts after turning and basting the hem. Interesting that, once on, in order to get level hems the fronts had to be cut slightly higher and also one leg slightly shorter than the other at the front! The side view photo explains the former adjustment - waistband sits lower at front than back. The latter adjustment still a bit of a mystery - but the moral of the story is - don't finish the hems on shorts until you have tried them on your victim!

Since this is a pattern for a suit I should point out the fastening method (which is the same for the shorts and the long trousers), which, I have concluded, is not really of suit quality. Suit trousers usually have an extended waistband that extends beyond the centre front, with two fastenings. Now I know why. This pattern only has a single fastening (button) just above the fly and no extended waistband. The result is that the wasitband pivots round the button, leading to the fly sagging at the top and also the stress lines in the waistband. Perhaps I could have used some stiffer interfacing for the waistband but that might have detracted from the soft style of the shorts(?). The thing I think would have helped is to use a snap rather than a button since they have a much larger footprint, so the pivoting would not have been as bad. If I make the long trousers I will try and nab a more suit-worthy fastening method from another pattern.

I hope to sew the jacket, maybe the long trouser too. I have enough tencel to do one or the other. The fabric weight is more spring/autumn weight than summer weight, so there is time for husband to wear these for a while and give some feedback. I may also sew the shorts again - I have some very thin ultrasuede (I think) to try.

In Japan they recently invented "Cool Biz" where, for summer, rather than jackets and ties, salarymen can wear short sleeve shirts, no jacket and no tie with their suit trousers. It is all part of the effort to reduce power wastage on air conditioning. Japanese men have, however, yet to show thier knees - husband is leading the way with --- Ultra cool-biz!


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