I’m working my way through the McCall’s Pattern M7585 — View B — a 3/4-length men’s sleeveless vest with a bit of a 17th century swagger to it. It’s executed in a heavier white brocade fabric. The next step in the making of this coat (Step 2 in the construction process on p. 4 of 6), is to make the darts in the shell. There’s a sort of tedious-but-correct technique for darts, which is to use a hand-sewing needle to put black thread through the fabric at the places where the dar is going to go and then CAREFULLY separating the top layer of fabric from the bottom. This means that the darts are both in the right place, in both the left front and the right front of the fabric.
It’s impossible to explain this process of marking and sewing darts with photographs of white fabric, so you’ll pardon me if I don’t try to explain much. In essence, though, you take a highly contrasting, unknotted thread — thread it onto a needle — make it double-length — pull the needle and thread through the pattern and the two pieces of cloth — and then cut the thread so that the doubled-thread remains in the fabric. When you pull apart the fabric panels, carefully tug the threads — so one length remains in one cut piece of fabric as a dart marker, and the other length of thread remains in the other. It’s tedious, but it makes for more precise darts.
Once the darts are sewn, it’s pretty easy to attach the pockets to the front panels, sew the back panels together, and voila! We’re done with the shell of the vest after nine steps. I finished the shell before I got out of my pajamas today.
One of the real challenges with this fabric is that it does not like ironing. I’ve tried ironing it several times now, and it just seems to make the creases worse. Certain kind of fabric seem to be better when stored on rolls than in yardage wrapped around a cardboard core, or worse yet folded and left in the stash. I wish I had made this vest years ago from this fabric — it might not have needed professional pressing, then. Now it will. Oh well. Another $40 in the garment design costs, I guess. Sigh.
On step nine in the pattern, the work progresses from assembling the shell to assembling the darts. I’ve taken the time to assemble photographs of the dart assembly, and I’m not sure it’s any clearer on a gray fabric’s back than it was on a white fabric. In essence, the spots marked with thread on the fabric are now drawn together to form a little ridge. These ridges are pinned (I know some people prefer to pin the dart’s “mouth” closed, instead of tunneling through the ridge), and then sewn along the base of the ridge, and then pressed flat.
fThe first photo shows the dart marked with four pins ( I think I used six or eight in all to keep the dart together). You sew along the base of the dart, and gradually turn this diamond-shaped region of fabric into a puckered, irregular tetrahedron-thing. It’s neither a tetrahedron nor a diamond shape, really, but the fabric sort of turns into a closed Pandorica from which no escape is possible. That’s the idea, anyway. I doubt that my sewing lives up to the ideals of a Doctor Who space-time continuum/plot-hole problem.
The finished dart looks something like this. You can still see my pencil lines on the back side of the fabric, and the line of white stitching along the edges or base of the dart. It’s probably the most difficult part of the fabric preparation part of this sewing pattern. Most of the rest of it is straight stitching.
Once the darts are assembled, and the back panel of the lining is assembled, it’s easy to move on to the assembly of the lining — more or less the same steps we followed in assembling the shell of the vest.
And so once that’s done, it’s on to the process of attaching the lining to the shell. This is done through a two part process. The first part involves sewing the front part of the lining, along the open front, to the facing (that’s the inside part of the jacket/vest that’s made of the same material as the shell). This was not particularly tricky, but there’s a weird bit of matching the right-side of the facing fabric to the right-side of the lining fabric, so that everything is going in the right direction.
Once that’s done, you turn to the arm holes. I’m not keen on this solution to the arm holes, but first the armscyes for the shell and lining fabric are basted together, and then a layer of bias tape is applied over the basted edges to hide them from view. In retrospect, I wish I’d made bias tape from a strip of the fabric that this coat is made of, rather than this white bias tape from the supply racks at the local sewing shop. It’s not as nice looking compared with the coat as a whole.
On the other hand, it does provide a fast finish that would otherwise require some fairly sophisticated fold-in-and-top-stitch; or some finagling in the weird realms betweenn the lining and the shell. Incidentally, the vest appears to have a floating lining: the bottom of the vest’s lining is not attached to the shell, which is one of those things that’s really tricky to get right, and where a lot of things can go wrong very suddenly. This, to my mind, is both a weakness and a strength of the design — a weakness in that the garment is less sturdy for not being solidly two-layered; a strength in that it’s more forgiving to the skills of the tailor.
In any case, the body of the vest — shell and lining alike — are now cut, darted, assembled, and complete. I could wear this garment as-is, and probably not get much flack for it.
On the other hand, the design does include thirteen buttons. I think I have twelve wooden buttons that would look smashing on this coat. If I use gold thread for the top line of the buttonholes, they should turn out quite spectacularly. But that will be part 3 of this sew-along, which you should expect to see tomorrow.
If you’d be interested in purchasing this garment, or one of a similar design, you should be in touch.