Lady Grey progress and thoughts on tailoring

Things are moving fast over at Gertie’s Lady Grey Sew-Along. Apparently I should be cutting out my muslin now. The muslin fabric is ironed and laid out on my cutting table, the pattern is half cut out, but time is short and limited. I figured I have a total of 4-5 sewing hours a week. One would think that is enough but I am working on three other projects, including an apron dress for my friend Hannah and a pair of trousers that I will be posting about soon. Another is a surprise.

I really love the fabric I chose for the coat. It came in last week and is just gorgeous. I can’t for the life of me decide on lining fabric, which needs to be ordered, and soon.

This sew-along is focusing on traditional tailoring techniques. It’s an unusual project to learn tailoring on; it’s not a traditional jacket or coat, and I’m not using wool. One of my goals for the next year is to actually make a tailored blazer. I love blazers and have owned many. This Stella McCartney silk blazer caught my eye last spring:

Since then, I’ve been looking at all sorts of vintage patterns that capture some of the details and shapes of that jacket. And then I found a Marfy pattern that is almost identical.

Marfy… I know, it looks funny just typing it, and sounds funnier. They are an Italian pattern company that I just found out about recently. There’s not a ton of information on them out there, but just look at this marvelous tailored coat at Couture et Tricot, using a Marfy pattern.

The blazer is dubbed a “smoking jacket” style, which I suppose the Stella jacket emulates, albeit a bit shorter, and I’m sure that’s why I like it so much. I collect tuxedo/smoking-style women’s jackets.

Well, that project is months away, but I’d rather that be the one I learned tailoring techniques, than a loose and swingy fall coat. Either way, I went ahead and bought some of the traditional notions for tailoring, like a lighter hair-canvas-type interfacing. I am not so experienced with interfacings, but I have a feeling that fusible interfacing has come a long way since its early days. I’ve roamed around tailoring and traditional sewing boards and people are extremely biased toward older traditions in tailoring.

For some, there is pleasure in doing things in time-honored traditions. Some of that same stream of pleasure runs through gardening styles as well. Personally, I have a bit more of a rational scientist in me. Just because my grandfather did it one way, doesn’t mean I should. He didn’t have access to electric lawnmowers and triple-stage composters. He was a man from the old, agricultural South and I am not.

I like knowing exactly why I’m doing something if there happens to be a better and faster way of doing it, so I want to see if things can be modernized rather than hand-sewing to death layers of interfacing to lapels. (I’m not a big fan of hand-sewing, as I’ve written before.)

I’ve had the book Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket in my library for awhile now, but since then I’ve also discovered other lesser-known books and DVDs like Japanese Tailoring by Judy Barlup and an older book Speed Tailoring, by Mary Roehr. Both of these methods use machines for tailoring, to replace a lot of the handstitching (see “What is Japanese Tailoring?”). Time for a library trip! I’ll be researching some more, and updating on what I learn.

[Edited Sept. 17: if you read the part here about muslin, I removed it for a later post.]