Oct. 3rd, 2011

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Just back from another Burnley & Trowbridge workshop on making waistcoats led by the very talented tailor Neil Hurst. It was a lot of fun, productive--and as usual, eye-opening. 

The dynamic was a little different from other B&T workshops, however. The workshop was much more relaxed, since it was Level One, with concepts covered more slowly. Also, many folks had spouses or children as "customers" so there was a constant hub of socializing. My customer--Rick (aka, DH)--was mentally caught up in a novel he couldn't rip his eyes away from, so he wasn't into much socializing. So, when I had down time in the beginning (after I measured up my spouse and made my pattern), I sewed up half of a cap for myself! In an odd way, it kind of reminded me of what a real period shop environment might have been like...

It wasn't all work and no play, though! We shared an apartment rental over the weekend with another couple, the Dobyns--and had a wonderful time keeping company while doing homework, watching movies and dining with other workshop participants. 

The class featured a very detailed process of measuring, pattern drafting and fitting. Once I drafted my pattern, I cut it out of my lining fabric, test fit it on Rick and fussed over it. He picked (after considerable indecision over fabrics) a gorgeous light wool broadcloth fabric that handled like butter. Combine the right pattern with amazing fabric and correct tailoring techniques--the result was stunning, even in the partially sewn version I left with!

Afterwards, we all were remarking how distinct the period fit really is--maybe it's just the result of more trained eyes, but our hand sewn waistcoats look astonishingly better. Machine sewing using commercial patterns is far from the period methodology. Modern patterns seem to always reflect modern fit details and machine sewing leads to a garment that really does not hang correctly. 

As a bonus, I sat down with Angela Burnley and figured out all the things I was doing wrong with my gown construction from the workshop I took last summer. I am very glad I held off on sewing to ask her--I was headed in slightly wrong directions on a couple of small finishing points. Fortunately, not much more left to complete on that project (well, not counting trim)!

Additionally, I brought  along the child stays I'd made previously (in another B&T workshop). It done, except for binding--and I had promised to donate it to the Yorktown Battlefield museum. I brought it and showed it to the costume director and he was thrilled--that was gratifying.

A bit of homework remains, but it's been totally fun! Can't wait until the next workshop!

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