• Emery Smith

A fine day for a fine waistcoat

More waistcoat joy today in the sun as I finished off this 18th Century men's waistcoat pattern from Black Snail Patterns. I've been wanting to experiment with collars and lapels on my waistcoats for a while so I was over-joyed to find this pattern company who have a great range of historical waistcoat patterns.


I was feeling confident having made many waistcoats already so decided to make a wearable garment as my toile. I used leftover fabrics from my stash - a indigo denim twill for the main body of the waistcoat and a two-tone paisley lining fabric for the front which looks quite lovely glistening in the sun! I only had six self-cover buttons but the pattern used eight, so I re-spaced the buttonholes accordingly.

It sewed up surprisingly fast; it took me just a week! The instructions specify to sew by hand for authenticity (no sewing machines in the 18th century). I'm not worried about creating a historically accurate reproduction though - so I used the machine for the side, back and shoulder seams, plus the buttonholes. Everything else I sewed by hand.


I actually really enjoyed the hand sewing, it meant I could work on it easily when I found a spare 10mins or so here and there, which helped me to finish it so quickly.

I traced the 34 inch size at the shoulders but then graded out bigger at the armpit level to give me more space for my chest and waist. It worked ok, although I will make some more adjustments if I make another as it doesn't fit quite right in some places.

It was a completely different method of construction to the Belvedere waistcoat pattern I'm used to. There's no lining or interfacing - the whole thing is made from a medium weight cotton twill and then a panel made from a fashion fabric is attached to the front.

I found the pattern easy to follow but probably because I've got a bit of sewing experience under my belt now. I think it would be a bit tricky if you were new to sewing as there are limited pictures and descriptions of each step.

Overall I'm really pleased with it! I learnt a lot during the process - for example I flat-felled all the inside seams which I'd never done before. My hand sewing could probably be a bit neater - I'll make more effort next time!



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