I'm a sewing enthusiast in Beacon, New York, with a love of all things retro. This site is all about tutorials, tips, inspiration, and lots of spirited discussion about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. My first book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, is now out from STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books! Also look for my line "Patterns by Gertie" from Butterick.
Hey, it's done! This is the linen suit I first wrote about making way back when I was planning my mini-break wardrobe. The mini-break has come and gone, but the suit idea carried on.
This is a vintage/modern pattern combo. The skirt is a 50s pattern, just a simple full circle skirt with a waistband. The jacket is McCall's 5278, now out of print (but easy to find on eBay!). The fabric is a linen and rayon blend with a very nice drape.
The silhouette was inspired by Dior's New Look suits (blogged about here), though updated for today. I kept the shawl collar, three-quarter length sleeves, full skirt, and peplum but omitted the dropped shoulders, layers of interlinings and taffeta linings, and industrial strength undergarments. (Though this look does benefit from a cincher.)
I pulled out all sorts of fancy techniques for this suit. The skirt hem is reinforced with 1" horsehair braid (tutorial here). I tested the twirl factor: thumbs up!
I did a lapped, hand-picked zipper on the skirt, and it went in beautifully (yet another tutorial here).
I pulled out the big tailoring guns on the jacket. (Hey, while I'm digging up links to tutorials gone by, did you know I did a whole video series on tailoring? Links to the entire series of post are here.) The shawl collar is lightly padstitched. You can see here how you can get a great effect with just a few lines of pad stitching. The stitches are more concentrated below the roll line, and then spaced farther apart on the fall of the collar. The interfacing is hymo, a sew-in stabilizer similar to horsehair canvas.
Bound buttonholes! Aren't these buttons pretty? I found them at M&J Trim.
I had to do some fast thinking on the sleeve lining. I forgot to add a seam allowance on the lining, so there ended up being a gap between the sleeve hem (which I top stitched to echo the top stitching on the skirt hem) and the lining. How unsightly!
I tried to cover the raw edge of the lining with seam binding, but it was too short. And then I thought: lace! I pinned it around the gap, like so:
And then hand stitched it on both edges of the lace with a fell stitch. Look how pretty!
The only downside is that I have to be super careful not to catch my rings on it when I'm putting the jacket on.
Overall, I love it! I got to practice a lot of useful techniques. Plus, I feel downright smart when I'm wearing it.