First week: introducing the teddy boy

Hi everyone

Well I'm still here, I survived the first week wahoo! I have done so much already It feels like I have been here longer, in a good way I mean. The first day was a bit nerve wracking, actually the night before was when the nerves really started kicking in with the usual self doubt that comes with attempting a new venture, images in mind of me turning up back home the next day exclaiming  'I just didn't cut it!' I knew this was all rather silly of me of course but that devil on my shoulder likes to make life difficult sometimes. Thankfully though I really had nothing to worry about, everyone on the course is lovely and I'm certainly feeling a lot more capable now that I know I can cope with the workload. Yes it is fast paced but I surprised myself with what I could do, I'd better not speak too soon though right.. Anyway I'm here to learn and I have certainly done a lot of that already. 

Finishing up on our first day with Prosecco :)

So the first day we spent familiarising ourselves with the workspace and looking over the weekly itinerary before getting started with drafting our shirt patterns, as I said, no messing around on this course! Speaking of shirts, our first project is menswear and for it we are making teddy boy outfits. 

The teddy boy

The Teddy boy movement was a British sub culture of the 1950s but the origins go back to the late 1940s when tailors of Saville row attempted to revive styles of the Edwardian era into mens fashion. Originally being a style adopted by wealthy young men and especially guards officers, with the increase in affluence after WW2 the style soon became popular for the working class and so emerged the beginnings of the first teen youth culture. 

The Teddy boy look typically consisted of a long dark drape lapelled jacket with cuffs and collars of velvet trim, a waistcoat, a white shirt with a cut away collar, narrow trousers worn short and a slim or bootlace tie.

Hair was greased up to the max with a quiff and side combed back.

They soon gained a reputation for gang led violence which being exaggerated by the media led to them being blamed for many of societies ills during the 1950s.

Newspaper articles of the time..

Our schedule for the next two weeks..yep I'll be pretty busy!

making The shirt

So as I mentioned earlier we began by drafting the pattern for the shirt, how glad am I that I went on a drafting course a few weeks back! Still I have never drafted a shirt before, in fact I really haven't done much of menswear at all. I already had the measurements for my model so I just needed to get down to it. 

We started with the scale factor which forms the basis of the calculations when drafting. This measurement was half the chest and as my model is 46" chest, I was using a scale of 23". The reason of it being halved is that pattern blocks are constructed to represent half of the body, i.e. front and back. 

It's kind of like dot to dot, as long as your calculations are correct the lines should all add up to look something like this , the shirt front and back:

Thankfully I had no problems, however I think we were all pretty exhausted by the end and a glass of prosecco didn't go amiss. 

On days two and three we spent some time drafting collars and cuffs with plackets. We also did samples of these which I'm grateful for as looking at the pattern for a placket it's hard to make sense of it until you start putting it together! I'm going to post a little tutorial of this as a reference for myself which will hopefully be useful to anyone else needing to make one. 

On the left is the finished pattern and on the right is the finished sleeve placket on the toile, on the face of it you probably wouldn't think they were related in any way.

The draft of the collar and collar stand. I adjusted my collar edge to make it a more cut away shape which was favoured by the Teddy boys. This beauty is that at this point you could adjust the angle and shape in any way you like, extending the line further out if you wanted a 1970s look for example.

Once we had finished drafting we cut out our pieces to make a mock up shirt. Now I wouldn't usually go for such a complete toile but I'm glad that we did as there was a lot of new techniques that I was taught and had the opportunity to try out before making the real thing. 

We started with the yoke, sewing it onto the back and adding 2 pleats at equal distances apart allowing for extra movement and a more comfortable fit.

We added interfacing to the fronts and folded over the edges topstitching down from the right side.

Below: Adding the placket to the sleeve which you can see on the bottom right corner. At this point you can see the mess that surrounds my workspace! I should point out that this fabric was incredibly slippery to work with, moving about all over the place but at least the real thing will be easier.

Here I'm lining up the collar between the two collar stand pieces, right sides together making sure the bottom edges are lined up. This is tacked into place before sewing.

Next was to add the collar to the neckline making sure the interfacing was on the outside of the collar.

Making pleats in the sleeve to fit the cuff. These pleats are pretty big but we since adjusted the sleeve pattern to make a smaller circumference. The real shirt will have less pleating. 

The near enough finished toile, well apart from the hem and buttons. As you can see it's pretty massive on me! Still I like it all the same.

Trouser drafting 

The trousers we started drafting on Friday, for mine I needed to draft two pairs as the first time around my pattern didn't quite look right due to my models measurements not quite conforming, in other words a belly was involved. At first life seemed very unfair as I had spent a good couple of hours trying to make it work but then I realised that this way I had the opportunity to learn how to fix a problem like this for future reference.   

The second pattern I drafted we used a smaller hip and seat measurement which could be adjusted later by slashing the pattern at the seat line and opening it out to make the waist fit correctly.   

Below is pretty much what I did on the second pattern.

Anyhow I got as far as the drafting and cutting out fabric for my trouser toiles and I'm going to spend today sewing them together as a fell behind a bit on Friday. A week in and I have already given myself homework ha!

So next week we will begin drafting the waistcoats which I'm really looking forward to. My fitting is on Saturday so fingers crossed I'll have time to finish my shirt later in the week, well that's the plan anyway. 

In the meantime I have been exploring more of York, hopefully I will have time for another history blog post soon! 

Michelle x