Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pets and Pinkertons

I got started on the Pinkerton vest this week.  I've had a few other obligations (day job, settling in, et cetera) so it's taken me a while to get rolling and then a little longer to get a post up.  I will note that I had a big, big distraction come along - I now have a couple of helpers around the sewing room:

Hello kitty!
Hello other kitty!

The pictures don't do these little guys any justice.  Black cats are tough to photograph, and Chichi (up top there) is particularly difficult to photograph as he just plain doesn't like it.  He is also totally obsessed with eating thread, so I now have to be pretty careful around the sewing room - I can't leave the machines threaded, or leave trimmings laying about, and need to keep spools and bobbins stored away.  Chi's the only cat I know who isn't terrified of the vacuum cleaner.  He's not scared of the Mercury, either.

I promise I won't talk about my cats too much, although you might see them again - they DO like to hang out with me as I work, and I'll  be making some kitty beds for them eventually here.

And back to the Lastwear project - Pinkertons!  I've assembled the shell of one of the vests, and have new workroom photos to share from the process.

(More below the cut...)

First I gathered the pieces - they're not so much labeled on the pattern paper, but they ARE notched, so it's not a problem to figure out which part is the side front versus the side back.

From left to right, top to bottom:  Center front, side front, side back, center back, collar, welt, pocket bag.
At this point I realized that I haven't made a welt pocket in absolutely years.  It would be madness to try to do one without a little practice, so I cut some canvas drill - it's cheap and of similar weight - and made a couple test welts.  I'm really glad I did, the first one came out so bad I couldn't bring myself to photograph it.

Here's what one of the welts on the factory sample looks like.
Here are my three test welts.  How did I do it?  I cheated, which means I probably did it just like they do at the factory.
A close-up of one of my practice welts.
I'm not here to teach y'all how to make a welt - I'm here to show how to assemble a Pinkerton vest.  I assume you already know how to sew.  If you don't know how to do a nice welt pocket, there are plenty of tutorials available out there.  It isn't so bad, especially on a nice sturdy fabric like cotton drill or canvas.  Practice welts done, I felt confident enough to do the welts on the fashion fabric.
Here they are, two side fronts with welts inserted.
Welt detail.  I must say the gold thread DOES look nice on the green canvas!
I happened to choose to do my welts before putting the vest together; other people might wait until the shell is assembled and do them last.  Six of one, half a dozen of the other really - though I think when I do the brown vest I will try it the other way and see if that works out better or worse.

Next, I sewed all the vertical seams.  As a note, the production pattern uses a 3/8" seam allowance everywhere except the neckline, which has a 1/4" seam allowance.  I also sewed together the upper and lower collar pieces.

I pressed the seam allowances, using the factory sample as a guide - the princess seams are pressed to the center and the side seams to the back (away from the welts).
The shell pieces stitched and pressed.  Sorry, I forgot to take another pic of the shell flat after topstitching  the seams.
Then I topstitched the collar and the vertical seams using my gold thread, a scant 1/4" from the seamlines.  Then the shoulder seams were sewn, matching the seamlines, and again topstitched with gold thread.  That's it - the shell is complete.  The lining goes together pretty much the exact same way.  Still, I'll take pictures and post as I make my lining.
Back view of topstitched shell.
3/4 view, completed shell.  
Front view of the completed shell.  I've just laid the collar on top of the body to show the overall effect and give a good idea of what it will look like when finished.
I know it's kind of an aside, but I was asked how I take pictures of the whole or most of the 60"x36" cutting table.  It's simple - I stand on a chair to get up above it and far enough away to get it all into the picture.  I'm just using a cheap (and old) point and shoot digital camera, and then resize and, if it needs it, correct contrast and brightness using nothing more sophisticated then Microsoft Office Picture Manager.  The idea isn't to show what great photographer I am and more about giving a good idea visually of what's happening as I go along.


  1. Love the cut of this, very cool! I wouldn't have thought to top-stitch in a contrasting colour, it's really interesting.
    Can't wait to see the next part of the process. I love reading sewing blogs, thanks so much for posting on G+!

  2. I chose the topstitch thread for this to help it show up and show where the seaming really is. All three of the cut vests Thom sent me are dark colors, with the olive green being the lightest (the other two are chocolate brown and black). The caramel color thread is "traditional" on blue jeans, and I had a bunch left over from the cropped jacket and skirt I did last year. It looks quite smashing!

  3. Where did you get the pattern?

    mkrtwocats (@) aol (dot) com

  4. My apologies for not responding sooner. Lastwear used to host their patterns for download online, but have opted to remove them as the open-source concept was not working out as well as they would have liked. It was a tough decision for Thom. You can read about it here if you'd like.

    That said, I never had a pattern - I was given three full vests that had been cut at the factory. I've made two of them and have a third in reserve to put together with some considerable customizations in the future.