Sunday 16 January 2011

Ultimate Six Frock Coat - quick Calico test

The drafting of the block for the frock coat has gone well, and when I traced it from the ‘rubbing’ I took of the original coat, I found pretty much every piece matched and corresponded where needed.

What I need to do now is produce a pattern and then prove it with a calico test to check it really does work.

I know I do keep banging on about doing this before cutting any final fabric, but it saves you so much time and money in the long run, I would be stupid not to do it.
As well as proving the pattern works, it gives me the chance to see firsthand the potential problem seams prior to assembly. It can be surprising when you find a panel you think will be easy needs a bit more thought and attention.

So, first I need to make a proper pattern with seam allowances, which I do by tracing off each individual piece from the block. Some seams need a little more than others for various reasons: I am giving the hem around 2.5 inches; and the waistline seam I am giving 1.25 inches; elsewhere I stick with a 0.75 inch allowance.

The pattern is made in tissue paper, and at this point I quickly found my first heads-up, as there are a couple of panels of the skirt that are very similar shapes which I need to distinguish between.
Also they are all triangular or tapering rectangles, and it is important to know which is the leading and trailing edges so I don’t put panels in back to front or transposed. Nightmare.

Notes on the pattern pieces, including the fabric grain, become all important.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Honestly, Dragon!

I'm by no means the first to make a replica of the iconic Six Frock Coat. The best to date by a long way has been the Cloth Ears version - but the worst to date has to go to the eBay seller Honest Dragon!

In some respects it can be looked at as a childish parody of the coat, but credit to them, they have seen and taken on board the panels that make the coat, with every piece represented here in one form or another.

I’m reminded of a classic Morecambe and Wise sketch, where Eric is accused of play the wrong tune on a piano. He reposts that he is “playing all the right notes – not necessarily in the right order”.

However, it’s total is not the sum of it’s parts, as the pattern is much lacking and the drape leaves a lot to be desired.

Now I am basing a lot of what I am saying on the photographs I have seen and on personal experience of other garments they have made (my own Tennant Coat making grew out of a dis-satisfaction with the coat I bought from them).
I’m afraid I could never bring myself to buy another coat from them! But I have spoken with a couple of people who do have Honest Dragon Six Coats, including the colour variants . . .

Saturday 8 January 2011

Ultimate Six Frock Coat - fuzzy felts and wools

I’ve had a bit of a lucky break with some of the fabrics I need to match on the coat, which going into 2011, is certainly welcome news!
Fabrics 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 11

Now, I had already found a supplier for a number of the key felt fabrics.

You can read about these under
The Easy Fabrics

Off the roll they could supply an excellent match for the Purple Felt (fabric 2); a fair match for the Red Felt (fabric 5); but by the time I got down to the Green Felt (fabric 3) it wasn’t so good (see above).

What I didn’t show at the time was a lack of match for the Yellow Lapel (fabric 7) and the complete abscence of the bright Pink Felt (fabric 11). The yellows they had in their range were either just a little too bright or way too dark (see left).

The company I had lined up was, however, able to dye-to-match if given a colour to use.
Great – but they wanted a minimum of 50 metres in  a single order to do it! Ouch!
For the Pink Felt that made it totally impractical, as I only need a single piece around 6 inches wide by 24 inches high!!!!!!

I have since done some searching around and have found a fabric mill in England who make and supply just the right type of felts.