navy waistcoat
Make Your Own Waistcoat

The first garment Rory ever made himself was a waistcoat. Though not in fashion then as they are today, this didn’t deter Rory from wearing it at any given time. Making your own waistcoat is a great way of getting pride from one’s own work and marking the stepping stone from spectator to tailor. When compared to other garments like trousers and coats, the waistcoat is a much simpler garment to make. It holds all of the key skills needed to master to make both trousers and coats.

 

Like the coat, the waistcoat has bias tapes drawn off in its edges to create that three dimensional appearance. These tapes need to be carefully sewn on by hand. One of the tailor’s key skills is being able to sew through two layers without picking up the bottom third layer. Many examples of this can be found throughout the coat and trousers. As well as the tapes, the waistcoat shares another detail with the coat and that is the canvas that is used to stiffen the foreparts. Trimming merchants offer a stiff canvas special made for waistcoats simply called “waistcoat canvas”, though this isn't the material Rory uses in his waistcoats. Rory prefers a softer front and has swapped out this heavy stiff canvas for a softer lighter alternative. Linen holland is found in all of Rory’s waistcoats. The trick with linen holland is not to get it wet as the water causes it to stiffen giving it a board like feel.

 

Just like the linings, water is the enemy to linen holland.

 

Unlike the coat the waistcoat canvas isn't made of different layers, the idea is to keep it soft and malleable. Many old books on tailoring instruct the tailor to stretch the cloth over the canvas. This might have been true for tailors of old but cloths today are not what they use to be. Cloths have become finer and lighter than at any other point in history. Back when Rory's grandfather was a tailor a 17oz was considered a light weight. Now we would only use such a weight to make either an overcoat or a heavy winter coat.