distortion finish

“Gee Six why does your family want to Fucking Kill You”

Tailoring a Vintage Inspired Suit: Part Sixteen

Finishing details

After the linings go in there is really very little to do on the jacket.  The most obvious thing is the buttons.  The buttonholes should be corded keyhole.  Only the buttons that will be buttoned need to have a thread shank.  For three button single breasted jackets where only the middle is fastened I put a shank only on the middle button.  For this jacket I put a shank on the two right buttons, even though I usually only button the upper one, so I can do up both if I want.  If this had two upper show buttons on the chest they would not need one.

For the double breasted, buttonholes are also worked on the right front for the inner button, known as the jigger.  Modern jackets with a 6x2 or 4x2 arrangement often only have one buttonhole on the inside, but vintage ones generally had two, so I put on two even though I only put in one interior button.  The jigger buttonhole can be made a little longer, about 1/8", to make it easier to button.

The inner button also needs a much longer shank.  This makes it easier to hold and allows it to pivot so it can be slipped into the buttonhole.  If the shank was too short it would be stopped by the front jacket button.  The thread also sews on that button on the left front, but it has no shank.  When sewing, use your index and middle finger as a spacer under the jigger button, just don’t stab yourself!  Then wrap the shank.

There are also buttonholes to make on the lapels (if you remember, stays were sewn to the canvas before the facings were attached.)  These should not be keyhole.  Modern ready to wear often has keyhole buttonholes on the lapels, but not vintage ones.  They are made essentially the same, but do not snip out the keyhole at the end.  Instead, when rounding the end with the buttonhole stitch, pull the pearl up so the thread does not crowd the end and distort the shape, then finish as normal.  A double breasted jacket should have one on each lapel.

I also edge stitched the jacket fronts and collar to match the style of the vest.  Otherwise it would be pick stitched by hand or left plain.

Finally, rip all the basting out and give the jacket a final press, using the ham where appropriate.

The suit is complete!

The vest isn’t visible under the jacket, but that isn’t unusual for this period.  The vest was a functional garment, not just a fashion statement, giving pockets and an extra layer in buildings before widespread central heating.  Of course, sometimes they were visible, if the button stance was a little lower, making the point where the lapels cross a little lower.

As with any project there were some things I learned in the process which will help my next one.  The suit’s comfortable, I’m happy with the length, the collar and lapels turned out well. 

I hope this process has been interesting and that someone will get some good tips from it, or be inspired to try making their own suit.  For myself, I’ve already started a pair of houndstooth trousers and am planning another three piece suit, except this time I’ll draft my own pattern from my measurements using vintage tailor’s drafts. 


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