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May 12, 2014

Which Fabric Should I Use For My Double-Breasted Suit?



It's official: vintage pattern Butterick 5384, with a few minor alterations (mainly length; I shortened it an inch), fits nicely.  The double-breasted suit project is a "go."

Occasionally people write asking where they can find fitted men's patterns.  Go to eBay and Etsy, do a search in under vintage 70's men's patterns in your size and see what's available.  It changes all the time so keep looking, but that was the era of fitted menswear.







I'm very fond of my gold toile de jouy, but it has its challenges.  It's stiff, for one thing (I chose not to pre-wash).  It has very little drape.  It's hard to ease.  On a hot day (like today) it feels heavy.  But it certainly makes a statement!  Today I added the sleeves and front fish-eye darts and pressed the collar and facings.  I still have to hem the jacket, hem the sleeves, and add pockets as well as a lining.  But I've done enough to stop for a while (if I want) and start on the "real" project.

I'm deciding between these two fabrics, and maybe you can help.  The first is a medium weight denim.  It's softer than the toile de jouy, with more drape, but it has a similar weight.





The second option is this cotton-linen blend, similar to chambray shirting but stiffer.  It's much lighter than the denim above and has that slightly rumpled look one associates with linen.







Online I found a few photos of double-breasted jackets in similar fabrics: Denim....





And chambray...





At this moment, I'm leaning toward the denim.  I fear the chambray will lose its shape unless it's heavily interfaced, in which case it will lose its character.  Maybe I'll save the chambray for something less suit-like.

And that's it.

I do hope your sewing projects are going well -- for some reason, everywhere I turn people are sewing knits.  Am I the only person still using wovens these days?

Have a great day, everybody!

40 comments:

  1. my favorite is the muslin- that gold is fabulous. But I think your leaning towards denim is solid...

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    1. I know: nothing is going to outdo that!

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  2. When looking at the fabrics the denim holds the most appeal but when looking at garments made from these type of fabrics the chambray looks better. Not much help here, sorry.

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    1. Ha -- I had just the opposite reaction! To me the chambray garments look sloppy.

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  3. Here are the pros/cons I see with each fabric:
    Denim: Goes with everything, more casual looking, will seem heavy in summer/may not be warm enough in winter (where I live has very little "in between" weather so this matters to me), will hold shape better
    Chambray: I like the look better, can be dressed up/down more easily (opinion), will hold shape less, better hot weather weight, in the color shown can go with almost everything.
    So for me, I would go chambray with the extra interfacing in select spots. Generally, when I do jackets in a lighter weight fabric the only parts I need to reinforce are the lapels and around the buttons. With proper pressing while sewing, I find everything else works itself out but I guess that all depends on how pressed you want it to look.

    My 2 cents anyway :)

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  4. My vote is for the second-to-last picture, the chambray on the form. For myself, denim suits and jackets are a formal/casual dissonance and I've never liked them: too heavy, no drape, casual, and cheap-looking. I find the rumpled quality of the lighter material adds rather than detracts. (Combined with a stiff shirt collar as in the picture, it looks really good.) My $0.02.

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  5. I'd go with chambray even though there are interfacing challenges. It will look so dashing!

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  6. I don't know about the denim; it's a little "Texas Tuxedo." The chambray is more 80s Armani American Gigolo which could work. Honestly I'd vote for a tropical wool or full on linen and give it a '30s vibe. I keep picturing Tony Curtis doing Cary Grant in "Some Like It Hot."

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  7. I agree with Mouse and Kelsey. I prefer the chambray to the denim. Denim jackets/blazers always make me think of that classic, the Canadian Tuxedo. Not a look I love, I do love the look of the chambray jackets, though, they have a casual sort of elegance. Please make it out of chambray.

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  8. I like the chambray, something about the way it wrinkles is better. Plus it'll be super versatile for spring, summer and fall. I think that denim is going to wrinkle also and not in a good way.

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  9. I'm voting for the Chambray, I think it would make a lighter suit which would be cooler in the summer months. That crumpled look always looks expensive too!

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  10. And if you need more interfacing....put on your big boy, vintage boxers and deal with it ;-)

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  11. Denim, I think, like the first sample picture. I don't like the top stitching in the second sample picture - too jeans-like.

    But I like (love) the muslin best. Just one comment - even unhemmed, the sleeves seem a little short to me.

    Spud.

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    1. They're just turned under in the pic, so quite adjustable.

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  12. I love the muslin, but whenever I look at it I think of the Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. lol

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  13. Team chambray! Denim always stretches and wears at the elbows/knees. I like the rumpled refinement of the chambray!

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  14. My first choice -- the muslin. That is hard to beat. Just sooo cool. I lean toward the denim. I think the linen will not retain the structure required for a crisp double breasted pattern.

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  15. As to your knit question, I just finished my first knit. A dress and wore it today...

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  16. Denim. :) I prefer sewing with knits, but right now I'm making 2 linen maxi skirts.

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  17. I love my wovens! It's not to say that I don't like the modern feel of a sewn knit, but I feel like wovens really show off ones sewing skills.

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  18. I love the chambray, but what do I know? I don't think you could go wrong with any of the choices. :)

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  19. i adore the toile! it looks super high fashion! but if I had to choose between the others id say chambray. BUT PLEASE finish the muslin I beg of you!
    Frankie
    http://knitwits-owls.blogspot.co.uk/

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  20. The denim, definitely! I'm not at all in favour of the crumpled look. Nice fit of your muslin, but I can't see it as a 'wearable' jacket. Too much curtain-like! Enjoying your blog, as always - thank you Peter! Anne-Marie

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  21. So you're a denim man...I should have known.

    Why not make three? Hipster toile, butch swagger, and chambray luxe ? Sort of a sartorial sewing immersion episode; when they hang beside your sheet suit, you will have choices. And isn't that what it's all about, Peter?

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  22. To me it all comes down to what season you want to wear it in. Denim suits in the North East are great on a crisp fall day but not so great in the summer unless you're trying to sweat off a few pounds. During the winter, you'll freeze off your body hair (might be a good thing…?!) and in the spring, you'll appear to be unwilling to embrace a lighter palette and textures. The chambray, as a fabric with a softer, looser feel is an unusual choice for a double breasted suit which is quite structured but I think both your photos show that opposites not only attract but can look fantastic. However, it does look like a summer only suit to me really great for a night out or a wedding or quick trip to England for a glam garden party.
    I think I agree with a previous poster who said that given a choice, make each of them including the toile which is fab for where you live. Beautiful fit by the way!

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  23. The toile version looks fab! Shame they're usually on canvas like fabric innit. As for the real mccoy, my vote is for denim too! The denim examples look hipper, the chambray examples look more formal.

    As for knit vs woven...fear not I got woven on my radar this summer. But MMM made me realize that I wear a lot more knit, so maybe I need to whip up a few more (to delay the dreadful laundry tasks). So for now I'm living vicariously through you for a spot of woven fix!

    And

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  24. Hey, I haven't sewn knits in months! So you are certainly not the only one sewing wovens.

    About your fabric, I think you should use the denim for the reasons you mentioned. The pictures from the internet are fun but not really helpful because both fabrics could be used to make suits in various styles but all the denim ones you found are kind of hipster-ish and the chambray ones are kind of traditional.
    And I really like the look of your test version. The fit is really nice.

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  25. Chambray, please. I like the high waisted look best from the front. I feel the silhouette may not be as flattering from behind. Maybe the high waisted arc of the back side seams could be less defined. .

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  26. The less wrinkly fabric please - a nice crisp suit looks so amazing

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  27. Wovens rule. Love the toile--it deserves to be out and about.

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  28. i think that floral is the winner.

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  29. Interesting choice! I wonder what you'll choose! I have that same cotton-linen blend and have been torn between making a shirt or a jacket for a month now. It's sort of an in-between weight! It's beautiful fabric, though, so whatever you make with it will be amazing!

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    1. I think it's too crisp for a shirt but maybe not...

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  30. I would go with the fabric that wrinkles the least--I think that's the denim. There are a lot of strain lines in a double-breasted jacket, especially if you keep it buttoned up. I'm afraid that a linen-like fabric would look too frumpled in a double-breasted jacket.

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  31. I'm late to the party but CHAMBRAY!!!!

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