Cabin fever and mock-ups

Cabin fever and mock-ups

Hello. Let me start by hoping you and your loved ones are all of sound health.

In light of recent events, last week my husband and I decided to self-isolate. Not too hard a task for two humans whose favourite activity is staying in their respective studios and create, but once it became a Rule I Must Follow in my brain, I knew I needed a project to stay busy and not rebel.

Before I tell you what that project is, allow me to share a new acquisition – I got a serger!


Meet Bert. Bert came to me pre-loved on eBay, from a lady that didn’t have much time to craft anymore. Judging by the state of his insides (lint everywhere!), you could tell he was indeed much loved.
I haven’t played around with Bert yet but I’m sure he’ll make a great companion to Marge, my sewing machine.

Now, to the project.
I’ve been down a historical costuming rabbit hole for the past few weeks (because, reasons) and decided to make myself a late Victorian waistcoat. This all may have gotten worse after I bought a magnificent pair of trousers with a very 1910s style, and felt my ensemble wouldn’t be complete without a vest, and later a jacket.

Who knew the internet had sewing websites just for this type of historical thing?


You’ll see on top right corner that the pattern I bought allows me to choose from 4 different styles. I went for the one shown in yellow. Don’t make me confess how many tailoring videos I’ve since watched on YouTube to learn how to create a proper lapel…

Fearing things might start going slightly dystopian, before I self-isolated I managed to run to one of my local fabric shops and buy the appropriate materials for this.


I got this beautiful 100% wool tweed for the exterior and a beautiful silky paisley for the lining. The latter is polyester, something I’m not very keen on, so I vowed to find something made of natural fabric for next time.
Both materials have been pre-washed but not yet pressed.

Now, before I get to play with the pretty stuff, I need a mock-up. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, this is when you test the shape and size of your pattern by first sewing with inexpensive fabric – this is often called a muslin.

Mock-ups save you the heartbreak of finding out the pattern doesn’t fit you somewhere after you’ve cut into the expensive fabric. They are also a great opportunity for you to get to know the construction steps of your project, and train the techniques first. My waistcoat pattern reportedly comes from an original 1890s pattern so you can be sure I’m testing it first!

Good thing I did, too…


My mannequin isn’t completely true to my size but I can already tell there are some adjustments I’ll need to make to the bust line, plus there are a couple of instructions I’m not sure I’ll be following to a T (I am a rebel, after all).
I also managed to find out the pattern has some mistakes, such as telling me to use 4 pieces of something they only tell me to cut 2 of.

The keen-eyed among you might notice I’ve pinned the pieces together on the outside. This is so I can make easy adjustments and transfer them to my final pattern once sewn.

Unfortunately this is where my experiment is at the moment, so I don’t have any more to share with you. However, if you’re intrigued by this piece of clothing – have I mentioned this will have some real historic-style boning for structure? – I’ll happily share my progress in my next post.

Until then, stay safe and I hope you have plenty to keep you pleasantly occupied.

14 thoughts on “Cabin fever and mock-ups

  1. Bert and Marge sound like the perfect pair! 😉 Your project looks very interesting and I look forward to seeing it’s progress. I am not at all experienced at making clothing so I am impressed!

    1. I told Antje I wanted to put Bert and Marge alone in a room and see if mini serger-sewing-machines would appear, hehe 😀

      Thanks! I’ve since found quite a lot that’s wrong with the pattern, so it’s been a very interesting project so far. Lots to write about for the next post!

    1. Hehe, those names sound to me like a long-married couple who know everything about each other, you know? 😀
      Thanks, I love the colours too! They match the trousers I mentioned, and I’m so excited to finish this project. I’ve found A LOT of things wrong with the pattern though, so I’m going to have a lot to share on my next post…

  2. Bert’s a handsome fella. Really looking forward to following your progress on this project!

    You are fortunate to have all you need for it – we were looking forward to getting some larger diy projects done at home but we’ve been stymied by lack of purchase and delivery availabilty!

    1. Thanks! I’ll be basting the stitches today and making LOTS of changes to the original pattern. Turns out, there is such a thing as a bad commercial pattern (sigh).

      I’m so sorry you didn’t get all your supplies! I ordered some tailor canvas for this project and it took a week to get here (normally it would take 2 days). I bet the postal services are swamped with work. I hope you manage to work on something else to keep you occupied!

  3. Well that’s a coincidence Leonor…..I’ve just bought myself a second hand serger too! It’s still in its box so I will be watching your waistcoat project with interest in the hope of getting some tailoring tips. I’ve only made one item before, a sleeveless top, and that was several years ago so lots to learn! Have fun and I’m looking forward to seeing how you get on.

    1. Ooh, serger sisters! I hope you get lots of use out of yours 🙂

      You’ve hit the nail on the head with the word “tailoring!” I’m actually approaching this project with not so much a sewer’s mind but that of a tailor, which changes construction a lot… I’m on my second mock-up right now, and creating alterations on that. Fingers crossed I’ll get to the real deal very soon!

      Enjoy your reconnection with sewing! It’s such a lovely path, and knowing you’ve made something you can wear is the best feeling.

  4. Sergers are fun. Not that I have done a lot with mine. The vest looks really nice and I like the colours. I did a muslin years ago for a jacket. good thing too as apparently women are not supposed to have muscles in their arms. Boning can be fun. Jan talks about it a lot. I have worn a corset and as long as they are not too long in the body they are quite comfy and give you good posture.

    1. I haven’t played around with the serger yet either… looking forward to it though.

      Haha, aren’t we? We’re supposed to be waifs 😉

      I’ve a couple of corsets, but they’re modern and definitely not as comfortable as historical ones would be. I might try to make one in the future!

  5. Congratulations on your new Sewing buddy!
    this should be a fun project. have you checked out Bernadette Banner wastcote ( have you made the under layers first? if you are going with chamese and corsetry it will change how the wastcoat sits, if you are waring it with modern undergarments it will be a difernt fitting again. have you chosen the type of boneing you would like. i have used steel boneing in urlery corsetry which would be over kill for this. Bernadette suggests Synthetic baleen, 4mm x 1mm: from Burnley & Trowbridge (…). Have lots of fun! i am looking forword to see how it comes along!

    1. Thanks, Jan!
      Ha, of course 🙂 In fact, I’ve watched almost all of Bernadette’s videos, and the waistcoat one has been watched several times. It’s been super useful!

      I’ll be wearing this waistcoat pretty much in the modern fashion, but I’m toying with the idea of creating some true Victorian/Edwardian staples, of which stays, chemises and corsets would definitely feature. Then I’d make more vests, but change the model a little to compensate for the boning in the corset 🙂

      I’m using specialty boning made of plastic, the metal ones are too stiff and won’t mould to your body with time (which is what makes corsets comfortable). I’m not sure of the brand and can’t check right now, I have a content cat on my lap!

      I’m now working on my second mockup. At this rate I’ll need a lot more muslin to keep up…

  6. Wow colour….it’s not black! I like the choice of fabric. Good luck with your mockups….but I’m disappointed that you are not using the original ‘Mannyquin’!
    You are very skilled with your sewing so once you have corrected the pattern inaccuracies you will be well away.

    1. Not black! I must be going a tad mental 😀

      Manny-quin has had pinning duties trust upon him, it’s hard doing that on myself!

      I’m not that great with clothes yet, but the practice will do me good. I’m gathering courage to finally cut the real fabric today! Wish me luck ^_^

Leave a Reply to annielynrosieCancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: