'Suit Yourself' by Sue Locke
There are some garments that we dressmakers think twice about making. The first is a coat and the second is a suit. Both are time consuming compared to a simple tunic or a wrap around skirt. However, when it comes to cost per wear both a suit and a coat can pay huge dividends. Having made both I can testify to this fact. For example my handmade coat is still going strong and shows little sign of wear after four years!
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to buy a ready-made suit in top quality fabric at a reasonable price. And this is where the sewer has the upper hand. But if you are time poor how do you ensure that the project gets finished? Firstly, select a simple pattern
. This may mean that you don’t actually buy a suit pattern. Instead, select an easy trouser pattern and an equally simple jacket and then make them up in the same fabric. However, you will need to choose a lined jacket because this increases the life of your garment and your trousers will need to be fully or half lined. Choose classic shapes for your pieces. Anything that’s classified as high fashion may look out of place next year. If you want a high fashion look then you can do this with accessories. If you only wear skirt suits then a short semi-fitted or boxy style is fine, but if you like to wear trousers then try a longer length.
When it comes to fabric simply buy the best you can afford. If you choose a suiting
cloth that has a percentage of stretch fibre this will help your outfit keep its shape. And the same principal applies with lining
– the best you can afford. Remember to finish your outfit with beautiful buttons
, buckles and applique. Scour vintage fairs and online sites for some pretty period pieces.
A plain dark suit is hard to beat. Light colours are fine but they may clock up a hefty bill in dry cleaning costs. And beware of flowery designs and strong dramatic prints. A plain suit will give you far more flexibility. A lovely plain jacket for example can look just as good with a pair of denims and a white shirt. And a dark pencil skirt can be topped with a pretty beaded blouse and used for an after work event. Make our stylish belt (see my other post 'MAKE IT - A simple Belt with a Fabric Flower') in a Taffeta
for evening as a useful accessory - another fabric option is a check. Ideally a subtle design will be more flexible. Alternatively, make your skirt with the check and use a toning plain colour for the jacket.
And try to avoid designs that are heavy on ruffles and flounces. They may make you look ultra feminine but they are not necessarily a practical choice for the office. It’s far better to keep all your lines clean and simple and create a softer line by working it on a blouse.
TOP TIPS FOR MAKING A SUIT
1. Buy the best fabric and lining that you can afford.
2. Avoid floral designs and dramatic prints.
3. Use easy patterns for your suit pieces then you are guaranteed to get the project finished.
4. A longer-line jacket looks far more flattering with trousers.
5. Shop for beautiful haberdashery to give a your suit a classy finishing touch
Sue Locke is a freelance writer and designer. She writes the monthly style pages for Sewing World magazine and designs fashion accessories. For more information or advice please contact Sue Locke - Click here
to view Sue’s website.