Monday, January 10, 2011

The Manchester Banyan, part 1

If you are really that bored, you can go here and see how I decided to start this project. Basically, I bought a book, saw a pattern, tracked down a photo of the original, found some fabric, and decided it must be made.

I started with a set of measurements from my victim. Okay, that’s not right. First, I started by washing the fabric in cold water on gentle cycle and letting it hang dry. (You only have to have one project ruined because you didn’t bother to pre-wash your fabric to learn that lesson …) Secondly, I asked for his shirt size and suit size. That is not my preferred way of doing things, but I there wasn’t any way of getting accurate measurements, and I was doing a fitting muslin anyway. So I crossed my fingers and went to work.

I found some really horrible (but cheap!!) $1/yard fabric at Wal-mart to use for my fitting muslin. I took the J.P. Ryan sleeved waistcoat pattern that I’ve worked with extensively, the scale drawing in my book, a set of calipers, a yardstick, some chalk, and went to work drawing my new pattern shapes.

I cut it all out, basted it together and found a chance to do a fitting. Unfortunately, that was the weekend of the headcold and conjunctivitis, and I did not get any pictures. I did get a pretty darn good fit, though. That is the beauty of starting with a pattern you know inside and out. The sleeves were perfect, and the back only needed a little shaping down the spine. I did end up cutting the neckline a little low, but I’m probably the only one that will notice.

Isn't this fabric hideous? That's a lavender horizontal stripe, and it has vertical stretch.

With alterations marked, I took the fitting muslin apart and figured out how to lay out all the pieces on the real fabric. This was a challenge as the banyan fabric was about 6” narrower than the fitting muslin. Luckily, we had a couple of really slow days at work during Christmas week, and one of the conference rooms wasn’t being used during lunch. I can not tell you how much easier the layout process was when I could have the whole length stretched out on one table.

Cutting one layer at a time means you can match the pattern perfectly.

 Cut one layer, match patterns, then cut the bottom layer. Perfect match, every time!


  1. You MUST show us pictures when you're done. OMG that is so awesome.

  2. If I ever make my period movie, you are going to be the costume designer.


  3. Aren't we going to be the most well-dressed surgeons found in either the British or American camps!