One of the delights of working in a busy workroom such as the Anderson and Sheppard Academy here on Fouberts Place is that as we are training we get the opportunity to see and work on a wide variety of coats and overcoats. These range from country to formal wear and everything in between!I know that I should not pick favourites, but I must say that during my time here I have developed a bit of a penchant for formalwear, which are not the easiest to make, but I think I thrive on the challenge!
Recently, we have had an abundance of coats with shawl collars. Two of these were dinner jackets, one single breasted, the other double breasted and also a double breasted velvet smoking jacket with corded frogging to the fronts and sleeves.
As you can see from the pictures of the finished garments, the unusual thing about shawl collars is that there is not a collar as such. That is to say that the collar has become one with the lapel and shaped by the tailor to create a smooth uninterrupted run from the waist, to the neck and back around again.
This fluid line can only be created by making the jacket in a rather unorthodox manner. Ordinarily, we would put the facings on the lapels, join the side seams and complete the linings of any coat before closing the shoulders and proceeding to put the collar on, but with the shawl collar this process is turned entirely on its head by closing the shoulders and basting on the under collar first. This is because the side seams cannot be sewn up as the coat must lie as openly as possible in order for the tailor to be able to put the very best possible facing on.
Once the under collar is secured on to the coat, it is shaped as one with the lapels to ensure that the point at which they connect is completely undetectable and will make for a flawless finish. Linen tape is then applied to the shaped edge as it would be with any jacket and then the basting of the facings begins!
This is the tricky part as you must call on your knowledge of both facings and top collars in order to produce the perfect facing to a shawl collar. You want the end result to be clean, but not tight, and with some cloths, especially silks and velvet, this can be very difficult. Fortunately, both dinner jackets were of lovely cloth and I think the end result is very pleasing. My next challenge however was to be the velvet smoking jacket, the outcome of which is to be my next Notebook entry…!