Haeckel Waistcoat


More steampunkery for Wye Waltz 2012.

I came across Ernst Haeckel's fantastic book, Art Forms of Nature in an art shop. Actually, in an art book stall at a craft fair.

It was obviously fuel for something. After a little research, I decided the something would be an octopus-encrusted waistcoat. I had worked out a waistcoat pattern last year from the instructions in the "Modern Tailor Outfitter and Clothier" (full details & instructions for making your own pattern in the writeup of last year's waistcoat), which seemed to work well. I just had to photoshop up a fabric pattern.

I did a better job of getting the assembly sequence right on this one, which is the most bemusing part of making a waistcoat:
Cut out all the bits.
Put the darts into the lining & the shell.
Fit all the pockets to the lining & the shell.
Attach the inside pocket buttons to the lining.
Sew the shoulder seams of the lining.
Sew the shoulder seams of the shell.
With right side to right side, sew the lining to the shell along the neck & front edges, and around the armholes, but not the side seams!
Now turn the whole thing inside out.
Sew the side seams of the shell.
Sew the side seams of the lining.
Turn the thing as far inside out as it goes, and sew most of the bottom seam - leave a gap to turn it through.
Top-stitch the bottom seam, and anything else that takes your fancy.

The pattern is a single tile, using one of Haeckel's octopi (Pinnoctopus cordiformis) and a couple of jellyfish, both taken from the scans at that Wikipedia page:

A bit of a google will be required to reveal the Photoshop tricks required to make a tile that tiles successfully. Once you have the trick it's not terribly painful.

I had the fabric printed by the helpful people at Banner and Flag. I'd suggest ringing them up & having a natter about what you want. The fabric is a polyester (best for dye sub printing, apparently) satin and worked very well. It's washable & durable (not that I've washed any yet). If there's any downside, it is that it doesn't press very well.

It cost something like 30 plus shipping to get 1m (by 140 wide) printed, which is enough for one waistcoat with not much left over. If you do anything like this, remember that you will want your pattern to line up across pieces, which means that a big tile results in quite a big space between pieces as you cut them out. Just making the pocket welts line up used a surprising amount of fabric.

I found a few other promising-looking fabric printers, but did not try them:
The Fabric Press
Bags of Love
Spoonflower (in America, but a wide range of fabrics)

Obviously, a waistcoat like this needs a decent pocketwatch to adorn it:

The unpressability of the fabric does make the pocket welts a bit puffy. Perhaps I should have topstiched them ?

The lining has inside pockets, and I made a coat wallet to fit them.

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