The design

Double Breasted Waistcoat

I love the tailored looks of the Victorian era, especially the tailored jackets and coats that were designed for women. Waistcoats are no exception eventhough they weren’t worn by women in the Victorian era (as far as I know). They are so practical and stylish to wear yet I hardly ever see women wearing them when I’m out and about.

I have designed one that I would love to make in black leather as shown in my illustration. But before I do that, I’m going to make it in wool gaberdine! A sturdy cloth for a waistcoat and perfect for tailoring!

My design is double breasted and features panels and darts to sculpt the waistcoat around the body. The hem line is curved dropping at the centre back and front and rising at the hips. The neckline features a shawl collar that mimicks a tailored collar. I have designed this waistcoat to be worn with my 1920’s pyjama beachwear inspired pants.

the draping

Hand Draped on the Mannequin

I designed this waistcoat directly on the mannequin using the French couture technique ‘moulage’.

Hand draping on the mannequin allows me to work in an organic way and requires patience and a gentle hand. By following the natural fall and fold of the fabric you can manipulate textiles into shape and create some lovely designs.

I chose to sculpt a design with a shawl collar and a long double breasted front panel with princess style seams starting at the bust point. The design is inspired by an example of Victorian riding fashion shown in the image below.

The sides are shaped close to the torso to accetuate the front panel. Creating this effect was by no means an easy task. It involved a lot of pinning, cutting, tucking and sticky tape until I was happy with the final result! I’m sure there’s an easier way to do this but that defeats the challenge of working in three dimension!

Victorian Riding Habit

the toile

Sampling the Design and Fit

The toile is a cotton sample of a pattern design. It’s purpose is to test the shape and fit of the pattern. It’s a prototype of the final product.

It can take a few toiles to settle on a final design and will take a few fittings on the client to complete. I’m really happy with how this pattern has turned out. A minor pattern alteration is all that is needed to finish this pattern and begin production. The next decision is what fabric to use for my first finished sample.

The Fabric

A waistcoat like this is ideal in a sturdy fabric with some weight and a good stand. By stand I mean that it holds a shape well. Examples include gaberdine wool, silk wool tailoring blends and heavyweight silks or silk blends like a damask, zibeline, raw silks, bridal satins and leather or suede. Below are a few of my favourite choices.

Connaught Silk from James Hare, UK

A luxurious fabric made of Merino wool and silk. A medium weight cloth with a high sheen and soft stand. Ideal for tailored over garments. Available in a range of elegant colours.

Other Fabric Selections

Wool and Lambskin Leather

Charcoal black pure wool gaberdine and deadstock black lambskin leather imported from Italy. Leather is avalable in a range of limited colours and quantities. Please contact me to inquire.

Pure Wool Gaberdine

Deep chocolate brown 100% wool  imported from Italy. Prfect for achieving a hand tailored look, fit and feel. Limited stock.


Heavy weight silks and silk cotton blends are the most luxurious choice for a waistcoat, dress or jacket. Non curl satin is a blend of cotton with silk and gives extra body and stand making it an ideal choice for a tailored result. Choose from a rainbow of colours from bridal ivory to black and in between.

Raw Silk

Raw silk is a lovely choice for a more natural looking garment. It’s high sheen and uneven weave gives it an organic handmade linen-look. A medium weight of 200gsm is ideal for a Spring/Summer waistcoat as it has a softer stand and relaxed fit. This fabric will need to be supported with strucutral interlining fabrics.

Drop Me a Line

If you are interested in a custom order please let me know.

I offer a guided home fitting service via video call for bespoke clients to fit their first toile at home. Please contact me for more information.