Project: A Dancer's Tailcoat

I'm designing again! I don't do it much, as my career has refocused a bit over the years, but it's fun to do once in a while. But because I'm usually designing for smaller projects, I'm often my own technician. This is no exception.

This project is for a dance piece for a college. One of the dancers will be wearing a tailcoat. At first I thought I could just retro-fit an existing tailcoat. However, I realized that the movement is so athletic that would never work. I needed to make my own.

The underarm curves up instead of down for a built-in gusset.
My first thought was heavy spandex, but I quickly nixed that idea, mostly because you just can't get crisp lines. But nowadays everything seems to have a little spandex in the thread, so I realized that I could make it out of stretch woven cotton. The black denim I chose had a quality to it that looked a lot like wool from the audience.

Additionally, it needed some modifications to the traditional suiting shape. For one, it's very fitted to the body. Second, I included gussets into the under-sleeve pattern.  It seems counter-intuitive, but you actually want to make the garment closer fitting in the underarm to allow for the most movement. The gusset fills in the hole made if you were to cut open the underarm when the arm is raised.

Another difference between this tailcoat and traditional suit construction was lack of innerfacing. Tailored suits have a ridiculous amount of innerfacings to maintain shape. If I used innerfacings in this, all the advantage I gained from the stretch fabrics would be lost.   

The best part, though, is that unlike most suiting, this coat is completely machine washable. This is a necessity for dancewear.

Isn't he cool! I made the tights, too.
 PS - even though I'm in NYC, I ordered the fabrics for the tailcoat from Yup. It was faster than searching the garment district, and I had an online coupon code. Plus, I didn't have to carry it home. Fabric for the tights was purchased at Spandex World. They have a website, but the fabric itself was bought at their store.


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