A (Modified) Eton Suit for Easter

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

To those who responded here (or emailed) overwhelmingly "yay" to the idea of making a short suit, your support has made this post possible (or at least internet-justified -- which I swear is a thing). The vote, as a matter of fact, was unanimously in favour of this adorable knee-baring look.  As you may recall, I was leaning heavily towards the classic Eton suit, but worried that this would come across as too much of a costume.

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

There's a little of that, to be sure, but I think certain changes I made to the overall look helped to mitigate the preciousness.  I looked at so many images of suits, but this is the one I came back to again and again:

Khaki Brown Boy's Eton Suit

Primarily, I was attracted to the colour.  I loved how this image evoked the sepia photography of the early 20th century. (Deliberate, light neutrals like this evoke a sense of formality too -- when you only have one or two suits of clothes, you tend not to choose the craziest brights.)

I imagined that this would go so beautifully with the ice cream pastels that make me think of spring and of Easter.

I also liked the pintucked crease down the front of the shorts.  In the most recent iteration of Celebrate the Boy, Rae made a pair of happy, bright saffron-yellow pants with pintuck down the front and I knew I wanted to make a pair of pants with that detail.

I wasn't crazy about the collarless jacket, though.  I think blazers with collars are more versatile.  And though it's not the look shown above, I did think that completing the outfit with a peter pan collar was a little too small-town theatre production of Our Town.  (I also knew that, given time restrictions and the fact that I've recently made two button-downs, I was probably going to go with a store-bought shirt.)

I got the nicest linen/cotton blend on sale and I think it gives this suit the perfect summery/schlumpiness.  This would be the outfit to try out on a boardwalk.  (But not here where it is snowing again today (!!!))

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

What's going on in there?  Let's have a look at this thing up close.

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

This is, once again, is the fabulous Basic Blazer from Melissa at Melly Sews. I cannot say enough good things about this pattern. Wanting to make my little boy a blazer was one of the reasons I got into sewing in a serious way and I remember seeing a very early iteration of this pattern more than a year ago and being very excited.  I didn't think that I could make something like that, but I was so happy to see something outside of the pyjama bottoms and knit wear that the major pattern companies were offering as boys' options.  If you love this look, I highly recommend giving this pattern and all of the Blank Slate Patterns a try.  The instructions are very clear, engagingly written, and accompanied by lots of detailed photographs.  (Just to be clear:  I haven't been asked to review Melissa's patterns, I just really like them.)

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

Six dollars a metre, guys!  Look at that lovely texture.

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

I went a little crazy adding pockets to the jacket.  I think this small breast pocket comes across very nicely, but I am less crazy about the too-high placement of the one on the inside.

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

That welt pocket is right on the edge!  BUT, I did not go boring for the lining this time around.  I love this Castle Peeps fabric by Lizzy House.  It's been discontinued, but that might mean that you can find it - as I did - on deep discount.  (Why didn't I buy more when I had the chance?)

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

I tried out a tip from Skirt as Top (whose "girlfriend version" of the blazer is highly adorable in white corduroy) and followed the bag-lining instructions from Grainline so that I could try sewing the sleeves by machine.  I - honestly! - held my breath as I was pulling the jacket right-side-out because I was sure it wasn't going to work, but it did work and I love how the sleeves look.

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

The shorts are made from the Number 9 Trousers pattern from Shwin Designs.  I used this pattern to make the retro bowling outfit pants too.  Here, I modified the original a bit as I cut off the pattern at the knee, added a little panel at the side for some additional ease (the earliest version of the size I had made for slightly snug pants, but this has been corrected), dropped the welt pockets from the back, added the pintucks, and cuffed the bottom of the shorts.  Quite a lot of modification, actually!

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

I do love them.  The rise in the back is such a perfect fit on my kid and I adore the dart detail.  (They show a little stretched out here because I only had an adult hanger to photograph them from.)

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

I'm so glad I added cuffs.  I've never really understood how they worked before, and I think they add interest to the bottom half of the suit.

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

I hand-hemmed these on the inside.  It didn't take very long and it meant that there was no risk of the pintucks or any of the seams not matching up perfectly.

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton SuitBecause this was a special suit (and also, I admit, because I just like this sort of thing), I finished all of the inside seams with a combination of french seams (construction seams), hand-sewing (hem), and bias binding (waist).

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

I love that these shorts are so pretty on the inside!  And check out the markings indicating that this is indeed the "wrong side" -- I always do this to save myself trouble when I'm sewing with fabrics that don't have a clear right side. The orientation tells me which way is up (so handy on shorts!) and I don't wind up with two right legs.

The only thing I had real trouble with on this project was the bow tie.  I looked at the instructions on Delia Creates to create the Lil' Mister bow tie and then. . . I walked away or something. (And speaking of Delia, the suits she made for her boys were a major inspiration for attempting this suit for Ralphie.)

The shape of my tie was too narrow and not nearly long enough to tie. (I kept having to go back and add sections of elastic).  Unfortunately, because I did buy a commercial shirt (both the shirt and shorts are from Old Navy), the neck measurement I had expected by measuring the neck of my kid was not the same as the one I got from measuring the neck of the shirt.  We managed to get through, but it was so difficult to tie.  Ralphie just gave up his afternoon nap last week and I expected some tired rebellion as I fussed with the bow tie.

To my surprise, his exhaustion took the form of sitting, very passively, as I fiddled and fiddled and fiddled again.  He was still so tired for the photos!  I leave you with this:  proof that this little guy worked so hard that he fell asleep on his feet while modelling.

The Velvet Aubergine, A (Modified) Eton Suit

Updated to add: Though I had planned to do no such thing, in a fit of optimism, I decided to enter this outfit in Nap Time Crafters Sew Off Auditions.  I highly encourage you to go check out the blog itself.  (For example, there's a DIY kids' kitchen that I am filled with envy looking at.  It has running water!)  And, of course, the audition links are full of terrific and inspiring sewing.

And because I'm on time this week to share this, I'm also linking up to the Train to Crazy.  It's another really great place to go to see what other people are sewing up!

125Girl Inspired, which is always inspiring -- I feel like I'm at a very tasteful Edwardian tea party whenever I visit -- is also linking up this week.  Because I think Ralph would fit right in at that tea party, I'm linking there too.

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30 thoughts on “A (Modified) Eton Suit for Easter

  1. so well done! i love it. great fabric choices, too - i especially love the lining fabric that you chose. just perfect. and how sweet is your little guy sleeping standing up!

    Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      Thank you so much for stopping by! (And I imagine, given the stage of living with a newborn you're at right now, you're an expert on sleeping standing up!)

      Reply
  2. Just gorgeous. I love how your little boy's suit turned out. Poor little guy falling asleep standing up.Too cute .Thanks for all the links, I have just spent a blissful hour internet jumping looking at children's sewing patterns. Found a great little girl's tunic pattern for my niece. Wouldn';t have known about it, if not for you. Thankyou :)

    Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      Thank you so much! I think there are so many great independent pattern designers out there. And I hope you blog about the tunic you plan to make: I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

      Reply
  3. I agree there are some great independent pattern designers out there. I remember sewing for my own children when they were little and I used to buy the Burda magazine from Europe and trace out the patterns. I loved Burda because they were that bit different. I must have been indie before indie was invented. My kids are now (22.20 and 18) and the girls love me sewing them retro styled clothing so they can be different. Sure will post the tunic when it is finished.

    Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      I still like Burda patterns. I've never tried the magazine though. I'm intrigued (yet intimidated!) by Ottobre magazine and the Japanese sewing books.

      What lucky girls you have!

      Reply
      1. Way back then the pattern notations were in German I think. It was a challenge at times to work it out. I think once you have an intermediate level of sewing and like a challenge the Japanese ones would be ok. I haven't looked at the Ottobre magazine. I made a simple purple linen tunic from a Japanese pattern for my daughter. It is in one of my past blogs. It was simple to follow the drawings. They are lucky girls in deed. :)

        Reply
        1. Ann Thompson

          Post author

          I hope to attempt it someday -- I'm a pretty visual person anyway, so the lack of written directions might be okay.

          Reply
  4. Ann, this is truly wonderful. Darling. So well made. I love the pockets, appreciate your immaculate finishing and really dig the lining fabric. I'm crazy about those pin-tuck shorts. You're making me want to make a little shorts suit for my boy - though he would literally be all dressed up with nowhere to go. And 'internet justified' is most certainly a thing. We are all community here.

    Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      I'm kind of thinking that since I made the suit, the invitations will pour in. Now, I have to ask, those vests your kids wear in a lot of photos, are they knitted (maybe I could do it!) or crocheted (I'm totally never going to get the hang of it). Because speaking of darling things to put on kids. . .

      Reply
  5. This is so incredible! Oh my goodness. Just one of the sweetest little suits I have ever seen. Your son looks adorable.
    YAY for auditioning! I hope you get in. I auditioned too:)
    Fantastic job (as always)!

    Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      I saw that! I think you should definitely make it in there -- it's so hard to sew for teen girls and strike the right balance between grown and youthful. The inspiration you picked really captures that too. I think we're on the exact same internet this week! Thanks so much for the kind thoughts. This is probably my favourite sewing project so far and it went together eerily well.

      Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      Really?! That's amazing. It's such a boost to hear I might be hitting an authentic note. Were people blown away when your son wore it? (I would be!)

      Reply
  6. That is so redonkulously adorable. I have wanted to make my boys some suits for the longest time... one of these days I will get my chance. Well done!

    Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      Thank you so much! And I really think you should go for it, Jodi. Making a boy's suit is not the same kind of commitment that making a men's suit is. There's no underlining or padding in this outfit, for example. Suiting seems to be on sale everywhere right now too!

      Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      hahaha. The poor little guy! I'm so glad the weather's finally warming up enough to take pictures outside of the house.

      Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      Thanks very much! It was really fun to make and to figure out some of the things I wanted to do.

      Reply
  7. This is a wonderful suit! I love little boys in classic clothes (and especially knee socks- even if I have to buy them in the girls dept!). Your sewing is done so beautifully!!

    Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      Thank you so much! He loves these "long socks" and after a morning of wearing this outfit, they were adorably crumpled around his ankles.

      Reply
  8. Wow....this is amazing! Something to keep me motivated and learning new skills, for sure. What a sweet face, I can not believe he fell asleep while standing... I love such a beautiful inside of a garment, too. (how did the french seam go on those curves?)

    Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      Hi Monica -- thanks so much for your kind words! I had a lot of fun with this suit. With the french seams I had to deal with three curved areas -- the inseam, the pockets, and the faux fly. The pockets and the inseam are actually nice, long, gradual curves and aren't really much trouble to finish this way. (Front pockets are actually exceptionally easy to french seam and most ready to wear pants seem to have this finish on the pockets, even when they don't use them anywhere else. I assume it lends strength to an area that takes a lot of use.) For the fly area, I clipped in carefully toward the seam and this allowed me enough ease to turn it. I turned the sharp corner with a chopstick.

      He's my little sleeping beauty!

      Reply
  9. This is just so adorable...I can't even handle it! Your son is so cute. You did such a wonderful job on the little suit, and I love the fun lining inside. I can't wait until I have a little boy so I can try my hand at making little boys' clothes.

    Reply
    1. Ann Thompson

      Post author

      Thanks so much, Becca. I have always (well, for the past couple of years when I've been a regular reader) found your blog full of retro-cool stuff to be so impressive. It's so flattering that you like this!

      Reply
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