Tommy Wonder's "vest with special pockets"

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Tommy Wonder's "vest with special pockets"

Postby Suresh » July 28th, 2011, 2:55 am

Quoting from page 195 of Volume II of the Books of Wonder:

...When carrying many items, placing the props against the body is often better [than stuffing pockets of the jacket or pants]. One way to do this is to wear a vest with special pockets to hold everything. Then the porps are held thightly against your body, the jacket drapes over them with no weight to pull it out of shape, and any bulges will be far less noticable. If a vest doesn't suite your style of dress, you might like to make one similar to mine. I had a white vest made with colorful suspenders sewn at its edges. These suspenders are attached to the shirt with dress snaps, and their ends are clipped in the normal way to the waistband of your trousers. With such a vest, if the audience catches a glimpse under your jacket, it appears as if you are simply wearing a shirt and suspenders. This "vest" holds the props tightly to the body, keeps the front of the shirt in place and can accomodate a variety of pulls. Attaching pulls to the body is much better than fastening them to the coat, since they cannot ruin the hang and cut of the garment by pulling on it.

If you use a vest in the manner described -- either a normal one or a disguised vest like mine -- when you buy a new suit, take the vest with all the props in place to the shop with you, and wear it when you get the new suit fitted.

Some questions:

1) I do not understand what a "vest with pockets" would be like -- are there any pictures of such vests? Any place where such vests are described in more detail? (I am aware of, but a holster is different from a vest with pockets.)

2) When Tommy Wonder writes about attaching pulls to the vest, what typs of pulls does he have in mind? And what is the nature of the attachment (e.g., safety pins?)?

3) Later, on page 210, Tommy Wonders describes the how his pendulum holdout is attached -- but this attachment is to the lining of the jacket rather than to the vest; why?


Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Tommy Wonder's "vest with special pockets"

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 28th, 2011, 10:08 am

Only because I've been exploring similar and your post also served to inform that TW got there first...

1) take your vest/waistcoat and turn it inside out. Cover the old inside, now outside, with shirt fabric. It is now camouflaged. Add suspenders to improve the disguise. You know have some inside pockets to use.

2) The older books discuss reinforced shoulders/seams so when you pin you Thornton Windlass or similar in place you won't be ruining your fine clothes. Think of that as adding wide cloth and possibly leather straps where you'd pin or clip on these appliances.

3) Sorry, no idea on the discrepancy - perhaps the author could recall how the discussion shifted from using the vest as anchor to the vulnerable seams of the jacket.

Hope that gets you started,


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Re: Tommy Wonder's "vest with special pockets"

Postby Suresh » July 29th, 2011, 12:33 am

Regarding "vests with special pockets", although I was curious about the camouflaging of a vest as a shirt, my primary interest was in understanding the "special pockets" -- I am assuming that Tommy Wonder is referring to a vest with more than the usual two pockets, and if my assumption is correct, I am curious about the layout of the pockets in such a vest.

Incidentally, here's what Tommy Wonder writes in the paragraph preceding the two quoted paragraphs -- it is about reinforcements to fabrics:

Unless it is part of the character you wish to portray, such bulging and sagging [caused by stuffed pockets] should be avoided. Since pockets these days are seemingly not constructed to hold anything, they have to be adapted to do so. For instance you could attach a patch of iron-on intefacing to the pocket lining, between the pocket and the outer material of the jacket. This stiffens the pocket and the top edge won't sag under the weights of the deck of cards. In addition, the edges of things in the pockets will not show through the outer fabric.

I had failed to make a connection between the techniques to reinforce a jacket's pocket and techniques that could be used to reincforce a region of the vest to make it suitable as an anchor point.

Jim Riser
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Re: Tommy Wonder's "vest with special pockets"

Postby Jim Riser » July 30th, 2011, 3:07 am

I strongly suggest that you NOT follow Jon's advice above.

The vest should be custom made not some vest turned inside out. The vest is not a full vest buttoning in front. It is a partial vest made with several layers of cloth for durability, stiffness, and strength. The vest ends at the suspender straps which really should be snapped to the shirt (not velcroed).

The vest can have specially made hooks, rings, embedded magnets, and/or shallow pockets for attaching or holding items. Safety pins are not a good solution. These are on the OUTSIDE of the vest - usually just to the side of the straps. Some items might be clipped to the vest side under the arm. Pockets are not inside the vest as it is attached to the shirt front.

A Thornton reel is not what would be used. More likely something like a modified "key-back reel" or even the mechanized reel that I sometimes sell.

As for a pendulum holdout...
For this to work, it needs to swing out when required. By hooking it to the coat lining, it will swing the item into position as the performer leans forward and the coat naturally falls open a bit. The clothing and holdout must work together. If the holdout is attached to the vest, it will not have a large enough swing.

Hopefully, this will clear up confusion.

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Re: Tommy Wonder's "vest with special pockets"

Postby Spellbinder » July 31st, 2011, 5:17 am

Tommy Wonder put his vest together for HIMSELF and HIS ACT. Even if you had his original vest in front of you, you would have few clues as to what the various pockets, rings, holes, grommets and so on were used for. This is the kind of thing you make for yourself and attach various pockets as needed as you develop your act. If you could buy one in a magic store, I doubt you would be happy with it, because it has to be built BY you and FOR you.

Eleazar has a similar thing hidden under his T-shirts (described in "T-Shirt Magic" in The Wizards' Journal #7 on my site). He describes possibilities in that e-Book, but does not describe the undergarment the he personally uses only because it would be of no use to anyone else. Like Wonder's vest, it has to evolve with you as you develop a need to have some effect happen while you are wearing a T-shirt as a costume. What you get out of the e-Book is the possibility of having pulls and holdouts and dove pockets that work under a short sleeved T-shirt as easily as a vest worn under an evening suit with tails.
Phineas Spellbinder
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Re: Tommy Wonder's "vest with special pockets"

Postby dixiaya » January 17th, 2013, 3:35 am

I am curious about the layout of the pockets in such a vest

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