Coat Making – Fabric Preparation

Standard

Full Steam Ahead

When working with wool coating it is important to give the fabric a deep-steam treatment before beginning your pattern layout and cutting.  This can be done in several ways.  Before I had a steamer unit, I used a damp towel and iron which works fine, too.    Or, you can take it to the cleaners for steaming and pressing.

The main reason for applying steam is to reduce overall shrinkage that will occur during the heavy application of steam during the tailoring process.  Steam also makes the wool easier to manipulate into position when lining up plaids or stripes.applying steam to wool coating

After steaming I determine if the fabric has a direction or nap.   Rule number one when working with nap is whatever direction you choose to use, you must remain consistent cutting all pieces in the same direction.

Determining nap is much like petting a cat; it is more pleasing to stroke a kitty in the right direction.   I run my hand lightly along the surface feeling the direction of the fibers; one direction is soft and smooth while the opposite direction it feels like you’re petting a cat backwards.

find the fabric nap

I imagine myself smoothing out my coat in the back as I am about to sit down; I will want the fibers of my coat to smooth out in the “right” direction, too.  This tells me that to get the desired softness/smooth nap, I must lay my pattern pieces out with the nap going toward the hemline.

With steaming done and direction of the nap determined, I am ready for careful laying out of patterns, cutting and marking  notches.

pattern layout, measuring grain lines

careful cutting out

marking notches

Until next time… happy sewing!

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3 responses »

  1. I didn’t know that the fabric should be steamed first. Thanks for the tip. I love working with wool as steaming to shape and to remove mistakes is amazing (& fun somehow).

    • Yes, wool can be so forgiving. I put in four bound buttonholes this weekend and they pressed out like a dream.
      As for steaming, I was taught to always steam wool before using it. When you think about it being wound onto a bolt and being in that condition for who knows how long, it makes sense that some amount of stretching might occur. Steaming helps to alleviate that and brings the fibers back into shape… or at least that is the theory. 🙂 It will be an interesting experiement to give it a try and see if you notice any difference in the way things hang, etc.

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