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.
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.
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.
Until next time… happy sewing!