Tag Archives: coats

Projects Revisited

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From Start to Finish

IMG_3443I recently went through a box in my sewing room marked “winter projects.” The box contained the best of the best projects I salvaged during our sizing down move three years ago.  I have always found it difficult to start up work on old projects.  It is usually a lack of interest as whatever it was that got my creative juices flowing has long since dissipated and the prospect of picking up in the middle of an uninteresting project seems like work more than fun.  Fortunately, that was not the case with this piece.  It had been long enough that I had forgotten I had ever started this jacket.  The fact that I still loved the red quilted fabric was good and I still liked the striped douppioni… so far so good.    After studying the pattern and the pieces that were already cut, I decided I definitely needed a third piece to create additional interest.  So off to The Mill End Store I went with swatches in hand.

 It’s really quite remarkable that I was able to find a douppioni print that complemented the stripes so perfectly, but not without considerable effort.  I was in the store for at least two hours searching, searching, and searching again every piece of fabric at least five times.  I was finding nothing suitable and finally decided it was time to surrender.   Resigned to defeat, I headed for the exit pausing only to notice a silk display… and there it was.  It was exactly what I’d been looking for; the colors were right, the scale was right, it was perfection and obviously meant to be.   And so I begin the satisfying endeavor of resurrecting an old project to new life.    More to come…

Alternative To Pad Stitching – A Sewing Tutorial

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For The Busy Seamstress

Pad stitching is a method used to secure two or more layers of fabric together to give firmness and shaping to a tailored garment.  Traditionally, a hair canvas interfacing is used in pad stitching and applied to areas such as lapels and under collars to give support and provide structure; it is applied along the roll line of a lapel and on the collar stand.

I’ve done my share of pad stitching in my life and there are rare circumstances when it may still be the best option.  I was taught that pad stitching was the only correct way to shape a tailored garment and I labored under that dictum for years.  Today, however, with all the new fusible technologies I rarely pad stitch preferring to use modified speed methods which get the job done in half the time with great results.   Knowing how, when and why to pad stitch is not a bad thing, but the same is true for “alternative” pad-stitching techniques.

1.  Begin by cutting out the undercollar and fusible interfacing.  Both undercollar and interfacing should be cut on the bias to ensure desired rolling effect.

under collar and interfacing cut on bias

2.  Fuse bias interfacing to the undercollar fashion fabric. Some patterns will mark the roll line on the pattern piece, but when no roll line is indicated you will need to determine where it is.  To do this, pin undercollar into position on the garment carefully matching placement marks.

pin under collar to neck edge

3.  Hand baste undercollar onto garment.

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4.  Roll the undercollar into position making sure the back edge extends a 1/4 inch or so over the seam line.  (The reason for this will become apparent later.)

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5.  Once the natural roll line is determined (the fabric will tell you where it wants to roll) mark position of  the line with a fabric marker.

mark roll line with fabric pen

6.  Remove the undercollar from the garment.  Cut a separate piece of interfacing the shape of the area below on the roll line known as the collar stand.  This interfacing for the collar stand is cut on grain line to give added support to this area.

under collar with roll line

7.  After applying interfacing to the collar stand, cut a piece of 1/4 inch twill tape the length of the roll line curve.

under collar with interfaced collar stand and twill tape

8.  Stitch the twill tape into position keeping tape taut while stitching.  Stitch successive lines in the shape of the roll line at 1/8 inch intervals.

apply twill tape and stitching lines

9.  These stitching lines will be concealed when the collar is applied, provided the roll line was correctly placed (reason for step 4.).

collar stand stitching

10.  Once the collar stand has been stitched, press the under collar along the roll line over the curve of a pressing ham.

press under collar along the roll line

11.   Pin under collar to a pressing ham and steam thoroughly.

steaming under collar

12.  Let undercollar rest over night on  pressing ham to set the shape permanently.

setting under collar shape

13.  Once the shape has been set, sew under collar to the garment neck line.

sew stitched under collar to garment neckline

14.  With tailoring completed, the collar stand should support the roll forming a gentle curve around the neck line.  completed under collar

Sewing A Tailored Coat

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Steampunkin’  into 2013

Christmas has come and gone, well… almost, (Happy Epiphany ) and I’ve been a been a bit lax about working on my coat-making tutorials during the holidays.  I’m finding that composing a tutorial is kind of like making the coat twice and not all that exhilarating especially after the fact.  🙂   I may write more later… if the mood strikes me, but for now I am happy to publish a photo my son took on Christmas Eve of me in my new coat.  His photos were much better than the ones I took,and I had to wait for him to send me copies, thus the delay in publishing.  

I am very pleased with the result of my labor and especially happy with the alteration I made to the collar shape.  The gray and silver have a certain refined-steampunk-Prussian military look that  I find rather fun.  It was an unexpected result, but it works for me! 

Charcoal Coat Completed


Coat Making – Anatomy of a tailor tack

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Long and Short of Pattern Marking

“So, what exactly is a tailor tack?” you may ask.  There are different kinds of temporary stitches that tailors use, but the kind of tack I will demonstrate in this tutorial is a loopy stitch used in marking darts and other key points in garment construction.  With advances in technology tailor tacks have somewhat fallen out of fashion in favor of easier marking methods, such as washable markers and those that disappear with heat.   These are great for most fabrics, but for woolens and the some of the more delicate materials that may not tolerate chemical markers, making hand applied tailor tacks provides a sound option.

A tailor tack is made while the tissue pattern in still pinned to the face fabric.  Begin by locating the circles marking the dart.  Take a stitch through all three layers bringing the needle back up through to the surface leaving a 1 1/2″ – 2″ tail.

tailor tack

Repeat this step creating a large loop of thread of thread.  Snip off to create another tail.

making a tailor tack

Snip loop in center.

tailor tacks

Completed tailor tack.

creating a tailor tack

Repeat this process for each circle marking in the dart.

Imaking a tailor tack

Once darts and other desired marking are completed carefully remove tissue pattern piece.

making tailor tacks

The remaining two pieces of face fabric are joined by the tailor tack.  Gently lift the top piece from the bottom piece and clip the threads to release the two pieces being careful not to dislodge the marking threads.

making tailor tacks

With tailor tacks completed, I am now ready to apply interfacing to the face fabric.

Until next time, happy sewing!

Coat Making – Fabric Preparation

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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!

Sewing – A New Coat By Christmas

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The Race Is On

Coat Making Under Pressure

There’s nothing like a deadline to help me get going on a project.  After re-working my red melton coat a few weeks ago, I thought it would be nice to have another one over the same pattern to wear for Christmas.  I’ve been procrastinating both because I’ve been busy, but also because I feel a little daunted at the prospect of ironing on all that interfacing, making patch pockets and flaps, doing a set of bound buttonholes not to mention all the other little details that a well-tailored garment require. I began by going through my fabric stash; there I had a nice piece of charcoal coating perfect for what I needed.  Next step was to find buttons, coat lining and something interesting for the collar.  So far so good.

Charcoal coat supplies

I have already started and hope to add mini-tutorials and tips for those of you who may have never made a coat before and would like to.  I am still learning to navigate my way through the maze of widgets, categories and the like; if I can figure all that out, I will be posting them under “Tricks of the Trade” so that they are easily accessible… but you may have to bear with me on that for a bit.   🙂

Coat Making Tutorial – part 4 coat linings

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A Classic Pea Coat

Lining and Interior Finish

I selected a polyester fabric with a satin finish for my lining.   I actually prefer rayon linings especially when working with natural fibers, but I wasn’t able to find  the color I needed to complement the face fabric, so I opted for a synthetic.  In this tutorial, I will go over how to put in a lining with emphasis on  finishing details.

Step 1.  Once the lining is assembled, top stitch the seam line of the sleeve sewing on the sleeve piece (not the body of the lining) catching the seam allowance underneath.

Step 2.  With stitching completed,  turn to the inside and trim away the excess seam allowance.

Step 3.  On right side of fabric, pinch press seam and roll stitched line into sleeve.

Step 4.  Press entire seam to encourage the sleeve to roll towards the sleeve edge to create a smooth interior finish.  This helps the lining “ride” over the interior seam of the coat sleeve.

This shows the nice clean line you will get once it has been pressed.

Step 5.  Double breasted garments often include interior buttonholes on the inside facing to hold the front of coat in place.  Sew in buttonholes before attaching lining (it’s a lot easier before than after).  I use my machine for  buttonholes, because they will not be seen when wearing.Careful measuring for proper alignment is very important in this step.  

Step 6.  Attach back facing to collar at the neckline edge using hand stitching.

Step 7.  Insert shoulder pads and hand stitch into position.

Step 8.  Press 5/8 inch seam allowance under on sleeve edges and at the bottom of the lining before attaching it to the coat.

Step 9.  Pin lining to interior front and neck facings and stitch into position.

Step 10.  Use a machine basting stitch to sew in the lining in.  A long stitch is easier to remove for alterations or lining replacement. Leave an opening near the bottom of the front facing as shown below.

Step 11.  Turn lining to right side out and lightly press edges down, being careful not to over press.  Stitch lining at hem edge first and press, Then slip stitch down on both front facings as shown below.

Step 12.  Sew interior buttons into position using a flat button utility button.

Step 11.  Sew fashion buttons on front of coat paying careful attention to alignment.

Step 12.  Take to dry cleaners for a final press.  A professional press really adds to the look of the garment by smoothing out all construction wrinkles.  It is a must for any tailored garment.

So, it’s off to the cleaners.  Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Coat Making Tutorial – part 3 Bound Buttonhole

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Bound Buttonhole Finish

Now that I’ve completed my buttonholes I need to finish them on the inside of the garment.  Again, there are a couple of ways that I know of to accomplish this, and I will show you the method that works best for me.

Step 1.  Match up the front inside facing with the buttonholes and mark their positions.  I always do this by lining up the facing to the buttonholes, because there can be slight variations between the pattern markings and your actual buttonhole.  Once marked, cut a piece of silk organza in a strip (or if you prefer individual pieces) and pin it to the right side of the coat front.

2.  On the wrong side of the coat front, stitch in small stitch length a box the length and width of the buttonhole.

3.  Once stitched, cut through the organza and coat fabric down the center of the box creating a triangle cut at each end of the buttonhole.

4.  Cut through the organza strip which will allow you to turn the fabric through the buttonhole to the inside.

5.  Press organza away from opening to create a window and baste into position creating a firm rectangular opening.

6.  Once windows are completed, line the facing up with coat front to make sure windows line up with buttonholes.

7.  When front facing has been applied, stitch window to the back of the buttonhole with tiny hand stitching.  I like to go around twice, just to make sure the facing is secured firmly in place.  Steam lightly, being careful not to over press.  Overpressing will cause the inner work to show through on the front side and should be avoided.

8.  The hand stitching takes a little patience, but the result is well worth the time.  It almost looks nice enough to be on the outside.

close-up view

Voila – done!

I hope this tutorial was helpful.

Now it is on to completing the lining and inserting shoulder pads.  Then to the cleaners for a final press ( a must with all tailored garments).  I can’t wait to finish it and show you the final product.  Until then,  Happy Sewing!

Coat Making Tutorial – part 2 Bound Buttonholes

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Tales from the Bound Buttonhole

The first bound buttonhole I ever attempted was in a Clothing and Textiles class my freshman year in college.  It was, as they say, an exercise in futility, as my 18-year-old brain was simply not geared for the rigors of buttonhole science .   That early experience caused me to avoid the dreaded things for years to come; I was convinced I wasn’t up to the job.   Not so, as I shall now show you.

A great lesson I learned from my college experience is that there are alternative methods to getting a desired result.  If one method doesn’t work for you, try another until you find one that does.  The method I will demonstrate here works for me and I hope it will give those of you who may like to learn the art of creating a beautiful couture buttonhole some tips for success.

1.  I begin the process by carefully marking the button layout.  Always make your buttonhole 1/8 inch larger than your button measurement. Some button styles require more ease, but 1/8 is adequate for most buttons.

2.   Machine (or hand) baste over buttonhole width so that placement line shows through to front side of fabric.  Cut a 2″ x 2″ bias square for each buttonhole.  The bias creates the piping in the buttonhole and can be in a contrasting fabric if desired.

3.   Steam and stretch bias strips in both directions to eliminate the “give” in the fabric.

4.  Place bias strips on the right side of the garment over the basting lines and pin in place.  Be sure to have right side of garment and bias strips facing each other.

5.  On the wrong side, machine baste on the buttonhole line as originally marked in step 1.  Once basted, shorten stitch and sew 1/8 inch on either side of basting line being very careful to keep both lines even at buttonhole end.  Good markings really help with accuracy in this step.  Once stitched, remove basting thread on bias strip and cut through the center of strip.

6.  On wrong side, cut down center line, carefully snip to left and right corner creating a triangle at both ends.


7.  Turn the bias strip through the hole to create piping edges.

8.  Hand stitch piping into place being sure to catch inside edges within the piping.  Conceal stitches in the “ditch” of the seam line.

9.  Once piping has been stitched into position, baste the piped edged together to secure for next step.

10.  When piping is secured, turn to inside and machine stitch the triangles created in step 6 at each end with a small stitch.  This is an important step both for creating a nice clean edge on the end of the buttonhole and also for giving strength and durability.

When triagles on both ends are stitched, remove basting stitches on piped edges.  Trim excess from bias strip and lightly tack down.

trim and tack

Voila!  There you have it… a bound buttonhole.

Here are the four that I made for my coat.  As you can see, each one has its own personality, and that’s the beauty of a handmade garment.

Next time I will show you how to complete an interior finish for your buttonhole.  Until then, happy sewing!

Sewing with Fleece

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Preferring tailored clothing, I’m not usually drawn to synthetic outer wear fabrics, but I just couldn’t resist this charming fuzzy-floral-fleece in pink and gray.  I had it in my stash and kept it in reserve waiting for inspiration to surface.  I know it’s not particularly suitable to use a knit for a structured coat, but I could totally visualize this fun fabric as a coat and I was willing to take the risk.  And here is the result of my venture into sewing with synthetic fleece.  I love it!

I used Vogue 2472 coat pattern and interfaced it with a soft interfacing appropriate for knitted fabrics.

For lining the body of the jacket I used a gray polyester lining fabric

and a bit of pink for the pockets (using up pieces from my scrap pile).

I covered the large silver snaps in pink duppioni silk (I know, I know, but I couldn’t help it).

The collar is designed to lay flat

or stand-up, a feature I really appreciate as my neck tends to get cold easily on chilly days.
 And what I like most of all is that the jacket is warm and feels like you’re wrapped in a blanket …

 

while still retaining some style, fit and fashion.

Go Beaver football!