Friday, June 6, 2008

Mary OK: Virtual Coat

I've decided to add a real winter coat to my sewing this summer, in addition to the red Burda trench. As I was looking at swatches at, my daughter said she wanted a coat, too. A purple one!

But I have an injured hand that I must rest for several more weeks before I start sewing again. I can still collect materials, steam fabric (with my good hand), and do minor prep work. But I am itchin' to get going!

So I've started a little virtual coat project over at my blog. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Fabricluver: Mohair - trueing up grain & underlining/ Trench fabric

Mohair - I pulled a hair - umm, a thread

I was all set to take a picture of the mohair and explain that pulling a thread couldn't be done since it was so fuzzy. I had to pin it to the curtains so I could see light coming through but I finally did it. It took several tries and I actually had to pick it out because of the fuzz but that is done.

Now the question: Sandra Betzina in More Fabric Savvy says "underlining is not recommended because mohair will sag over the underlining in time. Lining is optional but it must hang free at the hem." Nancyk mentioned this earlier so now I'm not sure what to do. I made DD a jacket last year from this fabric and I did attach the lining hem. I will have to ask her how it looks now. Her jacket is short - probably at high hip level so that may not tell us much. Any suggestions on how I should go? I will be glad to mail someone a piece of this if it will help.

Trench Fabric - I have the black/plaid. Does this need to be trued up? Should it be dry cleaned before hand?

I apologize if these answers have been posted and I missed them.

Heidi's coat plans...and cry for help!

I am so happy (and simultaneously scared) to be part of this sewalong. I have been wanting to make a winter coat for a couple of years, but it seemed too big a project to tackle on my own without the guidance of an expert or teacher. I consider myself an advanced beginner, but I am willing to take on the challenge of creating a tailored winter coat.

I need your help.
It gets very, very cold in my neck of the woods in the winter. I live in Wisconsin and have family in northern Minnesota who I visit every Christmas, so I need a WARM coat. I also take the bus to work and have to stand outside a couple times a day. Therefore, I need/want a double-breasted coat to prevent any wind from getting to my torso. I also want a coat that's about upper-knee length to cover my thighs (why do upper thighs get so cold when there is so much fat there???).

With this in mind, I selected two patterns. The first is out-of-print Vogue 1266. I am looking at the two double-breasted styles (the blue one and the black one with the fur collar).

I'd have to shorten it and eliminate some of the flare on the bottom. I don't care for the fact that the princess seams go into the sleeve. I have quite broad shoulders and this style always makes me look broader than I am. (I am a true inverted triangle.) It did receive a good reviews on, so that is encouraging.

My second pattern, and the one I am leaning toward, is Burda 8171.

I like that it has shoulder princess seams. I also think the trench-style collar (with a large space at the notch area) might make it easier to button up to the top and flip up the upper collar so that it covers my ears and neck a bit. I think I'd have to add an extra set of buttons so that it has three sets instead of two. Does it look too robe-like to you? I doubt I'd add the belt.

My questions to you guys are:

1) Do you see the benefits of one pattern over the other, given my climate, body shape, and sewing skills?

2) What fabrics should I look for to make this a warm coat? I know I want something that won't be too scratchy, as I will be flipping up the collar to keep my ears warm. Is flannel too light? I don't know the difference between regular wool, melton, and flannel.

3) I should plan to underline/interline with flannel and line with a Kasha-type lining, right?

Sorry for the long post! Thanks for your help!

Q&A #2

NancyK brought up the prospect of walking ease in the comments. This is something I hadn't thought of, as I have had a tendency in the past to make coats with really full skirts that don't need it, and this is a custom technique that I did not learn way back when. Anyway, in her book Couture: The Fine Art of Sewing Roberta Carr does a very nice job explaining the concept and the way to figure how much you'll need and the other changes you need to make, to incorporate walking ease into your pattern. If you can get your hands on it for the directions and formula for figuring, and you're making a straight coat of a solid fabric that could use the walking ease, then by all means, do.

Els brought up a good point in the comments, which I've added to the instructions above: Draw your horizontal lines on your pattern tissue for your waist and hip lines, across all pieces, then transfer those lines to your muslin also.


Lisa: I have straight shoulders and a small bust (A cup); however, I am considering not making a bust adjustment. Will this make a huge difference in the fit of my coat? (Vogue 8346)

Marji: You are making a shoulder princess line coat. The adj for A cup can be made during fitting the muslin; don't worry about that in the flat pattern stage.

Lisa said: Marji, I am 6' tall. Which will give me the better fit:

1) adding 3 inches to the hem or
2) adding 3 inches at the waist where it shows the lengthen here or
3) dividing up and adding 1 inch at the high chest, 1 inch at the waist and 1 inch at the hem?

Marji: To illustrate I'm using this measuring guide photo from the Threads website (and I've seen it in several books as well).

You should take length measurements that include:
  • back-neck to waist, (that would be line J except in the back),
  • waist to finish length along line I (at side seam)
  • waist to hip (line H)
  • and draw a horizontal line at B—around the fullest part of the bust—and get a measurement from back neck to the bustline.
That last measurement is important, because it will tell you if you're long and need a longer armscye. You can also probably answer that by answering whether your armscyes usually bind. I had a student in a class once, Beth, who was 6'1" and when we lengthened the line between the neck and bustline she was amazed that for the first time ever, she ended up with an sleeve that wasn't binding in the armscye. And she was an A cup.

You will want to then draw corresponding horizontal lines on your pattern at the bustline, at the waist, and at the hip. Now compare your length measurements to the pattern, and for a coat, allow 1/2" wearing ease for above the waist in length, and none below.

I sincerely doubt you need to add a full inch between the bust and the neck edge, but you might need 1/2" to 3/4". You'll want to add that at the level of the armscye notches.

Then split the sleeve cap at the same place, and add the same amount. Next, add the remaining length you need, additional, in your torso to the lengthen here line on your pattern tissue.

Where you need to add from waist to hem for length is a judgment call based upon your style and preference. If it's a full-skirted style and you want to maintain the original design's fullness at lower edge, you'll cut the pattern apart on the "lengthen here" line in the skirt and separate it, then true up your lines.
If it's a straight skirt design you may add it mid-pattern or at the hem. If it's a full skirt or an A-line and you want the fullness to increase corresponding to your height—and sometimes this is preferable—then you'll add at the hemline, extending at the same angle as the skirt is currently drawn. Note that depending on how much you add in length and the angle the skirt is cut, you might end up needing a significant amount of extra fabric.

I've got an 8-gore skirt pattern that I've made many times. I added 7" to the length, and because I wanted the skirt to maintain the same design lines, I added at the hem and continued the cutting line along the same angle. By doing that my width at skirt hem is a multiple of what it was originally, and I use significantly more fabric than the pattern called for - a whole skirt length more.

Nancy remarked that you can split your muslin for length, which is true. However, you need enough length so that you really should do some flat pattern altering first—especially in the bodice.

Sigrid asked about the muslin and the 2-pc sleeve:
Marji: Go ahead and cut the body of the muslin if you want now. I've had some medical things come up in relation to my fall last month, and have had to have some evaluations today. It's all ok, but it's put me behind a bit. I'll not be able to get to the diagramming a 2-pc sleeve until early next week.

Liana writes:
I have shortened between the bust point and shoulder with good results and done the same to the sleeve. I just measured a Marfy pattern before altering, and I note the bust point is just right now. Can I just cut out the armscye and shorten it and tape it back together? (In the back I'll fold all the way across.)
Should I do this alteration to a coat pattern at all, or should I just be glad to have the extra depth in the armscye so I can wear big sweaters under the coat?
Marji: Is the extra length between the shoulder and bust point more than 1/2"? All the sources I've consulted say that 1/2" extra length in the bodice is desirable for ease of movement and wearing over clothing. If it's more than 1/2" then I'd take up the length and know that you can add it back by splitting your muslin if necessary.
Melissa Fehr Trade: Marji - you say to interface the entire front, and I agree 100% for short jackets, but what about a long coat? My chosen pattern goes below the knee, and that seems like an awful lot of support... Should I really interface the entire front of it, or stop at the waist or hip? thanks
Marji: Good question, in my mind's eye, when I wrote this, I was specifically seeing princess seamed coats. The interfacing piece will be cut to the width of a princess seam full length from CF to side front, then across the top all the way to the armscye. It should be wide enough to support the pockets too.
Mary OK: Do I understand correctly that in the muslin stage, I do not have to add the seam allowances to my traced burda pattern? I will trace the stitching line onto the muslin, then cut 1" seam allowances on the sides and sleeves, 1.5" on shoulders, add hem allowance, etc. If the fitted muslin becomes the pattern, it seems like extra work without benefit to trace seam allowances on the pattern. Not that I am lazy, I'm just looking for a way to streamline the process!
Marji: Exactly MaryOK, in fact, I'm going to the trouble on some of my American patterns to actually cut the seam allowance off.

Dawn: Yikes, the more I read, the more scared I get. When my wool gets here, I don't know that I'll know what "makes it work" in the fabric store.
Marji: Dawn, and everyone else who's feeling intimidated, it's your coat. Only you know, when you layer the fabrics together and feel them all piled up on each other, if the feel is pleasing to you, or if it's too stiff or too soft, or too something. All I can do in this format is try to describe what I'm looking for, and hopefully you'll be able to take this information and do some experimenting yourself, and come up with a combination that works for you.

In an email someone asked me if she did need all this stuff that isn't listed on the pattern envelope, (I'm assuming items like sleeve heads, stay tape, wigan, etc.) The guidesheets that come with patterns now are pretty basic and don't include many steps that would be included in a fully tailored garment. The purpose, I assume, of joining the Guided coat sewalong is to make a coat that does include the tailoring and elements that you won't find on the guidesheet. You can get the same information and make your coat the same way we're constructing these by reading any good tailoring reference (see reference sources in another post). But you won't get it from the pattern guidesheet. Short answer is, yes, you do need these items.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thoughts on The Fitting Muslin

This is the process I go through to create a fitting muslin. It's not quick and dirty, but it will yield a well fitting garment. It's not a process I go through for every garment I make either—just so that you know that I'm not completely crazy.

In a post to follow soon, I plan to document step-by-step the muslin process that I go through to fit a coat or jacket. I'll illustrate this post with photos. If you're feeling like "it's the first of June and I'm ready to go", and you don't need illustrated steps, then here are the steps involved:

  1. Measure your pattern tissue. If you're using an American pattern you'll need to first draw the seam allowances on the pattern tissue, so that you measure only the actual garment pieces, not the seam allowances. If you're using Burda or Marfy or Patrones, you're in luck because these patterns don't include preset seam allowances.

  2. Determine if you need to make pattern alterations. You'll need to make the same alterations you normally do. For example, if you typically do an FBA, adjust for length or a sway back, etc., you'll need to do that here too.

  3. Determine how you want your coat to fit. Snug? Loose? This is a personal choice. Wearing ease for a fitted coat will be minimum of 4" in the bust (circumference), minimum of 2" at the waist, and 5"-6" at the hip. Minimum ease for the sleeve, at the bicep is also 4". If you're planning to wear your coat over a suit everyday to work, plan on 6" at the bust, 4-5" at the waist, and 6-8" at the hip. These are minimums for wearing ease, and do not account for style/design ease. Those of you making full skirted coats such as Vogue 8346 may have 4" ease at the bustline and 10" or more at the hip. Be sure to check lengths too—back neck length, sleeve length, overall length.
Once you've altered your pattern in the flat tissue stage then you're going to want to lay it out on your muslin, leaving room for 1" seam allowances on all your vertical seams, and 1.5 to 2" seam allowances at the shoulder. I would add 1" seam allowances on the sleeves also.

You'll be transferring to the muslin every stitching line, every mark, every match point on your pattern, as well as the grain line for every piece. Draw your horizontal lines on your pattern tissue for your waist and hip lines, across all pieces, then transfer those lines to your muslin also. I use a tracing wheel and large sheets of wax tracing paper (link in a previous post on sources) to do this. You'll also want to cut out your collar, pocket welts, and any other relevant pieces.

After you've got your garment fitting properly you can add the collar and the welts or patch pockets and evaluate them for proportion to your body, placement, etc.


When the muslin is first put together it will look something like this:

(My sister probably wouldn't appreciate being used as a model here, but this is a closed blog, and these pics have appeared before. This picture was taken during a long-distance fitting session. I was drawing on the pics and sending them back to her so that the next correction could be made. This was early on in the process of making a fitted jacket—the princess seam still needed to be moved, the shoulder extended too far out and also needed moving forward—but it was a process.)

You can see the 1" seam allowances. You can also see that I not only traced the stitching lines and markings onto the muslin, but where I needed them to show on both the right side and the wrong side I stitched my lines on the muslin.


To show you where we're eventually going with this:

Above is a muslin that I fit for myself. After the fitting I cut the muslin apart on the altered stitching lines, and am using that as the pattern piece to lay out and cut this houndstooth fabric. You'll notice the original pattern stitching lines that I marked (what you're looking at here is the back). I needed to let out a bit in the hip and take in a bit in the waist. At the hemline I ended up sewing on another piece of muslin because I didn't like the length on the original pattern. The red horizontal line is just added fabric.

In this photo above, the muslin is ready for thread tracing on the seam lines, and then cutting apart, adding seam allowances.


To many of you, this is old hat. But if this looks intimidating to you, don't worry. I will be breaking it down into steps with photographs so that you can make your own muslin. NancyK, I'll also illustrate changing your princess seamline then.

And I'll take pics on the process of making a 2-piece sleeve from a one piece sleeve pattern.

Also in June we'll be trueing up the grainlines in all fabrics and preshrinking.

Making up the muslin and prepping fabric is all that's on the table here for the whole month of June, so you've got plenty of time to sew fun things to wear now and to go play and work and everything else you do.

Another source for muslin

Just an FYI for anyone who might still need muslin, Greenberg & Hammer has three different weights of muslin. The heavy weight is only $4.50/yd ($4.25 if you buy 10 yards). and do a search for muslin.

Mardel's Coat

I have known which fabric I was going to use for this coat since I signed up. Since I also knew that I had the lining and collar fabrics, I was in no rush to pull it off the shelf, but I finally pulled it out last night.

The "fabric" is made from yarn that has been looped and fused or felted together. The basic plan is to make a long, relatively straight coat with set-in or modified set-in sleeves, and a long shawl collar that runs the entire length of the coat. The collar will be made out of the gray flannel at the bottom right of the photo. The matching gray charmeuse will be the lining. I will have to combine two patterns (at least) to get the look I want. However, as I have been looking at this, other ideas have occurred to me. I am planning to muslin my original plan, and perhaps one or two other ideas (there are other coats in my future so I am not worried). More details can be seen on my blog.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Silver Threads' Coat(s)

I sewed a coat last year and had so much fun that I gave the coat to my sister in order to justify why I needed to sew a new coat this year. So I've splurged and I'm really sewing three coats, tho I realize I probably won't finish them all. My criteria for the coats is that they are fun to wear and fashionable. I'm not looking for conservative or warmth, but rather something I'd never buy off the rack because I'm too practical. To me, that's the reason I sew-- to indulge my creative spirit.

The first coat I'm sewing is a Burda pattern -- Burda 8292. I'm using a bright orange cashmere/wool blend purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics. (Above left is prototype)

The second coat I'm sewing is a paisley trench coat from Simplicity 4084. I was able to get enough paisley trench material from Textile Studio to do the job. The prototype for the trench in the paisley fabric is below.

Then finally, thanks to this board, I was able to get Burberry fabric from Michael's ( what customer service!!!) to complete Simplicity 3672 (I think...) which is a longer coat in a different trench style. I'm contemplating doing this coat in denim, instead since I also want an over-the-top denim coat to wear this fall. Still undecided on this one. In the meantime, though, I will have this wonderful red burberry fabric in my stash for something else.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Supplies for Aussies and NZ'ers

I am planning to go visit a tailoring supplies shop in the Nicholas Building in Swanston Street Melbourne. I can't remember their name but I am pretty sure they should have everything we need. If anyone else would like me to buy for them, please leave me a note in the comments. I won't be going until maybe late next week.

Linda (Danville Girl) Fabric choice made and ordered

I will be making the McCall's coat but I will not be making the red view. I want to change things up so will be making View A, blue one. I will also be making it in blue, a royal blue. I just ordered my fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics, taking advantage of her sale price. Gosh, I feel like I am making progress. My McCall's pattern arrived today. Hopefully once the fabric arrives I will be able to find the right lining fabric and color.


Just for Fun

New Poll on the sidebar - Where In the World Are You?
(apologies to those that I've lumped together for purposes of brevity on the poll - we all know you're distinct countries - I just didn't want the poll to run along forever)

UK interlining and lining sources

Following Kay Y's experience with the 150gsm Thinsulate, I rang up Pennine Outdoor who stock it here in the UK and got their advice on suitable warm interlining fabrics. They stock a huge range of outdoor and sport fabrics, so I spoke to a lovely lady on the phone who helped me through my choices. She ultimately recommended microfleece as the best warm, lightweight, and draping choice for me, but conceded that it wasn't windproof (but that using a silk twill lining would probably help the wind anyway). The only windproof fabric they stock is very bulky and doesn't drape nicely, and when I enquired about Meraklon, she said that it was tubular and stretchy and also had a bad drape and that it was more suitable for linings of close-fitting garments. So if anyone else had their eye on Thinsulate, you might want to consider microfleece instead, and I'm going to place my order later today.

My other fact-finding phone call was to Broadwick Silks here in London (a sister store to the Silk Society and I was told they stock the same fabrics). After a long search online for a UK supplier of silk twill for my lining, I was only able to find undyed silk twill, and though the swatch is lovely, the silk hand dying process looks a bit too daunting for me. Broadwick Silks don't list their inventory online, but when I rang, they said they have a lightweight silk twill in ivory, or heavier silk twill in about ten colours, of which they're sending me swatches (and hopefully prices!). I believe they do phone orders, too, so if anyone outside London is looking for silk twill for their linings also, they might be a good alternative to overseas shipping.

Edit: The swatches arrived the very next day!

Starting from the top left:
1-4 (orange, yellow, teal, burgundy) £50 per metre, 150cm wide
5 (brick) £45 per metre, 140cm wide
6 (dark grey) £35 per metre, 140cm wide
7 (silver) £69 per metre, 140cm wide
8 (putty) £45 per metre, 140cm
9 (emerald) £35 per metre, 140cm

WOW. My jaw literally dropped open when I saw the prices. Then I laughed. I guess it's overseas shipping for me anyway, as there's no way I can afford £100 (~$200) JUST on the lining fabric!!

(And out of curiosity's sake, are there any other UK participants here, or am I just talking to myself?)

Vicki's coat

My criteria for my coat:

  • Stash fabric only.
  • I want it to look good with jeans.
  • It needs to be trendy (but not too trendy)
  • I want it to be fitted.
  • Would like to use a pattern I already have.

I don't need a coat to go over suits as I drive to work and park in the same building. And really, in Melbourne it is not that cold except on those frosty mornings...brrr. So I would like a more fitted coat that works with tops and knitwear and looks great with jeans. I doubt I will need to under/interline it, but will take advice here.

The stash fabric selected is a maroon/Burgundy wool cashmere blend and the lining is a patterned viscose.

They were bought together a couple of years ago at the Alannah Hill outlet called Clear It. I love all things Alannah but find her clothes are too over the top for me. So, I like to take elements from her designs and make them my own - i.e. tone them down a bit!

I only have 2 metres (150 cm wide) so the coat will be short. I am thinking something waisted with a fullish skirt. I have Vogue 8299 that I could use for the top half and draft a skirt to that. The size of the skirt would be determined on how much I can get from the 2 metres!

View B (the red one) uses 1.4 metres which would only give me .6 to fashion a skirt.

To make it a bit more interesting, I would like to do some blue stitching on the outside on the seams to echo the blue lining and to give the maroon colour a bit of a lift.
I am looking forward to working on this with all of you. Thanks Marji!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ann's Coat

Since this coat adventure started I kept reading everyone's post and was getting very nervous that I still had not found my fabric. So today I was going to find something.....and I did.
I was being very stubborn and wanted to buy my fabric here instead of ordering on line. Only because I wanted to feel the fabric before I bought it. So the choice was limited because where I live the winter fabrics are not out, all but one little table of about 10 - light to medium weight wools -that was it.
Not exactly the wools I was looking for but what I found I truly like. So I just changed my plan from a heavy winter coat to a lighter fall- to mild winter coat. It was very hard to photogragh this fabric.

This fabric is somewhat medium weight. The colour is a dark charcoal with specs of different colours running thru it. The red is a bright red, not pink as it appears in the picture. I was actually going to be bold,(for me) and get the matching red Kasha lining, but at the last minute went for the grey tone, which matches perfectly with the grey in the fabric.
This picture below shows up the colour more accurate. I love the colours, the feel and the weight of this fabric. It will make a very comfortable coat.

However - I am still very undecided on the pattern. It will be either Butterick 5145 (View B), McCall's 5247 (ViewC) or Neue Mode 23215 (view B). I bought enough fabric for whichever one. I'm leaning towards B5145? I would change the pockets to welt pockets with a flap.
I'm also still looking thru the few BWOF magazines I have just in case something catches my attention. All in all a great day! (Note: My final choice was Burda 7855 :)

Everyone has such nice fabrics and wonderful pattern choices. It will be great to see all these coats come to life.
Thank you again Marji for all the work you are putting into this Sew-Along!

(I will also be posting my progress on my blog.)

Guide: Choosing Interfacings

Understanding Interfacings

"An interfacing is a layer of fabric between the facing and outer layer of a garment. Its purpose is to add any needed firmness, strength, or stability, while adding as little bulk as possible."

Interfacings are either woven, non-woven, knit, or weft insertion interfacings. Wovens can be either sewn-in or fusible. Non-wovens are not something we need to be concerned about when making a coat, and knit and weft insertion (or textured weft—I use the terms interchangeably—probably shouldn't) interfacings are primarily fusibles.

Traditional tailoring is done with traditional materials and sewn-in interfacings. However, in light of today's improved processes for creating quality fusibles, and in consideration of time and cost, even high-end designers are using some fusibles in their pret-a-porter jackets and coats now. I understand that such sewing luminaries as Nancy Erickson have also had great success tailoring with fusibles, even on cashmere.

I'm going to present both options, and it's up to you to decide. Are you going to speed tailor using fusible interfacings, or are you going to traditionally tailor using sewn-in interfacings? Or are you going to do a combination of both? You have to balance your time with the amount of work you want to put into this garment and make your own decision. Either way, with care and good workmanship, you'll end up with a garment to be proud of.

In the Feb/Mar 1990 issue of Threads Claire Schaeffer took apart a Dior RTW suit and analyzed the combination of fusible and sewn-in interfacings used. In the April/May 1999 issue Marci Tilton dissected an Armani jacket, which used primarily fusibles, and outlined the process in an article which is reprinted on their site.

Illustration belongs to Taunton Press, "Armani Jackets: The Inside Story"

Click on the photo to link to the article. If you want to speed-tailor with fusibles, this article is a must-read. I've successfully used that method making a silk tweed suit last year.

All that out of the way, I'm a traditionalist at heart. I love the process, and I personally just can't imagine putting my luscious 100% cashmere fabric into the Elnapress with a piece of fusible interfacing, so I'll be using sewn-in hair canvas to interface, and woven fabrics to underline.

Where to Apply Interfacing

Areas that will be interfaced:
  • front

  • side front if there is a pocket that extends across a princess seam—either patch or welt pocket

  • back stay—shoulder area across the back. This may be hair canvas or tightly woven muslin or a weft insertion fusible

  • pockets, collars

  • hems will either be interfaced with a bias strip of hair canvas or with the wiggan I've already specified.

Make sure when buying interfacing you buy enough—don't count on your pattern envelope to allow enough for a fully interfaced garment. All too often the pattern companies are just figuring enough interfacing to have you cut the front facing and collar.

Determining the Right Interfacing Weight

The weight of interfacing you choose will be determined by the weight and the weave of your fashion fabric. The lighter weight your coating fabric, presumably the lighter your interfacing will be.

Here's a test to help you select interfacings: Layer a piece of your fashion fabric, underlining or interlining if you're using one, the interfacing you're considering, and then sandwich another piece of your fashion fabric around the back. Now roll this over your hand. Does the whole feel pleasing and balanced? Does the interfacing support the fabric over your roll line? Does the weight of the fabric cause the roll line to collapse? You need a heftier interfacing. Try a midweight or heavyweight interfacing. Does the interfacing make the roll line feel rigid? Try a lighter weight interfacing.

Recall the words of Adele Margolis that I quoted at the top of the post about Linings. Your coat shouldn't feel like a suit of armor! Go with the interfacing that gives enough support without overwhelming your coat.

If you're using a fusible to interface, you will want to cut a 6"x8" piece of your fashion fabric, then fuse a 4x6 piece of the interfacing, then fold the rest of the facing piece over, then evaluate using the same criteria as above. You may be using a fusible textured weft insertion product to underline. In that case, fuse your fashion fabric before testing the interfacings.

I can easily see a coat that is fused with Armo-weft as an underlining, then has fused woven interfacing through the lapel and collar area. Just test all your pieces together before cutting to make sure that you don't have a rigid piece that will stand on its own.

What I Know About Fusible Interfacings

You really need to test fuse to know what the result will be.

I just found out why Whisper-Weft ends up more firm than Armo-Weft, which I've experienced empirically, but it's been counter-intuitive so I've always doubted my senses. Whisper-Weft is a softer knit base, Armo-Weft is a heavier knit base, so the expectation is that Whisper-Weft would yield a softer fused fabric—wrong. The base is more closely knit on Whisper-Weft than Armo-Weft, so that when it's fused it actually yields a firmer fabric.

While not a fusible, here's an interesting little bit about the "hair" in hair canvas

"Cashmere fibers must be separated, either by combing out the down or by using a commercial dehairer on sheared fibers. The longest, finest down is used in knitted garments and the shorter down in woven fabrics. The separated guard hairs go into rugs or hair canvas used in tailored garments.

The majority of the world supply of cashmere has come from Afghanistan, Iran, Outer Mongolia, India, and China. In recent years, when these countries' political disarray disrupted cashmere supplies, manufacturers began looking for more stable sources.
New Zealand and Australia have been producing cashmere for more than a decade. Breeding selection began even some years earlier with captured feral (wild) goats." —click for the rest of the article from UC Small Farm Program USDA

1.Margaret Deck Komives in an article entitled "Making Sense of Interfacing" Threads Magazine issue 10 April 1987

Zoubida's Choices

I finally made my choices and like many others here, I can't settle for one. So I'll post the two coats here but I'll probably won't have time to make them both in the Great Coat Sew-Along time frame. I'm a slow-sewist and barely intermediate in skills.

So here how it goes :

First the Vogue 1032. This is a challenging pattern for my sewing skills. I'll have to practise few techniques I never used such as welt pockets, lapel, kimono sleeves with gusset and shoulder pads. Bound buttonholes are not yet a natural for me. I only did tests and never used them on a garement yet.

Also on my "possibles" is this one from Burda Moden December 1979. This one is seems an easier option but still calls for some interesting sewing techniques I want to explore, such as welt pockets and rows of topstitching. It doesn't have any closing except for a self-fabric belt which won't suit my body type. I'll have to figure something out because no closing is not an option in winter here. The pattern doesn't call for a lining, that too isn't an option. Lined it'll be.
I already made choices of fabric for both, just in case I can make the two of them. No picture of them yet since they are ordered online and the supplier doesn't allow the use of photographs from its site.

I have prepared and set-up an on-line sewing journal few months ago and never wrote anything in it. I began today with the Great Coat Sew-Along subject and will continue to post about my progress there. It's not a Blogger's account so here's the link Journal d'activité - Sewing Journal.

Thank you Marji for this great journey you're offering us. And a special thanks to LindaF for helping in the administration of this blog.

Marji - I went shopping for underlinings

Yesterday the sun was shining in St Louis, it was a hot humid day, and most people were outside, doing whatever it is that people do outside on weekends. Perfect day for me to make a trip to the last independent all-purpose fabric store left in our area.
So I pulled out my 4 pieces of wool and trekked off to the store. Fortunately people were outside and the store wasn't busy, because I spent 2 hours and used up a whole (short) counter while I draped fabric over potential underlinings.

First up was my yummy piece of red cashmere (The Wool House, Toronto, 2005). It's a light-coat weight or heavy jacket weight. I unfolded the fabric, pulled some bolts of potential underlinings, and proceeded to unroll a bit of each of them in turn. First I would line up my selvage edges - potential underlining and cashmere, so that the grainlines matched, and then drape the fabrics over my arm, trying to come up with something I was happy with. I ended up with a piece of silk batiste that is light as air - matches the light-as-air feel of the cashmere, and the drape of the two are beautiful together. The silk batiste doesn't add any bulk or weight to the cashmere, yet it's tightly woven and will prevent any bag out at the elbow or undue stress on the cashmere. It was pricey - but so was the fabric.

Moving on to the Purple Ungaro felted wool. This piece of fabric is a mystery to me.
I've got to get a crosswise picture to insert here. It's dense, but the loft on the fabric is thinner than a dime. It's got a soft-finish feel to it, but is as tight as a worsted.
I expected, because of the thin-ness of the fabric, to end up with a china silk or a batiste. I was really leary of putting a cotton underneath it, because I don't want any wrinkle show-through and this fabric is fine enough to show what's underneath. (ohh, shades of challenges to come with this one - everything I put into it is going to have to be thought out and well done so that it doesn't look a mess). Well, this stuff is heavier than I thought. China silk, silk batiste, cotton batiste, all collapsed and didn't do a thing for it. The salesclerk pulled out some Ambiance - I really don't want to deal with Ambiance as an underlining - and fortunately it didn't work either.
Cotton broadcloth was too -something. It just didn't feel right, and I've got that issue of cotton broadcloth and the wrinkle factor.
I ended up with something I totally didn't expect - a fairly stiff cotton voile. It's perfect!
And that is the advantage of being able to stand in a store and actually drape the yardage. I never in a million years would have guessed that I'd end up with a voile for this one.

Next up was the coating weight double faced wool/cashmere blend that is a new piece, ordered for this project from Gorgeous Fabrics. It's the heaviest of all the wools I've got. I didn't think I was going to want to underline it at all - then I tried the knuckle test. In a corner that I won't end up using, I put the fabric over my knuckle and pressed hard. I ended up with a deformed bubble in the fabric - which is still there. I really don't want my elbows to look like that after one season, so, to find an underlining which won't change the drape of the fabric, won't add bulk or warmth, yet will provide support.
Again, the salesclerk wanted me to try Ambiance. - why, I don't know. Come to find out, she doesn't sew with wool, has never underlined anything, and is a quilter. I could tell she must be a quilter because she was wanting to feel the fabric with the underlining in a little 2" square in her hand, whereas I wanted to drape a half a yard of it over my arm. This store has shifted focus in the last 5 years heavily towards quilting. Anyway, back to the burgundy piece of wool/cashmere. Again, cotton broadcloth was too heavy for what I want, this is to be a jacket. If it were a coat I would have tried cotton flannel, but I have a problem with being too hot - I need less, not more insulation. I tried the usual suspects and again, none were right. Then I decided to try Imperial Batiste. It's a high quality cotton poly blend and can be found in stores that sell fabrics for heirloom sewing (you know, smocking and lacey/embroidered baby/childrens clothing). I went over to that section of the store and pulled a Spechler-Vogel 100% cotton batiste and the Imperial Batiste.
The Imperial Batiste won, hands down. It provided the exact amount of support I wanted without changing the drape of the fabric.
I bought it in black for both the wool/cashmere blend and an old piece of wool plaid I had with me.

Sleeve heads

buried in the comments under supplies, Kay Y wrote:

I suspect Els' sleeve heads may be sold out in short order. Here is a tip for those of you who may miss out, or just to try. You can make your own curved sleeve heads from your coat pattern. If I can tell from the picture, the ones Els is selling are made from needlepunched fleece. I have used warm and natural (cotton) quilt batting which is about the same weight. Or you can use other fleecy products which are reasonably firm and aren't too stretchy, such as good quality felt, micro-fleece, polarfleece, other poly fleeces for quilting, etc. Use lighter weight fleece for lighter fabrics.

Using the sleeve cap pattern for the appropriate curve (always the right size), cut a strip approximately notch to notch or shorter, about 2" (5cm) wide. In the picture you can see that one end (front I believe) is tapered whereas the other is square. Make a snip to mark the top of the sleeve. I baste these inside the sewn-in sleeve, just inside the seam stitching.

May 31, 2008 12:29 PM

I thought it was worth bringing to the light of day.

A question was also asked, is a sleeve head necessary even if you're using a shoulder pad - quick answer is Yes!
The sleeve head supports the sleeve cap so that it doesn't collapse (ever seen someone wearing a coat and the top of the sleeve literally has caved in?). The shoulder pad gives shaping and definition and lift to the shoulder line. Both are necessary in every tailored jacket and coat you'll ever make.

Els is planning on writing a tutorial on the method of sewing a sleeve head in on the Sewing Diva's blog - watch for it. When the time comes, I'll link back to it too.

Picture belongs to Els, and shows the placement of the sleeve head. Notice the edge of the shoulder pad above?

online sources for interfacings - USA

I can only post about brands and sources that are in the USA - it's what I know. If you've got a list of sources/recommendations for international sources please go ahead and write a post to share, if you will.
Brands /Trade names

  • Hymo - hair canvas that is typically listed as 60% wool 40% goat hair in the natural colors (black has a different fiber content!) 66" wide, 3 weights, sew in or fusible. made in France
  • Acro - hair canvas 54% polyester. 27% hair. 12% cotton. 7% wool. 23" wide sew in or fusible
  • Silver edge Acro - hair canvas, sew in or fusible 33%viscose/20%wool/17%polyester/17%cotton/13%hair. Width, 20 in.
  • Tailors Pride Hair canvas - this one is all over the map on content 40% cotton/33% hair/27% rayon. med to heavy weight 23" wide at Sawyer Brook
  • More Tailors Pride hair canvas - 41% Acrylic/19% Hair/16% Polyester/15% Viscose/ 9% Cotton 23" Wide. dry clean. at Vogue Fabrics
  • see table at bottom for chart from HTCW - manuf of all of these products except the Hymo
  • Armo weft - see table
  • Whisper weft - see table
  • see source list for other weft insertion interfacings - Palmer Pletsch puts one out that is widely available in the chain stores.
Links for sources in no particular order:

Haberman's - black hair canvas $24/yd, Hymo in med and light weight $23.75/yd, and satin back coat lining in 10 colors

The Sewing Place - Hymo, weft insertion fusibles

B.Black & Sons - Hair Canvas

From Baer Fabrics - sew in flannel for interlining, 54" wide
They also have Acro - sew in only

Sawyer Brook - sew in and fusible acro and Tailors Pride for hair canvas and a variety of fusible knit and weft insertion products

Waechters Silk Shop - Armo-Weft in black and white (this link is for the black, but they have the white too.
Waechters Silk Shop - Fusible Acro

Vogue Fabrics
for light and med weight Hymo, fusible and sew in Acro, and Tailors Pride

Greenberg & Hammer Inc. Various weights Hymo, Acro, Armoweft
be sure to read the descriptions and contents for the various different interfacings you're considering.

Apple Annie Fabrics - Angel Weft

SewExciting -fusible weft - has excellent service and brands their own - highly recommended by Liana, (check out Liana's complete eval of their interfacings on her blog) - -hair canvas, sewn in
Susanne at Fine Fabrics emailed me to say that she has a high quality hair canvas in her shop. It's not on her website, so contact her for information.

Sew-in, machine washable hair canvas for tailoring.
54% Polyester/ 27% Hair/ 12% Cotton/ 7% Wool SEW-IN




25 YDS



Fusible, machine washable hair canvas for tailoring where firm control is desired
54% Polyester/27% Hair/ 12% Cotton/ 7% Wool FUSIBLE




25 YDS



Sew-in, hair canvas for crisp shaping.

41% Acrylic/ 19%Hair/ 16% Polyester/ 15%Rayon/ 9% Cotton





25 YDS



Fusible, medium weight, weft insertion interfacing for soft tailoring.
60% Polyester/ 40% Rayon FUSIBLE




25 YDS



Fusible, medium weight, weft insertion interfacing for soft tailoring.
60% Polyester/ 40% Rayon FUSIBLE




25 YDS



Fusible, lightweight, weft-insertion interfacing for soft tailoring.
60% Polyester/ 40% Rayon FUSIBLE




25 YDS



Fusible, lightweight, weft-insertion interfacing for soft tailoring.
60% Polyester/ 40% Rayon FUSIBLE




25 YDS