Saturday, September 13, 2008

a Q&A - Marji

From Melissa - The vintage diagram looks like you cut the underlining without s.a. and then hand stitch it to the s.a. of the fashion fabric, is that right? And I know I don't underline the sleeves, but what about where my coat crosses over itself for the double breast? It seems a bit unnecessary there if the wool is two layers already.

Making any garment involves making a series of decisions. The points you've brought up indicate you've thought this through, and I agree with your conclusions. If I were making the coat you're making, and adding a lofty interlining, I'd be tempted to underline the sleeves with something like cotton flannel (well preshrunk), and only use the interfacing for the front pieces since they overlap, as you indicated.
Then I'd construct the shell, and then mount the interlining as indicated in the picture I posted, using catch stitches and stitching it to the seam allowances.
If it were me, I'd probably add the underlining to the shell After the sleeves were in, after the sleeve heads and shoulder pads were in, but before the lining went in. It'll just be easier to work with without that interlining attached.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Order of Construction

There are or will be individual posts dealing with instructions for every phase mentioned here. This is just an order of construction to guide you along the way.

  1. Muslin for fit.
  2. Cut apart muslin to use as pattern OR transfer all changes to pattern tissue
  3. Cut fabric
  4. Cut underlining/interlining
  5. Make interfacing pattern pieces
  6. Cut interfacing/hair canvas
  7. Mount underlining to fabric
  8. Make Bound buttonholes in right front (if using bound buttonholes)
  9. Mount interfacing/hair canvas to front and shape with pad stitching
  10. Mount interfacing to undercollar and shape with pad stitching
  11. Stitch side front to front and make pockets.
  12. Stitch side back to back and mount shoulder interfacing/back stay
  13. Stitch shoulder seams and attach undercollar
  14. Attach front lapel/facing and upper collar
  15. Stitch side seams. Place wigan in preparation for hemming later. 15a. attach interlining layer to add warmth if you skipped the underlining in favor of a loftier interlining.
  16. Make sleeves.
  17. Set in sleeves
  18. Insert sleeve heads and place and insert shoulder pads
  19. Construct lining
  20. Insert lining
  21. Make hand or machine worked buttonholes if you didn't make bound buttonholes earlier.
Some of you may have other design elements to be concerned with, so be sure to think through your construction in light of your own coat and its particular design.

I'm seeing some posts saying that you're confused about cutting/underlining/interfacing and the tape/wigan/sleeve heads and shoulder pads and what to do with them. Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion.

as far as the supplies in your package:
  • The tape will come into play after pad stitching the lapel and collar.
  • The wigan is used to interface the jacket hem and sleeve hem, and is not coming into play yet. If you do not have the package, or wigan, you may want to cut bias strips of hair canvas, or save some of the hair canvas for bias strips to cut later, to interface your hems.
  • The sleeve heads and shoulder pads go in after the sleeves are set.

A word about progress - Marji

Marji, do you think you could dash off a post that offers words of encouragement to us novices out there? Speaking for myself, I am feeling a little overwhelmed. Some of this stuff just feels so advanced. It's not that the instructions aren't clear or that I don't understand what to do.... It just feels like I've never sewn anything of this magnitude before and I'm concerned I'm going to make some fatal error. For example, I don't usually have a fear of cutting fabric, but I keep putting off cutting out my coat.

This is an excerpt from an email I just received.

So I'm wanting to conduct an informal survey -

  • where are you in your coat construction?
  • Are you stuck? Do you feel ready to move along?
The muslin fitting stage extended beyond where I intended (my fault entirely for not keeping up with the timeline), and I think we lost some momentum.
I know several here have continued on and we've been treated to pictures of their progress.
Thank you to Gry, Kay and Jenny. Your coats are coming along fabulously. I appreciate the pictures and progress reports you've put up.

If you've finished your muslin but are reluctant to move ahead I'd like to offer these words of encouragement:
If you take it all step by step, and just do the next one, it'll all come together and soon you'll find it's just about done. Most of you are working with wool, and wool is wonderful to work with - and Very forgiving.
If your muslin fits or mostly fits and you're happy with it, then get it laid out and post a picture if you want someone else to check it before you cut.
As far as the underlining or interlining goes - which is the following step, just allot time. It's time consuming to lay the underlining over the fabric, hand stitch it together, and then thread trace all your lines. Not hard, just time consuming.
I put on an audible book and just have at it. Fortunately, I have a table that is the right height.
Break up the session by sitting down in between pieces to make some buttonhole samples.

My own progress
I've decided, working on my burgundy wool/cashmere jacket, that bound buttonholes are not appropriate for this quasi-military style jacket that has epaulets/belt/sleeve tabs and is double breasted. So I was able to move right on to the interfacing for the front. My buttonholes will be made at the end of construction.

Because I'm not confident of my ability to get wonderfully perfect straight lines doing my padstitching, since I don't do it every week, I draw lines in pencil on my hair canvas. This is commonly accepted practice.
My pattern didn't have a roll line.
I neglected to mark it before (remember my admonition to mark the roll line before taking your muslin apart? That's because I didn't! So I chose to draw the roll line from the large dot.
Last night, while watching Project Runway I got the first lapel padstitched. Then I draped it on my front, with the collar piece, holding all together, and realized that I should have chosen the straight mark as opposed to the round one. So, I added 3 lines. If you click on the picture to make it larger you'll see the merge of the two angles. I could have been really AR and taken it all apart, but I didn't. It's fabric. It'll roll.

Remember the dart that I cut out when I made the pattern? To stitch it I just butted the lines together and made a multiple stitch zigzag. Acceptable practice is to also butt the edges together and stitch over a piece of seam binding/hem tape.

If you've been hesitant to get started, in the words a certain athletic wear manuf: Just Do It!
If you have questions or concerns, just come on back in here and ask.

Guide: Underlining and Interlining

For the purposes of clarity I've isolated this part of the post from the post of July 30 on layout, since the information appears to have been buried too deep in the post. --Marji

For those using a sewn-in underlining for structural support:
Your next step is to cut out and mark your underlining using all the body pieces that will be underlined and not interfaced. This is typically:

  1. side back
  2. back
  3. upper sleeve
  4. under sleeve
  5. side front (unless you have a welt pocket extending into the side front, in which case you'll be interfacing and not underlining your side front.
I don't cut an underlining for the front, since the whole piece is being interfaced, and the support of underlining and interfacing would be a bit of overkill.

Ann wrote a nice tutorial about a month ago on underlining. I'd like to excerpt her instructions here regarding mounting the underlining to the face fabric.

From Ann:
Attaching the underlining
First - pretreat your underlining. Shrink it before you cut into it, so you don't have a disaster later. Also make sure you cut your underlining on the same grain as the fabric. For precision, use a single layer cutting layout for your underlining. After all, if you're taking the time to do an underlining, you might as well take the few extra minutes to get it perfect, right?

Once it's cut, I attach the underlining to the fabric by hand basting it to the body of the fabric. My basting stitches run parallel to the grain of the fabric. They are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, and I catch just a thread or two of my shell fabric at each stitch, as you can see here:

This takes time, but it's far superior to basting only at the seamlines, because it structurally reinforces the shell fabric. This is critical for areas that will receive a lot of stress from being bent and sat on, like elbows and rumps. It helps your fabric retain its shape. It's really, really important if you're using a cashmere or fur fabric, which has a tendency to bag out.

Thank you Ann!

Along with her mounting method, I like to stitch along the stitching lines too--which acts as thread tracing as well as holding the two layers together along the stitching lines.


For those using interlining to add warmth, not structural support:
You may attach your interlining, depending on what it is and how bulky it is, in one of several different methods. If you're just using a layer of cotton flannel I'd be tempted to treat it the same as underlining and use the method outlined above. If you're using Thinsulate or a fleece or lambswool as a layer for warmth, that layer is likely to be bulkier than you'll want in your seam allowances.

Below is a picture of how you may want to insert the interlining to keep it out of the seam allowances. The picture on the far left (in red) is an inside-out illustration of the coat with interlining, sans seam allowances, catch-stitched to the constructed body of the coat. I'd recommend waiting to cut the interlining until after the first garment fitting.

The Complete Book of Sewing

By Constance Talbot


If you're looking at Paco's tutorial, he's basted the interfacing on using a stitch that holds the interfacing in place securely, and will come out after the garment is stitched together.
If you're looking at Ann's tutorial above, those long stitches only go through the first thread or so, not all the way through, so they don't show on the outside, and those stitches are meant to stay in.

There are more ways than one to do any of these steps. Ann wrote the instructions to mount the underlining using an allover basting stitch that stays in. This is especially relevant in making a coat where there are larger expanses of fabric between seams, or, as Ann noted, when using more fragile fabrics that are more susceptible to deforming. Paco illustrated his jacket using perimeter basting stitches that come out. Both are correct.



At this point, you now have all your fashion fabric (coating) fabric cut out and your seamlines marked. Make certain that you also mark your match points, notches, etc., too. I use tailor tacks, or on a cotton underlining a wash-away marking pen for those types of markings. Chalk has limited shelf life for marks, so if you're going to reference the marks in fairly short order, chalk is good too. If your coat pattern included lining pieces, you should have transferred all of your alterations to your lining pieces also.


As promised - Here is the link to the Flickr set containing all the pictures from today's post. If you're interested in seeing any picture in full size, click on the "all sizes" icon just above any pic, and it'll take you to a larger photo.

I'm out of town now, writing on my laptop in the hotel breakfast room. When I get home I'll take some photos showing how to hold your lapel while padstitching. I'll also get some photos of my underlining mounted to my jacket.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Interfacing, the Next Step

Originally Posted Sept 7, moved to arrange order of instruction

In case you missed it over the summer months, here is the post written July 30th, on layout and cutting your fabric. You may want to copy and paste this into a Word doc and print it out - there is a lot of info. I can only stress what I wrote somewhere in the middle - Do Not cut your fabric if you are tired. Lay it out, get it all ready, then look at it with fresh eyes to make sure you've added seam allowances and got all your pieces included BEFORE you cut.

Many of you will be happy to know that I started illustrating and writing this post earlier today.
As someone stated in an email to me last week "though I think I'm not the only one behind on schedule. More difficult to think of a wintercoat in summer than we thought perhaps?"
And I'm sorry to say, I found this to be very true in July and August. When we started this and I wrote the timeline I had no idea I'd have so many formals to make this summer, nor did I have a concept of how difficult it would be to make time to work with wool once the temps climbed over 90F and stayed there.
Anyway, it's September, and much of my other obligatory sewing is finished, and I'm devoting my full attention to the coat sewalong for a bit again.

Hopefully several of you are at the point where you've cut your fabric, cut your underlining and are ready to interface.

If you're using entirely fusibles to support and shape your garment see This Article at Threads. And This Chart. Somewhere in there are detailed instructions on how to curve the fabric while fusing to impart shape. I'll just have to look further, but if you find it, pls post the link. Thanks.

If you're planning to use a sewn-in hair canvas for interfacing read on:

At this point you are going to want to cut interfacing for your

  1. front that extends all the way to the armscye,
  2. upper back
  3. collar
If you've followed my method of cutting apart your muslin to create a pattern for yourself, OR if you've made significant changes to your paper pattern, OR if you don't have specific interfacing pieces in your pattern envelope, then you'll want to use this method to create your interfacing pattern pieces.
  1. lay your front and side front pattern pieces together on the seam lines. In this case, this is for an armhole princess seam. If you have a pattern with a shoulder princess line, the process is Exactly the same. Remember, as you're looking here, this muslin was cut apart along the seamlines, so there are no seam allowances on the muslin, so I've put the pieces next to each other exactly as if a seam were sewn.

  • trace along the seam lines around the front all the way to the armscye. Notice that where the shaping occurs for the princess line, this becomes a dart.
  • Add seam allowances. They will stay at the side seam. They will be removed later along the lapel. But for now, you'll want to add them. As you pad stitch the shaping will eat up some of the interfacing from the seam allowance. I've found myself short in the past and regretted not having a bit there.
  • Transfer the grain line to the interfacing pattern piece also, from the Front piece.
  • IF you have a welt pocket that crosses the princess seam you'll want to interface both the side front and the Front.

The following two pics are from The Complete Book of Tailoring by Margolis
Notice the directions here for creating the back interfacing piece.

I'm going to post this right now as there is some anxiety and I want to allay that, however, I'm going to be adding to this tonight as I get the pics for creating the pattern for the back.

***Hopefully BEFORE you cut your muslin apart you marked the roll line for the collar as well as the buttonholes. If not, try to go back to your paper pattern and find those marks and translate them to your pattern.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Guide: Laying Out and Cutting Your Fabric

originally posted July 30 - moved to bring to top

Are you ready?

Now that you've got so much time invested in your muslin, I'm going to recommend you cut it apart. This is how I work with an altered muslin.

If you have very few alterations and prefer to work with pattern tissue, you can transfer your alterations and new markings to your tissue, and use the tissue to lay out and cut your fabric. I prefer the following method:

Mark match lines, moved pocket placement markings, notches for sleeves, everything that you want to make sure you have marked, prior to cutting the muslin apart.

Make sure you've marked your planned hemline.

Cut the muslin apart on the existing seam lines. You are cutting off your seam allowances and throwing them away as scrap. I'd also recommend that you cut off your pattern along your proposed hemline.

Press the muslin to use as pattern.

The pattern that you are left with is a pattern without seam allowances. I like to have my revised markings in a new color (here I used green Sharpie fine point), and cross out the old markings (here in blue) if they're no longer valid.
**if you are using a fabric that has a plaid or print match, drawing some horizontal markings as match lines along your seam lines, before cutting apart, is a good idea to aid in your layout. See image at very bottom of this post.

Pull out of the envelope the remaining pieces that weren't included in the muslin.

At this point, for any pieces that will be cut from the wool and are structural pieces, I cut off the seam allowances so that ALL my pieces are consistent. Above I've not cut the seam allowances off the pocket bag and the epaulet piece, but I have cut them off the collar band. Be sure to extend the notches and other markings to the seam line before cutting off seam allowances.

Transfer ALL alterations to relevant pieces such as facings.
In the pics below I show the process of translating the forward shoulder and high back changes I made on the muslin to the facing pieces. Keep in mind that the muslin has no seam allowances. What was marked as original seam allowances on the shoulder got changed when I made the alteration.

At the end of this post there will be a link to go to the Flickr set where all these pics can be seen in larger detail.

Lay out the muslin pattern pieces on the fashion fabric (coating wool)
Be sure to leave room for seam allowances between pattern pieces.
***At this Point, until I get the posts up about allowing for Turn-of-Cloth - DO NOT CUT out your collar or undercollar, but leave room for them in your layout.

Before cutting I use a chalk-o-liner and draw my seam allowances right on the wool, in part so that I don't make any mistakes and cut off my seam allowances. I added a 2" hem allowance for this particular short jacket. For a full length coat, depending on how full the skirt is, I'd be tempted to add 2.5".

Even though I go through extensive fitting in the muslin process, I still have a tendency to cut 1" seam allowances on the vertical seams. I'll trim those after my first fitting in the fashion fabric. I cut 3/8" sm allowances at neck edge, collar pieces, etc. and 5/8" seam allowances at the armscye and along the front and lapel lines.

Double-check that you've got all pieces necessary laid out on your fabric. Double-check that you have allowed for seam/hem allowances. Go ahead and cut your fabric. Note- do not do this late at night or when you are too tired.

If you are using a fusible underlining you'll want to have block fused your fabric prior to cutting.

Thread tracing for those who are not underlining.

If you are not underlining, or if you block fused prior to cutting, you will now thread trace your stitching lines and add markings to all your pieces.

You will want to use silk thread OR a rayon machine embroidery thread (such as Sulky or Madeira). Any contrast color that you have on hand is fine.

The reason to use silk or rayon is that you can press over it and it will not leave thread indents. You wouldn't think that the indents would be a problem, after all, how thick is thread? But once you've spent time pressing and getting your garment just perfect, then realize you've got these snakey lines pressed in, you'll see why you wanted to use the correct thread.

Tany has written a post about thread tracing two layers at a time then separating them here. I will generally trace single layer, although it is more time consuming, because I like the smooth lines. Either way is correct.

At this point, you now have all your fashion fabric (coating) fabric cut out and your seamlines marked. Make certain that you also mark your match points, notches, etc too. I use tailor tacks, or on a cotton underlining a wash-away marking pen for those types of markings. Chalk has limited shelf life for marks, so if you're going to reference the marks in fairly short order, chalk is good too. If your coat pattern included lining pieces, you should have transfered all of your alterations to your lining pieces also.

As promised - Here is the link to the Flickr set containing all the pictures from today's post. If you're interested in seeing any picture in full size, click on the "all sizes" icon just above any pic, and it'll take you to a larger photo.

**to layout a fabric that has a pattern that must be matched, use the lines that you've conveniently drawn for yourself on the muslin, across seamlines, to match the pattern and using a single layer layout, layout your garment. This is when it's super important too, to have written on each and every piece, because you want to layout your pattern pieces all right side up so that you don't end up with two left fronts and no right front. Below is a pic of a jacket I cut out in January. Unfortunately there isn't enough detail in this pic to see my little hatch marks at the seam lines, but they were terrific in aiding the plaid layout.

Next up: Interfacing, and shaping for lapels

Sunday, September 7, 2008

KayY: How to move forward

Helloooo out there! Is anyone else cutting their wool? Have questions? Our fearless leader Marji is pretty busy with other projects but I'm sure the collective wisdom here can answer your questions.

As for me, I'm making progress. I cut out my fashion fabric, underlining, interfacing and lining last week, and am busy assembling the shell of my coat.

I am using a vintage Vogue pattern which came with specific interfacing pattern pieces. These are designed for non-fusible hair canvas which is pad-stitched to the fashion fabric/underlining layer. My coat is also unusual in that most of it is cut on the bias. The interfacing is cut on the straight of grain, meaning that the interfaced portions (CF, shoulder area and armscye) are very stable. I am posting some pictures of the interior of my coat.

These inside shots show that the hair canvas is placed around the entire armscye, in the under-collar and down the CF (it goes to the hemline). It's attached with pad-stitches which are just rows of stitching that catch a tiny bit of the fashion fabric, relatively loosely attaching the hair canvas to the fashion fabric.

If I was making a more conventional coat or a jacket I'd give serious consideration to interfacing the entire front. Here's Kathleen Fasanella's take on interfacing.

In the case of a collar, lapel or other part of the coat that curves, you build the curve in by letting the interfacing roll over your hand (or other convenient object), mimicking the final shape of the piece. When you pad-stich the 2 layers in this configuration, you build in turn-of-the-cloth (the layer that is on top of a curved piece has to be longer; the amount by which it's longer depends on the thickness of the layer). Here is an illustration of what I mean (from another project):

In the first pic, I'm padstitching the collar, holding it in the shape I want it to follow. In the second, the completed collar illustrates how it is pre-shaped. Finally, in the 3rd I have flattened the same collar. See how the interfacing ripples? That's because it is longer than the fabric underneath. The rippling disappears when it resumes its intended shape. This is what I mean by turn of the cloth.

In my coat, I built shape into the collar (which has a slight 1" or 2.5cm stand), and the shoulder inset pieces.

Finally, here's a picture of the completed collar from the back.
It's hard to see the shaping but it's there.

Claire S. - V8346, I think I'm close

But I'm not sure how close...

I redrew the seam line on the back armhole to take up some of the bunching on the back. Then I reset the right sleeve with the shoulder dot back in the original spot.

The new pic is on the left, the mess from the last post is on the right.

The armhole now looks like a smoother line. There is still a bit of bunching just at the bottom but do I try to get rid if it ? At what point am I overfitting ?