Another Winter Jacket

A couple of years ago I purchased some lovely  soft  woollen  fabric with a mottled grey, black and white weave to make  a winter jacket.   Having  ”aged” the fabric for a couple of years while I waited for its project idea to arrive(!), I finally decided the time had come.

I wanted to incorporate the collar and asymmetrical front from KwikSew 3531 and the back and sleeve details from a Marfy jacket which is offered as a free pattern with their 2009 issue.  This pattern is not sold separately and I am not sure whether the 2009 issue is still available.  However, the details I used are fairly easy to replicate using a plain bodice jacket back and one piece sleeve.

Kwik Sew pattern 3531 used as a base - front and collar unchanged

Kwik Sew pattern 3531 used as a base – front and collar unchanged

Marfy Catalogue 2009

Marfy Catalogue 2009

Marfy jacket in linen

Marfy jacket in linen

Back and sleeve detail

Back and sleeve detail

I traced all pattern pieces from the KwikSew pattern and made the styling alterations.

The Back

To achieve the swing back, I used the back pattern piece from the KwikSew pattern which was to be cut with centre back on the fold and positioned  the centre back 3 inches /7.5 cm from the fold which resulted in an inverted pleat.   A line was also drawn parallel to the grain line from the centre of the shoulder to the hem.  This insertion was cut and spread by 1 ½” / 3cm at the hem and an extension added to the back side seam ( ¾” / 1.5cm which is half the insertion measurement).  Using this ratio, more could certainly be added to achieve a fuller swing.

Pattern changes to include  inverted pleat and swing back

Pattern changes to include inverted pleat and swing back

To keep the pleat in position, I stitched from the neckline down 6 inches /15cm.   Pleats were sewn from the centre to the outer fold and the excess fabric above the opening trimmed from the undersides of the pleats to avoid extra thickness at the neckline seam.

Return side of pleat removed to minimise bulk

Return side of pleat removed to minimise bulk

The remaining underside of the inverted pleat has been catch stitched to the interfacing and joined into the neckline.  It acts as a stay to keep the pleat in place.

Top edge of underside of inverted pleat connected at neckline seam provides a stay for the pleat

Top edge of underside of inverted pleat connected at neckline seam provides a stay for the pleat

The Sleeves

Again using the KwikSew pattern which has a one piece sleeve, I drew a seam line down the centre of the sleeve and drew in the sleeve flap which lies towards the back section.

Centre seam line added to sleeve; width of facing and sleeve hem detail drawn on to KwikSew sleeve

Centre seam line added to sleeve; width of facing and sleeve hem detail drawn on to KwikSew sleeve

I joined the seam to the top of the button extension and applied a hem facing to finish the bottom of the sleeve.

The top section of the sleeve was cut down the centre and clearly marked front and  back.

Pattern pieces for sleeve and hem facing

Pattern pieces for sleeve and hem facing

Seam allowance was added to all new seam lines.

Inner support

The wool fabric has a very soft hand and is inclined to fray easily.  I fully fused each garment piece with a medium weight knit interfacing to support the structure of the jacket long term.

Underarm Gusset

Once the jacket  sleeves were set into the armholes, I tried the jacket on and found that, despite my taking careful measurements, the sleeves felt a little too close fitting with a heavier top underneath.

To fix the problem, I have inserted an underarm gusset.  This is a good solution for any sleeve that binds a little around the bicep area.

A gusset can be one or two piece.  I chose to open the underarm sleeve seam and the underarm bodice sleeves and insert a diamond gusset  7” x 3” / 18cm x 7.5cm.  The stitching points were marked on the sleeve and jacket seams.  The longest section of the gusset was cut on grain and the piece interfaced for stability.

Diagram of an underarm sleeve gusset

Diagram of an underarm sleeve gusset

Gusset pattern

Gusset pattern

Underarm gusset in sleeve and lining

Underarm gusset in sleeve and lining

When stitching I gusset I find it much easier to achieve an accurate result if I stitch each side individually.  Starting at one sleeve/ side seam junction, each separate section of the gusset was stitched in place in both the garment and the lining.  This has given much easier movement when the jacket is worn over heavier clothing.

Hem Finish

Because of the swing back, the jacket lining has been hemmed and left hanging separately.  Hong Kong finish has been applied to the jacket hem which was then hand stitched in place.

Frenchtacks have been added at the side seam allowances and between the underarm seam allowances to keep the lining in place.

Hem finished with Hong Kong binding; French tack secures lining and top of hem

Hem finished with Hong Kong binding; French tack secures lining and top of hem

Trim

Russia braid has been applied by hand to the outer edges of the jacket, around the bottom of the sleeves and on the flaps of the pockets.

Russia braid applied by hand around outer edges of jacket, sleeve and pocket tab.

Russia braid applied by hand around outer edges of jacket, sleeve and pocket tab.

Buttons covered with faux leather have been stitched in place on the sleeves and at the collar.  The opening for the button is an inseam buttonhole and a large press stud/snap has been stitched to the underlap side to hold the front in place.

Inseam buttonhole, faux leather button and large snap on underside

Inseam buttonhole, faux leather button and large snap on underside

The weather in Brisbane is indulging my love of wearing coats with a westerly wind due on Monday and Tuesday so I will have an opportunity to wear this new one as well.

Front detail

Front detail

Side and back detail

Side and back detail

Beau has been helping me with the blog - he has his own cushion (formerly a pin cushion)

Beau has been helping me with the blog – he has his own cushion (formerly a pin cushion)

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How Can We Make Commercial Patterns Fit?

This article was first seen in Australian Dressmaking with Stitches magazine – Volume 20 No 4.
Permission has been sought and granted for electronic use and the photos and text remain the property of Alison Wheeler – Sewing Lady.
I started teaching dressmaking in 1998 and, right from the beginning, I was determined that I would not allow students to make garments which did not fit them -to do so would be very counter-productive, especially those who are beginning to learn how to make their own garments.

Finishing a simple garment which fits well and you are proud to wear is the goal of sewers of all levels of ability and greatly contributes to our pleasure in achieving good results with new and different techniques.

Achieving a good fit is probably one of the most vexing issues for sewers.

The major commercially produced patterns use a set of measurements which represent “ideal” figure proportions.  This method ensures standards of commonality across the various designs and brands and is important in keeping mass produced patterns relatively affordable.

Over the last 40 years since the measurements were standardised, body shapes and sizes have evolved and changed along with women’s lifestyles and attitudes to exercise – all of which contribute to the need to customise commercial patterns to fit the individual.

In an effort to make altering patterns easier, lengthen and shorten lines and multi size patterns have been incorporated over the years.  The Palmer/Pletsch patterns in the McCall’s catalogue and Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina in the Vogue catalogue give expanded instructions covering how to alter for fit.todaysfit palmerpletsch melissawatson

There are also excellent reference books and DVD’s on pattern fit and alteration available.

After 17 years of fitting people, I am yet to meet the person who does not need at least minor pattern alterations.  Many home sewers who learned to sew when they were in their teens never really learned about fitting since the patterns they used rarely needed much alteration apart from length.  However, with maturity comes many figure changes and unless there are minimal differences in the body shape and the chosen pattern, it can be quite frustrating to accomplish a good fit.

With some knowledge of simple techniques, this situation can be overcome so that the pleasure of making and wearing an individual garment which suits the wearer and fits well will be experienced again.

From my experience in fitting many women in many and various patterns, I have come to the conclusion that an organised approach utilising a combination of flat pattern measurement comparison, tissue fitting and making a toile is the best way to achieve success.  Once a pattern is altered to properly fit, it can be used as a basis to assess other patterns or as a basis for different styles.

A good place to start can be to make a fitting shell – patterns are available from all the main commercial pattern brands.

Vogue 1004 Fitting shell useful for bodices and skirts

Vogue 1004 Fitting shell useful for bodices and skirts

Palmer Pletsch Dress

The assessment of correct fit is subjective and depends on a number of things:

  • personal interpretation of appearance and comfort
  • posture of the wearer
  • style choice
  • fabric used

When making pattern alterations, the key points to remember are:

  • make one alteration at a time and re-check on the wearer after each alteration is completed
  • alterations need to be done where the problem is happening – this is not always at the side seam!

Style Choice:

  • Styles which are meant to be worn with a tighter fit often require more alteration than looser fitting styles
  • Selection of a style which will flatter the wearer’s figure and highlight the most pleasing features is really important
  • When determining the fit, skimming the figure rather than swamping it with lots of loose fabric will always be more flattering – whatever the wearer’s size

Pattern Choice:

  • Many fitting issues arise because the design and shape garment is unsuitable for a particular body shape
  • Choosing a pattern with vertical seams, for example an armhole or shoulder princess style, will make width alterations much easier while maintaining the original proportion of the style lines

Pattern Size:

  • For garments which hang from the shoulders, select size by high bust measurement
  • For garments which start at or below the waist, select size by hip measurement
  • Take hip measurement approximately a hand span from natural waist
  • If figure has a fuller tummy, high hip is needed as well and note how far down from waist that measurement is taken
  • If fullness is in the upper thigh area, ignore this when selecting size and use the hip measurement as above

Fabric:

  • It is sometimes necessary to alter a garment because of the type of fabric used
  • Make sure that the stretchiest part of the fabric (usually the crosswise grain or weft) is going around the body
  • If using Bengalene™ and some other woven fabrics with stretch threads made from Spandex™ or Elastene, check to see that the stretchiest part of the fabric is not parallel to the lengthwise grain – if it is, the pattern needs to be cut with the grain line at right angles to the selvage to ensure a comfortable fit
  • The stretch threads woven into these fabrics are for wearing comfort and to reduce the fabric wrinkling during wear and are not usually factored into the fit
  • When purchasing stretch wovens, it is important to check the recovery of the stretch threads
  • Sometimes garments made from these fabrics will shrink with washing and grow during wear
  • Stabilising either facings is important with these fabrics
  • Even if fabrics do not have stretch threads added, different weaving methods will result in natural elasticity of the fabric, for example:
    • crepe weave has more stretch than twill (gabardine) weave
    • loose weave fabrics have more stretch than tighter weaves
    • thin fabrics will give more than thicker fabrics
  • If you are unsure about the fabric will behave during wear, cut wider seam allowances on vertical seams to allow for adjustment during fitting

Key Measurements and How They Equate to the Flat Pattern:

  • Measurements should be taken wearing the undergarments and shoes which will usually be worn with the garment to be made (Shoes are important because the height of the heel can alter the stance of the wearer affecting the posture and thus the hang of the garment.)
  • Check that tape measure has not stretched – they are quite cheap to replace
  • The tape measure should be firm against the body but not tight
  • With horizontal measurements, keep the tape measure parallel to the floor
  • Tie a piece of cotton tape or narrow elastic around the body at natural waist level
  • Take the following measurements:
    • High bust – across the broad of the back and above the bust
    • Bust
    • Shoulder length from base of neck to shoulder bone
    • Shoulder to bust point – from base of neck to bust point
    • Bust separation – distance between bust points
    • Shoulder to shoulder – front and back
    • Chest width – from crease where arm meets the body
    • Back width – from crease where arm meets the body
    • Back length to waist – from nape of neck to waist
    • Bicep – place tape around arm with top of tape at point where arm meets body
    • Cap Height – from top of tape placed as for bicep measurement up to shoulder bone
    • Waist – often easier to find waist at the back
    • High Hip – note measurement down from the waist where this measurement is taken
    • Full Hip – usually a hand span from the waist – also note the measurement down from the waist where this measurement is taken
    • Side length from waist level to finished hem
    • Side length from waist level to knee
    • Crotch length – from front waist, between the legs and up to back waist
    • Crotch depth – using a dressmaker’s square placed between the legs, approximately 1.5cm from body, measure depth to the level of natural waist
    • Thigh at fullest part – keep tape measure parallel to the floor
    • Knee measurement level with the crease at the back of the knee
    • Calf measurement at fullest part

      It can be difficult to take your own measurements accurately.  A sewing buddy can be a great help.

      It can be difficult to take your own measurements accurately. A sewing buddy can be a great help.

  • These measurements can then be compared to the corresponding finished pattern measurements to assess possible preliminary alterations prior to tissue fitting and/or making a toile – even if measurements are not made before tissue fitting, assessment of differences between the body measurements and pattern measurements will give an idea of where to focus when looking at fit

Length alterations:

  • Horizontal alterations are needed to ensure garment shaping is in the correct place for the person wearing the garment
  • These include:
    • Position of darts/bust shaping in relation to bust point
    • Natural waist position
    • Crotch depth to cater for full abdomen or derriere
    • Finished garment length – including sleeve length

Provision for Width Alterations:

  • Width alterations need to be applied where the fitting problem occurs, for example full bust, abdomen, tummy, thighs and calves
  • Provision for these alterations during the tissue fitting step can be accommodated by allowing larger seam allowances on side seams and inseams

Tissue Fitting:

  • Be sure all seam allowances are marked on the pattern tissue and allow additional width in seam allowances on side seams and inseams
  • Apply Magic Tape™ around the curved seams – armhole, neckline, crotch seam lines – tape is placed on the garment side of the seam and not in the seam allowance
  • Clip seam allowances so tissue won’t tear
  • Pin darts/pleats in place on the outside of the tissue
  • Pin front to back at side seam and inseam – place pins parallel to the seams and pointing towards the hem
  • Carefully try on the tissue

Making a Trial Garment (Toile or Muslin):

  • After making alterations indicated from the assessment of the tissue, cut out the front and back of the garment as well as any pieces which form part of the garment, eg yoke, slash pocket pieces
  • Use a fabric which is similar in weight, thickness and drape to what will be used in the garment
  • Mark grain lines on the fabric
  • Mark horizontal lines at right angles to the grain line
  • Stitch using long straight stitch and slightly looser tension
  • Stitch darts/pleats and insert zipper in centre back
  • Fold hem to desired length
  • Try on garment

 Assessing the Garment:

  • Stand as you would naturally
  • Look for wrinkles, folds or pulls in the fabric to indicate areas which need alteration
  • Use a hand mirror and full size mirror to assess the back
  • Mark areas to be altered directly on the tissue and toile

Order for Alterations:

  • Start at the top of the garment (shoulder and neck area for tops; waist for pants and skirts)
  • Whether I start at the back or the front depends on the area most in need of alteration
  • Work on one thing at a time – it is all about cause and effect – trying the garment again between each individual alteration

Fitting a basic dress is a good place to start as this will help you identify your challenges.  Unfortunately there is no magic formula; even if you know what type of alterations you regularly need to do the amount will often vary because of design ease.  However, the more you practice pattern assessment and alterations, the easier it becomes.

I urge sewers to give this a try as there is no substitute for actually doing.  If you are worried about wrecking your pattern, trace it on the greaseproof paper first and remember it is only paper!

Another Beautiful Bride

Earlier this year, one of my wonderful students, Barbara,  decided she would like to make a wedding dress for her new daughter-in-law to be, Rocio.

The wedding was to be held on the beach at Stradbroke Island (in Moreton Bay) off the coast of Brisbane.  As Rocio is an ecologist, such a beautiful outdoor setting was perfect for her marriage to James.

She and Barbara shopped for a basic pattern which could be adapted to her chosen style and, once the dress was made in a lovely cotton print, the fit was adjusted and, not only did Rocio have a lovely new summer dress, but we were ready to start!

Rocio and Barbara purchased the beautiful silk taffeta and corded Chantilly lace at The Fabric Collection in Sumner Park.  The colour is just beautiful – a lovely clotted cream shade – and suits Rocio’s colouring perfectly.

To support the taffeta, Barbara has underlined the whole garment with silk organza and hand stitched all the seam allowances to the underlining to keep them in place.  The dress has been fully lined with lightweight silk satin.  A half slip of several layers of bridal tulle lightly supports the skirt – this was essential in the breezy weather which sometimes occurs in a beach setting.

The lace was draped over the bodice; shaped and hand stitched in place.  Scallops were appliquéd by hand around the neckline.

Close up detail.

Close up detail.

The inspiration for the adornment of Rocio’s beautiful gown incorporated a randomly ruched swathe from the underarm on either side and crossing in the front.

Rocio has a classic hour glass figure and once the dress was underway, I suggested that a more structural bias basque would be much more flattering.  I had seen this technique in an article by Kenneth D King “Curved Tucks” in Threads magazine Issue #166 April/May 2013.

The bias construction causes the basque to follow the waistline curve of the garment and adds an interesting point of interest between the beautiful lace covered bodice and the pleated silk skirt.

To be sure that Rocio would be happy with this detail, I decided to test a mock up in calico on the dress form first before committing to the silk.  She was absolutely delighted so it was on with the silk.

The bias strips are 4” /10cm wide and carefully pressed in half (right sides out).  The strips were then stretched and curved while being steam pressed.  When cool, they retain the curved shape and are ready for assembly.

I used a June Tailor cut and press board to pin each strip in place, starting at the top and weaving in a dip at the centre front.  Strips were steamed over the board to set them in place; carefully pinned and hand stitched on the underside of each edge to the strip under it.

Toile version pinned in place on dress form

Toile version pinned in place on dress form

Side view

Side view

Back view

Back view

Front view

Front view

All the raw edges on the wrong side were hand stitched in place using acatchstitch.

Tacked in place through centre front

Tacked in place through centre front

Underside handstitched along each raw edge

Underside handstitched along each raw edge

Bottom edge turned under and stitched in place.

Bottom edge turned under and stitched in place.

Once the basque was completed, it was pinned in place from the centre front to the centre back and hand stitched to the dress from the inside.  Each strip was carefully matched where the invisible zip was to be inserted.

Shaped basque

Shaped basque

Barbara did a wonderful job and should feel very proud and satisfied with her achievement.

Rocio was a beautiful bride and very grateful for her special gown.  She and James enjoyed a wonderful celebration at the start of their lives together.

The lovely bride and her proud father

The lovely bride and her proud father

DSCF4226

A beautiful setting.

A beautiful setting.

Collars – Tips and Techniques

Portions of this article were first seen in Australian Dressmaking with Stitches magazine – Volume 22 No 5.
Permission has been sought and granted for electronic use and the photos and text remain the property of Alison Wheeler – Sewing Lady.

Collars make a statement and give garments a great style lift.  They frame the face of the wearer and I hope that using these tips will help you create a beautifully finished collar.  It is worth trying a few different styles to find the one which suits your face.

Because most collars have a seam at the outer edge, a great opportunity presents to include contrast or matching piping, edging lace or scalloped braid to really make the collar a focal point of garments.

Rolled (blue)and standing (white) collars

Rolled (blue)and standing (white) collars

Types of Collars:

While it is certainly possible to use a single layer collar, generally collars consist of two parts – the upper collar (the side that is seen) and the under collar (the underside) and can be designed in many different shapes but fall into three main types:

  • Flat collars which sit perfectly flat against the garment

    Flat collars

    Flat collars

  • Rolled collars which roll gently out of the neckline

    Rolled collars

    Rolled collars

  • Stand collars which stand up from the base of the neck

    Standing collars

    Standing collars

Interfacing:

Most collars require inner support so that they will hold their shape for the life of the garment.

This support is usually provided by interfacing.  There are many interfacings on the market and, from my observations, much confusion about how and where to use the different types and weights available.

Tip:  Always test the interfacing on a scrap of your garment fabric cut on exactly the same grain as your pattern piece before working on your garment so that you can assess its effectiveness in giving the support needed for your particular fabric. 

The pattern guidelines will usually say to interface the under collar only; however, if more support is necessary because of the weight of the fabric or style of the collar, it can be helpful to interface both collar pieces – perhaps a lightweight woven fusible on the upper collar and a slightly heavier knit fusible on the under collar.  The possible combinations are endless which is why testing a few different interfacing applications is so important in finding what will give you the result you are after.

Tip:  It is often useful to layer interfacing if more support is needed.  Simply fuse the first layer and allow it to cool and dry and then apply another layer for either the whole collar or the middle of the neck area to keep the collar standing in place if the fabric is floppy.

For a shirt collar, I would recommend using a fusible cotton batiste interfacing cut using the same grain line as the collar pieces. In the case of a sheer or silky fabric where fusible interfacing is not appropriate, silk organza also cut from the same grain as the collar pieces can be hand tacked within the seam allowances and before the collar is constructed.

For dress and jacket collars, I usually prefer a fusible knit interfacing (usually light weight) which gives the collar support but keeps it soft and allows subtle shaping.  However, should your garment have a dramatic collar or your chosen fabric be heavy, heavier Shapewell ™ (sew in, not fusible) or hair canvas can be used for the extra support required keep the collar in place as designed. (See blog posted 21st June 2015 Donna Karan Jacket Vogue 1263 – Part 3)

Flat Collars

While not as common in today’s fashion, flat collars are an interesting addition to the neckline of a vest or a summer dress or top, especially when a contrasting colour and lighter weight fabric are used.

They can circle the whole neck or be applied to the front section of the garment only.  You can also use virtually any shape for the outer edge, for example scallops, points, square corners or sailor collar.

They exactly replicate the shape of the garment neckline and should lie flat against the garment.  Depending on the fabric being used, they quite often do not need the support of interfacing.  To keep the collar soft and sitting flat against the garment, a lightweight fabric lining fabric can be used as the under collar.  Fine cotton or silk organza are good choices for this purpose.

The neckline is either finished with a facing or using bias binding for a neat, smooth finish.

Rolled Collars

Some patterns will have two separate pieces for the collar – an upper collar and an under collar.  The upper collar is slightly wider in the centre back section to allow for the turn of the cloth.  Collars made using a slightly smaller under collar roll nicely and do not allow the under collar to show at the outer edge.

If your pattern has one collar piece which is to be placed on the fold and cut twice, it is a good idea to trace the pattern piece on to a folded piece of greaseproof – place the fold line marked on the pattern on the fold of the paper, pin in place and cut out – this gives a pattern piece for the whole collar which can be cut on double fabric, making it much easier to have accurately cut pieces.

Place pattern piece with folded paper underneath to cut full collar piece

Place pattern piece with folded paper underneath to cut full collar piece

Tip: Marking and naming the match points on your pattern is a great help in working out what goes where when putting the collar and neckline together. 

Mark and identify match points

Mark and identify match points

Collars can be cut with the grainline parallel to either the crosswise or lengthwise grain or even on the bias when using a plaid or striped fabric.  If you decide to change the grain line in this way, be sure to cut your interfacing on the grain line suggested in the cutting layout so that the collar will sit as intended.

To achieve a separate upper and under collar when the pattern provides only one piece for both,  trace a second copy of the collar and mark it “under collar”.  Trim a scant 3mm from both ends of the collar.  Mark the centre back and measure and mark a point up 6mm* (see Tip below) from neck edge and reshape the neck edge.

New cutting line for under collar

New cutting line for under collar

Difference between upper and under collar pieces at neckline and front edges

Difference between upper and under collar pieces at neckline and front edges

Tip: The amount removed from the neck edge is determined by the thickness of the fabric. * For lightweight, remove 6mm and for thicker fabric as much as 12mm.  To test, cut two pieces of fabric (on the same grain); stitch one edge together;  grade and press the seam and fold the joined pieces in half.  Have a look at how much difference there is on the width of the upper fabric – this is the amount of the turn of the cloth.    

Fabric with no interfacing

Fabric with no interfacing

Interfaced fabric

Interfaced fabric

Standing Collars

Standing collars usually sit slightly away from the neck and can vary in width.  Checking the width of the finished collar before proceeding will result in a garment that is comfortable to wear as sometimes these collars can be too wide for the wearer.

These collars are applied directly to the neckline and are self-finished – the inside neckline edge is folded under and stitched in place, removing the need for a facing.

In the case of shirt collars, the collar band should sit close to the neck when the button is fastened (even if the garment is to be worn with the neckline open).  The collar is sandwiched between the top edges of a standing collar and the inside neckline is finished in the same manner as above.

Construction Tips

Regardless of which collar type is being applied, be sure to stay stitch the neckline directionally before applying the collar (see blog post 26th April, 2015 – Stay stitching and Under stitching)

Directional sewing is important for a symmetrical collar so that both sides of the collar end up the same shape.  Pin the upper and under collars together at centre back and stitch from centre back to neck edge.  Turn the collar over and repeat on the other side.

Diagrams 4-9 - Copy (2)

Seams need to be trimmed, graded, clipped and/or notched so that the collar edges will sit flat.

Seam allowance against under collar is cut smaller

Seam allowance against under collar is cut smaller

Press the seam flat as sewn and then press the seam open (using a point presser makes this much easier).

Press seam allowance open over point presser

Press seam allowance open over point presser

Before collar is applied to the neckline, bring the neck edge of both collar pieces together and tack in place.   Pin the collar around a ham and steam to establish the roll of the collar Replacement for Diagram 4 – allow to dry and cool thoroughly before removing the collar from the ham.

Special Technique for Pointed Collars:

    • Start sewing in the centre back of the collar and sew to within 2cm of the corner point
    • Reduce stitch length to 1.5 and make sure needle stops in the fabric
    • Stitch to the turning point and leave needle in fabric
    • Raise presser foot and turn fabric 45⁰
    • Take a piece of scrap thread approximately 30cm long and, holding one end in left hand, take other end in right hand and pull it between the fabric layers and tight against the needle
      Leave needle in fabric and wrap thread ahead of needle

      Leave needle in fabric and wrap thread ahead of needle

      Tuck thread between layers

      Tuck thread between layers

    • Holding thread ends in left hand, wind hand wheel one stitch and leave needle in fabric
      Thread is caught between stitches and can be pulled against needle before being tucked between the layers

      Thread is caught between stitches and can be pulled against needle before being tucked between the layers

      Wrap thread back around the needle and take stitch across the corner.

      Wrap thread back around the needle and take stitch across the corner.

    • Raise presser foot and bring thread back in front of the needle and take both threads to the left, between the fabric layers Diagrams 4-9 - Copy (4)
      Stitching end of collar - thread is between upper and under collar pieces

      Stitching end of collar – thread is between upper and under collar pieces

      Stitched collar - small stitches around the point reinforce the seam which is clipped quite close to the stitching.

      Stitched collar – small stitches around the point reinforce the seam which is clipped quite close to the stitching.

    • Stitch towards the neck edge – 2cm at the small stitch, then at regular stitch length

      Stitching end of collar - thread is between upper and under collar pieces

      Stitching end of collar – thread is between upper and under collar pieces

Trim the seam allowances as above and clip the corner points

Clip corner

Clip corner

Seam allowances are trimmed so that they meet in the corner with no overlap and no gap

Seam allowances are trimmed so that they meet in the corner with no overlap and no gap

  • Press the seams open using the point presser
  • These threads can be left in to help with edge-stitching later 

Attaching Collar to the Neckline:

  • Carefully keeping all cut edges together, pin the collar to the garment neckline, matching centre back, shoulders and centre front

Tip: Tacking the collar and facing in place by hand before stitching makes it easier to manoeuvre easily around the neckline with no pins in the way.

  • Apply the facing and stitch through all layers (garment, collar and facing) using a longer stitch length to accommodate the thickness of the layers
  • Trim all seam allowances by half and clip garment and facing seam allowances as necessary so enable the seam to lie flat
  • Press carefully and under stitch, catching all seam allowances to the facing (see blog post 26th April, 2015 Stay stitching and Under stitching)
  • Turn facing to inside of the garment and hand catch to the seam allowances

Tip:  When using lightweight or sheer fabrics, bias tape can be used in place of a facing.  Simply tack collar to neckline as above.  Open out one folded edge of the bias tape and place right side of bias tape against upper collar with the crease on the bias tape along the seam line. Stitch the tape in place and trim seam allowance.  Roll the tape to the inside of the garment and either machine or handstitch to the garment.  The collar will hide the stitching when the garment is being worn.

Donna Karan Jacket – Vogue 1263 – Part 4

A cotton back saddle has been applied across the shoulders and upper back of the garment.

Cotton back saddle added to upper back

Cotton back saddle added to upper back

The technique of reinforcing the corners with organza certainly helped achieve a sharp corner where the back of the garment joins the front, resulting in a three seam join just above the pocket.

Sharp corner where side seam joins waist seam and side front

Sharp corner where side seam joins waist seam and side front

The pouch pocket is quite unstructured and rather floppy so, to keep it in place, I have added pocket stays to the waist seam line and front edges of the jacket.  Cotton tape and grosgrain ribbon were used for these stays.

Grosgrain pocket stay runs from front edge of pocket bag across to front edge of jacket.

Grosgrain pocket stay runs from front edge of pocket bag across to front edge of jacket.

Cotton tape stay attaches top edge of pocket bag to waist seam

Cotton tape stay attaches top edge of pocket bag to waist seam

The sleeve seams were flat felled and the hem stabilised with hair canvas.  To accommodate attaching the sleeve lining by machine, the hem has been hand stitched in place half way up the hem depth.

Hem catch stitched half way from hem fold to allow space to machine lining in place

Hem catch stitched half way from hem fold to allow space to machine lining in place

I eased the caps (see blog post 31st May Set-In Sleeves) and inserted the sleeves.

Shoulder pads have been added to provide a pleasing shoulder line while support the weight of the jacket.

At this point, I needed to make a decision about the width of the collar.  While I am not a small person, I do have narrow shoulders and the collar extended about 10cm / 3 ½” beyond the shoulder.  I measured, marked and removed 8cm /3” from the upper edges of the collar and feel it still maintains the basic integrity of the garment but is better suited to my body proportions.

Collar has been narrowed to keep the integrity of the style but better suit body proportions.

Collar has been narrowed to keep the integrity of the style but better suit body proportions.

The lining has been constructed and attached to the collar and front facing; followed by the attachment of the facing to the garment.

To hold the back neckline section in place, the seam allowance of the facing/lining has been hand stitched to the seam allowance of the under collar jacket.

Neckline seam allowances of under collar and upper collar whipped together.

Neckline seam allowances of under collar and upper collar whipped together.

Following the attachment of the sleeve lining to the upper edge of the sleeve hem allowance, French tacks have been used to hold the underarm sleeve and lining seams loosely together.

French tacks loosely hold sleeve seams and lining waist seams in place.

French tacks loosely hold sleeve seams and lining waist seams in place.

French tacks have also been used to keep the waist seam of the lining loosely attached to the garment waist seam.

I have chosen to slipstitch the bottom of the lining to the top of the hem allowance rather than using a machine bagging method which would be extremely difficult to achieve because of the weight and bulk of the garment.

The seam allowances at the front edge of the jacket have been graded, pressed flat and pressed open.  The finished seam allowance has been pressed from the right side and I used diagonal edge tacking to keep the edges in place for topstitching – again to avoid problems using pins with the weight and bulk of the jacket.

Diagonal basting holds front edges in place for machine topstitching.

Diagonal basting holds front edges in place for machine topstitching.

The topstitching has been done using two threads in the one needle.

As a final feature, I have used a hand whipping stitch and a variegated DMC cotton perle thread (No 5) to enhance the topstitching on the collar.   A chenille needle was used to accommodate the thickness of this thread and the stitches have been wrapped over each stitch along the length of the collar and back.

Variegated DMC Cotton Perle 5 thread "wrapped" around each topstitch around edge of upper collar and then reversed for emphasis.

Variegated DMC Cotton Perle 5 thread “wrapped” around each topstitch around edge of upper collar and then reversed for emphasis.

Thread ends buried between layers.

Thread ends buried between layers.

When the thread needed to be finished, it has been threaded back in between the layers.  A snag tool was very helpful with this as well as in repairing other pulled threads in this type of fabric.

Snag tool does an excellent job of repairing any thread pulls as well as burying thread tails.

Snag tool does an excellent job of repairing any thread pulls as well as burying thread tails.

I am really pleased with my finished jacket – now all I need is some cooler weather so I can wear it!

Since the collar is such an important feature, I am really happy with the way it hugs the neck and rolls so beautifully.

Since the collar is such an important feature, I am really happy with the way it hugs the neck and rolls so beautifully.