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Tailoring Womenswear - Part 3

By Di, Jun 2 2017 02:23PM

I took the opportunity to tack the jacket at this stage as it was the last opportunity to make any adjustments to the fit of the body. With any alterations marked the front were removed so I could work on the front facings, inner pockets and the front lining.

I don't use a separate pattern piece for the lapels and front facing, I use the actual jacket just in case I've reshaped any element of the jacket front. It's important to build ease into the facing to help create room for using the inner pocket. To minimise waste the strip that the inner pocket is made in is added rather than being cut in one piece with the facing. I decided to make one inner pocket just below waist level that would take a mobile phone. Position this too high and it might distort the waist area adding unwanted bulk in an area I would want to minimise.

I made the welts out of the lining fabric, wrapping it round the heavier lapel cloth. The pocket bags are stitched tight at the end of the welts for strength, then the machining widens out to make using the pocket easier.

With the pocket made the facings are added to the jacket fronts. They're placed wrong sides together, basting to build in ease, both along the length in the button area and in the width near the roll line. It's important to create enough room in the lapel cloth for it to turn to the outside with out pulling and not so much that it's loose. Once in place the pockets is herringbone stitched to the body canvas, thus creating support, so that when used the weight is taken by the canvas not the lining.

Preparing the front edges includes loads of tacking. The edge is tacked through all the layers, then the fold line of the facing, which is then trimmed. The facing edge is turned in and tacked, before tacking to the main fabric!

I decided to add a piping between the lining and the facing, I hadn't done this before so made it up as I went along! The piping was made from a bias strip folded edge to edge, pressed and then tacked in place along the line the facing would come to. I then laid the front facings in place, tacking to the body fabric and turning under the front edge, but not cutting in round the inner pocket.

With the two main pieces constructed it was time to sew the shoulders. Because the back shoulder is wider than the front there is no way to match the check all the way across the shoulder seam. When I was marking out before cutting I'd given particular care with how to make this seam look good. It's really important to match stripes near to the armhole as this is the area that people will focus on. The side seams are completed in the main fabric and the linings. With a traditional jacket with vents I'd finish the hems before stitching the jacket together, but I don't have vents so I left the hem until now. Hems are supported by bias strips of lining, that are stitched through as the hem is completed. The lining fabric is cut to the same length as the finished jacket, the edge is lifted and slip stitched in place so that the lining rolls down creating ease at the hem.

A hand stitched collar is one of the few processes of tailoring that can actually be seen and preparing the collar is something I really enjoy, taking straight pieces of cloth, moulding them into the shape we are all familiar with, finally hand stitching the Melton. The initial process is pad stitching the canvas to the Melton. On a formal garment choosing a contrast for the under collar can add a real statement, even if it's only seen when the collar is lifted! Collar canvas is tightly woven and firmer than other canvases, it's cut on the bias and can be bought in pre-cut pieces. I pad stitch along the length of the collar creating the roll by bending the fabric over my hand as I stitch. I notice that different tailors pad stitch collars in different ways, each with their own reason for using their method.

Once stitched the collar is pressed to set the stitches into the cloth. It's now time to shape the collar. As well as the roll that has already been formed by the pad stitching the outer edge has to be stretched to fit around the shoulder area. Water, heat and pressure is used to stretch the fabric. However it's really important not to stretch the centre back of the collar as this needs to sit flat against the back of the jacket. Up until this point the collar has been quite a bit bigger than it will be when finished.

With the neck edge trimmed to size the wrong side of the under collar is placed to the right side of the neckline, extending past the lapels at the front. At this stage I decide exactly what shape the front of the collar will have in proportion to the lapels. The long edge of the upper collar needs to be stretched. Then the upper collar is tacked onto the under collar. The edges are trimmed and tacked in a similar way to the jacket front edges.

In the final part I'll be making the sleeves and hand finishing the lining, collar and front edges.

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