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Tailoring Womenswear - Part 4

By Di, Jun 6 2017 04:00AM

The sleeves are the last major part of making a jacket, until I remember all the hand finishing! Unfortunately I don't have any photos of making the sleeves.

Sleeves are relatively straight forward, although there is a lot of hand stitching round the armholes. I've also realised that I haven't mentioned shoulder pads. They help create the frame that the jacket hangs from, so are really important. I'm rather square shouldered so I used quite thin shoulder pads. Its important to slip them in place whenever trying on a jacket as they alter the fit and armhole room. I stitched them in place just before the lining shoulder seam was stitched and before the tacking that is done to hold the shoulders in place ready for the sleeves.

The sleeves on my jacket have fully functioning hand made buttonholes, another feature that sets a well tailored garment apart from mass produced ones. The front arm seam is stitched in both the main fabric. Then the hem and sleeve vents are prepared and stitched, checking that the checks still match at the hem and vent. I reinforce the upper sleeve vent with the same wool Melton that I'd used for the contrast, herringbone stitched along the visible edges. Although this is rarely seen you can sometimes get a glimpse of it when you raise your arm, for me it's important that what is seen has been thought about and created carefully. The hind seam is now finished. The sleeve lining seams are stitched next.

The underarm piece of the sleeve lining is placed against the underarm piece of the wool sleeve, wrong sides together. The seam allowances are match along their length and then basted together, this stitch stays in place and will stop the lining from twisting. Finish the sleeve by stitching the lining to the vent and hem. Baste the vent closed before pressing. The sleeve is ready to set in.

Before presenting the sleeve the armhole edge is stabilised and eased in around the back armscye to give added shape over the shoulder blade.

The sleeve is tacked around the underarm and like most sleeves has to be eased in to fit the upper armhole. With a soft wool that is very malleable I ease as I tack. Using small stitches put the needle into the sleeve, through the armhole fabric(not the canvas or linings at this stage) and back out so the needle is now under the sleeve cloth. Allow the needle to catch the back of the cloth and drag it back slightly before finishing the stitch. Each stitch has more of the sleeve cloth included in it, resulting in the sleeve fitting the smaller armhole.

As the armhole seam takes a lot of strain it is important it's hand stitched securely. It's backstitched through all the layers, including the lining, canvas and shoulder pads. The shoulder pads are too thick so dig in at least half way through. Then with the body lining on top back stitch round again. This time digging as far as possible into the shoulder pad again. After trimming the armhole allowances the sleeve roll is added into the sleeve head creating a soft roll without any gathers.

Throughout tailoring there is a lot of pressing, it's an essential part of the process. Pressing the sleeve head helps the finished effect. The main construction of the jacket is finished when the sleeve lining is slip stitched to the armhole.

The hand finishing is very satisfying, especially as the tacking threads are finally removed. I finish the collar first, using a contrasting silk buttonhole thread to herringbone stitch the Melton and create the front edge of the collar. The inner neck edge of the collar is back stitched to hold it securely to the inner canvases and the collar is invisibly stitched to the front facing out to the lapel notch. Next comes the lining. For some reason the back neck lining is still something I find tricky, but I'm getting better! The front lining is slip stitched to the piping and shaped round the inner pocket.

I wanted a clean finish round the front edges without any pick stitching sinking into the soft contrasting wool. I chose to slip stitch the edges, rolling the top cloth slightly to the underside.

Then it was time for buttons and buttonholes. Each time I do them they get better and I get quicker! Here's a link to how I make buttonholes on my tutorials page With all the tacking removed and a final press. I was relieved to find I could steam the Melton to lift the marks made by the tacking!

The country look of this jacket means I can wear it with skirts or trousers, both formally and in casual situations and it is truly comfortable .

Jun 11 2017 02:37PM by mandy

Well done, a beautifully fitted jacket.
Thanks also for the descriptions of each process. This has been enormously useful.

Nov 9 2017 09:14AM by Laura

I followed this through the stages and have been in awe of your skills. Creating something this polished is definitely something I aspire to.

Apr 3 2018 06:43PM by Jenny Buck

Wonderful jacket Di. How refreshing to see the correct techniques being used as I was taught! Lovely!

Apr 12 2018 12:31PM by diofheage

Thanks for your support Jenny.

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