with Di Kendall

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By Di, Feb 9 2016 03:32PM

Since Christmas I have committed a significant amount of time towards the completion of my fully hand tailored jacket.

When I started I wasn't sure that I would use all of the hand stitched techniques, use them for essential elements and machine the rest. It seems that many Savile Row tailors now undertake much of the construction by machine. However, the more involved I became, the more I was determined to do it properly.

I realise now that I don't have any photos of how the chest canvas was pad stitched. It soon became apparent that the construction methods and the order of the processes were going to be completely different to those I have grown familiar with.

The pointed part of the front darts were machined, Then, along with the front seam, came my first experience of stab stitching seams and I found it really satisfying.

The dart and front seam matched well, thanks to the time given to planning the cutting out.

The interfacing, chest canvas and Domette, that have already been pad stitched, now needed to be shaped to allow for the chest and to give space for the chest pockets and anything that might be put into them. There is no pattern for the canvas and position of the darts, so I needed to follow the video carefully. Once finished there can be no bulk or ridges that could leave an impression on the outer fabric. So the darts are made edge to edge and covered with strips of lining that are cross stitched in place.

Many rows of basting were used to attach the body canvas to the main fabric. As I stitched I had to persuade the main fabric to take shape, keeping the stripes running straight. Sometimes the fabric was stretched slightly and at other places I had to build in ease.

I decided to make three outer pockets, two with flaps and one has an inside card pocket in the pocket bag. This photo shows the breast pocket during construction, matching the stripes! You can also see some of the basting that holds the body canvas in place.

The finished pocket, I was dissappointed that the hand stitching made a ridge at one side. So onto the lower pockets.

With the pockets finished I moved on to the lapels. These needed the roll line supported by a strip of fabric cut on the straight grain. As well as stopping the fold from stretching it also eases in the centre section to stop the lapels gaping. The pad stitching on the lapels creates the roll of the lapel. You need to work with the fabric rolling over your fingers so that the main fabric will be shorter than the interfacing.

This photo shows the interfaced side of one lapel and the fabric side of the other. It includes the pad stitching and the finished edge.

It took 8 hours to complete the edge of both fronts! The interfacing is cut 6mm inside the seam line. Then bias tape is cross stitched to the interfacing enclosing the edge. Many rows of basting later, having folded in the fabric edge and mitring the corner another row of cross stitch meant the front was ready for the front facing to be added. This process is designed so there is no ridge round the outer edge of the jacket. The turned edges fit snugly into the space between the interfacing and the edge.

This is the underside of the lapel, pad stitched and the edge finished.

There are three inside pockets to complete. Two breast pockets and one lower security/phone pocket. Although the pockets are made using linen and lining, they are put into the facing fabric. This means that the weight of anything in the pockets is fully supported by the jacket and not just the lining.

The left front facing is now firmly basted in place. It will be one of the last things to be stitched permanently. The photo shows the pocket bag of the lower pocket with it's smaller card pocket. They are cross stitched to gain support from the intefarcing, but also moving freely in the lower part. Something I had not done before was to make a tuck across the pocket bag so it can expand when used. The upper pocket in this photo is the inside one made in the facing.

The previous photo also gives some clues about the inner construction of the canvas and domette. There are a few more rows of basting keeping the roll of the lapel in place.

Now that the facing and all seven pockets were finished it was time to add the lining to the fronts.

The linings were cut using the main body cloth as patterns, with extra fabric added where necessary for providing ease. The front and side front lining sections were stitched by machine and pressed to make a very small tuck. Rather than a dart there is a tuck in the front lining.

At this stage the lining covers up the inner pockets. You can just see one of them in the photo. Again there are quite a few rows of basting holding the lining to the body of the jacket. Once the line where the edge of the lining will be is drawn, the excess lining is trimmed off, the edges turned under and basted.

The hem was finished before adding the lining. I'll explain this when I write about the back of the jacket as I have more photos. The lining is basted in place so that when finished there will be enough wearing ease along the bottom edge.

I have no idea how many hours went into completing the fronts, but it was a lot .......................

In Part 3 I'll discuss the back, as well as shaping and attaching the collar.

By Di, Jan 25 2016 04:11PM

In January 2015, 6months into retirement, I decided I needed a new challenge ....................and then I came across an 'offer'.

The online course The Savile Row Coat was reduced. As tempted as I was this was very expensive, however I took the plunge and invested in lifetime access to this resource. So glad I did that, I now know it's something I shall keep going back to.

Unfortunately the course is no longer available to new students, such a shame.

Now this is what I'm trying to achieve ..... however my cloth didn't cost £900 a metre!

I decided I would make a blazer as it seemed more practicle, my husband would get more wear out of it than a suite. So I chose a pattern with that in mind. One day when I was teaching at Love Hector's Emporium in Crich I had come across Burda 6871 and I'd added it to my stash.

It was a toss up between that and Vogue 8719

Not sure why, but the Burda pattern was to be the one I used. I think it seemed to match the measurements I had.

By now it was summer 2015 and I'd not made much progress. I knew I would have to commit a considerable amount of time to this project ....... little did I know ..................... Also I was developing workshops and other resources that seemed to get in the way.

I had all my fabrics, interfacings etc so I made a toile and was really pleased with the fit. During a cold and wet holiday in France I gave time to pad stitching the chest canvas and collar .... sorry no photos at this point. Once back in the UK progress again stalled. So once Xmas was sorted I decided now was the time to make my Savile Row Coat.

When I was happy with the toile I cut it apart along the stitching lines and used it to mark out the cloth. Those stripes were going to be a real challenge. The online lessons used a pin stripe to demonstrate how to make sure the stripes matched, but my cloth had 2 colours and a pinstripe!

Part 2 will share my progress making the fronts, 7 pockets and hand stitched lapels......................

By Di, May 28 2015 04:37PM

I decided to use Simplicity 6145 for my dress and soon got my project underway.

The pattern I chose to use.
The pattern I chose to use.

This proved to be the starting point for an outfit that I hoped would show the wide range of my knowledge and skills.

When I received my Simplicity pattern the first thing I decided to do was to make it up to find out how well it fitted. First of all I compared my measurements to the size chart, and then I looked at the finished sizes printed on the pattern. I know that at 5ft 2in I like my clothes figure hugging. The finished garment was really pleasing, just the positioning of the front darts would benefit from slight adjustments.

I had already seen a lovely tweed fabric from and knew I wanted to use this as part of my design. My initial sketches used the tweed for a jacket to compliment a dress that would be far more fluid. I have a huge fabric stash and rarely have to find a specific cloth. My problems began when I tried to find a fabric for the dress. I needed the right colour in a fabric that would drape well. I hoped to find a jersey, but despite searching the internet and the shops in the surrounding area I knew I was really struggling to find something I was happy with. I decided to visit an area of Derby traditionally associated with the Asian community. There were fewer shops than previous visits and I had some lovely discussions about the demise of textiles. However I found a shop selling Sari fabric, not exactly what I had in mind, but the colours were perfect and the polyester crepe had so much potential, along with a few problems for my design ideas. I had three pieces of cloth, an embroidered crepe, a matching plain crepe and an embroidered chiffon.

After a long search I was really pleased with how well the fabrics worked
After a long search I was really pleased with how well the fabrics worked

I then found a shot 'China silk' which I used for the lining and piping. The different coloured warp and weft were an incredible match to my fabric and really helped tie the fabrics together.

Once I knew I had fabric I began to develop the pattern for my dress. I transferred the French darts into princess seams, this would allow more fitting possibilities as well as long lines that are more flattering to my figure. At this stage I raised the neckline as well and omitted the sleeves.

I made a toile in Polycotton that finished at low hip level. I traced the seam lines onto the fabric and cut out with 3cm seam allowances. When I tried it on I had to make a few adjustments to get the right bust fitting, allow for my sway back and give a more fitted outline. I also realised that the neckline was not very flattering. I knew I wanted, if possible, to use some of the decorative fabric on the neck band. I recut the neckline (that I had previously altered) to the original pattern and decided to use the neck facings of the pattern as the neck band. The bodice at this stage had a narrow shoulder seam.

Once I was happy with the fit I made a second toile. I used this as my pattern. I’d used a tracing wheel and carbon paper to mark the original stitching lines. Once the fit was correct I decided to cut along the stitching and add the turning allowances as I cut out my fashion fabric.

What I had realised was that the bodice of my dress needed more structure to support the delicate fabric. I cut the bodice sections from poly cotton poplin as well as the main fabric to create an interlining. Each section was then stitched to its matching interlining about 1.4mm from the edge. I also cut a lining from China silk.

The bodice was stitched together and some minor fitting adjustments made. The bodice lining was also made at this time and the invisible zip was inserted on the left side.

I now had to drape the embroidered cloth to create the desired effect for the skirt. I had 2.5 metres to play around with! Using my dummy, Edith, I tried different lines to fit the skirt to the bodice. I had originally intended to use pleats at the front left seam to create drapes. In the end I rotated the fabric 90 degrees creating a flattering drape giving fullness at the front. This edge was stitched to the original weft edge of the decorated section. I had always wanted more fullness at the back using the bias to achieve this. I cut a lining to the sane design without the front drape.

Being quite small I find a straight hemline not very flattering, so I wanted the back longer than the front. The lining mirrored the main fabric, cut shorter at the back so it is not visible when worn.

The hems were made with a rolled hem using the over-locker. For the main fabric I used a contrasting rayon thread to match the embroidery on the original cloth.

How I shaped the front hem to achieve the drape
How I shaped the front hem to achieve the drape

The overlocked rolled hem
The overlocked rolled hem

I had found a shot silk fabric to line the jacket that really complimented the colours of the dress. I decided to use this to make piping for both edges of the neck band. Luckily I had been able to cut the embroidered cloth so that I could use coloured alternating pieces for the neck band. I interlined the neck band before attaching to the dress. This was when I had to finalise the exact shoulder line of the dress. I decided that I could eliminate the shoulder seam, using the neck band to support the dress. I had to be able to wear a bra and the lines all seemed to work.

Having recut the armholes to suit the design I used a binding that was hand stitched to the lining. Then I lined the neck band. I added a small strip of Rigilene into both sides of the neck band on the shoulder line to help keep its shape.

Neck band and piping
Neck band and piping

The dress
The dress

I now had to make a jacket that complimented the design of the dress. It needed to reflect the asymmetric lines as well as the lowered seam at the back.

I drafted a pattern and then ‘played’ around with the hemline when worn over the dress. The neckline of the jacket needed to give a glimpse of the dress neckline. Having made a collar that mirrored the jacket I realised that it needed to roll more as it was much more elegant. I shortened the outer edge to create the desired line.

I wanted the jacket to be quite structured in comparison to the fluid dress. I decided to use a fusible canvas to interface the bodice and collar.

Jacket front showing the dress neck detail.
Jacket front showing the dress neck detail.

Back vent and piping
Back vent and piping

I had wanted to use a pocket on the jacket, but it did not suit the short design. I decided that I could put a curved welt pocket in the lining. It would reflect the shape of the edge, whilst giving somewhere to put small change, bank card or lipstick! The method I used for the welt pocket is one that I have personally developed. I face the opening first. Stitch the welts together and then place them behind the opening, hand stitching them into place. With curved welts they can be pressed into the desired shape before stitching. To help support the pocket the facing fabric extended to the armhole. The pocket bags were attached to the welts.

I used the same method as the pocket to make the bound buttonhole that is underneath the collar.

Curved welt, piping, hand understitching and bound buttonhole
Curved welt, piping, hand understitching and bound buttonhole

The collar and outer edge of the jacket is piped in the same fabric I used for the dress piping and the jacket lining. The back of the jacket has a vent and I chose to finish the piping so that it meets at the centre back.

The shoulders of the jacket have an additional layer of canvas interfacing to provide support. When inserting the sleeves I used cotton batting to create a roll at the top of the sleeve.

The jacket is fastened with a button. This needs a longer shank to fasten through the layers of the front jacket. I inserted a cocktail stick behind the button to create the required space. As the button was stitched I also stitched through a transparent button on the inside to provide support.

I decided that I would then make a bra from the remaining dress fabric. So that if the bra straps strayed out from the neck band at least they would match the dress! I couldn’t get elastic and fastenings in the same colour so I decided to dye them. The colour is not the same, but complimentary.

Bra front
Bra front

Bra back
Bra back

The bra has a long line as I have found this to be really comfortable and supportive. I experimented with the shape of the cups to provide a flattering shape and enough support. I’ve made bras before, but for the first time I decided to use cotton batting in the cups.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my outfit.

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Simple pattern alteration for a side seam pocket

Use your overlocker to make buttonhole loops

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