Friday, October 25, 2013

Faux french jacket - more about sleeves

Hello stitchers and happy Friday! I am in the home stretch on this jacket and just getting to the point where I want it to be done. Always happens with coats and jackets, they are so much more involved than dresses, even this simple one. Plus my sewing room is a mass of black fibers as this boucle type fabric sheds constantly. Even migrating to the rest of the house. Do you ever see a dark squiggly thing on the floor and think it is a bug only to find on closer inspection it is a piece of thread? Happening extra often with this one.
Plus yesterday I was trying the jacket on for last fitting before doing the lining and trim when I decided that the fit was not quite right. Needs shoulder pads?  Something else? So I let it marinate during the evening, and finally decided that I should have narrowed the shoulders at the princess seam. Which is quite an easy adjustment with shoulder princess seams and one I could have done from the start. So now I have to open up those seams and adjust. Here is the jacket with some pins to indicate the alteration, about 1/2 inch out of the seam at the top tapering down about 5 inches frot and back. I am kicking myself as I did this same adjustment on this very similar Vogue 8865 blogged here and here.

shoulder seam change

OK, enough whining, now on to sleeves. I have noticed when I teach sewing students that sleeves are a big mystery to a lot of people.  How to fit, sew, ease, grade, press etc. They do have a lot of details that I think the pattern instructions, whether in Big 4 patterns or indies tend to omit or don't show in excruciating detail. The attention to detail and some tips can help take some of the pain out of sleeve sewing. In this post there is a run down of all my steps for putting in the sleeve in a tailored jacket if you want more info.
Getting a nice sleeve starts with marking the pattern pieces. Here are the upper and under sleeve pieces.
On the under sleeve it is easier to see, but on both sleeve parts there are both LARGE and SMALL dots. It is really important to mark these dots and use them.  When I was first sewing I never really paid attention to the various dots and it showed!
sleeve pattern pieces
Red arrow, back of sleeve is always double notch
When you mark your sleeve pieces mark all the dots. You know I love tailor's tacks so that is my method of choice and on a textured fabric like this boucle I think it is the only reliable method. The LARGE dots, circled in red are used to place the sleeve in the jacket body. There is another large dot at the top of the sleeve cap which I have not marked here but those are all match their corresponding large dots on the jacket front and back. The small dots circled in blue are for matching the seams of the under and upper sleeve to each other. Note they are on the seam allowance and when you match them up the top of the sleeve often looks kind of strange but it works.
Here is is with the upper and under sleeve sewn together. Once those pieces are sewn together the result is a sleeve that matches the armscye (armhole but I think it is fun to use this archaic sounding word). Some of the dots are close together and it is tempting to ignore them but it really does help to get the sleeve lined up properly. Same goes for all marking dots on patterns. It is very tempting to match up the top ends of the sleeve and just stitch but if you do that you will find they are off at the hem edge and your sleeve armhole will not be quite right. Although on this pattern they have continued the seam allowances out properly so you could do it that way. But I like to match the dots, for some reason it is like ticking items off a to-do list, as I go along a little voice in my head is saying matched here and here and here. Steps accomplished, yay! Small victories, but in a long process the little steps add up. 
sleeve muslin 2

My lining is sewn together and I need to do one more thing before I sew it in. Carolyn(cmarie12) asked if I was planning any other trim and the answer is yes. I have been experimenting with fringe and this is the result. The fabric is sewn onto strips of silk organza and then fringed. Last night I watched 2 hours of Project Runway (the reunion show, hilarious and those people are crazy) and then the All-Stars Episode 1, also crazy, but entertaining. While I pulled the threads and made fringe. Strangely relaxing and mindless occupation.  I think I will add the trim, fringe and multiple pockets...or will look at it and hear Tim Gunn's voice saying " edit edit edit".  Time and staring at my dress form will tell.

jacket fringe
Thanks for all the great comments and letting me know you appreciate the plaid matching tips. One comment really made me smile, from Laury who said "you have some mad skills". You have no idea how happy that concise comment made me. Big smile!
OK, off to meet a friend for lunch and then time to get this jacket completed - time to move on to the next thing. 
No garden photo today, everything is looking very dreary. And it is chilly today - I have to wear a jacket, and real shoes, eek, no more sandals for a while.  oooooh I so dislike autumn, despite the fun fabrics and patterns.  
Happy weekend sewing, Beth


  1. It's true - sleeves baffle me! - I'm usually quite good at setting them in, but the jacket I'm currently making has been a nightmare! I had to do one sleeve 5 times before getting it even vaguely right, and it's still not perfect.

  2. Hi Beth...I'm currently working on a jacket which happens to be my first plaid that is "un" everything...unbalanced, uneven, etc. Everything was going well until I got to setting those sleeves. It appears that my plaids will not match if I match all the dots and notches up. I may have to set it aside and revisit it in a day or two to rest my brain.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you for both the sleeve tutorial and your opinion on autumn. It is also my least favorite time of year, and I am surrounded by people who love dead leaves and pumpkins!

  4. This pattern is on my machine at the moment too! I even made a toile this time. I'm up to inserting the sleeves but am debating whether it is too big. Decisions, decisions! How does yours fit? Is it fitted through the waist? I also took an extra 1.5cm out of the princess seam at the shoulders, both front and back. It's a great looking jacket Beth!

  5. I have been enjoying seeing all the versions of "French jackets" that have been popping up in the last few weeks. Yours will be beautiful and even though yours is a faux french there's still so much work involved! Look forward to seeing the finished product.

  6. You have no idea how your acknowledging my comment made ME smile!

  7. Setting in sleeves have always scared me. It's one of those "need to take a deep breath before I start" aspects of sewing a garment!

  8. Oh my gosh – I am always spotting strange things on the rug that turn out to be threads or bits of clipped fabric! But it certainly is preferable to a stain or a bug!

  9. What a nuisance having to go back and adjust. Looking good though.

  10. I'm new here. The sleeve thing, well i'v been sewing for a year now and it baffles me that the sleeve thing still makes me cringe.


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