Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Suit for a Japanese Wedding Part 2

This week I finished the suit that Rita is wearing to her son's wedding in Japan.  Here is the finished jacket and skirt.  As mentioned in the previous post, I used McCall's 5759 for the jacket. While the jacket looks great on Rita, I am not happy with the way it looks on the dress form, the collar sinks a bit and the heavy buttons kind of pull a bit.  The fabric was fantastic to work with.
Hopefully I will get a great photo from the occasion to post.

Rita is an artist and forges metal pieces, so she chose some very unique buttons that are a burnished metal.  This jacket style, with the hidden buttonholes lends itself well to a distinctive button so if anyone has some special buttons they are waiting to use - maybe give this one a try.

Here are a few construction details.  Across the back I put a layer of black muslin which serves to stabilize the shoulders and add a layer so the shoulder pads don't show on the right side of the fabric.  Where the collar and jacket pieces attach, I trimmed and sew down the seam allowances,  also done on the inside collar and jacket facing.
Jacket collar inside

On the inside collar, I did put an extra piece of pellon interfacing on top of the knit fusible interfacing to add a bit more stiffness to the collar.

Collar facing with extra Interfacing

For the hems I pin up and press a sharp line, then run a basting thread along that line to mark the hem.  I press on a 3" wide piece of armo-weft type interfacing along that hem which gives the hem crease a softer turn, and allows the hem stitches to be perfectly hidden.
Rita jacket hem work
Rita hem 2

For the skirt I used SImplicity 2451, changing the waistband to make it almost straight across instead of curved, and narrowing the waistband by about 3/4" from the top.  

Rita skirt

and today's SunnyGal garden photo.   


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Suit for a Japanese Wedding

This week I am working on a suit for Rita, who is going to Japan later this month for her son’s wedding.  She had a jacket with an asymmetrical front in mind, so I found McCalls 5759.  I saw a few versions of it on Pattern Review and liked the shape.  I am making the version with the stand collar.  We found a beautiful menswear Italian wool suiting and actually are using the wrong side of the fabric.  

I did a fitting muslin, and the lines look good even in muslin - so I am looking forward to seeing it finished.  Here is the muslin front view.

This pattern has a pocket flap but no pocket - what is the use of that?  A faux pocket is worse than no pocket at all.  So I decided to put a welt pocket in, underneath the flap which has a very specific placement and I didn’t want to mess with that.  
Below is the outside of the jacket, marked with red basting thread.  I placed it about 5/8” below the line for the pocket flap so it will be entirely covered.  In the photo you can see my handy Chakoner chalk marker.  It is an incredibly useful tool, makes a super sharp line and the chalk inside seems to last for at least 5 years.  Amazing. 

Here is the inside of the jacket, I put a rectangle of fusible interfacing over the target area,  actually I do that step first, then baste the red markings, following lines I have drawn using the tailor tacks to draw the lines.

Next I cut and sew the pocket edges.  For this I used straight grain fabric, cut about 3” x 8”.  it is really important to stretch and steam the pieces, to take any of the slack out of the weave.  This wool is very tightly woven but on a tweed or something else this is a really necessary step as the pocket edges will sag or become misshapen during wear and look weird.  For any kind of plaid I like to do the pockets on the bias because it is visually more interesting, but then this stretching step is crucial as the bias cut pieces want to stretch all the more.   The pieces are folded in half, and then I stitch 1/4”  from the folded edge.  

After stitching, I trim the pieces 1/4” from the stitching so they end up being 1/2” wide.

It would be impossible to start with a 1” piece, then fold and stitch accurately, plus you lose that fraction of an inch with the turn of the cloth.  So this method results in very accurate pocket edges ready to go.  I really get annoyed at patterns that have little pieces for the pocket edges,  who are they kidding?  Never gonna work.  

Next I pin the edges onto the jacket.  It is not visible, but the cut edges line up with the red basting threads.  Note I have marked with chalk where the stitching ends.

I sew right on top of the previous stitching, which results in a perfect 1/4” pocket edge.  This photo is kind of upside down, as the pocket lining is on the bottom,

After I sew across the edges, the moment of truth comes when I slash open the pocket, directly in the center, again using the red basting thread as a guide.  About 1/2” from the edge I stop, and then cut diagonally to the edges.  Then push the pocket through the opening, and attach the pocket lining, again along the same stitch line.  Lastly stitch around the pocket, catching the little triangle into the stitching, which secures the two ends of the pocket opening.   
I did a one-welt pocket, so the bottom has a welt and the top is the jacket fabric, sewn to the pocket lining.

Finished pocket - hidden under pocket flap (unfiinished at this time).

Here is the jacket assembled.  Collar is not on yet, but you can see all the tailor's tacks for the hidden buttonholes.   In a few days I will finish this jacket and have more photos.  

and today's SunnyGal Studio garden photo,  some sunny primulas in bloom.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tailoring Tool Time

After a winter filled with silk and velvet dresses for my sewing clients it was time for a change.  Taking a cue from one of my favorite sewing blogs The Selfish Seamstress I pulled out a piece of beautiful wool houndstooth and made Simplicity 2812 just for me.

check jacket1resized
While winter is almost over, I hope to get some wear out of this jacket now and next fall.  Whenever I make a tailored wool garment I always get it about 80% completed and then I can't wait to be FINISHED, so the last few bits, lining and hemming did drag on.  For no good reason I put a sliver of royal blue piping in the front lining.  Color obsessed as I am I felt it needed the zing, even if hidden.
(sometimes I use red satin pocket linings just for fun.)blue trim check jacket

Working on a wool jacket requires pulling out the pressing and shaping tools.  I like using these old school items - I have had this sleeve board with the interchangeble parts for a while.  I am not sure what the components are called, but the pointed wood piece is ideal for pressing open graded seams on collars and the jacket front.
Sleeve board with corner pointSleeve board with round boardSleeve boardSleeve board with round
These are my other high tech tools, a pair of wooden "bricks" which I think my dad cut and sanded long ago from some 1" x 3" boards.  Technically they are called clappers, and after a seam is steam pressed open you clap the board on it and press for a good few seconds,  allowing the steam to really get in the fibers and give that wool some muscle memory.

Here is a close up of the front jacket and facing seam, graded with the facing piece cut closer than the jacket piece,  allowing the turned seam to lay flat and reduce bulk.  Next step is to press open on the sleeve board point, and then finally press jacket front flat.   Pressing the seam open prior to the flat press creates a sharper turn.
grade seam
Inside the sleeve cap I put a sleeve head, made of a 1.75" x 10" bias cut of a woven wool, pressing over 1/2" lengthwise and then hand stitching it very loosely right at the seam allowance, and then pushing it out toward the sleeve cap.  This cushions the top of the sleeve cap and creates a smooth sleeve both front and back.
sleeve head
For the buttonholes I have my fantastic Singer attachment which creates consistent, strong buttonholes with rounded ends.

This jacket turned out OK.  Maybe I am not crazy about the collar.  The style is not the issue, but the itchy quotient is high.  I had thought about making the stand collar version and putting black velveteen on the inside, which may have been better in the long run - but this ruffled collar lured me in.
check jacket3psd
So on the remaining chilly days that require a turtleneck sweater I will be wearing my jacket and wishing for spring.

and here is a SunnyGal garden photo - first tulips of the tulips