Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grey wool crepe suit - sleeves and more

Sewing on the grey wool crepe suit from my previous post continues.  This fabric is a dream.  The jacket is almost finished, but I took a few pictures along the way.   If you notice the orange thread near the collar, I will explain that below.

Grey suit sleeve head

Grey suit shoulder stayTo stay the shoulders, instead of stay tape, I cut a piece of the selvedge from the lining, and used that in place of stay tape.  I think the commercial stay tapes are just a bit too stiff whereas the lining selvedge is thin and presses better but achieves the same effect and satisfies my fabric miser tendencies.

Since I almost always sew in linings by hand, I can do what I like with the seam allowances at the neck and collar so in this case I have sewn them down flat using a catchstitch.  
A catchstitch is kind of a criss-cross X pattern of stitching that is really useful.  If you want to see how to do it check out this Oliver + S blog post or there are a number of videos online.

Grey suit catchstitch

Getting back to the orange thread - this catchstitch will never be seen, so I went to my stash of silk thread and picked the most unlikely color that I will never need for any other project.
I found this little rack of threads at an estate sale and bought it along with a huge trove of other goodies.   See those beautiful little wooden spools of Belding and Corticelli silk thread.
I miss that company that seemed to disappear when I wasn't looking and always thought the thread colors were like little jewels.

Silk threads

Once the sleeves were attached I sewed on sleeve heads.  I think this is some kind of wool, not sure as I have a big piece and cut out the sleeve heads myself.  Bias strips 10" x 2" and then fold over about 1/3 and press lightly.    Hand sewn in place onto the seam allowance on the sleeve side.    The photo on the right shows the sleeve head in place on the sleeve on the right side of the photo, the left side sleeve does not have its sleeve head.  It may be subtle but there is a difference.   The sleeve with the sleeve head has not been pressed (and will not be)
but the sleeve cap is smooth and ever so slightly filled out.

Grey suit shoulder difference
Grey suit sleeve head

The last step I have finished on this jacket is to sew in the lining, here I have used a combination of machine sewing and hand sewing.   Then I got to try out a new technique called Ravel Grading that I learned from Pamela Emy on her blog, Off-The-Cuff.  Her blog is fantastic and I have learned so many great things since I discovered it.  Plus her interfacing is really superior and now my first choice for tailoring projects.

By doing the Ravel Grading, bulk is eliminated in the seam allowance without trimming.
On this wool crepe the technique works especially well, I am interested to see how it works on other fabrics.   Here I have removed threads for about 1/4" reducing the thickness of the seam allowance on the center front edges of the jacket.  

Grey suit ravel grade

Next up,  finish this jacket - started the pants last night.

Here is today's SunnyGal Garden photo, taken on Saturday in the rain.  Most years after the pink Jasmine on the back fence has finished blooming, I see the morning glories growing and they bloom in the late summer, so there is a scattering of these purple jewels across the green carpet of the jasmine vine.  But this year there have been no flowers until just the last week or so.  What a strange garden year it has been in N. Calif. 2010.   The first of the morning glories, when they should be ending!



  1. Thanks for stopping by the blog...I'm glad that you enjoyed the post. It's too bad that you can't make it to the LACMA exhibit. The construction details on some of the garments were indeed very interesting. Still, I think some of very fine hand embroidery skills may be lost to the average/self-taught crafter these days. I'm thinking about going back again with my camera to capture some of the design and decorative elements that I loved best.

    That grey wool crepe jacket is going to be divine!

  2. Thanks for the link to Ravel Grading. I'd never heard of doing that before but what a great idea to reduce bulk in seams.

  3. I've just started following your blog; you're certainly a FABULOUS dressmaker. I'll be getting the New Look pattern for this jacket, it's simple but just my style. I'd love to see a tutorial on how you line jackets, at least the main elements, since it's an area I'm not yet confident with. Anyone else wanting a tutorial?

  4. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful sleeve caps; the folks on Style Forum would refer to it as "spalla camacia." The sleeve caps lack a souffle-like appearance. Did you press them to smoothen the surface?

    Awesome post!