Hand sewing structure! #Blazerof2016

Hello again! Two posts in a week! Aren’t you lucky? Last time I showed you the basic construction of my #Blazerof2016 jacket. Namely cutting the fabric, a bit of iron-working and sewing the major components together. So I have now moved on to the ‘scary’ bit! The collar and lapels. Sewing a good collar in a jacket strikes fear into many…indeed I still dread this step on occasion. Actually it is not difficult, it just takes good preparation and time. Oh also a bit of hand sewing….. In fact my fingers have had a good deal of exercise today with so much hand sewing (see I said sewing by hand was good for you!)

So the observant of you will see that the front of my jacket has now been covered in rows of pretty basting stitches…..

The reason, of course, is to hold the interfacing in place. Now a tailored jacket has a multitude of interfacing components, adding structure, shape and weight. I am not a tailor, just an amateur sewist who likes to make tailored things, so I will show you my (easier) method of getting the tailored look.

Cut a nice piece of woven canvas fabric: (nice soft and flexible). Use the front pattern piece as a guide but cut away from shoulder, through breast to hem (make a nice gentle curve).

Carefully baste the canvas to the inside of the front fabric. Take your time and use loose unequal basting stitches. Remember it needs to conform to the shape of the wearer! The canvas will ‘float’ between the fabric and lining. It will only be held to the structure along the front edge of the jacket and across the shoulders. So go ahead and sew the canvas to the seam of the front shoulder. I use a nice small hand sewn backstitch.

Although it is a little tricky, I find that after sewing the canvas to the shoulder, put the jacket on the mannequin or model (the right way out!) and get the canvas in place underneath. Then baste to the curve of the front (very carefully if being worn by a human!). Don’t worry if it doesn’t line up exactly on the front edge but make sure it sits well against the body. Now turn the jacket inside out and mark the seam line on the canvas (from lapel corner to bottom hem line). Also mark the roll line (the line where the lapel rolls over) and you will have drawn a triangle shape at the top of the lapel (this is important!)

In the last post I discussed the merits of hand stitching and I am going to introduce you to another hand sewn stitch…..

The Pad stitch. This is a stitch you may not have come across but is invaluable in many tailored items. The pad stitch is normally used to hold interfacing material to the fabric and allow shape to be created. In a jacket, for example there will normally be one or more layers of interfacing material to give shape to the front, lapels and collar. The lapels and collar in particular would be Pad stitched allowing you to join the layers of fabric and interfacing, creating shape and, if done well, you won’t even notice the stitches.

The stitch pattern forms a diagonal with the needle passing through the fabric parallel to the previous. Here I have started at the top and worked down. The needle is taking around 1cm through the fabric, just catching the layer below.

The next row of Pad stitches are then worked from bottom to top in the same manner. Repeat until the Pad stitched area is complete.

Now you drew a nice triangle on your canvas at the top of the lapel. This will be Pad stitched. Pick a suitable colour thread to be as inconspicuous as possible on the fabric. After  practice your stitches will not even show but don’t worry too much because these stitches will be hidden when the lapel is rolled over. 
The best way to start is to lay the jacket down on a table with the lapel roll line you drew along the edge of the table.
Now start to pad stitch. (It doesn’t matter which end you start and don’t worry how precise you are!). Keep the Pad stitching in line with the roll line. The aim is to just catch the fabric under the canvas so the stitches are invisible. (It does take time and practice but go for it)
Stitch 2 rows with the jacket hanging over the edge of the table.
Now put the jacket on the table with the lapel rolled over. (notice how it is starting to curve?)
Continue to Pad stitch until you fill the triangle. I will say again…don’t worry about how perfect these stitches are! 
Here you can see the left (RHS of jacket) sits beautifully against the jacket (Pad stitched side) whilst the other side flaps around and curls over!
Next you need some 1/4inch cotton twill tape. Any colour you like (I only had black)
The tape is sewn (again by hand) down the roll line (keep the tape edge against the inside of the line you drew) and around the lapel (again with the tape edge on the inside of the line). Repeat for other side.
Continue sewing the tape along the front seam line around the curve at the hem and along for a few inches (Along hem line). Leave plenty of ease in the tape as you go around the hem curve. Try to sew the tape to the canvas only, not through to the fabric.
Trim away the canvas to the tape line (we don’t want to add unnecessary bulk to the seams) and voila!
Now it is time for the collar. The jacket collar consists of an Under-collar and Upper-collar. The Under-collar is attached to the jacket whereas the Upper-collar is attached to the facings, which are then attached to the jacket! Confused yet?
So Under-collar….I have cut my Under-collar in Melton fabric: A wool that feels like felt. It is quite expensive and you don’t need much but I happened to have some spare. You can always use good quality felt which is much cheaper. To be honest I have used felt before without any problems. Cut the same in canvas material and cut off the seam allowance. Baste to wrong side of Under-collar.
Now Pad stitch time again! Start at the centre and work towards the tip.
See how the Pad stitched side is beginning to curve…
Now repeat for the other side and complete.
Now I am not going into detail as to how you should join the Under-collar to the jacket. There are a multitude of different ways so follow your pattern. Just check everything ten times before sewing! If it looks wrong then it probably is! Measure everything and take your time.
Under-collar attached, seams clipped and trimmed and pressed.

See the nice roll of the collar and lapel? (note lapel and collar joining edge is pressed over canvas ready for next step)

Well thats all for today. Hope your #Blazerof2016 is going well? Next we will tackle the facings, Upper-collar and hem.
Until next time…..Happy sewing

13 thoughts on “Hand sewing structure! #Blazerof2016”

  1. Jamie, great work as always. I enjoy these detailed construction posts, i have been putting them together into a reference for myself when I sew. I sew in sprints, I will have a weekend that i can spend sewing with time off between so, it is helpful when i look at your blog posts for reminding me what to do. It looks like you and your young lad, are having fun in the sewing room together. It is also nice that you are expanding out, with articles etc, you will have to get an agent and get yourself a tele series on sewing. – Corey

  2. I also noticed in the pictures with your son that you have a Janome Sewist machine. Can you do a post or a brief commentary on your equipment and choice of sewing machines etc. – Corey

  3. Jamie,
    I too enjoy your blog. I'm going to follow this sew along, (and after March, hopefully be able to participate). Your posts are well documented, simple and interestingly, harmonize with what professional tailors do and teach. (Regarding building shape into the lapels, tailors sometimes make wooden convex pressing forms that they lay the front, canvas, horsehair chest piece, and domette onto to form the shape of the chest and shoulder area while padstitching). There's an on-line tailoring course taught by Andrew Ramroop, and it's fantastic. Your blog is too. I'm planning a 3 piece suit, so hopefully time will allow me to get it done. Thanks for posting this.

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