Continuing the make of my home tailored 3 piece suit we move to finishing the front and creating the lapels. Read Part 1 and Part 2 if you need to get up to speed. We have two front jacket pieces (with pockets completed) and we have constructed the canvas interfacing for both. Now we must attach the canvas to each front before we can construct the lapels.
If you have ever seen a tailored jacket, during construction, you will have seen a myriad of basting thread. This basting is what attaches the canvas to the suit fronts to keep everything in shape whilst you work on the jacket.
Attaching the Canvas
The canvas was extensively covered in Part 2 but attaching correctly to the jacket is vital. A canvas forms the shape and adds structure to the jacket so a little bit of time spent here is well worth it! Attach the canvas using basting thread (or tacking thread) and if you don’t own any, go and buy some! It is a great product: easy to use, soft and won’t leave marks in the fabric after it is removed (you can also press over it too). It is cheap and can be purchased at any good haberdasher.
The jacket front and canvas is basted together in a specific order and in a sewn in a specific direction: Each basting step allows for the jacket front to be (gently) pulled into shape to conform to the canvas. The following images show the position and direction of each basting thread.
Step by Step
Begin by lying the canvas down with the felt shoulder pad underneath (towards the wearer); lay the jacket front on top (right side up) aligning the front darts. At each step below, gently pull/smooth the fabric in the direction of basting.
- (1) Baste from just below shoulder DOWN, parallel to the dart, to the bottom hem line.
- Now pull the front of the jacket front up and slipstitch the pocket bags to the canvas. Lay the front back over the canvas.
- (2) Baste from 1 ACROSS to the front seam line, at the waistline.
- (3) Baste from 2, (midway from 1 to the front seam) DOWN to the hem line
- (4) Baste DOWN from the end of 2 following the hem line to the end of the canvas.
- (5) Baste UP from the start of 3 parallel to 1
- (6) From the start of 4 (end of 2) baste UP to the lapel roll line, then baste along the roll line.
- (7) Baste DOWN around the arm hole.
- (8) From the end of 7 baste round to the start of 2 (following the curved edge of the canvas)
- (9) Finally baste round to the hem (again following shape of canvas)
That’s it! You should have the canvas and jacket front attached. Check there are no obvious wrinkles/kinks by draping over a mannequin (or the wearer). Finally trim the canvas flush with the fabric.
Now we have the canvas attached we can move onto finishing the lapels. Time for a little more hand sewing as we have to pad stitch the lapel area to the canvas. The pad stitching will be visible on the rear of the lapels so you need to choose a suitable colour thread, preferably silk finishing thread.
Begin by marking the seams allowances around the lapel and drape the jacket roll line over the edge of a table. Begin to pad stitch parallel to the roll line.
**Hint** When pad stitching this area: As soon as you feel the needle through the fabric, bring it back up to complete the stitch. This way you only catch the tiniest amount of fabric and the pad stitches will be nearly invisible.
After a few rows of pad stitches, lie the jacket flat on the table and let the lapel fall naturally over the jacket. Continue pad stitching the lapel area. If the lapel is peaked, pad stitch the peaked area (small triangle) separately.
Cotton twill tape (10-12mm wide) is now applied to the roll line and around the front seam of the jacket. The cotton tape provides a little structure and a crisp edge after the facings are applied.
Soak the cotton tape in cold water, squeeze out at press dry using a hot iron. This step pre-shrinks the tape but also allows the tape to ‘give’ a little.
Carefully trim the canvas along the seam allowance you marked earlier all the way around the long front edge. Take your time and don’t cut the fabric!
Start on the long edge and apply the cotton tape around the long front seam. As you reach the roll line add a little ease in the tape, then continue down and around the hemline. Baste into place ensuring it lies exactly on the seam allowance.
Repeat for the roll line; place the tape just inside the marked roll line and over the flannel. Baste for the first 3 inches, then pull the tape taught and baste the next 3 inches. This will create ripples on the front but don’t worry. Continue basting the tape, stopping a few inches before the bottom of the roll line.
The long edge tape is slip stitched in place to the canvas (along both sides of the tape) and the roll line tape is cross stitched (through all layers) from top to bottom. Remember these stitches will be visible so again use a suitable thread.
To finish the lapels we can attach the facings. These facings, will be turned to the inside of the jacket but will form the front face of the lapels. Cut the facings about 1/2 inch wider than the pattern suggests and lay under the jacket front. Mark the position where the collar will end along the top of the lapel.
Sew the lapel facing to the jacket front. Start at the point where the collar will end, on the lapel and sew to the bottom.
Now trim the facing back a little and trim the corner close to the stitch line. Clip the facing and jacket to the start of the seam.
The facing and jacket seam allowance is now turned over the cotton tape. Press well and baste in place. Finish by slip stitching the seam allowances in place to the canvas.
Now go ahead and turn the facing to the inside of the jacket front and press the seam well. Ignore the extra facing fabric along the top of the lapel, we will tackle this when we attach the collar.
Now you will have a beautifully fitted facing that forms a crisp-edged lapel.
Finish off by loosely basting the lapels into place but be careful not to flatten the natural roll you created.
Thats it! OK another long session but you will definitely have the makings of a really nice suit. Next time we will look at attaching the collar and finishing the back.
Until next time….Happy Sewing