Home Tailored Suit Part 3 – Lapels

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.

lapels 1

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 tape

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


15 thoughts on “Home Tailored Suit Part 3 – Lapels”

  1. what a great work of hand sewing. I would like to share something concerning the tape on the roll line of the lapel that you might want to try one day.
    When you cut the tape to cover the roll line about 2-3 cm shorter but devide it still over the full length, you create an roundness that will let fall the lapel even nicer over your chest. It can give an extra chrisp appeal to your jacket.
    Happy sewing from Rotterdam!

    1. Martin is right! It also prevents the cloth from stretching in this area, (since it’s on the bias and prone to stretching). Really it’s easing the cloth to the tape.

  2. Hello Jamie and thank you for this detailed explanation of this crucial step.
    I have a question for which I cannot find any suitable answer : is it possible to pass the pocket bags through the canvas? Would it not provide better ease to the wearer when he puts stuff in his pockets?

    1. Hi. Thanks and glad this is a help. I think it might prove a little tricky passing the pocket bags through the canvas. Certainly the breast pocket would be passing through the chest area with additional canvas and all the pad stitching (and also cut through the dart in canvas). At least one side of the pocket bag is slip stitched to the canvas to secure and allow movement. You would also have the bulk (whatever is in the pocket) closer to the skin and lining which may prove uncomfortable. Give it a go though and let me know how it works. Thanks

  3. Hi Jamie I love and appreciate Your explanations, but their is something that I have been looking for but, I don’t know if you can help me and I will be glad if you can and will.
    I have been looking for a video or a note on how to draft (without pattern) a double-breasted suit and how to sew a pointed lapel suit. Thanks

  4. HI Jamie:

    I read part 2 of this blog (pad stitching the lapels) and it was a tremendous help. I got a lovely chevron pattern and a slight curve in the fabric. Thank you! However, I have just started to pad stitch the lapels and I am having a slight issue.

    For the plastron, area I picked up about 1/8 inch on the reverse. That made for the classic pad stitch chevron. In contrast, for the lapel I’m picking up only a few threads of fabric on the wrong side (because it will show). And because of that, I find that my pad stitches aren’t chevron-like at all. Instead they are almost straight up and down. Is that correct? How much do you generally “pick up” on the reverse?

    Thanks again!

  5. Hey Jamie I’m new to this and trying it out (I know it takes a lot of experience to master). This is a silly question but i wanted to know how do you remove the stitching lines from the interfacing that shows up once you have finished attaching the interfacing like what is shown in the last picture. Do you put another piece of fabric over the sticking lines to hide them. Thanks heaps and hope to hear back 🙂

    1. Hi, Do you mean all the white stitches? Once everything is complete (sleeves on and lining in etc) the white basting threads are just pulled out. They stay in to keep everything nicely together as you construct.

      1. Hey Jamie 🙂 yep thats what i ment, it makes more sense now hehe . And another silly question but how do you attach the interfacing then to the suit fabric without the hand stitched lines coming through the actual suit fabric (not the basting thread but actual thread holding canvas to the jacket) Thanks heaps 🙂

      2. Hey Jamie 🙂 yep thats what i ment, it makes more sense now hehe . And another silly question but how do you attach the interfacing then to the suit fabric without the hand stitched lines coming through the actual suit fabric (not the basting thread but actual thread holding canvas to the jacket) Thanks heaps 🙂

        1. The canvas will be held at the shoulder seam initially. The canvas is pad stitched with tiny stitches at the lapel the shouldn’t show. Also the facing and seam allowances along the front and hem are stitched to the canvas. Use a tiny needle (size 7 or 9 between) and good colour matched thread. Don’t pull the stitches too tight or they will show.

          1. Thanks heaps Jamie. This is very helpful. Ill probably be back with more questions in a couple of days if this doesn’t go to well hehehe. Cheers mate 🙂

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