Here’s and interesting, if complicated article on how to install sleeve heads in a tailored jacket. Using sleeve heads is worth the effort, as they make a big difference in the professional appearance of the finished sleeve.
Here’s the article, on The Sewing Divas, by Els…
- Before you cut into the felt, suede, or ultrasuede trim away all the seam allowances surrounding the undercollar pattern piece
- Cut out one whole undercollar on the fold
- Pin this undercollar to the interfaced uppercollar, which has the seam allowances turned under (miter the corners of the upper collar), and catch-stitch the undercollar to the interfacing at the upper and side edges about 1/2″ inside the seam lines
- Baste the lower edge of the undercollar to the neckline seam allowance, placing the cut edge of the under collar along the stitching line
- Baste the undercollar to the uppercollar about 1/4″ (6mm) from all edges, then trim a scant 1/8″ (3mm) from all the raw edges
- Using a small blanket stitch, sew the undercollar to the uppercollar and neckline seams. (See diagram below:)
I’ve had a wonderful top-of-the line Bernina for 15 years and I had never purchased a narrow hemming foot! The problem with narrow hemming the other way (turning and stitching, trimming and turning and stitching again) is that by the time you stitch around the hem twice on delicate fabric, it almost always starts to flutter.
Here is a narrow hem technique I saw on a very expensive designer silk skirt (Project MyWay #1): The skirt front was narrow hemmed, the skirt back was narrow hemmed, then the side seams were sewn. If you’re careful to have the side seams of the fronts and backs end at exactly the same place, this gets around the fact that the first half inch in of a hem using a narrow hemming foot looks horrible, as it’s hidden in the side seam.
Here is the best tutorial I’ve found for narrow hemming from Jan Andrea, at Home on the Web., it has great pictures and instructions:
Even with this great tutorial, I was still having trouble catching my stitching on the folded hem. Finally, I changed from my single hole sole plate (which I always use on fine fabrics–keeps the fabric from getting shoved down into the throat plate) to the zig-zag throat plate and set my needle position to the right. This worked pretty well for light weight fabric.
I don’t think I’ve ever installed a “perfect” invisible zipper. My Achilles tendon is the bubble that wants to form at the bottom of the zipper, I think because the fabric stretches in one direction when you sew the first side of the zipper and then stretches in the other direction when you sew the second side.
That said, my invisible zippers look pretty damn good and by far better than lapped or centered zippers.
Here is the best tutorial I’ve ever seen on inserting an invisible zipper. It has clear pictures and instructions.
One thing I can add, if you can’t find the perfect color zipper, the zipper stop (the only part that shows on the right side) can be painted with model car paint available at hobby and toy stores. This gives many more options to match the color of the zipper stop to your garment.
Here’s the article:
Here is a detailed tutorial on constructing facings and understitching them. It has great line drawings that are easy to understand.
Understitching is a technique you can use on any faced opening, i.e. neckline, sleeveless armhole opening, waistband. It causes the facing to curl to the inside of the garment and gives a nice stable edge on which to press the seam to the inside. Understitching is a technique that gives a very professional looking finish.
Check it out:
Here is a site that gives very basic information on sewing
- recommended sewing supplies
- the best pins to use and hot to pin correctly
- information on different kinds of fabric
- how to sew basic seams
I used this finish on the hundreds of jumpers I constructed when I owned and operated a maternity wear design and manufacturing company in the early 80’s.
This is a copy of page 73 and 74 of Sew Smart, by Judy Lawrence and Clotilde Yurick: Read more
Use ballpoint needles, this will fix a multitude of problems. Use size 11 for lightweight fabrics, size 14 for medium weightfabrics and size 16 for heavy fabrics
Lighten pressure on the presser foot so the top and bottom fabric feed together
Use a longer stitch length, 8 to 10 stitches per inch, longer for topstitchinu
If you are using a regular sewing machine, stretch the fabric in front and back of the presser foot as you sew5.
Sergers are great for knits, but not necessary. Knits do not ravel, so the seams do not even need to be finished. You can pink the edges or zigzag if you wish
Use twill tape or seam binding to stabilize shoulder seams. (Sew tape into the shoulder seam.)
I usually prewash knits, but sometimes I construct the garment first and make sure I have plenty of length, then I wash and dry it and finally, hem. Knits usually don’t shrink much in width but they can shrink quite a lot in length
To hem knits use a deep hem–1 1/2″ – 2″ to help the garment hang better. Lengthen the stitch legnth to a short baste. Topstitch, holding fabric taught in front and back of presser foot. Stitch again 3/8″ from first stitching
To achieve the best results in tailored jackets and coats, know your limitations! Don’t try to make a fully tailored jacket in a light weight, light colored fabric; the inside structure is sure to show through. Fabrics with texture and subtle pattern are most forgiving. Natural fibers are easiest to press and that is half the battle of a beautifully made garment. If you have trouble with welt pockets, make a “fake” flap and skip the pocket. If you can’t topstitch straight, skip it. Some details are worth the extra time they take: Understitch seams wherever you can. Add mitered corners to reduce bulk. Hand tape roll lines so lapels fall correctly. Grade each fabric layer in seam allowances. Use a damp press cloth for crisp seams (use a seam roll to prevent seam allowance show through).
- My favorite tailoring book: Easy, Easier, Easiest Tailoring by Pati Palmer and Susan Pletsch
- I know fabric in ready to wear garments is not preshrunk, so I never preshrink. So far, I’ve never had a problem. If this makes you nervous, have fabric steam pressed or dry cleaned before you start
- Steam fusible interfacing before fusing– place interfacing, resin side down on fabric, hold steaming iron 1-2″ above interfacing for 5-10 seconds. Watch it shrink!
- Use Easy Knit to underline all pattern pieces; this keeps edges of interfacing and hand stitches from showing through. It adds body and some bulk to fashion fabric. Mark darts on the Easy Knit, cut out the dart, and fuse. This marks the dart perfectly on the fabric and reduces bulk in the dart
- For a softly tailored garment, a la Armani, use the Easy Knit method above and very lightweight interfacing
- For a perfect sleeve cap: Cut a bias strip 1 1/2″ wide and 12″ long from lambswool (the lining in neckties) or from a soft, loosely woven fabric. Stitch the lambswol to the wrong side of the sleeve head, from notch to notch, just inside the seam line, pulling slighltly taut as you sew. This adds a little ease so sleeve fits into armhole and gives the sleeve head a nice, rounded shape. Always stitch the sleeve into the armseye with sleeve against feed dogs and the jacket side up. A sleeve head is still needed!
- I like to use rayon twill lining to add some body
- Topstitch from 1/4” to 1/2″ from edge. The bulkier the fabric, the further away. Use a long stitch–6″ to 8″ per inch
- I found an awesome method for welt pockets at The Fashion Incubator, http://www.fashion-incubator.com/mt/archives/welt_and_paper_jig.html
- Use a felt, suede or ultrasuede undercollar. My favorite method comes from an old Butterick Pattern magazine. (See instuctions in Tutorials) Miter the corners of the uppercollar when turning under the edge
- Pressing is important, but too much makes a garment look old and worn out. I take my jackets and coats to the dry cleaners for a final press. Or, hang a jacket in the closet, sandwiched snugly between other clothes to “press” the lapel
- NEVER press on the right side without a press cloth
- Creases can be set by spraying with a solution of 25% vinegar, 75% water, covering with a press cloth and steam pressing on cotton setting
My tailored jackets look limp. Any suggestions? To duplicate the look of a hand tailored jacket with fusible interfacing, you have to use layers of interfacing. If the fashion fabric isn’t too bulky, each pattern piece should be fully interfaced with a lightweight interfacing like Easy Knit. Subsequent layers of interfacing can then be added without showing through to the right side. Fusible hair canvas, with seam allowances trimmed away, should be added to the under collar from the roll line to the neck edge, on the lapel from the roll line to the outside edge, at the hem of the sleeve, front, back and optionally across the back. The Easy Knit gives the jacket body and the hair canvas causes the lapel and collar to turn gracefully.
How can I find a good fitting pants pattern? Unfortunately, the best fitting patterns seem to be found by chance and many not so good patterns must be suffered through. A few things can increase the odds of achieving a good fit. Compare a pair of pants you love to your pattern. Try to match the width of the leg, length of the crotch and waistband/hip measurement.
Add 1″ to the center back seam, easing into the crotch. Cut the waistband in two pieces, adding 1″ to the center back. This will give you some “wiggle room” for fitting the waist. Apply the waistband and finish it before sewing the center back seam. Try the pants on, check the fit and adjust at the center back seam. (The center back seam makes the pants easy to alter if they need to be tightened or let out at a later date.)
How can I pick the best fabric for a garment? First, look at the suggested fabrics on the back of the pattern envelope. Fabrics are listed in order with the best-suited fabric listed first. If you are considering a fabric not suggested by the pattern envelope, think about the drape the design requires. Heavy, stiff fabrics are best for tailored styles that fit close to the body. Designs with gathering or fullness need fabrics that are lighter and drapey. Bias cut skirts require fabrics with some weight, so they fall gracefully.
When using stretch woven fabrics, should I use a pattern designed for knits or wovens? Patterns made to use with woven fabrics work best with stretch wovens. Patterns designed for knits generally don’t have enough ease. Designs like slim fitting pants and skirts without much fullness are a good choice. Be sure to fit as you go as you may not need as much ease as the pattern gives.
I’m having trouble with skipped stitches on my sewing machine, any suggestions? First, make sure your machine is in good mechanical shape. Clean and oil it regularly at home and have it done professionally once a year or more depending on use. Be sure to remove lint around the bobbin case and under the throat plate. Use the right needle size and type for your fabric. Size 9, 11 and 14 are most commonly used for light (silk) to heavy weight (wool) fabrics. Sharp needles are used on wovens as they pierce the fabric cleanly. Ball point needles are designed to slip through the knitted stitches of stretch fabrics. Make sure your needle is in good shape, I use a new needle every time I start a project and if I nick a needle on a pin, I replace it. This is especially important when sewing delicate fabrics. Check your thread tension – start at a medium setting and adjust up or down until stitches lock in the middle then loosen it a little when topstitching. Try not to fool with the bobbin tension, have a repairman do that if necessary. If it’s possible on your machine, adjust the pressure on the presser foot so the fabric moves through the feed dogs easily. Sometimes there is a finish on the fabric that causes skipped stitches (a good reason to pre-wash).
Pattern sizing is so confusing, how can I find my size? Patterns base their sizes strictly on measurements so they are very consistent. Compare you most relevant measurement to the pattern size; i.e. if you are making pants compare your hip measurement or a jacket your bust measurement. These measurements are the most critical for fitting and so should be as close to the pattern as possible, other measurements can then be altered. As a general rule of thumb, go up 3 sizes from your ready-to-wear size. (Don’t freak-out! It’s only a number.)
What can be done to keep facings from popping-out? I avoid facings when possible by lining the garment or using a bias strip to finish the edge. Facings stay put best when they are understitched and tacked to seam lines by “stitching in the ditch”.
Why do my hand-stitched hems look puckery? Take long, very loose stitches, almost loopy, and only catch a thread on the right side of the fabric.