interfacing

Project MyWay #2–Black Silk Anorak

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I’m outside, rain or shine for my job and I’ve been wanting a jacket with a hood so that I don’t have to carry an umbrella unless it’s pouring. There are soooo many great anoraks out there (see one of my favorites in Spring Wardrobe ’08 part 1) and once I found this Neue Mode Pattern it was easy to come up with a great design. (You can find this pattern at My Notions.com)

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I used a black silk shantung I had in my stash. It was super easy to work with and has my favorite fabric quality, it presses beautifully with nice sharp creases. Neue Mode patterns don’t have seam allowances included  :-(  and I’m just too lazy to draw all those seamlines, so I added seam allowances only where I had to–around the hood opening, the center front, the armseye and sleeve head. Then I used one size larger than normal. This worked out fine, in fact the pattern is so over-sized that I still had to take in the side seam allowances about 1 1/2″ on each side side (for a total of 6″!).

The pattern does not include lining, but I used the pattern pieces to cut a lining from a heavy satin. This gives the anorak a nice, hefty weight and it will be quite warm. Because I lined the jacket, I formed the casing by stitching the lining to the silk. I used elastic and sewed a 2″ wide belt to the ends of the elastic.

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I used View A for length and added a 2″ band to the bottom to give the jacket a nice finishing at the hem.

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I used the pocket from View C, but instead of regular zippers, I used invisible zippers for a sleeker look.

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I wanted to use 3/4″ silver snaps, a la Prada, but I tried a sample and they just don’t work! I’ve never had luck with the snap kits available at the fabric store. Next time I’ll try to find a source online for commercial snaps. So I used covered buttons instead and I like the look, they go well with the dressy fabric.

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Here’s a picture of the hood pattern piece. If you can see, I added a 1/4″ seam allowance around the front opening. I didn’t even draw it on, I just added it as I cut-out the pattern. I also added an overlap for the buttons and button holes. I added plenty (around 3″) and trimmed it to fit as I was sewing.

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I added a cuff and pleated in the fullness of the sleeve to fit the cuff. I used a method for constructing the cuff that gives a nice square finish:

1.  Interface cuff

2. Sew cuff to sleeve bottom, right sides together

3.  Fold seam allowances to inside, fold long edge first and then the short ends

4.  Fold cuff on fold line and topstitch into place

This works especially well on fabrics the press nicely.

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I just ordered a dressform so I can take better pictures of my creations. It’s about time I had one, I’ve been sewing for over 30 years!

Ta-ta for now!

Tailoring Tips

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).

Tailoring Tips

  1. My favorite tailoring book:  Easy, Easier, Easiest Tailoring by Pati Palmer and Susan Pletsch
  2.  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
  3. 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!
  4. 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
  5. For a softly tailored garment, a la Armani, use the Easy Knit method above and very lightweight interfacing
  6.  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!
  7. I like to use rayon twill lining to add some body
  8. 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
  9. I found an awesome method for welt pockets at The Fashion Incubator, http://www.fashion-incubator.com/mt/archives/welt_and_paper_jig.html
  10. 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
  11.  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 
  12. NEVER press on the right side without a press cloth
  13. 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

Frequently Asked Questions

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.