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