Soooo much hand sewing. That’s the short and sweet about this installment of the Wedding Jacket Chronicle. Of course I have plenty more to say about the process, but I will admit that I watched a LOT of Murder, She Wrote while working on the jacket fronts, more than I expected, since essentially every single stitch of a whole lot of tailoring work is done by hand (and there are both left and right fronts, so just when you think you’re finishing a task, there’s another side to repeat it on! Kind of like a sock knitter’s dilemma).
This picture condenses several steps since much of my sewing in this phase was done at night (ignore the tape on the edge of the lapel at this point!). The dart is cut out of the front hair canvas interfacing and then the interfacing is laid onto the fabric. The dart is catch-stitched (my new favorite stitch) to the hair canvas to keep it in place and to keep it from showing on the right side. The roll line is taped with the stay tape (called a bridle in this instance) 3/8″ shorter than the length of the roll line itself. The ease across the line from 1″ in on either side (so the top and bottom inch do not contain ease). The bridle is pinned in place, then basted in place, and then fell stitched on either side. Then the lapel is padstitched.
Having never padstitched before, I had some anxiety going into it, but actually found it to be an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, my fabric is one of the more difficult choices I could have made because of it’s thinness in the brocade design. But I made do. Fortunately, the silk thread perfectly matches the fabric so the few errant stitches on the right side of the fabric blend in, especially with the texture of the brocade. I was unsure what pattern to use for the pad stitching since every resource that I consulted had a different opinion, but I finally decided that if there are many opinions that means there’s no one right way and I should just get over worrying about perfection and do it!
The pad stitching is done with the collar rolled back and in your hand so that as you stitch the lapel you are stitching a curve into it. If I set my jacket down, my lapels certainly roll back, so I call this step a success!
The next step is to tape the whole front edge. The seam allowance is trimmed from the hair canvas on the front of the jacket and stay tape gets basted and then fell stitched all along the edge. This helps the jacket maintain it’s crisp shape so that it doesn’t droop as it hangs from a body. The front edges should hang perpendicular to the floor even when the jacket isn’t buttoned.
Finally, I got to machine stitch a single seam. The pocket is stitched to the front by machine and man oh man was it nice to take a break rom hand stitching for the whole 1 minute it took to stitch that seam!
These pockets have a fancy pleat which required very careful folding on the thread-traced seamline and matching of the circles (that I marked in the last installment of the chronicle) and then basting of the folds. You can see that there was a whole lot of marking and basting thread at this point!
At this point, I realized that the pattern called for machine worked buttonholes (which get done much later) but I really wanted bound buttonholes. Had I thought this through all the way, I NEVER would have done all of the tailoring on the front before the buttonholes – I would have done them first so that i could just cut a new front if there were any errors. But, I took the chance. First, I cut a rectangle out of the hair canvas the size of the buttonhole. Then, I made the buttonholes, trimmed the fabric down with pinking shears so it wouldn’t show on the front, and stitched it in place.
Horror of horrors, my top buttonhole turned out 1/16th of an inch larger than the bottom two. Had I done this before all of the other tailoring, I might have re-cut the front. But I didn’t, so I’m living with the imperfection. It’s probably not noticeable when it’s on me, but staring at it I sure do see my mistake.
So, a call to all of you that have hand tailored jackets before – how am I looking so far? Any constructive criticism? What about those of you that haven’t – any more details you’re wondering as I go along?