Installing the Sleeve Lining–Old School

Readers,

The word “vent” is followed by “spleen” or “frustration” with some frequency, and I know why.

I spent yesterday afternoon trying to line my sleeve vents neatly the “old school” way following Kenneth King’s instruction in his Smart Tailoring DVD set. And while my first attempt was successful–after a fashion–it wasn’t pretty.

My first lined sleeve vent. Well, it can only get better, right?

My first lined sleeve vent. Well, it can only get better, right?

Apparently there is widespread aversion to lining sleeve vents among even professional sewers.

The sleeves started out innocently enough. Who could know what evil lurked within?

The sleeves started out innocently enough. Who could know what evil lurked within?

Checking some of my home sewing library sources I found only one–Vintage Couture Tailoring, by Thomas von Nordheim– that gave any instruction for lining sleeve vents specifically, as opposed to jacket and skirt vents.

Align the opened seams of the lining with the sleeve.

Align the opened seams of the lining with the sleeve.

Von Nordheim writes,

If you have a working vent construction, as in this jacket [used as the demonstration project in this book], the finishing at the hem is not quite as straightforward. Some Givenchy couture jackets in the author’s collection have fake vents, meaning the vent and blind buttonholes are only done in the shell fabric, but the lining is finished in a straight line around the hem as described. This could be considered a shortcut and not really acceptable in fine bespoke tailoring. Although rarely used, a vent and buttonholes on a sleeve should be made to work.

It does seem odd to bother making a vented sleeve and then use a cylindrical lining that almost entirely covers that lovely mitered overlap.

A running stitch secures the lining to the sleeve, so there's no problem with twisting.

A running stitch secures the lining to the sleeve, so there’s no problem with twisting.

We no longer live in a time when surgeons had vented sleeves so they could unbutton and roll them up in an instant to keep working while continuing to be properly attired.  (Where did I ever hear this explanation of vented sleeves, and is it even true?)

The running stitch starts about 6 inches down from the top of the seam and ends about 4 inches from the bottom.

The running stitch starts about 6 inches down from the top of the seam and ends about 4 inches from the bottom.

Who knows–maybe someday I will have a sink full of dirty dishes to wash when I’m wearing this “McCall Mannish Jacket,” and a bespoke tailor will be passing through the kitchen just as I unbutton and fold back my sleeves and plunge my bared forearms into the suds. The bespoke tailor will notice my beautifully lined vents and say, “Nice work–Gieves and Hawkes?”

Then I’ll wake up.

The underlap lining is stitched in before the overlap lining.

The underlap lining is stitched in before the overlap lining.

Well, if ever I should be in such a situation, I’d like to be prepared. So I gave Kenneth’s instructions a try.

The really tricky part–the only tricky part for me–was judging exactly where to cut into the lining. If you have sewn a vent you know what I mean, and if you haven’t and never will, you probably don’t care to read a boring description by an inept amateur, so I’ll save us both time.

The lining for the overlap is fell stitched along the hem and pick stitched along the vent. I need more practice to make my stitches smaller and more regular.

The lining for the underlap is fell stitched along the hem and pick stitched along the vent. I need more practice to make my stitches smaller and more regular.

The important thing to know about sewing a vented sleeve is there’s this slash you make in the lining so it will turn back just so, and the lining lies neatly and beautifully flat in just the right place with no fiddling.

Kenneth’s lining didn’t just lie beautifully–it reclined languorously, like an odalisque.

Before slashing the lining, I pinned it in place on the overlap.

Before slashing the lining, I pinned it in place on the overlap.

He made it look easy. The camera came in for a super closeup. Kenneth found the place to cut to, marked it with a pin, positioned his tailors’ scissors, and made one decisive clip.

I watched this seconds-long section repeatedly, trying to divine how he knew where to cut into this lining. Once you cut, there is no uncutting, so I wanted a formula to follow.

You see, in the aptitude battery I took a few years back I scored low in the paper-fold test, which measures how well you can imagine and recollect…uh…marks on paper that are hidden by folds.

Now, you might not think imagining and recollecting marks on paper hidden by folds is an aptitude until you’re up against lining a sleeve vent. Then you will have wished you scored higher. Because you have to be able to grasp how the lining lies now and what will happen if you cut into the lining at this angle or that angle and which is the best angle.

I tried to simulate the situation with a piece of folded paper, which at least helped me avert a full-out blunder.

Using a paper mockup I tried to imagine where to slash and fold back the lining. This little exercise helped some.

Using a paper mockup I tried to imagine where to slash and fold back the lining. This little exercise helped some.

After staring at my sleeve lining for so long you would have thought I was trying a new meditation exercise, I made a tentative cut, an irrevocable decision.

I finally took the plunge, slashed the lining, and turned it under to cover the overlap--with so-so results.

I finally took the plunge, slashed the lining, and turned it under to cover the overlap–with so-so results.

It was not too bad.

Not too good, either.

The resulting lined vented sleeve lacks finesse, but I can only go up from there, right?

I had another sleeve to go, another chance at achieving excellence in vent-lining, but the spirit was not willing. I opted to slipstitch the lining in place temporarily.

Left: the vent is lined. Right: I slipstitched the lining temporarily. I will finish the vent properly under Kenneth's tutelage in July.

Left: the vent is lined. Right: I slipstitched the lining temporarily. I will finish the vent properly under Kenneth’s tutelage in July.

I’ll bring the sleeve, which should be attached to the jacket shortly, to Kenneth’s tailoring details class in Cleveland in July to get advice from the maestro himself.

Together we can roll up our sleeves and plunge into the task of lining to impress even the most meticulous bespoke tailor–or surgeon.

Constructing the Sleeve: Old School

Readers,

This morning I couldn’t resist pinning the sleeves I finished yesterday onto my jacket, just to get a preview.

The jacket, with completed sleeves pinned on to preview the final look. No shoulder pads yet.

The jacket, with completed sleeves pinned on to preview the final look. No shoulder pads yet.

Last week I was gratified to sew the shoulder seams and hand-stitch the collar to the neckline. For the first time I was able to see my jacket as a three-dimensional garment and not just a flat project.

With the sleeves pinned on, I was able to imagine my jacket finished. Yay!

The most recent segment I completed from Kenneth King’s Smart Tailoring DVD set, “Construct the Sleeve–Old School,” was pretty easy. Kenneth walks you through neatly finishing a vented sleeve. There was no single step that was hard to understand or do.

The underlap of each sleeve is stitched and turned.

The underlap of each sleeve is stitched and turned.

Nevertheless, I took the precaution of reviewing mitering the overlap by making a paper model, which was easy, quick, fun, and a confidence-builder. Making mistakes on paper is a lot better than in fabric.

To practice mitering, I did a paper mockup.

To practice mitering, I did a paper mockup.

I folded in the vent edge extending the seamline.

I folded in the vent edge extending the seamline.

Next, I folded up the hem. This created a 1 1/2-inch square.

Next, I folded up the hem. This created a 1 1/2-inch square.

I penciled a mark where the edges came together.

I penciled a mark where the edges came together.

I notched the pencil marks, then drew the stitching line.

I notched the pencil marks, then drew the stitching line.

The paper is refolded to create the miter.

The paper is refolded to create the miter.

The finished miter.

The finished mitered overlap.

I did stray from the Smart Tailoring path for one step. Kenneth interfaces the 1 1/2 inch-deep sleeve hems with 2 1/2 inch-wide wigan–and guess what? I forgot to lay in a supply. What could serve as a substitute?

Searching my stash, I came up empty-handed. I did not have any woven that was both light and crisp except organza, which seemed too light for this medium-weight wool tweed.

After consulting some tailoring sources (tick, tick, tick–down the research rabbit hole) I said to myself, It’s time to move on. I’m using bias-cut tailors’ canvas.

I looked at my tailoring books about interfacing the cuff--straight of grain? bias?

I looked at my tailoring books about interfacing the cuff–straight of grain? bias?

I’ve done this before–I mean, used bias-cut tailors’ canvas to interface sleeve hems–without dire results. The bias cut means the canvas can conform to curves more smoothly than a lengthwise or crosswise grain can. That’s good, right? My sleeve hem definitely has a curve.

I trimmed the bias-cut canvas to the 1 1/2-inch hem depth and basted it to the sleeve.

Oops–I cut my bias-cut canvas too wide. I trimmed it to the 1 1/2-inch hem depth and basted it to the sleeve.

I went back to Kenneth’s segment about tailoring supplies, where he mentions wigan:

This is used to interface cuffs; it’s used sometimes to interface hems, because a cuff on a tailored jacket sits at a slight angle, so it is a slight bias. You don’t want that edge to stretch over time. So interfacing with wigan is a very thin, lengthwise-grain way of staying the cuff.

Hmm. Okay, the idea of staying the cuff with a lengthwise grain makes sense. But Kenneth’s sleeve looked awfully straight across to me. I did not see a curve anything like my sleeve’s to contend with. So he could lay down that wigan along his sleeve hem and it fit right in. Would wigan have worked as well for my sleeve? Call me dubious.

After being interfaced the hem is turned up. It's curved, and the bias-cut canvas fits nicely in the curve.

After being interfaced the hem is turned up. It’s curved, and the bias-cut canvas fits nicely in the curve.

I will add using wigan to my list of questions to ask at Kenneth’s two-day tailoring details class  in Cleveland in July.

It just occurred to me that this sleeve segment of Smart Tailoring was so straightforward that I had to work pretty hard to find something to cavil about.

A swing tack holds the hem up between the underlap and overlap.

A swing tack holds the hem up between the underlap and overlap.

Time, again, to move on. Next will be installing the sleeve lining.

An unbeatable combination.

An unbeatable combination.

Installing the Collar–Old School

Readers,

Following Kenneth King’s “old school” instructions in his Smart Tailoring DVD set, yesterday I hand stitched my collar to my 1941 McCall “misses’ mannish jacket.”  I was surprised by how straightforward the process was and gratified by the result.

Even without pressing, the lapels look good and are lying well.

Even without pressing, the lapels look good and are lying well.

This was the first time I’d made a jacket collar entirely by hand. And it was the first time I’d attached a collar to a neckline by hand. IMG_7677 (381x460)

It was also the first time I can say that making a notched collar was relaxing and fun. With Kenneth’s demos I always knew what to do next, and it always worked.

The lining is sewn to the facings and hem but not at the shoulders yet.

At the beginning of this segment the lining is sewn to the facings and hem but not at the shoulders yet.

The lining is moved out of the way before the shoulder seams are stitched.

The lining is moved out of the way before the shoulder seams are stitched.

I mistakenly trimmed the canvas out of the shoulder seam allowance.  Kenneth keeps the canvas in the seam.

I mistakenly trimmed the canvas out of the shoulder seam allowance. Kenneth keeps the canvas in the seam.

I catch stitched the canvas to the seam allowance since it wasn't going to be caught in the seam.

I catch stitched the canvas to the seam allowance since it wasn’t going to be caught in the seam.

What’s more, I didn’t feel as if succeeding in making a nice notched collar worked because I just got lucky.  I think I succeeded because I had good instruction.

At last! With the shoulder seams sewn, the jacket can hang on my mannequin, Ginger.

At last! With the shoulder seams sewn, the jacket can hang on my mannequin, Ginger.

The basting at the top of the facing will be taken out.

The basting at the top of the facing will be taken out.

The basting is taken out.

The basting is taken out.

For me, good instruction involves helping learners understand objectives and processes in addition to teaching step-by-step methods.

The basting along the neck edge of the collar is going to be removed.

The basting along the neck edge of the collar is going to be removed.

The basting has been taken out.

The basting has been taken out.

I pinned the collar out of the way to trim 1/8 inch of canvas away from the collar felt.

I pinned the collar out of the way to trim 1/8 inch of canvas away from the collar felt.

Now that the basting has been taken out, the collar felt can lie on top of the collar fabric.  (That uneven stitching is just basting along the roll line. )

Now that the basting has been taken out, the collar felt can lie on top of the collar fabric. (That uneven stitching is just basting along the roll line.)

As I was fell stitching the undercollar and slip stitching the upper collar to the neckline I understood the process and felt in control of the process. With each hand stitch I could control the placement of the collar precisely along the neckline.

The collar fits PERFECTLY into the notch. Hooray!

The collar fits PERFECTLY into the notch. Hooray!

The collar fabric is moved out of the way, and the felt-canvas is aligned with the neck seamline and pinned from the center to one end.

The collar fabric is moved out of the way, and the felt-canvas is aligned with the neck seamline and pinned from the center to one end.

One side of the collar is pinned to the neckline.

One side of the collar is pinned to the neckline.

The collar is basted to the neckline.

The collar is basted to the neckline.

The neck seam allowance is catch stitched to the canvas.

The neck seam allowance is catch stitched to the canvas.

Although I’ve tested high in dexterity aptitudes and gravitate toward detail work I realize I’ve nevertheless absorbed a certain attitude toward hand work as time-consuming and fussy.

Fell stitching the collar to the neckline.

Fell stitching the collar to the neckline.

Fell stitching leaves such a nice trail. I think I pulled the thread a little too tight, though.

Fell stitching leaves such a nice trail. I think I pulled the thread a little too tight, though.

The fell stitching is done. Time to remove the basting.

The fell stitching is done. Time to remove the basting.

Basting's gone. The fell stitching makes a nice pattern at the neckline.

Basting’s gone. The fell stitching makes a nice pattern at the neckline.

Well, my experience with the “old school” methods Kenneth King teaches in Smart Tailoring is that the hand work is giving me so much more freedom and control than I had before.

The ends of the collar will eventually wrap to the back.

The ends of the collar will eventually wrap to the back.

I enjoyed a moment of pride looking at the way the collar and lapel lay so nicely.

I enjoyed a moment of pride looking at the way the collar and lapel lay so nicely.

The collar and lapel are going to be joined with a slipstitch. That raw edge of the upper collar will wrap around to the undercollar.

The collar and lapel are going to be joined with a slipstitch. That raw edge of the upper collar will wrap around to the undercollar.

The upper collar and facing are slipstitched together up to about an inch away from the facing end.

The upper collar and facing are slipstitched together up to about an inch away from the facing end.

The slipstitching is done. The upper collar's raw edge needs to be wrapped around to the back.

The slipstitching is done. The upper collar’s raw edge needs to be wrapped around to the back.

This collar method cuts out (ha!) all the grading I was doing previously because it keeps bulk from happening in the first place.

Here's the upper collar edge before it's wrapped around to the back.

Here’s the upper collar edge before it’s wrapped around to the back.

Here's the upper collar with the raw edge folded to the undercollar.

Here’s the upper collar with the raw edge folded to the undercollar.

I have a very heavy wool begging to be made into a full-length coat with a collar and lapels that could be pulled up around my face and neck to ward off wintry blasts. I’ve wondered how I could handle such bulky seams with my sewing machine at all, much less accurately and elegantly.

The upper collar was cut with a 1-inch seam allowance, so there is excess to trim.

The upper collar was cut with a 1-inch seam allowance, so there is excess to trim.

The excess is trimmed.

The excess is trimmed.

Now I have an alternative method: skip the machine and proceed by hand.

The upper collar edge is catch stitched to the undercollar. You can use matching or contrast thread.

The upper collar edge is catch stitched to the undercollar. You can use matching or contrast thread.

It's fun to choose a bright color for this little detail.

It’s fun to choose a bright color for this little detail.

And–watch the video!

The video format has been a fantastic resource–often more helpful than even an individual lesson with a teacher, because I can see extreme closeups and pause the video repeatedly.

My first handmade collar,

My first handmade collar. I’m encouraged.

The upper collar lies nicely, covering the neck seam just as it should.

The upper collar lies nicely, covering the neck seam just as it should.

Next: sleeves.

This jacket needs some sleeves!

This jacket needs some sleeves!

Preparing the Upper Collar–Old School

Readers,

Here’s the collar unit I made for my 1941 McCall “Misses’ Mannish Jacket” pattern, continuing with my project to follow Kenneth King’s “old school” tailoring techniques from his Smart Tailoring DVD set.  It was fun to make, and unlike any collar I’ve ever made before.

The collar edge is fell stitched. the collar is now ready to attach to the jacket body. Yay!

The collar edge is fell stitched. The collar is now ready to attach to the jacket body. Yay!

I think the collar turned out well, but I’ll know for sure when I actually attach it to the jacket in the next segment.

The upper collar is drafted with a larger seam allowance, which will be trimmed later. I drafted my pattern piece with a 1-inch seam allowance.

The upper collar is drafted with a larger seam allowance, which will be trimmed later. I drafted my pattern piece with a 1-inch seam allowance.

The upper collar is a single piece cut on the fold.

The upper collar is a single piece cut on the fold.

From the center back to the ends  gently steam, press, and stretch along the collar neck edges

From the center back to the ends gently steam, press, and stretch along the collar neck edges.

I’ve always followed a method where the undercollar is part of the jacket unit and the upper collar is part of a facing and lining unit. Then the two big units are sewn together. This method can work beautifully–or not. Much depends on being accurate in the approximately 1,462 steps preceding the big joining-together.

The upper collar after a little stretching is starting to take shape.

The upper collar after a little stretching is starting to take shape.

The upper collar is going to be wrapped around the undercollar.

The upper collar is going to be wrapped around the undercollar.

The upper collar is going to be wrapped around the undercollar, wrong sides together.

The upper collar is going to be wrapped around the undercollar, wrong sides together.

So it was very different to lavish all my attention on just the undercollar, in the previous segment, and then basically wrap the upper collar around the undercollar in this segment.

The upper collar is basted to the roll line of the undercollar.

The upper collar is basted to the roll line of the undercollar.

The upper collar is basted to the roll line of the undercollar.

The upper collar is basted to the roll line of the undercollar.

The basted edge is trimmed of excess bulk.

The basted edge is trimmed of excess bulk.

“In old school tailoring,” Kenneth says in the video,”putting the upper collar to the undercollar would happen after the undercollar was joined to the body. But what I found was it’s very difficult to get all of the shaping–like getting the shaping of the seam allowances on the gorge line in here, and also to get the shaping of the outer edges. So I just figured I would do it separately.”

Now the neck edge of the upper collar is wrapped snugly around the undercollar and pressed in place.

Now the neck edge of the upper collar is wrapped snugly around the undercollar and pressed in place.

Pinning in place before basting.

Pinning in place before basting.

After the neck edge is basted, excess is trimmed.

After the neck edge is basted, excess is trimmed.

As with the undercollar, the method for the upper collar is covered in the Threads magazine article “King’s Collar” from the October/November 2014 issue. This article is part of the bonus material on Disc 3 of the the Smart Tailoring DVD set.

Now the upper collar is basted to the undercollar along the roll line and both long edges.

Now the upper collar is basted to the undercollar along the roll line and both long edges.

And now the basting is removed from the collar edge in preparation for felling.

And now the basting is removed from the collar edge in preparation for felling.

The upper collar is pulled back to reveal the canvas, which will be trimmed in the next step.

The upper collar is pulled back to reveal the canvas, which will be trimmed in the next step.

I was glad to have Kenneth’s demo of steaming, pressing, and stretching the upper collar on the video because the Threads article has no pictures of this.

I pad stitched too close to the seam line and had to remove some of the stitches in order to trim the canvas back by 1/8 inch.

I pad stitched too close to the seam line and had to remove some of the stitches in order to trim the canvas back by 1/8 inch.

The canvas has been trimmed, although less than neatly,by 1/8 inch so that the collar felt is longer.

The canvas has been trimmed, although less than neatly,by 1/8 inch so that the collar felt is longer.

The collar edge is ready to be fell-stitched.

The collar edge is ready to be fell-stitched.

As you know if you have read more than three one of my posts, my two usual sewing speeds are slow and slower. So I was astonished yesterday to follow Kenneth’s instructions for the upper collar and suddenly find myself done with the segment.

This article is part of the bonus material on Disc 3. This is where you can find the steps to doing a fell stitch. Threads Feb./March 2008

This article is part of the bonus material on Disc 3. This is where you can find the steps to doing a fell stitch. Threads Feb./March 2008

The upper collar is fell stitched to the collar felt.

The upper collar is fell stitched to the collar felt.

So much the better. I’m more than ready to move on to sewing the shoulder seams and attaching this collar to the neckline.

Another step closer.

Another step closer.

Preparing the Undercollar: Old School

Readers,

Back with another episode of jacket-making using the Smart Tailoring with Kenneth King DVD set. I made the undercollar.

In "old school" tailoring the undercollar gets a lot of attention.

In “old school” tailoring the undercollar gets a lot of attention.

I braced myself for this segment, because it seemed like the “old-schoolest” of the old school techniques. Collar felt! Pad stitching! Pressing! Pad stitching! Steaming and shaping! Pad stitching!

However, once again Kenneth demystified the process. Although making the undercollar was labor-intensive, it wasn’t hard, and was even kind of fun.

Instructions for preparing the undercollar are in the October-November 2014 issue of Threads. I penciled a note that the method is "old school," not "new school" as the intro mistakenly says.

Instructions for preparing the undercollar are in the October-November 2014 issue of Threads. I penciled in a note that the method is “old school,” not “new school” as the intro mistakenly says.

For the undercollar Kenneth used a collar canvas:

It’s a little bit stiff; it feels a little bit papery. It’s a canvas that’s treated with a sizing so that when you steam it, it gets malleable, but then after it cools it gets rigid again.

Somehow I missed putting this special collar canvas on the shopping list for this project.

What I had on hand was a canvas and collar felt combination, bought for the notorious sportcoat project UFO in 2003 or ’04. It had been so long since I’d looked at this supply that I was surprised to see it wasn’t just collar felt but had canvas almost invisibly stitched to it.

With shears and a seam ripper I gradually cut through the stitches to separate the canvas from the collar felt.

With shears and a seam ripper I gradually cut through the stitches to separate the canvas from the collar felt.

As the undercollar is cut from the canvas in two pieces and seamed, but the felt is cut on the fold as one piece, I don’t get why the two materials are essentially fused together.

This canvas was bias-cut and then attached to the felt with almost invisible stitches.

This canvas was bias-cut and then attached to the felt with almost invisible stitches.

I thought I might as well cut the two units apart, use them separately, and see what happened.

I cut the undercollar pieces from bias-cut canvas and marked the roll line and seam lines. The felt, which has no grain, is cut in a single piece.

I cut the undercollar pieces from bias-cut canvas and marked the roll line and seam lines. The felt, which has no grain, is cut in a single piece.

The seam allowance of one undercollar canvas is trimmed, and then the seam is lapped and stitched with a serpentine stitch.

The seam allowance of one undercollar canvas is trimmed, and then the seam is lapped and stitched with a serpentine stitch.

IMG_7571 (460x175)

The canvas is pinned for a lapped seam…

...and attached with a serpentine stitch.

…and attached with a serpentine stitch.

Muslin pieces are cut to reinforce the undercollar points.

Muslin pieces are cut to reinforce the undercollar points.

The undercollar canvas will be laid on top of the undercollar felt, sandwiching the muslin pieces.

The undercollar canvas will be laid on top of the undercollar felt, sandwiching the muslin pieces.

The undercollar "sandwich."

The undercollar “sandwich.”

The "sandwich" is basted.

The “sandwich” is basted.

Having practiced pad stitching on the body canvas, I was not fazed by all the pad stitching of the undercollar.

Guidelines of 2-inch and 4-inch semicircles for the pad stitching.

Guidelines of 2-inch and 4-inch semicircles for the pad stitching.

Pad stitching in semicircles inside the seamlines.

Pad stitching in semicircles inside the seamlines.

Pad stitching to within 2 inches of the ends.

Pad stitching to within 2 inches of the ends.

The ends of the undercollar are pad stitched curved over the hand to shape them.

The ends of the undercollar are pad stitched curved over the hand to shape them.

However, I was surprised that it took me just about three hours to accomplish. The good news was I got into a pretty good rhythm.

The pad stitched ends of the undercollar are curved.

The pad stitched ends of the undercollar are curved. (I should have removed the basting–obviously, it’s no longer needed.)

Also, because I wasn’t constantly putting down my work and taking up the camera to document my process, as is usually the case, I was able to pop a DVD of The Women into the laptop and listen to witty dialogue as I worked away.

Another view of the curved ends of the pad stitched undercollar.

Another view of the curved ends of the pad stitched undercollar.

One end of an undercollar, pad stitched to create a curve.

One end of an undercollar, pad stitched to create a curve.

In an earlier segment Kenneth recommends listening to rhythmic music while you pad stitch. Certainly a movie that can be listened to if not watched is also a good pad stitching companion.

After the undercollar is pad stitched, the seam allowances are trimmed off.

After the undercollar is pad stitched, the seam allowances are trimmed off.

Shape is built into the undercollar with pad stitching. Also with pressing and steaming.

Pull and stretch, press and steam the roll line to straighten the curve.

Pull and stretch, press and steam the roll line to straighten the curve.

Fold the undercollar along the straightened roll line, pin it to the ham, and steam it to shape. (Don't press.)

Fold the undercollar along the straightened roll line, pin it to the ham, and steam it to shape. (Don’t press.)

The undercollar is folded along the straightened roll line, pinned to the ham, and steamed.

The undercollar is folded along the straightened roll line, pinned to the ham, and steamed.

With the undercollar ready to assume its supporting role, it’s time to turn my attention to its partner: the upper collar.

But first I’m going to take a breather. Which line in The Women is my favorite? Guess I’ll have to watch it all over again before deciding.

Installing the Lining: Old School

Readers,

The body of my 1941 McCall “Misses’ Mannish Jacket” is now lined, using the “old school” method in Kenneth King’s Smart Tailoring DVD set.

Firsts for me: installing the lining flat, without sleeves, by hand. I liked doing it this way.

Firsts for me: installing the lining flat, without sleeves, by hand. I liked doing it this way.

No machine work in this segment, and, I know this threatens to get repetitive, but I continue to like the hand stitching. With hand stitching I have the option of making adjustments stitch by stitch, if necessary, to see that the fabrics being joined lie naturally and don’t tug.

Pick stitching was easy and nice-looking.

Pick stitching was easy and nice-looking.

Plus, I don’t think machine stitching would have been any faster. If the choice comes down to more speed or more control, I’ll take control. That often means hand stitching.

The exposed, raw edge of that little stretch of facing is traditionally secured with catch stitches.

The exposed, raw edge of that little stretch of facing is traditionally secured with catch stitches.

Of course, I could use more practice, as I’ll be quick to admit. For educational purposes  I’m showing you my inelegant finish to the underlap of the vent. I have only myself to blame. As Oprah says, when you know better, you do better. Next time I’ll be more dexterous.

The underlap of the vent is trimmed to reduce bulk.

The underlap of the vent is trimmed to reduce bulk.

The lining is pinned in place along the vertical edge.

The lining is pinned in place along the vertical edge.

The top of the lining wraps around to the back to cover the raw edge. My best effort here. Sad, I know.

The top of the lining wraps around to the back to cover the raw edge. My best effort here. Sad, I know.

The top of the lining is pick stitched through to the overlap of the vent. Kenneth's result is smooth and tidy. Mine is--not.

The top of the lining is pick stitched through to the overlap of the vent. Kenneth’s result is smooth and tidy. Mine is–not.

The clumsy result is the reason why I resist cutting into my favorite fabrics when experimenting with techniques and patterns on the first go-round.

Kenneth’s explanations, as always, along with clear and complete closeups and zoom outs, made the work in this segment easy to execute.

There’s just one drawback, though. My project has all the drama of a cozy mystery.

The raw edges of the lining and hem are aligned. Then the lining folds down and there will be enough play to create what's called a "jump pleat."

The raw edges of the lining and hem are aligned. Then the lining folds down and there will be enough play to create what’s called a “jump pleat.” The lining is slipstitched to the hem.

But then I did say I wanted making jackets and coats to become no big deal. If it’s jeopardy I’m after, tailoring might not fill the bill anymore.

I think I can live with that.

Preparing the Lining Unit, Old School

Readers,

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This lining has a bonus: a pocket that will be concealed between the lining and the facing.

The lining for my jacket is done. I followed the “old school” method Kenneth King demonstrates in his Smart Tailoring DVD set.

This is different from any lining I’ve done before. This lining is flat–not joined at the shoulders yet.

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The sleeve linings will be inserted into the sleeves later. Kenneth instructs you to press up a 3/8 inch fold, but I’m waiting to see whether I should press up a little less for my pattern, which has a 1/2 inch seam allowance (rather than today’s usual 5/8 inch).

The sleeve linings are separate from the body.

Before cutting my lining pieces I remembered to add a seam allowance to the front lining piece where it joins the facing. I don’t recall this being mentioned in the pattern work section early in the video but I may have missed it. Anyway–be sure to add that seam allowance.

I'd put a reminder on the front lining piece to add a seam allowance. I ended up drafting a new, more accurate lining pattern piece to fit the facing just right.

I’d put a reminder on this old front lining piece to add a seam allowance. I ended up drafting a new, more accurate lining pattern piece to fit the facing just right.

Kenneth demonstrates making piping as a nice detail to sandwich between the lining and the facing. You can certainly skip piping and have a respectable jacket, but piping affords an opportunity to insert personality with a shot of contrast color.

I used a red flat piping in the jacket I made a couple of years ago that jazzed up the sedate blue and white cross dyed linen.

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For my linen jacket two years ago I ran up a sample of flat piping using Linda Lee’s instructions in Sewing Edges and Corners: Decorative Techniques for Your Home and Wardrobe.

Kenneth demonstrates making a flat piping that starts as a filled piping using rattail cord that’s 2 or 3 mm thick. He wraps bias-cut lining around the rattail and stitches close with a zipper foot. Then he stitches the piping to the front lining piece.

Then he pulls the rattail right out of that long tube, producing an even, flat piping. It looks great.

My own efforts were not so rewarding. I tested what cords I had in my stash, which were either much too thin or too thick. I wrapped my cord in bias-cut strips of a contrast-color lining, and stitched the piping in the usual way.

The problem was that the cord got caught into the tube of fabric here and there along the way. I couldn’t pull the cord out from my 10- or 12-inch sample. A corded piping was not the effect I was after–too stiff.

I ran up a sample of piping but could remove the cord only from part of the sample. Foreground: corded piping. Background: flat piping.

I ran up a sample of piping but could remove the cord only from part of the sample. Foreground: corded piping. Background: flat piping.

I gave Kenneth’s method a good faith effort, then decided to perfect it some other time.

Instead, I made flat piping similar to what I made for my linen jacket.  I wanted my piping to stick out 1/4 inch from the seam. Double that to make 1/2 inch. I had a 1/2 seam allowance. Double that to make an inch. My strips would be 1 1/2 inches wide.

The strips didn’t need to be stretchy so I didn’t cut them on the bias. I cut cross-grain, for stability. Lengthwise grain would have worked, too. Cross-grain was more economical for my lining remnant.

I pressed the strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Then I pinned the flat piping to the lining fronts, raw edges aligned, and stitched on the 1/2 inch seam allowance.

The result was quite nice and even enough. I’m satisfied.

The lining segment ends with instructions on stitching a hidden pocket to the front lining. If you collect Threads magazines, you can read Kenneth’s article “Hot Pocket” in the April-May 2008 issue. The article is also part of the bonus material on Disc 3 of Smart Tailoring.

Instructions for the hidden pocket are in the April-May 2008 issue of Threads. This article is also part of the bonus material on the DVD set.

Instructions for the hidden pocket are in the April-May 2008 issue of Threads. This article is also part of the bonus material on the DVD set.

I made my pocket just a little differently from Kenneth’s directions. When stitching the pocket front and back he offsets the piped back piece from the front so they are next to each other, not stacked. This avoids bulk.

The hidden pocket in the lining is big enough to hold tickets, a boarding pass, or a passport.

The hidden pocket in the lining is big enough to hold tickets, a boarding pass, or a passport.

I did not offset my pocket pieces, but the lining and piping are thin enough not to pose a bulk problem. A thicker, flannel-backed coat lining would be a different story. I’d probably want to avoid stacking the piping, so offsetting would be a good solution.

The pocket is so simple that I have to wonder why I never made it before. All my jackets and coats are going to have hidden pockets from now on.

In the pattern work in an early segment of Smart Tailoring you draft the hidden pocket to fit the hand of the wearer.

In the pattern work in an early segment of Smart Tailoring you draft the hidden pocket to fit the hand of the wearer.

Next will be hand-stitching the lining into the jacket–new territory for me.

Side Seams, Hem, and Vent: Old School

Readers,

Here is my 1941 McCall “mannish jacket” today, as I continue to follow Kenneth King’s Smart Tailoring DVD set’s “old school” methods:

Side seams are sewn, hem and vent are finished.

Side seams are sewn, hem and vent are finished.

It will take longer to describe what I did than it took to do the actual work.

I finally got to sew the back to the fronts. Yay!

Kenneth demonstrates steam-pressing and gently stretching, rather than clipping, the curve in the back seam allowances before stitching them to the fronts.

My jacket’s back seam allowances didn’t need clipping, or pressing and stretching, to conform nicely to the fronts, so I skipped this step.

But it was very helpful to know the purpose behind the step:

In tailoring, you really want to keep the seam allowances intact as much as possible, especially if you have a wide seam back there so you can make the back larger if you need to.

Even though I’m not following this step in this project, I am still internalizing the reasoning. Thinking ahead, making steps reversible where possible, extending the productive life of a garment all contribute to an approach that enriches the sewing and the sewer.

Next, Kenneth demonstrates hemming the jacket. You lay in a little tailors’ canvas–bias cut, to conform to a curve– for support and weight.

A 2-inch strip of tailors' canvas, cut on the bias so it will curve smoothly rather than ripple.

A 2-inch strip of tailors’ canvas, cut on the bias so it will curve smoothly rather than ripple.

The strip is laid on the fold line of the hem and overlaps the front body canvas by about an inch.

The strip is laid on the fold line of the hem and overlaps the front body canvas by about an inch.

The strip is trimmed to fit just inside the fold line of the overlap of the vent.

The strip is trimmed to fit just inside the fold line of the overlap of the vent.

The overlap folds over the canvas.

The overlap folds over the canvas.

The hem is folded up and pinned...

The hem is folded up and pinned…

...and is basted through all layers.

…and is basted through all layers.

You fold up the hem, and do a nifty, almost invisible hand stitch to hold it in place.

When you hem, catch only a thread or two.

The object: to attach the hem by catching just a thread or two of the front. (The distracting white muslin strip is anchoring the patch pocket.)

Kenneth doesn’t give this hand stitch a name, and I’m going to resist the impulse to look for it in my sewing library. Seeing hand stitches on video is much more helpful than seeing still photos. All I can do is give some idea of the sequence.

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The thread is pulled through.

The stitch on its return does not catch the fashion fabric--only the canvas.

The needle returns through the canvas and hem without picking up additional threads from the front.

Hemming the jacket: the needle on its return.

The needle emerges. One stitch is completed. (Oops–I forgot to remove a pin after basting.)

Although I didn’t break any speed records, I did this stitch competently after several minutes of practice. It takes me several times watching these hand-sewing sequences to notice something as simple as how to hold the fabric in my left hand while my right hand wields the needle.

The tiny stitches are just visible when I pull the canvas and fabric apart.

The tiny stitches are just visible when I pull the canvas and fabric apart.

A closeup.

A closeup.

Even though I used red thread for contrast they are almost invisible.

Even though I used red thread for contrast they are almost invisible.

Here's one stitch that is visible. If I had used a matching thread it wouldn't be a problem in this textured tweed.

Here’s one stitch that is visible. If I had used a matching thread it wouldn’t be a problem in this textured tweed.

In July when I attend Kenneth’s class you can be sure I’ll be scrutinizing how he holds the fabric for control and speed in hand stitching. When I got to visit the workrooms of Savile Row tailors last year I was in awe of their dexterity.

One of the tailors of London's legendary Gieves and Hawkes.

One of the tailors of London’s legendary Gieves and Hawkes. He has probably been tailoring for 50+ years.

With a few deft folds, presses, and stitches the vent is neatly finished.

The canvas strip is catch stitched along its short edge to the muslin interfacing of the underlap. The hem is folded up and slipstitched

The canvas strip is catch stitched along its short edge to the muslin interfacing of the underlap. The hem is folded up and slipstitched

The overlap of the vent will be folded so the vertical fold is on top.

The overlap of the vent will be folded so the vertical fold is on top.

The overlap is catch stitched to the hem, but--surprise--the bottom fold is not slipstitched.

The overlap is catch stitched to the hem, but–surprise–the bottom fold is not slipstitched.

The underlap does not extend below the overlap. All is well.

Pressed in place. The underlap does not extend below the overlap. All is well.

This was the first time I’ve sewn the side seams of a jacket or coat leaving the shoulder seams open for now.

It’s also the first time I’ve sewn the lapels without attaching the collar at the same time.

These firsts made me realize that I’ve been schooled in a certain construction sequence for jackets but that it’s not the only one.

It’s really interesting to try another method and compare the results.

And actually, now that I think about it, it’s not only the results of this “old school” method that interest me. It’s the process.

Wouldn’t it be great, I’m thinking, if I enjoyed both the process of tailoring and the result?

Yes!

Coming up next: lining.IMG_6681 (345x460)

Installing the Lapels: Old School

Readers,

Yesterday I sewed the facings to my jacket fronts, in my Smart Tailoring with Kenneth King project.

The facings have been sewn in place. The fronts are beginning to look like--A JACKET!

The facings have been sewn in place. The fronts are beginning to look like–A JACKET!

I had fun with the process and like the results.

Cutting the facings.

Cutting the facings.

Here’s what Kenneth covered in the lapel, old school segment of this DVD set.

I put a lot of notes on my pattern pieces: date drafted, turn-of-cloth added.

I put a lot of notes on my pattern pieces: date drafted, turn-of-cloth added.

To prepare the facing, you mark the stitching line along the top from the notch point to the shoulder. Kenneth chalked in the line on his wool flannel. I marked my tweed with contrast thread.

I marked my 1/2 inch seamline with contrast thread. A chalk line would be too difficult to see.

I marked my 1/2 inch seamline with contrast thread. A chalk line would be too difficult to see.

Then you stretch along that line–gently–and press in the seam allowance.

The seam allowance is pressed in from the notch point to the shoulder.

The seam allowance is pressed in from the notch point to the shoulder.

On this side, the facing matches the front just fine. I didn't distort the facing when stretching and pressing.

On this side I stretched the facing only enough to make pressing in the seam allowance easier…

Then you pin the facing to the front, aligning raw edges,  matching the notch point and break line at the top.

...but on this side I got overzealous with stretching. I eased the facing back to the right dimensions, distributing the ease with pins.

…but on this side I got overzealous with stretching. I eased the facing back to the right dimensions, distributing the ease with pins. This tweed is easy to manipulate.

At the bottom you make sure the facing extends the amount of the seam allowance beyond the fold line of the front hem.

This pattern uses a 1/2 inch seam allowance. The facing extends the proper distance (1/2 inch) beyond the fold of the hem, indicated by the tiny red thread tracing. The hem depth will be 1 1/4 inches.

This pattern uses a 1/2 inch seam allowance. The facing extends the proper distance (1/2 inch) beyond the fold of the hem, indicated by the tiny red thread tracing. The hem depth will be 1 1/4 inches.

(A quibble: Kenneth has been assuming a 5/8 inch seam allowance, since that’s standard on today’s commercial patterns, but seam allowances vary. My pattern from 1941 uses a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Quite a few of the viewers of this DVD set will be using nonstandard seam allowances. Whenever Kenneth says 5/8 inch I figure that will mean 1/2 inch for my pattern. We now return to our regularly scheduled program.)

Kenneth directs you to pinch out about 1/4 inch ease in the facing and pin it. (In Jackets for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto this is called a “tailor’s blister,” which sounds like something to avoid.) I dutifully did this, but honestly, I don’t understand the purpose.

Pinning out some ease in the facing.

Pinning out some ease in the facing.

Yes, the books say for the turn of cloth, but I need to be persuaded. The question pile for Kenneth’s workshop in July just got bigger.

Now that you’ve pinned the facings in place you then hand baste them in place and take out the pins. If I’d read these instructions in a book or magazine I’d wonder if this was excessive fussiness.  But when Kenneth demoed hand basting the seam, explaining that when you’re at the machine you won’t be dodging pins and sewing crooked, I was convinced.

I continue to enjoy the hand work, particularly as Kenneth explains all along the way why it’s worthwhile–for greater control and accuracy. The more I understand the purpose of each tailoring step, and see the superior results, the more control I feel, and–surprise–the more fun I have making jackets and coats.

This is my new ironing board cover. It's 100% cotton--but obviously it is not absorbent. I think this may be a problem. Another question to research.

This is my new ironing board cover. It’s 100% cotton–but obviously it is not absorbent. I think this may be a problem. Another question to research.

The next step is to machine-stitch the facings to the fronts.

The object is to stitch right next to (not through) the bias binding that’s the bridge between the canvas interfacing and the fashion fabric front. You have the benefit of the interfacing providing body and support without the bulk in the seam.

You can stitch right next to the binding provided that it is in exactly the right place–a hair’s breadth outside the seam allowance.

But as I noted in Setting the Roll Line, Part 1, I balked at an instruction to trim a seam allowance that had seemingly grown after I pad stitched the canvas to the front. What if I trimmed the seam allowance on one lapel, but the other lapel needed no trimming? Farther down the road, would the jacket be a little asymmetrical–would the lapels be different widths?

Were these valid questions or was I treading in neurotic sewing territory? I played it safe and didn’t trim.

Problem: the taped canvas is not bordering the seam allowance of 1/2 inch. I didn't trim the lapel back as directed in a previous segment because this would be irreversible. I went ahead and stitched at 1/2 inch rather than along the tape as directed.

My canvas should have been 1/2 inch away from the raw edges. Then I would have been able to stitch right next to the canvas.

The consequence was that in some places the canvas was about 1/4 inch away from the stitching line. I could not use the edge of the canvas as my guide. I used the guidelines on the throat plate and foot to sew a 1/2 inch seam.

Here, the bias tape-bound edge of the canvas is positioned perfectly for a 1/2 inch seam. The canvas supports the front but isn't caught in the seam, which would create unwanted bulk.

Here, the bias tape-bound edge of the canvas is positioned perfectly for a 1/2 inch seam. The canvas supports the front but isn’t caught in the seam, which would create unwanted bulk.

Onward.

The next steps were very familiar anyone who’s tailored a jacket:

  • Shortening the stitch length around the point for added strength

    I maintained a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Along the top the stitching was just next to the bound canvas (ideal). Along the side the canvas is about 1/4 inch away from the 1/2 inch seamline (not ideal).

    I maintained a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Along the top the stitching was just next to the bound canvas (ideal). Along the side the canvas is about 1/4 inch away from the 1/2 inch seamline (not ideal).

  • Grading the seams differently above and below the break line

    The 0.5 stitch length around the corner allowed me to grade very close.

    The 0.5 stitch length around the corner allowed me to grade very close.

  • Staggering the clips around the curve so as not to weaken the seam
    Staggering the clips around the curve.

    Staggering the clips around the curve.

    Trimming the staggered clips to further reduce bulk.

    Trimming the staggered clips to further reduce bulk.

  • Using a point turner to–turn the point (what else?)
  • Pressing in the turn of cloth above and below the break line

    Pressing open the curved seam using the tailor board.

    Pressing open the curved seam using the tailor board.

  • Basting the pressed edges so the turn of cloth will not be disturbed in future steps.

    Basting the front edge and lapel preserves the turn of cloth that was pressed in.

    Basting the front edge and lapel preserves the turn of cloth that was pressed in.

Finally, Kenneth has you catch stitch the facing to the canvas for the time being, till the lining is installed.

Catch stitching to the canvas keeps the facing in place until it is attached to the lining.

Catch stitching to the canvas keeps the facing in place until it is attached to the lining.

The seam you pressed under earlier is also basted for now.

The seam you pressed under earlier is also basted for now.

This segment had enough that was new (like stitching next to the canvas) to keep me paying close attention. It also had enough that was familiar (like grading and pressing) to let me relax a little and enjoy the process.

By the way, on a weekend trip to Cleveland I got to visit Janie’s Sewing Corner, where Kenneth will be teaching his old school/new school techniques in July. Janie has some very beautiful and inspiring fabrics, like Italian wools, coatings, stretch denims, batiks, and gorgeous knits.

This stretch cotton practically shouts "Summer!"

This stretch cotton I bought at Janie’s practically shouts “Summer!”

I continue to miss Treadle Yard Goods in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I was a customer for 25 years. It was nice to be in an independent fabric store again.

I asked Janie, “Kenneth doesn’t teach in very many places across the country. I was surprised to find he would be teaching in Cleveland. How did you manage to get him?”

“I asked!” she replied.

The print is delightful, and coordinates can be brights or neutrals.

The print is delightful, and coordinates can be brights or neutrals.

Obviously, it pays to ask. And this is not his first visit to Janie’s Sewing Corner, either.

At the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo I attended in Cleveland the day before, a woman told me she’d attended a couple of classes Kenneth had taught at Janie’s. She said how much she’d learned and enjoyed.

After talking with this fellow sewer and visiting Janie’s I’m looking forward to Kenneth’s class all the more. But the learning and enjoying have already begun.

I have enjoyed John Kaldor prints over the years.

I have enjoyed John Kaldor prints over the years.

Setting the Roll Line: Old School, Part 2

Readers,

I had a little more to do to finish Kenneth King’s segment, “Set the Roll Line,” in Smart Tailoring, and I did that today.

Here is one of the jacket fronts now.IMG_7257 (299x460)

Three-eighths inch-wide double-fold bias tape, with one fold pressed open, is basted to the edge of the canvas from the bottom to about an inch past the notch of the lapel.IMG_7259 (345x460)

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I used red thread, as Kenneth does in his demo, because it shows up better in photos, but normally you would use matching thread. The black thread is basting.

Since the canvas was trimmed out of the seam allowance, it will not be caught in the stitching of the facing. Instead, you hand stitch the bias tape to the canvas, and then anchor the canvas in the seam allowance with hand stitches.

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One fold is pressed open.

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Pressing a curve into the bias tape.

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I like any excuse to pull out my bias tape maker. Making bias tape is oddly satisfying.

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An acceptable amount of rippling around this curve, to my mind.

I didn’t have any packaged bias tape in my stash, so I made some using a nifty bias tape maker and some inch-wide bias-cut muslin.Why bias tape and not stay tape? The bias-cut tape conforms to curves better.

Kenneth shows you how to stretch and press a curve into the bias tape so it’s already kind of trained to go around the jacket curve better. Mine still rippled a little, but in a pass-fail situation it would pass, don’t you think?

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What to do with this end of the bias tape? Kenneth anchors his to a side seam allowance. My jacket doesn’t have a side panel.

As for the tail of the bias tape at the hem, Kenneth anchored his to the seam allowance of the side panel. My jacket has no side panel. I will probably end up trimming the bias tape and tacking down the loose end with a few invisible stitches so it doesn’t fold up on itself when I’m not looking.

I really enjoyed the Set the Roll Line segment, which had lots of handwork. I was reminded how much I enjoyed the embroidery kits I would get for birthday and Christmas presents as a child.

Still awaiting framing: a Better Homes and Gardens kit from about 1965.

Still awaiting framing: a kit mail-ordered from Better Homes and Gardens magazine about 1965 that I stitched. I remember wondering what “never lack” meant.

I haven’t looked at the next segment of Smart Tailoring since I first watched it in January, so I’m not sure what to expect next. What more could I possibly do with these fronts?

They're ready, and I'm ready.

I’m ready. Are they?

Surely it’s time to move on to another part. I know I’m ready.