The Ripple Effect

Readers,

A few days ago I learned:

  • Kenneth King’s pattern adaptation for notched-collar jackets doesn’t work for peaked lapels.IMG_9104 (370x460)
  • I had picked a jacket pattern with a peaked lapel.IMG_9200 (334x460)
  • I was mistaken to think all peaked lapels look the same. They definitely don’t.

I so wanted to stop thinking about fusing jacket front and under collar pattern pieces into one piece.

Is this easy for an intermediate sewer like me?

Is this easy for an intermediate sewer like me?

I wanted to get down to the business of making a “new school” tailored jacket to pair with the “old school” one I’d made using Smart Tailoring.

Here's a jacket made with "old school" tailoring methods. I was planning to sew a "new method" companion to take to Kenneth King's class.

Here’s a jacket made with “old school” tailoring methods. I was planning to sew a “new method” companion to take to Kenneth King’s class.

But making the jacket any other way would not be “new school,” and I wouldn’t learn what I had set out to learn.

If I gave myself one more chance to learn this technique and succeeded, I’d still have four weeks to produce a “new school” jacket to bring to Kenneth’s class in Cleveland.

So I dug out yet another jacket pattern, one that I was pretty sure had a notched–not a peaked–lapel.  It’s McCall 7379. From 1933, the eBay vendor said.IMG_9224 (358x460)

Since only the pieces for View B were left, she listed the pattern for 99 cents. I snapped it up.IMG_9225 (303x460)

Yesterday I laid out the front and under collar pattern pieces.

The original pattern pieces, with the seam allowances.

The original pattern pieces, with the seam allowances.

The photocopied pattern pieces, with seam allowances cut off.

The pattern pieces photocopied onto tracing paper, with seam allowances cut off.

I sewed a muslin of the back, front, and under collar. It went together easily.IMG_9221 (460x345)I trimmed the seam allowances off the photocopied under collar piece and laid it on the muslin.

The under collar piece fits back onto the muslin, which is laid over a tailor's ham.

The under collar piece fits back onto the muslin, which is laid over a tailor’s ham.

As was expected, the under collar fit just fine, as it should.

Then I ripped out the back piece and laid out the front-under collar combo as flat as I could.

That didn’t mean it laid out perfectly flat, though. There was a ripple, which I could transfer from one place to another but couldn’t remove.

The ripple is between the shoulder seam and the dart.

The ripple is between the shoulder seam and the dart.

Now the rippled is between the dart and the lapel.

Now the ripple is between the dart and the lapel.

And this is where, once more, I found myself lost in a dark wood. I could not fathom what the rippled muslin pieces were telling me.

So a single, flat pattern piece, eliminating a bulky seam leading to a superior notched collar, remains beyond my grasp for a few more weeks.

In the meantime, I think I’ll sew up something from a tried and true pattern. I could use a change.

In Action is Better Than Inaction

Readers,

After I wrote my previous post, about how my plan to make a tailored jacket came to a grinding halt, I rallied. I posed my question in the PatternReview.com forum, Pattern Modifications, Design Changes & Pattern Drafting section:

I composed what I hoped would be a catchy title for my thread, “Success Using Kenneth King’s Notched Collar Adaptation?” Translation:

  • “Success.” We all want to know which instructions really, really work.
  • “Kenneth King.” He teaches online classes through Pattern Review and has an enthusiastic following.
  • “Notched Collar.” A thorn in the side of many sewers.
  • “Adaptation.” You mean there could be a better way? Tell me about it!

Then I wrote my question:

I am getting ready to make a jacket following Kenneth King’s “new school” method step by step on his Smart Tailoring DVD set. (I have only buttonholes left to do on a jacket that faithfully followed his “old school” method, which was quite successful. See my blog for the blow-by-blow.)
Here’s where I’m stuck–right at the beginning of my project. In this “new school” method you eliminate a seam and bulk from the notched collar by combining the front jacket pattern piece with the under collar piece. Kenneth illustrates this (briefly) in his April/May 2006 Threads article “A Notch Above,” which is also bonus material on the DVD. He also mentions this method on his Tailoring CD. I am NOT a natural at pattern-drafting, so I just could not fathom what to do and how to check my work.
Has anybody experienced success with Kenneth’s method? Any tricky parts to be aware of?
I will be taking Kenneth’s tailoring class in Cleveland in July so eventually I will get an answer with the amount of detail I need (which is a lot). However, I was hoping to produce another jacket before the class so I could test all the “new school” instructions and be ready with questions. Thanks for any help.

I hit Post Topic and then waited for replies to roll in.

Pretty soon a Pattern Review member answered. She was curious about this pattern-drafting trick, too.

Then another member wrote in. She scoured the Internet to help me, and found this photo, which she posted in the thread:

IMG_9988 (460x307)

Look familiar?

It’s a little strange to have a photo of a project from your own blog cited as the answer to your problem. But the intention was so very nice.

Even though I didn’t get a tidy little answer to my question, the tone of solicitude and interest from fellow sewers made me resolve to give this patternmaking method another try. I owed it to myself, and to my correspondents who were taking pains to ease me back onto the sewing road.

Sunday morning found me rifling through my patterns for another notched-collar jacket. I chose McCall 6425, a bolero jacket from 1946. I’ve been wanting to make this for years.IMG_9200 (334x460)

I traced off the front, back, and under collar and examined how the paper pieces fit together.IMG_9167 (297x460)

Then I made a muslin, and saw how the fabric pieces fit together.IMG_9177 (460x345)

Looking at my muslin through my light box--my homemade x-ray machine.

Looking at my muslin through my light box–my homemade x-ray machine.

I saw where the under collar intersected with the shoulder seam and transferred the marking to the pattern piece.

Matching the circle and the shoulder seam, I noticed that the seamline on the under collar was barely curved, while the front neckline was much more curved. The distance stitched was the same, though.

When I match the undercollar at the  circle and the shoulder seam, the stitching lines don't match.

When I match the undercollar at the circle and the shoulder seam, the stitching lines don’t match.

So, back to what I wanted to accomplish: combining the under collar and front. If the stitching lines don’t match, do I alter the under collar to compensate in some way? Transfer the difference to another edge? Does this make sense?

I was observing; I was reasoning, but I didn’t know the patternmaking principle to apply to this situation, so I was not solving the problem.

But something I had read on Kenneth King’s “Tailored Jacket” CD book came back to me. He describes eliminating the seam by combining the two pattern pieces, and then says,

An aside: This doesn’t work for peaked lapels, as the edges of the collar are too close together.

Then he shows a photo of a peaked lapel and a line drawing of the pattern pieces of a peaked lapel fitted together.

Peaked lapel. I traced this from Kenneth King's "Tailored Jacket" CD book and flipped it over.

Peaked lapel. I traced this from Kenneth King’s “Tailored Jacket” CD book and flipped it over.

I returned to my muslin and compared it with the drawing.

IMG_9165 (460x345)

The peak of chic.

Does my jacket have a peaked lapel? I’m thinking it does. At least, the pattern pieces are behaving like a peaked lapel.

After I’ve given my brain a good rest I may further investigate this matter of notched lapels, excluding those of the peaked kind.

Or I may wait a month. I will probably get all the information I need in a five- or ten-minute explanation and demo from Kenneth.

At least, Pattern Review correspondents, thanks to you, I made a good faith effort.

Take a peek at la belle in the swell peaked lapel.

Sneak a peek at la belle in the swell peaked lapel.

 

It’s Easy, All Right–If You Know How

Readers,

Yesterday I sewed my buttons–the ones I bought recently at Taylors Buttons in London–on my 1941 McCall “mannish jacket,” which I sewed according to Kenneth King’s “old school” method in his Smart Tailoring DVD set.

This still needs a good press. I think I'll ask Kenneth for pointers on how to do the job right.

This still needs a good press. I think I’ll ask Kenneth for pointers on how to do the job right.

They look just right. In coloring, size, and style they fit right in with this tweed.IMG_9091 (327x460)

IMG_9103 (460x345)

The buttons probably date from the 1940s, as does the McCall pattern.

That was very satisfying.

I haven’t decided whether to sew this button on the sleeve vents. Although Maureen at Taylors Buttons told me that Savile Row tailors have used the same size button on men’s jacket fronts and sleeves, I’m wondering whether doing that on my significantly smaller jacket would look odd.

Would one button this size look odd on this sleeve vent?

Would one button this size look out of proportion on a sleeve this size?

I think I’ll wait and ask my classmates when I take Kenneth King’s tailoring class in Cleveland the end of July.  They’ll be happy to weigh in. Then I’ll decide what to do.

In addition to resolving the sleeve button issue I also need to give this jacket a good press or take it to a reputable dry cleaner. But again, I thought it would be great to take advantage of Kenneth’s fund of knowledge. Maybe my jacket can be used as an example for pressing dos and don’ts.

So the tweed jacket is as done as it can be for now. Time to turn to part two of my Smart Tailoring DVD project: making another jacket, this time using Kenneth King’s “new school” methods.

Two years ago I sewed this pattern in linen. For the "new method" project I planned to use this fabric and these vintage buttons.

Two years ago I sewed this pattern in linen. For the “new method” project I planned to use this fabric and these vintage buttons.

Monday I watched the first segment, “Pattern Work.” All of the tasks were straightforward: draft lining, back stay, and body canvas pieces, and adjust for turn of cloth.

All the tasks, that is, except one. That’s where I hit a snag. Rats.

On the DVD Kenneth says,

Here we have the body front. In the “old school” we had a separate collar piece. For the “new school” we draft the collar piece onto the body, as you can see here. You will join it at the gorge line so the entire piece is cut as one with the body. It will eliminate this seam later in the construction–it simplifies it tremendously.

If you’ve never sewn a notched-collar jacket you may not know how terror-inducing that highly visible stitching crossroads can be to get right–twice. The notch can be bulky, lumpy, uneven, and unfixable. With many hours of construction behind you, your only reward may be one ugly, unwearable jacket.

IMG_9104 (370x460)

From Threads magazine, May 2006, Kenneth King’s article on perfecting notched collars.

In the video Kenneth next turned his attention to drafting the front lining and facing and said nothing more about how to join the under collar and front pattern pieces. But surely the Threads magazine article, “A Notch Above,” in the Bonus Material section, would fill the gap.

IMG_9105 (329x460)

It would be so great to unlock the mystery. Once I understand this I may wonder what had been so confusing.

Well, my knowledge gap was apparently too big. As I’ve said before, I don’t easily grasp patternmaking principles. Once again, my low aptitude for structural visualization was getting in my way.

There is one thing I do know about patternmaking, though: you must focus with laser intensity on accuracy. Otherwise, don’t bother.

I pulled the under collar and front pieces from the jacket pattern I was planning to use, and laid them out. Unlike the pattern pieces illustrated in Threads, mine did not look like jigsaw puzzle pieces naturally fitting together. My pieces still had seam allowances on them, which could account for the lack of fit. But even without seam allowances my pieces did not nestle as I had hoped they would.

The curve in the under collar doesn't match the curve of the neckline. Is there a mistake here? My linen jacket turned out fine.

The curve in the under collar doesn’t match the curve of the neckline. Is there a mistake here? My linen jacket turned out fine.

Either there was a principle at work here that I didn’t understand, or an inaccuracy in my pattern pieces, or both. I didn’t know how to define the problem, so I didn’t know what to try to solve it. It was time to consult an expert.

Tuesday I met with my patternmaking teacher, who agreed to see me before her evening class got started. When I explained about combining pattern pieces to eliminate seams, she said this was something she’d done back in her patternmaking days in the fur industry.

IMG_9109 (460x372)

“It’s that easy.” Perhaps a step-by-step, illustrated process would help me understand this. I certainly hope so.

What I thought would take 15 minutes for Nina before class took much longer, because she tried to teach me along the way, and ended up making the design challenge into a demo for her students. When I left the classroom an hour and a half later I had a rough draft of the new pattern piece and a recommendation to make a muslin to test the result. But–not Nina’s fault–I was still confused how to test my pattern to make absolutely sure it was right before I proceeded.

I left with this rough draft of a single pattern piece. Where to go from here, exactly?

I left with this rough draft of a single pattern piece. Where to go from here, exactly?

As I left the classroom I was already thinking it would be best to learn Kenneth King’s method from Kenneth himself next month. I would reluctantly shelve my “new school” jacket project for now and turn my attention to other sewing projects for five weeks.

IMG_9113 (460x416)

The original lapels. (Regretfully, the top bound buttonhole is a little too high.)

But I suspect that this turn of events has a silver lining. Trying on this Butterick jacket today, I was a little dissatisfied with the style. The front buttons up higher than I like. Would it be easy to change the roll line and lengthen the lapel?

IMG_9115 (460x402)

I folded back the lapels and pinned them down. This length is more flattering on me.

IMG_9114 (395x460)

Would it be easy to change the roll line for next time?

And then I keep wanting to pinch out some fullness under the arm. And maybe raise the armhole a little…

Or maybe it’s time to choose a different pattern. When I do make a “new school” jacket it will be a more flattering cut and worth the wait.

Yesterday I began looking at my UFOs and patterns, pondering what projects I wanted to pursue between now and Kenneth’s class in five weeks. I gazed at my fabric stash as if standing before an open refrigerator wondering what I was hungry for.

Working steadily on my “old school” jacket for months I learned to put on the blinders to all those other tempting sewing projects. I may have learned too well though. Now I don’t know what to do next.

Well, just not yet. I am letting myself savor the possibilities.

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.

IMG_7390 (460x345)

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)

Setting the Roll Line: Old School, Part 1

Readers,

Having basted the body canvases to the fronts of my McCall “mannish jacket” pattern from 1941, I followed Kenneth King’s directions in Smart Tailoring for setting the roll line.

The story so far.

The story so far.

This segment on the DVD was longer than the previous one. I’ll cover the first half of the segment in this post.

Showing one jacket front, Kenneth tells us what we’ll be doing next:

We did all of our basting before. We’re going to trim out the seam allowance all along the lapel edge and the front, because if you have a seam allowance there, you catch the canvas in the seam and it’s going to make it impossible to press flat.

Once we trim the seam allowance, I’m going to set the roll, do the pad stitching, and add in the tape. Finally, I’m going to be taping this edge here with hand stitching. So that’s where we’re going in this particular section.

We’re going to take it a step at a time.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into Kenneth’s words and tone of voice, but to me he sounds like a pilot reassuring passengers that everything will be fine. And it will!

First, I’ll flip this over, and as you can see, I’ve actually drawn the stitching line all along the outline of the entire canvas.

The first step is to trim this out. Okay. That’s done.

Here’s where I goofed. I’d watched the demo a couple of days earlier and thought, “I remember what he does–he trims the canvas out of all of the seam allowances.” So I skipped reviewing the demo.

Wrong!

Kenneth leaves the canvas in the shoulder and armhole seam allowances–at least for the moment.

The red line is the new line for trimming the canvas out of the 1/2 inch seam allowance. The red line at the shoulder turned out to be a mistake. Kenneth doesn't show the canvas being trimmed from the shoulder.

The red line is the new line for trimming the canvas out of the 1/2 inch seam allowance. The red line at the shoulder turned out to be a mistake. Kenneth doesn’t show the canvas being trimmed from the shoulder.

Meanwhile, I diligently measured and trimmed. My canvases and fronts didn’t match edges at all points, so I trimmed more or less canvas as needed to keep it from being caught in the seam.

I doubt my jacket will suffer greatly from my zealous overtrimming, but it might lack reinforcement in the shoulder and armhole. We’ll see.

Next, we’re going to shape the two layers over steam. I’m going to lay the pad parallel to the roll line. There’s our roll line. There we go. Allow those to cool.

The canvas is trimmed out of the seam allowance. The dotted red line is my mistaken roll line. The correct roll line is the pencil line.

The canvas is trimmed out of the seam allowance. The dotted red line is my mistaken roll line. The correct roll line is the pencil line.

The roll line is barely discernible traced in orange thread.

The roll line is barely discernible traced in orange thread.

The lapel is turned back on the roll line over a pad (a scrap of upholstery fabric) to be steamed well and pressed judiciously.

The lapel is turned back on the roll line over a pad (a scrap of upholstery fabric) to be steamed well and pressed judiciously.

The canvas is folded back along the penciled roll line, steamed, and pressed (but not crushed).

The canvas is folded back along the penciled roll line, steamed, and pressed (but not crushed).

And I’m going to tailor baste the canvas together with the wool. Okay.

The canvas is basted to the lapel.

The canvas is basted to the lapel.

Next, I’ll be adding the stay tape. I’ve allowed the fabric to cool and dry. Now I will open this up. You can see that a little bit of a roll is already starting to occur. So here is the roll line.

The roll line is started to be defined.

The roll line is starting to be defined.

So I’m going to pin this [stay tape] in right here at one end of the roll line and smooth it up to the neck.

I had some 3/8 inch stay tape in my stash. (Kenneth doesn't mention preshrinking it--the stay tape, I mean, not my stash.)

I had some 3/8 inch stay tape in my stash. (Kenneth doesn’t mention preshrinking it–the stay tape, I mean, not my stash.)

And then I’m going to pull it a quarter of an inch. What you want to do here is, you want a little bit of ripple–as you can see, there’s a little bit of a gap right there.

The stay tape is pinned at the break line,then laid along the roll line and pulled slightly, then anchored with another pin.

The stay tape is pinned at the break line,then laid along the roll line and pulled slightly, then anchored with another pin.

Because we want to shrink this down. It’s a little bit on the bias–you want that to shrink down so it will actually sit smoothly against the chest.

And by pinning and just flattening everything out, it will automatically ease the body onto the stay tape.

The stay tape is pinned in the center, and then all along the roll line, distributing the ease.

The stay tape is pinned in the center, and then all along the roll line, distributing the ease.

Now, I like to do a thread baste to hold all of this together until the pad stitching occurs.

The dreaded pad stitching!

Now, this is where we do the pad stitching. This is the part most people have fits about and complain about, but what I have found is if you have some good rhythmic music on, and you just do it very calmly–it won’t be terrible.

I liked that chin-up but realistic tone: “It won’t be terrible.”

I imagined Kenneth dealing with the unpleasantness of students having fits and complaining about hand stitching, and resolved to make a good faith effort.

First, you anchor the stay tape with three rows of pad stitching, starting down the center and then a row on either side. Then you just keep going, pad stitching onto the lapel.

The pad stitching continues from the stay tape to cover the lapel.

The pad stitching continues from the stay tape to cover the lapel.

Far from terrible, I found pad stitching quite absorbing, to tell the truth.

I dimly recall laboriously pad stitching an under collar in a coat-making class about 25 years ago, not clearly understanding the point of it.

I didn’t take a stab at pad stitching again till last year when I was taking the Savile Row bespoke class in London. There I had a devil of a time, trying to make tiny, even stitches with a tiny needle and wearing a tailor’s thimble that was too big for me. Talk about aggravating.

But knowing that Kenneth King wasn’t born with a silver thimble on his finger was heartening.

I noticed that his needle was lots bigger than what they had us use in London. A bigger needle would be easier for me.

I also noticed that he didn’t use a thimble.  For tailors stitching all day, every day, a thimble is essential. In the London class after only an hour I nearly punctured my right middle finger trying to push that tiny tailor’s needle repeatedly through the fabric.

Now, when you’re pad stitching, you just want to barely pick the back of the fabric, and I actually use my middle finger as my guide. I know exactly how much the needle should scrape the bit of my middle finger to get the proper stitch. My friends always know when I’ve been pad stitching because this finger is always chewed up.

I found this observation oddly cheering, though I can’t explain why.

It’s something you do by touch. You’re going to be making tiny, tiny little stitches. And ideally they should not show from the front of the fabric. Or if they show it will be just a tiny bit of dimples.

The pad stitching creates dimples on the underside. Is this amount of dimpling acceptable?

The pad stitching creates dimples on the underside. Is this amount of dimpling acceptable?

I cut my thread the length of my hand to my elbow, as recommended, wrapped a Band-Aid around my right middle finger, and set to my task.

You now want to turn and just keep pad stitching back and forth. When you’re pad stitching you want to hold the lapel into a roll so that when you stitch the two layers together it locks in the turn of cloth.

Holding the lapel in a curved position, I made each pad stitch with just a little tug. And with each tug each stitch did its small part to put a curl into the lapel. When I was done, the lapel “wanted” to curve. I found this very satisfying.

The pad stitched lapel curls by itself. The other does not.

The pad stitched lapel curls by itself. The other does not.

Now that all of our pad stitching is done, before I go to the next step, I need to trim down this seam allowance. As you can see, it’s a little bit too wide.

Yes–and I noticed that on my lapels the canvas had receded like a riverbank with the seam allowance a widening river.

So I’m going to get my ruler and rotary cutter and trim this all back to its original 5/8 inch.

What? Just like that? You trim the seam allowance before you stitch the seam? This gave me pause. Once I cut, there is no uncutting.

One of my sewing teacher’s sayings is “Don’t take an irreversible step until you have to.” And, I would add, until I understand why.

I looked at Kenneth’s demo and looked at my jacket fronts, back and forth, wondering what to do.

I asked myself whether the lapels could have been stretched and distorted. I pinned the fronts together. If distorted, they were distorted just the same.

I pinned the fronts together onto a cork board.

I pinned the fronts together onto a cork board.

I couldn’t imagine the seam allowances being stretched out when I was pad stitching the canvas. I could imagine the canvas being pulled in a little from the edge. Would that justify trimming the seam allowance?

Comparing the pad stitched lapels. The canvas shrank from the vertical lapel edges about 1/8 inch. The big difference is at the top of the lapels. Don't know why.

Comparing the pad stitched lapels. The canvas shrank from the vertical lapel edges about 1/8 inch. The big difference is at the top of the lapels. Don’t know why.

Well, the logic of trimming was lost on me. So for the first time in this project I chose not to follow instructions. I’m sitting tight for now.

Maybe I’ll understand in a future segment. If not, I will save up this question for Kenneth’s workshop I’m attending in Cleveland in July and will report back.