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.