Guess what? I finished my 1941 McCall “Misses’ Mannish Jacket,” except for buttonholes, yesterday! I’ve handed my creation over to my capable photographer, Cynthia DeGrand, to shoot it in her studio this afternoon.
The linings have been basted to the sleeves to avoid getting twisted later. The tops of the linings remain loose.
This past week found me following Kenneth King’s demos on his DVD set Smart Tailoring to set in the sleeves by hand and machine and complete sewing in the lining by hand according to “old school” methods.
Kenneth likes to distribute the ease over a long distance–the points I’ve marked with pins, where the sleeve flattens on itself.
Make two staggered rows of running stitches by hand inside the seam allowance by about 1/8 inch to ease the seam cap.
The rows of hand stitching are staggered to gather the cap better.
As throughout this “old school” process, I was surprised how much I liked doing the handwork. Hand-basting the sleeve into the armhole gave me more control over distributing the ease, and I had no pins in my path when I machine-sewed the sleeve in place.
The right sleeve cap has been gathered and steam-pressed and -shrunk to shape.
Oh–I forgot to spritz the left sleeve before I tried steaming and pressing the cap. Do not skip the water-spritzing step!
Similarly, I enjoyed more control stitching the lining in place by hand than by machine.
I have sewn this jacket pattern four times before and drafted a shoulder pad for it, but Kenneth shows how to trim a commercial shoulder pad to fit.
With fleece from my stash and the shoulder pad pattern I made previously I made shoulder pads in a jiffy.
When I try Kenneth’s “new school” methods from Smart Tailoring for a second jacket project I’m sure there will be more machine work, and I may be equally satisfied with the result. The big change may be that I will no longer see handwork as fussy or laborious. It certainly doesn’t have to be.
A sleeve head fills out the sleeve cap; Kenneth recommends using a a bias-cut wool flannel.
The 3″ x 10″ wool strip is folded and pressed, then zizzag-stitched, folded and pressed again to create tiers.
Press and steam-shrink the sleeve head to help mold it into its final shape.
The shoulder pad aligns with the sleeve seam allowance.
The fold of the sleeve head is placed about an eighth of an inch inside the seam allowance and then is opened up.
The sleeve head is unfolded and attached to the sleeve cap with a running stitch.
Although I finished the jacket as much as I could, I don’t have buttons for it yet so I can’t make the buttonholes. And without buttons and buttonholes it isn’t done and is still a project, not a garment.
Once stitched in place, the sleeve head will fold back on itself.
The shoulder pads are in both sides, but the sleeve head is only on the right. The other sleeve cap looks a little collapsed.
I realized a few weeks ago that I might find wonderful vintage or vintage-looking buttons to go with this vintage pattern and fabric. So I’m waiting till I’m in London a few weeks from now to look in earnest.
In a little while I will join Cynthia and my jacket in the photo studio. See you back here in a couple of days, I hope!
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?
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?
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.
We no longer live in the 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I folded in the vent edge extending the seamline.
Next, I folded up the hem. This created a 1 1/2-inch square.
I penciled a mark where the edges came together.
I notched the pencil marks, then drew the stitching line.
The paper is refolded to create the 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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The basting at the top of the facing will be 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 has been taken out.
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.)
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 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.
The collar is basted to the neckline.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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. I’m encouraged.
The upper collar lies nicely, covering the neck seam just as it should.
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!
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 a single piece cut on the fold.
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 is going to be wrapped around the undercollar.
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 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.
Pinning in place before basting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.