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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!