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Readers,

I’ve done my pattern work, following Kenneth King’s “old school” methods in Smart Tailoring. I finally cut into my fashion fabric the other day.

My jacket back is done now. It was easy.

Jacket back, right side, with catch-stitched vent

Right side: chain-stitched gathering in armhole, catch-stitched vent

Wrong side: shoulder stays and back stay, reinforced vent

Wrong side: shoulder stays and back stay, reinforced vent

I made a couple of little beginner’s mistakes, easily recognized and remedied.

Here’s what I did, pretty much in the order on the video:

  • Tailor-tacked the hem and vent.
    The beginning of a tailor tack, shown on a plain scrap.

    The beginning of a tailor tack, shown on a plain scrap.

    Kenneth demos this with a double strand of basting thread.

    Creating the first loop.

    Creating the first loop.

    I’ve done tailor tacks before, but Kenneth shows a version using a loop, which was new to me. It’s pretty clever.

    One tailor tack done and the next one starting.

    One tailor tack done and the next one starting.

    The loop shows only on one side of the pattern piece and helps to distinguish the wrong side from the right side.

    A pleasing line of tailors' tacks.

    A pleasing line of tailors’ tacks.

    That’s helpful when your fabric looks virtually the same on both sides, like a wool flannel.

    Pulling the pieces apart slightly to cut the tacks.

    Pulling the pieces apart slightly to cut the tacks.

    Kenneth demonstrated tailors’ tacks facing the camera. Had the camera been placed so the viewer would be looking over his shoulder, I would have learned this hand stitch even faster.

  • Sewed the back seam down to the vent. Pressed the seam as sewn and then pressed the seam open over the seam roll. Kenneth showed using steam and then dry heat to set the press.
  • Drew in the armholes very slightly with a chain stitch.
    Chain stitch. My first attempt, I did flat on a table. That didn't create the ripple needed for shaping.

    Chain stitch. My first attempt, I did flat on a table. That didn’t create the ripple needed for shaping.

    The objective is to add a little shaping at the shoulder blades. Kenneth didn’t say exactly where to place the chainstitching or how long to make it, but it’s obvious from the demo that it’s midway. And I assume the stitching is inside the seam allowance a little bit. I wonder whether my tweed, which is relatively loosely woven, needs this refinement.

    I chain-stitched over my hand, pulling slightly to create tension and shaping. Then I steam pressed on the ham.

    I chain-stitched over my hand, pulling slightly to create tension and shaping. Then I steam pressed on the ham.

    Maybe a tightly woven suiting would benefit from this. I’ll ask Kenneth when I attend his class in July. Kenneth steamed and pressed the stitched area over a ham to build in more shaping.

  • Stayed the shoulder seams with muslin strips cut on the lengthwise grain, stitching 1/8 inch inside the seam allowance. Then I pressed.

    The shoulders are stayed.

    The shoulders are stayed.

Now that I have the shoulders stayed, I’m going to press again. Because, something to remember here: press. If you’re wondering about, Should I press or not? Press. More pressing is better than less.

  • Applied the back stay. I stitched 1/8 inch inside the seam line. That’s at 3/8 inch for my 1941 pattern, which has 1/2 inch seam allowances.
    My first back stay was too big.  (I put pink ribbon on my pinking shears to distinguish them from my other shears.)

    My first back stay was too big. (I put pink ribbon on my pinking shears to distinguish them from my other shears.)

    I noticed that Kenneth didn’t mention directionally stitching the stay. When he showed what to stitch (stitching was off-camera),  he indicated the starting point and pointed all the way to the other end in one continuous motion rather than pointing from each side and ending at the center back.   I’d like to know his opinion about when directional stitching matters.

    I had included a seam allowance in my back stay pattern. Now it's fixed.

    I had included a seam allowance in my back stay pattern. Now it’s fixed.

  • Reinforced the vent with muslin strips. They’re cut to cover from the raw edge to the fold line and from the fold of the hem to the bottom of the center back seam. Kenneth demonstrated a running stitch to attach the muslin, making invisible stitches where they might be seen from the right side.
    The underlap is interfaced with muslin.

    The underlap is interfaced. The pressed-in edge will be catch-stitched to the muslin. The seam allowance is clipped so the seam will lie flat.

    He pressed in about 1/4 inch on the underlap and catchstitched the fold to the muslin. He clipped diagonally into the seam allowance above the vent so the center back seam would lie open and flat.

So my jacket back is complete, and I’m ready for the jacket fronts.

The back is done for now.

The back is done for now.