Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Interlining, uncharted territory

After cutting out the lining I held the larger pieces up against the wool to get a feel for the eventual weight / substance of the finished coat.  My impression was that it was a bit flimsy, especially considering that I will primarily wear it as outerwear.  I also hate being cold, so I decided to interline the sleeves and the upper half of the coat.  I referred to my Edna Bishop book on clothing construction for instructions.  I've read discussions on other blogs relative to interlining vs. underlining.  Sewists can be very passionate about this topic!  I'm calling it interlining because it's attached to the lining.  

My real issue was what to use.  Edna suggests using old blankets which would be way too heavy.  I tried an old flannel sheet and even it felt like overkill to me.  I eventually decided to use some of my old white t-shirts.  It would either work or be the biggest sewing mistake ever.  

I cut the pieces and basted them carefully to the lining, making sure there were no huge wrinkles.  After basting, the interlining was staystitched to the lining just inside the seamline.  The knit was trimmed as closely to the seam as possible.  As shown in the above photo the interlining in the sleeves ends at the top of the hem.  This reduces the bulk at the cuff.  I then assembled the lining.  I find it hard to keep my spirits up during this process.  It just feels like I'm making the whole damn coat over again.  

Of course I complicated things even more by adding an inside chest pocket.  

Here's the completed lining.  I added the lower front facings which are interfaced with some strips of hair canvas.  It just seemed odd to have so much structure at the top of the coat and none at the bottom.  

The back view.  

Now I just need to sew this big mess together!  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Frock coat progress

I haven't posted any progress for awhile, but believe me I've been hard at work.  I continue to use my Cabrera book as a guide, just using the techniques that make sense for this project.  I decided to add flap pockets on the seam where the upper coat attaches to the skirt.  The pattern as designed only has pockets in the lining.  Two are in the coat tails which I totally don't understand at all.  I borrowed this idea from Simplicity's frock coat pattern (#2895).  It was a tricky little bit of sewing, but worth the effort in the end.  

The completed flap.

A little peek inside.  

Setting the sleeves is always the most difficult part.  This is an instance where I refer to Cabrera.  First, a strip of pocketing is basted around the sleeve opening on the coat.  This prevents any stretching.  The wool I'm using is quite loosely woven and it stretches and frays like crazy.  This extra bit of work was time well spent.  The sleeve is then set by basting with 1/4" stitches.  The seam is stitched with a 1/2" allowance, even if the directions call for 5/8".  I'm glad to report that both sleeves went in on the first shot.  No seam ripping! 

The outside of the coat is finished for now.  Off to the lining.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The frock coat -- back to tailoring

Things are progressing on the frock coat front.  I altered most of the pattern pieces.  Here they are all spread out.  I shortened and narrowed the sleeves, lowered the lapel and increased the back by 1.5 inches.  Again, if you haven't tried the Swedish tracing paper I encourage you to try it.   I'm a true believer.  It's so easy to make alterations with some scraps and a roll of scotch tape.  
Here are some goodies that arrived from B. Black and Sons.  They sell pre-made jacket fronts in in 2 weights of canvas and for both single and double breasted jackets.  These are 2 heavy weight fronts for a size 40.  At $12 for the pair I think this is an incredible bargain.  As much as I enjoyed building and pad stitching the canvas for the "wedding jacket", I wanted to make this project a little easier.  I want this coat to be a cross between outerwear and suit coat.  So I'm pulling the Cabrera tailoring book down off the shelf and picking and choosing which techniques to use.  It's really the beauty of being able to make exactly what one wants, isn't it? 

I also picked up a hip rule and spool of real basting thread that should last a lifetime.  I could wax poetic about the thread but I'll resist.  Just know that it's pure magic to work with.  

Here the front is basted to the canvas in a very specific order.  If you have a touch of OCD you'll love this! 

I decided to add a front chest pocket which is not part of the pattern.  I was surprised at how easy this was to do.  Thank you Roberto Cabrera for this bit of sewing origami!  

This is the real hardcore tailoring, and hopefully the end result will be worth the effort.  Cotton twill tape is stitched to the canvas to define the lapel edges.  The lapel is pad stitched and twill tape is cross stitched over the roll line.  Trust me, there is nothing scary about this stuff.  In fact, it's really fun to do.  Now that the coat fronts are done things should move along quickly.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Edwardian frock coat -- The fitting fight

I've launched into the Edwardian frock coat, Laughing Moon Mercantile #109.  As you can see below, there's a lot of work to do.  Eeeeeek!

The size 40 vest fit perfectly so I cut the 40 coat.  Sadly, there's nothing "perfect" going on here.  The jacket fits fine in the front but is way too tight across the back.  The sleeves have also been problematic.  I thought while cutting them out that they looked big, and I was right.  The cuff ended up with a circumference of 14" which is larger than any winter coat I own.   There was also at least an extra inch of ease in the cap.  It was impossible to set the sleeve.   So far there has been so much to dislike about this pattern.  The shoulder seams extend to the back, so from the rear there is a hodgepodge of seams, none of which align with each other.  I'm not digging it. 



I let the center back seam out 1".  This has helped, but I still think I could add another 1/2".  It's hard to see but I've also narrowed the sleeve on the left.  I decreased the sleeve seams at the top of the sleeve by 1/4" , gradually increasing to 1/2" at the cuff.  This eliminated the excess ease, made the sleeve seam meet up with the curved back seam and made the cuff more suit like and less overcoat.  The sleeves will need to be shortened about an inch.  

Here is the front as designed.  It calls for 4 buttons down the front.  It's OK, but I have a fabulous vest that's completely covered up.  

I really don't care about historical accuracy, so my plan is to lower the roll line of the lapel so that some of the vest is revealed.  This might require narrowing the lapel and the collar slightly.  Both are easy fixes.  All in all this project is getting off to a rough start.  Making a muslin can be so frustrating, but obviously in this case it's been well worth it.  Next I need to tweak my patterns to match the changes I've made, and prep my fabric using the London shrink method.