I am Angela and I love to sew. I started sewing as a child and by the time I was a teenager I was wearing the very latest fashions to go out in. All me-made. I am passionate about reducing the amount of textiles sent to landfill, and encourage you to repurpose fabrics and clothes I started this blog in order to have a way in which to pass on my gained knowledge, and my professional knowledge to you, Sewing is empowering, you can save money by making items, make money by selling then, You can pass your knowledge on to others. What is there not to love? Interestingly I am a direct descendant of the Flemish weavers who came over to England in the 1300's. I find that fascinating especially as most of my family from as far back as I can trace are somehow involved in the manufacturing of fabric . . I have a degree in tailoring with a special interest in WW2 fashion.

Friday 16 February 2018

Sewing tutorial - very easy Tailoring for beginners on a spring or Autumn coat

I wanted a lightweight coat for slightly warmer days and came across this fabric in my stash which is perfect
This post was actually started a year ago and since then the pattern which I used is no longer in the current Vogue catalogue. However I still feel that there is value in releasing this post as the techniques remain the same no matter what pattern you use
In this post we will discuss


Basic tailoring using fusible interfacings

This is my coat pictured today before its first outing.

The fabric is a tweed heavy suiting in Orange with a lurex thread running through it. Unfortunately as I have had the fabric for such a long time this colourway has sold out.However it is still available in the delicious raspberry shown below. I actually prefer this colour.

Coat fabric is available from Minerva Crafts on this link  Coat Fabrics  some are
unbelievably inexpensive!

Another alternative is this Textured Boucle tweed Textured Boucle Tweed  There are other choices in the Suitings section.

The pattern is by VOGUE, number V1320 and is by ISSEY MIYAKE, However unfortunately this pattern in no longer available but there are plenty of coat and jacket patterns at Jaycotts.co.uk, have a look Coat and jacket patterns
When choosing your pattern  you must choose one which includes a lining, it will save the trouble of attempting to make a lining pattern. And choose one which matches your ability for example if you are new to sewing avoid one with a lot of pattern pieces and complicated seaming. There are a lot of simple patterns which you will find easy to sew. 

This pattern for example would be a perfect introduction to making a coat Butterick Coat pattern from Jaycotts

You will also need woven interfacing and there are other things you may need depending on the style such as shoulder pads, shoulder rolls, lapel tape, but please do not worry, just let me know if you are making a coat or jacket with a lapel and I will explain what you need and why .

I trained as a tailor many years ago and I learned the old traditional methods, for example everything was hand sewn, hair canvas was used to add shape and the lapels were hand pad stitched. It took many months to make a hand tailored garment! I actually still wear a coat and two jackets which I made over 30 years ago, which proves what I am going to say next.

Do you know what Tailoring is?

Tailoring is  a method of sewing which makes a garment durable. It generally applies to coats and jackets which are worn for many years. "Tailored" has also come to mean a garment with a masculine feel to it, but this garment may not necessarily  be true tailoring.
Tailoring is very skilled and is very difficult to master. However once you have made a truly tailored garment your whole sewing will improve.

Thankfully with the advent of modern fabrics it is now possible to achieve a tailored garment in a fraction of the time.
For my coat I purchased some iron on woven interfacing which although is not the same as horse hair canvas does a very good job!
I use this interfacing on all my jackets and coats iron on woven interfacing from Minerva Crafts

I wont be doing much hand sewing, although I do find it preferable, as my hands are too stiff and painful these days - for anybody new to my blog I have Parkinsons. 
 I will also be making buttonholes on my sewing machine instead of beautiful hand sewn ones.
so, If you want to join me choose your fabric and prepare it as follows,
  • Choose which side you want to be on the outside, often there is a side which you prefer
  • check it carefully for any marks or pulls or any other flaws and mark them clearly by ringing them with a row of tacking stitches. You do NOT want a flaw in the centre of your new coat!
  • shrink the fabric. Take a linen cloth, wring it out in water as dry as possible, place it on the fabric and cover with a dry cotton cloth. PRESS, dont iron! the layers until the fabric is dry, and continue all over the fabric.
  • Hang it to dry
 A tailored garment is always made to measure, So this is where we start to change our sewing methods slightly
Firstly please make sure that you either extend your seam allowances by an inch,but mark the original seam lines with tailor's tacks. You will be fitting the garment frequently and this will allow not only for adjustments in size but will accommodate any fraying as coat fabrics are often loose weaved which means they could fray away to nothing very quickly

This coat is fairly loose fitting, it has a yoke and a stand collar. It also has in seam pockets.

Tailoring for women is not so different from tailoring for men.
It differs from dressmaking in that specialised products are used to add stability and strength to a garment. Specialised techniques  are also used to produce a garment which will last forever without losing its shape. If you want to make a tailored jacket or coat then it really will be worth the effort you put into making it.

You will need a good quality woven iron-on interfacing. I have chosen to show you simple methods of tailoring a garment. When I trained as a tailor over 30 years ago it was all hand sewing and horse hair canvas was used exclusively. With the advent of new fabrics a more speedy construction process is now possible. We will be making the coat in a true tailoring method, the only difference is in the modern interfacings and so on.
Now to work!
Identify your pattern pieces and cut them out. I always cut tailored garments out two sizes larger than my usual pattern size, but if you prefer you can add a minimum of an inch extra in the seam allowances. The reasons for this are explained earlier in this post but it is worth mentioning it again.
This fabric frays considerably so I need to cut wider seam allowances in any case.
Cut out the main body pieces  carefully. Leave the sleeve pattern pieces pinned on the fabric for now,  we will cut them out later.
Cut out the interfacing pieces according to your pattern instructions. You will also need some  for the hems of every piece

Iron on the interfacing at this stage. Although you will need to trim it back to the seam line later, it adds stability whilst you deal with tacking and trying on, especially with a fabric which frays a lot like this one. 
You need to use a very hot iron over a linen pressing cloth. Linen can withstand high temperatures and will prevent the fabric from scorching Transfer all the pattern markings with an erasable pen onto the interfacings. Thread trace all the seam lines to make tacking the garment together easier

It is vital that you run a row of stay stitches on all the sides not covered by your iron-on interfacing. This is to stop the fabric pieces from becoming distorted and out of shape.Do this within the seam allowances as soon as you can. Press.

Any remaining balance marks and pattern markings should be transferred to the fabric with tailors tacks.

Tack the main pieces together, ignoring the sleeves and collar at this point.

 Real Tacking thread is brilliant, and worth purchasing. It stays firmly in place until you remove it. It is made from rough cotton fibres which help it to stay in place.
.it is available from Jaycotts Guttermann Tacking thread

This is the inside of my coat tacked together. This pattern has a yoke which yours may not have so do not worry that your coat does not look like this one does.

This is it turned right way out.
It is now time for the first fitting. Try it on and mark any places where you need to make adjustments. Do not forget that a coat is worn over several other garments so please take that into account when fitting.
I need to mention at this point that you should NOT hang the coat from a hanger or keep it on a tailors dummy until after the collar has been inserted.This is important if you want to avoid it becoming out of shape. Once the collar is in, the stitching and interfacings will stabilise the area.
Once you are happy with the fit take the tacking out and press each piece again.
cut the pockets out, they can be In the same or different fabric to the main lining. Mine are different. They will not be seen by anybody but you! This pocket fabric is thicker and more robust than the coat lining itself

Stitch the pockets to the edges where marked, your pattern will show you where.

Stitch the side seams down to the circle. Stop sewing, start again at the next circle. Sew around the pocket in a separate operation, stitch again for strength. Pink the edges.clip into the corners up to the circles. Tack the pockets together along the fold line.
Stitch the side back seams.
You need to hand catch stitch every seam down after pressing it open to avoid it moving during wear and looking lumpy. More about this later.

Make up the sleeves, easing the upper sleeve into the lower sleeve, stretching the lower sleeve as you go. Double stitch for strength.Press the seam using a sleeve roll and a pressing cloth. Use only the point of the iron along the sleeve. If you press the whole width of the seam you risk making an impression on the right side of the fabric. You may need to shrink the eased side of the sleeve, do this by wetting your linen cloth and squeezing it as much as possible, place your cotton cloth over it and apply pressure with the iron. Do not move until dry. This takes patience!

A coat will be worn for many seasons and therefore it needs to be robust.
If you remember  the definition of a tailored garment it means to make a garment which is durable and lasting. One of the processes  is to hand sew all the seams down to prevent them moving during wear. Each seam must be invisibly sewn to the shell. I like to do it in stages so before the sleeves and yoke are inserted I am going to stitch down the seams I have already done.Support the weight of the garment on a table in front of you to prevent any distortion and do a  herringbone a stitch down  all the seams onto the shell. (The shell is the main body of the garment)
This is how to do it -Fasten your thread and moving your needle from right to left catch one thread of fabric only on the fabric shell bringing it up and taking more of the fabric onto the needle on the seam itself, in a cross stitch pattern . Do this for all the seams, making sure that no stitching whatsoever is visible on the right side of the garment.
sounds complicated? It's  not, I promise, do give it a go. Because doing this will ensure that the seams stay in the right place forever more..
Don't forget that as this is a made to measure garment the seams will not be the same width all the way down as they are in dressmaking. In some places they will be very wide where you took the garment in, in others they will be narrow where you let the seam out. Trim them if they are wildly different, but they are not going to seen by anybody but you.

Put the sleeves in, easing the fabric carefully and match the seam line at the back. Stitch, press,
Attach the yoke as in the pattern instructions. Press. Are you trying your garment on at intervals? You should!
Do you need shoulder pads?  Shoulder pads for set n sleeves are available here shoulder pads  Jaycotts also sell shoulder pads for raglan sleeves
The collar is easy to put together, just make sure that all your pattern markings are transferred to your fabric with Tailors tacks.
Give everything a good press. Pressing each seam as you sew it should become second nature.

You should now have the shell of the coat finished. Leave the hem for now though.

The lining is put together by joining the facings to the fronts and  side panels. The back has a pleat for wearing ease, you will need it, so make sure that you do not forget this stage. It will stop the fabric from tearing during wear.

A handy hint I have for you is that I always fasten my pattern instructions to the wardrobe door behind me so that they are instantly accessible and I can refer to them easily.you could pin them to the curtains if you prefer.

This is the lining put together. Note that I have not inserted the sleeves. Although the pattern says that I should insert the sleeves now by machine I still prefer to follow the traditional way and sew them in by hand.

This is a view of the top of the lining showing the shoulder seam,
press the lining carefully.

This is the back of the yoke, it has a pleat for wearing ease. Just tack it in place for now.
Right sides together pin the lining to the shell, starting to sew from the bottom at the curve, right round to the other side. Trim seams, clip curves.  Press, turn through to the right side, press.


You will find a sleeve roll and a Tailors ham useful for pressing curves and into corners. A sleeve roll is inexpensive and you will find it invaluable for all your projects Sleeve roll
you will find tailors hams and other pressing tools here Pressing tools
Another necessary sewing accessory is a pressing cloth Pressing cloth

The main body of the lining is now in place.

Neaten the bottom of the coat where the interfacing joins the lining by turning under the seam allowance on the interfacing and slip stitching it in place.

Stitch the lining to the coat all around the armholes. You can do this by hand or machine. It stops the lining from becoming detached from the main body of the coat. At this point you can make up the sleeve linings and press them as you did the outer sleeves.

Turn up the hem and catch stitch it to the interfacing which you have ironed around the bottom of the coat.
Turn up the hem allowance on the lining and slip stitch it to the coat hem invisibly. Please note that you need to leave room for movement so it is important that when you stitch the lining in place you push the  lining up a little so that it forms a pleat around the hem of the coat.

Put the sleeve linings inside the coat sleeves, matching notches pin the lining to the coat lining all around tbe armhole, turning in the seam allowance as you go and easing in any fullness. Press.

I do prefer hand stitched buttonholes, but I realise that they may put you off, so if you want to hand sew them do go ahead, otherwise machine them as I did.
you will need a sewing machine needle suitable for thick fabrics, I chose a size 16 as it has to sew through a lot of layers.
Take a look at the varied choice of machine needles here.Did you know that your needle only has a short lifespan and that you will need to throw it away after making this coat? Sewing machine needles
you will need to practise sewing them in order to ensure that they look good. Put together two pieces of spare fabric with a piece of your interfacing between and practise until you get the buttonhole which you like best.
I found it helpful to place a piece of tear-away stabiliser underneath the fabric. This will prevent the fabric from being pulled into the machine should there be any problems. 
Refer to your sewing machine manual for how to use the buttonhole foot which comes with your machine.
Press, and stitch the buttons on by hand.

This is my finished spring coat. It was easy and quick to make mainly because instead of having to fit the shoulders and sew sleeve rolls in place the pattern has a yoke. It makes fitting much easier.
If you choose a simple pattern like the one suggested sewing it together will be even simpler.

The final job was to roll the collar and to catch stitch it in place.This is a design feature on this particular Vogue pattern.
Please do not be put off making yourself a coat. Thick fabrics with some sort of raised design on them are very easy to sew. You will save yourself a fortune too!

The lining I chose has a distinct pattern on it and makes the coat even more personal to me
Do make yourself a spring coat. Use a woven interfacing as I did and it will support the fabric and make it crisp looking. It will also make it last longer and please, do let me have your comments and questions.

Happy Tailoring


#coat #spring #tailoring #lining #jaycotts