Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Step 13. Assembling the Jacket: Part IV.

The Jacket Back

I use combination tape or stay tape to reinforce the back neckline and the shoulder seams. Once the back is sewed to the side seams, I will complete stitching the stay tape or the combination tape from the front in the continuation of the armhole reinforcement.

Sewing the Vertical Seams

Next, I assemble all of the jacket’s vertical seams, putting in “on seam” pockets, if they are present in the design.

Directional Sewing Techniques

I am not always successful at this (convenience wins out, on occasion), but I try, for each seam, to use directional sewing techniques in the assembly of the jacket. Directional sewing essentially means sewing with the grain, as much as possible, to ensure smooth seams. In general this means sewing from the wider area to the narrower area of the pattern piece. Looking at the edge of a piece of fabric as it is held in one direction, it either has a lot of pokey frays sticking out, or the frays lie smooth to the edge. Sewing from top to bottom in the direction in which the frays lie smooth to the edge is what is meant by sewing with the grain. This can get a bit tricky. On the neckline, for example, one half of it is stitched in one direction, and the other half of it is stitched in the other direction.

With this jacket, this means that I stitch all vertical seams in the same direction, starting at the shoulder or arm area and ending at the hem.

I also try to follow what I have heard called the "bias on the bottom rule": I place the side that has the most fabric to be eased into a particular seam next to the needle plate so that the feed dogs help with the easing process. This is particularly helpful for princess seams, and for any seam in which one side has to be eased onto the other, as in the shoulder and the two piece sleeves in the elbow area.

In order to sew directionally or keep the fabric to be eased facing the needle plate, I sometimes have to use the left seam guide on my needle plate as opposed to the one on the right side that I routinely use. This does not come naturally to me?I usually like to keep the bulk of the fabric to the left of the machine, but will make the sacrifice to have directional sewing. With directional sewing, I am pretty much assured that the seams on both sides of the jacket will look the same, since they have been handled by the machine in the same manner.

Next, I press all of the vertical seams, one by one, allowing each to cool before moving onto the next, as described in the previous step on ironing in this weblog. I do this at this time so that I can continue to follow that old pressing rule to never sew a seam across an unpressed one.

The Hem

The hem was inserted into the jacket at this point. I like to use a 2 inch hem allowance, which gives me a little more wiggle room than the conventional 1 1/2 inch hem usually called for in a pattern. Since I had completely underlined the jacket with fusible Textured Weft, placed so that the stretch was eliminated in the crosswise direction, I did not add any additional interfacing to the hem area. In fact, I usually don't interface the hem area unless there is no underlining.

I measure and lightly press the 2 inch hem into place and then baste the shoulder seams together. I hang the jacket onto my dressform and check to ensure that the hem hangs perfectly even, parallel to the floor. I also check one more time to ensure that the shoulder seams are and side seams are straight and in the proper positions as well. Next, I put the jacket on, with the shoulderpads in place, as usual, wearing the garments and shoes that I will normally wear with the jacket. I check, standing between my three way mirror assembly and a flat full length mirror, to ensure for one final time that the hem and seamlines are straight and hanging perfectly to my satisfaction.

Next I stitch the hem into place by first folding the front facing back, right sides together, and stitching at the foldline from the front opening fold to half an inch from the edge of the facing. I trim out the excess fabric at the corner, press, and turn the facing out to the right side. I turn under the serged edges that overlap onto the hem and slip stitch them to the hem. Then I stitch the hem into place. I usually use the method described by Cynthia Guffey ( and Roberta Carr to secure the hem in place, leaving the last row of hemming stitches about 3/8 inch from the top of the hem edge. With this method, one essentially sews three rows of hemming stitches starting the first one close to the fold, and spacing the two others equally from the first row to just below the hem edge. The hem edge is left free so that the lining can be attached to it later.

The Ribbon Embellishment

This is the part that I have been waiting for ever since I envisioned making this jacket! I purchased 3 yards each of the finest French silk ribbon available at a local ribbon shop called The Ribbonry in Perrysburg, Ohio. The cost of the ribbons far exceeded the cost of the materials in the entire rest of the jacket--way more than the fabric, interfacings, threads, and charmeuse lining combined. However. I felt that the ribbons would be making the statement in this rather simple design, so I splurged. This means, of course, that I danced around starting the embellishment process for a day or so, because I didn?t want to mess anything up. I had to sidle up to it.

First I attached the two ribbons to each other at the edges, using ¼ inch Steam A Seam II. I did this step carefully, to ensure that the ribbons had equal tension on them as they were attached so that there would be no puckering. The nice thing about working with the brocaded and moirĂ© silk ribbons is that I was essentially working with two perfect selvage edges per ribbon. This made lining them up very easy, and controlling the minimal stretch due to the embellishment on the brocaded ribbon a breeze. I lightly pressed the Steam A Seam II, with no steam, over the paper backing, onto the brocaded ribbon. I removed the paper backing and then very carefully laid the brocaded ribbon on top of the moirĂ© ribbon, finger pressing them together at each edge. The sticky Steam a SeamII held them in place until I could set the seal with steam. Of course I used a silk organza presscloth for this whole process.

Next, I laid my jacket out flat, since the shoulder seams were not sewn (I had removed the basting stitches used for my hemming step), and began to work on the placement of the ribbon. It turns out that I really didn't need the Issey Miyake Vogue pattern, except for the line drawing on the back, which gave me an idea about the ribbon placement. I had previously stitched the front edge of the ribbon into the hem, at a diagonal, at the front of the jacket, during the hemming step. Then I began the zig-zag layout of the ribbon from front edge, up under the bodice, across to the back, and down to the back hem. Once the right side of the jacket was finished, I mirrored the ribbon layout on the left side of the jacket. I first secured the ribbon with silk pins, making sure that the pins would leave no pin marks in the ribbon. Then I basted the ribbon to the jacket with large basting stitches. I was relieved to discover that I had about 4 inches of the ribbon left over. Close call, indeed!

Finally I hand stitched the ribbon to the jacket with fine, small, hidden slip stitches and silk filament thread. This hand stitching took a very long time to complete, but was one of the most satisfying things that I had done on the jacket so far.

Front view:

Side Front closeup:

Back view:

The Shoulder Seams

I sewed the shoulder seams, incorporating the bit of ease that I built into the back shoulder as I altered the pattern, into the seam. I steamed, pressed, and "clappered" the seam as described earlier.

No comments: