Sunday, 10 August 2014

Jackie Coat Sewalong: Buttonhole Facings

We are not doing the openings in the facings for our buttonholes until AFTER the facings are attached but I thought I would detail the methods we can use for our buttonhole facings - the opening in our facing so the buttonholes go all the way through.  (The post for the facings and linings will be up soon, I will update this post with the link then).

The instructions recommend a hand sewing method, which is also my prefered way as it gives total accuracy with the window position. If this doesn't appeal to you, further down this post I give links so some tutorials using a second method using fusible interfacing which I've also used successfully in the past, but you will need to do that one before you put your lining in.

First Method for Buttonhole Facings

There is an excellent tutorial on how to do the buttonhole facing method that I am showing below at SunnyGal Studios, so go and check that out.  If you read through the comments there you will see why we wait until the facing is all attached before making our openings: due to "turn of cloth" the final position on the windows will be slightly different for everyone, and is the reason why they are not marked on the pattern piece.

To help with my turn of cloth and to secure my facings in the right position, I use vertical basting.  After I roll my facing and collar seam to the back so it can't be seen and give it a good press with steam I use this technique to hold everything in place.  I first used this technique when making my Colette Anise Jacket and have used it ever since.  You can read the Colette tutorial here (scroll to the end of the tutorial).  You don't have to do this step, but I like to, it just keeps everything where I want it to be.

vertical basting holding seam in place

Once I have your facings in the right place, baste around each buttonhole:

baste around buttonholes

Mark the position of your buttonhole:

buttonhole windows mark position with pins

And carefully open it up, making sure you don't catch the front jacket:

buttonhole window carefully open

buttonhole window cut open

Tuck the ends under and hand sew using small stitches so it is nice and secure:


Alternative Method for Buttonhole Facings

If you are using a fabric that frays alot and you know this will be a nightmare for you, then there is another technique that works well, but you will need to do it before you put your lining in.  

Mark your buttonhole window position as above, but don't baste the two layers together as you need to open up your facing to access it.  In this case I would say the vertical basting step is more important so you can be sure your facing is in the right position as this method is a little harder to get the windows in precisely the right position.  You use a small square of fusible interfacing to make a window.  It makes for a lovely finish, and you can find great tutorials on this method here (scroll down to the buttonhole facing section), here (this tutorial uses organza instead of fusbile interfacing) and here (scroll down to the section on the facings).

I hope that is helpful.  You can find all the posts in the sewalong here.  The Flickr group with more construction photos is here.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Jackie Coat Sewalong - Darts and assembling your coat

Whew.  All the hard stuff is now behind you, you have your buttonholes and welt pockets done.  (Unless you have decided to go with machine worked buttonholes and patch pockets)  The rest of the coat is a breeze! Today I will step you through sewing your darts and sewing your coat together.

Raglan sleeve shoulder darts are rarely seen these days but I love them, I think it helps to give a lovely shape to the shoulder.  That is the deep v shape you cut into the tops of your sleeves:

 Bring the two edges of your dart together and pin:

pinned shoulder darts

When sewing the dart I find to get a smooth curve off the end of my shoulder I need to extend the dart point slightly by tapering the end of the dart off in a gradual curve.  I have small sloping shoulders and lengthening and curving my dart end this way took care of an excess of fabric at the shoulder.  If you have a different shoulder shape you may find that slight changes to the length or angle of this dart helps you get a good fit to the shoulder:

close up of shoulder dart run off at slight curve

To give your darts a nice smooth curve press well with steam over a pressing ham or a rolled up towel:

pressing darts

Next up we can do the front bust darts.  Clear markings on the wrong side of your fabric are essential here.  I usually clip slightly into the seam line at the two legs of the dart and then use either a marking tool or a pin to put a dot at the point.  Sew your dart (tutorial here if you need some more pointers), making sure you taper off the end smoothly:

sewn bust dart

Once you have sewn your dart, clip down the centre of the dart to about 1 1/2 inches or 4 cm from the point.  This is a trick for thick and heavy fabric so you don't get a massive ridge from the thickness of a full dart:

sewn bust dart, cut open before pressing

Press your dart open.  You can catchstitch the seams to your interfacing if it needs help staying flat or you need to prevent fraying if your fabric has that tendancy.  If you are not familiar with this wonderful stitch (my favourite!) click over to this wonderful tutorial here:

pressed bust dart back

Press with steam from the right side as well, over a pressing ham or firmly rolled up towel:

pressed bust dart front

Now you have sewn and pressed your lovely darts, you are ready to sew your jacket main pieces together.  Matching notches, pin your fronts to the sleeves.  The fronts have one notch, the back always have two.  Its important to check so you don't sew your sleeves on backwards.  As I am pattern matching, I am using lots of pins:

sewing jacket front to sleeves

Sleeves sewn to coat back:

back attached to sleeves

Sleeves sewn to coat fronts and pressed open.  Catchstitch these seams as well if you have a fabric that frays badly or needs help to sit flat. You could also serge your seams if you wanted to, although sometimes this adds unwanted bulk and doesn't help to keep your seams put as a catchstitch does.  My fabric hardly frays and presses well so I am skipping this step.

front and back sewn to sleeves

Now we sew our sleeve and side seams.  I always like to start with a pin right in the undearm seams to get them lined up exactly and then use as many pins as I need to.  In this case, I am using alot as I am pattern matching:

pin side seams

Press your seams open (and catchstitch or serge):
press side seams open

Finally, our last step in assembling our coats - attaching the outer collar to the jacket, matching notches (one set of notches I think lines up with the shoulder dart seam).  You can see I am using lots of pins here as well, as I am easing my jacket neckline into the collar as well as attempting to line up my grid lines.  If your collar seems much smaller than the jacket neckline (which happened to me on my first Jackie as the fabric on the body pieces stretched alot while handling) you can either ease it in with pins like I am doing here or run a couple of rows of gathering stitches around your jacket neckline and gently ease it in (not to create actual gathers just to draw the fabric together) and then use lots of steam to reshape the neckline until it fits your collar nicely.

collar pinned to jacket body

You also press open this seam and snip notches if you need to to get the seam to sit flat.  I also like to snip out any bulky intersecting seams as it really helps to reduce bulk:

collar to jacket trim seams to reduce bulk

Notching, clipping and catchstitching this seam (plus pressing with steam of course) really helps the collar to sit nicely:

notched and catch stitched collar seam

notched and catch stitched collar seam encourage curve

Finally you have something that is starting to look something like this:

ready for facings

A fully assembled jacket with really weirdly long sleeves!  (Don't forget I moved my opening to a centre front so your jacket will have the right side further over than mine).

It all comes together on the next step: facings and lining!  Stay tuned, Maria will be posting that next.

Monday, 4 August 2014

The shoulda been pyjamas skater dress.

Lets have a break from sewalong posts, shall we and check out something else I've made recently.  The fit of this dress is great, but the fabric really should have been pyjama pants.  Its all a bit much, even for me.  I did manage to use the scraps to make my 4 year old some leggings and a little peplum top using the childs skater pattern as a base and it this fabric looks really cute on her!

Lady Skater dress

The pattern is the ubiquitous lady skater dress.  It is popular for a reason, it is a great basic pattern if you like a fit and flare silhouette, which I do. This particular dress was inspired by Miss Mary of Idle Fancy fame and her lovely skater dresses plus this Moneta, which I totally love but it doesn't seem to work as well for me - perhaps the fact that I am almost twice her age may have something to do with it.   I hear my grandmother muttering "lamb dressed up as mutton" in the distance but I am wearing it regardless, and even managed to finally get some awkward photos.

Today is one of those lovely clear crispy sunny Sydney almost-end-of-winter days.  I've been hit with a virus that has had me coughing and spluttering for days and sick children leaving me rather sleep deprived, yadda, yadda, etc etc.  I woke with a need to wear a cheery bright something, which always makes me feel better.

The fabric is from Girl Charlee.  I was hoping for a more spearmint colour like this one but it is a true light blue base with shades of pink and olive green flowers.  The quality is excellent and it sewed up beautifully.  It washes and wears well too - I haven't worn this dress before but washed my daughters set several times and it is holding up really well.

floral skater front

The fabric doesn't have quite the stretch recovery that works best for the skater dress but it has enough to still work well.  I tweaked the fit slightly by reducing my waist seam adjustment - I chopped a bit too much off the first time I made this pattern, this time it is just right  for my personal preferences.

I think I may shorten the sleeves to the cap length and wear with platform sandles in summer - I think it will be fun hot weather dress but looks a bit strange with winter styling.

This is a fun quick pattern to make though. I do recommend it!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Jackie Coat Sewalong - Bound Buttonholes

Once you have cut out your fabric and fused your interfacing the first sewing step for Jackie is to do the bound buttonholes and welt pockets.  We do these steps first as they are fiddly and are much easier to do on the jacket front before it is sewn together and becomes more bulky and awkward to handle.

If you have decided to do machine sewn buttonholes for your Jackie you can skip this whole post, as you will be making your buttonholes at the very end.    But I do encourage you to consider trying bound buttonholes.  This method is very achievable if you take your time and results in such a beautiful finish.

Iconic Patterns show a variation on the welt bound buttonhole technique, which includes a simple trick to ensure your welts stay absolutely lined up and perpendicular to each other while you sew them, which is vital to get neat looking buttonholes.

I have linked to my favourite online tutorials showing similar (but not identical) techniques at the bottom of this post.

Firstly, you cut a single long strip of fabric based on the [finished width of your welts x 4] x [the length of your buttonholes + side seam allowances x 5].    The pattern recommends buttons that are around 28-30 mm (1 ⅛” - 1 ³⁄₁₆”) in diameter or you can go bigger if you like.  I would not go smaller than 25mm or 1" as a coat needs a larger button to look in proportion.   I am going to have a head explosion if I keep trying to convert into inches for all of this so I am going to do the rest of this post in metric and if you need to convert into inches here is a really handy conversion chart.

Lets take a moment to admire my buttons:

covering buttons

If you are using the standard recommended buttons you cut a strip fabric 4 cm (1 ⁹⁄₁₆”) wide and 25 cm (10”) long.  I cut mine longer than this as I was using bigger buttons.

Interface it with a strip of interfacing half the width of your welts placed smack along the centre line, like this:

Here is me checking how long I need my welts to be.  My buttonhole plus wiggle room (roughly the buttons thickness, plus a decent amount either side for seam allowance).  As I have an extremely useful grid marked on my fabric, I using that as my unit of measurement.  My actual welt is 3 squares long plus a square each side for seam allowance.  So I am cutting my welts 5 squares long and 4 cm (1 ⁹⁄₁₆”) wide.   I really like the look of slimline buttonholes with slender welts.

I find that when doing buttonholes you just can't avoid lots of basting.  Accurate measurements at this stage is very important for neat buttonholes.  You fold both your long edges into the centre line and baste 5 mm from the edge.

As my fabric is thick and spongey I hand basted my edges closed first before machine basting the 5mm line.  It really helped to keep everything lined up and even.

basted welts

Once I was happy with my machine basting I cut my welt sets into lengths:

welts ready

Now this is the little extra trick that you won't find on other tutorials.  Most tutorials have you make individual welts, in this one, you are keeping them together until they are stitched down.  This keeps your welts perfectly aligned and parallel to each other.   So keep them together like this for now.

Next up, positioning onto your right jacket front.  Normally, you need to baste or mark with tailors chalk very accurate lines (called a buttonhole ladder) onto your fabric to show you clearly where your buttonholes are going and to make sure that they are perfectly horizontal.  I didn't need to do this as my fabric pattern provided the most perfect readymade grid for me.  I actually slightly shifted my buttonhole positions to centre them inside a grid.  If you don't have this handy feature, then baste or mark your fabric now, using your pattern piece markings as a guide.

Here are my buttonhole welts pinned into position.  I then hand basted them down along the centre line.  You  can never have too much basting with bound buttonholes.  I think I said that already but it bears repeating.  It's important.

lined up buttonholes

Once you are happy with the position you sew your two parallel lines along the 5mm basting line.  If you are like me you do this step with heart pounding and having a minor stress attack because IT HAS TO BE PERFECT.  ARRGGGHHHHHHH.  Just do your best.  It is difficult to get the two lines stopping and starting at exactly the same place.  This is is where good marking/basting is (surprise surprise).... important.

stitching the welt

Here are my two lines from the back.  Normally you would see basting lines marking the stop/start points but I cheated and used the gridlines on my fabric.  

stitched welt two parallel lines

But here is a shot from my practice buttonholes, and you can also see a good example of proper basting here:

It is only now that you have sewn your two lines of stitching that you cut your welts into two welts.  Cut straight down the centre line of the welt.  You are only cutting your welt.  You are not cutting your jacket front yet.

separating the welt 1

Here is the divided welt.  I don't find it difficult to do this step as I can get my scissors in the gap very easily but do be careful not to cut your fabric body during this step.

separating the welt

Once you are separated your welts, you then cut into your jacket body.  I use a seam unpicker to open up a small hole and then use sharp scissors for the rest as it gives more control.  Do this from the wrong side of your fabric so you can clearly see where you need to snip.  You need to snip as close to the start/end of your stitching lines as you can get without going over them or cutting past them.  Once again, hyperventilating and panicked hand flapping is optional at this step but I always like to do it.  And then you have this:

slashing the welt

You then turn your welts to the wrong side of your jacket front.  This is hard to descibe but here is what happens.  Firstly, from the wrong side:

freshly turned buttonhole insude

And then from the right side, you have this magic happen:

freshly turned buttonhole right side

Wow.  Give yourself a huge congratulations.  That there is a bound buttonhole.  I usually start breathing again about now.  Next up we secure the sides of your buttonholes so the triangle cut you made doesn't fray or flip out.  (I like to use a walking foot especially when sewing with thick fabric, that is the foot you see here):

sewing the flaps

A light careful press with steam and there you have it.  Some bound buttonholes.

turned buttonholes

finished buttonhole with button1

finished buttonhole with button

I also like to catch stitch my welts down at the back to help prevent fraying and also to help them sit flatter.  Be sure to do this rather loosely if you feel you need to do this step so you don't cause pull marks on your jacket front.  I just catch a thread of the interfacing only but it still needs to be loose.

catch stitching back of buttonholes to interfacing2

And last of all, baste your buttonholes together, just so they don't get pulled or distorted while you are working on your jacket.

welts finished

Next up, after some breathing space, recovery and a stiff drink or cuppa or cake or a walk or all of the above, are your welt pockets.  These will be a breeze after your buttonholes as they are essentially just a giant variation of a bound buttonhole.  Maria has covered this already so go and check it out when you are ready.

I hope this helps and if you have any questions, just leave a comment!

You can find all the posts of the sewalong here. 

The full set of buttonhole photos are on my Flickr Album here.

Futher reading for bound buttonholes are:

Iconic Patterns Tutorial for Bound Buttonholes 
SunnyGal Studio Bound Buttonholes
Sewaholic Bound Buttonholes

I recommend you check these other tutorials out to get a really solid understanding of the technique and then practice on some scrap fabric a few times before doing your "proper" ones if you have never tried bound buttonholes before.

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