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October 11

First Steps of Tailoring

Hey peeps!  Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA, I’ve been sick the past few days.  Seems the fall sickness is hitting everyone and it’s finally made its way to me.

I finally had some energy last night and started working on my coat once again.  I’ve slowly been coming to the conclusion that Gertie’s sew-along is geared more towards the beginner seamstress and isn’t quite at my pace.  So it seems I’m branching off from her official sew-along and am doing custom tailoring all by my very lonesome.

I cut out my hair canvas and there was really no rhyme or reason why I cut in the inside in the shape that I did.  Well, that’s not completely true…

In my tailoring book, they said if you’re small busted to have the hair canvas 1″ below your apex and if you’re large busted to have it 1″ above your apex.  So I kinda mocked this up: At the bottom I cut just to the right of my dart, curved around the apex (just below) and continued to curve it around to where the notch is on the pattern piece for the shoulder.

Being such a full collar, I had lots of pad-stitching lines to mark.

The 2nd line from the left is the actual roll line.  The left-most line is where the tailor’s tape gets placed which is 1/8th inch away from the roll line.  Technically after the two 1/8 inch lines I have at the left, I am to mark all other lines using 1/4″.  I did this for a 4 lines, but realized my collar is super wide so I increased it to 3/8″.

After doing all of the markings I pinned the hair canvas to my bodice and started basting it down, removed some seam allowances and catch-stitched other areas down as needed.

You can more effectively see how my hair canvas starts just underneath my front dart, curves right where the dart ends and continues to curve upwards toward my shoulder.

This is as far as I got last night with my hand stitching.

I catch-stitched the twill tape down 1/8″ outside the roll line and I did the two narrow rows of pad-stitching just to the right of the twill tape.  (You can also spy my tailor’s tacks to the very left which secures the rest of the hair canvas to the bodice, without being seen on the right side.)

The purpose of doing the pad stitching is to build in your natural roll line.  Your tailor’s tape (twill tape) helps establish the line but the trick is to fold the collar over your finger while pad-stitching.  I’m not sure about you, but I have very small hands, which makes this task really, really difficult.

I have to fold the collar every which way to try to get my finger underneath the twill tape to create the roll line.  Seeing as how it’s really not good to do additional folds while you’re stitching I came up with a handy solution to this!  It’s so simple, you may be kicking yourself if you’ve also been having a difficult time with this.

Use a pants hanger!

I discovered this solution when I was working on my Lady Grey coat over a year ago and funny enough I’ve stored my cardboard pant hanger rod this whole time on my bookshelf.  All I did was to take apart a pants hanger and use the cardboard rod which acts as an extension of my finger while pad-stitching.  It’s such a perfect solution since it’s just the perfect width and length for most collars.

I stuck the pants hanger rod just under the twill tape and stitched these two rows of pad-stitching.  I hold it out in front of me (instead of laying it flat on the table like you see below).

The rod helps to establish a nice, consistent roll.

I forgot I took this picture… This is similar to how I hold the rod while stitching.  I just move my hand down, holding on top to do the stitching as I make my way to the right.

Being sick, this is the perfect thing to do.  I sit with my cinnamon tea at my sewing dining room table, pad-stitching while watching something on Netflix.  I stay all warm and cozy while being productive.

I’m going to be doing more pad-stitching later this evening.  The only sad part about doing all this hand sewing is that no matter how much I feel like I get accomplished, I always realize that I have a whole ‘nother side of the collar to do once this one is done.  Ahh well, I hope to be finished with my hand stitching by the end of the weekend since I’m quite a slow stitcher.

I’ll be posting up more daily progress shots in twitter, but will most likely post about all this once again on Monday when I’ve finished at least one side (hopefully both).

  1. Lauren / Oct 11 2012

    Ahhhh, the pants-hanger idea is GENIUS. Never would have thought about that – and I was really dreading another pad-stitched Lady Grey Collar because it was really fiddly last time. Man I can’t wait to put this into action. Thank you!!

    I’m sorry you’re feeling sick :( At least you have plenty of time for all those miles of pad stitching, huh? :) Feel better soon!

  2. K-Line / Oct 11 2012

    Great idea with the pants hanger! And I so love pad stitching (yours is looking very neat and lovely). And I hope you are well again soon. There’s a really bad bronchial bug out there. Don’t go back to work before you’re all better.

  3. Ginger / Oct 11 2012

    This looks so neat and tidy! I love the color so much!

    • Ginger / Oct 11 2012

      Oh, and feel better soon! Sorry to hear you’ve been sick… :(

  4. Ainslie / Oct 11 2012

    I know this is a silly question but do you stitch all the way through? Won’t you see the stitches on the underside?

    Also cardboard tube = brilliant.

    • Liz / Oct 11 2012

      There are no silly questions Ainslie! :)

      When stitching, I don’t go all the way through to the outside of the coat fabric, I only try to take a small “bite” out of the fashion fabric. It’s tricky to do and I constantly am flipping the fabric over to ensure my threads aren’t visible on the outside of the coat. You want to make your stitches “stick” on the fabric, but only just underneath the interfacing and not all the way through to the other side.

      Does this make sense?

      • Ainslie / Oct 11 2012

        Yes! That makes perfect sense. I’m gearing up to try pad stitching on the Anise jacket and just couldn’t figure it out. Get better soon!

  5. ERIN BRIGHT / Oct 11 2012

    It’s perfection!

  6. Amanda / Oct 11 2012

    Sorry to hear you’re not feeling well, Liz! There’s definitely a bug going around here in NYC so I guess it’s just lots of places. Thanks for the hanger rod tip – will definitely put that to use when I get started on my tailored coat! I’m aiming for that project to be my focus in November so these posts are handy. :)

  7. Qui Pardue / Oct 12 2012

    Thanks for sharing all this detail Liz. Although I’m not stitching a coat right now, I hope to one day :)
    Feel better!

  8. Trice / Oct 12 2012

    That is a great idea, I must remember that when I start my coat.
    Which tailoring book are you using?

  9. Melanie / Oct 12 2012

    Hope you’re feeling better. Lemon ginger tea odd my go to for when I’m sick.

    I haven’t joined the coat sew along because I thought it would be to advanced for my lack of tailoring experience. I may be convinced otherwise now.

  10. Jane / Oct 13 2012

    Sorry to hear you are sick

    This looks like the perfect way to recover

  11. Scheri Manson / Oct 15 2012

    Liz I am sorry to hear you are under weather. You have been working along on your tailoring and your pad stitching is beautiful. I am re-thinking using fusible on my coat. I was reading in Tailoring – The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket and I think I will go half-way. I think I will use the machine method for my pad stitching. Have you ever tried|?

    Hope you are back in tip top shape soon.

  12. antonio loyola / Apr 14 2016

    Wonderfull tailoring work, Congratulations!!!!!!

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