Steaming The Roll Line: Before and After

I got a great comment yesterday from both Charity Shop Chic & Chris and asking why my collar looks so flat instead of all rolled and shapely due to all of my pad stitching.  My response became so long I felt like it deserved a post on its own.

My collar looks quite flat since I did all of the pad-stitching flat, with the exception of the roll line and several rows of pad stitching just outside my roll line to establish it.  I really didn’t want my collar to have much shape beyond the roll line, nor does this type of collar need any more shaping built-in.  It’s such a wide collar anyhow, I wanted it to lie gracefully around my shoulders and stuff.

The tailor’s tape around the outside of the collar (the curved area) is essential to keeping this collar nice and curved there; I didn’t see that additional shaped pad-stitching was going to help in this area either.

I came to the realization this time around (with tailoring) that when you’re not working on building in some shaping to your collar, pad stitching actually acts as the glue (like in an iron-on interfacing) for attaching your hair canvas to the fashion fabric.

When doing this kind of stitching, non-shaping pad-stitching that is, you don’t want to pull your thread for tight stitches.  The fabric should be able to move naturally, never stiffly, unless that’s the look you’re going for.  Stitching too tightly will create lots of puckers on the underside of the collar.  If this happens it’s not the end of the world since it’s on the underside of the collar anyhow…  Last reason why you don’t want to stitch really tight:  What happens if your fashion fabric decides to shrink some more but your interfacing doesn’t.  You’re really going to have a mess on your hands underneath the collar with the tight stitching.  (But again, it probably wouldn’t be the end of the world since it’s on the underside of the collar.)

Even though my collar looks quite flat, it really does have a roll line built-in. When I go to flip my collar over, it flipped itself quite naturally right at the roll line, which is exactly what you want to have happen.  (It’s a good litmus test to assess your pad stitching.)

Additionally all of the pictures I posted up yesterday of the collar were taken before I took the collar to my ironing board to give it a good steaming.  Steaming the collar creates memory in the horsehair canvas and also in the wool fabric so that the roll line always stays in tact while I’m wearing the coat. I find steaming is essential in forming the roll line!  Stitching the roll line is act 1 and steaming the collar is act 2.  You really can’t have one without the other, and both are essential to forming the roll line.

This is the perfect segue to today’s post: My Pre & Post-Steamed Bodice.

Pre-Steamed Bodice:

I decided I wanted to steam both of the front collar sections in one go, which meant I had to do quite a bit of finagling at the ironing board.

As you can see, I’ve stuffed and perched my coat like a great stuffed turkey onto my ironing board.  heh  There isn’t a lot of room so one of the sleeves was even falling off the edge of the board.

I stuffed my bodice with old towels and wash cloths in my attempt to simulate a body in there, this helps to form the actual roll line so I can steam it properly.

Additionally I added some wash cloths underneath the collar to protect the fabric on the bodice.  I don’t want to undo all of my careful work I did pressing my bodice darts, so that’s where these wash cloths come in handy.

Another view of the bodice:

Last image of the bodice, looking up towards the back collar.

Stuffed like a turkey!

Once I had all of my towels in place, I steamed the heck out of it being careful not to press down on the bodice which would form sharp creases (which is not what we want.)

Post-Steamed Bodice:

I threw my bodice on my dress form (not fully stuffed out to my true shape yet), but it does the job for now.

It looks just like any bodice should.  The only issue I’m really seeing is that my dart on (your) right has gotten misshapen during the steaming.  So I have to go back and re-press that one.  But overall I’m quite pleased with the result.

Close image of the bottom of the bodice and my bound buttonholes.  :)

(This is sooo not the color of my bodice.  I had to lighten things quite a bit to get the buttonholes to stand out.)

The collar is falling quite nicely from the roll line (aka tailor’s tape).  I’m trying to flip it to the side so you can see that is indeed, rolling as it should.

If you can imagine…  I’ve stuffed my hand between the bodice and the collar to demonstrate here that the roll line hasn’t moved one bit.

It shows that there’s a gap between the bodice and the collar which indicates I have a soft fold line. *hip hip*  If I couldn’t get my hand in here easily without bending & moving the collar in the process, it would mean that I pressed the collar down with the iron too much (ie too crisp a fold).

This is my favorite shot, looking down on the bodice (next to the piles of towels & wash cloths I just used):

When I was looking down I noticed that there’s quite a deep fold forming at the back of the shawl collar (at the center back neckline).

It measures to 1 3/4″.  It’s not terrible, but I don’t think it should be quite that deep.  What I suspect is happening is seen in the next image.

I’m tugging on the collar towards me and it’s not budging.  I stitched the outer tailor’s tape quite securely that it’s nipping it at the shoulder and won’t ease beyond it (due to the shoulders of course).  What this means is that it’s causing a deep fold inward towards my neck.  Again, it’s not terrible and I’m hoping once I’ve stitched the outer collar to the bodice, that the deep fold will ease up a bit and not be as deep.  Basically I’ll be removing 5/8″ all around the collar so in essence, the collar may have some wiggle room and can move further towards my shoulders and not cave inwards toward my neck.  Does this make sense?

Hmmm… Think of a sway back adjustment.  You know the pool of fabric that falls there because the bum is too large for the garment (one reason anyhow)?  This is kinda the same thing that is happening on my collar.  Since the collar can’t ease itself over the shoulder, the fabric is instead forming a deeper fold at my neckline.  The fabric can’t go one way so it’s collecting itself in another area.

Detail shot of the side collar:

The last thing I wanted to point out here are a few pad-stitches.

There’s a few stitches that I circled in the image.  These single stitches aren’t actually laying flat against the horsehair interfacing.  This is one of the reasons why it’s important to not make your pad-stitches too tight.  Here, where the interfacing is curving, there needs to be some “give” which is exactly why the stitches aren’t laying flat.  If I stitched them any tighter, there would be a lot of bumping and unsightly bulges happening in this area where the fabric would be struggling against the interfacing.  Since I didn’t actually know the collar was going to be curving right at this point, you could argue that my stitching needs to be looser.  But… it’s a happy medium.


And the last thing I’ll say….
Most of the thoughts I wrote above are for collars in general, but my steps are for the shawl collar. I only applied the tailor’s tape to the shoulder line (and not beyond) since the collar at the back of the neck here is a different beast. I didn’t do any special stitching to aid the back collar (behind my neck) since for this style, the shawl collar is more free-form.

*Phew*  That was a lot of text for one post.  I think having the bodice on a dress form helps you guys see that pad-stitching along with steaming it to create really good memory is a one-two punch for tailoring.

In: Sewing

Blogger for 6 years and counting, I am a passionate creator who loves to tinker.

Comments (14)

  1. it looks really great! thanks for all the explanation!

  2. Lauren October 17, 2012 — 9:06 AM

    I’m just here to admire your gorgeous pad stitching (and bound button holes). GOD IT’S ALL SO PERFECT.

    This coat is going to look amazing on you, Liz.

  3. Your process is simply fantastic! I love seeing all the steps you are going through – it’s going to be so stunning when you finish it! Seriously love these posts – keep them coming :)

  4. I love the pattern all those hand stitches created (for shame it’s all to be concealed inside ;), it looks so awesome Liz! Really beautiful, detailed work. Thanks for sharing so much info as you go.

  5. Jill October 17, 2012 — 4:45 PM

    Wow, It looks fabulous. Thanks for such a detailed explanation. I don’t know where I’d learn this stuff without blogs like yours.

  6. chris October 17, 2012 — 5:14 PM

    great post on your collar. Although I didnt expect that your collar should look more shapely yesterday – it was more that I wondered why it needed to be pad stitched, when it’s usually used to shape a collar. But I had forgotten that it was to hold the interfacing and for the roll line! It all looks great – and your bound buttonholes are gorgeous. :)

  7. Meli October 17, 2012 — 8:30 PM

    You always do such beautiful work. *sigh*

  8. I absolutely ADORE seeing the guts of a tailored jacket, even if that does make it sound so unlady-like. It’s gorgeous! Even if it’s not behaving :)

  9. Shannon October 19, 2012 — 12:01 AM

    I love your tutorials! Would you ever consider doing a video tutorial? I am very new to sewing (honestly stalking your blog while I procrastinate has inspired me to try my own garment sewing) and I often have trouble figuring out what pattern directions mean. Plus there are a lot of techniques I haven’t learned yet!

  10. Teresa Kennard October 20, 2012 — 11:07 PM

    I am seriously impressed with your tailoring skills and your coat. Those bound button holes are to die for! Thank you for the information, and the pics. Your blog is great!

  11. floweryhoney November 6, 2012 — 10:16 AM

    hi, you wrote you were waxing and ironing your yarn for the pad-stitching. can you write sth about this or tell me where i can find it i you already did a tutorial on it?
    why dont you simply use the stronger yarn one can buy for sewing jeans etc? (-:

    sorry i am asking many questions, but i so want to understand everything and it helps me to know why we do things in a certain way.

    thanks so much(-:

    1. Liz November 6, 2012 — 11:57 AM

      I just pull my thread through the wax and then place the piece of thread inbetween 2 pieces of scrap fabric (or press cloth) and iron it. This melts the wax onto the thread and makes it stronger.

      I use silk thread on my pad stitching since silk thread works like butter. The waxing process makes the thread even stronger but it also prevents knots and tangles.

      You don’t want to use thread that is made for jeans since it will most likely be thicker.

      If you don’t have silk thread on hand you can just use your normal polyester thread but waxing it will help prevent knots with it too.

  12. puu November 12, 2012 — 2:25 PM

    wow, those padstitches are a thing of beauty! i love your decision to keep the roll line soft and not over-tailor it. it really lets the collar speak for itself.

    1. Liz November 12, 2012 — 4:21 PM

      Thanks so much Puu!

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