Friday, February 8, 2013

Underlining a Tailored Jacket



I'm a few days late posting my "tutorial" for Debi's Sew Grateful week, but better late than never! In the spirit of sharing sewing resources, I thought I would give you an update of how my tailored jacket is coming along. I'm getting pretty excited about it! I've cut out my fashion fabric, and last week I set about underlining everything. The purpose of underlining for this jacket is to give it a little extra strength and support. It also provides a convenient surface for securing things like pockets, because you can use handstitching to catch just the underlining during construction, making sure your stitches are invisible on the outside. Very handy! Underlinings, when made from something like flannel, can also be used to add warmth to a jacket. Here are a few other pages I found that explain the benefits of an underlining and how to apply one:

Since my underlining needs to add strength and stability to my jacket, but not necessarily warmth, my sewing instructor recommended silk organza. I ordered it from Dharma Trading Company at about $6/yard. Not so bad! Rather than use my pattern pieces to cut out the organza (which sounded like a pain), I decided to lay all my fashion fabric pieces out flat on the organza and cut around them. This clever tactic was inspired by something I read in one of those books I picked up last week... I think the Threads one... as well as by the good advice of my teacher. Here are all the pieces for my jacket front, back, and sleeves laid out on a double layer of the organza:


Once everything was laid out, I cut around each piece leaving a margin around all the edges. I just wanted to get pieces that were going to be big enough - they didn't need to be the exact shape yet. Then, I matched a piece of organza to each part of the jacket, making sure I was attaching it to the wrong side of the fashion fabric, and pinned the two parts together. And then I hand sewed:













I basted all of these pieces together by hand, trying to keep my stitches just inside the seam allowance. And yes, that was a lot of handsewing, because I chose a pattern that has four total pieces for the front, four for the back, and two for each sleeve... so twelve in all. You might think I'm crazy for doing this by hand, but I actually enjoyed it. There was something very satisfying about taking those big stitches and joining wool and silk together. The two fabrics just seemed to want to be together. Something about using natural fabrics is so pleasing for work like this. Plus, I got to sit and catch up on some news radio while doing all this. I did try machine basting for the very last piece, but I have to say the results were not as nice. Even though I sewed straight off the edges instead of turning corners, the fabric shifted around and I ended up with bubbles in the organza. Hand basting had a much smoother result, so I'm glad I did it. I also timed myself at the hand basting, in case you're interested. It took me between 12 and 15 minutes to do one piece - so that's about 2 hours 45 minutes of sewing altogether (although I didn't do it all in one stretch). If you truly hate hand sewing, you might not want to bother. But then again, if you truly hate hand sewing, you probably shouldn't be making a tailored jacket. Just sayin.

So here's one of my pieces after basting:




The next step was to trim off all the extra organza around the edges. This went very quickly. Sadly, doing it this way means I had to sacrifice all the little triangle notches on my wool.  went around each piece and cut a snip into the seam allowance to mark the notches first, before hacking them off along with the organza.


Rotary cutters made this part easy peasy. When I was done, I was left with this:


A big ol' pile of silk organza scraps. I was about to toss them, but then I remembered Gertie's tutorial for strengthening a neckline from way back.

Gertie's photo - silk organza strips stabilizing the neckline of a dress
I stuffed my scraps in a plastic baggy. They will definitely come in handy some day.

So that's my Sew Grateful tutorial, though it's not exactly a proper tutorial. After skimming some of those resources I posted above, I realize that I did not account for turn of the cloth when I cut my organza. It seems that you are supposed to cut the organza slightly smaller than your outer fabric - since the underlining lies against the concave curve on the inside of the garment, it covers a slightly smaller surface. Oh well, sew and learn. I will keep you updated on whether or not it effects the outcome of my jacket.

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