Friday, October 15, 2010

Sew-Along: Pockets, Side Seams, and Sleeves

Hey Sew-Alongers! I've spent this week trying to get my coat to the point of setting in the sleeves, since there will definitely be a video for that step (hopefully it will be up Sunday!). Here are the little steps in between, which are all pretty simple.

First, how is everyone doing with the pockets? The instructions are very straightforward; just be sure to use a 3/8" seam allowance when you sew the pockets to each coat piece.

 Next, sew the side seams, going around each pocket, and using your regular seam allowance. I went back and did a second line of stitching on the pockets, 1/8" away from the first. This just gives you some reinforcement on an area that gets a lot of stress.
I'm not doing topstitching on my coat, so I pressed the seams open. This requires clipping the seam allowances above and below the pockets.
Then stitch the shoulder seams. I catch-stitched my shoulder and side seam allowances down, as we did on previous steps.

Yay, now we're up to the sleeves! Sharon says that the under sleeve can always use some extra support, so I fused the entire piece. (An alternative is to baste hair canvas to it.) My fusible ends 1-1/2" from the bottom so it doesn't get doubled up in the hem.

Remember how we added bias strips of interfacing to the coat back to support the hem? Since the sleeves also have a hem, I suggest doing the same thing on the upper sleeve.

Now sew those sleeve pieces together! Catch stitch seam allowances down, if desired. (And if you can do so without it showing on the outside of the fabric.)

Next step: setting in the sleeve! I'm using the method I vlogged about last winter (see it here) but this time I'm going to use Kenneth King's method of using wool/mohair strips rather than hair canvas. You can also use strips of lambswool or even fleece, or just set your sleeves in the traditional way with two rows of gathering stitches. I will explain further in a new video! And then we'll move on to pad stitching the collar.

How's everyone doing?


  1. I always dislike clipping the seam allowances above and below the pocket, since, as you said, this is an area that is under a lot of stress. Do you ever do anything to reinforce the seam allowance after cutting?

  2. Yay! Last night I sewed my sides/pockets together. I was going to move on to sleeves after morning coffee, so I'm glad this post is here!

    I'm struggling a bit because I'd really like to get the coat finished as the weather seems to be turning here in Minneapolis and I need a coat! On the other hand, your steps are so awesome (and is it just me, or does the tailoring book have an odd grammatical style that makes it nearly unnintelligible? Seriously, the tailoring the hem section appears to be missing prepositions of something!)

    I know you're super-duper busy, but two questions I have for my working ahead... (1) the front facing - will it get any sort of interfacing, since the front pieces are so very interfaced? (2) the collar - are you planning on working in a similiar manner to the lapel - padstitching the undercollar, then applying following along with one of the methods in the tailoring book?

    I think those are enough questions to get me through! And FEEL FREE to say "just wait!" I'd be bumbling about on my own, you know, if I were sewing on my own!! Plus, since I'm making another coat after, I can just do better with the next project! Just a little unsure about the whole facing/collar construction!

  3. Windy Ways, you can reinforce that pivot point with a square of fusible interfacing and an extra row of stitching on top of the first. No, I don't do anything special to the seam allowances other than catch-stitch them down.

    Patty, you go girl! I suggest a lightweight fusible on the facings. As for padstitching the undercollar, I pretty much follow the tailoring book instructions exactly. Use the "custom" method. (I don't have it with me right now, but I'm pretty sure that's what it'a called.)

  4. I have been delayed by lack of thread... Otherwise I'm cut and ready to start uneven-basting and pad-stitching. So about a week or so behind. If my thread doesn't arrive soon I'm fusing. It's getting COLD here.

  5. So I've been feeling all happy and caught up since Monday (or was it Tuesday?), but it never even occurred to me to go ahead with the pockets and side seams and shoulders. I was waiting for my special instructions and figured you were giving people a chance to catch up. Heh. So I'm behind again, but only with that stuff.

    It's good, though. Being all caught up feels unnatural to me and makes me a little nervous.

  6. Hi Gertie! I'm doing the coat also, but I traced the pattern..twice...first a friend helped me but then I did it again, anyway, I am not going to finish as the rest of you, besides I can't find here hair canvas, I'm doing it more a "summer" coat because the fabric I'm using has nothing to do in fall/winter.

    However, I'm planing to sew a real coat , I mean, with a correct fabric (wich I already have) and I am going to follow ALL your instructions, you explain them very well, even if I don't understand some words the pictures and the videos help me a lot!!

    Can I still enter to the flirck photos? how do I do it?

    Gracias Gertie! =)

  7. Just used Kenneth Kings method for the sleeves on my muslin using the polar fleece. It worked out ok. I wasn't as meticulous with the muslin as I'd be with the fashion fabric but I found the 3" width he recommended to be a bit large for a ladies coat. I also sewed the way the book stated (pg. 115, Cool Couture) but prefer the method you utilized on your Coat Vlog last year.

  8. I wanted to thank you Gertie for the amazing notes on tailoring. I got here through MPB and would love to make myself a blazer-you are showing me the way. Lead on MacDuff!

  9. mimi, thanks for the heads up on the sleeves! 3" does seem very wide. Perhaps I will take Kenneth's fabric rec and use the other method since it worked well for me.

    Lizzy, do you have a Flickr account? Once you do, you can upload photos to the sew-along pool.

    Steven, welcome! I hope you find tailoring as addictive as I do. :)

  10. I'm totally behind, but I'm hoping to get a lot done this weekend. Excited to see that its really starting to come together though.

  11. Addictive is certainly the right word! I think I am hooked.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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