Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tailoring Your Coat Front, Part Two

Okay! Now you've got your hair canvas all basted to your side pieces. The next step is to attach your uninterfaced front piece (A) to your side piece (B). You may want to trim off the seam allowances on hair canvas of the side piece if you're worried about bulk in the seams. I didn't, and it ended up fine, but it's a matter of preference depending on your fabric.

Here's how I did it (note that this method is Sharon-approved!). I stitched my two pieces together on the princess seam. (Here's my tutorial on princess seams, FYI.) Then I trimmed the interfacing very close to the seam allowance with applique scissors.

Make sure your curves are all notched and clipped around the bust.

Now press the seam open on a tailor's ham. (Remember that I've decided against the pattern's method of pressing the princess seams to the side and top-stitching them. I'm pressing mine open to avoid a bulky seam. If you're following the pattern's instructions, ignore this step.)

Now you're going to catch stitch the seam allowance on the side piece down to the interfacing. Here's what the catchstitch looks like. I did it in bright pink so hopefully you can see it!

And, for good measure, here's a video on sewing the catch stitch! (Note: I've also seen this stitch called a cross stitch and a herringbone stitch.)

Your next task is to cut out the front piece (A) in your hair canvas.

Stay stitch around the seamlines on the hair canvas.

Make sure to transfer the roll line marking to your hair canvas. Mine is marked in pink chalk here.

Now cut off the seam allowance along the princess seam.

Place that interfacing piece onto the fashion fabric pieces, sliding it under the seam allowance on tht front piece side and pinning it in place.

Now catch stitch that seam allowance down to the hair canvas, like you did on the side front.

Am I correct in feeling like this is enough for one day? Next up: taping the roll line and pad stitching the lapel! Then I'll give us the weekend to catch up to the next step. I hope this pacing is feeling do-able for everyone. But let me know if you're freaking out and want more time!


  1. Why don't you attach the horsehair canvas to the front before sewing it to the side piece?

  2. I finished cutting out my hair canvas pieces yesterday (just short enough for one more front--darnit! Time for a trip to the fabric store again... ;), and plan on basting the side and side canvas pieces today, and hopefully stitching everything together along the princess seam.

    Because I am a total tailoring newbie, I second Amy query: why isn't the front canvas basted in a similar manner as the side panels?

    And can I just say that I am giddy that I get to do so much catch stitching?! I know it's silly, but it is seriously one of my favorite stitches to do... lol. Hopefully by the end of the weekend I will be all caught up on this!!! :D

    ♥ Casey | blog

  3. I think the pacing is good! Although, I'm totally a 'what's next?' girl and am dying for the next steps!

    Is there an alternative to twill tape for putting in the lapel stay? Would grosgrain ribbon do the same job? I don't think I've seen that at Joann's/Hancock (our local options) and didn't do an online order!

  4. Sorry to pester you Gertie, but I've got another question! lol. Will we also be interfacing the back pieces with hair canvas? If not, would it matter to do so? Since my fabric is a lightweight gabardine, I'm thinking of adding hair canvas to the back too to help with the drape over the entire garment (or maybe using some muslin to add some stability and drape to the back). I'd love to know your thoughts on this! :)

    ♥ Casey | blog

  5. Amy and Casey, I asked Sharon the exact same question! She said that applying the hair canvas after the seam is sewn will prevent any distortion along the princess seam. Personally, I think if you cut off the seam allowances on the hair canvas, applied it to both pieces, and *then* sewed the seam, you would get the same result. In any case, it's not something to worry about too much!

    You definitely don't want to baste the whole front piece, though. Just up to the roll line. Because when you fold the lapel over, the layers will shift a bit.

    Casey, it would be a great idea to apply hair canvas to both your back pieces as well. I'm just showing a back stay (which covers half the back) for simplicity's sake. But I agree that it would help the drape of your gabardine.

  6. Wow, this is amazing. I am so intrigued to do this - but a bit overwhelmed by all the steps. When all this is over, or whenever convenient, I'd love to read a post about how you managed to embrace tailoring / complex sewing without the benefit of a sew along! Not the hard learning, but the emotional part :-) I mean, your perspective on how to sew without becoming overwhelmed would be very interesting, IMO.

  7. Patty -- I found the twill tape in little packages at JoAnn's in the rack with the bias tape. Speaking of JoAnn's, (which I hate but don't have any other options in town) I forgot to order hair canvas and JoAnn's doesn't have it. What will I lose by using regular lightweight sew-in interfacing instead? Is it worth postponing progress on the coat to order some online? I'm using a pretty lightweight wool gabardine, by the way.

  8. Hi Gertie! I really want to do this sew along, the only problem is I didn't bought the pattern.....BUT with the help of a friend traced it, I just started to do it with other fabric.....but it doesn't look like the lday grey hahahaha.......I guess I?m not gonna finish at the same time as the rest of the girls, perhaps I'll use a bought pattern........I am in love with this lady gray, just didn't want to spend buying it and paying the shipping cost to mexico.

    However I'm reading all the instructions you say and printing them, othe problem I have is to find the hair canvas, as I live in a small city I need to go to another city to buy the fabric, I did last weekend BUT I didn't know about the hair cavas.

    Well, I just want to tell I really enjoy and LOVE your blog!!!

  9. Oooh, I am glad you asked about the back Casey because I was wondering what to do with mine since my fabric is a bit more light weight than I'd prefer.

    I cut mine on the bias since in Couture Sewing Techniques, Claire Shaeffer mentions that at YSL they cut the hair canvas on a bias for a softer feel and I was afraid of my peplum being too stiff.

    I also connected my pieces by cutting the seam allowance and using a strip of iron on interfacing to connect them and then base-ball stitched it together. I figure that'll lessen the bulk at the seams a bit.

  10. Side note to Patty the Snug Bug - from reading your blog, I know you are in Mpls. I just bought 1/4" twill tape at Treadle Yard Goods (grand ave, st paul) for just 35 cents/yard!

  11. I'm yet to buy my hair canvas and interfacing too. What weight do we need? Medium weight? I was also unsure of the shoulder pads. I just want some shape without an 80s look - so are there different shoulder pad sizes? Is there such a thing as a lightweight shoulder pad? Thanks!

  12. Gertie, this is incredible - thank you so much for posting all of this information.

    I've been waylaid by a death in the family, so I won't be able to get to this sewalong until later in the year, but do know that you're teaching me a TON about sewing and tailoring, and I really appreciate it. Thank you.

  13. I think the pace is OK - I did my buttonholes and based the hair canvas onto one of my side fronts last night, and will do the 2nd side and at least sew the fronts and sides together tonight.

    I bought 2 yds of hair canvas (more expensive than I had anticipated) but it looks like I'll need more. bummer.

    If we do want to press to one side and do the top-stitching, do you recommend also doing the catch stitching too, or is that redundant? I'm going to try a sample to see if I prefer the look with the hair canvas removed from the seam allowance before deciding about that. (Should have though of it before basting any on... doh!)

  14. Katie, I don't know if sew-in interfacing will work with pad stitching the lapel. You could skip that step; your lapel and collar will just be looser and less tailored if that makes any sense. (Look for my video tomorrow, I'm going to compare a side with pad stitching and one without.)

    justsewtall, interfacing weight depends on the weight of your fabric. Match it accordingly and bring a swatch of fabric to feel the layers together. And yes, shoulder pads come in different sizes. It's a matter of personal preference which ones you want to get.

    Brooke, I'm sorry to hear of your loss. :(

    ChrissyJ, I would test it out when you do your other samples and see if you want to catch stitch. That's one of those things that's hard for me to say without seeing it.

  15. Man, I know this is totally an amateur question, but when looking for hair canvas on I noticed a fusible option. I am *totally* new to this- does the fusible version prevent the padstitching? I've done catch stitching when I worked on a Sencha blouse and I didn't mind it, i'm just concerned b/c my outer fabric is a camel-color wool and I'm wondering if I'm skilled enough to keep it from showing on the front :)

  16. Hello Gertie!
    I´ve always liked your blog but now I`m loving it.
    It´s ingenious that you shed these pearls of wisdom that you are thought, because they are not widely known to large masses of sewers.
    And Sharon is absolutely right, princess seam is a tricky thing. You don´t want to add bulk by any means and it needs to be carefully executed anyway, so that´s why there´s no hair canvas on the front before sewing it to side piece.
    Generally in tailoring, front pieces are basted with hair canvas. If you´d rip off tailored men´s suits, you´d find virgin backpieces. Yet, regarding your materials, often the back shoulder areas are interlined as well, to add to the fit.
    Also are the tops of the sleeves. But backpieces- from the shoulders down, are supposed to drape beautifully with the bodyline, without any extra bulk. That´s why there´s no basting on the
    YET, if the fabric ( as tweeds often are ) quite drapy, they tend to stretch over the years and - wear. In those cases, using ingeniosities such as fusible interfacings, is golden. Nothing is as sad as a saggy rear in a coat.
    And if I may be so bold as to suggest that when sewing buttonholes, the " butterfly strips " be lined as well. All those buttons poking through them come and go can be harsh on fabric. It will prevent the strips from stretching and from tear due to friction.

    Again, Gertie- a standing applause to your blog. It always is a pleasure to read.


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

© Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing. Powered by Cake