I'm a perfectionist who unpicks stitches, re-sews zippers and unravels knitting if they don't turn out the way I want. I'm sure it can be annoying to some people, but it's just the way I am! This is probably why I've always loved tailoring and couture sewing -- two methods of constructing garments that have, at their foundation, a commitment to quality, precision and attention-to-detail. In Journeys, I'd like to share some thoughts on learning these methods and how they transformed my approach to making clothes. In Part 1, the focus is on tailoring.
This beautiful Missoni fabric from Britex Fabrics deserves to be constructed using couture sewing techniques. It is a lightweight knit with openwork areas in the classic zig zag pattern, and has a wonderful mix of colors that will add versatility to any wardrobe. I'm looking forward to tacking this couture project soon.
Tailoring is a method of constructing jackets and coats -- garments that require a significant amount of inner construction to shape and provide longevity. Areas such as the collar and lapel need to be carefully shaped; the shoulders and upper chest need to be supported and stabilized; and finishing details, such as the lining and closures, need careful consideration. Custom tailoring uses hand-sewing techniques to carefully control the amount of shaping and stability that is added to a garment, while newer methods of tailoring rely on machine stitching and fusible materials to impart shape and stability.
An example of a custom-tailored collar and lapel from one of my coat projects. The main fabric was a wool flannel coating and was underlined with silk organza and lined with silk charmeuse. There is silk organza underlining to add body and stability to the main wool fabric; twill tape that is hand-stitched to stabilize the lapel edges and roll line; and hand-worked pad-stitching to help shape the collar, collar stand and lapels.
Hair canvas is used as an interfacing and is hand-stitched to the hems. Hair canvas is used in key areas of a jacket or coat, such as the hems, lapels, collar and chest area, to aid in shaping and add support.
An inside look at the layers of support needed at the shoulders. You can see the shoulder pad and the sleeve head -- both necessary components to supporting the sleeve/shoulder intersection.
Here is the finished coat, complete with piping and bound buttonholes made in wool crepe. The inner construction described above is what creates the smooth shoulder line and shape of the collar/lapels. The fronts of the coat are stabilized by the hair canvas on the inside, which runs the length of the coat.
A bound button detail in back that finishes the coat perfectly.
Tailoring is about making sure the inside is done right so the outside looks perfect. None of the pad-stitching, hair canvas, etc. can be seen in a finished garment, but you know it's there when you look at the shape of the shoulder line and sleeve; how the collar folds; or whether the lapel lies flat.
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