Friday, March 4, 2016

French Jacket: Part Three- Quilting and Beginning construction

My French jacket journey is turning out to be quite a satisfying one. Something about all the work that goes into it just infuses the garment with sense of pride and history.

This post is all about the first steps of construction. As i mentioned in the previous post, I have decided to use a modified couture method. Most of this method comes from Sarah Veblen. If you ever have the opportunity to take a jacket workshop with her I highly recommend it!

The steps in constructing a French Jacket are very different from regular garment construction and requires you to think about all the steps carefully before you start construction. I based the majority of my construction off of directions from a Sarah Veblen Jacket workshop. Even with her cleverly written directions I still took the time to consult other sources of information. Once I had it down in my head what I wanted to do I created a checklist. Checklists are a valuable tool for me when I am working on sewing projects and there is something satisfying about crossing off an item on a to-do list!

My to-do list for this portion looked something like this:

1- pin baste all the lining and fashion fabric together at seam allowance
   pieces included 2 fronts, 2 side fronts, 2 side backs, back, 2 underarm, 2 front arm and 2 back arm.      13 pieces in total
2- pin mark the quilting lines on each piece
3- machine quilt each piece
4- steam each piece and check against pattern
5- tie off the quilting on each quilting line
6- trim seam allowances to 5/8 inch at neckline and armhole
7- machine sew all major vertical seams

The problem with steps 1 through 3 is that I would have had to use a million pins to all 13 pieces at once. So I ended up doing them in several groups. This meant that steps 1 through 3 were repeated about 5 different times. A lengthy process for sure.

The pin basting just took up time. Quite an easy task to perform . I made sure all work was done flat on a table and that there were no bubbles or big ripples in the lining. there were a couple of times where i just could not get the lining to match up perfectly and while it attempted to make me crazy in the end it really did not make any difference at all. The big thing that i did was to make sure that the lengthwise grain on each piece was lined up nicely and that nothing was skewed or twisted. so if the silk lining felt it needed to be a quarter inch off in a spot or two it was OK. Remember there are one inch seam allowances so plenty of room to play with!

Left: pin basting the silk to the fashion fabric
Right: turned over and pin marking the quilting lines. Red pins start and stop and blue pins quilting lines.

Step 2 is to determine the quilting lines. With my fashion fabric it was quite easy because there is no print or plaid or stripe to have to follow. This meant that I just had to determine the best placement left to right along the garment pieces. Having a great big and wide quilting ruler really helped with this step! There are some general rules that have to be followed for the quilting. staying 2 inches away from every edge and far enough away from the hem to accommodate the hem being folded up. I learned this on the hard way!!! I figured I have a 2 inch hem so I need to quilt to within 2 inches of the bottom. NOPE... with a 2 inch hem you need to stay 4 inches from the cut edge. I had to very carefully unpick a lot of quilting lines. I had to make sure not to cut or break any of the strands so I would have enough thread to tie off each line. A very tedious mistake on my part and one that I am sure I will never make again!

With each piece I tried to make sure that the quilting lines were marked evenly across the fabric and that each pair was marked equally. So that the quilting on both fronts and both side fronts were the same. On my underarm piece of my 3 piece sleeve I only had room for one quilting line down the center.

Step 3: Once the marking was done it was off to the machine with a walking foot and matching thread. All the quilting was done from the right side of the fashion fabric. I also used the little guide bar that cones with the walking foot to help keep my quilting lines even. I also marked the start and stop of each line in a different colored glass head pin to give me a mental heads up. I do want to mention that I made a practice sandwich of my exact fabrics to practice the quilting on before I used my good pieces. Better to find out something is not going to go as planned on a practice sample!

Step 4: Steam pressing each piece and comparing it to the pattern. This step is important because sometimes as you quilt the layers together you can get some overall shrinkage. You may also see some shifting of the layers due to improper pinning or just because the silk lining shifted around a bit, that can happen with slippery silks! My pieces did not have any overall shrinkage. However, I did have 2 pieces where the silk seemed to have shifted nothing was more than 3/8 of an inch and luckily the shortage was on the hem side so it did not make any difference. I just took a deep breath and ignored it!

Step 5: Tying off of the quilting lines. I left long thread tails at start and stop of each quilting line and then pulled these tails through to the center, between the fashion fabric and the lining fabric and carefully tied each one and trimmed. Again, not a difficult task just a little tedious. I found that it was important to keep all of those thread tails out of the way of the next lines of quilting so as not to get them caught up in the stitching. Sarah Veblen recommended that I tie them off using 2 square knots which she demonstrated. I thought I knew what a square knot was and turned out that for my entire life I have actually been doing a double overhand knot! always learning!!

Step 6: Trimming the seam allowance for the armhole, armscye and neckline. It is just easier to have these areas at a 5/8 inch seam allowance versus a full inch. I even thought about going down to half an inch but decided against it because of the ravely nature of the fabric and the thickness. I wanted to make sure I had enough to play with if needed.
You can imagine where this all gets a bit tricky because if you have had any quilt shrinkage or shifting of fabrics you could start to get a little lost. I can understand now why some people thread trace all of the seam lines then you really don't have to worry about what the seam allowances are but sooooo much extra work and those to can be skewed by the quilting process.... The only seam allowances I thread traced after the quilting process where the shoulder seams.

Step 7: machine sewing! Finally getting somewhere!  Each vertical seam of the jacket and sleeve now gets to be sewn very carefully. You have to make sure that the lining on each piece is pulled back out of the way so as not to get caught in the seams. I actually pinned them back from the right sides so the the pin heads were between the layers and there was no chance that one could get caught up on the sewing machine. This step is very gratifying... that is until you realize that almost the entire rest of the garment is done by hand sewing!

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the thorough explantation and documentation of the process.


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