Friday, May 18, 2012

Hemming and Hawing

(Part 14 of the series "The Island of Misfit Clothes.")
Chapter 67
This week, we return to The Island to put the finishing touches on our project jacket. To refresh your memories, we left off with all the hard work completed: trimmed down from a boxy size 46 to a trim and much more fitted size 39. Our side seams were re-worked, our shoulders re-cut and narrowed, and the sleeves re-set. From the outside, it looks like a whole new animal -- but the lining is still unattached inside, so this week we'll turn our attention there.

The first thing to do is tidy up the bottom hem. Lay out the jacket on a board, spread out flat like this. Tuck the lining up out of the way to give you room to work.

Using the outside edges as fixed points, turn under the hem to make a straight line. You may have to press some old creases out before you press the new crease in. Then stitch the turn-up in place. Since the inside won't be seen, and the hem doesn't bear any load or strain, you can use a long running pick-stitch along the inside that just catches one or two threads on the outer side. Another option is a hidden pick-stitch, that runs inside the crease and picks up a thread on both sides. There are other more specialized stitches that will also help keep the raw edge from fraying, but we won't bother with those for now.

The lining must be loose on the inside of the jacket. If it's too tight, it runs the risk of gathering the outside fabric into puckers or pulls. And if it's not attached straight down, it can make the jacket look as if it's twisting aroung you! So turn the jacket completely inside-out, and put it on your form. Smooth the lining down across the back.

Turn the lining under and pin it at the bottom edge, making sure that it is a little loose, but not hanging too far down.

Then smooth the lining across the shoulders, and pin it in place just shy of the armscye. This will make locating the lining around the shoulder a bit easier later on.

Lay the jacket on the board again, spread out as before, and run a very loose running stitch to hold it in place. Stitch the lining just underneath the fold to ensure it stays loose, and press over the stitches. There are, again, special tailor's stitches just for this area: a looping zigzag that loosely holds the lining in place but doesn't restrict its motion. It's worthwhile to learn how to do it, but it's not strictly necessary here: if you are careful to keep the lining free, a hidden pick stitch will work just fine if you don't snug the stitches at all.

You will notice that the lining is wider than the shell by several inches. Not surprising, considering how much we took out of its circumference! You needn't worry about taking any lining out: we'll just insert some pleats where needed. Before you stitch, divide the extra length along the hem into two equal parts, and put the pleats directly underneath the armholes. (Oops...Editing error! That green circle is under the existing pleat. The new one is just to the right.)

With the hem stitched and the pleats in place, press the new pleats into the lining.

Now turn your attention to the shoulders. We'll stitch the body lining around the armscye first, and then stitch the sleeve lining on top of that to get back to the original look. Starting from the front, use a hand inside the jacket to smooth the lining from the lapel to the armscye seam, and a hand outside to pin right through to the lining. It'll take every bit of your quilting pin to get through all the padding at the top of the shoulder, but it can be done.

This is what it looks like from the inside. Notice the large amount of extra lining that ends up inside the armscye.

Continue working your way around the armscye. Make use of the pins you placed in the shoulder earlier to smooth the fabric to the back of the scye. Form the pleat under the arm, that is a continuation of the pleat you made in the hem. 

You will need another pleat just behind the top of the shoulder, running to the collar seam. Pin these pleats in place. 

Make a running pick-stitch all around the armscye. From the outside, dip the needle in right at the seam, and keep the stitches fairly short, considering the depth of the padding. You aren't just holding the lining in place now, but all the padding as well. There's no need to trim the excess lining from the sleevehead, as it will sit happily where it is, and be covered by the sleeve lining.

Now it's time to add that sleeve lining. Holding the jacket vertically by the collar, reach into the sleeve from the inside and pull the lining through. Make sure it is straight and not twisted, and the top of the lining aligns with the top of the armscye. Attaching it is a simple matter of a running stitch around, right over top of the stitches you've just done, sewing lining to lining.

With all the seams completed, try the jacket on and take a good look at the overall fit. Even with careful measurement, mistakes can happen. If the lining ends up pulling a bit of the shell fabric around, re-sew that bit a little looser. We're almost done with this one! All that remain are sleeve length and button stance, and we'll tackle those issues on our next visit to The Island. Stay tuned!

Click here to go to Part Fifteen of The Island of Misfit Clothes.

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