Man. Tailoring. It is always (always!) worth the extra cost and effort, but lord I always forget how much extra effort is actually involved. I’ve been plugging along on my coat since I last posted my progress, so here’s what I’ve been up to in the meantime!
I finally got the padstitching on the lapels done. That alone took the longest – not because padstitching takes forever, necessarily (well, I guess it depends on the size of the lapels), but because I kept putting it off for as long as possible. I was not looking forward to how long it would take. Guys – when I finally sat down and made myself do it, I finished both lapels in like 45 minutes. I’m such a baby, haha! Fortunately, while I was putting off the padstitching, I was not sitting idle – I skipped ahead of the instructions, and assembled the coat back (minus the tailoring) and lining, so that should save me some time now.
Now, I totally could have skipped the padstitching – it’s not 100% necessary, although it will 100% of the time make your coat look sooo much nicer. RTW coats do NOT have this sort of tailoring in them, and they obviously get away with it because people still buy them. But look at what a difference it makes:
If you can’t tell, the padstitched lapel is on the left (the side that overlaps), and the one that hasn’t been padstitched is on the right (the underlap). Do you see how flat the non is in comparison to the one with stitching? It’s pretty incredible!
LOOK AT THAT ROLL LINE, JUST LOOK AT IT.
Padstitching, in a nutshell, is basically just sewing diagonal stitches in straight lines (eventually forming a bunch of chevrons) using silk thread, so the hair canvas adheres to the coating fabric. You don’t sew all the way through the fabric – just pick up a little nip here and there to keep things connected. You hold the fabric+canvas over your fingers so it is encouraged to roll while you sew, and then when you’re finished, you steam the shit outta that sucker so it is hold it’s shape. Again, time consuming and not totally necessary, but it really is the difference between “Hey, I made a coat” and “~*Hey I tailored a fucking coat are you so impressed*~”. I mean, I’m impressed with myself and I haven’t even finished the thing yet!
After I finished the Dreaded Lapels, I focused my attention on the collar.
First, I sewed the two under collar pieces together. These are cut on the bias, so they will stretch and sit correctly underneath the upper collar. They are also cut slightly smaller than the upper collar, so the seam will roll to the underside and you won’t see it. That’s the plan, anyway.
To sew the interfacing pieces together (remember, they need to be on the bias so I can’t cut them on the fold), I removed all seam allowances and zig-zagged the pieces together at the center, secured with a piece of seam binding. I then marked my roll line and, I know, it looks really shitty. Sorry about that.
As with the lapels, I marked the padstitching lines with my trusty Sharpie. Above the roll line gets heavy padstitching (1/4″ tall, spaced 1/4″ apart) and below the roll line is more lightly padstitched (1/2″ tall, spaced 1/2″ apart). This will help the collar to stand so it looks nice and full and not sad and flat.
After I finished padstitching, I wrapped the collar around my tailor’s ham and, again, steamed the shit out of it. So qt, so pro.
I drafted a back stay, although my pattern doesn’t call for it. It’s always a good thing to include, though – it’ll reduce the strain on the coat back from moving your arms around/hugging people, and thus give your coat a longer lifespan. Plus, you can use cheapie muslin and I love me some cheaping out.
By the way, I use the term “draft” veryyyy loosely. I pinned my back and side back pieces together (so they would be one continuous piece with no seams) and marked 8″ below the neckline and 3″ below the armhole, then used my curved ruler to connect the two lines.
The resulting piece (cut on the fold, because, again, no seamlines) is the back stay. I pinked the bottom edge so there wouldn’t be a sharp line on the outside of my coat. Real talk: this is the only reason why I own pinking shears at all. For tailoring. I’m not even kidding about that a little bit.
The back stay then lays on top of the coat back and is basted to the arm holes, side seams, neckline, and shoulder edges. The bottom just kind of flaps free in the breeze. And that’s all there is to it!
I also stabilized my shoulder seams with twill tape – no real reason, except that my Tailoring book (lol why the fuck is that listed at $65 what is this madness) said it was a good idea so I just went along with it. It should reduce the strain at the shoulders, which is good because this coat is starting to get a little heavy!
Finally, I catch-stitched down all my seams on the coating fabric, catching only the underlining. Honestly, I should have done this as I sewed each piece – I really had to reach up under the back stay to get some of those seams sewn down – but I wasn’t thinking about it at the time. Catch-stitching down the seam allowances is one of those weird optional steps that isn’t necessarily bad if you skip it (like I was planning to), but it does help keep everything in place on the inside, thus prolonging the life of your coat. And, I mean, it’s sort of relaxing. I really love to catch stitch, what can I say?
So there’s that! I’m mostly done with the fiddly tailoring at this point – I still have the sleeves to deal with, but they shouldn’t be too bad. Since I’ve already assembled the lining, it’s really now just a matter of putting everything together.
My original plan was to have this finished by Christmas, but I’m now shifting that to a (hopeful) NYE completion date. Construction hasn’t necessarily been dragging- I just haven’t been home at all to work on it! My dad ended up in the hospital last Monday, where they discovered that his colon was completely blocked due to cancer, so they wheeled him into emergency surgery on Tuesday and cut out 30% of that shit (pun intended). They also removed a bunch of lymph nodes and tested those – turns out that stuff is cancer-free, which is AWESOME – but he does have spots on his liver that will require him to go through chemo. Scary, scary shit, man. Fortunately, my dad has been a total trooper and by Wednesday morning he was walking up and down the halls like a champion. Things are good now – he finally passed gas yesterday (lol @ us being excited about my dad farting, considering he regularly likes to stink us out), and we’re hoping he can be home in time for Christmas. Fingers crossed! Although, to be honest, I’ll totally spend Christmas in that tiny hospital room if I have to!
I don’t like to discuss my personal life here much, this being a sewing blog and all, but my dad is a pretty inspiring/amazing dude. He regularly runs ultra marathons – 50-100+ miles at a time, up a mountain, sleeping in the bushes, that’s all normal for him. I laugh when someone corrects me for saying 500k (“Oh, you mean 5k, silly.” “No, dipshit, I meant 500k. He ran 314 miles.”) when I brag about his racing. And dude is fast – he regularly smokes out all the little 25 year olds who run the same races. Not bad for a 54 year old who looks like Santa! Not to be a total sap, but getting to spend the last week with my family (despite the less-than-ideal circumstances) and knowing that my dad is going to be a-ok is literally the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for. I’m just so thankful.
Anyway, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas! I’m hoping to get in some much-needed sewing time – my machine has been idle for way too long :)