V1419 Sewalong: Cutting and Prepping

13 Oct

Good morning, sewalongers! (sewalongees?) Today we are going to go over the final prep work before we start sewing (next week! Eep!). This is the last slow post of the sewalong, which gives you another week to perfect your muslin and choose your fabric. Of course, these posts will also be up indefinitely so don’t feel like you have to rush to keep up!


The very first thing you need to do – yes, before you do anything else with that lovely fabric – is pretreat your fabric. How you pretreat your fabric will depend on the fiber you chose, as well as how you plan on cleaning the coat in the future. For those of you who are sewing wool (like meee!), this means you need to get any shrinkage out of your fabric *before* you cut the pattern pieces – otherwise, once you start steaming that bad boy, you may end up shrinking pieces and that’s no good. There are lots of ways to pretreat wool – and none of them involve washing the fabric (please don’t do that!). You can either steam the piece yourself (this involves lots of steam and probably a lot of time), take it to the dry cleaner and have them pretreat it (this involves money)(and also dry cleaning), or you can shrink it up in the dryer (which is what I do). Here’s a blog post outlining the entire process, but basically – you just need to throw your wool in the dryer (finish the edges if necessary to prevent unraveling), add a couple of towels that are soaked in hot water (and then wrung out, so they’re not dripping) and blast the dryer on high heat for however long it takes before everything is dry. Easy! This is the method I use for all my wool fabrics. If you are at all hesitant, try it out on a swatch first πŸ™‚

For other fabric types that are not wool – you may not need to pretreat (unless you plan on washing the coat in the washing machine? If then, defintely prewash that shit!). If using a cotton or silk, you may want to at least steam the crap out of it just to be sure there is no shrinkage. Polys should be fine and not shrink at all.

Once you’ve pretreated your fabric in whatever way need, then it’s time to cut! I’m not going to go over cutting here – I assume anyone brave enough to tackle sewing a coat is probably fine to cut fabric without guidance πŸ™‚ – but if you need a refresher, here is an old post I wrote about cutting and marking your pattern pieces. One thing I did notice while I was cutting my fabric – I was able to reconfigure the layout and use slightly less fabric. Don’t be afraid to change up the layout if your fabric is wide enough, just be sure that you are keeping all the pattern pieces on the proper grain.

If you are including an underlining for your coat, you will need to cut out pieces 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 & 9 from your underlining fabric.

For the contrast – specifically, all those bias pieces – I found it easier to draw the pattern pieces directly on the fabric, rather than try to pin a bunch of stuff and then try to cut a straight line and nope.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

The long, straight pieces – I just measured them and use a ruler and marking pencil to draw them on my taffeta. For the big bias contrast pieces (those giant parallelograms), I pinned down the pattern piece, traced around the edges with my marking pencil, and then used a ruler to draw in the lines 2″ apart (as they are on the pattern piece). I did all this on the flat fabric before I cut anything out, and I think it made things a lot easier!

Once you’ve cut out all your pattern pieces, you will need to apply the underlining (assuming you are underlining – if not, skip ahead and start marking your pieces). Underlining is very easy. It is also very time-consuming – so I recommend watching some crappy TV or something equally entertaining while you do it πŸ™‚ For this sewalong, I won’t be going over underlining, but here is a tutorial if you need one. Some things to keep in mind:
– Sometimes you can get away with basting the pieces together by machine. This coat is not the time to try that method. Because the pieces are very large, you run the risk of shifting your fabric – which will give you bubbles or hang weird if you’re not careful. Try to keep things as flat as possible. Meaning: sit at a table, underline by hand. Watch a movie. Drink some wine. Whatever makes you happy!
– I use silk thread to underline, because it removes very easily. I also happen to have several spools on hand in strange colors, so that’s a big part of the reason. I realize silk thread is a bit expensive, so don’t feel like you have to break your budget on some thread that’s about to get pulled out as soon as you sew a seam. Use whatever you got! I would recommend using a threat in a contrasting color, just so it’s easier to see/remove.
– Feel free to use giant stitches. You’re just basting the pieces together to keep them from shifting when you sew them. Big stitches are ok – and they’re easier to remove!
– Sew well within your seam allowances, especially if your fabric shows pin holes (mine does!).
– I like to underline first, *then* mark the pattern pieces on the wrong side. You can also mark, then underline. Up to you – I just think the former is easier! Don’t freak out if you accidentally snip your basting when you cut notches – it’s ok!

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
See? I did it too. No big deal!

Once you’ve finished underlining (or have skipped ahead), you will need to mark your pieces. It is very important to get every stitch line (for the welts and the button holes), dot and notch – it’ll make things muuuuch easier to match up when we start sewing. You may want to use wax tracing paper and a rotary wheel for the lines, and a marking pen (or tailor’s tacks) for the dots. Just snip the notches. We won’t judge you.

Ok, bias binding! This is the same method outlined on the Coletterie, btw – except you are starting with a parallelogram piece, and not creating one from a square (if that makes sense).

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
You should have 3 parallelograms with 2″ diagonal lines drawn on the wrong side of the fabric. Matching the notches and markings, pin the two angled edges together, right sides together, to form a strange off-center tube. The edges will not match at the ends.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Sew the seam you just pinned. I used 1/4″ because – well, that’s what I always use. I think this pattern was drafted for 5/8″ – even at the bias binding – and if you sew with that amount, you will need to trim it down to 1/4″ after sewing.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Press the seam open.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Starting at once end, begin cutting along the line you drew. You should end up with a looooong string of continuous bias. Do this for all 3 parallelograms.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Once you’ve finished cutting all your bias strips, fold them in half with the wrong sides together and press.
(I promise that big yellow spot on my ironing board cover is not pee. That’s actually what happens when you put your iron on top of a piece of tailor’s wax. Whoops.)

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
You should end up with a big pile of bias strips. Mine kind of look like intestines. Cool.

Finally, you will want to staystitch and reinforce your coat pieces as directed in the instructions (steps 1-3 & step 35). For both – use a slightly shorter stitch length (I use 2.0 vs my standard 2.5) and be sure to backstitch at both ends. For staystitching, sew 1/2″ away from the edge. For reinforcing, sew along the stitching line at 5/8″.

Here are the pieces you will be prepping. Lines marked in blue are reinforcement stitching, lines marked in yellow are staystitching.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

ONCE LAST THING: Once you’ve reinforced all those tricky edges, you need to clip the seam allowances all the way to the dot.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Clip to the stitching line, but do not clip the stitching line. This will make it easier to sew those tricky sleeve seams.

And that’s it! Whew! Sorry for the post overload today. Oh, I almost forgot – here’s my fabric!

wool coating
These are the swatch cards I got from Mood. The wool coating I chose is piece piled on the very top (4th one down). It’s a nice, thick virgin wool coating.

taffeta underlining and contrast
I am using 2 different silk taffetas – the brighter red will be the underlining, and the darker red is the binding and contrast.

How are we doing this week, seawlongers? Any questions about the cutting or prep?


30 Responses to “V1419 Sewalong: Cutting and Prepping”

  1. HJ October 13, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    “Watch a movie. Drink some wine.” but don’t try to say parallalllagaamm if you get carried away with the wine.
    The best sewalong ever, hic.

    • LLADYBIRD October 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      It’s not a real sewalong if there’s not some sort of adult beverage involved, you know πŸ™‚

  2. BeckyLeeSews October 13, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    Not doing the SAL because I’ve accepted my lack of skills and I’m OK with them for now, but thanks for the tips on pepping the wool. Mood sent out a sale email the other day with some fire-engine red wool/poly and a boucle. I snagged the red for a snazzy one piece dress for work (can you say GET OUT OF MY WAY?) HA. I didn’t consider taffeta for the lining but will now. Do you think I need to prep the wool blend using the hot damp towel method? Also, (reaching here) is the wool blend one of your swatches above? If so, which color taffeta do you recommend? Thanks!

    • BeckyLeeSews October 13, 2014 at 7:53 am #

      Uh…$34.99/yd for taffeta? …blink… Can you recommend an alternative? I live in steamy South Texas so I need something that breathes.

      • Carol S October 13, 2014 at 8:02 am #

        Taffeta’s very stiff for a dress anyway. Go with China silk or Bemberg (rayon) lining.

    • LLADYBIRD October 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      I agree with Carol, I think taffeta is too stiff for lining a dress (unless that’s the look you’re going for – if so, don’t let me stop you!). You’ll probably want to stick with something lighter weight and more fluid, such as china silk or Bemberg rayon. I KNOW the taffeta is expensive – mostly because it’s 100% silk (so no blends) and it’s very wide. I hear ya on wanting something breathable, so I’d strongly advise you to stay away from any lining that is polyester. You will be all sweaty and sad, especially if the dress is close-fitting. China silk is wonderful, and like I said, bemberg rayon is good too (also cheaper, but also a little harder to work with because it loooves to shift).

      To answer your other questions – I’d prep the wool with the hot towel method! You probably won’t get any shrinkage, but it couldn’t hurt πŸ™‚ And my swatches are all 100% wool with no blends. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a (non-judgemental) fabric snob in that sense. Don’t like working with or wearing synthetic fibers. Just my personal opinion!

  3. Dorien October 13, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Psssst… Lauren…. Is there a gusset in there? Those things drove me MAD last weekend πŸ™‚ also, if you have a few minutes, I’m in the belgian version of project sewn and you can check it out here: http://www.sewitup.be/uncategorized/ronde-1-stemmen/
    Next week we’re going to make coats (mine without a damn gusset).

    • LLADYBIRD October 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

      Yep! The underarm gusset is 4, the triangle piece πŸ™‚

      Good luck with your contest! I voted for ya πŸ™‚

  4. whatsoccurin October 13, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    I am not making this coat but just had to take a minute to say how great this post is, you have obviously put in loads of effort and the instructions are great πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD October 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      Aw, thank you! I try to make my sewalong posts as informative as possible, so I’m happy to hear that they are useful! Heck yeah, this makes me so happy πŸ˜€

  5. Joanne October 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    I love how that one piece looks like a bird with its head cut off.

    • LLADYBIRD October 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      ahahaha it totally does! Cannot unsee that ever again!

  6. Barbara October 13, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    Thanks for this post, really useful. Ive got a fabric prep question. Mine is a fairly thin wool with a metallic coating, I think I’ll only ever dry clean it. Do you think I need to shrink it? I love the dryer idea but dont think id want to throw this fabric in a dryer.

    • LLADYBIRD October 13, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

      I would definitely preshrink it, since wool can really shrink up if given the chance! I probably wouldn’t throw it in the dryer either (well, I might dry a test swatch to see what happens!), but I would steam shrink it. You can either steam it yourself, or take it to the dry cleaner’s and have them do it (make sure to specify NO CREASES).

      • Barbara October 13, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

        thanks Lauren! think I might go the drycleaning route.

  7. Basya October 13, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    Would interfacing the upper back and front be overkill?

    • LLADYBIRD October 13, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      I would not interface this coat, personally, as it’s really not that kind of coat. However, if you feel like your fabric needs the extra stability, go right ahead. Just make sure you underline over the interfacing so it doesn’t show on the inside (since this coat doesn’t have a lining) πŸ™‚

  8. poldapop October 13, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    Thanks for the help – I made my muslin this weekend and I’m excited to get started on the real thing! Quick question: I’m using a thick wool with lots of body as my fashion fabric. I’d like to underline it in either a synthetic taffeta or a synthetic satin (well, I’d like to underline it in silk, but I blew my budget on the wool, so I’ve got to be a bit cheap about the insides). Are you using taffeta to give the fashion fabric more body? Or is it the better bet for the bound buttonholes and welt pockets? I was leaning towards satin until I read this post . . .

    • LLADYBIRD October 14, 2014 at 7:14 am #

      I’m using taffeta for the slight amount of body, but mostly because it is very stable and easy to work with (I did NOT want to try making welt pockets with silk chaurmeuse πŸ˜‰ ). My suggestion would be taffeta, unless you are feeling very confident in your slippery fabric skills!

  9. Renata Tarnay October 14, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    Thanks for the helpful tips on pre-shrinking the wool! I was wondering about how to prepare it. My questions are: Would double face wool get the dryer treatment (that’s the fabric I bought), and approximately how much shrinkage is typical for wool coating? Thanks in advance πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD October 14, 2014 at 7:15 am #

      I haven’t worked with your fabric, so I can’t give you a straight answer. I’d cut a 4×4 swatch and test it in the dryer; that way you can see how it reacts and also measure the amount of shrinkage you end up with πŸ™‚ Every fabric is different!

  10. Maja October 14, 2014 at 3:11 am #

    I was also wondering how to pretreat my fabric πŸ™‚ very helpful post Lauren!

    • LLADYBIRD October 14, 2014 at 7:15 am #

      Yay! So glad you found it helpful πŸ™‚

  11. Tamara Jenner October 14, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    Even though I’m not doing your coat sewalong I swear I always learn something new when I read your blog! I had never heard of this steam method for preshrinking wool in the dryer. I’ve never preshrunk my wool and now I’m totally rethinking this and now that I have one of those new steam dryers I guess I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks so much for the tip – you rock!

    • LLADYBIRD October 14, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

      You’re so welcome! I’m glad you found it helpful πŸ™‚

  12. Basya October 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    Should I invest in a clapper? Or buy a heavy hunk of wood from Home Depot?

    • LLADYBIRD October 14, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      I LOVE my clapper, and I use it for more stuff than just pounding seams (it’s also good for pressing hard to reach areas and using the pointer). However, if you aren’t tool-obsessed like I am, and you really just need the clapping aspect, a hunk of wood is totally fine πŸ™‚ I’d recommend sanding it down really well before you use it, just so you don’t get splinters in your fabric!

  13. Heidi Field-Alvarez November 8, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    So I am a bit behind here but had a fabric question. I have found a nice wool gaberdine and wool flannel for the coat from B. black and sons. It’s beautiful but I am not sure it will be stiff enough to achieve the silouette. I am guessing with shrinkage and placing them together it might be but am worried as they are a bit pricy. Here the link in case you get a wild hair and want to look. http://www.bblackandsons.com/pink-gabardine-fabric-p-1280.html. Unfortunately they don’t give the weight of the wool in ounces…that would be nice. I did get samples and I could call and ask I suppose. Also, the buttonholes…should they be the taffeta or the gaberdine?

    • LLADYBIRD November 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      Pretty fabric! I think the best course of action would be to base your decision on how the sample feels… if the drape is stiff enough so that the swatches hold their shape pretty well (either alone or when sewn together), they should be good πŸ™‚ Another option is to make your muslin with a fabric that has a similar drape to the fabric you’re looking at, and see if you like the shape of the coat on you.

      The button holes should be made with whatever you are using for your contrast fabric – the same fabric you’ll be using to bind all your seams. For me, that was the taffeta. Whatever you choose, I’d strongly recommend getting something easy to work with that presses well, because those button holes can be a little tricky if you’re fighting with the fabric πŸ™‚

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