MPB is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



Jul 11, 2012

Linen Blazer -- So Close!



Friends, sewing a linen blazer isn't hard.

The problem, however, is that you're usually not sewing.  You're cutting pockets, or sizing shoulder pads, or creating sleeve heads, or measuring undercollars, or evaluating fit...  You get the idea.   The to-do list for a blazer is a long one and sewing is a rather small -- albeit critical -- part of the process.

There are two resources I'm finding extremely helpful, one a book, Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket (Creative Publishing International, 2005), and one a DVD, Jackets for Real People: Tailoring Made Easy! Featuring Marta Alto (Palmer/Pletsch Inc., 2006). 



I love sewing books, but for very challenging projects with techniques that are new to me, nothing helps me as much as video.  Jackets for Real People isn't intimidating; Marta Alto isn't trying to recreate authentic Neopolitan tailoring.  She fuses interfacing, bags linings, and talks shortcuts.  But she's extremely skilled and her projects look great.  If I want alternatives, I can refer to my book, Tailoring: The Classic Guide, which outlines three methods of tailoring: the custom method, the machine method, and the fusible method.

This is too complicated a project to use only the original instructions or, for that matter, a tailoring book like Roberto Cabrera's Classic Tailoring Techniques, written for professionals.  The Marta Alto video is an excellent fit for where I am right now and I appreciate her warm, reassuring presence.

The jacket looks good so far, but I haven't performed the "turn of the cloth" -- turning facings out to create lapels -- yet, or inserted my lining, or cut my (patch) pockets.  I am not going to bag the lining: I don't have a working knowledge of the pattern yet, and in a mens jacket, the lining really has to fit snugly.  Any inaccuracy is going to affect the drape of this very drapey linen fabric.





Want to see something interesting?  Below is the back with only one shoulder pad (the left shoulder).  BIG difference.



I may actually use a slightly larger shoulder pad for my right shoulder, which I tend to hold slightly lower than my left (a common problem; the shoulder in question depends on the person).  Linen droops and needs a lot of support.  (I don't have sleeve heads inserted in these pics either.)

I learned a fantastic new technique for easing in a sleeve using a strip of bias (approx. 1.5" wide; I used a strip of linen).  You stretch the bias -- which extends over the top of the shoulder between front and back clip points -- as you stitch (at the 5/8" stitch line), and when you release it, your shoulder ease is created.  You then insert the sleeve pinning directly on the stitch line and check the fit.





This is how the sleeve looks with just pins:



Then you stitch.  You can see how the ease is created in the seam allowance:



The sleeve fits very nicely.



Readers, there is so much to share, and I hope to go into detail about other techniques I've used in the days ahead.  For now, I think I'd like to get back to work.

Hope your projects are coming along well.   Are you familiar with either of the tailoring resources I mention above?  Any others you like and/or recommend?

Have a great day, everybody!

Get that dog off my fabric!

23 comments:

  1. I have got the Tailoring book and I think it is an excellent resource - very clear photos. The linen blazer looks very, very promising - it will be a real success! Congratulations: 1700 members!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the interesting tip on sleeve insertion! I am planning a few lightweight jackets in the upcoming months, and I think I will try this method to see if I can't get smoother sleeve seams.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's described in both the video and the tailoring book -- it was new to me but I think it's an established method. The bias strip really supports the ease, as opposed to just a line or two of gathering stitches. Give it a try!

      Delete
    2. I've read and tried a similar trick with the bias on the sleeve cap for ease...but I used a strip of polar fleece, which has the stretch, but then also gives a bit of support as it's got a little bit of bulk to it...it turned out to work well for me anyway.

      Delete
    3. I haven't seen this technique before but it looks very simple and effective.

      Delete
  3. Did you make your own shoulder pads?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No -- that would be too much for me right now. I used commercial ones from Steinlauf & Stoller. I'll post more about these in the days ahead.

      Delete
  4. Thanks for sharing the sleeve insertion tip - I always dread this step and haven't cracked an easy way yet.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the tip! I've seen this technique using something called Amorite, but have never been able to find it unless I wanted to rip apart a men's tie. Don't know why I never thought to use a bias strip.

    ReplyDelete
  6. ...of shoulder pads and dogs!

    Awaiting for much more of both.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Man you are good! I have yet to tailor a jacket.

    ReplyDelete
  8. that bias tape trick sounds sooo smart! will have to remember that. my first (and so far only) attempt at a blazer was one for my 3 year old son at easter... i use my children as guinea pigs for trying out new techniques. :) yours looks great so far, i look forward to seeing it finished!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the tip on sleeve insertion using bias. You are the only one I have come across with this technique so far, and that really says alot about how you sew smart. Really appreciate. The jacket looks great, looking forward to the detail update!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Looks good. BTW, the Cabrera book is recommended for everyone. A great online tailoring forum, www.cutterandtailor.com, specifically tells beginners to buy it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's looking great.You are smart to use alternate sources for tailoring information. I always have to make one shoulder pad quite a bit thicker than the other. If you can find tie interfacing, that's supposed to be the best fabric for using this technique. You can just open old ties and open them up. It's cut on the bias. I learned this technique with bias hymo which works very well. This is my favorite method for setting sleeves in jackets and coats.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It looks fantastic. Nothing looks as good as a linen jacket on a hot summer evening. I'm a beginner, but I hope to be able to something similar down the line.

    I know this is totally off topic, but what kind of dog is that? Ours looks almost exactly the same. We live on a farm , and she just showed up on our back porch one cold winter night. Don't know where she came from or what she is (other than having a fair share of Chihuahua in her). The vet says she's just a mutt. The nerve! haha.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Congratulations, the jacket is looking great! And thanks for sharing the easing tip which sounds really useful. Another small trick I like with sleeves is to anchor the seams at the underarm with a few stitches before I pin the eased section. That way, the underarm seam and the side seam that I carefully matched stay matched. If not anchored, they drift apart as the rest of the sleeve is pinned and stitched,

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's common to adjust shoulder pads. I will often add a little helper to a person's body to keep the jacket in balance. I love, love, love your shoulder heads. Even though they don't do this so much anymore, you could even stick some lamb's wool up in that header. I love how they "pop"!

    ReplyDelete
  15. The jacket looks great. Two of the things I love about you-
    1)you wear boxer shorts in all your garment construction shots
    2)the background always features your Craigslist couch and/or chihuahuas/Michael
    There are more things of course but that will do for now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mae, but those are my lavender corduroy shorts! ;)

      Delete
  16. Can you explain a bit more about using bias to ease in sleeves. I still dont get it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Kate, it's like sewing a gathering stitch (i.e, a loose basting stitch you pull to create gathers), except that, rather than pull a thread to create gathers (or in this case, ease), you're stitching a length of bias ONTO the sleeve cap that you're stretching as you sew (you're stretching JUST the bias, not the sleeve).

    When you release the bias it gently rebounds (like elastic) and creates the gathers (or ease) you need at your sleeve head.

    Unlike a stitch you pull to create gathers, the bias strip also supports the gathers.

    Hope that helps!

    ReplyDelete
  18. The shape of your blazer is very close to a Kenzo blazer I have. Nice job!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails