Cavalli Part VI: Collar & Cuff Details

cutting fur

I thought I’d share some details regarding the collar construction of this coat.  The picture above shows how one cuts fur – with a very sharp blade.  My furrier gave me two, and it’s amazing how nicely they cut.  They also dull very quickly.  I’ve used one on just my little bits of collar and cuff and it’s lost it’s extra sharp edge.

underside of cuff fur cuff fur

Here’s the wrong and right side of the pelt I chose to use for one of the cuffs.  I wanted my cuffs to be about 3” wide, so I’ve trimmed the pelts in order to get all the spots and not so much of the brown back fur.

collar pattern

As mentioned in a previous post, there are no seam allowances when working with fur, so you have to create them with twill tape.  I used selvedge from medium-weight muslin.

adding selvedge to fur

The trick is to keep all the fur away from the edge of the pelt so that it will lie free from the seam.  A zigzag stitch is perfect, as it catches the edge of the pelt and tape and can also lie relatively flat when opened or stitched to the garment.

hand understitching

After stitching the fur to the undercollar, I really needed to understitch it.  So I used a bold overcast stitch to keep the twill tape in place.

turned undercollar

Here is the undercollar with the fur fully attached.  You can see the twill tape edging, but I’m not really concerned about it since the fur is long and will cover this up.  I’m also not too worried about it because I can see the about 1/8” of the twill tape where my furrier attached the fur collar to my leather jacket.  All that matters is that it’s secure and not visible through the fur.

I decided to attach the fur directly to the sleeves for the cuff as this would eliminated a lot of fabric bulk.  And I wanted the fur to be secure, not moving around.  I would probably have to tack a lined fur cuff to the sleeve to keep it in place, so why bother with the extra work of lining it?  Simple and effective is good in my sewing books.cuffs pinned to sleeve

I measured the width of the pelt between the muslin strips and marked the corresponding measurement (3 1/4”) from the cuff.  Then I carefully pinned the muslin strip to the sleeve, making sure that all the fur is away from the seamline.  I wanted the muslin strip on the bottom of the cuff to actually turn to the inside, as I intend to make the lining flush with the sleeve edge.

inside of cuff

Then I turned the cuff down, folded the remaining muslin strip over the sleeve bottom, and securely stitched it into place on the inside of the sleeve.

Et voilà!

cavalli cuff

Now all that’s left is the hem and the lining, which still has not arrived. *Sigh* However, I shall finish up the outer shell for this and go onto something simple for a palate cleanser!

Cavalli Part V: Attaching the Collar


Whew!  The collar and front facings are attached.  I’m pleased with it!  It’s not as spotty as I’d like, but I intend to make the spots “thicker” on the cuffs, which I’m hoping will make them all stand out a bit.  And the pattern is perfectly matched down the centre front.  Yay!

Now on to the cuffs….

Cavalli Part IV: Playing with fur

cutting fur

I finally got up the courage to try cutting into the fur.

bad furThere’s a lot of pelts in my piece, and some are really ratty and falling apart, so I used them to get used to the techniques for sewing fur.  It also gave me the chance to play with the collar pattern to determine what works best.

tape fur

The first thing I did was remove the cotton twill tape that was blindstitched to the hemline of the fur.  Remember I’m working with the bottom 12” of a coat that’s been restyled.  When I checked my mink, the lining is actually handstitched to twill tape so that it’s flush with the edge of the pelts at the hem.

zigzagged tapeYou can also see the tiny overcast-type stitches on the wrong side of the fur.  Pelts are “let out” to length them or to make them wider and therefore get more area out of a single pelt.  Seams are also done in the same way, in effect eliminating all allowances – exactly like a butted seam.  So I trimmed all the seam allowances on the collar pattern piece.

collar patternThe seam “allowances” are twill tape zigzagged to the edge of the fur.  The fox collar on my leather jacket is attached to the leather using this technique.

tape pinned to undercollarOne other thing:  sewing fur is like having a cat constantly rubbing itself against your legs – fine hairs are everywhere and stick to everything.

Trousers lining: Burda 1-2011-134

Well, how to line these darn things with the fly zipper….

Just a side note:  I am not using the facings as per Burda, but am following Making Trousers idea that petersham ribbon (or grosgrain ribbon) is a thin and excellently stable material for either interfacing or actually BEING the waistband facing on trousers.  It makes lovely and simple sense to me, so I’m going to be facing these trousers with petersham.

But that still leaves the “how to line trousers with a fly zipper and a zipper shield” question.  Well, here’s what I did.

NOTE:  I have not stitched up the centre back seam at this point.

Trim the fly facing from the LF lining, mark and staystitch the curved stitching line on the RF lining.  Staystitch and clip the RF lining, turning and pressing in the seam allowance on both RF and LF openings.

clipped RF lining

Turn the fly facings along the foldlines to the outside, right sides together and pin baste.  fly facings turned inStitch and trim the seam allowance, leaving about 5/8″ of the front extending under the facing.

fly facing stitched trimmed

Turn the facings right side out and press.

fly facings turned

Staystitch the waist.

staystitched waist

Try on pants for fitting through the waist, making any adjustments as needed and marking the centre back seam allowance.  Then stitch 1 or 1.5 inch wide petersham to the waist.  The top of the petersham will sit just under the staystitching.

petersham stitching petersham stitched

Stitch up the centre back seam.  Press it open.  Turn down the waist seam allowance over the petersham, press and baste into place.basted waist allowance

Sew up the lining.  I didn’t bother drafting my own seamless lining for the trouser fronts.  I used the same two-piece fronts as the fashion fabric.  And, because I hate bemberg strings everywhere, I serged the pants seams.finished lining seams

Staystitch and turn in the waist seam allowance on the lining.  Press. Pin baste to the top of the waistband (petersham ribbon).

pinned lining

Fell stitch into place.

fell stitched lining

Zip up the zipper, lay the pants flat inside out and pin the linings to the fly opening.

pinned fly lining

Fell stitch into place.  I left the fly shield loose and stitched the lining securely underneath it.  You can tack it into place at the bottom of the fly opening and fell the lining over the end of the fly shield if you wish.  I may do this next time, but this is what I did for this particular pair of trousers.  Here’s the fly zipper finished, exterior and interior shots.

finished fly finished lined fly

Last, but not least, I sewed through all layers – lining, petersham and fabric – at both back darts, side seams and side front seams to ensure the lining stays in place while being worn.

Well, that’s how I lined these pants!  Now I have to hem them, decide on a button or hook/eye closure and take some pictures of me wearing them so you can see the fit on someone that is not as tall as a Burda model.

There’s a lot of hand sewing putting the lining in like this.  If I didn’t care so much about not seeing seam allowances from the inside, I would have done this very differently…. maybe next time.  I’m happy with the finished interior look of these pants!

Trousers zipper: Burda 1-2011-134

So I made the decision to go with the interesting trousers from Burda’s January issue.  But the instructions are, well…. um…. I’ve had to read through them about six times for the zipper, so I thought I might as well post pics of how I did mine in case anyone else out there would like to make up these pants!

These pants have a fly zipper with a shield.

I referred heavily to Claire Shaeffer’s instructions for Vogue 7881, and, since I love to put zippers in by hand because it works perfectly every time, followed her instructions for that.  Now, before any of you readers get frightened away by the words “by hand”, let me tell you it took all of 15 minutes to stitch a 7″ zipper into these pants.  I usually spend at least that much time pinning, stitching, ripping, re-pinning, re-stitching and re-ripping ad nauseum trying to get a front fly zipper into a pair of pants perfectly anyways, so I thought I might as well put it in perfectly the first time  – by hand!

Yes, I have much more faith in my ability to control a zipper via hand stitching than machine stitching!!!

I also referred to David Coffin’s Making Trousers book, specifically his instructions on “Cut-on Waist Zipper with Cut-on Fly Shield”, since these pants have an extended high waist that is faced.  There’s no separate waistband to be attached – it’s all one piece with the fronts and backs.

I apologize in advance for the variation in photo colour/quality!  OK, here we go…

Interface the fly facings on both fronts using a good quality fusible. (I have no idea what this interfacing is called, but it’s the best fusible I’ve ever used:  it’s wool.  Sorry I cheaped out and pieced mine together, but I honestly don’t think it will matter much!)

interfaced zip fly

Stitch the front crotch seam from the bottom of the zipper opening about 2 inches towards the leg seams as seen in the very bottom of the picture above.

crotch seam below fly opening

Press the flys into place:  the right fly along the centre front, and the left fly 3/16″ outside the centre front.

Mark the top-stitching line on the outside and topstitch the curve, from the bottom of the zip opening to about 3″ from the waistband.  I like doing the topstitching without having a zipper underneath to negotiate.  The topstitching is perfect this way!topstitched fly

Stitch the fly shield piece ends, turn and press it.  If you’re not lining the pants, finish the edges the long edge of the fly shield.stitched fly shield

Pin the zipper in place, pressed LF (left front) edge close to the zipper teeth.  Baste.pinned fly RF fly shield

Pin the fly shield under the zipper, matching the edge of the fly shield to the edge of the zipper tape underneath.  Stab stitch into place.  stitched LF with shield

On the inside, fell stitch the tape and edge of the fly shield to the fly facing.  Here’s a closeup of the inside of the LF (left front).P2070001

Lay RF (right front) over zipper, as though the zipper is closed.  Pin and baste.basted RF

From the wrong side, use a short running stitch to fasten the zipper to the fly facing.  Be careful not to stitch ONLY through the facing layer.  You only want to catch the interfaced facing.  Fell stitch the edge of the zipper to the facing, only catching the facing in the stiches – not the front of the pants!

RF zipper handwork

It’s done!  Here’s the outside, zipped and unzipped, and the interior.

zip outside open fly zip interior of fly zip

How painless was that?  I love a fuss-free-perfectly-topstitched fly zipper on pants!  In my next post I’ll show you how I added a lining to this pattern.

Thoughts on lining

I just wanted to thank all of you, dear readers, for your feedback about how you finish the interior of a garment – or don’t bother! 

Like Fran G, I don’t bother to serge every single seam edge, unless the fabric has a propensity for unraveling endlessly.  I do like to line everything, though… and I mean EVERYTHING.  I just like the silky feel of bemberg or china silk inside a garment, and I really like the way a lining helps a garment hang properly.  Maybe ‘cuz it’s slippery, so the garment skims over my shape and doesn’t get stuck on bumps and lumps?

The only things I don’t line are shirts, or the bodice part of a cotton dress (for example, the Liberty Hurren dress), and I’ve never lined a knit anything unless it’s dictated by designer or pattern instructions.  I have two caveats to the knits, though:

  1. Vogue 1087 -  Donna Karan’s dress – which I stitched up last fall. The skirt on this sticks to my tights, so it’s a very impractical dress for fall, and this is one reason why I really like to line all my dresses and skirts:  I cannot stand the look of how dresses stick to tights, leggings, stockings – whatever!  I like a garment that skims over whatever I’m wearing or not wearing on my legs.  So…. I’ll either be wearing this with bare legs, or I’ll be figuring out a way to add a tricot lining to the skirt.
  2. Vogue 1027 – another very popular DK dress – which I stitched up in the summer and discovered the fabric is really too sheer not to be lined!  I haven’t added a lining to it yet, but I will prior to wearing it in 2011.

I am planning an unlined jacket this spring, made of broderie anglaise.  I think I’ll try the hong kong finish on the seams.  I confess it’s a seam finish I’ve never ever tried because it looks like too much work! Winking smile  So, you hong kong finish aficionados out there, I’d appreciate pointers to a good set of instructions, or any tips you can give me to make it an easy peasy enjoyable experience!

Tweaking the Hepburn Dress

You know, dear readers, from my review of this dress that I wasn’t particularly happy with how the RPL took (or rather, didn’t take) the front bust darts.  So, last night I removed them and lookee here!

v2396 dartless

You would never ever know there had ever been darts in the front of this dress.  I learned another lesson about RPL:  it doesn’t remember anything.  File that information for the next RPL project, if there ever is one.

Rhonda in Montreal left a comment on my review of this pattern over at, suggesting that I try it without the belt, as it would give it a more 20’s look.  So I did that, too.

v2396 side front dartless

I think this works a lot better.  I’m certainly much happier with it.  And just for argument’s sake, here’s a photo of it belted, yet dartless.

v2396 dartless belted

I think I prefer it san ceinture.  Well, I must say I won’t be shy to wear it now.  I’m very glad that the RPL didn’t remember those darts.  And you would have been very proud of how I steamed them, pressed them and weighted them, hoping to get them to behave in the first place!

v2396 full front dartless

It’s definitely got a more 20’s vibe than a Hepburn one, but hey!  At least it’s going to be worn without embarrassment now.  See you on the dance floor!

Remember my bragging?

About the extra yardage in the chocolate I purchased for pants?  Well, I sheepishly admit that I didn’t quite have enough width to cut the pants’ back through the crotch.

Brother.  I guess I’ll just have to piece it, I thought.  😦


Well, I had more than enough cutting scraps left, so I knew I could solve the problem.

First, I made sure the edge of the pants piece was on the straight grain of the fabric.


Then I lapped the extra piece (also cut on the straight grain) over the pants back 1/2” width because I only wanted my seam to be 1/4” total.


Then I proceeded to finish cutting the pants back after pinning the patch to the rest of the piece.

Here it is stitched.

pants piecing

And here are the pants with my piecework completed.  It will not be noticeable when I’m wearing them.

pants pieced

I’m happy that I could salvage the pants with the cutting leftovers.  And next time I’ll be careful to carry on in a blog post about how much I can squeeze out of piece of fabric!

Hepburn Sheath Dress

Well, I cut the dress out of my ‘extra’ chocolate RPL, as noted in my last post.  And I thought I’d share my adjustments. The pattern is very straight.  Sheath dresses usually have some kind of shaping happening in the back, but this pattern is STRAIGHT down the back.  It’s got front and back waist darts to make it fitted, and one set of bust darts.  Well, before cutting, I assumed I’d need to make my usual FBA, and here’s how I did the adjustment.  This differs slightly from my other post on doing an FBA, since this pattern already had darts.

  1. I cut the front of the dress out in muslin.
  2. Then I drew a line parallel to the centre front from the shoulder through the waist darts.
  3. Another line through the centre of the existing bust dare, ending at the bust point.
  4. A horizontal line, exactly perpendicular to the straight grain of the centre front, beginning at the bust point and ending at the front of the pattern.
  5. I marked the quadrants a-b-c-d and shown below.

    quadrants marked for FBA
  6. Then I slashed through the horizontal lines and up through the vertical one to but not through the neckline seam allowance, and s-p-r-e-a-d the quadrants apart (about 1 1/4” in my case) to allow for bust depth and width.
adjusted muslin laid out beneath pattern


Now, technically I should redraft the entire front of the dress, but I’m too lazy, so I laid the adjusted muslin on the fabric and the pattern piece over that at the waist line, which is where the adjustment ends.  You’ll see from above that I also shortened the waist on this dress about 1 1/2”.  I will take a shortcut on the darts and mark them directly on the fabric.  Once it’s all sewn up, I’ll show you a picture.  I didn’t bother making a full muslin, since this type of pattern is straight forward, and I have made many such adjustments before.  Here’s a picture of the full dress front laid out waiting to be cut.

~ ready to cut ~

I’m not really concerned about this failing or fitting ill.  Do you ever take shortcuts in muslins and adjustments on a whim, a hunch or because you think you’ve done it enough times that you don’t need to go through the long arduous process of doing a proper muslin?

Spanish Snap Buttonholes

I love these buttonholes, as they can be used on the fussiest of fabrics – from a loosely woven tweed to a fragile silk – in a variety of sizes.  I thought I’d post some instructions of how to do them.

CUT egg-shaped piece in the fabric you are using for the binding of the buttonholes.  In this example, I used the lining fabric for the coat.  You can use a lining fabric, silk organza or any other tightly woven fabric.

  1. Make a paper template of the egg shape and mark the centre lengthwise. The template needs to be 3″ long by 2″ wide.

    paper snap buttonhole template folded lengthwise
  2. Each piece of buttonhole facing must be cut on the true bias.  This is very important. The centre lengthwise marking on the template must be on the true bias of the facing fabric.

MARK your buttonholes on the wrong side of the fabric.

mark buttonholes on wrong side

ON RIGHT SIDE of front, centre buttonhole facings over the marked buttonholes and pin into place, right sides of fabric together.

egg-shaped facings ready to be stitched

STITCH in a football shape, 1/8″ seam width, tapering to the ends of the marked buttonholes. Stitches must be 1.4 or less in length (or very tiny, in plain English).

stitched buttonhole from right side of garment

The shape must be a football shape – not to narrow and not tapering too suddenly to the ends of the buttonhole.

stitched buttonhole from wrong side of garment

PRESS to set the stitching.

MARK  the ends of the buttonhole stitching with a pin and slash very very VERY carefully.  Do not cut through the stitching.  The pins will prevent clipping into the stitching.

PULL the buttonhole facing through to the wrong side and pull taut quickly (hence the “snap”).


TRIM the buttonhole facings at the front edge of the garment if necessary.

"snapped" buttonholes on wrong side of garment

FINISH the facings of the buttonholes as you would for a bound buttonhole.  I did not do this for the examples posted here, as they are part of the hidden button closure on BurdaStyle 09-2010-101.

completed buttonhole from right side

See how nicely these buttonholes finish up?  I find them less fussy than a traditional bound buttonhole, especially for tweeds and such.  Always make a sample (or two or three) until you are sure of the technique before actually doing one on your garment.