interfacing a coat

Well, as sure as there’s sunshine today, I’ve decided on my course of action for my tweed coat.  Thank you to everyone who left a comment!  This isn’t the first coat I’ve tailored, but for some reason I just got stumped about which interfacing route to take.

Anyways, let me tell you how I came to my decision:

I was catching up on my blog reading and clicked through to Pinterest from one of the blogs and, would you believe it, there was this lovely pin on one of Steph C’s boards:How to Interface Jackets: Lessons from an Yves Saint Laurent Garment

This is an Yves Saint Laurent jacket from the 80’s, and shows you one of the methods of interfacing that I was waffling on. Don’t you just LOVE interior pictures like this?!?!

I’ll be using this method, since it will stand up to years of wear and – if the pics in the linked Threads article (click on the picture above or here) are any indication – will keep its shape for at least 20 years.

Happy sewing, everyone!


Waffling on how to go about certain parts of garment construction sometimes really trips me up on productivity.  I’m currently have my Harris tweed dress coat cut and ready to assemble, but I’m undecided about the interlining/underlining. undecided (600x800)

I want this garment to hold up to years of wear without falling out of shape, so I’m using hair canvas, which you can see at the very back of the picture.  I’m making Vogue 8626, View C.

Here’s the options I’m having a tough time choosing between:

  1. V-8626_thumb.jpgInterfacing the bodice back with the interfacing cut on the true bias and (possibly) an extra shoulder piece, depending on the fit.
  2. Should I underline this tweed with silk organza (I don’t want a lot of bulk), trim away all the bias interfacing seam allowances except for the shoulders and armscyes and catchstitch the interfacing to the organza?
  3. Or should I underline each back piece separately and cut a back “shield” for the interfacing ?

And what about the front?  I’m doing bound buttonholes, and will interface the front on the straight grain, but should I interface the entire length of the side fronts on the bias?

Do you ever get stalled on a project because you can’t decide which method to use?  This won’t be the last coat I make, so I guess I could just use this as an experiment and use whatever method I don’t choose on the next one….


SNOW!!!  I have waited since October for snow to fall in this very grey city, and today it was so beautiful!  The flakes were falling in large fluffy clumps as I drove my DD1 to a high school audition.  It was so pretty!IMG_0006Anyways, the real point of this post is a little review of Vogue 8296.  I’ve had this pattern kicking around for years.  V8296aI used to have a long denim skirt along the same lines, and when this pattern was released I bought it for when the RTW skirt wore out. I used thrifted Harris tweed and lined it with poly charmeuse.  This is a heavier lining than I’ve used with tweed skirts in the past.  I usually use bemberg but I find that the scratchiness of the tweed (particularly Harris) makes its way through the bemberg.  The charmeuse is the perfect barrier!  The lining is basically an A-line skirt cut on the bias.  Each of the lower skirt sections are sewn as lapped seams.  I wasn’t originally going to sew it up this way, but after shrinking the tweed I thought it would be a different look from anything else I own.  I left the hem unfinished, too.  I don’t know if this will hold up in the long end, but that’s the way it is for now.  I’m really hoping the weave is dense enough to prevent extensive fraying so I don’t have to stitch along the edge of it. I would like a little bit of fraying at the hemline, but not long-scary-thread fraying.

V8296 waist

The waistband is reinforced with grosgrain.  I fell stitched the bottom of the ribbon through all layers, just barely catching the fashion fabric like a subtle bit of understitching.  It worked beautifully.

V 8296 topstiching

I finished up this skirt last week and wore it twice, but decided that it needed a little something extra.  So I outlined the skirt seams with a dot stitch (aka rice grain stitch) in red DMC embroidery cotton.

Flickr slide show

And that’s the end of winter skirts around here.  Having all these skirt options has made me realize my closet is extremely limited in the tops department.

Harris Tweed from where?!

VV tweed finds
Harris tweed & wool plaid

I’ve always been intrigued by fellow bloggers’ thrift finds, especially of the sewing kind.  My local Salvation Army and Value Village carry a lot of linens, but nothing that looks like I’d like to introduce it to my living space.  However, out of curiosity, and with a couple of free hours last Friday morning between appointments and waiting for my kids’ summer camps to end,  I popped into a very large VV that is not in my neighbourhood.  Mostly out of curiosity, mind you, and with not much faith that I’d actually find something interesting.  I was game to look through the enormous store just to see what they had and entertain myself until responsibility called again.

Imagine my surprise at finding Harris tweed (on the left above).  Now, I have no way of knowing for sure if this is the real deal, as there was no label attached, but here’s my arguments in favour.  First, the weave is fairly dense and identical to all the Harris that I have in my stash, purchased directly from weavers in the Outer Hebrides.  Second, it’s only a single width (35″ wide), which is a very odd width to find in tweed anywhere, and is very typical of Harris tweed.  You can purchase it in a double width, which is more around 60″ or more if you like, but the traditional weaving width of Harris is the single width.  And there’s about 3 yards of it, to boot!  It also has little bits of what I call “extraneous wool” fibres here and there that I’ve also noticed is a characteristic of the Harris that I’ve in my stash.

The plaid on the right is not Harris tweed, but a medium-weight wool that I will probably make into a circle skirt.  There is about 4 yards of it, and it’s 60″ wide – enough to match pattern if I decide to make a jacket instead.  There was wool crepe, a moth-eaten hand-embroidered real cashmiri pashmina, various sorts of lining and cotton velveteen, to mention just a few other treats in the store.  Oh, and a couple of fur coats in excellent condition that I didn’t buy, but inspected very closely.

So I must say, I’m no longer skeptical about thrift fabric finds in my (driving) area.  I think I might make it a regular thing… when I’m not working hard stash bustin’!

Bette Boop is the parting shot for today.  It’s an offshoot of the original in my grandmother’s prairie garden that apparently came over from Switzerland in the mid 1800’s with her grandmother.  I always have a dickens of a time getting it to bloom, and am thrilled that it’s happy to do just that this year.

bette boop
Bette Boop

Tweed, tweed and more tweed

I’m in love.  With Harris tweed.  What can I say?  I just love it.  It shapes well.  It’s so darn pretty to look at.  It’s got body. And it smells so satisfysingly woolly when I steam it.

I made up Vogue 8295, View D out of Harris Tweed in a mixed brown that looks very “tweedy”.  I really liked all the full tweed skirts at Louis Vuitton this fall, so I thought I’d make one for myself.  It’s such a classic look that I wanted to make it out of something that would last a long time.  Hence my choice of tweed.  I chose the pattern with the yoke because I didn’t have enough tweed to do a proper full circle skirt, and I did not want any bulk around my waist or hips (no gathers, please!)


Vogue 8295 presents some fitting issues for me.  As you can see from the photos below I am swaybacked, that is, my pelvis rolls backwards.  This creates a curve in my back and rolls my front waist lower.

PB210003PB210005On a skirt, there’s two ways to fix this problem: 1) hem it evenly all round using a ruler and measuring the length of the hem from the floor; or 2) adjust thecut of the skirt at the waist so it hangs straight and true to grain.  This is always my choice because the seams are then perpendicular to the floor and the integrity of the fabric grain is not compromised.

How to do this…  Well, I trimmed 1” from the front of the yoke, which is the difference in length between the back and front hems usually for me.


This adds some width in the waist, though, because in effect I’m making the top of the yoke about 2 or 3 inches larger.  So I needed to trim the sides of the front yoke about 1” each, tapering to the bottom of the yoke.  Once this is done, the skirt can be stitched up and there’s no need for fussing with an uneven hem.


Quite the ’70’s look, don’t ya think?

BurdaStyle 09/2010 #101

Well, here it is!  Finally finished and modeled for the world to see!

I think she’s pleased!  I cut this pattern one full size bigger than her measurements dictated as I want her to wear it for a couple of years before I have to make another one.  I must say, this coat was a LOT of work.  Sometimes I get impatient for the finish line, but that always makes for regrets, so when I started to get impatient, I’d do something else.  Five or ten minutes here or there took care of the seemingly endless hand sewing in this pattern.

But the hand sewing was my choice, and is not suggested in the instructions.  The hidden button closure was a bit intense – you can read about it in a previous post – and required topstitching on the outside to hold the facing in place.  I wanted the stitching to be as invisible as possible, so I did it by hand.

This coat was a bit labour intesive.  I underlined the bodice with silk organza and used a light-weight horsehair interfacing on the facings, shoulders, armscyes, sleeve cuffs and hem.  I originally thought I’d just use a fusible wool interfacing, but IT WOULD NOT FUSE TO THE TWEED.  Yup.  Go figure.  Then I thought I’d fuse it to the underlining.  Nope.  So that made me wonder if the fusible glue of interfacing deteriorates with age. I was surprised it wouldn’t fuse to the organza, although I wasn’t surprised about the tweed.  Have you ever had this problem?

Anways, here’s some more pictures of the coat for your entertainment!

~ coat open ~

You can see in the shoulders here that I’ve cut the coat a bit big for her to grow into.

~ front closed ~

And the ties are wonderful – although the difference in length once they’re tied is slightly annoying to the perfectionist in me.

And the best part?  Fell-stitching this wonderful label into the coat.

Are you superstitious in your sewing?  If you have labels, do you sew them in as you go along à la prêt-à-porter, or do you hand sew them in after the garment is completed à la couture?  I must confess, I follow the couture rule.  I am not a superstitious person by anybody’s stretch of the imagination, but there’s just a special something about hand-sewing your labels in once a garment is completed. (And what if some disaster befell the project prior to completion just because I did sew in the label early?!?)

Working with a dream fabric…

…. makes all the difference.  Wow.  I’m LOVING Harris tweed.  (Yup, that’s purple, bold, italicized and capital letters love!)  It’s got a lovely woolly fragrance when it’s pressed.  It shapes beautifully and sews easily, and it’s super easy to to hidden hand-stitches I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything much lately.  It’s really hard to find time to sew in my household sometimes.  However, I was able to sew up a storm Monday this week and today, so I’ve got something to show you all!

I spent Monday underlining and interfacing BurdaStyle 09-2010-101, which I’m making for DD1 out of lovely Harris tweed.

B 09-2010-101 underlining

Here’s a back piece ready to be hand basted into place.  I used silk organza to underline the tweed and a light-weight horsehair interfacing.  Here I am, busy as a bee….Sorry it’s blurry – DH took the picture.  I think I’m catchstitching the interfacing to the hem of the undersleeves.  You can see how far I got on the coat on Monday, as it’s on the dress form behind me.  I managed to get the fronts and back stitched, and the sleeves put together and steam shaped.  All the pieces are pinned to the dress form separately, as I’ve not put them together at this point as I needed to complete the hidden buttonholes, and I didn’t have the buttons.  Needless to say, no buttons, no buttonholes!

Pre-shrinking wool fabric

Well, I know there’s at least a dozen really great websites and posts about how to do this, and I must confess my absolute ignorance on this subject until this past weekend.  I’ve never done it before.  I never thought it was necessary, and I’ve never had any wool garment shrink on me either washed at home or by the dry cleaners.

But I thought I’d do this “properly” for DD1’s Harris tweed coat.  So I read the advice of Pam at Off-the-Cuff, and totally enjoyed reading through the posts at The Cutter and Tailor’s forum on pre-shrinking wool.  In the end, I decided I’d go with Pam’s procedure.

  • I put a 100% cotton sheet into my washing machine on the rinse cycle until it was soaked through.
  • Then I spun it completely.
  • Wrapped the tweed in the wet sheet.
  • Put the whole package into the dryer  on high heat for 40 minutes.

And I was pleasantly surprised to see that the sheet was still damp, and the fabric had suffered no harm whatsoever.  So now I’ll be pre-shrinking all my wools, just to be “doing it properly”, you know.  🙂  Not sure about cashmere, though……

This is how UFO’s happen


Mint Harris Tweed


Well, I’m starting another pile of Unfinished Objects.  The first is a winter coat for my DD1 from Harris tweed!  YAY!  I love Harris tweed.  I was first introduced to it when a very good friend of mine asked me to re-line his Harris jacket.  I was amazed at the fabric.  The lining was completely worn out, but the fabric looked like it was new.  I just had to make something with that famous fabric.

I ordered Mint from Harris Tweed and Knitwear, and they promptly sent it off.  Unlucky for me, but Canada Post decided to show off it’s poor customer service, and sent the package back to Scotland because they didn’t like the way the sender’s forms were filled out; and they blamed Canada Customs, of course.  However, the company very graciously sent out another package with other samples and it arrived within 5 business days!   The picture doesn’t do justice to the colour.  DD1 is very pleased with it, and after purusing my Burda Style for September, decided she liked style #101.  I traced out the pattern today, and used the London method to pre-shrink the tweed (more on this tomorrow).  Then I put it aside on my sewing table because I don’t have flannel to underline it, and I need to purchase lining.


Burda 09-2010-101


So, I turned to a project that has languished for the last 3 winters.  It’s green cashmere from The Wool House in the Fashion District.  They don’t have a website, but here’s a map in case you’re ever in Toronto.  I didn’t splurge on the amount of fabric, so I cut out a lapel-less jacket from an old OOP Vogue Pattern by Ungaro.


Vogue 2017


I stopped after cutting out the jacket, the lining and the silk organza underlining.  I cannot remember why I didn’t complete it, but I left it to gather dust for about 9 months, and then shook it off and put it away with the rest of my wool stash.  And because I couldn’t go any further with my DD1’s tweed coat, I thought I might as well work on this.  The colour’s all washed out in this picture, mainly because it’s dark outside, and the lighting in my makeshift sewing room consists of a single floor lamp that has a yellowish tinge.


silk organza underlining hand-basted to cashmere


So there you have it… I got rid of one pile of UFO’s, and now I’ve started a new one.  Do you do this, too, or are you super disciplined and complete a project prior to cutting out another one?