Sew along Pt 4...basting, sleeve matching and a first fitting

Sew along Pt 4...basting, sleeve matching and a first fitting

I find quilting to be one of the nicest stages of a French jacket,  when you see those beautiful rows ,  it feels like such a accomplishment!

Mine came together so easily this time,  I even added extra rows to mirror the squares on the fashion fabric...its the first time I have strayed from straight lines and I really like it!

Below  is my back piece with the stitching running alongside the blue basting threads (before ironing)  I ended up working with  a 7 tension and a 5 stitch, and both sides are laying nice and smoothly...

When you are happy with your quilting , and all the tails have been tied along the top and sides,  you can fold your lining in on itself, so that your basting threads  are exposed...mine are shown in red...

Secure it well with pins,  you don't want your lining to get caught when you start to sew your seams.

Before I start assembling my jacket,  I like to lay out all the quilted pieces onto a table and double check that each is marked correctly, notches are in the right place, the right side is up etc.    It always surprises me how many ways I can pin and sew things that don't belong together!

When you are sure its all in order, start pinning the pattern pieces together.

You can at this point trim down your seams to a more manageable length...try not to go below 2" on the bodice and 1" on the arm seams, also don't cut anything off the armseye and shoulder seams , they will be used folded to mimic sleeve heads/shoulder pads.

There are a couple of things to remember about basting these jackets for a first fitting...

Use a large machine stitch to join the seams.  

Do not back stitch at the beginning or end,  if you need adjustments after fitting,  its best to  remove the stitches with as little strain to the wool as possible.

Do not hand sew your seams...   Wool is by nature fairly pliable, and a  hand stitch would allow the wool to stretch when you  try it on.  You need it to mimic the  final jacket  in every way possible for a good fit.

Do not sew the shoulder seams closed.   These should just be pinned for fitting....the jacket will need to be laid flat for  fell stitching and removing stitches from such a small area weakens it. 

Start to sew  just below the seam and finish a stitch or two past, that way if you do start to  unravel,  you still have a full garment to fit.  

and when you have a sewn  bodice and pinned shoulder seams,  its time for the sleeves. 



If anyone has made a regular non matching sleeves, you can baste your seams closed now ...large stitch, pin the lining to itself, exactly the same rules as above.

If you need to match your fabric for your sleeves now is the time to do it....I will first refer you back to Sunni at a Fashionable Stitch , I think she has written one of the best tutorials available.

At this point, hopefully, you can accept that not every line will match (it hurts I know!)  which means you will need to decide which are your important ones.

I generally put my bodice on the dress form, (or use a hanger) and  pin the front  pieces firmly closed.....then I stand back and see where my eye is drawn..

My jacket is a little different in design, the sleeve extends to the neckline  but you can see  from the picture below that the obvious areas are the upper bust and sleeves on the front,  and the sleeves and shoulders on the back.

To pattern match my sleeves to the bodice , I use my muslin as a template and pin it exactly to the fabric where the sleeve would attach.

(I am as I have mentioned mostly self taught, so if anyone has a better  technique, please let me know!)

Then using a pencil, I mark very carefully where I need my lines to fall.  Once I have the general idea, I lay the pattern out on my fabric and play around.  Make sure you do both sides individually, they will not be exactly the same.

I think  that again,  this is one of the times that having no seam allowance is invaluable...I know I can't possibly match the fabric exactly with just some pencil marks , but  I can build  in  two inches or more around the entire piece so that I have room for adjustments.

The left side  below is before and the right side is after I moved the took little more than a half inch to level it to the bodice  but its made all the difference...if I'd only had 5/8" standard seam allowance  I would have needed to recut the entire sleeve (all below are just seam pinned sleeves,  it will look a little crisper when sewn!)

There is a stripe on  the upper  back sleeve that will not match up because of the pattern design , but I think I will be able to unravel some of the white wool and actually continue the stripe myself onto the back piece,  also my jacket does have a collar which could possibly  hide it...I like that I have options should it become obvious though.

Once I have a perfectly aligned sleeve, I go ahead and quilt...I learnt a few jackets ago that its best to double check the fit before putting extra work into it.



Boucle as a rule is thick, which makes it technically quite challenging to sew in small tight places.

A  puckered or lumpy shoulder seam  or armseye is very noticable, and its hard to get that smooth flawless finish when you work from the inside of the jacket using a sewing  machine.

In order to achieve that beautifully fitted sleeve, everything is controlled from the outside.   It's so counter intuitive it takes a while for it to make sense, but the results are just stunning.  

I will do my usual over posting with  lots of pictures and details when we come to the  final construction of the sleeves  as thats my posting week but for fitting purposes now, its good to practice and  pin them as they will be eventually sewn this way.

The upper arm is sewn  by hand from the outside and the lower underarm is completed by machine on the final jacket but for now it can all be pinned from the outside, but if you prefer,   other options could include sewing a small basting stitch by hand from the inside or using a sewing machine and a very large stitch from the inside.

Find the middle of the upper part of the sleeve and the middle of the shoulder seam on the bodice and pin them together folding  the seam allowances under. (pictures below are from a previous make) 

and pin the entire sleeve into place.   I have suggested the middle just as a guide, once you have tried the  jacket on you will see and feel if that sleeve needs to rotate and where...and if they still  don't feel right, check you have pinned the right side on the right arm  and the left to the left..I've made that mistake to!!

Recently I have got into the habit of slipping  just the sleeves on my arms before I pin them to the jacket..... they will naturally find a place that feels comfortable ,  then I just put a pin right at the top in the middle and use that as my notch to match the  bodice shoulder seam.

Do spend time just playing around, you can't get it wrong at this stage, and the more comfortable you are with this method the easier the final stitching will be  :-)

and when everything is in place, put that baby on!   Don't be surprised if it feels tight or "off" at first, its got linings pinned and seams open everywhere....nothing should be graded or steamed yet....your body heat will  help make the wool relax after a minute or two and this helps settle things down...

So now its time to start the slow process of potential fit adjustments.  Pin the front closed using your basting threads as a guide, pull your sleeves and back so that its hanging correctly....are your grainline guides still straight?  do you feel good?

At this point just start to be aware of areas that need to be altered...and make a note.

Next week, both Inna and I will be doing posts on our personal fitting issues and how to adjust them.

As of now, I know I will be doing a regular post Monday, but I imagine Inna will do her fitting post Monday on her blog and I will follow with mine midweek.

Send questions as always in the comments, happy to help!

and although this is completely unrelated to any kind of sewing, I wanted to share.....Its touching how star struck everyone is , just lovely.

Sew along Pt 5...fittings, muslin correction and some extra sleeve patterns...

Sew along Pt 5...fittings, muslin correction and some extra sleeve patterns...

Some quilting thoughts...and one amazing jacket!

Some quilting thoughts...and one amazing jacket!