Thursday, September 15, 2011

Corduroy Jacket - Construction and Details

I've been sewing up a storm lately, mostly focusing on my corduroy jacket. It's come a long way since you last saw it (and it's buttons), but I haven't had much chance to tell you about it.

It's starting to look like a real jacket!

Ages ago (or so it felt), I got the shell body constructed. I knew right away I was pleased with the fit. It tapers into the waistline, then flairs nicely at the hips. I'm still not pleased with the welt pocket lining showing through, but I'll probably stitch the edges of the pocket closed to help hold up the welt.

I adore the collar. They had you cut the under collar a bit smaller than the upper collar, so that when you sewed them together, the upper collar edges curled under a bit. This has lead to lovely shaping, and it makes me smile every time I look at it. The best part is it's held up to me scrunching it up while handstitching things, or being shoved into a bag for a trip to the fabric stores for buttons and liner and questions, so this bodes well for the future.

Had a heck of a time attaching the first sleeve. The first attempt was disastrous, with the sleeve rotated a bit to the back due to my shoddy notch lining skills. Tore that sucker out and tried again. This time it was a bit more successful, but then I realized that the shoulders were ways too wide for me. Tore that sucker out again and then hacked off about 1 inch from each armhole at the shoulder seam, grading down to the original armhole about half way down. Third time was mostly the charm, and despite some strangeness with the shoulder, I'm done futzing with it. As I mentioned here, I cut a size 18 for the sleeves, and graded to an 18 for the armhole. The sleeve is slightly too big, and it puffs a tiny bit at the back of the shoulder. Also, it looks slightly too big under the arm, so I suspect that I should've just left it at size 16. Oh well, next time.

The second sleeve set in decently in the first try, so I suppose it was worth the trouble with the first.

Looking at the top of the sleeve, the shoulder, and the upper chest, there were quite a lot of wrinkles, and the shoulders looked...limp. After much humming and hawing (and attempts to ignore the fashion atrocities I remember from my childhood), I decided to attempt shoulder pads. This is another technique I've never done, so along with welt pockets, I'm learning a lot with this jacket. I consulting my trusty Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (RD-CGtS), and learned another tailoring technique to accompany the shoulder pads: sleeve headings.

These things are a rectangle of lambs wool or fleece (I used slightly too thick polar fleece - but I think the fabric type depends on what you're main fabric is), sewn just under the seam below the shoulder pad, and helps support the sleeve cap where it attaches to the shoulder (the Sewing Divas discuss it here, although I used a straight heading). I found that the sleeve hung pretty limply from the shoulder when the pad was put in, and the wrinkles sort of ruined the look, but the sleeve heading makes it look much better. Below you can see the difference between one sleeve with shoulder pads and sleeve heading, and one without.

It looks so much better! I suppose that shoulder pads don't deserve the bad rep that the 80's and early 90's gave them. Well, within reason. Also, yes, that's a feather extension in my hair. Got it a month ago, and it's holding up great!

Here's a view of the shoulder pad and my first version of the sleeve head in place. RD-CGtS suggests folding over the fabric like this, but I found that the fleece was too thick, and eventually wound up reducing it to one layer, and clipping it to shape it a bit. I think it looks like my shoulders have a mustache and goatee, eh?

And then last night, despite arguing with myself and telling myself I wasn't going to do it, I decided that my new jacket really did need bound buttonholes. Talk about a skill building jacket.

Note my liquid courage.

Obviously I consulted the RD-CGtS, which gave me about 6 or 7 different methods for making bound buttonholes. I chose the one-piece folded method, which basically just involved taking a measured piece of fabric, folding the edges into the middle, and attempting to accurately sew it to your marked edges on the right side of the fabric, then doing the usual cutting the middle and clipping triangles at the corners, flipping the whole thing inside, sewing down the edges and stitching the lips closed, etc. I was...not so accurate sticking to my markings, but they turned out pretty well. As with the welt pockets, it wasn't nearly as hard or painful as I expected, although that could be because this book is just that awesome. Seriously, keep an eye out for it at your local used bookstore or thrift store (where I found my for a couple dollars), because it is THE best reference book I've found to date, and my reference library is a little ridiculously large.
Sorry for the crummy picture. They look rather horrible here, especially with the markings still evident and the lips sewn shut still, but they look pretty good in person. I'm pleased to have learned another new skill. So far, the count is at:
  1. Welt pockets
  2. Shoulder pads
  3. Sleeve head
  4. Bound buttonholes
OH, and one more thing:

5. French tack (to anchor down the sleeve lining)


  1. Wow, I am really impressed! I still have never attempted shoulder pads, but that looks very nice and tailored!

  2. This was the thinnest shoulder pad I could find for under $3. I think I probably could've used a thicker set, but it turned out alright. I wanted ti for the shaping and supporting the shoulder, and I think they accomplish this. It was actually pretty easy to put in, I just stressed out about it too much, and then didn't pay attention when I finally jumped in. :)

    Shoulder Pads: Not just for the 80's anymore!

  3. Oh, you have done a beautiful job! Very tailored and the cut of the jacket looks great on you!

  4. congratulations on all of those new skills! i love tailoring and am also working on a fall jacket...maybe i, too, will finally attempt to overcome my fear of bound buttonholes :-)

    and that collar does look perfect, fantastic job.

  5. I love the beer in your shots. :) I do it too! Can't wait to see the finished jacket- well-tailored cord jackets are definitely the way to go.


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