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Tailoring Womenswear

By Di, Apr 20 2017 04:15PM

There doesn't seem to be much written about tailoring for women, this may be because fitting the curves is an added difficulty. For me It's a challenge to be slightly more creative with the design and shaping a garment that's truly individual.

Just before Christmas 2016 I bought a bundle of fabrics from Fabworks Mill that included a country check and a wool Melton that looked great together. These fabrics inspired me to tailor a traditional jacket for myself.

I set about drafting a basic coat block, before adapting it to the design I wanted. I always seem to make life difficult for myself ...a check cloth throws up all the issues in the cut of a pattern! I made a toile, worked on the fit and then experimented with the position and angles of the pockets as well as the front opening. I then use the toile to cut the cloth.

When tailoring I always cut one layer at a time, especially with a stripe or check. It makes matching the check so much easier. However a check must match vertically as well as horizontally, so it needed lots of thought and observation before the shears met the cloth. Once cut I thread traced all the inlays, hems, vents, neckline and armholes.

The first construction process with tailoring is preparing and shaping the canvas. I made the horsehair canvas just slightly wider than the front panel, widening out to the front armscye and extending over the shoulder onto the back. This helps prevent a ridge when adding the shoulder pads. On top I added a chest canvas from the roll line of the lapel across to the armscye and from just above the top button to the shoulder. This is topped with a layer of Domette that the pad stitching will sink into. This triple layer provides the foundation that will shape the coat.

Once the pad stitching was complete I needed to cut darts to create the shape for the bust. I avoid making darts in the canvas in the same place as darts, or in this case a seam, on the main fabric. For women's wear I make 3 darts, one vertically from the waist area, one on angle from the underarm and another from the armscye. To keep the canvas smooth the dart is made edge to edge and over stitched, then covered with a strip of lining.

On the Domette I stick a piece of iron on canvas. What I hadn't realised at this point was the contrast between the black domette and the white cotton would show through the lining I had chosen. I had to use pieces of black habutai to camouflage the white strips.

I tacked the body fabrics together for another fitting so I was sure about how the checks were going to match. In tailoring the front and back sections are made up and lined before stitching the shoulders. The front is usually worked first. I had been going to machine the seams, but found it much easier to match the checks when hand stitching. It needed a lot of patience to match the horizontal stripes and to get the vertical ones balanced as the seam created shape.

At this stage the body canvas is tacked to the front fabric, these stitches stay in for most of the construction process and begin to build in ease and help to stop the front edges from rolling out. I knew I wanted welt pockets with contrasting flaps, two on one side and one on the other. I'd already decided on the position of the pockets just below the waistline, angled up towards the centre front to direct the eye inwards at the waist. However I experimented with the shape of the flaps, this made the decision really quite easy. When designing the jacket I'd considered a breast pocket, but felt it wouldn't sit well with the princess seam and add bulk across the bust.

It was time to really begin to build the jacket. In part 2 I'll discuss making the pockets, creating the lapels and collar.

1 comments
Apr 21 2017 06:23AM by Sonja

What a great post about all those beautiful craftsmen ships.Looking forward to the other posts.

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