from the Tailor’s Front

After dragging my feet in the sewing room for what seems to have been an eternity, I decided to delve into Gertie’s online Starlet Suit Jacket course via Craftsy. At first I thought to my little old self that I had lost a bit of my sanity. I mean, its long work to tailor a jacket. It’s been a couple of years since last I tailored something and somehow, I don’t seem to remember enjoying it all that much. So its way weird that I’m taking so much pleasure in it right now.

Initially I muslined up the pattern. I’ll admit that I feel the pattern has some rather interesting issues (non fitting related), and after the muslin I did think about tossing it out, but it does have such a cute shape and Mr. S was like “Get in there (my sewing room) and fix it!” Ok, Ok so my mister is a total tease, but he was still pretty stern. It probably would have been a good idea to actually muslin the entire jacket, lining included, but I’m much too lazy for that, so I did what I could for it and hopefully it all comes out in the wash. If it doesn’t, I will cry and I’ll take a picture of me crying and that’s just not pretty.

I picked up this black cotton boucle (yes, its totally 100% cotton) from Yellow Bird for it. At first, knowing me, I was thinking I would go with something outrageous, a color or even a plaid. Then I saw this black cotton boucle (at least I think its boucle) and then my brain started recalling things like how I need more of those pieces that yeah, they make a statement, but they go with everything. It was then and there that I decided that I needed a black jacket, even a black pencil skirt from same said fabric and a pair of cotton sateen Clovers to complete my dark and evil plan for a three piece suit that will go with everything but yet will be comfortable to wear. Yes. Now we come to this. Tailoring the jacket.

So, even though my fabric may look thick, its actually more of a medium weight and has a rather fabulous drape and its extremely soft, comfortable and breathable. I was thinking Spring/Summer/Early Fall. So I didn’t opt to use hair canvas because 1) I didn’t have a lightweight option nearby, 2) hair canvas can actually be quite hot and its nearly summer and I intend to wear this thing, and 3) hair canvas can be rather stiff and that kind of makes me feel a little stuffy and well stiff. So I went with a high quality premium muslin instead. Its more pliable and less stiff than hair canvas, and its been a great alternative to the hair canvas in my opinion. So anyway, that’s what you see here, padstitched muslin. And, PS I do realize that my padstitching and muslin extend into the seamline, but as per the videos that part was somewhat missing until it was too late, so I’m keeping it just in case the padstitching all comes apart from one little clip.

And then after all that, there’s all the handwork I’ve done to these jacket fronts. Bound buttonholes, taping the roll line, uneven basting, temporary basting, padstitching the lapel and taping the edge. I wasn’t really looking forward to doing all of it either, but the way crazy thing is, it is sooooooo satisfying. My work here ain’t perfect, but I’m telling you, tailoring is really satisfying. Oh my gosh. The other night, when I was finishing up to go to bed, I just felt so satisfied. I know, I keep saying that, but that is the best word for it. Satisfaction.

Well, Ok Ok, I was totally satisfied until I reached the welt pockets. Readers, these puppies strike fear into my heart! Seriously. I’ve never really mustered the courage to do a welt pocket and now I know why. What was even worse, is that though I felt Gertie’s instructions were quite good and we were going along all great and dandy, it was AFTER she had cut and slashed the pocket – meaning that I had just cut and slashed the pocket too – that she sheepishly mentioned that we all should have interfaced the pocket opening from the very beginning AND that it would be mentioned at the beginning of the video as they went through and made edits, but yet it wasn’t mentioned at the beginning of the video. What’s worse is that my pocket was in serious need of interfacing. I muddled through, and actually applied interfacing anyway, restitched the pocket to the front of the jacket and then recut the pocket slash in the interfacing, but boy, I really wasn’t happy. In the end, I think they turned out alright. They could be better with practice, which I plan to do, but for what I ended up having to do with them, I think they’re pretty good. I opted to stitch down the welts instead of leaving them flopping about and I probably should have done this by hand, but I was a bit mad about the whole thing and rather angrily shoved the thing into my machine and hastily stitched down the silly flaps.

So all this to show what I’ve been up to. Oh and Mr. S fixed my computer (he’s crazy good at stuff like that) – though I confess that I’ve had my share of surprises, but I think we’ve got it all under control now. Did you have a good weekend? Work on anything fun? Satisfying?

for the most part, satisfied,


33 thoughts on “from the Tailor’s Front

  1. Bravo for tackling some tailoring again! Although I find it fascinating (and I do love hand sewing), I’ve decided that at this point in my life the tailored garments I actually need (especially since I have an alarmingly large collection of vintage coats) is relatively small (if nonexistent). Which is sad, but I’m trying so hard to stay focused on making things I’ll use! (Like you and that three piece suit!) I cannot wait to see how this turns out, along with the skirt and Clovers. Dang, lady–you’re going to look sharp!

  2. I am really glad you’re doing more tailoring as I absolutely love your work at this level. Very, very inspiring. I also plan to make the Starlet Suit later in the year, so will watch your experiences with keen interest!

  3. It looks wonderful so far. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!! I have purchased the class, but have decided to wait until I have a good bit more sewing experience.

  4. I am just about to start my starlet jacket and had a super quick question. Where did you get your high quality premium muslin? I was considering the same thing, as my jacket is out of a lightweight wool garbadine, and I want it to be a cool as possible. Thanks!
    Your’s looks great so far. I’m pretty sure that I’m muslining at least one of the welt pockets and a couple of the bound buttonholes for the practice. (And I think that the welt portion of the pocket is a little too wide for the jacket, but can’t tell 100% unless i actually make the pocket :).)

    1. Shockingly, I mean I nearly fell over, I found some at Joann of all places. It was the $6 a yard stuff and it was really tightly woven and the bolt I found was a really great weight. If you’re having a hard time finding some locally, check out Fashion Sewing Supply’s cotton sew-in interfacing:

      I have some of this and it would have worked splendidly too (which is why I totally didn’t think of it until just now….) I’m using their pro weft medium weight interfacing for parts like the buttonholes, pockets, hem and facings and let me just tell you, this stuff is the kind of interfacing you dream about. I simply can’t RECOMMEND them enough, which also reminds me that in my next post I will recommend them!

      Definitely muslin the jacket. Believe me, you won’t regret that move! Also, I would recommend watching and reading the comments for both methods of interfacing first (hand and fusible) and definitely muslin at least one welt pocket and be sure to take video notes like when and where to apply interfacing if that was left out at the beginning.

      1. Sunni! Thanks for all the information. I’m 100% muslining the jacket- after reading K-line’s post I realized that it was supremely neccessary. While muslining, I’m actually watching all the videos (just finished watching the welt pocket one). I am going to Joann’s this afternoon anyway to get some notions and twill tape so I’ll hunt down the muslin there. I actually put in an order for interfacing from fashion sewing supply a couple hours ago for the fusible interfacing. Can’t wait to see the end result!

  5. Your buttonholes AND welt pockets look beautiful. So sorry you had that interface moment. I’m sure you will have a gorgeous finished product. You are an excellent tailor and your experience will take you through the process well.

  6. Good to know that the class is a little funky! I found that with her bombshell class it was really helpful to watch each segment before actually sewing it. Kind of time consuming I suppose but totally worth it. I really love your fabric choice though, it will be so nice!

  7. This fabric looks gorgeous! I have to say, I love black garments when they are well made and in a nice tone of black. And a black jacket is like the easiest thing in the world to wear. So hang in there, it will be great! I hear you about welt pockets. I’ve sewn them a couple of times, more recently for my spring jacket. I have to say, one wrong clip can make or break it. I had to apply liquid no-fray on some of the corners because it wasn’t slashed quite right and it was fraying a little – not sure if it would come totally undone in the long run but in doubt, i just no-frayed the heck out of it…I’m sure your pockets will turn out fine. I know what it’s like to be a perfectionist and be frustrated by little details but look at the bigger picture and you’ll see how great of a job you’ve done! Anyway, enough with the pep talk, i can’t wait to see the finished result!!

  8. I’m so glad to hear someone say that they love tailoring. It makes me feel less of a freak! Not only is it satisfying, but it connects us to a long history of craftsmanship and caring about how clothes are actually engineered. Thanks for sharing your progress so far. It’s looking great. BTW I just made my first garment with interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. It truly is amazing stuff, and about as far away from the crappy fusible stuff available at JoAnn’s as you can get.

  9. Looks amazing so far. And I need a nap after reading! Whew! One day I may develop the patience to work on a project for more than a day or two, but for now my favorites are nap-time-length!

    I can’t wait to see the finished product!

  10. Your jacket is looking good so far. And, I hear you on the the pattern issues and lack of organized instructions. I wish these classes came with a pdf that outlined the basic steps and pointed out the techniques that were showcased in the videos. Those extras would not devalue the videos, but they would ensure that you didn’t have to keep watching and watching and watching the same video just to make sure you’d caught all of the steps. And, if not, they should re-film certain sections so that we don’t follow an incorrect step. I’d love to hear all that you had to do to get the muslin to work for you… I’ve made a lot of progress thanks to a jacket fitting video I found online, but I still have an issue with the sleeves. I lack the experience to know that I’m not screwing something up as I’m trying to fix it! Good luck to you. Take deep breaths and be all zen about your amazing tailoring skills!

  11. i totally agree with your description of tailoring–not looking forward to it, but ultimately satisfying. and i think you’ll be completely ok with the muslin you used as interfacing being in the seam allowances. i actually tailor that way on purpose, per an instructor of mine, and it works brilliantly. can’t wait to see your finished product! that fabric looks killer and all of the work really shows.

  12. Your tailored jacket is coming out amazing.
    I am working on a half-size jacket and its kind of driving me nuts. The teacher has giving us wrong information and the book we are using is just as bad at times. It can be so very frustrating, but there is a level of satisfaction when you finish a task in making a tailored jacket.

    Can’t wait to see a finished product. Also can’t wait to I am finished.

  13. ooooh the button holes and welt pocket looks gorgeous!! i’ve done welts before (they can be fiddly) but bound button holes strike fear in my heart! i can’t wait to see the finished result and props to you for getting back on the (sewing) horse, especially with tailoring which is currently my nemesis!

  14. I would have been so mad about the interfacing direction being left out! I’m mad on your behalf! Amy’s idea of PDF steps is a great idea.

    1. I agree, and I think the PDF would be a great idea, though I think it would be a very long PDF. I was pretty mad, but then again, maybe I should have watched the whole thing before I just jumped in.

  15. HI there,
    Good luck with this jacket. I had to throw in the towel and walk away from my muslin. I worked on it for 3 weeks to no avail. I was very excited about this class because I loved the style of the jacket. I hate to say it but the pattern is poorly drafted. Watch out when you get to the lining. It does not fit in properly. I was so frustrated after 2 attempts to contact Gertie I contacted Craftsy and they gave me a refund.

    1. I have to admit, rather sadly, that I agree. I did notice the problems with the lining and I’ve done what I can for it, without having made up a muslin of the lining, but I guess we’ll see huh? The style of the jacket is so cute! Gah! But yes, I agree there are some serious problems that are definitely drafting related.

  16. Oh i am SO glad you’re doing this! LOL I am way too much of a newbie to even attempt this project yet, but I was hoping to maybe take a swing at it later this year. I am SO gonna copy your amazing idea for tailored basic black pieces that will all look stellar together! (I’m a sucker for black anyway) and can I say, that black boucle is GORGEOUS!! 😀 I can’t wait to see the finished piece; it’s already so beautiful! 🙂

    Thanks so much for the tip on the welt pockets! I’m definitely going to watch the whole thing first, and take notes, before I even buy my fabric! LOL

  17. Thanks for sharing these pictures. They are very beautiful and inspiring! I can’t believe all of the work you’ve put into the jacket already, but it really shows in the construction. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the process.

  18. oh my goodness, I would be absolutely raging about the interfacing confusion if I were you! Not like the charming, restrained person that you sound like. Your jacket and handiwork look great thus far, so I wish you Godspeed in creating a jacket you love!

  19. Sunni- as I’ve been muslining my jacket and thinking about the badly drafted lining, I think that I’m going to base my lining off of the jacket pieces instead of the actual lining pieces. I’ve figured if I sew with smaller seam allowances on the lining, then it will give it the ‘extra’ space it theoretically needs. I’ve also decided to add a bit at the center back which will be the pleat (about an inch total). I hope that it takes care of the lining issues. I have also found a jacket pattern in my pattern collection Butterick B5333 which is super similar in shape that if the jacket muslins fail, I have a back up pattern that I can merge to hopefully make a cute jacket. I will say that I don’t know why I was so scared of bound buttonholes and welt pockets. They aren’t nearly as scary as I thought they were. I did change the welt though- it’s now about 7/8ths” and is not slanted. It looks nice and is more in line with my RTW jackets (of which I have way to many- something about having to wear a suit jacket almost every day for work). Anyway- I hope to finish my first muslin early next week and then go from there. (I have a side seam to sew and the collar and facings to still put in, but am traveling this weekend. I hope that it works!)

    1. Thank you! There’s actually not white trim anywhere on the jacket, just the padstitching in muslin. Also, I purchased the fabric from Yellow Bird Fabrics, which is a local fabric shop here in SLC, UT. Best of luck with your jacket!

      1. Ohhhhh! A good lesson to not trust my phone for detailed photos. And thanks to you, I now know cotton boucle exists, and have found it in a few online shops. I need to check G Street Fabrics, too.

        Cant wait o see both finished

  20. Awhile back I did my jacket with Gertie. I had trouble with the pockets staying down with hand stitching on the edges so I went and machine sewed them down like you did I found they were just not staying with hand stitches. Also I had fits with the front curved section that goes in the bodice area, I had to put in gathering stitches to get that to fit in there. My lining too was a learning experience I’ve never had so much trouble and will never put in sleeves again by hand. I have put in lots of linings in my life but this one was difficult for me. It was good for me to do it as I learned a whole lot and can get a real good drop pleat in my linings now. Nan

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