Thanks to having a well-earned week off recently, I’m now really ploughing on with my 1930s winter jacket. I’m at the stage where I’ve attached the lining, but everything needs a lot of pressing before finishing everything off. Therefore, I thought I’d share a few of the processes I’ve been through to create the main part of the jacket.
Initially, and with all my sewing projects, I made a mock up in calico. I added a little bit extra to all of the side seams and down the centre back because the pattern was two sizes smaller than my size. This worked out brilliantly and fitted me really well. The only adjustment I then had to make before cutting out the real thing was to add a bit extra into the arm seams. These were a bit tight once I’d put on a jumper and, as this is for the colder months, I needed to make sure I could wear several layers underneath.
Next it was on to getting all my supplies. I needed melton fabric for the under collar, collar canvas, chest canvas, tailor’s shoulder pads and silk thread. I managed to find all of this, minus the thread, on the Barry Rogers School of Sewing website at a really good price.
If you’ve not heard of this site before, Barry Rogers and his team offer all sorts of sewing, pattern cutting and millinery courses in Southampton, UK. I’m currently waiting for their summer dates to come out for next year because I’m really interested in one of their millinery courses.
The first job was to create the under collar. This is one of the big tailoring processes I was really looking forward to as it’s all hand sewing apart from the centre seam. When I interned with a tailor I did quite a few of these and it was a job I really enjoyed as it was very relaxing.
The under collar is always cut on the bias and the classic fabric to use for this is melton. You can buy melton under collar pieces already cut on the bias, so you don’t have to buy a whole metre of the stuff. You start by having two pieces on top of each other, marking the pattern out with tailor’s chalk and drawing in the roll line. Once this is done, you cut the two pieces out, sew a seam down the longer straight side and press it open.
Next the melton is attached to the collar canvas, which again is bias cut and can be bought as pieces. You can see how I’ve marked the roll line on both sides and tacked the melton just above this line. This allows movement of the collar stand as you progress with the padding stitching.
After lots and lots of hand stitching over the roll line, the collar stand, and the collar itself, the collar ends up resembling more of the intended shape. You create this by a series of well placed padding stitches which you do whilst gently rolling the collar as you go along. Once this is all done, and the collar is pressed and steamed, it will always retain this shape, creating a beautifully tailored collar.
If you’re interested in learning more about this process, have a watch of the video above by The Yorkshire Tailor. It’s exactly the process that I was taught and it was a great little reminder of each step. And if you’re really interested in learning more about traditional tailoring Rory Duffy is the guy to watch on YouTube.
Next up was the chest canvas, which again is masses of hand sewing. Unlike fusible interfacing, this gives the front sections of the jacket copious amounts structure, so it always looks crisp. Without this the jacket will look much more casual, and will lose its sharp lines over time.
The vertical stitches attach the canvas to the main fabric by just catching a thread each time so it doesn’t show through. This was the same technique I used when attaching a cotton interlining to my purple 1930s coat. The main parts of the two fronts probably took me the best part of three hours to do.
The vertical lines stop at the lapel roll line, which actually wasn’t marked on the pattern, so were a bit of a guess. I think I actually made them a bit higher than they should be but this allows for more buttons and a closer fit around the neck, which is great for protecting against the cold. The roll line itself is tacked with a stay tape to make sure this always rolls in the correct place.
The lapel was then pad stitched in the same way as the collar, gently rolling it over as you stitch. I have to admit my padding stitch isn’t all the neat but I’m rather out of practice these days. It does the job though, shaping the lapel correctly, so I’m not too worried.
The last piece of internal canvassing that I attached was a half back canvas. A well tailored suit jacket would often have a full back canvas or would be stiffened with fusible interfacing, however, my 1930s sewing book suggested a half back canvas to create structure just over the shoulders. I thought this would be a good idea for this jacket because I wanted it to look as crisp as possible but the waist needs to move freely as it will be pulled in with a belt. I then added strips of fusible interfacing along the hem to make sure this ended up nice and sharp too.
And this is what it looked like after all this was achieved. The under collar is just resting in place at this point as this is added later. Next it was onto the pockets, which I attached by hand (yep, more hand sewing!), interfaced the cuffs with fusible interfacing, sewed the sleeves together and set them in place.
The next job was the lining. It took me ages to find exactly the lining I wanted to use. I knew I wanted something that contrasted with the main fabric but also added a bit of fun to it. In the end I went for this amazing gold paisley jacquard satin from Clothspot which is quite possibly the most wonderful lining ever! It’s quite a heavy lining but is still very drapey, so it’s a breeze to work with and it’s so lovely against your skin.
The photo above shows the lining attached to the lapel facing. It actually doesn’t look like they go at all here but there is a line of gold running through the check design which is identical in colour to the lining. I absolutely love it, it gives it a real shock of colour when you open it up.
Before attaching the lining to the main jacket I cut out and tacked each lining piece with domette interlining. Domette is a traditional interlining usually used in curtains but it is also used in clothing to add warmth and bulk. As my fabric was more like a suit weight wool I wanted to use an interlining to not only make it warmer but also to give it the appearance of an outerwear garment, rather than a suit jacket.
Although you can buy curtain domette in places like John Lewis for about £5/m, I decided to buy mine from English Couture Company to make sure it was the correct weight for clothing. It was more expensive but I really didn’t want to end up looking like I’d created some sort of suit/puffa jacket hybrid!
The lining pieces were then all sewn together and the lining and upper collar were attached to the main jacket. I’m now in the process of top stitching the collar and lapel by hand, then it’s onto hand sewing the hem and the cuffs. My buttons and buckle are also in the process of being made by the fabulous London Button Company in a beautiful chocolate brown leather that I bought from Pittards. I’m so excited to see them, I’ve been told they look incredible. Once they arrive I can then get everything finished so I can finally wear it., which of course is the best part!