Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back where I started

Ripping and testing and re-sewing are not my favorite sewing activities, but sometimes you just have to force yourself to do them.  In fact, I rip and re-sew quite a lot because I'm a perfectionist.  However the ripping done on this coat is far beyond what I'd normally expect to do in a given sewing project.

I basically wasted 2 sewing days ripping out what I had sewn, making changes and then advancing back to where I should have been last week.  Now I have a functional gusset and a lining that shows more of the promise of the coat-to-be.

After I figured out, using the muslin, where the gusset needed to be and how big it should be, I transferred the necessary details to my pattern and then to the side fronts and backs of my partially-sewn lining.  Of course, this meant I had to rip.  While I was taking out the side/underarm seams, I decided that at the same time I would have a try at fixing another problem with the lining as first sewn - the sleeves felt too bulky and too narrow.  So I also removed the Thinsulate from the sleeves.

I decided to replace the Thinsulate with some 200-wt polar fleece.  Here you can see the new pieces, hand-sewn into place.  Yes, you read that right!  The sewing lawyer (who has been known to wonder what those thin and sharp metal objects known as "needles" are for) basted these babies in by hand.  I did it because the sleeves, which are slightly on the bias since they're cut-on, were stretching longer and narrower when machine-basted to the underlining.  When I realized how much narrower they were than the just-cut pieces of polar fleece, I knew I would get better control and have less reason for more growling in the sewing room, if I just bowed to inevitability and basted them in by hand.

I recently bought a life-time supply of white basting thread from a charming lady who runs a tailoring supply store in Montreal.  I own needles.  I have no excuses!  I didn't even mind the hand-sewing activity.  I laid the very bulky coat out on my cutting table, as you can see in the picture, and did the sewing while standing there.  It was quite Zen...  Changing the underlining to a less-bulky one, and paying attention to the stretch factor solved my too-narrow sleeve problem very nicely.

I then stitched around where I would alter the underarm area to insert the gussets.  Pictures speak louder than words, and here is one that will explain what I did.  Between the lines of stitching, you can see the gusset marking.

I sewed the new underarm seam up to but not over these lines of stitching.  Then, I slashed up between the lines of stitching. 
After that, it was relatively easy to sew the gussets into place.  Don't be fooled - I didn't do it in one pass.  I went over the pointy ends several times to ensure that on the inside, there were no little raw edges peeping out.  I am relatively confident they will hold, and if they don't I have that "needle" thing and am not afraid to use it!

And look, now I can move my arms!  This modification should be invisible in the finished coat.  But what a difference it will make...


  1. 1. Isn't this the fleece you got for a jacket for Jr?! Ok, Ok, TMI. 2. When do we get to see the outside of the coat, huh? Huh? 3. Zen is just gobbledygook for booooring. Motorcycle maintenance can be that way.

  2. You mean this isn't the outside ;-)
    I heard that fluffy is in this year.
    You look so much happier with this. I am glad that you are sticking with it, you look so happy that it fits1

  3. PS. If ever there was a contest for the Pil*sbury Doughboy Princess, you'd be a shoo-in, with those royal blue sleeves & golden cuffs! Tee hee.

  4. What a pain! Hopefully you will love the finished product!

  5. I think you are the answer to my prayers. I am working on New Look 6852 a coat with dolman sleeves that has me at a standstill. After sewing up the sides, side front & side back seams and fitting, I noticed that when I raised my arms the coat saluted After several try-ons, I figured the armhole is probably too low and didn't have a clue how to solve the issue.

    Off to figure out the gusset size for the coat... Thanks a million.