Friday, 12 December 2014

Harrington in detail part 3

The last part for sure, because I've finished it now. Probably could have done it in one day if all things had gone smoothly, or maybe I'm just being stupid.

Before we start

Attach the lining to the self under both arms, joining the seam allowances (will not show). The other places we join the lining to the self are the cuffs, the bottom and the zipper.


This is the hardest thing to find these days. Not sure why but if you plan to make an English style bomber jacket, the ribbing for the cuffs and bottom must be a very close match to the self. It's not expensive, just not around a lot.
2 x cuff at 15cm h x 18cm w
1 x hem at 15cm h x 73cm w
The cuffs must be closed, i.e. stitch the ends so you have two 15cm high cylinders.
Now, put the cuff over the self so the rib looks like a sock. To make sure it is even, you will have to mark 1/4 way around each and match the marks. A basting thread (small stitches) will help it to stay there as you sew, or you can pin the quarters and stretch the cuff carefully as you sew. If you pull the fabric as it's being sewed you'll bend the needle so it will break onto the needle plate (so don't). Sewing stretchy things onto unstretchy things is something you work out after a few mistakes.
Now sew the other right side onto the lining. It's been a couple of days since I did this so I can't recall exactly how I did it, but I recall having to poke the ribbing inside what I was about to sew, so there was an exposed seam. This was the only way I could to make a really neat job. There was also a lot of pulling things inside out.
After you've done this, it will look like this:

Can you see where I pushed the ribbing in to be able to stitch?
After stitching, we pull the self from the lining and have them obviously joined by the cuff.
Looks like a mess, but...
 Now, pull them the right way.
Finished cuff
Now you need to join the self to the lining. Topstitch around where the cuff joins the self. If you didn't do this, the lining would be free to slip around and you'd end up with a varying size cuff.
Do the other side now.
The bottom rib needs to be joined to the small pieces of self we interfaced.
Might need a ball point needle
Now turn the garment inside out through the zipper space. You should see that we're running out of places to turn it inside out, and our aim is to sew the zipper in last of all.
Mark the rib and self into halves then quarters (ignoring the interfaced piece).
Stitch the end pieces (the interfaced pieces) one side to the self and the other side to the lining so the self and lining aren't joined (if you join the lining and self at this place you won't be able to insert the zipper). Now join the ribbing piece to both the lining and the self (all four layers together), matching up the quarters.
Always pin then baste before sewing.
Turn the garment the right way, and inspect your good work.
Not quite done yet. You need to baste then top stitch down the join of the interfaced self and the ribbing.

The Zipper

Zippers aren't that hard. Just make sure the first half you sew on is on flat, then don't position the other half unless the zipper is closed. It's a real pain undoing a well sewn in zipper so make sure you're careful.
The logic of getting this one in is simple because it's reversible. Both the lining and the self must be folded and the zipper will sit on top. We can also use still being able to access the inside to make a very neat job. The lining and self are firstly folded and this is pressed into shape. Pin one half of the zipper into position on the folded part (the placket), making sure it's not too long (hard to correct for). Baste and remove the pins.
Never just pin a zipper, or it will end in tears
Once you've made sure you have only sewn it to the folded part, check it for straightness. Once you're happy with it, sew into position using a zipper foot. Don't try and reverse over the stitch with this foot on (it usually doesn't work), instead pulling both sides of the thread to the wrong side and tying them together.
Now it's in place on the self, bring the lining fold into position on the other side of the zipper. Pin and baste it, then top stitch neatly through all three layers.
Put the other half of the zipper on now and fasten it. Now you can position the other half on the other self fold. Pin it, baste it then test it. If you miss very slightly with the first half of the zipper you can make up for it by positioning the other half accordingly. Make sure it's in the right position. If not, re-pin and re-baste and try again. This is like pockets, in that it'll look bad if it isn't right.
Once you're happy with it, unzip and stitch it to the placket fold. Pin the lining in to hold it and try the jacket on. If the zipper is perfect, pin then baste the lining on, try it on again and when you're happy, top stitch through all layers again.
Cut that thread before anyone sees it

The two rows is sub optimal, visually

The mannequin likes it
Didn't complain about the back either
Reversed it looks a little unusual, but if your personality is unusual, a tartan jacket might tick all the boxes.
Even has an external pocket

This garment was sewn on my 1959 Singer 320K.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Harrington in detail part 2

I was determined to finish this today but can't find the ribbing (for sleeves and bottom of the jacket) and had to stop again. Anyway, took loads of pictures, so here we go with the self (which is now complete).
Wrong side piece of back facing
This had to be overlocked (or serged in the U.S.) then turned under. As I've mentioned before, the 1890s narrow hemmers found in puzzle boxes are brilliant for this. They will fit an overlocked edge and will turn only once. In the other pics, this piece looks like a bat wing and goes on the inside of the upper facing.
Phoaah! Look at her go. Lovely work

These were sewn together. Notice that I always pin, baste, sew.
Remember also that you need to remove the pins after basting and before sewing. There are several advantages to the basting. Here are a few:
1. Chances of sticking a pin into your skin are reduced about 95%
2. The fabrics both sit flatter against each other and are much less likely to move during sewing.
And a few hints about basting:
1. When basting a tricky bit (sewing anything that has ease, sleeves, etc.) or when matching a pattern, make your stitches smaller. The reason is obvious if you have ever tried sewing after just pinning alone!
2. Use a weak thread. I didn't in this case, because I didn't have any weak, brightly coloured thread. Weak threads are easier to remove if you have to break them. Very old cotton thread tends to be very weak. It's useless for sewing. This is why old garments tend to fall apart - sewn with cotton, which falls apart with age.
3. Use contrasting thread. Easier to see.
4. Don't baste exactly where you're going to sew, or you won't easily be able to remove the thread afterwards.
Same as previous photo, but sewn now
Sewed bat wing shaped facing piece from first two pics to the large facing piece

Back facing in place. Bat wing from first pics is underneath now
Press now and bar tack the two points at the bottom of the facing.
Sew shoulders together, press seams open
 When putting any top together, you need to sew the shoulders together at the start of assembly (that's what we're starting to do here). It's like cooking in that way (don't get me started on cooking, that's a whole 'nother blog) in that everything needs to be prepared before putting it together.
Sew the sleeve in
Sometimes you'll be sewing the sleeve together and then inserting it. In this case, we are doing a "drop shoulder" so we sew the sleeve and side together in one go.
Putting it around an imaginary arm helps to ease

Really important to baste the sleeve after pinning due to ease

After stitching, no pleats or puckering.

The sleeve and side will be matched RST and stitched in one go. Pin,


Looks like this

Turned the right way, it's taking shape
 The collar is next. It will be sewn RST, one to each side of the collar.
Prepare collar. Stitch down the side and across to the nick

Trimmed and turned, and with topstitching

The white part is the interfacing inside the collar

Looks like this after stitching. Must be precise here.

Collar must be stitched together, jacket is almost done.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Harrington in detail part 1

I haven't "digitised" the pattern but if you're in my situation: That is, you can't afford to buy a new jacket, have an old one, the time to make it and the skills required or the ability to find out. I also have an excellent library of old sewing books which I've referred to several times. I'm about half way through, insofar as putting actual area of fabric is concerned. There were a lot of problems because it's been a while since I last made a Harrington and couldn't remember how to make the pockets. Well, since I did all of this stuff in the past 48 hours, and will be making more of them, here's how I did it:

1. Practice pockets

Make these until you completely understand how it's done and you're certain they will all be perfect from now on.

2. Cutting

Do all of this before anything else. Both self (outside of your jacket, the drill), the lining and the interfacing.

3. Interfacing

Interface the collar, the pocket flaps, pocket welts and the wrong side of the fabric, where the pockets are going to be. If you don't know this, interfacing provides stiffness and strength. Pockets in bomber jackets cop a lot of punishment (my jackets do anyway).

4. Make the pockets

All of them. Start with the hard ones, being the self pockets, then do the lining pocket.

5. Sew the lining together

This is precisely where I'm at now. I stopped to explain to you, dear reader/s, how to do it, and my pattern maker didn't explain how to put the self together: The top of the back is quite different to any I've done so far so I have to wait until I see her again before proceeding.

OK, the pockets. I won't be scanning the picture from the Vogue sewing book because it's possibly still copyrighted in the U.S. (the book is 44 years old) so I have my photos.
Flap and welt pinned and being basted into place

pocket flaps go on next
Here is how to construct the pocket (on the right side of the self):
Bottom - the front left or right (I'll assume you want one on each side).
On top of the bottom - At the top is the finished flap. At the bottom is the welt. Now, the welt fold must be exactly 17mm outside the white box (the white box is solid line. That broken line is basting thread. The longer side of the white box is exactly the same as the flap. The welt should be longer than the shorter side, as the excess will be pushed inside after all this is over. I pinned both of these bits  in place so they wouldn't move when I put the pockets on top.
Put the pockets on top. The top part has some self joined to the lining (which I'm using as pocketing) because this will be visible when the pocket is opened.  Pin this in place too. The bottom pocket part goes on first and reaches about halfway inside the white box. The top pocket part sits on top and covers the whole box. Here's a close up of this:

Everything basted into place. Pins removed before stitching
Now the outline is carefully drawn and stitched. You stitch only the two long lines, not the shorter slanted lines the join them. You should end up with this on the other side:
interfaced wrong side of self fabric
Now, cut through the self and interfacing only. Be really careful or you'll cut through the pocket flap as well (go on, ask me how I know this). Stop short of the end and cut diagonally almost to where your stitching ends (about three threads short is perfect, I've been told):

Arrows point to the little triangles you need to make
Now turn the piece over and push the pockets only through the hole you just made. It should be reasonably obvious how this will work but it should also look so neat you'll be excited. Pulling the little triangles ought to make it even neater on the other side and when you do this, you should see that if the triangle were stitched to the welt (now on the wrong side with the triangle) it would be lovely.
then turn it over
Stitch both triangles to both sides of the welt and you should be patting yourself on the back.
Front of jacket. Welt is perfectly joined.
After doing this twice, you need to do it for the simpler inside pocket. The two outside pockets are easily the most difficult part of the whole jacket, so it's all downhill from this point.

Sewing the lining together

This is quite basic. Stay stitch the shoulders and neck then pin, baste and stitch the front and back at the shoulders. Press seams open (they don't have to be finished).

Remove the pins before stitching
Pin the sleeve in place then baste it and stitch.
Pin then baste and stitch the sleeve together with the side of the jacket in one go.

If you're asking why I always baste it's because with just pins holding the two sides together the fabrics move when the machine gets close to the pins. When it's a pattern like this, it is very noticeable.
Tacky 1960s suit?
And here she is: All ready to go with the self.