We Have Got a Treat For You!
Ok. We admit it. The title is a stretch. But when well known garment instructor and tailoring expert, Ron Collins offered to share one of his latest projects with us, we jumped at the chance!
So, while there may not be any apples in today’s project, there are sure to be some technique tidbits that might just end up in the next project for the “apple of your eye.”
by Ron Collins
One thing I usually do before I start to sew a major garment is to check out to see what ready-to-wear has to offer to the consumers that do not sew. For some time I have been thinking about making a shorter dress overcoat for the cold Saskatoon winter that could be worn with casual jeans or for more dressy occasions. While window shopping out in Vancouver last fall, I discovered several jackets, but nothing that I would consider putting on my visa card if I didn’t sew. One that I did fall in love with was at designer shopping mecca, Holt Renfrew. It wasn’t that I like the fit, because I didn’t have the nerve to ask the store staff to unchain it from the security device so I could try it on. It was the fabric that I loved. The fabric was 100% wool in a deep rich grey colour with a heavy nap; great weight for wearing outdoors, but still light enough that it could be worn inside shopping or running errands. What a great looking jacket I thought!! The jacket looked like it was oozing money….it should; the price was $1800.00!
Now the hunt was on to find the perfect fabric. And I knew where to get it. I usually travel to Calgary four times a year to teach at one of my favorite fabric stores called “Out of Hand”. I knew if Deirdre (known as “Dei”) didn’t have the fabric she would know where to source it from. So I was right; last fall, a few days before I was to do the sewing retreat at her store, Dei had a shipment of garment fabrics arrive. The fabric was perfect and even better yet than the fabric that the $1800.00 jacket was made from. What made it even better is that you had two choices in the fabric…it was double sided. You could choose from the dark grey or the light grey, both having a great nap. The fabric was 100% wool, 60″ wide and priced at $32.50/meter. It was selling fast. No time to think about this purchase, so I bought 3 meters, knowing that it was going to work just right.
Not only did Dei have the perfect fabric but the buttons as well. The buttons came in three different sizes, so I bought 10 of the large and 6 of the small and 6 of the medium sizes.
Maybe more than I needed. I might have a very modest fabric stash, but the button stash is a bit over-the-top. I consider it more of a “collection.” It is very hard to find classic men’s buttons so when I find them I buy them. One great thing about buttons is that they do not take up a lot of room.
The pattern I decided to work with on this jacket was Vogue 8940 that came out in fall of 2013. It is a semi-fitted, lined jacket with a tailored collar and collar band, back yoke with a slight forward shoulder seam, side panels, in seam flap pockets, back vent and a two-piece sleeve. One thing I did discover with this pattern before taking it out of the pattern envelope was that it had a printing error on the fabric requirements. View “A” (short version) which I made required more fabric than view “B” long version for sizes 34 working with 60” wide fabric.
The other sizes seemed to be closer to the right amount of fabric, but I would consider taking my cut out tissue pattern pieces to the fabric store and laying out the pattern before getting the fabric cut.
I cut my pattern to a size 36 in the shoulder, neck and sleeves and moved into a size 38 below the arm for a little wiggle room. I didn’t want this jacket to be a stand and pose, but something I could wear a light sweater or jacket under.
While examining the tissue pattern piece I decided to add 1” to the depth of the pockets as they seemed to be very shallow. I also added 2 ¾” length to the height of the back vent, as that seemed to be a little on the short side as well.
One pattern detailed piece that I did omit was the pocket tab (pattern piece #5), which I knew was going to be too bulky for the pocket and fabric.
I used a fusible knit interfacing in the jacket. I wanted to add support to the jacket, but not changing the feel or drape of the fabric. The “Fusi Knit” was perfect for the shaping and tailoring which I knew I wanted to create into the jacket. I fused the following entire pattern pieces including the seam and hem allowances: front, upper front, pocket welts, side back, upper back, under collar, upper collar band, sleeve hem and front facing. This interfacing is available in white, black and cream colour.
The jacket was made on my Jamone 1600 and 6600P. I used the 6600 for the buttonholes and the 1600 for the rest of the entire jacket; it was constructed using an 80/12 “Schmetz” in both machines along with polyester thread at a stitch length of 3.0 on all my straight seams. The detailed top stitching was done by using heavy Gutermann topstitching thread in the top and regular weight thread in the bobbin with a stitch length of 4.0.
TIP:To compensate the heavy thread on the top and regular weight on the bobbin, increase your top tension by 25% to balance out the tension of the stitch. I also used a “Schmetz” top stitching needle when using the heavy thread to prevent the thread from shredding at the eye of the needle (pic#14).
The topstitching detail was something that I was not going to do will going into the project, but was part of the pattern instructions.
A great designer touch that adds panache to the garment is topstitching. Remember I am trying to upscale that $1800.00 jacket!!
The buttonholes were done on the 6600P. I used and technique that I love when working with large buttons. The problem with using large buttons is that you need to make a large buttonhole and the problem with large buttonholes is that they stretch out.
TIP: By hooking a piece of heavy top stitching thread onto the top of the buttonhole foot and having it lie between the foot and fabric, as the machine makes the buttonhole it encases the heavy thread which will add strength to the large buttonhole and prevent it from stretching out. The heavy thread is then pulled from the end of the button hole and threaded with a hand sewing needle in between the front and front facing, without any heavy thread being visible (pic#13).
The major changes I did on the construction of the jacket was not putting the inside pocket on the front facing, as the bulk of the welts would have caused a large bulge on the upper front. I also changed the way the construction of the back vent and lining when together,
as I find the technique in the instructions to be a little too “homemade” looking. I go into this technique in detail in the newest double DVD on tailoring that Sandra Betzina and I will be releasing this late fall (2014).
The Final Tally
So as I look at the cost of making this jacket…
- Fabric: 3 meters x $32.50 = $97.50
- Lining: 2.5 meters x $12.95 = $32.75 (on sale) Kasha Lining.
- Interfacing: 5 meters x $4.20 =$21.00 (on sale-30% off) (20”wide)
- Buttons: (large) 8 x $1.75 =$14.00
- Buttons: (small) 6 x $1.50 = $9.00
- Shoulder Pads: $4.25 (on sale)
- Pattern: $4.99 (on sale)
Designer, speaker and teacher, Ron Collins is Canada’s best known sewing personality. He has inspired audiences with appearances on HGTV, Sew Perfect, Life Network, CTV, and featured in Vogue magazine. Ron and Sandra Betzina from Power Sewing together have produced twelve DVD’s, along with an televised program that debuted in January 2009 with over 160 shows that have been aired with great reviews.
Ron’s 2014 teaching schedule:
(For more info, please contact the venue)
- Ron’s Sewing Retreat, Saskatoon Sept 18-20
- Calgary Sewing Show Sept 26-27
- Central Sewing, Edmonton Sept 30-Oct 5
- Haus of Stitches, Humboldt Oct 8-10
- Triangle Sewing Centre, Guelph Oct 17-19
- Ron’s Sewing Retreat, Saskatoon Oct 29-30
- Great Notion, Surrey Nov 5-8
- Out of Hand, Calgary Nov 12-16
- Linda’s Quilt Shop Nov 18-19
- Snip and Stitch, Nanaimo Nov 21-23
- Sawyers Sewing Centre, Victoria 25-28