its whats on the inside that counts

wow... its already december! is this giving anyone else anxiety attacks? i feel like my life has been going in double time recently, but i guess thats just the time of the year...

well true to my word i've been spending every ounce of my time not filled with other obligations (work, commuting to work, sleeping, eating, parties and events **siiigghhhh** my life is so hard) voraciously re-watching lost and obsessively hand sewing. i think i fellstitch in my sleep...

i have a confession... i've never tailored anything before. i'm such a newbie! and for some reason i decided to follow claire schaeffer's instructions in her book couture sewing techniques - which if any of you have read you know that the instructions on tailoring are extensive, sometimes cryptic, and involve language like "spank it briskly with a clapper" (exsqueeze me?! claire please! this is a family blog... sorta).

the idea of tailoring is really appealing to me, though - through an interior structure of fabrics, tapes and stitches you're basically shaping and molding the fabric to the body. but, for a first-timer, doing this on your own can lead to some ... um ... less-than-family-friendly interior dialogue. i thought i would share with you some of the revelations, frustrations, and wtf?!?!? thoughts that have passed through my head with this recent sewing project:

1) wool. when they say "use a cool dry iron" they aren't kidding. that shit is like shrinky dinks! and we all know that what shrinky dinks do best is shrink....

2) prewashing wool suiting and goat hair canvas (purchased from this lovely lady) made my apartment smell like a barnyard. as a matter of fact - it made the whole floor of my building smell like a herd of sheep. sheep farts really...

3) i machine quilted together my cotton underlining and the hair canvas interfacing. i made neat little 1 inch squares that followed the grain line. upon reflection i think this was an absolutely useless step and i do not recommend it. but it looks fancy. and it was a great way to use up my half-finished spools of thread and random colored bobbins....

4) is pad stitching supposed to be neat or not? claire recommends "staggering" ones padstitching to avoid ridges. well i staggered - and that shit looks gnarly.

5) when following claire schaeffer's instructions - if i'm not really sure what i'm supposed to be doing i just hold my iron and my jacket pieces like they do in the picture for a few seconds, move it around a little (heat optional) and consider that step done.

6) after steaming my collar i let it dry out while pinned around my tailors ham. this kind of made my tailors ham look like a dumpy lounge singer.

7) taping the roll line and the front edge of the jacket is kind of like magic. and when magic happens i like to boast about it to my husband ("look! see how this lapel hangs straight?" "uh huh...." " and see how this one curves around the body?" "yeah..." "thats, like, totally a couture trick....." ) he's incredibly kind and always acts really impressed. best. audience. ever.

8) i think my cat knows something i don't and has been attempting to sabotage this little red jacket every chance he gets...

in conclusion - i have to admit that i'm very nervous about this jacket. i'm hoping that all the little weirdnesses work themselves out in the next few steps. i'm pretty relieved to be done with the majority of the hand sewing at this point - at least until i get to the lining.

speaking of the lining - i'm having a hard time determining what sort of print i want to use on the inside.... is leopard print too much??



  1. Leopard print is go, definitely. The brighter and more out there the better I say, when it comes to lining. I'm looking fwd to seeing the end result!

  2. Leopard print! Yes!
    Oh it looks marvelous and I would bet that it will all come together beautifully. I don't think I've ever been so excited about someone else's project before. Can't wait to see more!

  3. Definitely do the leopard print--you won't be sorry. :-)

  4. Wow, so much work! I can't wait to see the jacket finished.
    Oh, and I say definitely yes to leapard print...is it ever too much? :)

  5. Unanimous approval of the leopard print lining! This is so exciting! I love all of your stitch variation... And though I'm not a sewer, I appreciate all of the little details that you've added. This piece is screaming couture! You're going to love it for ever and like everyone else, can't wait for the next installment!

  6. Yes to leopard as well! I love leopard and red together, I think it will look amazing once you are done.

  7. The jacket is truly looking wonderful so far! I can't wait to see the finished result! <3 <3 <3

    Lost in the Haze

  8. Ooh, I'm so happy to have found your blog. So many great posts, I didn't know where to start ;). You are a brave pad-stitcher. I love a bright blazer--it goes with everything, ironically. Leopard print lining--yes!

    And what you did with the Clover pants--so clever--and a great silhouette on you! I'm making the same Burda top in your fall palette and I love what you did with it. I've got all these t-shirt designs on the brain and definitely an asymmetric one, too! (Fellow Rachel Comey shoe fan as well. Sigh.)

  9. Leopard, yes.

    "Spank it briskly with a clapper" is indeed the best phrase I have heard in days ...

    Can't wait to see your progress ...

  10. This post made me laugh out loud.

    I'm pro-leopard print. It would look great.

  11. You will all be pleased to know that the leopard print lining was definitely a go! not only is it leopard, but its the loudest, proudest leopard the fabric store had to offer (and oddly they had a lot of leopard to offer).
    Well, technically, its "jaguar" but who's checking?

    @Amy - I agree, a bright blazer does go with everthing - its practically a neutral!

    @Kachina - HI! :) and, yes, that had to be one of my favorite sewing phrases ever!

    @ Stephanie - so glad for the lol's - makes it all worthwhile!

  12. so.. i cut my pattern pieces for this blazer.. and i'm enjoying your posts about how you made yours.. you make me laugh a lot, it's one lovely evening.. 
    you also made me a bit worried.. my philosophy of sewing is way different.. i'm opposite than patient.. i want having things asap.. i love to sew, but i don't like spending too much time doing it (or, to be more precise, i don't like spend too much time on one thing, but i don't mind sewing all day long, every day).. when i start a project, i like to finish it the very same day i started.. i may cut the fabric the day before, though.. i start in the morning, and work as long as it takes.. with coats and blazers, it takes a lot of time, i end up finishing in the middle of night sometimes.. but i finish the damn thing in one take.. there are few things i failed to finish the same day i started, these are still unfinished, i just can't force myself to do something in two takes)..
    but then, i never used couture techniques, i know nothing about them.. i have no books and i'm lazy to spend hours googling it.. wish i can learn from you, and apply your slow approach more :)

  13. Oh man you definitely shouldn't compare your sewing to mine!! Part of the reason I've trained myself to space things out is because I unfortunately don't have long days that I can sew and I was killing myself trying to get something done - start to finish - in the time that I had. So I think pretty early on I realized that approach just couldn't work for me because I wasn't enjoying what I was doing. Also, when I sew in a marathon way like that I make mistakes. And alot of them - seriously - its not pretty!! 

    And I got interested in learning some couture techniques when I took Gertie's "Bombshell Dress" class on Craftsy. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed working in that way and so bought this other book to learn more. I think I like having a bunch of different approaches in my "toolbox" so I can pick the best method for me and for the garment. I do enjoy hand sewing - I think in the same way people enjoy knitting. I just plop down on the sofa and watch endless episodes of "Glee" or something equally as terrible...

    That being said - I definitely do not recommend dragging a project out for as long as I dragged this red jacket out... I went a bit nuts...

    I can't wait to see your blazer!! I love blazers.. I kind of wear one everyday!