Little Traveling Mouse

finito!

Sophie, ready for a summer adventure.
Sophie, ready for a summer adventure.

I finished Sophie’s little linen traveling costume and managed to get her to stand still for a few photos.  While she was at camp and at her request, I also made a hat using the faux suede/fur hat pattern #24 from Ottobre 04/2003).  She wanted a polar bear hat; can you tell how I mussed up?  Yes, I made the ears to big!  We have since decided it is a mouse hat, and I will try again for the polar bear effect.

*kiss*, right on the nose!
*kiss*, right on the nose!
Jacket pockets were attached with a fell stitch.
Jacket pockets were attached with a fell stitch.

I have entered the suit in the Threads magazine’s “Express Yourself In Linen” contest.  There is some stiff competition!  I am proud of myself to have not only completed a challenging garment, but to have blogged it as well.  You can view the previous blog installments on this project here: 1 (fabric preparations), 2 (underlining and pockets), 3 (shell construction), 4 (pants), and 5 (finishing jacket).

On to new things!

Pants Fronts

pants! we all need them.

Before I changed my Juki needle and thread to those appropriate for the Bemberg rayon of the jacket lining, I decided to construct the pants from Burda 9671.  Compared to the structure and more formal details of the jacket, these are a breeze; topstitched patch pockets, no lining, and only a simple yoke and fly front.

Lots of tailors tacks: pocket placement and center-front, mostly.
Lots of tailors tacks: pocket placement and center-front, mostly.

Pockets – kids need them!  I applied all the pockets of both the jacket and pants on the cross-grain, to provide subtle design interest:

I cut and applied the pockets and back yoke at the cross-grain for subtle design interest.
Underlining is a must for this lightweight linen - especially when adding pockets.

My favorite pants for children use a flat, fly-front, and are coupled with some elastic in the back waistband.  Kids grow and move a lot – the flat-front is stylish and removes bunk at the waist and hip, but the back elastic provides longer wear.

I owe much of my enjoyment in sewing a fly-front zipper to Sandra Betzina’s video tutorial, hosted by Threads magazine.  When putting a zipper in pants, I do as she suggests and ignore the directions entirely in favor of her approach – which has never left me astray.  The only thing you need for your pants is a fly extension on both left and right side; anything 1.25″ or wider will do.

People are intimidated by sewing zippers; with the right directions, it is actually very easy.
People are intimidated by sewing zippers; with the right directions, it is actually very easy.

I rarely buy new zippers; you can always find wonderful colors and types in local thrift stores.  You can also tear out zippers from worn-out pants – the sturdy twill construction of the tape wears very well!

In applying the waistband I do the following: interface the waistband piece, finish the raw edge of the wrong side of the waistband (I used red bias tape), sew the waistband at the waist edge, right-sides together, trim and grade, flip, press, hammer out the bulk at the facings, and topstitch:

In applying a waistband, stitch slowly to prevent problems.
In applying a waistband, stitch slowly to prevent problems.
Turning under the WS edge of waistband; a treatment you will see in RTW slacks as well.
Turning under the WS edge of waistband; a treatment you will see in RTW slacks as well.
In background you can see the bake yoke of pants; in foreground, front pocket.
In background you can see the bake yoke of pants; in foreground, front pocket.

Finally, it was time to construct the buttonhole and sew on the button. I have used a handful of buttonhole methods in my time, but for machine buttonholes my favorite has been my 1950 Singer Centennial 201-2 and its attachment:

Technology nearly 60 years old - and it works wonderfully!
Technology nearly 60 years old - and it works wonderfully!

Finally, the belt carriers are made, stitched to the front of the pants, then hand-stitched at the back (this latter detail I decided on in favor of the pattern’s instructions to machine stitch from the public side of the waistband):

A few extra minutes handsewing results in a sturdy, lovely-looking belt carrier detail.
A few extra minutes handsewing results in a sturdy, lovely-looking belt carrier detail.

Next up: finishing the coat lining and coat details!

Top Pocket, WS Of Garment

jacket construction, continued: piecing together the coat shell

Once the pockets for the coat were ready, the front of the jacket needed darts, and then pocket placement. I attached the jacket pockets with a fell stitch, in order to disrupt the jacket front the least amount possible.  Here we see the backside of the top pocket as applied:

Fell stitching is invisible at the public side of the garment, but not so pretty on the back side.
Fell stitching is invisible at the public side of the garment, but not so pretty on the back side.

The pocket from the front looks thus:

Pockets were applied while swimming with kids; battling leeches and river currents!
Pockets were applied while swimming with kids; battling leeches and river currents!

Note in both pictures above you can see, at upper right, the tailor tack marking sleeve positioning.  I use a DMC embroidery floss to transfer pattern markings to the garment.  In a fabric with less potential to ravel I might use scissor snips at the seam allowance markings, bit I did not want to do so for this loose-weave linen.

It is essential with this weight of linen that proper underlining and / or interfacing are applied; there is no way the fabric alone could support a sturdy, straight-looking pocket without it.

I kept the brown silk basting in the jacket seam allowances throughout construction:

Construction detail, which will largely not be visible in finished garment.

Here we see from lower left to upper right: center back seam (serged and pressed open), Raw edge of armscye shoulder, and the collar (not yet pressed and topstitched).

After the shell of the coat was finished, it was time to construct the sleeves.  I made a small sleeve head to support the sleeve at the shoulder, using wool:

The strip used for the sleeve head is a 100% wool (pre-washed).
The strip used for the sleeve head is a 100% wool (pre-washed).

The sleeves were then finished and pressed carefully:

Here you can see tailors tacks, hand-basting, and serge-finishing
Here you can see tailors tacks, hand-basting, and serge-finishing
Pressing a sleeve is made easier by the appropriate ironing equipment. Which I do not own.
Pressing a sleeve is made easier by the appropriate ironing equipment. Which I do not own.

I join set-in sleeves by handbasting them. It is so much easier to then spread out any ease and machine baste – or, if I’m sewing a rather heavy coat, I simply stitch them in by hand.  I then trim, grade and press.  Next up: sewing the lining, applying it to the shell, constructing buttonholes and buttons, and handsewing at sleeve and jacket hems.

Despite all the work that lays ahead, the garment is starting to take shape!

Waiting for a lining...
Waiting for a lining...
I *Knew* It!

& now the boring stuff

Continuing the photo-journalling of Sophie’s linen jacket – you can find the previous post here – I enter a long phase of handsewing as I underline the garment pieces and line the jacket pockets.  For those new to sewing, underlining is essentially using an additional fabric (or fabrics) beneath the pieces of the shell of the garment. This is done to add body and structure to the garment, and allows – in my case – the freedom to use the exact fabric I want for a garment that requires a bit more weight to it. You can underline all or part of a garment.

This means for each piece of her coat, I need to attach an identical piece of underlining. A word about underlining: there are rather elaborate and time-intensive traditional tailoring methods to apply it. Given this is a child’s project (and therefore will be outgrown soon) I wanted something relatively quick yet sturdy. In the past I have accomplished underlining using a serger, a sewing machine, a machine with walking foot, and by handstitching. Attaching underlinings by machine (top example in picture below) and using the serger (bottom example) worked fine for the pockets. But due to the lightness of the linen and its slightly open-weave tendency to distort, I have elected to do the majority of underlining by hand. In my post title I use the word “boring”, but it’s actually quite lovely to sit and watch a video or listen to music while handsewing, and a welcome respite from all my time on my machines.

The batiste underlining (in red) gives body, eliminates transparency, and subtly changes the color of the shell linen.
The batiste underlining (in red) gives body, eliminates transparency, and subtly changes the color of the shell linen.

When I am finished with the mini-Herculean task of underlining I will then mark the pattern pieces with tailor’s tacks* and then, finally, get to construction seams by machine.

There are a total of seven patch pockets in the blazer and pants set.  All pockets were interfaced along the facings; the blazer pockets (three in all) were also lined.

To make sure the finished pocket is symmetrical along the grain, each pocket must be carefully cut out and pressed.
To make sure the finished pocket is symmetrical along the grain, each pocket must be carefully cut out and pressed.

Besides diagnosing the appropriate weight for a project, I don’t know much about interfacings; I often use what is available to me at my local Quilt Shop (which is, sadly, the only local business besides Walmart I can get any sewing supplies).

The blazer pockets are first underlinined in grey cotton, then lined in the same.
The blazer pockets are first underlinined in grey cotton, then lined in the same.

I am still deciding what color thread to use for the topstitching on this project – a muted grey to fade in, or the off-white shown above?

The finished pocket; if in topstitching any of the underlining shows through, the grey will keep the gaffe near undetectable.
The finished pocket; if in topstitching any of the underlining shows through, the grey will keep it subtle.

At the end of the day, besides a careful pile of underlined garment pieces (with still several more to go), I did have my seven pockets all finished:

Pockets finished and pressed!
Pockets finished and pressed!