The "Real" Jacket: Progress/Disaster

As the title suggests, I have cut the fabric and started sewing the jacket that I have to hand in tomorrow. It was going quite well until last night. Have you ever done two stupid things at once? Last night I sewing a bound buttonhole on the leather part (so far so good) only to find afterwards that I had sewn it on the wrong side of the jacket, and I had sewn it at a funny angle.

I tried to repair this by first unpicking the buttonhole, and then using various fusible products and methods to seal it up. It sort of worked, but I know that it would knock my grade down if I handed the jacket in like that, so I'm going to try a creative solution: I'm going to cut a section out and replace it with a bias-cut diamond of the check wool so that it looks like it was supposed to be like that. It adds a bit more interest anyway. I'm glad I only did it on the underlap -- I wouldn't want to have to redo half the front!

That would also allow me to do window buttonholes instead of bound ones if I want and would work better with the buttons I've chosen (shank buttons with thick shanks). I'll decide as I go along.

The Next Day...

Last night was a nightmare filled with gremlin buttonholes and their accomplices, the buttons. Joining the legion of seamstresses perils were facings that didn't fit, corners that wouldn't turn, and things that wouldn't lay correctly. Through tears and nearly-silent sobs I saw buttonholes that not only were wonky, but also that were not level (now one is higher than the other). By the time I got to sleep it must have been two in the morning, and tiredness doesn't help matters.

I wore the nearly finished jacket to Bishop Burton College (it was easier than carrying a garment bag on the bus) and finished it in class. This mostly consisted of understitching, but also featured sewing the lining closed in the CB pleat (by machine) and removing loose thread ends that reared their ugly heads.

It worked out passably (except, in my eyes, for the buttonholes). Everybody likes the jacket, but I have an eagle eye and standards that usually exceed my work. I'll put it down to a lack of experience.

What I've Learned About Working with Faux Leather

  • Scotch-tape is your best friend when you're working with non-wovens. It keeps things like bound buttonhole patches/lips in place. You can use it instead of pins when cutting (it's best to cut one layer at a time), and you can draw buttonhole-placements on it. The difficulty is in removing it when you have several layers in a corner or seam. Amazingly, it doesn't gum up your machine needle!
  • You can unpick stitches. You can heal the holes with the iron set on cotton and just using the tip of the iron over a press cloth.
  • Princess seams must be carefully matched at each end and all along as you sew. This is one of those things you have to show rather than tell, but I'll try to explain it better than that. With one end of the seam started at the machine, match up the other end and pretend to sew it with your fingers -- a bit like walking a pattern to true it -- and when you get near enough to the presser foot, hold the part of the seam together, using your fingers as pins/quilter's clips. Repeat until you get to the other end. This sounds like a lot of fuss, but it's much better than unpicking and resewing endlessly and leaving it to luck.
  • The only way to get the seam allowances to lie neatly is to topstitch them. I actually had very little trouble sewing on the RS of the faux leather with my standard foot #1 on my Bernina 380. Sometimes I had to lengthen the stitch, but I think that was after I had ironed the fabric (I know, I know, "don't iron plastics", but it was fine most of the time).
  • Bound Buttonholes are best. Yes, you can do leather "fake" buttonholes, but I feel that bound buttonholes are stronger. Just make sure you mark your fabric according to your pattern. I think a China marker would be good for this but I don't (yet) have one. I think lack of proper marking was where my disaster began. 


Do you think there is a curse on buttonholes that makes the test ones perfect and the real ones iffy? My test buttonhole was absolutely perfect, well, from what would have been the outside of the jacket anyway.

The secret to keeping the buttonhole's lips in place when you've positioned them? Scotch-tape! Brilliant product! I wish I could buy it in bulk. You peel it off afterwards.

I was wondering how to finish the back of the buttonhole, i.e. on the facing. I first considered finished the back the regular way, but it wasn't very neat in the plaid I used for the facing, and was quite unsatisfactory for the blue wool (who knows why I tried that for the sample!).

In Viyella I saw a jacket with bound buttonholes and they had regular buttonholes as the backing for them. Now, Viyella is an expensive store (about £300 for a plain red dress), so I suppose this passes for an acceptable RTW way of finishing a bound buttonhole, so I opted for this. I presumed I would have to fasten the outer buttonhole to the inner one somehow and tried stitching the bound buttonhole stitch on top. It's a much appreciated feature of my Bernina 380, but when you change stitch selection (as I did to sew the standard buttonhole), the auto gets deleted and you have to pay attention to where your rectangle stops or this happens:

Sadly the buttonholes did not go to plan. I made angled bound buttonholes to accommodate the chunky shanks, and the buttonholes on facings did not cover the facings' WS, even when I got them to match in position. I stitched over them with the manual buttonhole and that improved it.

I have handed the jacket and toile (along with my 3 bursting production pattern cutting leaver arch files) in now, so the photos will have to wait about 3 weeks. Sorry. But I do have these that I took before I bagged the lining. (I was too upset with the jacket after that.) I stuck the buttons on to see how various ones looked.

(The jacket is not blue!)

These are the photos from before the bagging. Naturally the collar and lapels now look a bit smaller because the seam allowances are inside, and the hemline seam allowance is inside too. As you can see, I really ought to have had more turn of cloth allowance in the top collar. Never mind; I can't do anything about it now, can I?

Because the buttons are just stuck on here, they are level. They look better here than in the finished jacket.
We'll see if I wear it out of the house.


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