Iconic Tweed Jacket Lesson 4 – Cutting

Preshrinking the Fabric

The first instruction in Lesson 4 is to preshrink our fabric and check for blemishes.

Back when I first started this project I planned on using a gold fabric. Since then, I discovered I have some issues with the gold (discussed below) and decided to use a darker piece of fabric in my stash.

While weighing my options, I ended up preshrinking both fabrics per Ms. Knight’s DIY instructions (you can also take your uncut fabric to a dry cleaner and have them pre-shrink for you).

I used a piece of silk organza as my pressing cloth and steamed away. I did my steaming on the wrong side of the fabric. You just never know when your iron is going to start spitting out brownish fabric staining goo.

My gold fabric didn’t shrink, or if it did it was so minute that I couldn’t tell.  The shrinkage in the darker fabric however, was more visible.

I don’t think pre-shrinking is mandatory because you will probably not be laundering your jacket in water.  You may however, need to clean it in the future.

Everything I read suggests that while dry cleaning will not (or at least is not intended to) shrink your clothes, if you happen to use a dry cleaner who doesn’t properly maintain their machines, shrinkage can indeed occur. Probably won’t, but you can never rule it out.

Therefore, my personal decision is to preshrink.

In the photo above, you will see an example of a fabric blemish. Especially check the front of your fabric. If you run across a blemish, simply mark it with a pin. That way you can avoid it when placing your pattern pieces.

ALERT: One thing I will point out about Ms. Knight’s video demonstration on pre-shrinking is that she really goes through it quickly.  I would recommend that you allow your steamed section to lay flat to dry before moving on to the next section (unless you are lucky enough to have an ironing surface that accommodates your entire piece of fabric).  If you move your warm and slightly wet fabric, you risk it drying in a stretched position.

 Preshrinking the Lining Fabric

For preshrinking your lining, Ms. Knight says that if you are using a satin lining you may want to use a dry iron.

She says this because there are some fabrics that a water droplet will stain. Satin is one of those fabrics. Her solution is to use a dry iron for the process. I am in doubt that a dry iron will do much by way of pre-shrinking anything so I ironed my silk dupioni with a dry iron to test.  The before and after measurement were identical.

I hardly think my single experiment qualifies for accurate scientific results so would say, if you are worried about your lining shrinking and/or possibly staining, do a test by putting a couple of drops of water on an inconspicuous area and see how they dry.  But caution – this type of a test may not be all that reliable. I have used water all over a piece of satin and still had a permanent stain in only one place.

Placing Pattern Pieces onto the Fabric

If you are using a solid color fabric, you can follow the instructions for the cutting layout that are included in the pattern packet.

If your fabric has a pattern that needs to be matched, you will be following Ms. Knight’s instruction on the video.

Do not fold your fabric to cut the right and left side at the same time. Lay your fabric on a flat surface in a single layer with the right side of the fabric facing up. Make sure you are working with all the lines in your fabric as straight as possible.

If your fabric is longer than the surface on which you are working, do not let the excess hang over the edge. This will cause your fabric to distort.

Ms. Knight uses a single pattern piece to cut both her left and right side.  I have decided to make pattern pieces for both my left and right sides (see picture above).  I feel this helps me with the layout process and to know how the entire jacket, including sleeves, will layout before I pin.

You will see in the photo above, that I have drawn the grain line on my pattern pieces the entire length of each pattern piece.  I found this helped me lining things up vertically because the lines in my fabric are difficult to follow.

My pattern pieces have no seam allowance so I have left adequate space between the pieces for cutting.  Our instructor you will remember, is using pattern pieces with the 1″ seam allowance.

ALERT: If you are planning to use the edges of your fabric as trim, be sure to leave at least 2″ between the edge of your fabric and your pattern pieces.

 Pattern Layout

After working through this lesson, it is clear to me why it is important to understand the pattern in your fabric.

Now that I really “look” at the classic jackets and what instructors teaching this type of class choose, I can see that they make it much easier on themselves by choosing very predominant, obvious, and symmetrical vertical and horizontal patterns for their jackets – or, they choose something with no matching required.

I feel like there is no real pattern to my dominant warp (straight of grain) threads. Due to my inexperience, this bothers me because, until I get the seams together, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to see.

The predominant weft (cross grain) threads however do present me with a more obvious pattern so I’ll rely on those for placement and matching.

Ms. Knight lays out her pattern pieces and matches up the notches for the horizontal placement.  She uses a pencil to mark the placement of the dominant vertical lines on her pieces so that she can accurately vertically align the adjacent pieces. This is great advice.

If you, like she, are using pattern pieces with the 1″ seam allowance built in, you must be cognizant of that allowance when placing your pieces – especially at the hem line.  Be sure you are folding the seam allowances out so that your placement is exactly where you wish it to be.

This is one of the reasons I elected to  use pattern pieces with no seam allowances.  I want to see exactly where all my seams are coming together without the distraction of folding my pattern to look for placement lines.

Cutting the Second Side

Ms. Knight uses one pattern piece to cut both sides of her jacket.  This is perfectly acceptable however there can be problems with this approach.  I refer back to my previous post in Lesson 3 where I discuss pattern matching with fabrics where the weave on the wrong side of the fabric looks slightly different than it does on the right side.

If you follow the instructor’s lead and use your first cut out piece, placed pattern side down, you will be looking at the wrong side of the fabric and pairing it with the right side of the fabric for that second side.  If the weave on the two sides are slightly different (and the pattern in your fabric is not crystal clear), the predominant lines you are matching up can be misleading.

The photo above is the example in my previous post that demonstrates how close up, the placement looked spot on whereas, once viewed at a distance – the pattern in the fabric was not matched at all.

Cutting Out the Sleeve

For the sleeve, I drew my grain line through the dot that marks the top center of the sleeve all the way to the bottom of the pattern piece making sure it was parallel to the grain line. This was very  helpful because I had difficulty following my fabric’s dominant vertical lines once they disappeared under my pattern pieces.

My Fabric Issues and Fusible Interfacing

So there I was in the lesson on Materials, lecturing you all on the importance of choosing the proper fabric for your jacket when all along, the fabrics sitting in my stash were probably two of the best examples of “how NOT TO BUY”, and “what NOT TO BUY”.

So here’s the story (somewhat abbreviated so as not to put you to sleep. . .).

I bought my gold fabric for this jacket long ago so at the time, I was really not very experienced when it came to the process. My buying experiences, heretofore have been solely based on – “ooohhh pretty! I want that one”.  Also, I relied on the shop personnel to help me determine the amount of fabric I was going to need.

Fast forward to this lesson when I actually opened up that gold fabric for the first time. I discovered that I was going to have to eek out my jacket because I didn’t really have enough.  I think I could have done it, but only just.

I did have another option sitting in my stash that I was saving for the couture dress project.  I opened it up and laid it out and there was plenty. The problem with this piece though is its weight.  WOW!  Way too thin!

I started cutting my pieces and rapidly realized that just breathing on them caused the fabric to unravel.  There was no way I was going to be able to make a jacket unless I did some triage.

So, I turned to my sewing mentor and the Internet for help.

My mentor, a very technical sewist who began sewing in the womb, advised me to interface my fabric with a very lightweight interfacing.  I ended up purchasing PRO-SHEER Elegance COUTURE Fusible Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.

The fusible interfacing is 60″ and comes in white and black.  And boy, is it buttery – meaning smooth and silky and ever so delicate to the touch.   You would think it would hardly make a difference.

So, in order to save my project, my new direction was to fuse the interfacing to the back of every pattern piece.  Which I have done.

My jacket pieces are more manageable because they now have a bit of stability – the raveling issue is also contained. It still feels thin though so I have also purchased a silk dupioni as my lining. Of all the silks recommended for this jacket, I think it has the most support.

And speaking of the lining. . .

Cutting Out the Lining

Ms. Knight tells us that it is a good idea to cut the lining out 1/8″ – 1/4″ bigger than the pattern pieces (that already have a 1″ seam allowance).  Her rationale being that the lining will shrink up during the quilting process.

I elected not to do this and have cut my lining pieces the same size as my jacket pieces. I am guessing I did this out of ignorance because I just don’t recall having an issue in my previous two jackets.  To be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention at that point.

I will pay closer attention to this in my blog post on the quilting lesson and let you know the outcome of my rebellious actions.

So if you are reading this and my project has been finished, please stop here and go read my post on quilting and see if I have any advice for cutting your lining pieces that differs from the instructors recommendations.

In Summary

A few lessons learned:

Do your homework on fabric requirements “before” shopping for your fabric – or if you’re just not sure – round up and buy a little more yardage.

Actually open up your fabric at the store.  Drape it, pay attention to its weight, notice the pattern lines and think about your pattern seams (do you need to match), and really notice how it behaves – is it unraveling with the breeze or is it going to be fun to sew?

Open it up on the cutting table and inspect it for blemishes.

Next up. . .

 Lesson 5 – Getting Started with Sewing

I think this is where they say – the fun begins!  Until then, have fun with your cutting and

Thanks for reading.  V

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