101: Pad Stitch

Pad stitching is a means of joining two pieces of fabric together. In the context of tailoring, it’s used to join a relatively stiff, non-fusible interfacing (like the one you see above) to the lapels or collar, with the aim of shaping the fabric to ‘roll’ nicely and keep it’s form.

I generally tend to use horse hair canvas as my interfacing of choice in this application – which is also known as ‘hymo’ or ‘hair cloth’ (which in times gone past was actually made out of either horse or camel hair, but nowadays is generally a blend of wool and goat hair). 

The pad stitch is applied to the collar or lapel piece which will be underneath the collar or lapel – so the stitches aren’t seen (If you’re skilled, you can do it so they don’t show at all). You keep the pad stitches outside the seam allowances, so when you’re finished, you can sew the top and underneath sections of the collar or lapel together and no-one but you will know what’s hidden underneath.  

In this explanation, I’ll be showing you how to do the stitch only – its best to discuss the types of interfacing when in context of its use, as each tailoring project is different. There are numerous ways to do the pad stitch – I rather like my pad stitches to form ‘chevrons’. 


The first thing I do is usually mark grid lines in chalk on the canvas. I use 1/4 inch spacing when I’m working ‘underneath’ the roll line (the part of the collar or lapel which folds the most) then go out to 1/2 inch spacing for the remainder, switching back to 1/4 inch spacing at the corners of the collar. You can see my lines marked on the canvas here:

So first – using silk thread, thread your needle and tie a knot at the end. Insert your needle between the interfacing and shell fabric, and pull through so your knot is hidden from sight between the two fabric layers. I’m only using a single layer – the canvas – in this example for simplicities sake.

Holding your finger underneath the fabric to ‘shape it’ into the roll that we want it to eventually form, insert your needle perpendicular to the blue chalked guidelines:

Pull through and repeat until you get to the end of line. As a rule of thumb, I generally try to maintain the 1/4 or 1/2 inch distance between each stitch, so that the stitch is a diagonal in an imaginary square. When you’ve sewn your last stitch for the line, take a tiny stitch that bridges the chalked line like below:

When you’ve pulled this through, to start the new line you simply take another stitch perpendicular to the blue chalk line but in line with the matching stitch underneath:

Keep going until you hit the next end – take another tiny stitch and continue on in the other direction:

And that’s how you pad stitch.

V8307: A tailored collar

After spending WAY too much time staring at the photo of my toile and not being very happy with the collar, I realised I had put the blasted thing on around the wrong way. Oh dear. After ripping the thing off and getting it right, I decided to make some changes to the shape of it to more closely match the original:

 
Reducing the width of the collar on the right to come in line with the collar that crosses to front, and reducing the width of the collar on my right shoulder to give a more rounded look. I’ve also decided not to apply roll lines, as I quite like the way the collar sits flat.

Horse Hair Canvas Interfacing and Pad Stitching
With the updated collar cut out interfaced, I’ll be using horse hair canvas as another layer of interfacing rather than the silk organza of the bodice and sleeve cuffs.

It’s simply a matter of cutting out 1 piece of each of the collar pattern pieces, marking the seam allowances on, and machine basting along the neckline to the wrong side of the collar that will be the ‘under collar':

You can see I’ve chalked out lines running parallel to the neckline – this is the guide for pad stitching – I’ll be doing a ‘101’ on this before the end of the week. In this case, I’m using a 1/4″ spacing close to the neckline, and a 1/2″ spacing for the rest of the collar before transitioning back to 1/4″ spacing at the collar corners.

Pad stitching two fabrics together gives stability and firmness, and the smaller the stitch, the firmer the result.

When your done, position your collar in the approximate shape it will take when attached to your garment, and steam the living daylights out of it (but don’t actually let the iron contact your collar). This helps to cement the shape in your fabric’s ‘memory’. Leave to dry out over night!

The under collar is ready to be sewn to the upper collar and then attached to the jacket when dry. Notch the seam allowances and iron the seams flat. 

I’ll be joining the collar to the jacket when I’ve got my lining prepped and ready to go.

Picture 10

V1549: Feel like a woman – wear a dress!

Picture 9

Well, my 1970’s Diane Von Furstenberg wrap is finito. I love it! I feel so… elegant wearing it. Which is bizarre because I usually always feel some degree of awkwardness when I’m out and about in public. But that’s probably just because I’m a rather awkward person.

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Maybe it’s the swishy skirt?

Picture 10

Or maybe DVF was really onto something in her caption on the back of the pattern envelope – ‘Feel like a woman, wear a dress’ (should we change ‘wear’ to ‘make’…?)

Picture 10a

You’ll note I ended up leaving it at the original pattern length, rather than modernise the thing by making it shorter. Perhaps a tad frumpy old-fashioned, but I actually rather like it.

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Thanks boys, you really made my day :)

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V8307: Shoulder pads and sleeve heads

The purpose of shoulder pads is to help shape the jacket into the square line that visually, we associate with tailored garments. Shoulder pads came about in women’s fashion during the forties – following the boyish then floaty looks of the previous decade, probably due to women’s increased participation in the workforce. Tailoring took on a more androgynous look for women. The 40’s then gave way to the extremism of shoulder pads for the 1980’s look. 

Thankfully, shoulder pads these days are a lot more ‘subtle’. I’ll be using some to give my jacket some shape.

Sleeve heads are a little different though – attached to the seam between the sleeve and the shoulders, their purpose is to prevent the sleeve cap from collapsing into itself, preventing dimples and giving a smooth finish. 

I’ve had a nightmare trying to find pre-made sleeve heads – so after some research and rather a large amount of reading, I’ve decided to draft my own, which I’ll explain right now…


I bought some quilter’s cotton batting – but only because I couldn’t find any flannel/fleece (the recommended material) without a garish print on it. I couldn’t bear the thought of my beautiful jacket having innards with some kids superhero printed on it. This stuff is about 2-3mm thick.

After tracing my sleeve pattern and including the grain line marking, I changed this to a bias line. To do this, I drew a 2.5×2.5cm square sitting on the grain line – drawing a diagonal line down the middle of this represents a 45 degree angle (the bias) and is a right angled triangle. You can see I’ve drawn a jelly bean shape at the top of the sleeve cap – this will be the pattern piece for the sleeve head. I’ve quite literally just free hand drawn this – based on the shapes I saw over at the Sewing Diva’s blog post on the topic (see here):
Make sure you transfer the centre point from the sleeve pattern to your sleeve head pattern. 


Pin and then sew your sleeve head on by sewing directly onto the existing seam allowance (I’ve got the sleeve head on the underside):


After playing around with the positioning of shoulder pads on one side and comparing to the non-shoulder padded side – I’ve decided to go without. The jacket appears to sit rather nicely without them: 

B8155: The ultimate pencil skirt

Ah, Burda 8155. The pencil skirt for the pencil skirt enthusiast. Perfectly shaped, super easy to make and looks great on. You don’t need a toile for this, just a measuring tape to ensure you get the right fit.

Speaking of which, make sure you take your measurements from the actual pattern pieces, rather than the measurement chart. That measurement chart LIES. On my first version of this skirt I learnt the hard way – my waist and hip measurements almost exactly matched those of the size 42, but when I put the darned thing together, it had so much ease that the waistband barely held itself to hips. I downsized to a 38 and increased the width of the front darts by 0.5cm each side (a total of 2cm), which ended up being perfect.

I’ll be whipping up 2 versions of this in view B, the first of which will be in this fabulous 75% wool/25% nylon basketweave textured fabric. Acquired from EmmaOneSock – where else? Teaming up with this will be a black silk habotai from Clegs and I’m stuck on two potential buttons I’ve bought from Etsy (love!) to join the waistband…

I’m going to try my hand at bound button holes for this skirt’s waistband.
The second version will be in a fabric I fell head over heels for in Tessuti – called ‘Once Upon a Pink’. I was tempted to go back and buy more for a dress – but it had already sold out by the time I made up my mind. For this one I’ve decided to replace the waistband and use a matching bright red petersham ribbon:

I need something to sew that’s quick and easy as a break from my coat :)