The Tabula Rasa French jacket pieces are quilted to the lining and the bouclé seams have been sewn on the machine. Reaching this place is satisfactory because after hours of basting, fitting and quilting there is actually a jacket. But one look at the inside reminds you that there is still a lot to be done.
With all sewing “patience is a virtue”, but when constructing a French jacket it is a necessity. This process simply cannot be rushed. As I am facing another day of handwork, I am realizing that it was an inspired idea to take on this project in the winter. I live in a rather drafty old house so for several hours a day I am warmed by the jacket in my lap and the light shining over my shoulder.
After years of experience constructing garments for others, I know that 3 to 4 hours of handwork is my daily limit. If I exceed this, I began to work holes in my fingertips. While a thimble seems like the obvious answer I have never found a rhythm using one.
So here is my handwork timetable. Some of the work I did at the ironing board, trimming seams and pressing the fold into the lining. The remainder I did in my lap in a comfortable chair listening to music or the radio.
- Neaten up the princess seams by trimming off the excess bouclé, pressing the seam open and then covering the seams with the lining. Leave 1” of the lining free at each end of the seam.
- Work on the shoulders seams and the seam connecting the side panel to the two-piece Tabula Rasa Jacket sleeve. Trim the bouclé, hand stitch the lining in place to cover the bouclé seams, carefully hiding the hand stitches. ( See photos of this process at the end of the post). Finish the lining at the shoulder edges of the princess seams.
- Stitch the seams that join each sleeve/side panel to the jacket on the machine. Trim the bouclé and lining, press and stitch the lining into place.
- Neaten up the front collar extension and center back neck seam. This is the new Tabula Rasa Jacket collar design I am experimenting with and so the work was slow. I had to choose where to clip and trim the seams and silk organza supports. Permanently stitch the collar in place where it joins the jacket and finish the lining along this seam. (See photos of this process at the end of the post.)
- Try on the jacket to check the placement of the center front and determine the hem depth for both the body and the sleeves. Press the hems in place and try on the jacket again to double check the hem lengths.
- Trim out the extra bouclé along the center front and hem. I chose to miter the jacket front where it meets the hem to eliminate bulk. Press the miter into place. I machine stitched a wide zigzag along the edge of each hem before catch stitching the bouclé hem in place.
- Try on the jacket and determine the placement of the hook and eye closures. I used three. Stitch them securely in place.
- Apply the trim along the center front edges and around the collar. For my jacket that was a four step process. I will discuss the trim in detail in my next French jacket post.
- Neaten the lining along the center front edges and create the jump in the lining’s hem. Stitch the lining in place.
- Determine the size and placement of the pockets and construct them using the machine.
- Apply the trim to the top of each pocket, then hand stitch the pockets in place.
- Measure, trim and stitch the chain to the inside of the jacket just above the hem edge.
- Begin to clean up the sleeve by pressing the hem and vent into place – trim off any extra bouclé. Catch stitch the hem in place.
- Clean up the lining where it finishes each side of the sleeve vent.
- Finish the sleeve front vent first. Clean up the lining, press the front lining under along the seam line, and hand stitch it along the inside edge of the sleeve vent. Then press the under lap of the back sleeve into place and hand stitch the lining to cover the raw edges across the top of the under lap and down the back sleeve opening.
- Finish the sleeve lining to cover the hem.
- Apply the trim to the sleeve down the front vent opening and around the cuff.
- Make a French tack about 1 inch above the hem inside the sleeve to keep the vent closed.
Don’t let the handwork become overwhelming; do a little bit every day and all of a sudden your jacket will be finished. What are your best tips for conquering a large hand work task? What kind of thimbles work for you?
Happy Sewing, RAE