Archive for the ‘Jackets’ Category
This is a true story. A gentleman come into one of my shops, and he said, “I want you to put some pockets in my favourite jacket. I don’t care how much it costs. I have had this jacket for years, and I love it, but I can’t stand it any more. I want pockets!!!!!”
Looking at the jacket I poked my little finger into the side of the pocket. Then I poked my finger into the other side of the pocket. It was a very tight fit, but I could just get my long acrylic nail in there.
Grabbing a quick unpick I sniped the stitches, beginning at the edge and working across.
Then I unpicked the opposite pocket. I pulled out the loose threads and handed him back his jacket, and said “How about $100.00?” “Just kidding…”
He could not believe it. For good measure I looked at the top pocket, and it was sewn shut as well, so I opening that.
I had a customer for life…………………………….
Manufacturers sew most of the pockets shut because they don’t want them to sag open on the hangers, and there are people who do not want to put their hands in their pockets, because it might put the jacket out of shape. Personally I LOVE my pockets. I have my hands in them all the time, so if you have someone who comes and gets a jacket altered, even if it’s the sleeves, check out the pockets, and ask if they want them opened.
I don’t charge to do this. I think it’s a good PR exercise
Judith aka genie
Fold the excess fabric over at the top of the sleeve, raising it ONTO the shoulder so that when it is pinned it is pinned at the edge of the shoulder. For those of you with my book you will have an illustration to follow which is under Jackets – Raising at the sleeve cap. The pinning is the same, however as you come down to the underarm, slowly transfer the folding, until you are only pinning the sleeve and not the body, so that by the time you reach the underarm, you are only pinning the sleeve.
Remember to allow for flounce.
To determine how much to shorten from the shoulder and the sleeve, slide pins onto the shoulder, and if the sleeve has been folded up, place a pin at the fold. This means when the pins are taken out that held the sleeve up and onto the shoulder, there will be two rows of pins. One on the shoulder and one row on the sleeve.
Do a line drawing of an armhole and write down how much to take from the shoulder and how much to take from the sleeve. When cutting the excess drop of the shoulder try not to make the armhole too wide. This means not taking as much from the sides of the armhole.
Cut the sleeve the same as Option 1. For experienced seamstresses, cut beside the pins allowing for seam allowance at the shoulder, and seam allowance on the sleeve. Make sure to put a nick at the centre top.
Note – Do not cut too far in at the front and back sections. By this I mean that the shoulder is hanging over the arm, but generally the front and back section needs less taken from it. If too much is taken from the front and back the armhole will become too big. Your pinning should always be perfect, so that the sleeve is pinned into place when on the person at the fitting, making sure to not take too much away from the front and back sections, with more from the top and bottom of the sleeve, but absolutely NONE from the BOTTOM OF THE ARMHOLE on the body of the garment.
For those who are cautious, place dots where the pins were, plus a dot below it on the shoulder for the seam allowance and on the sleeve above it for the seam allowance.
Cut the top of the sleeve, making sure to keep the same curve for the back of the sleeve and the front of the sleeve.
Pin the right sleeve to the right armhole. Begin by pinning from the underarm around the back to the top. Then work from the underarm around to the front. The front top can have a little more ease because this is where the shoulder joint protrudes on most people. The back should have a slight ease as well. Some people baste the sleeves in before they sew, however I find that pinning and sewing the sleeve works just as well.
Pin and sew the left sleeve back on to the armhole.
Overlock or serge the edge.
If you do not have an overlocker or serger, you can always do a French seam to attach the sleeve.
When doing this type of alteration, the reshaping of the sleeve cap is the most important part. If you have made clothes before, and have an understanding of sleeve construction it will help, however the sleeve cap on a shirt is different from a sleeve cap on a stretch top. The shirt is a lot bigger, but it also means they are more forgiving in the shape of the sleeve cap.
My new 3rd Edition has 13 pages dedicated to Shirts and Tops for Taking Up and Taking In, including raising from the sleeve cap. Because the font size has also been reduced, there is more instructions, plus more illustrations.
Judith aka genie
Find out what the new length needs to be by pinning the excess fabric around the elbow area. I do this because I want the cuff to rest in the right position on the wrist. Remember to always allow for flounce. That means when the person raises their arm the cuff does not ride up the wrist too much.
Starting around the elbow area, at the outside arm, take the fabric in your fingers and press it together so that you have the fabric doubled over. Check and see if the sleeve is raised enough at the wrist. When you are happy with the length, place a pin across the fold. Measure the amount from the pin to the fold. Move around 5cm (2 in) and fold the fabric up in the same way, measuring to make sure it is also the same amount as the first pin. Move around the sleeve and pin every 5cm (2in) the same amount. Remember to allow for flounce!
Write this amount down on a piece of paper that you pinned all the way around and double it.
The example I have used is 3.8 cm (1⅝ in) folded which is 7.6 cm (3 in).
Special Note – The amount raised at the sleeve cap will be determined by the width at the top of the sleeve. The sleeve tapers the further it goes down the arm. The more the sleeve cap is shortened the tighter the sleeve will become on the arm. This is why it is better to pin at the upper arm, because it will give an indication if it will become too tight. As a precaution measure the person’s upper arm and the sleeve. There should be at least 5cm (2 in) of give in the width.
For ladies shirts, I usually put a dart at the front section towards the bust. I would have pinned this in place at the fitting.
For men the new armhole size of the sleeve will be smaller than the armhole on the shirt, so you may have to take in the side seam on the body of the shirt. When I have a fitting for this type of alteration, I would consider pinning the inside arm seam to see if it does not become too tight over the chest area. Usually a shirt is loose fitting, so it should not be an issue. It would only be an issue if the shirt was tight fitting.
To eliminate putting the wrong sleeve back in to the wrong armhole, before separating the sleeves, cut a piece of white fabric or calico and using a permanent marker, write “right sleeve” or RS and “left sleeve” or LS on two squares and using a safety pin, pin the fabric to the appropriate sleeve. I usually pin at it onto the cuff.
There are two methods you can adopt when taking the sleeve out. The first is unpicking the sleeve from the armhole. The second is cutting the sleeve out of the armhole. If you opt for cutting the sleeve out, remember to deduct the amount from your shortening measurement. For example if you cut beside the seam allowance on either side it will reduce the measurement by around .8 cm (3/8 in).
Lay the sleeve on your work bench and draw your new sleeve cap lowering it the desired amount (keeping the curvature of the armhole). This means working out to the sides from the centre top of the sleeve keeping the curve, but still working out to the side. You can take a little of the side out, as the sleeve is usually quite big. Then do the same at the underarm, taking out the same amount as at the centre top, but working out to the side.
Only a small amount of fabric is taken from the two sides of the armhole on the sleeve. The reason for this is that if the WIDTH is reduced too much on the sleeve, it will not fit back into the armhole. The WIDTH of the sleeve should be maintained as much as possible. The excess is taken from the TOP and BOTTOM of the sleeve, but still reshaping the sleeve as if it were a normal sleeve in any garment. The back should be wider than the front, just like you see on a sleeve pattern.
To insert the sleeve, sew two rows of gathering around the top of the armhole beginning at one side and sewing around the top and down to the other side. Give it a slight gather, but without a full gather. This will help the sleeve sit nicely into the shoulder.
You do not have to do this step if the shirt is a casual shirt, and particularly if it is a men’s shirt.
Note – the sleeve may have been inserted before the side seams were joined, and if this is the case, you can repeat, or close the side seam and insert on the “round”.
Judith aka genie
Blocking is something that can be used to increase the size of clothes. If you have a teeshirt, dress or trousers that are too small, a separate panel can be added in a contrast colour. I am in the process of using blocking to increase the size of an animal print jacket a friend bought me. It was the only size, but was too small, so I purchased some black fur and will create sections to the side back panels beginning at the armhole, and I will unpick the top section of the sleeve and place a block down the top of the sleeve. I will attach a video when completed.
Judith aka genie
Should you take the sleeve out completely or not? This question was asked of me recently and I thought it was a good topic for the newsletter. It will depend on the construction of the jacket. if you have a ladies jacket and you are only raising the sleeve a small amount, then you probably do not need to unpick the whole sleeve. However if you are shortening the width on the shoulder significantly, then you should take the sleeve out. Added to this is the fact that if you are altering a men’s tailored jacket which has canvas between the outer and the lining, then you definitely need to take the sleeve out.
The first thing you need to do is put the jacket on the person and pin the sleeve up and onto the shoulder. Ladies jackets can be done with the following method.
Note – You only have to pin one side. I always pin the right side, whether that is the right sleeve, or right leg for shortening trousers.
Roll the sleeve up onto the shoulder. By this I mean you are taking the very edge of the sleeve at the top and rolling it up and onto the shoulder. This means that the shoulder will fold in half as you roll up. Once you have the sleeve up into the right position, pin the front of the sleeve up and onto the front section of the shoulder. By the time you get towards the underarm of the jacket at the front, you will find that there will almost be no sleeve to roll up and pin. Now go back to the shoulder seam and begin to roll the sleeve up onto the shoulder moving around the back and down towards the underarm.
The important point here is that you are pinning the sleeve up and over the shoulder with the very edge of the sleeve cap on the shoulder.
Check to see if you need to take in under the arm or at the side back panel.
Once you are happy with this new position, take the jacket off the person. It is not possible to work out how much you are shortening the width at the shoulder, until you unpin the sleeve, however BEFORE you take the pins out, slide a pin NEXT to the edge of the sleeve INTO THE SHOULDER. Do this all the way around the armhole, sliding a pin in next to the edge of the sleeve where it is raised onto the shoulder. Now you can take out your pins holding the sleeve up onto the shoulder. This is where the sleeve will be raised to.
The second method is used when you are altering a man’s jacket and it has the thick canvas inserted into the shoulder. It is impossible to raise the sleeve up onto the shoulder so the best method is to use your pins to mark where you want the sleeve to be raised to, exactly like you have on a ladies jacket, when you slide the pins in next to the folded sleeve. The pins become your imaginary line. Place your pins around the shoulder at the desired location that you want to raise the sleeve to.
Before pins are taken out completely, it is important to make a note of where they are positioned. To do this you need to do what I call a stick drawing. With every alteration you do, if you take a stick drawing of the garment, and write the measurements that the pins are positioned in on that stick drawing, you can then take the pins out, and you know where you have to take it in. For shoulders I draw a HALF CIRCLE which represents the top part of the armhole, with a line at the centre top of the circle, leading away from the circle. The circle represents the sleeve or armhole, and the stick represents the shoulder seam. I write F for front on the right of the half circle and B for back on opposite side.
Measure from the edge of the sleeve to the pin at the shoulder seam. Let us say that this measurement is 2.5 cm (1 in). Write this measurement down on my stick drawing at the position where the line meets the top of the half circle (shoulder seam).
Measure from the shoulder seam around the front by 5cm (2 in), then take the measurement at this position from the edge of the sleeve to the pin and write this measurement down on the stick drawing. I would put 2″ = and the amount. It you are using centimetres it would be 2.5 cm = and the amount. Measure down 10 cm (4 in), measure in from the edge of the seam on the armhole to the pin and write this amount down. Repeat this all the way around the front, then begin at the shoulder seam and work around the back writing down the position from the shoulder seam around the back and write down the amount. When there is no more fabric pinned, write down the position from the shoulder seam (i.e. 10 in = stop)
You may like to just take the top measurement and recut the armhole. But what can happen with that is that you may not take enough from the back section, or you may take too much from the front section. Remember we are all different body shapes, and therefore jackets will sit differently on all of use.
Take not if you need to take it in under the arm or down the side back panel.
By pinning the sleeve up and onto the jacket, placing pins beside the sleeve onto the shoulder, then unpinning the sleeve from the shoulder, you have the EXACT position you want the sleeve on the jacket. Now it is just a matter of transferring those measurements to a piece of paper with a line drawing.
Once this is done you can take the pins out and unpick the sleeve.
If you are raising the sleeve a small amount onto the shoulder, without too much at the sides, then I suggest you only unpick from one side – around the top – and down the other side. You do not have to unpick under the arm, because the sleeve should fit back on with a little easing.
If you have to take the sleeves out, cut a piece of calico or fabric and right “Right Sleeve” on one and “Left sleeve” on the other. Pin these to the bottom of the sleeve before you unpick.
Whenever I am raising the sleeves on an expensive jacket, I suggest to the customer that I only raise the right sleeve, NOT THE LINING, and have her/him back in for a fitting, BEFORE I cut the fabric away. This way they can see how much it is being taken up, and they can see the difference between the right sleeve and the left sleeve. Plus you have not taken the lining up yet, because if they want an adjustment you can do that first, BEFORE you go to all the trouble of altering everything else.
Keep in mind that the sleeve will become shorter when you raise it onto the shoulder.
If you take the sleeve out, always resew TWO rows of stitching around the sleeve cap and ease a little, so that the sleeve sits well. You should be able to push your fingers into the top of the sleeve and it should fall down and over your hand.
If the jacket does have the thick Floating Canvas Horse Hair Panels, then tack this into position BEFORE you recut the shoulder so that it does not move. If you do not tack, you may cut away too much or cut crooked.
NEVER chalk mark or use a tailors pencil on the RIGHT SIDE OF THE FABRIC. Always place your chalk marks or tailors pencil marks on the inside of the fabric. Transpose the measurements from your line drawing to the garment. Remember to allow for seam allowance.
If you had to take in the back panel or front panel, you should do this BEFORE you recut the shoulder. The reason for this is that the panels will not meet, and you will be able to make an adjustment into your measurements.
Cut the excess away, and reattach your sleeves.
Hope this is clarified some points re raising the sleeves on jackets. Always take up the lining the same amount. If you do not take up the lining the same amount, the jacket will always be uncomfortable for the person.
Always sew a small tag on the lining underarm attached to the underarm of the outer fabric. This stops the lining from moving on the jacket.
In my book Clothing Alteration Secrets Revealed you will find more information on how to determine the right length for jacket sleeves for both casual and formal occasions.
Removing shoulder pads
If you remove shoulder pads from a jacket, the jacket shoulder will become sloppy and too big. If you remove the pads, you will have to reshape the shoulder, or raise the sleeve onto the shoulder.
Riding jackets are very expensive, and as the young child grows, jackets can become too tight. Seams do not always have a lot of extra fabric so you need to look at adding panels.
If the arms were too tight and around the armhole and back, then you can insert a panel down the arm and down the back panel. I remembered a client bringing me a Riding Jacket a few years ago, and what I did was insert some good quality heavy velvet as panels down the arms and the side back seams. The Riding School had approved the changes, which is an important point, because some of them are very strict on what the jackets must look like. This particular jacket also had a collar that had seen better days, so I took that out and replaced it with a new black velvet collar.
So if you have a jacket in your wardrobe that has become a little tight, take a good look at it, and see if it would look any better if it had some fabric panels down the arms and back. You could take the complete back side panel out and replace it with a new fabric such as velvet, or just open the seams and add the extension between the existing panels.
Judith aka genie
To get into women’s lined jackets; you will find a seam that has been closed inside one of the sleeves in the lining. For men’s jackets, you will have to make an opening in the lining in the body of the garment, because the sleeves will be closed at the top of the sleeve. Occasionally, you will come across a jacket for men that are made in the same way a woman’s jacket is.
Step 1 – Unpick the inside arm seam of the lining.
Step 2 – Pop the whole jacket out through the opening. When you first do this, you may feel a little strange, but get into the habit of altering from the inside. It is quicker and easier. Pop your hand in and grab hold of the corner furthest away from you. Pull that through the opening. Then pop your hand in and grab the corner of the jacket closest to you. Then pop the collar through.
Step 3 – For this example the jacket is straight across with no split
Step 4 – The hem will be attached at each seam to hold it up. Unpick the hem from the attached seam.
Step 5 – The front panels can be manufactured in a number of ways:-
Option 1 – The front facing and the lining are joined all the way through. It will look like it has been bagged straight across from the edge to the end of the front inside panel. The stitching then tapers across and down by the hem allowance.
Option 2 – The lining is separate from the front inside panel, and has been joined before the hem has been turned up.
Step 6 – Mark the amount that you are going up on the wrong side of the outer fabric not the right side.
Step 7 – You will be measuring from the fold line (original hem) up to the new hem length. Mark all the way around the jacket, marking at seams and in between. Mark the lining the same amount. This will be the amount you are shortening the jacket by, then you will mark below this amount by 1.2 cm (1/2″). This is the seam allowance. If Option 2 – Cut the outer fabric separate to the lining EXCEPT the front and the inside front panels that are joined. Cut these together up to the edge of the inside front panel. Then cut the outer and the lining separate.
Short cut for Option 1 – Mark up the amount you are shortening the jacket, and then down the hem allowance, and BEFORE YOU CUT – stitch 1.2 cm (1/2″) above the hem allowance. Cut on the bottom chalk mark and proceed as follows:-
Step 8 – Lay the jacket on the ironing board, and iron the jacket flat.
Step 9 – Iron interfacing on to the hem allowance placing the interfacing in between each seam. My interfacing is usually 5 cm (2″) wide because most hem allowances are 4cm (1 ½”) wide. The interfacing should be between the cut line and the new fold line. Not above the fold line.
Step 10 – Bag the two front sections together. When you ironed up the hem allowance, you will have made sure the two fronts are even.
Bag the right side front, then the left side front, and check to see they are even.
Step 11 – Pin the side facing to the outer fabric on the hem on each front section.
Step 12 – Pin the lining to the outer fabric. I do a 1 cm (1/2″) hem allowance.
Step 13 – For the rest of the jacket, sew just above the bottom chalk mark. This means you sew from the edge of the facing to the opposite facing.
Step 14 – Cut off the excess fabric on the cut line.
Step 15 – Iron the hem up by having the garment with the inside facing you, and iron up the hem allowance. Use the end of the ironing board.
Step 16 – Fold the hem allowance over to the lining and iron into place.
Step 17 – Do this all the way around the jacket hem.
Step 18 – Attach the hem to the seams at each section.
Step 19 – Pop the jacket out through the opening in the sleeve.
Step 20 – Re-iron the hem and if you marked correctly, the hem should be straight.
Step 21 – Close the opening in the sleeve.
If you have a jacket that has a curved front panel, make a template by placing a piece of cardboard underneath one front curve and draw around the outline. Cut your template. When you have the jacket inside out, lay the template over the front panel and draw your curved outline (this is on the wrong side of the fabric because it is inside out) and this is your stitch line. Proceed as per above for the rest of the jacket.
Judith aka genie
Shortening a lined suit jacket takes some concentration but can be achieved without too much fuss if you know what you are doing in advance. This type of jacket is longer than a bomber jacket which finishes around the waist or upper hip area. To determine the average length of a suit jacket, stand in front of a mirror and lower your right arm with the elbow locked straight. Raise your thumb in a 45° angle. This is the perfect length for your body shape. A jacket on a person who is 183 cm (6′) tall will be a different length from someone who is 163 cm (5’4″). The length of your upper body and the length of your arms will determine your perfect length. A jacket that is too long will make a shorter person look even shorter, and may give the impression that they are bigger in the upper body than they really are. This means that shorter people need to have their jackets shortened to their perfect length for a better self image.
Shortening a lined jacket (no splits) is one of the most challenging of clothing alterations, or may seem so in the beginning. Just the thought can put a lot of people off and send them running to a clothing alteration shop. We have talked about what a person should be charging for clothing alterations, and this is one of the most expensive. Because I work from home, I charge $40.00 plus GST (10% tax) which is $44.00 per hour (USD$36 and GBP£24). And it would take me around one hour to shorten a lined jacket, so I would be charging AUD$44.00. If you add splits into the equation, maybe one at the back or one either side, then the price would increase. Keeping in mind that the more you shorten a jacket, the more the chances that the split cannot be kept. The fabric for a split is cut away above the split, so the higher you are shortening the jacket the less fabric you have. You need at least 5 cm (2 in) to put a split back on, and that is the bare minimum. I would prefer more than that for it to look reasonable.
Judith aka genie
I contacted an Australian Designer recently to complain about the fact that their lined jackets are not able to be shortened at the sleeves because they are cutting the button holes. Emails went back and forth for a while. I don’t think they really took any notice, but you need to be aware that some designers are cutting their button holes on the sleeves. This is a practice that used to happen way back in the early 1900’s but stopped when it was realized that people needed their jacket sleeves shortened, so they began putting what we call false button holes on jacket sleeves. That meant that when you were shortening a jacket, you could unravel the button hole. Its simple if you get the right thread. If the button hole has been done manually, then you would have to unpick. I unravel the imitation button hole and when I have shortened the sleeve, I sew the buttons back on. Not too many people would notice the difference.
If you are getting a jacket made and it is going to be made to the correct length, then you could cut the button holes if you like, but generally the button holes are only there as a feature.
Jackets can be shortened from the sleeve cap if it has cut button holes, or you can cover them with some satin or such.
Judith aka genie
This is one of those times when I wish I could send you an illustration, but this format of newsletter has to go out in text format and there is definitely no way I can send illustrations.
The day will come when you want to shorten the sleeves on a jacket, BUT the bottom of the sleeve has some kind of feature. It may be that the button holes are sliced open, there is embroidery, beading, elaborate cuffs or any other type of feature. So the only option is to shorten at the top of the sleeve.
I am going to cover this in more detail in my articles in the Australian Stitches magazine, and in my 2nd Edition Clothing Alteration Secrets Revealed, however, I thought I would touch on the subject here, and for those of you who are more experienced I am sure you will understand what I am saying.
Finally before I start, the jacket sleeve is going to get tighter, because you are taking from the top of the sleeve. Make sure that the sleeve is not tight on the person. If it is you can’t alter in this way.
Determine the length you want the sleeve taken up. Now this really can only be done up to about 2” or 5cm. Unpick the sleeve and lining from the shoulder. Make sure you know which sleeve is the left and which is the right. The back is wider than the front, but if you want to be sure safety pin a piece of calico onto the bottom of each sleeve with left on one and right on the other. That way you won’t get it wrong.
Put the sleeves together, right sides facing each other. So one sleeve will be inside the other, and the front of both sleeves is together and the back of each sleeve is together.
Mark down the amount you are shortening the sleeve from the top of the sleeve at the head of the sleeve
Move out to the sides. DO NOT TAKE ANY FROM THE SIDE FRONT AND BACK. Mark up the amount you are shortening the sleeve from the under arm of the sleeve.
You need to get the original shape back into the sleeve. You should be marking this on the wrong side. When you are happy you have the curve right, cut away the excess. Remember to allow for seam allowance, or measure down from the edge and put the same seam allowance back on.
Use the template you cut off the main fabric and pin to the lining so you cut away the same amount from the top and the bottom.
Reattach the sleeves. As a tip, always sew a row of gathering stitch around the top of the sleeve from one side to the other, and give it a little pull so that when you place the sleeve head in your hand it hangs properly. Ease the sleeve in; do not take in the sleeve to make it fit. If you have to sew a row of gathering stitch around the edge of the armhole of the jacket and ease in.
Judith aka genie