Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Padding on about Vintage

I think I'm still getting used to routine again after the Christmas holidays and it's taking a little while to re-adjust to setting aside time for sewing, blogging (reading and posting), while being back at work and dealing with everyday stuff too. Anyway, seem to getting there and while nothing new has emerged from the sewing room for the last 10 days at least I got on with the vintage jacket. 

I started this on November 21st and set myself 10 weeks for completion. At what point does a project become a UFO? In that first post on the subject I also stated that I wasn't going to update you dear and patient readers with tales of pad stitching, but I had my figures crossed when I wrote that so it doesn't count and therefore now follows a tale about pad stitching........

Scott Perkins - Garb for Guys
Pad stitching is when you sew the shell fabric to hair canvas and/or wadding not just as an interfacing and stiffener but for specific shaping. Most commonly used at the collar and lapels of tailored jackets, and in men's tailoring can also be used on the inside chest shield to add extra firmness and prevent wrinkling between arm and neck. You stitch parallel to the fold or roll line for shaping with small diagonal stitches - smaller and denser stitches for shaping and sparser, larger stitches for firmness. the stitches go through all thicknesses of fabric, so exactly matching thread is essential and neat hand stitching is a must. the stitches shouldn't show on the outside at all!

There is a wealth of info out there on how to and where to and why, with video, blogs and books galore for you to explore. I would draw your attention to a perfectly simple and short explanation by Scott Perkins of "Garb for Guys" . Now Scott makes historical costumes and not really for everyday wear but that goes to show you how old and well tested pad stitching is. It is a very effective method of controlling shape and adds that touch of je ne c'est quois to a hand made outfit. There are no short cuts - it's hand sewing and a good light.

Here is a picture of one lapel pad stitched and the other not. You can clearly see the difference it makes to the roll and lie of the lapel - once pad stitched the lapel falls naturally and easily to the outside of the jacket front, while the other side just wants to stand away. This hasn't been pressed yet either.

I know my photography leaves a lot to be desired but the above pic shows the outside of the lapel and you can just about make out tiny ripples in the fabric - this is the pad stitching - barely visible but a signature mark of a hand made jacket.  I don't think I have perfected the technique yet as I end up with pad-stitched fingers too! See, suffering for my art!

Ultimately this jacket is a slow make, and not helped either by my wayward sewing projects over the holidays instead of concentrating on this. But there has been some progress.

I've gone from this..............                                            and this...................

to this .................and this.....................

And here's the very ugly, but beautiful to me, insides. The fronts are taped along the lapel roll lines, the front edge of the jacket and part way along the hem. This ensures the fronts hang perpendicular to the floor when the jacket is open; catches the raw edge of the constantly fraying canvas and gives you a great sense of achievement when it's done.

The button holes are bound in the shell fabric and hand stitched in place. I added a much softer and looser canvas across the shoulders and back for extra shaping and firmness.

You can see how this fabric frays like mad - so every raw edge needs some sort of treatment otherwise the whole jacket would unravel like a jumper.

Sorry I don't have  pretty pictures for you to look at - maybe soon.

I have teenage son's summer school graduation in two week's time - that's also coincides with my 10 weeks construction prediction. Haven't started on sleeves yet or lining, shoulder pads still to do, finish the collar and front facings!
Will the vintage jacket be completed on time?
Stay tuned.....

Thanks for reading. Ruth


  1. My goodness, that is some intense work you have been doing behind the scenes on this vintage jacket. Really looking forward to the next segments in this construction - injuries and all...

  2. Ok wow...ok, I am a newbie to any tailoring and you've opened my eyes a bit. Cool reading, thanks!

  3. Slow going but little steps towards finishing. Thanks guys

  4. Love your ability to do the attention to detail stuff!
    Thanks for posting on my blog. about things like the circle skirt. Like you with your Christmas do outfit, this is my first go with knits. I avoided them before as well.

    I was going to try to work out how the circle skirt you made was done... can't remember the designer... not pablo was it. anyway somehow it was drafted using a normal skirt block at the waist? so it drapes better over a tummy?

    however, I didn't have enough brain to work it out this time. I think it was more of a half circle anyway, wasn't it?