I’m excited to see those of you who will be joining me for class in about a month. (It’s not too late to sign up!) A big part of any sewing project is just getting ready to sew it! I thought it might help everyone if I broke down what I’m going to do to get ready for class. My plan is to prep both test pieces for class and what I need to actually make my jacket at the same time. You may choose to do almost none of this, or all of it!
Step 1: Prep your pattern
Choose your size. Assemble, if needed, and trace or cut out your pattern pieces. Consider adding a matching notch to the back yoke.
Step 2: Mise en place
This is chef-talk for “make sure you have all of your stuff.” It’s not such a horrible thing to have to order zippers halfway through a project, but it is annoying! If you’re prepping for both class and actually sewing your jacket at the same time, you’ll need:
- Two (or three) plastic standard (not invisible-style) zippers, at least 6 inches long (If you are like me, you’ll want three of these, two for your jacket and one just to try the techniques.)
- A zipper foot that is compatible with your machine
- Ball-point and/or stretch sewing machine needles
- Wash away wonder tape or stitch witchery
- Scraps of lightweight stretch knit fabric, such as athletic mesh or tricot, large enough to cut four or six pocket pieces
- One (or two) separating (jacket) zipper, 24 inches long, #5 weight is recommended (Again, I hate tearing things out, even for a test. If you’re like me, just get two zippers and use one for testing and one for your jacket.)
- Fabric for your project, prewashed
- Optional, but a big help: a walking foot that is compatible with your machine
- Optional, but also a big help: fusible tricot interfacing
- Optional: If you’re not using a serger, consider getting fold over elastic, hem tape, or other trim to add to the inner edge of your hem facing. I tested finishing that edge with a zigzag stitch and I wasn’t happy with the results.
- Optional: A print out of your instructions. We’ll be skimming over them in class, but you may want them handy to take notes or just keep from getting lost.
Step 3: Cut your fabric and prep your interfacing
Cut your pattern pieces according to the pattern, but also cut the following to use in class:
- Four strips of knit fabric, at least 2 inches wide and 24 inches long, cut with the greatest amount of stretch along the narrow edge
- Three front pocket pieces and three back pocket pieces. One set is to test in class and the other two sets are to actually make your jacket.
If possible, keep your pattern pieces with the fabric pieces after you cut. Some of the pieces in this jacket are similar in size and shape, and it would be easy to get them mixed up.
Consider using a fusible knit interfacing in the following areas: bottom hem facings, collar, zipper facing, the front edge of the jacket, and at the bottom sleeve hems if you don’t want to use a cuff.
- Test the interfacing on a scrap of your fabric before you do anything else with it. Always use a press cloth. I like to use tissue paper as a press cloth for fusibles. If you’re sewing along in class, you’ll want to interface two of your 2-inch-wide fabric strips with 1-inch strips of interfacing, so you can use those as your test. Place the interfacing along one long edge of each piece, not down the center of the strip.
- Interfacing for the bottom hem facings could be cut separately or block fuse interfacing to your fabric before cutting those pattern pieces. My fabric is kind of squishy and springy, so interfacing before cutting could help keep the hem facing pieces’ size and shape more consistent. I’ll demonstrate block fusing in class.
- Cut interfacing for the collar using the collar pattern piece, but don’t fuse it, yet. There’s a trick to making the inside of your collar neater that I want to show you in class.
- For the front edge of the jacket, apply 1-inch strips of interfacing just before step 35. You can’t really do it at the cutting-out stage because it extends past the collar/hood seam. Your edge may have stretched out as you worked, so make sure your interfacing strips are the same length as your zipper, then use that to pull your front edge to size as you fuse.
- I like a 2-inch-wide strip of interfacing for a 1-inch sleeve hem.
Step 4: Prep your equipment
Put a new needle in your sewing machine and wind two bobbins of thread. Using a scrap, test your stitch settings for seams and topstitching. On my machine, I liked a 10 sts/inch (2.5 mm) long and 1.5 mm wide for construction and 8 sts/inch (3 mm) long for topstitching. For hems, I liked 10 sts/inch (2.5 mm) long and the narrowest possible zigzag on my machine.
If you use a serger, you’ll still need a sewing machine for the side seam if you want pockets and to sew your zipper facing, zipper applications and for basting tricky seams (the back yoke, the front princess seams and the sleeves).
On my serger, double knits perform best using the four-thread ultra-stretch mock safety stitch. (Boy, does that trip off the tongue!) It’s a two-needle, four-thread stitch. I think it’s also called just a four-thread overlock or a 3/4 stitch. Make sure you test stitch a seam that’s across the fabric’s grain as well as along the grain, to check for stretching. Don’t forget to put new needles in your serger, too!