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By Elena Tran
This is the next part of our sewing tutorials about how to make a tweed jacket inspired by Chanel. We are now moving on to the side front. The main challenge with making a Chanel inspired tweed jacket is that it doesn’t have the conventional dart construction. The bust darts are converted to ease instead with the help of stays made from organza or any other light-weight interfacing. Once you master this technique, you will be able to repeat it on your next tweed coats, dresses and jackets.
Here are the steps:
Start by cutting a stay from light-weight fabric, like silk organza. Close the dart of the stay using machine stitching. Press the dart down.
Make two rows of basting stitches between the dart notches on your side front within the seam allowance.
With wrong sides together, pin the stay to the front tweed piece, matching the notches and the grain. Then pull the basting thread so the front fits the stay. Baste the stay if you want to so it doesn’t shift during the next step.
Sew the stay permanently to the side front with running stitches along the seam allowance and with catch stitches along the remaining three sides. The trick here is to match the grain and to make sure that your catch stitches are invisible on the face side of the fabric. There will be a bubble formed between the tweed and the stay.
Steam and pat the fabric over a ham to shrink the excess tweed fabric. Please be very careful when you steam the fabric because the steam is very hot. I started using a little tool to help me. I call it a mini-clapper. But you can use a small block of wood (smooth and without any coating). The mini-clapper replaces my hand when I need to pat the tweed fabric for prolonged periods of time. What you are looking for at the end is a smooth surface on your tweed fabric (or as smooth as possible because some fabric doesn’t shrink easily). You can also use a moist cotton or wool cloth to help you shrink excess fabric. This is a multi-step process for me. I steam and then I walk away and let the fabric dry. Then I come back to it and try to shrink some more. Patience usually does pay off.
Once your stay is attached and the excess fabric shrunk, you can proceed with quilting the lining to the side front (the way I did it) or follow the instructions on your pattern. The reason why I quilted the side first before attaching it to the front is because I prefer it that way. The piece is smaller and I can manipulate it easier when stitching the quilting lines on the machine.
One more important note: you need to close the bust dart on the side front lining before you quilt the side front. I closed the dart by hand using fell stitching.
Once my side front was quilted and pressed lightly, l stitched the front to the side front (and I also stitched the lining front to the lining side front.) Don’t get confused, just watch the video and you’ll get it.
Have your pockets ready for the next step.
Place both your front pieces face sides up and pin the pockets. You are looking for precision and symmetry here. Align the pockets with your pocket placement markings and baste the pockets so they don’t move during the next step. Sew the pockets permanently with blind stitches or any invisible stitches being careful not to sew through the lining. Inspect your pockets once more and if something doesn’t look right, re-do. It’s better to be perfect at this step.