Tweed Jacket: Front Quilting and Taping

tween jacket sewing tutorial

After collecting all the materials and supplies and after making a mockup, you will have a good understanding of the general process of constructing the Chanel inspired jacket. I will dissect the V8804 pattern which I am using in this sewing tutorial step by step. Some of the most confusing instructions in the pattern, in my personal opinion, are the front, the buttonholes and the sleeves, so I will make sure to focus on these parts specifically. We'll begin with the front piece.

As a visual learner myself, it is important for me to see the sewing process to avoid confusion. Therefore, I am including the video for your reference as well.

I begin with quilting the front. The idea behind quilting is to stabilize loosely-woven tweed fabric and prevent sagging when you start wearing your beautiful jacket. If you understand why are doing this extra step, the rest will be clear. You have two pieces for each front: a piece of tweed and a piece of interfacing. I am using silk organza fabric for my interfacing, but if you do not have it, any light-weight cotton fabric will do, like cotton batiste. You will not see this extra layer because it will be covered by lining. 

Why do I use Shantung silk organza for interfacing the front? Again, I keep in mind that I need the fabric that is light-weight but strong enough to hold wear and tear. If you haven't seen Shantung organza fabric, it it much firmer than other types of silk organza and it is perfect for quilting because it doesn't distort as easily as other types of organza or crepe.

Step 1: Basting 

The process of quilting starts with basting the interfacing to tweed fabric. The pattern instructions ask to pin and baste the two layers with long diagonal basting stitches in the center. I found it better to baste all around the front piece. It may seem like an extra step, but I like it because it doesn't confuse me with another layer of diagonal stitches and it secures the two layers very well.

Step 2: Marking

The quilting itself involves marking the quilting line on the face side of the fabric and basting over that quilting line using long diagonal basting stitches. If you noticed, there is a lot of basting going on. Basting is important to prevent the shifting of the fabric when you take your front to the sewing machine. Where to quilt? I always worry when a hobby becomes less enjoyable because of strict rules and regulations. Let me assure you that all you need is some guidelines and you will figure out the rest from your personal trial and error.

The common sense principle I use is this. You need to leave some room along the shoulder seam, side seam, front seam and the hemline. The reason is because you will need to finish these areas later or attach other pieces there. So, you need some room for that. How much room? Aim for 2-3 inches from seam lines and a bit more for the hem. Just be consistent with all the other pieces as well. I started a binder for tweed jackets projects where I am writing down the steps that are new to me and I also include samples for future reference. This way, I stay consistent and I build my knowledge bank.

Should the quilting line be straight or curved?  You can follow the pattern, or you can do as I did. I made my quilting line follow the grainline on the front piece. The reason for that is because I want the most stability and less shifting and bunching at the front. I want the quilting line to disappear, blend with the fabric because this part will be front and center. This is my construction process: I marked the start and end of the quilting line first and then I used long running stitches to mark the quilting line following the grain of my tweed fabric. I used contrasting thread. 

Step 3: Stitching

You can set your sewing machine to the longest stitch length for quilting, but anywhere between 4mm and 6mm is fine. My sewing machine's longest stitch is 5mm stitch. I made some quilting lines with 5mm stitch and some with 4mm to test them out. With the tweed fabric that you see in the video, the best result was with a 4mm stitch. My advice is to test on a small swatch of fabric. What you are looking for is smoothness and the most blending of the thread with the tweed fabric. I don't like the puffy jacket effect. If you have that after your quilting, then your interfacing may be too thick for this project.

The best part is when you begin stitching on the face side of the fabric. Go slowly because it is actually hard to make a perfectly straight line following the quilting line. After you finish stitching, you can tie off the threads and cut them or you can hide them between the layers. Don't forget to press the quilting line on the wrong side.

Step 4: Mark buttonholes

After you finish both front pieces, mark your buttonholes. I attached small ovals of cotton fusible interfacing to stabilize the tweed fabric. After the buttonholes are marked, baste the front edge to keep the tweed and interfacing layers together in preparation for the next step.

Step 5: Tape the front edge

I had a lot of head scratching during this step, I wouldn't hide. In the end, I decided to do it my way based on other tailored jackets I made in the past. So, there you go.

Why taping? It stems from the fact that the front piece stretches during construction and the two fronts will not match as a result. To prevent stretching and also to keep the edges hanging straight, we attach a piece of cotton tape or fabric selvage along the fold line. The most important keyword here is preshrunk tape. Don't use your quilted front piece for measuring how much tape you need. It may have already stretched a little. Use your pattern instead. Measure from hem seam allowance to the neckline seam allowance as I demonstrated in the video. Clip in the corner and pivot the tape to center front.

Another important consideration is bulk management. If you haven't thought about it, you will soon. Tweed fabric is bulky, even the lightest one. I have a small arsenal of tools for bulk management such as clappers of different sizes. But prevention is the best mesure, therefore, I always think about bulk management when it comes to joining pieces together or attaching an extra layer. 

To manage bulk at the front edge, I am trimming the interfacing to about 2mm below the fold line and then I am attaching the tape 1mm below the fold line. Baste the tape first and compare the two fronts to make sure the pattern matches on both pieces. If the pattern doesn't match, re-baste until both fronts look perfect.

Sew to the tweed front piece using fell stitching and then to the interfacing using whip stitching. This way, when you fold the seam allowance of tweed fabric over the tape, you will not have as much bulk on the edge. Make sure that whatever hand stitching you use, your stitches are invisible on the face side of your jacket.

Press the fronts lightly and compare them again, just in case. Now we are ready for the next step: hand-made buttonholes, which I will cover in the next blog post.

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