Sewing Tutorial- "Cuffed-Hem" Sleeve

Friday, March 25, 2011

Recently I made this custom shirt for one of my clients from light-weight distressed denim. It is one of my original designs and features  pin-tucks on the pocket and right front...and special "Cuffed-Hems" on the sleeves (see Tutorial below).  The Coconut Shell Buttons and Pro-Weft Interfacing used on this shirt are from www.FashionSewingSupply.

How to make a "Cuffed-Hem" Sleeve

For an approximately 1" finished Cuffed-Hem, you only need to make one simple change to your sleeve pattern. Just change the hem allowance to 2.25 inches (2-1/4"), as shown in this sample pattern.

After cutting out your sleeve, turn the bottom (hem edge) of the sleeve to the Wrong side by 1-1/8", then turn it again by the same amount (1-1/8"), then Press.  All we are doing here is "turning it twice to the wrong side" by 1-1/8" each time...just as if we were making a double hem.  This photo shows the bottom edge turned twice. The sleeve is shown photographed from the side so that you can see the folds--

When the folds have been pressed completely flat, take your sleeve to the sewing machine. 
Now Top-Stitch along the Bottom Edge  about 1/4", through all the layers. After stitching, this is what the sleeve will look like from the Wrong Side--

To finish the Cuffed-Hem, turn down the top fold (the one that was NOT stitched) and press. 
Here is what the finished Cuffed-Hem Sleeve looks like from the right side and the wrong side. The wrong side will have the raw edge enclosed, and the right side will have the Cuffed "Lip" that was formed when you stitched it!

BE LINEN...a fascinating short film....

Friday, March 18, 2011
...with wonderfully beautiful photography that follows this amazing fiber
from field to fabric to fashion. I will never take linen for granted again.

BE LINEN MOVIE from Benoit MILLOT on Vimeo.

BIG Thanks to Vogue Patterns Magazine !

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What an honor it is for my business,
Fashion Sewing Supply, to be featured in the current (April/May 2011) issue of Vogue Patterns Magazine! 
An editor contacted me several weeks ago to let me know that my business had been chosen to be among 4 featured in the "Web Watch" Editorial.  No, it's not an advertisement...they found us worthy of inclusion
...and I am beyond thrilled!

Here's what they had to say....

Their Favorite the dozen!

Monday, March 14, 2011
This shirt style is one of my original designs, and continues to be the most requested style by my clients.

I have clients who order this "Island Shirt" by the dozen...but this weekend I only made 3, including this one from distressed white linen. It has a nice trim fit, and looks good made from many different fabrics.  I always enjoy making this is my very favorite :)

A Light and Breezy Shirt, on it's way to Belize...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Made from very lightweight Oxford Cloth, this shirt was designed for one of my clients. Since he lives in the tropics and does most of his business poolside, he wanted a shirt that was loose and breezy with "just a little hint of businessman".  That is why I chose the lightweight oxford stripe, but used it in a very casual way. 

I just sent him this photo, and I am happy to say that he likes it !  And he wants a few more in other colors :)

On another note, my husband  Roger saw this shirt and wants a similar one to wear to his daughter's graduation from Florida Gulf Coast University. Good thing he doesn't need it until the end of April...because I have a list of things to sew for myself over the next few weeks :)

Now back to the machines...more shirts for clients to sew...

A Shirt in Pieces...

Saturday, March 12, 2011
There actually has been some sewing going on around here :)   
My clients want new custom shirts, ASAP!

Here is what is on the machine right now...please pardon my hasty pinning of the pieces on my photo-wall. Later today it will be a short sleeve shirt with a contrast under-placket, piped pocket, and contrast inner band collar. I designed and drafted the pattern by hand. 

Buttons were quickly placed on the left front of this green striped oxford cloth shirt. Of course they will actually be sewn onto the right contrast under-placket...but I wanted to preview my selection where they will be seen when the shirt is "on the body".  I am quite pleased with the color and style of the buttons I decided to of our new Italian Designer Shirt Button styles, color-Latte, from Fashion Sewing Supply.

So stay tuned for a photo of the finished shirt, I should have it posted here first thing tomorrow :)

Choosing a tailor

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
It's brilliant to see that more and more people are being turned on to the idea of getting a tailored suit. Often, people seem to first get interested for a wedding; now that they are unlikely to wear morning dress, but still want something special, a tailored suit is a perfect choice. Whatever the reason, lots of new businesses are springing up to cater to people prepared to invest a few hundred pounds in a good suit, but not the several thousand that Savile Row demands. The problem is that not all of these companies are necessarily very good, and their target market is often largely made up of people who don't know enough about tailoring to spot the bad ones. So, if you're in this position, here are a few tips.

As an aside, note that these are primarily about assessing the quality of a mid-range made-to-measure or semi-bespoke tailor. Applying these ideas to a Savile Row tailor will likely be nonsense, since with them you can take a basic standard of quality for granted, and then need to make your decision based on other factors.

Look at the suits on their site
Most of this type of tailor will have a decent website, often one allowing you to order online (don't though), so this is a great chance to look at some suits. Believe me, if they can't even make the suits look good on a mannequin or a model then they definitely won't look good on you. Equally, if they know so little about dressing that the suits on their home page have all the jacket buttons done up then they are unlikely to be able to advise you effectively on what looks good.

When looking at pictures, pay particular attention to how the shoulders and collar fit, and the shape made by the sides of the suit between the armpits and the waist. One of the advantages of a tailored suit is that they should be able to give you a nice snug fit here, creating a slight V-shape, and giving plenty of space between the arms and the body.

Find out where their cloth comes from
You should be able to look at a swatch book (I did say not to order online, didn't I?), or ideally several from different wool manufacturers. You almost certainly want the wool to be English, although Italian is also good, especially if you favour Italian suit styles. Wool manufactured elsewhere, regardless of whether it's 100% cashmere or has a high super-number, is almost never as good or as durable. It will look wrong and feel wrong and the money you are about to spend on tailoring will be wasted. Certain English mills have a particularly good reputation, and you will obviously pay more for big names, but at the mid-range of tailoring that is probably less of a concern.

Find out how the suits are made
Ignore any claims on the website of being 'bespoke', 'tailor made', 'Savile Row' or anything else. Any tailor worth their salt should be able to tell you exactly how the suit is made. If they can't, then don't buy your suit there.

Exactly what you are looking for here is up to you (and how much you are paying), but the main things to interrogate are:
  • Will they be drafting you a personal paper pattern? Ideally, yes, but some tailors will simply store your details on a computer and that is fair enough. What you don't really want is for them to simply use a standard pattern and adjust it slightly for your measurements.
  • How will the suit be cut? The gold standard here is that it will be cut by a Savile Row trained cutter, who will be the same person who sold you the suit and talked to you about options. He will have mentally assesed your figure and stance and will cut a suit to fit. You're unlikely to get that from the sort of tailors we're talking about, however, so you should aim for a tailor where the suits are cut by hand by experienced (and preferably Savile-row-trained) cutters. Whether it is cut in the UK or not doesn't really matter as much as some tailors might pretend, but I would tend to avoid places where the cloth is cut by machine, or by unskilled factory workers.
  • How much of the suit will be hand-stitched? For this kind of price, you must expect some machine stitching, and that's not a problem. However, more hand-stitching is usually a mark of quality and will result in a far better end product. Don't be fooled by 'hand-stitching around the lapels', though. This is a particular bug-bear of mine as it has become a fashionable aesthetic quirk that does not imply the suit is of high quality or even that it has been hand-stitched. If you want hand-stitching, great, but get it because it means the suit will be the result of the hard work of a skilled craftsman, not because you will have fancy stitching around the lapel.

'Features', and do you pay extra?
A serious tailor will make all their jackets with working cuffs, and not charge you any extra. If they don't, then you're not off to a good start. By the same token; things like side adjusters, brace buttons, slit pockets, wider or narrower lapels, cuffed trousers, and so forth are standard options in choosing your suit, not 'extra features', and should not be charged as such.

Can they do exactly what you want?
A real tailor should be able to make you whatever you like. If you insist on a precise width of lapel, want double inward-facing pleats, like cavalry-cut trousers or demand a fish-tail waist, their response should be a quiet "excellent choice, sir" and a scribbled note. If they look nervous and mumble that they're not sure if they do that then they probably have a handful of set suit patterns that they adjust, and will not cater well to your customisations.

How do the tailors look?
When you go in to the shop (you didn't order online, did you?) take the time to look at the tailors clothes. In traditional Savile Row establishments it's considered somewhat infra dig to make your own clothes, but modern tailors are likely to wear their own suits. Either way, you would expect a tailor who is going to advise you on how to spend several hundred pounds to wear a decent suit themselves. Their particular style may not be to your taste, but they ought to be smartly dressed in a well-made and well-fitting suit.

When you do start asking for advice (and you can do this before you commit to anything) then you should expect confident and helpful answers that take polite account of your particular physique. Hopefully, they will have samples that you can look at and try on.

Hopefully that's a start for now. What else do readers look out for when weighing up a tailor for the first time? Any particular give-aways of quality, or lack thereof?

Computer Woes :(

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Hi everyone !

There are some things in life that just happen...sigh.  Over the weekend my 7 year old computer went "poof"! It died and I lost everything that wasn't backed up. And what was backed up..well...some of it is not compatible with Windows blog posts I had prepared off-line with Microsoft Works...which doesn't exist on the new system I had to rush out and buy this past Sunday.

So bear with me as I go through some OMG days trying to get new blog posts and photos that were saved to disk to download on my new system..sigh..sigh...sigh.

OK..time for another phone convo with the "Geek Squad" !