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Monday, February 25, 2013

Hair canvas, inner linings and tailoring as penance

I have been suffering through my latest project.
Well, it IS Lent....
After spending hours grading, fitting, and cutting out Richard's wool peacoat AND attaching goat hair facings, I decided that the wool itself felt too flimsy for a peacoat.
So I decided to back every piece with a canvas inner lining . Sewn in by hand.
While it now has the right drape I was looking for, it has been a lot of work to get there. Hours of hand basting every single wool piece with canvas.
And then there is the hole I cut in the front piece AFTER I had hand basted the facing onto it. I mistook it for a raw piece of wool and cut a welt pocket out of the front.
 Oh, brother!
The hole I cut into the front of the coat on accident.

This project is an act of penance! Which is working out great since I didn't give anything up for lent this year........
An example of the rows of basting stitches needed to attach the canvas backing to the wool.
The canvas MUST to be hand basted to the wool  by HAND because if you sew it on by machine the layers will get twisted and distorted ever so subtly. Trust me, I tried it already.
Did you know that the average top quality Savile Row tailored jacket can take as much as 120 hours to make? YEAH...
I digress....
And you should have a new thread for each row of stitching as shown above.
It also has to be very carefully sewn on so you don't see the stitches on the right side of the fabric. It's a long stitch that only just pricks the fashion fabric and shouldn't be visible. This is where the skill of the tailor shows.
My pricked and achy fingers can still feel it.
Hair canvas basted onto fabric to give the coat structure.
This is just one of the many things I have learned about tailoring from my exhaustive research since starting this project.
Which I'm sharing with you. In case you ever decide to make a hand tailored jacket the old fashioned way.

Now a word about Hair Canvas.
 What IS Hair Canvas, you ask?
Some sort of shirt that religious monks in the middle ages wore for punishment?
No that's a HAIR SHIRT, silly.
But it's close.
Hair canvas texture.
It's a fabric made of goat hair and rayon and is used in place of fusible interfacings. And it's purpose is to make the user feel like they are in sewing purgatory while they painstakingly sew this itchy fabric on by hand.
 Fusible interfacings which are frowned upon in the tailoring world.
Mais non, Cherie! That just won't do!
And why not?
Fusibles on a tailored garment can start to come unglued, creating ugly ripples. If you are paying thousands on your hand tailored suit it's the last thing you want.  
Horsehair canvas interfacings are sewn in by hand with a basting stitch.
The stitch just only barely pokes through the outside fabric and should be invisible.
It molds well with the wool not affecting it's drape at all.

Well, that's enough griping for today!

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  1. Oh boy. I feel ya! I'm working on my first tailored jacket, and I spent all evening sewing on hair canvas by hand. I attached the underlining by hand too, same as you - although I only basted around the outer edges. Hmm... I hope that's not something I'll regret later. After all this work, these jackets better be perfect!

  2. I know what you're talking about, girls, thank heaven, only from the other side. I saw such an interfacing, sewn in invisibly from the outer side in an old-old lady jackets I cut up. I didn't have the patience even to unpin it, so cut that part and thrown it away.

    Hold on Justine, "Keep calm and carry on" :o)

  3. Wow! I don't think I'll ever hand tailor a jacket.

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  5. Oh my goodness what are you doing to yourself! ahah. It's going to be so epic though when it's done! And Mr. Country Chick will be stoked!

  6. What the WHAT?!?!?! I am now 100% sure that I will NEVER be making a men's tailored jacket ;op I am so proud of you and this insane time intensive project you are taking on! Mr.CC better love it and appreciate all your hard work - you should log all the hours you spend on this and compare to the 120 at the end ;o)

    1. That's a good idea Suzanne. I think I am already at about 20

  7. This is such a labor of love, and truly a work of Lent! It's so beautiful and such masterful work. I hear you on the hairshirts!

  8. you go girl! that's some crazy awesome work you're doing. i'm mighty impressed!

  9. I am so proud of you... as I know the hubby is.. I know that you love that fellow [or you would never do all this work,lol]..
    I know this is alot of work, and I am sure you are learning so many new techniques along the way.. sending you lots of "Best Wishes"..

    1. Thanks Judy. Taking on a project out of one's comfort zone is always the best way to learn new things!

  10. You truly are inspirational! I love reading your blog and learning new things from you:) Hope your hubbie appreciates that jacket, it is truly a labour of love ;-)


  11. I have some hair canvas for a Gertie project I haven't started yet. But I totally understand how slow real tailoring can be. You are doing great work!


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