Friday 24 April 2009

Getting the collar right - at last!

This is the one bit of the coat I think I am the most stressed about putting together!!!

Since the collar and lapels seam with pretty much the entire coat, any slip up could be far reaching, meaning I might have to re-cut right back to almost the beginning. If I had ruined a pocket, I would only have to remake that isolated part, not the whole coat.

That said, the first thing to do is set the under collar into the body of the coat. This will check that I have the collar the right length. Sometimes I need to adjust the pattern slightly to make sure it fits, so I have left cutting the collar until now, rather than when I cut the rest of the coat earlier in the week.

There is a tricky dog-leg seam to sew in each side which ends up below the collar, so I set these and ease the rest of the collar in across the back of the neck. This give me the first chance to really see how the coat is looking (see right). Looking good.

The pattern is cut a little generous around the collar, to give me some cloth to play with in case of crisis. I therefore adjust and mark the final collar size before stitching.

I then similarly set the upper collar between the lapel fronts I have been holding to one side since setting the inside pockets (below left). The lapels also have a dog-leg seam, and I then press them all as flat as I can get them. I then pin the lapel and collar front section to the body of the coat and do my little trick of folding the points and pinning the ridge to discourage them from curling once sewn (below right).

Once it is sewn, I turn it the right way in to check the cut of the collar has worked and the lapels are doing their thing. I did need a little more adjustment to get the angle of the collar points just right, but it was basically there first time.

I then do another little trick, which I first did when making the Mk III coat. The edge of the lapels and collar need to be top-stitched (see below left) and they should have a slight padded quality around the stitchline. I failed to do this in the Mk II (below middle) and it showed, with the lapels looking very flat and lifeless. I set about resolving this for the Mk III (below right) but I think I sewed the topstitch a tad too wide from the edge, but the bulking looks better.

Learning from all this, here is how I sorted it out.
The wadding I used to soften the sleeve head was actually intended for use here. The wadding I bought has an iron-on side to it, like interfacing. I cut it into narrow strips around 10mm wide (below left) and gently ironed them on around on the inside of the seam of the collar and the lapels down as far as the fold point of the lapel, roughly level with the second button down on the coat (below right).

I then topstitch the lapels and collar (see right) in a single line of stitch, making sure I keep an even 10mm from the edge.
While I am doing this, I am also slightly rolling the hem towards the back so that the seamline is less visible from the front. Below the level of the fold of the lapel (where the wadding runs out), I switch the bias of rolling, so that when the coat is worn, again the seam is turned away from view (see below). I hope you can see what I am trying to show here, it is a subtle detail!

There is no wadding below the fold of the lapel as I was worried it would make the front edge of the coat too stiff. I want to keep the fronts as limp and loose hanging as possible. To this end I have throughout the coat, only put in the minimalist amount of interfacing.

Where the topstitch reaches the notch of the collar, it turns a sharp corner to end square with the notch, before crossing over to the lapel and doing the same (see right).

All went well and after a little pulling about the collar and lapels, things are looking good.

Finally, here is a clearer pic of the completed collar and lapels.
Compare this to the picture in Setting The Sleeves where it is on a similar hanger, without the collar set.
What do you think? Let me know! I am well chuffed with them! My best yet, I think!

Here is a good picture to compare the lapel and collar shape too - not a bad colour match here either.

So - nearly, nearly done!
I just need to hem the coat and do a few minor things to make it presentable and at long last I will have my Alcantara Tennant coat!

Can’t wait!

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