Jackie Coat Sewalong – Darts and assembling your coat

Whew.  All the hard stuff is now behind you, you have your buttonholes and welt pockets done.  (Unless you have decided to go with machine worked buttonholes and patch pockets)  The rest of the coat is a breeze! Today I will step you through sewing your darts and sewing your coat together.

Raglan sleeve shoulder darts are rarely seen these days but I love them, I think it helps to give a lovely shape to the shoulder.  That is the deep v shape you cut into the tops of your sleeves:

 Bring the two edges of your dart together and pin:

pinned shoulder darts

When sewing the dart I find to get a smooth curve off the end of my shoulder I need to extend the dart point slightly by tapering the end of the dart off in a gradual curve.  I have small sloping shoulders and lengthening and curving my dart end this way took care of an excess of fabric at the shoulder.  If you have a different shoulder shape you may find that slight changes to the length or angle of this dart helps you get a good fit to the shoulder:

close up of shoulder dart run off at slight curve

To give your darts a nice smooth curve press well with steam over a pressing ham or a rolled up towel:

pressing darts

Next up we can do the front bust darts.  Clear markings on the wrong side of your fabric are essential here.  I usually clip slightly into the seam line at the two legs of the dart and then use either a marking tool or a pin to put a dot at the point.  Sew your dart (tutorial here if you need some more pointers), making sure you taper off the end smoothly:

sewn bust dart

Once you have sewn your dart, clip down the centre of the dart to about 1 1/2 inches or 4 cm from the point.  This is a trick for thick and heavy fabric so you don’t get a massive ridge from the thickness of a full dart:

sewn bust dart, cut open before pressing

Press your dart open.  You can catchstitch the seams to your interfacing if it needs help staying flat or you need to prevent fraying if your fabric has that tendancy.  If you are not familiar with this wonderful stitch (my favourite!) click over to this wonderful tutorial here:

pressed bust dart back

Press with steam from the right side as well, over a pressing ham or firmly rolled up towel:

pressed bust dart front

Now you have sewn and pressed your lovely darts, you are ready to sew your jacket main pieces together.  Matching notches, pin your fronts to the sleeves.  The fronts have one notch, the back always have two.  Its important to check so you don’t sew your sleeves on backwards.  As I am pattern matching, I am using lots of pins:

sewing jacket front to sleeves

Sleeves sewn to coat back:

back attached to sleeves

Sleeves sewn to coat fronts and pressed open.  Catchstitch these seams as well if you have a fabric that frays badly or needs help to sit flat. You could also serge your seams if you wanted to, although sometimes this adds unwanted bulk and doesn’t help to keep your seams put as a catchstitch does.  My fabric hardly frays and presses well so I am skipping this step.

front and back sewn to sleeves

Now we sew our sleeve and side seams.  I always like to start with a pin right in the undearm seams to get them lined up exactly and then use as many pins as I need to.  In this case, I am using alot as I am pattern matching:

pin side seams

Press your seams open (and catchstitch or serge):

press side seams open

Finally, our last step in assembling our coats – attaching the outer collar to the jacket, matching notches (one set of notches I think lines up with the shoulder dart seam).  You can see I am using lots of pins here as well, as I am easing my jacket neckline into the collar as well as attempting to line up my grid lines.  If your collar seems much smaller than the jacket neckline (which happened to me on my first Jackie as the fabric on the body pieces stretched alot while handling) you can either ease it in with pins like I am doing here or run a couple of rows of gathering stitches around your jacket neckline and gently ease it in (not to create actual gathers just to draw the fabric together) and then use lots of steam to reshape the neckline until it fits your collar nicely.

collar pinned to jacket body

You also press open this seam and snip notches if you need to to get the seam to sit flat.  I also like to snip out any bulky intersecting seams as it really helps to reduce bulk:

collar to jacket trim seams to reduce bulk

Notching, clipping and catchstitching this seam (plus pressing with steam of course) really helps the collar to sit nicely:

notched and catch stitched collar seam
notched and catch stitched collar seam encourage curve

Finally you have something that is starting to look something like this:

ready for facings

A fully assembled jacket with really weirdly long sleeves!  (Don’t forget I moved my opening to a centre front so your jacket will have the right side further over than mine).

It all comes together on the next step: facings and lining!  Stay tuned, Maria will be posting that next.