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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Replacing the Zipper in a Carhartt Jacket

Speaking of time consuming projects, I have another one today! I need to replace the zipper in a Carhartt jacket that is pretty new. That means it is really stiff. The zipper is also a #10 brass zipper, which means its teeth like to bite my fingers as I try to rip it out! The jacket has been put together like Fort Knox, so getting the zipper out has been a real fight. If you ever buy one of these jackets and wonder about the price, you at least will know it has been extremely well made.

I ripped out the double row of top stitching, thinking this would release the zipper. I had to practically rip one stitch at a time and the thread is the same as the gold thread on a pair of jeans. I pick ALL of these threads out for the project to look its best. After literally hours of work, the zipper is still in there, sandwiched between the quilting and the outer fabric.
The final step, then, is to cut the zipper out, carefully cutting along the seam that joins the outer fabric and the lining. A couple of these pictures may illustrate this.
Usually on a jacket zipper, once the old one is out, there are two steps to putting the new one in. The first is to sew the zipper to the inner wind flap and/or lining. The second is to sew it to the outer fabric. Since the two layers are still attached to each other, I need to put the zipper between them and sew it all at once. This is not a sure thing, because that quilting fabric likes to sneak under the feed dogs and get caught. So, here goes, I'll be back tomorrow to let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shorten a Suit Coat Sleeve

Today I tackle one of the trickiest alterations I do, shortening a vented sleeve on a suit coat. In order to be concise, I can't give you a step by step process here, but I'll hit the highlights. My goal is to get a tutorial on my website as soon as possible.

Taking out the existing stitching will take a little time and care. Remove the buttons and put them inside a pocket, pinning it shut for safe keeping. I always do one sleeve completely, then the other. That way I have a reference if something goes wrong. Of course digital photographs are great for reference too.

I detach the lining and rip the stitching on either side of the vent. Usually one side is mitred, the other not. Once the sleeve is opened up, I can mark the new hemline. Press this into place. At this point you can shorten the lining too, but if it's an inch or less, I leave it alone. The extra ease in the sleeve in OK.

The mitred corner on the outer side of the vent (the side where the buttons were attached) is difficult to duplicate. You will get it with practice. I fold the hem allowance along a diagonal line, right at the fold line of the newly pressed hemline. This is the second photo above. This will give you the ability to make two more folds on top of this diagonal fold, thus mitring the corner. Press firmly. Now I unfold this, turn it right sides together and stitch along the fold I just pressed. When I first started out this was a lot of trial and error, because once you stitch it and turn it, sometimes it is uneven. It helps to mark the apex of your foldlines with a straight pin
The other side is much easier. You just fold right sides together and stitch parallel to the raw edge. Flip and press, making sure the two sides are now even.
Lastly, I replace the buttons. If you do this before attaching the lining, the stitches will not show. It adds professionalism to the garment.
I leave a little movement ease when attaching the lining. I pin it in place, then draw back a scant ½" or so, before I sew. If you look at ready wear, you'll see what I mean. It keeps your sleeve from buckling and looking bumpy. Here is a photo:
This is definitely one of my most time consuming alterations, and you can see why. Some days it goes in on the first try, but most days I have to redo that mitre several times. Don't get discouraged if you are trying this for the first time. Go to Good Will and get a jacket with which to practice. It does get easier, just not faster! But it also gives me options when shopping for my husband or sons. I can buy a suit that is on clearance, knowing I can alter it to fit.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Shorten a Cuffed Hem

Well, it's been such a long time since my last post. I'm getting things ready for my classes next month, so blogging has had to wait. Sorry for the delay.

Today I shortened a pair of ladies' slacks that were cuffed. She had torn a hole in them and since they were too long anyway, she wanted to shorten them so the hole would be hidden. I shortened them an inch, putting the damaged fabric underneath, as part of the hem allowance.

Start by taking out the existing hem and lightly pressing out the creases. The deepest crease closest to the crotch is your original hemline. After marking one inch higher with tailor's chalk, I measured down onto the hem and marked 3¾". This is the hem allowance that will become the cuff. Cut off the excess, then serge or apply hem tape to the edge.
I find it easiest to press along the newly marked hemline. You have to think backwards, here, and fold the hem allowance UP toward the crotch, right sides together. After pressing that into place, I fold it back in the other direction, so that the cuff of 1¼" is in place.
The amount of fabric here is more than 1¼" though. After it has been folded up on the hemline, then folded back down, there should be room for the 1¼" cuff plus ¾" to turn under to form the hem. Stitch that with an invisible stitch. Then tack the cuffs at the side seams. I normally stitch in the ditch.

This cuff ends up to be narrower than the 2" original, because I had to work around the hole. Normally, I replace the design features exactly as they were when I got the garment.

Though it sounds complex, like anything else, it gets easier every time you do it.