Posted in fabrics, Fashion, Style, Tailoring

The Great Tailored Blazer Project: My fabulous fabric (and other things I need)

What better day to talk about great fabrics for my tailoring project than the first day of autumn? Although, in years past, whenever I thought about tailored jackets I also thought about matching pants or skirts (can you say suit?), these days the thought of a tailored jacket is more likely to have me thinking about jeans and great sneakers. That’s more my style these days. Anyway, my last post saw me rationalizing why I need to do this project and how I will begin to learn about the tailoring process. I have my pattern (along with all 12 pages of instructions it included). So, now I’m ready to talk fabrics.

I love fabrics. In fact, one of my favourite sewing-related books is The Fashion Designer’s Textile Directory.

One of my sewing bibles.

Call me a sewing nerd if you like, but I love to read about sewing and know a bit more about what I’m doing than simply how to do it. I need to know why. When I considered choosing my fabric for this project, I knew that I wanted it to be a bit tweedier, or bouclé-ish than flat or worsted wool that you see in men’s suits. I knew it would need some texture and I didn’t want another black jacket. I am the first person to say that a black jacket is golden – and is, in fact, the urban Toronto uniform from Labour Day until the long weekend in May – but god knows I have enough black. First, what else should I consider other than colour?

Well, I have another new book. This one’s on tailoring and it arrived yesterday. What could be more perfect for me right now than The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket?

It has 400 well-shot photos that I’m sure I’ll refer to as I move through the project. Today, I was focusing on what the authors had to say about choosing fabrics to tailor, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. Well, that would be me.

This book identifies five characteristics to consider when selecting tailoring fabrics.

Interestingly, among them is, in fact, colour! Yes, colour is important because, and I actually knew this going in, medium or darker colours hide inner construction better than light-coloured ones. Also, just think about how a white fabric might look after all the handling you have to do when you tailor a jacket.

The book also says that I should consider fibre content. This should have been obvious to me, as well. Natural fibres can be shaped far more easily than synthetics. Since tailoring requires lots of pressing and manipulating into shapes, this is important.

The next important characteristic is the fabric’s weight. It also makes a lot of sense when you think about it. A fabric that is too light will get over-pressed very quickly. On the other hand, I’ll never be able to get a crisp corner (or anything else crisp) with a really heavy fabric.

Next is texture. I learned this when I made my first Little French Jacket. Those jackets are lined by machine-quilting the lining to the fabric. The stitches are, therefore, visible on the outside. However, with enough texture, the stitching is all but invisible. Just take a look at an authentic Chanel jacket in a consignment store sometime. They are machine-quilted. So, in this kind of tailoring I’m doing now, there will be some little hand-stitches that might otherwise show on a smooth fabric. Textured it is, then.

Finally, there is a question of the weave. A medium weave is easily pressed and will hold its shape. I would have to fight with a tight weave, while a loose weave will stretch.

Well, four out of five ain’t bad! My fabric choice may have a weave issue, but I’ll deal with it. I’ve used loose-ish weaves before.

I think it’s fair to say that most people choose a fashion fabric first, then they choose the lining. I did this a bit backwards since I had a piece of silk charmeuse I loved that I bought when we were on vacation (pre-COVID) earlier this year. I loved the muted pastels even though I rarely wear them. I also love the feel of authentic silk charmeuse against my body, so I always thought it would make a great lining. I then had to find a fabric that would sort of “go” with it.

Beautiful silk charmeuse!

I found the fabric on Queen Street West here in Toronto at a little fabric store I mentioned n an earlier post. It’s a silk-cotton blend in a peachy tweed weave the incorporates yellow, green and cream. I loved the fabric and I’m going to make it work.

Then, what about what goes inside the jacket…the tailoring stuff?

I needed hair canvas (more about this in a later post). Two weeks ago, my husband and I had a weekday, weekend away in Niagara-on-the-Lake (here’s a video we made if you need a bit of armchair travel in these peculiar times). On the way, I stopped in Fabricland (Canada’s answer to Joann’s but up a notch or two) in St. Catherine’s, Ontario. I asked a lovely saleswoman if they had any hair canvas. She thought for a moment then managed to find a bolt stuffed away under the cutting counter.

“You know,” she said, “I’ve worked here twelve years and this is the first time I’ve ever sold any of this.” This was corroborated by another sales clerk who had never sold any either. So, it was a good day for them. At $22 a metre, it wasn’t cheap (and it’s only 20 inches wide).

I also found the stay tape I’ll need for the interior edges and some buttons that will work.

I’m excited to get on with cutting the pieces all out. There are so many of them I’ll need a database to keep track! Talk soon.

Author:

...a Toronto woman of a ‘certain’ age who writes women’s fiction and business books...deeply interested in fashion, but mostly style, which as anyone knows is not the same thing...designs patterns, sews, reads style books...Gloria Glamont is my pseudonym.

15 thoughts on “The Great Tailored Blazer Project: My fabulous fabric (and other things I need)

  1. Will you be making a muslin first? I started my own project three weeks ago with this same pattern making a muslin to check the fit. Post, ehmm, pandemic, the fit is too snug so I am adding a bit everywhere. Looking forward to working “together” on this, it couldn’t be better timing.

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    1. Hi Sabine. Yes, of course! In fact, I’m a bit behind on my posts. The muslin is actually complete and has been altered and cut apart to make the attern. I will post about it next. I had to do a number of changes – bigger sme places, smaller other places. Great fun to have you along!

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  2. This looks like such a fun project. Between your tailoring book and Claire’s excellent instructions you should have no problem. Congratulations on finding hymo canvas in a non-tailoring store. It can be difficult to find and actually the price seems right. I order mine from Bias Bespoke in NYC but then you would deal with shipping. I know you’ll enjoy the handwork and fine details. Your fabrics look wonderful.

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    1. Hi Mary. Yes, I did think that price seemed fine based on what I had seen before. And thanks for the tip about findng it online. I often do order from the US and deal with the exchange etc when I want something I’m having difficulty getting. I think I will enjoy the hand-sewing. I’m also referring to Alison Smith’s videos on Craftsy (or whatever it is) that I bought some time ago. Her specific details are a bit different from Claire’s. I’ll probably be using an amalgam of both with a bit of help from my new tailoring book. Wish me luck!

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  3. I live in Florida so the idea of wool is very offputting. We get some winter in Feb! I have purchased hair canvas on line,don’t remember where it’s been so long. I was going to suggest a dark forest green as an alternative to black. BUt I like your fabric selection better. Good luck, go slow. I took one tailoring course,put in one sleeve at least five times to get it right. Hated that jacket, but the next year when we lived in D.C> it was great(by then had made the matching skirt,back when we wore suits)This was all before global warming. Stay safe. You have a good project. Can’t wait to see more pictures of our progress.

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  4. You might want to think about using an old tie (a tie is already cut on the bias) cut into strips as an inset between the lining and jacket facing. Gives a great touch!

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    1. Oh, that sounds like a great idea! Perhaps on a future project since that might be a bridge too far on this first tailoring one. I just hope the transition between the fabric and the lining will work. The colours are not exact in the online photos! Thanks for the great idea!

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  5. For hair canvas, have you tried Sultan’s on Bentworth? They specialize in tailoring fabrics mostly for men’s bespoke but I’ve found great fabrics for women there–especially imported wools for jackets and coats. It’s small (packed to the brim) but mighty. The site is https://www.sultansfinefabrics.com. BTW, you mentioned you bought the fabric for this project at a small shop on Queen W. I live in Midtown and tend to avoid downtown but I’m trying to explore more fabric venues in the core. I feel like I’m missing out. Would love it if you wouldn’t mind sharing your favourite Toronto shops.

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    1. I haven’t tried Sultan’s but I went to their web site when you mentioned them, and they look terrific! Just like you don’t tend to go downtown, I don’t tend to go much outside downtown…but I’m going to make an exception. Time to dust off the car!

      On Queen St. West, I like Affordable Fabrics (529-531 Queen W) for a terrific browse and I’ve even found silk charmeuse and boucle there. (There are two sides to it – the west side has the best fabrics unless you’re looking for jerseys or bamboos which are on the east side of the store – two separate entrances and be prepared for the overwhelming-ness of it!). I also like King Textiles on Spadina just off Queen W on the south block. I have recently discovered Chu Shing (440 Queen W). The shop is super well-organized and the proprietor is lovely, and he really knows his fabrics. This is where I found the fabric for this project. Then there’s Leo’s if you’re looking for fabulous dress-up fabrics. Let me know what you think of them!

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  6. Exciting – I’m looking forward to seeing this taking shape. I have the same tailoring book, and I can thoroughly recommend it. It held my hand through my first tailored coat project and coached me through lots of steps that weren’t covered in the pattern instructions.

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    1. It’s an odd thing about the pattern instructions – especially in this case. They can sometimes obfuscate when they’re supposed to clarify. These ones were written by Claire Schaeffer herself (evidently a selling feature for this pattern), but some of her methods are a bit obtuse. I’m really happy to have this book and a few videos by others (such as Alison Smith whose approach I love) to assist with specific issues. Wish me luck!

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      1. Good luck 😉 I went to one of Alison’s classes at the start of this year, and found it really helpful so I’m sure she’ll (virtually) hold your hand through any difficulties.

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  7. I look forward to following along! I have several jackets in my mind’s sewing queue, and although I own a couple of good tailoring books, I haven’t read them. I love your fabric choices, too. Just a thought about the interfacing: Fabricland sells it at 100% markup for half the width of what is available downtown on Queen/Spadina. I always purchase mine from World Sew. The shop is a complete disaster area, but the prices are good and the quality of notions, muslins and interfacings is excellent (so is the price!)

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    1. Thanks for this advice. I go into World Sew for buttons once in a while when I’m in the right mind-set! The Fabricland purchase was opportunistic, I have to say. I really didn’t think they’d have any and we happened to be headed to Niagara-on-the-Lake so why not pop in? I rarely ever get to one anymore since they closed the one on Dufferin (which was a goodly subway ride away anyway!). I actually didn’t realize that World Sew sells muslin and interfacing (sometimes it’s kind of hard to tell what they sell, even when you’re standing there:)) but I won’t forget! Queen/Spadina is always the best value in my book. I do need some muslin – usually buy it by the bolt! Wish me luck with learning the tailoring stuff.

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