Monday, March 21, 2016

Three's a Charm Jacket Sewalong - Attaching the Facings & Topstitching

Full schedule of posts here.
We left off on Friday with our facings sewn together and our darts completed.  Now it's time to bring these all together and start making something that resembles a jacket!

Sew the Shoulder Seams

We're going to first connect our two jacket front pieces to our jacket back at the shoulder seams.  These are the short straight edges at the top of the curved armholes.

First, decide how you'll be finishing these seams.  You can use pinking shears, a zig zag stitch on your machine, or a serger.  We're using our Bernina sergers.  Since this seam will get pressed open after stitching (rather than pressed to one side), it's a good idea to finish the edges before sewing the seam.

Serge four edges:  both shoulder edges on the back and each shoulder edge on each front piece.

Now match up these edges and sew both shoulder seams.  Remember to keep right sides together!

 Your jacket should be looking something like this right about now:

Don't forget to press open this seam before moving on to the next step!

Attaching the Facing to the Jacket

Now we're going to take the long facing piece we prepared last time and connect it to the jacket body.  Make sure you line up the raw edge of the facing (not the finished side) to the raw edge of the jacket.  Place the jacket right side up, and then put the facing pieces right side down on top.  It should look like this:

The two shoulder seams should align with the seams connecting the back neck facing to the front facing.

Here's how this should look on the bottom edge of the jacket:

You may notice a small notch on the bottom of the front hem facing.  This should match up with the jacket front waist dart.

Matching the front hem facing notch with the jacket front waist dart.
Now you're ready to sew these two big pieces together!  Go from the side seam to the other.  When you get to the first corner (where the front hem facing connects with the front facing), you'll want to pivot.  This means that just before you arrive at the end (5/8" before), place your needle down into the fabric.  Leave the needle down, lift up the presser foot, and rotate your fabric 90 degrees.

Needle down, ready to pivot!
Sew all the way around, pivoting also at the jacket front points.

After we do that, we'll want to trim the seam and clip the corners.  This will make the jacket front nice and flat.  Using our Fiskars microtip scissors, we cut a straight line across the corner seam allowance.  Careful not to cut your stitching though!

Because of the facing and interfacing, this seam could be a bit bulky.  To reduce this, we won't just trim the seams straight across like we've done before.  Instead, we're going to grade the seam.

Grading means cutting the seam allowances at different lengths so that the seam lies flatter.  Generally whichever layer will be closest to the body should be the shortest one.

We love to use duck-billed applique scissors for grading seam allowances.  They have one large curved blade that helps to push away one seam allowance while you cut the other.  See how one edge of the seam allowance is trimmed close to the stitching but the other edge remains uncut?

After trimming, it's time to return to our ironing boards.  Press the graded seam allowance towards the facing, away from the jacket.

Lots of steam will help here!  After you press the seam allowance towards the facing, turn the whole facing inwards and press some more.

If you're having trouble making the curved neckline lay flat, you may want to trim little notches into the curve.  Again, don't trim too far or you'll cut your stitching!

Cutting into the curved neckline seam allowance to help this seam lie flat.

Sewing the Side Seams

Next we're going to sew up our side seams.  Soon you'll be able to try on your jacket for the first time!

Before you do anything, finish the bottom edge of the jacket back the same way you finished the inside free edge of the facing.  For us, this means using our serger again.

Now that you've finished that edge, it's time to sew the side seams.  You'll unfold the front hem facing and pin right sides together.  If you don't unfold the facing, the two side edges won't match up and the jacket back side will be longer than the front.

Sewing the side seam:  jacket front and unfolded front hem facing are on top, jacket back is on the bottom.
Note that this seam is not a straight line.  It's this nice shaping that makes the Three's a Charm Jacket so wonderful!

Notice the opened up front hem facing at the bottom.  The interfaced side should be facing up.
Press up the jacket back hem to match the front hem facing and give everything a good press.

Note:  The pattern instructions say to sew the buttonhole at this point.  However, we weren't sure what button we were using yet, so we held off.  If you already have your button, then by all means, do your buttonhole now!  But don't worry, it won't ruin your jacket to do the buttonhole later.


Now we're going to topstitch the facing down, so that it's not flopping around while you wear your jacket!

As per the pattern's instructions, topstitch 1 1/8" away from the edge.  If your machine doesn't have markings that far away from the needle, try putting a piece of blue painter's tape to help guide you!

Measuring 1 1/8" away from the needle for topstitching.
We started from the center back hem and worked our way around the whole jacket, overlapping a few stitches from where we started to secure.  Don't forget to pivot at the corners like you did earlier!

Here's our completed topstitching!  We used bright pink thread for everything up until this point so our readers could see what we're doing, but we used matching navy thread for this part.  We brightened up the picture a lot so you could see the topstitching.

While we decided to do an inconspicuous topstitch here, you could totally use a fun decorative stitch or apply a cute trim!  How will you finish your facing?  Let us know in the comments!

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