10 blue suit tutorial, jacket 7 - tailoring fronts

Tenth Doctor Blue Suit Tutorial


Jacket, Step 7 - Tailoring Fronts

As we mentioned previously in our "Tutorial Notes," there are many different tailoring techniques regarding suit-making, and if you ask a dozen different tailors how to "tailor" the front of a suit jacket or blazer, you'll probably get a dozen different answers. 

That said, the suit-making method we're presenting in this step is primarily a hybrid of those presented in the two books we've referenced multiple times thus far: Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear and Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket

Oh, and if you're comfortable doing so, you might want to go ahead and turn on a movie - or a few episodes of Doctor Who - while you do all this, because it's probably going to take a while! 


Begin by drawing the neckline and front seam lines on the canvas (⅝" from those edges). 

Between the seam lines, draw one line ⅛" away on each side of the roll line, then draw lines ¼" apart toward the tip of the lapel. Near the lapel corner, space the lines ⅛" apart. These will be your padstitching lines. 

(These lines can be drawn before attaching the canvas to the jacket body, if you prefer.)

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


Cut a length of ⅜" cotton twill stay tape the length of the roll line, and position it so its front-most edge is even with the outermost line you drew (⅛" from the roll line).

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


TIP: Pre-shrink your cotton twill stay tape by soaking it in water for a bit and then pressing it dry! Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket instructs the reader to soak it in hot water, while in Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear, Cabrera said to use cool water, so go figure ...


Pin the lower end of the tape to the jacket/canvas assembly and draw a line ¼" from the top edge of the tape.

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


Trim ¼" away from the top of the tape (along your mark) and pull the tape so the new upper edge is flush with the edge of the canvas. 

Evenly distribute the ease underneath the stay tape and pin it into place.

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


Catch-stitch the stay tape to the jacket/canvas assembly using your silk thread, catching as little of the jacket fabric as you can in the stitches (ideally, only a thread or two). 

Trim the top portion of the stay tape away where it meets the neckline seam line.

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


Now comes the part when you can probably shift to "auto-pilot" and at least half-watch a movie! 

To achieve the proper roll and drape of the lapel, a magical yet mind-numbing process known as "padstitching" is employed. 

Padstitching not only holds the interfacing in place, but it also adds body and shaping to the padstitched area (the lapels, in this case). 

A padstitch is basically a herringbone-shaped stitch made by first going one direction and then the opposite direction, without rotating the fabric, rolling the fabric over one's finger to create the rounded shape. Take short stitches perpendicular to the stitching line, catching as little of the jacket fabric as possible (ideally, only a thread or two). 

Here's a great padstitching tutorial video:



Padstitch the lapel along the lines drawn using your waxed thread, beginning and ending about ⅛" from the seam lines. 

On the roll line, adjacent line, and near the corner of the lapel, make the stitches ⅛" long. For the rest of the lapel, make the stitches ¼" long.

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


Right off the bat, the roll line should be evident with the first row of padstitching!

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


The padstitched lapel should already want to roll over and curve, before it's even set with steam!

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels
10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


Note that on the right side of the jacket, teeny little pinpricks of stitching will be visible - we are using thin cotton, after all! - but this is inconsequential because it will be on the underside of the finished lapel.

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


Also note that your canvas may have shifted slightly during the padstitching process, but don't worry about it! 

From the collar dot (also called the "collar notch") to the corner of the lapel and down the front of the jacket, trim the interfacing ¾" from the raw edge of the jacket.
10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels
At this point, we like to sort of fuse the Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket technique with Cabrera's from Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear

Beginning at the bottom of the jacket, even with the outer edge of the hair canvas interfacing, pin ⅜" cotton stay tape to the jacket body with its centermost edge being ⅝" from the front edge of the jacket, and its outer edge covering the hair canvas. 

At the roll line, place ¼" extra ease in the tape so the lapel will roll over without the tape pulling it.
10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


At the corner of the lapel, slash the tape almost to the edge and "pivot" the tape onto the lapel, forming a sort of "faux-miter" in the tape, and cut the tape about where the dot ("collar notch") is.

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


Using waxed thread, hand-sew the centermost edge of the tape to the garment body with "permanent uneven basting," catching a little of the jacket fabric as possible (ideally only a thread or two). 

Then hand-sew the outer edge of the tape to the canvas ONLY, taking care that the stitches don't go through to the right side of the jacket!
10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - front edges


And now, time to interface the front hem! 

Attach a strip of 2 ½" bias-cut hair canvas to the lower front as done previous with the side panels and backs, stopping short of the side panel seam and extending forward over the front interfacing by about 1". 

Catch-stitch the hem interfacing to the front interfacing.

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - front edges


Your finished front assembly should now look like this:

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - front edges


Position a wash cloth underneath the lapel and steam it (without pressing the roll line into a crease) to set the shape.

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket (there's no author listed - hence my anthropomorphizing) says to roll a hand towel into a flat pad ½" tall (pictured above), but I've actually found I get better results when only using a single layer ... at least, for this suit!


TIP: Another thing I (Alex) like to do is to steam the tip of the lapel over a tailor's ham to set the padstitching in that corner, as well as steaming the lapel a bit into that shape.

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - lapels


Be careful not to overdo it, though - you don't want to shape the roll line into much of a curve! 

(That is, unless you have awesome Ricardo Montalban pecs!) 
Genetically-engineered superior pecs


Repeat for the other side, and let them set for a few hours (or overnight).

10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - front assemblies


10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - left chest pocket
10th Doctor blue suit home
10th Doctor blue suit tutorial - back assembly

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