Heads up! this will be a very image-heavy post!

What you’ll Need

  • Our reference images
  • pins
  • A pen.
  • parchment paper
  • interfacing* or fusible web
  • Our adjusted muslin pieces from part 3
  • Fabrics:
    • Fashion fabric
    • Interlining fabric*
    • Appliqué fabric
  • Fabric shears
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine
    • thread, bobbin, snips/scissors

* interchangeable

Preparation for the Appliqué-tion

Appliqué can get real tricky real fast and especially when there’s curves that you have to guide through your machine. That’s why I’ve decided to take this section into much more detail than some of the others. Appliqué is one of those ‘scary words’ of sewing. It shouldn’t be, it’s just a bit long and requires patience.

1. Make the Cut

Cut out all your pieces for the coat using your muslin pieces as your pattern. Okay, you only really need the front panels that have the lapel attached, but if you’re cutting one piece out you might as well cut out all of the pieces now so you don’t have to worry about it later.

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Pictured: Not my cat, not my project. But my apartment floor. #helping

If you are cutting your pieces out all in one go Here’s a reminder of what you’ll need from each

  • Centre  Front panel
    • 2 of each
      • Fashion layer (blue)
      • Interlining*
      • Canvas*
      • Lining
  • Side Front panel
    • 2 of each
      • Fashion layer (blue)
      • Interlining*
      • Canvas to waist*
      • Lining
  • Side Back Panel
    • 2 of each
      • Fashion layer (blue)
      • Interlining*
      • Canvas to waist*
      • Lining
  • Centre Back panel
    • 2 of each
      • Fashion layer (blue)
      • Interlining*
      • Canvas*
      • Lining
  • Butt panel
    • 1 along fold of each
      • Fashion layer (blue)
      • Interlining*
      • Lining
  • Sleeve upper
    • 2 of each
      • Fashion layer (blue)
      • Interlining*
      • Lining
  • Sleeve under
    • 2 of each
      • Fashion layer (blue)
      • Interlining*
      • Lining
  • Collar
    • 1 along fold of each
      • Fashion layer (blue)
      • Interlining*
      • Lining
  • Straps
    • 2 strips each for  Arms
      • length = Your bicep circumference plus an inch and a half
      • width = 4″
      • Fashion layer (blue)
      • Interlining*
    • 3 strips each for  Belt
      • length = The width from back side seam to back side seam + 4″
      • width = 4″
      • Fashion layer (blue)
      • Interlining*

2. Stiffen n’ Serge

Right! so we have our pieces cut out, next up we need to combine the fashion layer (blue) to the interlining. Remember that the good side of the blue fabric faces OUT. We’re basically turning these two pieces into one ‘piece’ as far as the pattern is concerned.

This… may take a while.

IF YOU WERE SMART and got fabric that didn’t need to be sewn to interlining because it isn’t stretchy, this is where you would iron on interfacing to the lapels to help hold it steady as we work.

3. Ready, Set, Draw

Okay. So. The appliqué. It’s squiggly and doesn’t really make any logical sense and its all kinda wriggly down the lapels. We have two ways of approaching this depending on how comfortable you are with hand drawing.

Option 1: Trace a photo of the coat appliqué in Illustrator or photoshop (or gimp, whichever software you prefer) and then print out a full-sized copy of the pattern. Remember it’s mirrored so you only need to do one side, then flip it over for the other.

 

coat

Option 2: Pull out your Muslin pattern piece for the lapel (seen below) and free-hand draw on the pattern. It might not exactly match the pattern in the photo due to being a slightly different shape than the lapel they used above, but we can get pretty close if we’re patient.

I drew in red pen first to get the general shape, then went over it in sharpie to get the more defined pieces that I’ll need to cut out.

Now we have our appliqué pattern!

Appliqué, Chantay!

Make the Cut

Cut out your pattern, whether its on paper that you printed out or the muslin fabric like I have below.

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The pattern might be a bit tricky to remember how things go after you’ve got it cut out, so take a snap with your phone/camera/potato of how it looks before moving on.

Stiff Upper Lip Layer

We have two options again.

Option 1: Are you using a non-stretch fabric? Yes? Cool, cut out your pattern in interfacing and iron them onto your fabric. Then, cut out those pieces. You’re ready to move on. Most mildly stretchy fabrics can also do this.

Option 2: Are you using iron on appliqué webbing? Excellent, just follow the instructions on the package for this step.

Option 3: Um. Still stretchy. More stretchy, actually. And It’s pleather so Ironing is…not the best.

…. yeah me too. I spent a while thinking about how to make this as easy and look as clean as possible, and I feel like I came up with a suitable option. But, if you know of a better way please let me know, I’m always happy to learn new things.

Trace your pattern out onto your interlining. Since this wont show I’ve just used a regular pen, but if you feel more comfortable with a chalk pen or washable ink, go for it.

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Remember to trace everything twice. Once the correct way ‘up’, and once flipped vertically for the mirrored lapel. (See the weird ‘5’ shape above for an example of what I mean.)

Next we make a sandwich. Cut out your interlining shapes in rough blocks and pin them to similarly sized pieces of the material you’ll be using to appliqué onto your coat, good side out (or in this case, down). Since this is pleather in my case, I put parchment paper as the bottom layer to keep the pleather from sticking to my machine as I went.

Be sure to use bobbin thread that is the same colour as the appliqué fabric, this will be what shows.

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Sew along the lines, feel free to go slow if you are having trouble. When making sharp turns, be sure to put your needle down before lifting the foot up, that keeps the fabric in place when you pivot it, and avoids messy stitches.

Done all your pieces? Flip them over and bam!

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Not too shabby. Peel off the paper, ripping along the seam lines. It’s now perforated so it shouldn’t be too tricky. Don’t pull too hard or the paper will tug at the threads and leave them loopy. This isn’t terrible, but it might show. Also any supervisory cats will judge you harshly. I actually found the best method was kind of like you’re pulling waxing strips off.

Trim & lay out

Once all the paper is gone, trim your appliqué along the outside of your stitches, keeping a close but even edge to your stitching line. Once you’ve got them all cut out you should have neat appliqué pieces that are ready to be laid out onto the lapels.

Place the appliqué pieces down on your lapel, referring to your reference images to get it right. If you’re using a forgiving fabric that won’t hold pinholes, pin it into place.

If you’re using something that will show every pinhole forever… you’ve got to get creative. Did I mention that I love painter’s tape? I love painter’s tape.

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If you’re using the paper-backed fusible webbing method, make sure that the pieces are where you want them to be, then iron them in place according to the instructions on the package.

Sew down very carefully along the appliqué. If you used the interlining method I did above, follow your stiches from earlier. Again, I used parchment paper to sandwich the appliqué pieces in place, and keep the pleather from sticking to the foot of my machine as I worked.

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Awh yiss.

Again, peel the parchment paper off the appliqué, and pick any leftover bits out with tweezers or your fingers. Pins also work.

Take a moment and look at the appliqué you’ve just put on. Not bad right? Enjoy this moment of pride and accomplishment, relish it and cherish this feeling because the next step will be a long slog of ‘be patient, be patient, be patient’.

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Top stitching

aka The ‘oh god why is this taking forever’ step.

Okay guys. This is going to be my number one recommendation. Like. Above painter’s tape and spoons even.

Never, EVER, start sewing on your good project without testing your stitch on scrap.

No, I don’t care if you’re sure it’ll work. DON’T. CARE. So the manual said it could be done so you go on and- NOPE. DO NOT DO IT.

Get a scrap piece of fabric (preferably the fabric you’ll be sewing into, so in this case a fabric sandwich) and test out the stitches until you’re happy with the result. Don’t be afraid to play around with stitch length, tension and width. Each machine is different and will handle fabrics differently.

And there is no reason to ruin all the work you’ve put into the jacket so far by not taking five minutes to test out stitches.

On my old machine, a 1975 Singer, I had dials to adjust the width and length of my zig-zag stitch to make a pseudo satin stitch when I did appliqué on my Ramona Flowers bag and D3 Wizard.

On my new machine, the interface is a touch screen so I had to learn what did what where. I settled on a zig zag stitch at 4.5 mm wide and 0.1mm long. Using embroidery thread for the top thread, this produced what was essentially a satin stitch, while keeping it narrow enough to let the detail of the squiggleys appliqués show.

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Now you sew. Forever. Slowly.

Things I learned While Top-Stitching This Appliqué (TWICE)

  • Sometimes if you don’t help guide the fabric through at the start, you’ll get a ‘hump’ of thread that your foot now is stuck on.
  • If you guide (ie: pull) the fabric through too strongly, you’ll end up with one of the following:
    • The embroidery thread will snap
    • The stitches are too far apart and you can now see the edge of the gold fabric between them.
    • the best speed is just to let the foot pull the material through at its own pace, and steer the fabric through
  • Go slow, or you’ll make a mistake.
  • You will run out of bobbin thread often, followed by running out of the thread you used for your bobbin thread.
  • No seriously. Go slow.
  • You will hate tight corners.
  • You don’t need parchment paper here because the foot sort of ‘rides’ the ridge of thread of the stitch
  • Don’t get cocky, kid.
  • The needle becomes a little hypnotic

Then, with glorious applause of your cat-supervisor overlord, you will be DONE!….one lapel. Now you need to do the other. I suggest you take a break and work on something else, play a video game, nap, whatever, just take a rest from the squiggleys.

Once you’re done the other side, you’re done the appliqué for this coat! Celebrate with a drink of choice, and look at your work from five feet away. You’ve been staring at it from about ten inches so you can see all the mistakes that others won’t.

Take a step back, a deep breath, and you’re ready to move on to sewing seams again. Nice. Straight. Seams.

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