Introduction to Couture tailoring

Hello again! I had mention in my post Summary of 2018 that recently I completed my first ever self drafted jacket. What is more excited about this make is that I dipped my toes in some unknown territory and used some couture techniques. I am amazed by how much goes into a tailor made clothes!!!

I am reading and re-reading books I have at home to understand all techniques used by tailors and slowly starting to practice it to gain and enhance this new skills.

What I had realized so far is that the approach  in my books is very similar, but some construction steps, choice of interfacing, use of equipment or handling of the fabric  may vary, hence I will take it more as a guide and not set in stone rules.


Machine method

For this project I mainly used the book “TAILORING- Classic guide to sewing the perfect jacket”, because it explains how to construct a tailored jacket using 3 different methods: custom method ( traditional tailoring hand stitching of a horsehair canvas), machine method ( attaching the horsehair canvas by machine) and fusible method ( using fusible interfacing instead of horsehair canvas).

This was the first time I had ever used horsehair interfacing, hence decided to try the machine method, as it is less time consuming, but still gives me some understanding of how the canvas behaves and affects the main fabric.



There is a specific sequence for assembling a tailoring jacket and it starts with shaping of the collar. I must admit that this is done in completely different way then I am used to, but the end result shows the difference.

To add body and shape to the collar the interfacing should be only added to undercollar piece and the undercollar stand which also supports the total weight of the collar.

Interfacing canvas is cut without the seam allowance and  machine stitched on the under-collarstand around every 5mm. Next, it needed to be placed on tailors ham and steamed to create a desired shaping.


Similar process is completed on the undercollar piece with the exception of the stitching  lines. Then both parts are attached together and shaped once more on the tailors ham.


Next step is to shape the front of the jacket.

The front interfacing piece was drafted using a front pattern pieces as a base, but without the princess and waist seams. It curves above the bust to underarms. Additional shoulder reinforcement is cut on the bias and applied to the front interfacing piece by stitching straight lines every 2 cm.

I minimized the process of shaping the front of the jacket only to two steps of interfacing, because I chose not to have a lapel shaping, which consists of adding some stay tape to the edges of the front pieces and lapel roll line. I machine basted the horsehair canvas to the front of the jacket within the seam allowance.


Some interfacing should be also given to the back of the garment, however I had skipped this step entirely….don’t ask me why?…once this is done shoulder seams are stitched together.

Now is the time to finish off the collar taking into account the turn of the cloth. In simple terms it means that the upper collar must be slightly longer than the undercollar to allow the cloth to curve properly. How much bigger it all depends on the fabric and interfacing weight and thickness. To adjust for the turn of the cloth I basted the collar stand together to hold it in place. Next I put the jacket on the mannequin and turned the collar as it would naturally lay. You can see the difference of fabric required between two layers of the collar pieces.


I marked with pins how much of undercollar need to be cut off.


Taking into account the turn of the cloth I had basted the collar pieces together and cut off the excess fabric.



It is recommended that set-in sleeves are sewn in with a bias strip of lambswool, but I did not have any at home so had to improvised. My jacket was not designed with shoulder pads, so to create a smooth sleeve head line I had used a piece of cotton wadding instead.


To ensure everything stays in place and does not get out of shape I hand basted the front edges and collar of the jacket with temporary stitches. Next, I attached the lining, finished the hems, made buttonholes and belt.


Again, I skipped some steps like interfacing the hem, but because my jacket is a peplum type I thought interfacing may stiffen it too much.


Final thoughts

I really like how it turned out and can honestly say that I see the difference in using a horsehair canvas as interfacing. It allows the jacket to hang over the body properly and it gives the garment the flexibility of movement, which can be a little rigid if using fusible interfacing. I am very excited to learn so much already and am planning to dive even further into the tailoring world.

~did you ever work with horsehair interfacing? ~

Monika xxx



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