Hello my awesomesauce stitching fiends! We are still working away on our flannel shirt. Make sure to check out the results of my particular project. TOTES ADORABLE.
Today we are tackling topstitching and we are going to see just how accurate you were with cutting and staystitching (she smiles, sweetly, like a stitching she-Demon). We will be applying the patch pockets and creating the front placket, collar, and collar stand. We will be working with interfacing together so get that out!
At about 52 images this is a beefy post. So, let’s get started! Remember – I am available to support via email, blog comment, and Skype! Here is our overview, before we get started:
So first, it is time to attach those lovely pockets we created last session. You remember how we only marked one side for pocket placement? That is because it is very easy to place the other pocket in the symmetrical position on the other side, provided you cut accurately. Like so:
A closeup. This is, in general, all I pin for a patch pocket. Ignore the linty fabric. I de-lint when I’m all done with the shirt. LIKE A BOSS
Topstitching! You are going to have to practice with what works best for your machine. Shown here: my groovy 70s Pfaff. Two threads through a topstitching needle (you want a needle with a large enough eye to easily accommodate more thread). Also important: lengthen your stitch. 4.0 mm in my case:
Practicing, on a scrap. The topside:
The bottom side of the topstitch. Remember, this should only be ONE thread (as opposed to the top two) but the tensions should be balanced:
Time to sew that pocket! I start at one of the little triangular legs, and go around the whole pocket with one line of stitching:
When finished, here is the pocket with my two topstitching threads shown – and, on the backside, my two bobbin threads are dangling.
Time for an invisible knot, which I covered a bit last entry re: button-sewing. First: get your top threads to the back side of the work, by either tugging on the bobbin threads or, as I’m doing here, using a needle to pull them through:
Shown: three threads on the back side. Knot them together:
Then “hide” these three threads in that convenient little triangular pocket:
Pulling the threads through…
And clipping. INVISIBLE!
Finished pocket. Yay!
OK. So now it’s time to do some pretty fussy symmetrical closure. So we have to measure and sew accurately, here.
I grabbed this picture to show you my variety of tape-and-ballpoint-pen-marked vintage sewing machine bed:
In order to determine how much to fold our front placket, we need to measure the bottom seam of the collar stand, as the collar stand is what will be sitting right on top of the shirt body’s neckline. Here I’ve folded my collar stand in half, and I’m measuring right along the bottom seam at 3/8″. I came up with a measurement of 7 3/4″. Make sure you understand how I came up with that measurement, before proceeding. Remember, you are measuring along seam allowances, not to the edge of the pattern piece:
Two times 7 3/4″ equals 15 1/2. So I simply measure the neckline – again, along that 3/8″ seam allowance, to discover where I’m going to be folding my front plackets. You can either measure the entire neckline or, as I’ve done, measure that 7 3/4″ from the center back mark:
After you think you know where to fold them, fold (and pin if necessary), and re-measure. You want the collar stand and the shirt body neckline to flow together easily when it comes time to stitch.
Now, necklines need to look good. I grabbed up my model and quickly rough-pinned the shirt to him, to make sure it would fit. It looked great (you can see from the finished work it is a perfectly-fitting collar). While at it, I checked the shoulder seams and the sleeve length. Everything looked good:
So now that I know the total distance of that front placket fold, I want to interface the whole thing. Now, this will depend on your fabric, your interfacing, and what kind of effect you want. This shirt was almost more of a jacket than a shirt, so I wanted a very firm front placket and therefore wanted to interface both folds of the placket. I measured the width of the strip I had to cut:
Fuse your interfacing carefully and according to directions: then simply fold twice to create the placket, and press:
Before topstitching the placket, staystitch the shirt body’s neck edge at 1/4″ (all of this project’s staystitching has been 1/4″, which is 1/8″ in from the 3/8″ seams):
Topstitching. Yes, you are going to be stitching from the front side, and catching that facing edge. You simply must go slow and feel the ridge of fold underneath. The meticulous cutting and folding means that you are going to be stitching in relation to that plaid – shown here, about 1/16″ from one of the blue vertical stripes:
The backside – tension looking good, perfectly accurate topstitching from the backside:
Now that we are done with the placket, it’s time to create the collar and collar stand. The following is a collar method that helps make uniform and attractive points. First, pin along the top edge of the collar, then stitch:
Press the seam open and place thread in a loop, right at that edge where we will be stitching the side collar seams:
So – before stitching those side seams, your loop should look like this:
After stitching the remaining two seams, and after trimming (being careful not to trim the thread loops – ask me how I know this!) your collar points will look like so:
Flip the collar, and then pull the threads (both of them) to pull out that corner. Shown here, before I pulled on the threads:
Gently remove the contrast thread, and voila! Points. Now it’s time to topstitch the collar. I like to use a fabric shim (upper middle of the picture below) when I’m turning the collar corner. I also backstitch quite firmly at the base of the collar (shown at lower left, crossing the 1/4″ staystiching):
The collar, backside of topstitching. Looking good!
Use that fabric shim every time the arse-end of your sewing machine foot is dangling in space:
Here you see the collar and the backstitching at the base of the collar. The collar is kind of folded in 1/3s here which looks a bit confusing:
Now are are going to sew the collar to the outer collar stand. In general, I proceed according to the pattern’s directions with a few modifications. First, I pin-mark the center of both the top part of the outer collar stand, and the base of the collar itself:
Next, I pin the collar to the outer collar stand, matching those center marks and making sure the collar is symmetrically placed on the stand:
Stitch, making sure to start an inch or so before they join, and stitching right on that 1/4″ staystitching line for both pieces:
Just stitchin’. Still:
Clip those thread tails (always! Well. Most always) and set the collar and the outer collar stand aside. Now, pin the inner collar stand piece to the inside of the shirt, and stitch:
This picture cracks me up. Clearly I am lining something up, and it lines up perfectly, but I can’t figure out what! Give me a break though as I’ve taken about 200 pictures of up-close plaid and I’m bound to miss something. If I figure out what I’m showing you, I’ll let you know.
Oh wait, I figured it out. I am pinching the two front facings together – and as you can see they are lined up, with the seamlines that attach them to the inner collar stand matching as well. I honestly think they are like 1/8″ difference, but that will not show on the finished shirt once a button is added. The button itself can help line up very small imperfections like this, yay!
Steam-press that inner collar stand away from the body of the shirt:
And now! Pin that outer collar stand, with its attached collar, to the inner collar stand – everything right-sides facing. This is basically how the illustrated pattern instructions direct you. Fold up the seam allowance of that outer collar stand (center of picture):
And now – sew that final collar stand seam (the “upper” seam of the collar stand): Be meticulous and backstitch at those front placket edges:
Here is a SUPER UP-CLOSE picture of the collar stands and the front placket, after we’ve made this stitch:
More collar stand, before trimming:
OK here you see me being a BIG CHEATER McSHORTCUT-PANTS, as I often use pinking shears to perform a notching, grading, and trimming operation all in one:
Everything’s looking good. I elected not to do any trimming or grading of the neckline seams, but you may want to go through the trouble:
Now before I turn this collar stand seam, I used a hammer to really knock down the bulk at the collar stand/front placket juncture. Trimming doesn’t work so hot here, so I use a hammer to get the bulk down:
And now – pin that outer collar down to the inner one. It’s almost time to topstitch again!
Topstitching. GO SLOW! Why you in such a hurry?
Below: the finished, topstitched outer collar stand – looking FRESHHHHH:
And – the inner collar stand – also looking picture-perfect! If you didn’t catch the inner collar stand perfectly, don’t worry, It is well-secured and won’t fray:
And now, press the collar and stand, from the public side of the garment. Let it fully dry, and then hang your shirt on the hanger. LOOKING SHARP
Thank you for joining me; please do point out any errata or typos in my blog entry, so I can correct them.