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  • Writer's pictureSew Retro

Copy of Everything you need to know to sew Perfect Patch Pockets ! and ...

choose the correct thread, fabric, snap fastens AND get a professional finish on your utility jacket.

,I cant believe its already week 3, men's wear week, of series seven on the British Sewing Bee 2021.

Wow ! what a week, Baker Boy hats, a first for the sewing Bee ! I love the fact that they were originally designed to use up scraps of left over fabric from tailored wool jackets. Scroll down for a few links to some patterns and I have included a free and almost free pattern link for a bucket hat too, because who doesn't love a free pattern ?

The main challenge for week three was Utility Jackets, they looked fabulous, the shape is simple and they are unlined, making it a good project for a newish sewer, all the "challenge" is on the pockets. This blog post, has tons of top tips for creating the perfect pockets, and sewing a professional utility jacket.

I have a round up of the patterns for the utility jacket from the big pattern companies and the indie companies too. If you are newish to sewing and feel up to the challenge of a utility jacket, I can thoroughly recommend the Foreman (pictured above) from Merchant and Mills. The facing is finished with bias binding and this blog post shows you how to make your own.

Top tips for the Perfect Pocket and getting a professional finish on your utility jacket.

  1. Choose your fabric carefully, if you want the "structure" normally associated with the utility jacket. Denim, cotton twill, drill cotton, will hold its shape and look great topstitched.

  2. Denim and cotton can shrink !!!!!! before you sew WASH YOUR FABRIC, on a hot wash.

  3. You will need a denim needle for the sewing machine, this needle is designed for the thickness of denim and a heavy cotton. If you are unable to get a denim needle or a jeans needle use a 16/100 or a 18/110.

  4. You make want to consider a different foot for your sewing machine when you need to sew double or triple layers, however you should be able to sew the utility jacket using the foot provided with your sewing machine.(an all purpose foot).

  • A walking foot that allows the top and bottom fabrics to move together is a great help.

  • Roller foot help feed dogs to move the fabric under the foot.

  • Teflon foot have a non-stick coated underside to help all kinds of fabrics glide through the machine.

  • All-Purpose foot can be used for smooth or medium weight fabrics, and is supplied with your sewing machine.

5. Thread

Your usual thread will be fine for sewing your seams, but I would recommend top stitching thread for the top stitching, on the pockets, collar and button holes. Top stitching thread is thicker than your normal thread and will give that lovely professional stitch you find on commercial jackets and jeans.

  • Use topstitch thread as your spool only (on top of your machine), with regular thread that matches your fabric in the bobbin,your sewing machine may not be able to cope will topstitching thread in the bobbin.

  • Lengthen the stitches to 3 /3.5 or 4 mm to create a straighter-looking line.

  • Press well before topstitching to flatten out the seams.

  • Sew with the garment right sides up so the topstitch thread ends up on the outside!

  • Avoid back tacking. On seams that won’t be crossed, leave loose tails of thread. Then tug the bobbin thread to pull a loop of topstitch thread to the wrong side, and tie the threads in a double knot by hand.

  • If you have used a contrast coloured fabric to create your pockets or on the underside of your collar You will need matching or contrast thread on the spool, and matching thread to the main fabric on the bobbin.

Tips for top stitching.

Top stitching is defined as one or more rows of stitching visible from the garment’s right side. Decorative and practical, this simple stitch has many uses. It holds fabric layers in place, such as seam allowances (this is often done with straight-stitched rows sewn on each side of the seam), facings (such as at the neckline), hems, collars, lapels, cuffs, pocket attachment, and so on. Topstitching adds texture and definition-similar to quilting, and gives decorative effects based on thread, stitch, and placement choices. Edgestitching is also topstitching that is sewn usually 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch from the edge.

  • Stitch with the right side up so the needle thread is visible. This allows you to see exactly what will be visible as you stitch. When possible, sew multiple rows in the same direction. This prevents puckering and rippling between the stitching rows.

  • Sew with a slow to medium, even speed. Don’t “pump” the foot pedal. Sewing too fast can cause erratic stitching.

  • Watch the fabric at the guide, rather than watching the needle. For easy precision, use a guide on the foot or on the machine bed whenever possible. Then, especially with a straight stitch, move the needle position to stitch the exact spacing from the guide that you desire.

  • Stop with the needle down as you stitch. The needle holds the fabric, prevents it from slipping, and keeps your stitching consistent.

Twin needles for top stitching.

You may want to consider using a twin needle for your top stitching, two rows of straight stitch are sewn at once. A twin needle (also called a double needle) is basically two needles attached to a single shank. One is slightly shorter than the other so your bobbin can catch the thread from both needles. Twin needles come in a variety of sizes and widths just like regular needles.

Threading the sewing machine to use a twin needle.

  • To thread your sewing machine for a twin needle first thread the machine in the normal way.Next place a second reel of thread on the second spool pin if your machine has one. If not you can use the bobbin winding pin or an accessory spool stand.

  • Thread the second reel in the normal way passing the thread through the eye of the remaining needle. However, do not pass this thread through the final thread guide at the needle bar. One of the threads should be passed through this thread guide, but the other one shouldn't. This helps to prevent the threads from tangling as does threading them separately.

  • The two rows of straight stitch will only appear one one side of the fabric, therefore you will need to sew on the right-side of your utility jacket.

Twin needle - trouble shooting.

A common problem experienced with twin needle stitching is a tunneling effect. In other words the fabric between the two lines of stitching is raised. Try adjusting your stitch length and needle tension and testing on scraps of fabric until you are happy with the results.

Button/ buttonholes and "snaps".

6. When marking and making the buttons men's buttons are on the RIGHT HAND SIDE, and the button hole on the LEFT HAND SIDE.

You may wish to use jean buttons which are not sewn on but attached using the tools provided in the kit and a hammer. These buttons look great and suit the utility style, I find them easier to use than poppers you mark you button position, using chalk or an invisible pen. The button hole is made on the sewing machine, find all the tips here.

A "snap" is a type of fastener which connects two pieces of fabric together by connecting two interlocking discs. They are also known as studs or poppers and can be made in either metal or plastic.

The position of the snaps is marked with chalk or the invisible pen. Follow the manufactures instructions to attach the snaps/poppers to your jacket

  • You can install snaps in a few different ways - either with a good old fashion hammer or a specialist snap tool. Both methods will get the job done and it's not necessary to buy a special tool if you don't think you'll be inserting snaps often into your projects.

  • If you're using snaps for the first time you maybe be a little confused about which bit goes with what, I know I was !!

  • It's very important when installing snaps that the correct bits are matched together, otherwise your snaps will not work ! I'd definitely advise laying out all the pieces and checking the back of the box to see what piece goes with which. I like to pair them with the caps and sockets on one side, and the studs and posts on another side so I don't get them mixed up.

  • Whatever brand you opt for, make sure you buy a pack of snaps with the attachments included instead of a just a refill pack as they assist in getting a good finish. The manufacturer's instructions will explain which attachment is used to stabilise which bit, so make sure you give them a read so you understand the process.

  • Practice a couple on scrap fabric of the same thickness as your jacket before you start to attach the snaps/poppers.

Contrast facing and undercollars

A great way of adding interest and a patterned fabric or some additional colour to your jacket, is to cut your facings and under collar from leftover fabrics from previous projects. (and it uses up your scraps )

just remember to match the weight of the fabric you are planning to cut the facings in, to the weight of the fabric of the main jacket.

If you haven't used interfacing before this guide should be helpful.

Making covered buttons for your Baker boy hat ? All the tips are here

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