Lady Grey Coat and Tailoring with Fusibles

Phew, after a few months of delay and other projects and big birthdays, I was finally able to get back to my coat project.

I had a lengthy fitting process to begin with–I was determined to cut the sleeves correctly and avoid all the sleeve ease. In the end what I came up with was a serious hack, so I’m not going to publish it here. I also redrafted the entire lining because I discovered some of the lengths between pieces didn’t match. (I’m wondering how others get around this.)

Just cutting this thing out took several sessions. The front is 7 pieces, the lining is 10, then two collar pieces, one long belt and belt loops. Then there’s the interfacing. Oh yay, more cutting!

Part of the whole gig at Gertie’s sew-along was about learning some tailoring techniques, and I was determined to take something away from that–despite the fact that my coat fabric is too lightweight for most of those techniques. Instead of going the whole padstitching, hand-stitched sew-in interfacing route, I used all fusible interfacing, and in the process I went on a mad research hunt to find out how to best use fusibles for light tailoring.

In the end, I came up with my own process that combined several methods and ideas. Excuse me while I geek out and show you some of the insides.

I fused the entire facing, then a second piece the shape of the lapel, extending about a half inch past the roll line. Here it is pinned on–I fused this second piece over a ham so that the interfacing would shape the garment as I pressed. I also later fused some straight tape along the roll line, shortening it as one shortens twill tape on a roll line and easing in the fabric as I pressed.

I fused the upper collar with a lighter weight and the under collar with a heavier weight. Then I cut and fused a second piece in the shape of the collar roll in order to shape the under collar (doing much the same as with the facing, by steaming the collar around a ham).

Using bias fusible tape to stabilize the armscye and shoulder lines. The fabric really needed this because it is so loosely woven. You can also see how I adjusted/trued the hem on the pattern so that when folded up it will fit and I won’t have to ease as much fabric in.

I also changed the pocket so it would have a facing and interfaced that–but this turned out to be a bit too much weight for a pocket. I later discovered that the pattern is already drafted in such a way that the lining fabric gets hidden, and I would have preferred an all-lining pocket, but hey, you learn!

Interfacing the under sleeve.

I should mention that before cutting, I made some major changes to the seam allowances. The neckline, collar, armscye, sleeve cap and front edge of the garment are all 3/8″. This makes a huge difference in both matching pieces properly and ability to ease where that is needed. The rest of the seams, most the ones where I was going to be topstitching, were 1/2″. I just find the standard 5/8″ seam allowance very hard to work with and have noticed an improvement in my sewing by reducing the allowances.

It is finally time to sew this puppy together!

Of course, one can make this jacket without focusing on tailoring at all. The pattern just has simple interfacing and pressing instructions. But I’ve gotten all excited about the possibilities of making more coats, or blazers and the like. I’m all for more tailoring projects.

resources I used

Japanese Tailoring by Judy Barlup. I splurged on this after I bought the Lady Grey coat pattern. She has a video and follow-along book but the video is more helpful–she’s a good teacher and you can really see her hands as they work. This is her method of tailoring (“Japanese” because she learned it from a Japanese dressmaker and teacher), most of which is about changing seam allowances to allow for seams that don’t show and how to use fusibles and where. The book also includes a welt pocket pattern and instructions on how to change little details like sleeve vents.

Armani Jackets” by Marcy Tilton at Threads Magazine. Shows how to use fusibles in shaping both a collar and lapel.


  1. Brendon says:

    I have a suggestion for you. I am a bespoke tailor in New Zealand. Try allowing more length in the back shoulder seam to the front and that will encourage the front panel to sit flatter. Also the waistcoat in the diagram of the pattern. The importance of the waistcoat is in the picture on the front of the pattern. Notice the full chest. It is significant because it allows the waist to appear smaller. This is the mans shape, rather than the feminised verson that is common in todays very crookened garments.
    Not being an arse, you seem enthusiastic, so just trying to help.
    This is my first internet reply to anything and may well be my last.

    all the best with your sewing regards

    • Amy says:

      Hi Brendan, I definitely appreciate your advice. I am always learning and no, you don’t seem like an arse! I remember the first time I made a comment on a blog, and wasn’t sure how it would be perceived. Were you referring to this coat? Or the man’s vest I made on this page? I wasn’t sure by your advice (partly because we don’t use the term “waistcoat” in the U.S. and I’ve associated it with what we call “vests”, which again I know means something else there!). I will probably not make this coat again, as the style was difficult for my figure, but I’ve tried to learn more about tailoring shapes since then. I have an old tailoring book from the UK that talks about different shapings (at least what was popular then), just for my own fascination. You may want to take a look at my other blog Cloth Habit (which I started after this blog and is more sewing-focused), which has some photos of the finished coat. But thanks again for visiting!

      Regards, Amy

Comments are closed.