Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Making a Sweater Coat Part 11 Sewing Lining and Hem

The lining sews together easily.  The only hard part is attaching the sleeve lining to the lining armhole.  I do it just like the coat sleeve and it works great. Notice how the lining doesn't meet in the front because that's where the front facing will be.
To sew the lining to the coat, I need a larger horizontal space, and you know what that means… It’s time to mop the kitchen floor again. I lay the coat down on the floor, right side up. 
 I lay the lining over the coat, right side down.  Pin them together around the longest seam in the coat.  
I love this seam.  It’s so satisfying to complete because after it’s sewn, the thing feels like a coat.  Even though it won’t be completely done yet, if there were some sort of natural disaster, and I had to run out of my house wearing nothing but this coat, I’d be covered and warm. Working on this seam plays right into my fantasy of beating the odds of mortal doom through sewing.

I watched Martha’s Sewing Room today, and there was a guest segment on how to hem a baby dress with a lining.  They showed a trick of sewing the hem right sides together, finishing it through a hole in the side of the lining.  This is the method for me! I like the idea because I can sew the hem on my serger, which makes it strong.  I don’t normally finish my hems this way, but with the sweater fabric, I’m concerned that it might stretch a bit over time, and with this type of hem treatment, the coat will still drape properly.  Other methods for hemming can mess up the drape if the lining is too short for the outside of the coat.  Ask me how I know.

I lay the coat on the floor to determine if the coat hem is the same length as the lining hem.   The lining is a little too long.  You can see the extra fabric on the right side of the photo below.  I cut off the adjacent seam, removing 2 inches of fabric there.  Because I’m going to leave a hole to work through, I finish the edges of the lining on my serger separately.  That way, the hole won’t fray while I work and when I sew it up at the end, the edges are already finished, so I can just use my regular machine and still get a nice, strong finish.   Interestingly, when I sew these edges on my serger, I sew it in one long row of stitches with a u-turn in the middle: up, around and down.  I wasn’t expecting that.  Nifty.  I was too lazy to rethread my machine for this step, and it appears that the chain stitches are less stretchy on one layer than they are on two.  So, I rip out the two threads that make the chain stitches. If you start from the ending end, and unlock the first stitch properly, they pull out easily in one quick zip.  I sew the bottom part of the seam together, leaving about a 7 inch hole. The two pins in the middle of the lining show the top and bottom of the hole placement.
In doing the hem, I decide to error on having the lengths match rather than the patchwork.  The difference is only about a half inch anyway.  I flip the coat and lining inside out.  I pin ¾ of the hem right sides together and sew.   
Flip the coat right sides out.   
Pull the unsewn quarter hem through the hole in the lining.  Pin right sides together and sew.  The front bottom corners are a wee bit too pointy, but they match well enough so I leave them.  When I try on the coat, the lining hem is a bit shorter than the coat hem, just like it’s supposed to be. 

Turn sleeves inside out.  Pin lining to coat under arm pits (the bottom half of the arm hole).
Hand sew the lining to the coat using a back stitch sewn from the lining side.  This tacking will help hold the lining in place without affecting the drape of the coat. 

I put on the coat and see that the sleeves are much too long.  That was my mistake in the pattern, but better too long than too short.   I pin the sleeves in place.  I have 4.5 inches in the sleeve hem.  I reduce it to 2.25 inches and serge the edges with a 4 thread overlock stitch.  Turn the sleeve inside out, and hand stitch the sleeve hem using cross stitch. 
Cut lining to same length as finished sleeve. 
Serge edge of lining.  Hand stitch lining to sleeve hem using itty bitty cross stitches.  Press.  Hang coat on dress form and steam bottom hem. 


  1. You better post lots and lots of pictures after you get those fasteners on. I expect to see it:
    a) laid out
    b) on the dress form
    c) on a live model

    I want to see it front and back too!

    I am still impressed. by your skills as a seamstress.

  2. KJ, I promise to post lots of photos of the finished coat. Front, back, side, hood up and down. (That would be just plain evil not to after all this.) What do you mean by laid out? You're not going to make me wash my kitchen floor again, are you?

  3. LOL You will like having a clean kitchen floor. Actually I would think the finished piece wouldn't be quite as long as the pieces.

  4. Oh, but I do prefer sewing to cleaning!

  5. Oh, I can't wait to see this, Gwen! I've loved the saga!

  6. Thank you Sally! Soon, very, very soon!


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