(Sorry ’bout yesterday: Our internet was down.)
Hiding in plain sight inside this article on expanding pockets and overlapping waistbands, is another powerful idea that goes way beyond pockets or waists: Maybe machine-stitching and turning isn’t always the best way to form things. I quite like the technique shown here for creating the waistband tab, for example.
There are two parts to this tab story, with a little gem of a tip inside.
Part one is that folding and pressing a shaped thing like a tab (or a collar or a flap or a lapel…?) into its final appearance is bound to be a more precise, controllable, correctable and direct way to form it—resulting in sharper corners and crisper edges—than stitching and turning it would be.
Part two is that hand-stitching whatever facing or lining you want your shaped thing to have is both not that time-consuming (given that you can confine the hand-stitching to just the critical parts, where the main shaping needs to be, machine stitching the simpler parts), but also an easier way (compared to turning) to keep the facing or lining smaller than, and thus out of sight behind, the face of your tab or similar thing. Plus, it’s good to develop some minimal skill at hand stitching; you shouldn’t be scared of it!
The way I like to shape something I’m not going to stitch and turn is with some kind of form or guide around which I’ll fold and press my fashion fabric, ensuring both precision and repeatability whenever I need more than one of my shaped things. This could be a template cut from heavy paper or light cardboard, or it could be a piece of medium-weight, fabric-stiffening fusible interfacing fused inside, which is what I used here. In either case, this is another instance of when you don’t need to cut out your fashion fabric too precisely; it’s the guide that needs to be precise, not what you’re folding around it; note the rough shape of the tab fabric here compared to the precise shape of the fusible inside it:
The first step in this case is to fold just the top edge of this waistband-with-tab, creasing it along the edge of the fusible within. This forms the final top edge of the band and provides a guide for machine stitching the petersham facing I’m using here.
Petersham, by the way, is wonderful stuff, definitely my first choice for a waistband facing, as detailed, and sourced, at length in my book. The main thing to note about it here is that it’s got selvedges at each side so it gets edge-stitched in place, not stitched and turned, giving you very thin seams, already finished edges, and letting you easily position the facing just slightly out of sight below the folded fabric edge, thus:
Note that I stopped the machine stitching just shy of the first corner of the shaped tab; from here on out, I’ll be folding and hand stitching. First, I fold and press the fashion fabric, again relying on the fused form inside to guide me. And here’s that gem of a tip: To hold these folds while I form the petersham to match, I used very tiny scraps cut from a sheer fusible interfacing, lightly but permanently pressed over the raw edges; details about, and sources for, my preferred interfacings in book, of course.
Next, I fold and press the petersham so it follows, and stays well within, the shape of the tab. No securing strips of interfacing needed here, since I’ll be stitching this down right away, but if I wanted to add these, the fusible’s so sheer I wouldn’t hesitate.
Finally, I stitch the two folded edges together using one end of the machine-stitching thread (the other end is clipped and tucked inside the layers). I use a fell, or felling, stitch, described in the book and demonstrated on its DVD, but also described by Kenneth King in one of his excellent recent Threads articles—he’s really on a roll, no? Kudos to him, and to the Threads staff for knowing a good thing when it’s in their lap! Hand felling’s very fast, secure, and helps keep the thing being felled inside the thing being felled to.
Up next: That buttonhole, and finishing the project.