Pea Coat Sew-Along: Tailoring


Hello Sew Along-ers,

Regarding our sew along schedule, today’s post is suppose to cover steps 1 & 2, 11 and 16-18.  Since I have a lot of information to share this week the content will be broke in two. Today the focus are on: Cutting, Marking and Interfacing with extra tailoring steps. The continuation of this week steps will be posted on later this week.

Cutting: peacoatsewalonginterfacing4

As there are some final fitting adjustments on my coat to be made during the sewing process my lining will be cut after the coat is constructed. If you are happy with the fit of your pea coat, you can cut all your pattern pieces today. That is the main fabric, lining and interfacing.

If you are sewing with a solid fabric just follow the original pattern layout presented on the pattern envelop.

For those with fabrics with large designs you must take consideration to where do you want to position each detail on the finished coat. Take your time figuring it out and once you are happy draw that design position on your paper pattern pieces. It will guide you when cutting.

Fabrics with checks and stripes (which my fabric has both) needs a lot more attention. First check if your design is: regular (can be matched either direction), or irregular (one way layout). You want to match your checks in all obvious adjoining places like centre front, princess seams, centre back, hemline, armhole etc.  There is no need to repeat available information on how to match plaids. A few links you may find useful:

Pro tip: To avoid stretching your fabric when cutting don’t let it hang off the table. To avoid damaging your scissors, don’t let pins overhang outside pattern cutting line.

A few pictures of my pea coat during the cutting stage.

peacoatsewalonginterfacing21 peacoatsewalonginterfacing22 peacoatsewalonginterfacing11


The pattern markings works as a visual language. You can successfully sew a pattern without instructions if all the markings are annotated on the fabric.  There are so many tools and methods available that you should choose whatever works best for you.  If you want to work with chalks, I find wax chalks work best on wools. I personally avoid erasable pens as they can cause permanent lines after pressing. I don’t like the prospect that after 24 hrs my markings will vanish either. Tracing wheel & carbon/wax. My favourite method: Cut your pieces right sides together. Lay the carbon on top of your cutting board, wax side up. Lay the garment on top and using the tracing wheel, trace all the marks needed. I get my beginners sewists to trace their seam allowances. If you are new to coat making you may find that useful.

For my pea coat the methods I used to mark the fabric were tailors tacks and tracing wheel/wax (upper sleeve darts.)

Tailors tacks


May Martin recently did a demo on how to do perfect tailor’s tacks which I transmitted live on my Tv Channel ( Periscope: House of Pinheiro) It only replays live stream videos for 24 hours but I’m trying to make those “how to videos” available again. Watch this space.  One of her tips was to only use white or soft pastels because colour can rub off on the fabric.

To mark match points with tailor tacks, use double thread without knotting. At the marking take two stitches through the pattern and fabric layers. Don’t forget to leave a large loop between the first and the second stitch. Clip the loop between the stitches and carefully separate the fabric layers. Only than clip the threads between the layers.


An overview about Interfacing and Stabilisers.

For every fabric there are several choices of suitable interfacings. Your choice will be highly dependant on what result you want to achieve. For example; if you choose to use fusible on this coat you will notice that the result will have a crispier slick look. If you choose sew-in hair canvas the design will be a little softer and more supple. All fusible independent of the type (woven, non woven, tricot, warp- insertion etc) will make your fabric crispier. Sew-in interfacings are sewn into the coat either by hand or machine (using serpentine stitch).

How to: When fusing, always read the manufactures instructions. Cover the pressing surface with an old tea towel. Place the fabric, wrong side up and the glue of the interfacing side drown on the fabric. Cover with a press cloth and press overlapping to avoid missing a spot. Do this for the amount of time advised on the instructions.  Don’t forget to set your iron on the wool setting.  I always start fusing from the centre fusing towards the edges.

Pro tip: If you are using fusible canvas why not try trimming the lower edge with pinking shears. It will avoid issues like showing a mark on the right side.

Did you know you should preshrink your interfacings? If you are using sew in canvas don’t forget to preshrink it. Either by steaming or washing in hot water.


Our pattern will ask for sew-in interfacing. That is because this peacoat is as closely assembled as the original from the collaborating designer: Anne Klein. There are 3 methods commonly used: Fast Fusing where you just fuse the interfacing pieces, hand stitch or machine sew “sew-in interfacing”. You can use any or all methods in this pattern. Completely a personal choice.

The best practice to find out how your fabric will behave is to sample it. Do you know how?

Sampling Step by Step

  • Cut a square piece of your preshrunk fabric.
  • Cut your choice of interfacing about half the size of your fabric.
  • Apply the interfacing to half of your fabric. Fusing or sewing as you would.
  • Drape over your hands. Is any mark showing on the right side?
  • Roll the sample to see if it creates a smooth curl without creasing.
  • Save your most successful samples for future references. Don’t forget to label it.


Instead of following the pattern interfacing layouts I am going to be tailoring my pea coat pattern following a method I learned from a lecture at UCA. Feel free to follow with me or the original pattern layout. For the original interfacing layout cut interfacing for pattern pieces 1, 3, 7, 11, 15,16, 17.

I’m using 3 different fusibles: A lightweight woven interfacing, a lightweight fusible horsehair canvas and thread stitch fusible. Each corresponding to a different part of the peacoat.


    • Interface the whole front piece using lightweight interfacing. Pattern pieces 1 & 3.
    • Interface the upper collar and side pocket opening with an extra layer of thread stitch reinforced interfacing. Pattern piece 16. Do follow pattern layout by removing the ends. Bias cut hem interfacings: long strip 1″ (2,5 cm). For the pocket side cut 1/4 inches (0.6cm) strip.
    • Sleeve: interface the sleeve head and under arm with lightweight horsehair interfacing and the sleeves hem with thread stitch reinforced interfacing. Pattern piece 9 & 10.

Cut off the dart as you don’t need the extra bulk.

  • Front facing: lightweight horsehair interfacing. Pattern piece 11
  • If I was fully lining this coat I would have interfaced half of the back, instead I’m sewing a back stay in calico using the lining piece a template minus seam allowance.
  • Interface piece 6  and 7 and 15 & 17 with Lightweight interfacing.

Horsehair Canvas layouts:  Trace each pattern piece i.e. facing and top of sleeves to create the horsehair fusible patterns. They need to be without seam allowances to avoid bulk.


To create the shoulders stabiliser:


Shoulders Support. Draft your shoulder shield front and back by tracing the original pattern. They should be about 5″ to 7 ” (12.5-18 cm) deep along the arm cycle.  When tracing omit the shoulder and armhole seam. Draw two more parallel lines about 3/4 inches (2cm) apart. You will cut the largest and the smallest with the shoulder seam parallel to the cross grain. The middle should be cut with the shoulder seam perpendicular to the cross grain. I only had a small piece of canvas left so I didn’t follow the cutting layout 100% but I wanted to make sure you have the correct way of doing it. To apply: Stack the 3 layers matching the shoulder and armhole lines and fuse it in place. If you are using sew in canvas, stitch the layered pieces on a piece of thin calico (the same you use to cut your pattern piece).

Sleeve head or shoulder pads.


Sleeve heads protect the shape of the cap creating a smooth look when the sleeve join the shoulder. You can either make your own or buy one ready made. Same principle for the shoulders when you are using shoulder pads they create a nice finish. Interesting article about shoulder pads on the cutting class blog.  You don’t have to use either if you don’t want to.

Ready made bias or Pattern piece 5 ?

This is the first time I have seen a pattern that gives you a pattern piece to be cut and make bias binding. This method is used by quilters. You can also buy your own ready made bias (which I am considering). Be sure it is already pre-shrunk or you will have to treat it before using it.

WIP pictures….




Housekeeping: The peacoat Sew Along is very relaxed; sew on your own pace project. I hope you will find all the information useful and encouraging. If you need extra motivation we have a flickr group and a Pinterest page. Even if you aren’t officially taking part of the sewing along, do let me know if you are enjoying the depth of details etc. Check behind the scenes with #peacoatsewalong & #1467sewalong.

Happy sewing xx

  • Great post Rachel! So useful and clear even though I’m not sewing along!

  • very comprehensive post, I am trying to get back into the habit of tailor tacks – they are so useful (in school we used have to tailor tack all sewing lines which seemed to take half the school year to do). making a different coat here and wish I slowed down at the beginning as I am redoing some bits now…… saving this post for my next coat!

  • I’m so impressed with all the knowledge you share!
    Even if it makes me feel like a novice. I’ll defnitely come back here if I ever attempt to sew something this advanced.

  • Very informitive, I like the idea of changing up interfacing depending on where it will be used especially the horse hair under the arm.

  • This post is very well done!! I’m not sewing along too but I’m going to sew my first coat this winter (at least I hope so). These info will be useful for sure! Thanks!

  • Hayley Wilkinson

    Hi Rachel, I am swing along and have chosen a 100% wool from Fabric Godmother. Is the light weight interfacing you are using on pieces 1& 3 iron on?

    • Hello Hayley, all my interfacing were fusible. You can find the exact same as sew in.

  • Hayley Wilkinson

    I mean sewing along!

  • Ida S

    I’m currently not making this coat but will save the details you share for a later date. I would like to clarify what is ‘thread stitch’ interfacing? I live in the UK a brand name would helpful or retailer, Many thanks, IS

    • Is the type of interfacing like saying tricot. if you search for it you will get loads of brands. I avoided putting brand references because many times people would loose the opportunity to buy the right product because they would ask for “a” brand while the shop could have an alternative. An example is Vilene H410/317

  • Thank you ! I love this idea!

  • Tutorials with great ideas. Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed your article.