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Stafford Sew Along Part One: Cutting and Marking


 Welcome to the Stafford Sew Along. Today we are going to discuss the materials you will need for this project, as well as cutting, marking and some of our signature techniques. Let's get sewing! 

We recommend a variety of fabrics for the Stafford Jacket such as denim, chambray, mid-to-heavy-weight cotton, linen, wool, novelty weaves and doubleknits.  The Stafford was originally inspired by the classic denim jacket, but this version has a bit of a twist to it. While the front has the western-style panels, the pocket flaps are just that — flaps and no pockets. The back has some easing below the yoke and the sleeves are shorter and flared, unlike a traditional Levi jean jacket. So this "jean jacket" can transition into a more sophisticated wardrobe piece. If you are are still looking for fabric to make your Stafford, we offer some kits on our website in classic denims, a wool plaid and other fun prints.

Assuming you have chosen your fabric, now is the time to pre-treat it. If you know you are going to launder the jacket, then cut a 4ʺ square of fabric and throw it in the washing machine before you start. This way you can check for shrinkage or any change in character. Perhaps you will decide to dry clean your fabric. Without having to take the yardage to the cleaners, simply give the fabric a good steaming. While you are washing your fabric, why not head over and join our Sew Along Facebook Group? Here you can easily ask questions, post pictures of your project and see what everyone else is working on! 

Now let's establish the straight of grain for your woven fabric. As Linda says, this is one of the most important, but often the most skipped step, of the garment sewing process. It is vital that the pattern is cut on the straight grain of the fabric because this will allow your finished jacket to hang straight. To find the straight of grain, snip into the fabric along one selvage edge and either tear across the crossgrain (or the weft of the fabric) or pull a thread across the width and cut along the loosened thread line. This will give you a straight edge where the warp and weft grains are at a 90 degree angle. 

Now it is finally time to cut. Follow the pattern layout for your size/fabric width. Once your pattern pieces are cut, mark all your notches and dots immediately. I know some of you like to skip this step, but we don't recommend it! Pattern markings are essential to the sewing process. I start by snipping into my notches, as opposed to cutting triangles that protrude out. This keeps the fabric flat while cutting and prevents distortion.

Put away your marking pens and pencils. You are going to mark the dots with tailor's tacks. I know, it seems laborious, and yes, it takes a tiny bit more time than using a marker, but you will thank yourself in the end. I have to say that ever since I started using tailor's tacks, I haven't gone back to marking pens. Why? Because tacks stay in the fabric. They don't rub off, they don't disappear, you can leave the project for a week, come back to it and there they are, ready to help. If you use 100% silk thread for your tacks, you can sew through them and they still pull out easily.

  • Place pin through the point you want to mark.
  • Gently separate the pattern tissue from the fabric. Using a contrasting color of thread, take a single stitch where the pin enters the fabric, leaving a 1" thread tail.
  • Complete the stitch loop. Cut thread leaving another long tail.

A technique that we use in many of our patterns, including in the Stafford construction, is the use of pressing templates. Start by making your own templates using a manila file folder or tagboard of similar weight. For the Stafford you will cut four templates in the following sizes: 2 ⅞ʺ, 2 ¼", 1 ⅝" wide x height of folder.

Use the following method to press with the templates.

  • For the first fold, place the template on the wrong side of the hem edge. Press the hem up and over the template, matching the raw edge of the fabric to the top of the template. Press.
  • For the second fold, place the smaller template in the press creaseline. Press the remaining fabric up and over the bottom edge of the template.
In the example below, (which does not use the Stafford template dimensions) you can see that the first fold is made using a 2⅛"-wide template. The fold that is pressed will be the bottom edge of the garment. Then, to press an even ½" under, use a second template that is 1¾" wide and placed along the original foldline. The excess fabric is pressed to the wrong side.

Templates will be used on the sleeve hems, vent openings and the center front hem. ​

Having the right tools will increase your sewing success. Here are tools that I keep on hand for sewing garments. 

Fusi-Web – This is really a must-have!

Glass Head Pins – My personal favorite pins.

Tailor's Ham – If you are a garment sewer, you should have this in your toolbox – no excuses.

Seam Roll – A huge help when constructing the collar.

Tailoring Board – See all those crazy curves and points? They will help you get into all the nooks and crannies of collars, sleeves, etc. and it holds your tailor's ham!

Sleeve Board – This makes working on sleeves and cuffs so much easier.

For more information on notions, check out Linda's Craftsy class, Sewing Notions Workshop: Solutions for Savvy Sewing.

 Join us for the Stafford Sew Along Part Two: Preparing to Topstitch.

Stafford Sew Along Part Three: Sewing the Front
Topstitching Tips for the Stafford Jacket

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