Saturday 18th August

The coat is Finally Finished!!!

I had a busy Saturday morning as I had to do a bit of running around and tidying (!) but I finally got around to putting the French Tacks in the coat.

What are French Tacks?

Basically they are a way to anchor a loose lining to the main fabric to prevent it twisting.

There are various methods for French tacks and you can find these by searching on-line:

  • Chain Stitch (hand crochet method)
  • Blanket (or Buttonhole) stitch
  • Tear-away Machine Stitch
  • Overlocked stitch

However, as the coat material is quite heavy, I’m going to use Blanket (Buttonhole) stitch as it’s a slightly more robust method for securing the lining. (Personally I think the finished stitch looks better too!)

Di Kendall has a great blog post about Button hole stitch which can be found here.

Thread a needle and tie both loose ends giving you a double thread strand (ensure you have enough thread as you will use quite a bit!). Take a small stitch in your seam allowance close to the hem of your main fabric and then another small stitch to secure it. Now take a small stitch in your seam allowance close to the hem in you lining material – leaving 1/2″ – 1″ of thread between the lining and main fabric take another small stitch to secure it. You will now have a small length of thread between the lining and main fabric – continue to take stitches in the main fabric and lining, leaving the length of thread in between until you have 8-10 lengths of thread.


Now we basically create a blanket (buttonhole) stitch around the loose threads to bind them. Pass the needle behind the bunch of threads you have just created and then over the thread tail from the needle – pull this tight around the bunch of threads (which creates a knot) making sure you have tightened this close to the fabric. Repeat the process, tying each knot against the previous knot you have created until you reach the other piece of fabric (in this case the lining) take a couple of stitches to secure and tie off.


This is a completed French Tack – you can see the knots all neatly aligned on the left hand side of the tack. I repeated this 3 times, to hold the side seams and inverted pleats together.

Now that the coat was finished, I could get on with the trousers or Breeches (for those you don’t know this is pronounced “Brit-ches” – like female dogs but with an ‘r’!)

I’m doing these next for the costume as I can wing the shirt, but can’t really wing the trousers and would look silly without them! :O

I’m using this pattern Simplicity 4923:


There are a lot of nice items in this pattern packet, but I’m only currently concerned with the trousers – they are of the period with 3 buttons on each leg and 2 on the front flap.


I’m making view ‘F’ from the above – I’ve already got some boots to go with the finished ensemble, and having been performing for more years that I care to recall, I also have white dancers tights…….


First (of course) I cut out my pattern pieces (making sure I cut the correct size) and ironed them to ensure that the fabric would be cut correctly:


The pieces may not look completely flat in the above picture, but I did put them back on the ironing board and flatten them before pinning to my fabric.

This pattern also only has 2 size options, L and XL – I’ve cut XL, but have folded (and pressed) along the L lines. This gives me the option to still cut the XL size if I ever need to.

Based on the sizing on the pattern though, I’m not likely to need the L size and may have to adjust the sizing. Fortunately the back of the breeches are gathered, so I could potentially lose some here. Having said that, if I gather too much, then the bottom of the breeches will balloon out looking ridiculous. Normally I would adjust at side seams as well, but because of the buttons, this could be a little more problematic.

I will let you know how I adjust this (if I need to) when I get to it.

Once all the fabric was cut, I used iron-on interfacing on all the pieces that needed it – ensuring that I put the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric


Next step is to sew the lining to the front underlaps and turn the right way out – the seam allowances should be trimmed and the curves must be clipped to make the piece lie flat one the right way out.


Once these are done we stitch the 2 front sections together ready to attach the underlap and front flap. It seems odd for trousers to be stitching the front together as we would normally leave open for a fly. The method here though differs as the opening is completely different!

The next bits are tricky as with both the front sides of the breeches and the front flap, we have to create a stitch line (like a dart) but then slash the fabric down the centre line between the stitching to create an opening. The underlaps will be stitched to one side of this slash and the front flap to the other. We are trying to achieve the following:


I’ve added the button and button hole positions for clarity. Below you can see that I’ve very carefully marked my stitch and slash lines so that I can see what I’m doing:


I’ve taken these to a sharp point, but I’ll need to open out the point a little when sewing to ensure that I can get my scissors right to the end when cutting. (Without cutting through the stitches of course!) I’ll stitch a little outside the line at the point and round the end off rather than stitching to the point and then turning the material around the needle.


Apologies for the blurry image, but you should still be able to make out the stitching either side of the slash. I reduced my stitch length to about 1.4 for this, just so that there was more thread either side. What we should now have is the following:


Blue dotted lines are the stitch lines – the centre front line is where we stitched the two fronts together.
The next bit is from memory at the moment, I will correct as necessary!

The front flap, we have to stitch 1/4″ (6mm) from the edge, turn under and press. Then this is slashed in the same way as we did the trouser fronts. The underlaps are basted to the sides of the slashes along the stitch lines (right sides together).

Next we put right sides of the flap with right sides of the flap in the trouser front and stitch the slashes and the top ONLY.

Flap Stitching

Trim the seam allowance and the corners and turn the right way out. The underlaps will need to be pressed to the inside and then the entire piece is topstitched into place. (Having said ‘top-stitched’ – I actually stitched on the inside as it was much easier to follow the edge of the flap.)

Inside Flap Stitch Line

The above image is of the inside and the stitch line (dotted in blue) that I followed. The below image is of the full construction of the front flap fully finished and pressed:


The back of the breeches has been pinned in place – and this is the inside of the breeches. I’ve folded the front flap to the inside so that you can see it – but the basic construction of the front should be visible. Don’t worry that the underlaps don’t overlap (if you get my drift), I’ve deliberately positioned them so that you can see them!

Have done this once, I know know what I would do differently – and where I would take a LOT more care – it’s not really a difficult construction, but unless you are careful you will get puckers around the ends of the slashes – I would certainly press and pin more too!


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