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How Did They Sew That? Inset Fabric Bands

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This black satin evening jacket, created in 1995 by design duo Conover Mayer, is graced with four elegant features: a sophisticated inset band detail on the front bodice, an in-seam buttonhole in a pointed tab, a cloverleaf neckline, and a crescent-shaped sleeve cap. This original style would be equally exquisite daywear made in another fabric such as linen or wool crepe. To learn how to incorporate similar inset curved bands into a pattern, read this article from Threads #196.

Adding new seamlines to a basic pattern is a common way to change a design. In the examples at right and on the back cover, curved and concentric seams create inset fabric bands. These bands serve as an elegant embellishment and contain shaping darts within their seams. I’ve sewn the jacket bands at right in linen, to show the fabric grain and to demonstrate how this design feature looks in a less formidable fabric than the original satin. This pattern conversion is a method requiring precision. Exact marking, cutting, and sewing are important for a satisfactory result.

Intriguing patternmaking and precision sewing produce a stunning, vintage-inspired detail. Fabric: linen,

Begin by choosing a base pattern. Rotate any shoulder or bust darts to exit at the waistline or hemline. Trace the pattern with the new dart placement on fresh paper. Also trace a pattern of the new dart shape on a separate piece of paper. I’ll show you how to create the shaped band patterns. Adding the pointed tab is optional.

1. Chart the bands. On 1⁄4-inch-grid graph paper draw two bands  1-1⁄4 inches wide. Draw them with a right angle, then use a compass to round the corners. Draw hash marks across the outlines to use for proper alignment later. Cut out the shapes. The grid marks are temporary grainlines.

2. Make new dart templates. Measure the width and length of the single dart pattern you made earlier. Create three new dart patterns: Make one pattern half the original dart width at the base and the other two one quarter the original dart width. Make them all the original length.

3. Lay the pattern pieces over the  front pattern with the rotated darts. Arrange the vertical center seam in line with the bust point. Tape or pin the horizontal section to the pattern.

4. Place the darts, and shape the bands. Pin the half-width dart to a vertical line directly under the bust point. Spread the two bands to align on the dart legs. Pinch tiny darts in the bands’ curved area so the bands lie flat. This reshapes the bands to accommodate half the dart take-up. Pin the quarter-width darts to the outer edge of each band, aligning at the waist.

5. Finalize the patterns. Pin the reshaped band pieces to a second sheet of pattern paper and trace them. Transfer the grainlines and hash marks. Add seam allowances and grainlines to the new upper and lower front pieces.

6. Cut the fabric. Fuse interfacing to the fabric wrong side. Lay the patterns on the fabric wrong side, aligning the grainlines carefully. Draw a cutting line 5⁄8 inch outside each edge, and transfer all the hash marks. Cut the fabric along the new line.

7. Assemble the front. Staystitch along the curved seamlines. Carefully pin the bands together before basting by hand to match the seamlines exactly. Clip into the seam allowances to baste smoothly if needed. Machine-sew the seams.

8. Complete the construction. Trim the seam allowances and press them open. Add a facing and lining to finish the jacket front.


Contributing Editor Judith Neukam writes, edits, and sews in her Omaha, Nebraska, studio.

Photos: Mike Yamin Illustration: Rosann Berry

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  1. ustabahippie | | #1


  2. user-7225691 | | #2

    Beautiful. Better looking than the original. Any info as to the buttonhole?
    If the whole jacket (not a seam sample) was made, I would like to see the finished product.

    1. CarolFresia | | #3

      Hi! We didn't make a full jacket, only a sample to show the curved inset band detail. Alas, because wouldn't this be a knock-out of a spring jacket? The in-seam buttonhole can be made by leaving a portion of the band seam open; you'll need to stitch a traditional buttonhole on the facing behind this opening to make the buttonhole functional.

      Carol Fresia, Threads Senior Technical Editor.

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