Fusing map: Sport coats and suits

Based on an antecedent post, it seems people are excited about this one. I can only hope it lives up to expectations.

But first, this is a side jaunt to a series of posts I wrote about sample costs (pt.1, pt.2 & pt.3). By way of explaining the higher costs of cutting samples as compared to the design room or home workshop, I’ve made what I’m calling “fusing maps” for lack of a better description. It is the only way I can show you how much extra stuff we cut. I know fusible usage looks like more than you’re used to so you wonder if you really need it. All I can say is that manufacturers are keen to shave costs wherever possible so if it were possible to eliminate it, they’d do it.

Without further ado, below are shown fusible placements on the typical sportcoat or suit coat. It also goes for coats too. For this to make sense, make note of the at top right. Shell or the self piece is grey. The fusible is pink. Other than that, this is self explanatory.

Feel free to post any questions you may have. The related entries listed below may also be of some utility.

On reviewing pattern books
Interfacing: 10 tips
How to apply interfacing

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  1. Sarra Bess says:

    This is a) useful, and b) timely. I’m working on a suit jacket block for myself, starting from a (surprisingly well drafted) home sewing pattern and altering as needed. I’m working on the final mockup/”prototype” now, with actual (albeit cheap) suiting and lining fabric. I’ve followed the example set by the three RTW suit jackets I took apart, all of which had the entire body fused with a lightweight weft-insertion. This map would indicate that fusing the entire body is not necessarily required. I do need to add fusible to the sleeves, though. I should have known that; folds always need interfacing.

    I am also unsurprised to see a lack of two things that are assumed to be required in home sewing — a separate back stay (usually cut from muslin) and an additional layer of interfacing on the lapel of the front that goes only to the roll line. Neither were apparent in any of the jackets I took apart.

  2. M Pius says:

    It’s interesting to see that the whole front piece is fused. Is this because once you covered the hem, lapel area past the roll line, neck, shoulder, armscye – there would be so little left that it’s easier to just fuse the whole thing? Also, you only drew one welt – is that to imply that this jacket only has a breast pocket? Or is it assumed to be a multiple? But, if you have lower pockets and a breast pocket wouldn’t those require different shaped/sized welts?

  3. Kathleen says:

    The front also gets a lot more wear.

    The welt represents the concept of pocket pieces, not a given shape or size of any given pocket per se. A welt also represents multiples. Top welts are fused, under welts aren’t (which is why an under welt wasn’t shown).

  4. Adrienne Myers says:

    This is not what I expected, I thought it would be how the cutting of the fusible would be laid out on the fusible itself. But very relevant to the costing concept, because the extra steps of cutting and fusing are part of your garment manufacture costs.

  5. Sarah_H. says:

    Yes, Natasha, there is a definite advantage. The curved line can be cut in one pass with the knife. A straight line would have to be cut one way, then the knife repositioned to cut from the outside into the corner. And with an inside corner, there is always a possibility of the cut not completely severing the piece from the fabric, adding costly hand trimming to the cutting operation. Of course, this presupposes that the fusing is being cut by an actual person rather than an automatic laser cutter. I do not know enough about laser cutting to tell you if the curve gives you an advantage there.

  6. Kathleen says:

    I hadn’t thought of cutting.

    Curved lines are preferred to prevent straight line (x-y) fold imprinting on the face side. On garment edges (hems etc) it is less worrisome since those lines don’t conform to the figure as a back shoulder/CB neck would.

    Adrienne, I understand the confusion so I will clarify.

    The point of the series was explaining the extra costs of cutting in a commercial environment versus that of a design room or at home.

    To justify the extra labor costs of cutting single ply, I showed a marker of both double and single ply as a proof of the cost benefit of cutting single ply.

    To demonstrate the higher cutting costs in a commercial environment (again, versus that of other options), I showed the increased use of fusibles in RTW. As such, it was more appropriate to show where fusibles are used than to create a marker. Creating a marker for fusibles would have led to myriad comments and questions about where those pieces should be placed.

  7. Jessica says:

    I’ve used fusing in all these places before, but the curved lines on the sleeve hems and vents were new to me. It definitely does make sense from a cutting perspective.

  8. When making a fused jacket, I also fuse the sleeve crown (the top part of the top sleeve), it gets a nicer roll and it’s easier to manage the ease if there is some (for fit or style reason).

    And there are actually many other pieces of fusing stuff used. The whole front should be fused with a different material than the one used for hems. There should be some pieces for pocket mouth reinforcement, and stabilization of edges. It is frequent to see 4 different kinds of fusing used just on the front of a well-made RTW gentlemen suit coat (with fused construction, I’m not even talking about fancy stuff like half-canvas construction).

    Undercollar is not necessarily fused, if it is made with linen collar canvas. Or it can be fused linen canvas.

    But what is shown here is a good start, and indeed way more than people usually think.

    To this “fusing map” explaining the cost of a sample, should be added the several pieces that makes the chest piece. There are many ways to make a chest piece, from different materials and different designs, which change the confort and style of the garment… and the price of course.

  9. Do women’s jackets also require the entire front to be fused?

    I’ve heard that men’s suit jackets are made to make a nice smooth convex curve right down from the shoulder, which is supported by all the interfacing and guts.

    A women’s jacket is softer because it is concave above and below the bust, and only convex over the bust. My RTW office jackets have uninterfaced fronts.

    Or is this a homesewing excuse for not doing it right?

  10. Kathleen says:

    Agreed on all the above. There are a lot of variations and beyond desired finish, much of it has to do with fabric weight.

    I mentioned chest pads in pt.3 I’m experimenting more with chest pads lately because a product I’d used as the base (largest) layer is no longer available.

    I’ve mentioned the variety of fusibles used in the interfacing posts I linked to. It is not unusual to use four different kinds in a product like this. I haven’t used linen fusible but had been using cotton woven fusible (bias) and bias cut linen (mostly on car coats and outerwear). I’ll have to look for linen fusible.

    For hems, I do use the same fusible as for the chest but I also use wigan (the woven bias cut kind, not the fusible strip being called wigan these days).

    I don’t use a double layer of fusible for pocket openings. Maybe it is good? I’ll have to try it.

  11. Kathleen says:

    Sorry Alison, I didn’t see your post when I responded to Paul.

    I have to say I’m annoyed when jackets for women aren’t made like men’s. Then again, it could be that men’s jackets are designed for longer life. Whatever the case may be, I make women’s jackets like men’s. The only difference may be chest pads; some customers don’t know what those are or reason that their favorite jacket doesn’t have one so they don’t want one either. Whatever. I think women need a chest piece more than men do to even out the hollow in the upper chest. Especially large busted women.

  12. Well, I like to have a hollow for the shoulder.

    I don’t work for ladies yet, but I think I would make a much softer confort for them than is usual for men. This means a more supple chest piece, enough to have shape. That said, I’m going to more and more soft chest pieces for men too these days. There is so much to say about chest pieces… I think every tailor and patternmaker has their own tricks about them.

    When I talk about linen canvas for the undercollar, it is of course cut on the bias. I really have no clue of how it is sold when in fusable form (pre-made in bias wide strips, or in normal rolls on the grain that have to be cut on the bias) : I have never bought it. My collars are always made with traditionnal non-fusable linen collar canvas, that needs to be stitched to the undercollar (there again, another reason for different prices for a sample : there are different linen qualities, and different ways to make the undercollar, depending on equipment available… I presume it makes different costs). I’ve shown one way to do it on my website.

    If you use stitched-in wigan for the hems, then you’re right, there is no need for special fusing stuff, you can use the same as for the front.

  13. Natasha E says:

    Sarah/Kathleen either rationale is good enough for me to add it to my homesewers SOP. I have found though that since I started fusing the entire front and adding chest pieces that the quality of my “product” has improved. I don’t have wigan so I use bias cut hair canvas instead.

    Simply put if you come across an idea and you know it to be good then you just use it.

  14. Jen Rocket says:

    Hello Paul, to quote your comment earlier on sleeve cap fusing
    “When making a fused jacket, I also fuse the sleeve crown (the top part of the top sleeve), it gets a nicer roll and it’s easier to manage the ease if there is some (for fit or style reason).”

    I currently have a menswear suit in for alterations and one if the issues is that the top of the sleeve at the shoulder is actually caving in. It looks like the manufacturer drafted the pattern for a stiffer material and applied it to a thinner one. This may not be your expertise but do you or anyone else here have any ideas on how to go about fixing this? I was thinking of applying some heavy fuse to the area once I go inside and see. By the way this client is uber particular and detail oriented!

  15. Sarra Bess says:

    Are chest pads made out of layers of thin batting, like shoulder pads? I’ve only ever taken apart three RTW women’s jackets, and none of them had chest pads, so I have nothing to compare to.

  16. sfriedberg says:

    Sarra, a traditionally constructed mens suit may have a thin layer of felt, but most of the chest guts would be canvas, haircloth, or similar, rather than batting. Take that with a healthy pinch of salt, as even Saville Row tailors have differing “traditional” constructions, ranging from very soft to armored breastplate.

  17. Dia in MA says:

    I have a lovely women’s linen jacket in storage that has these characteristics. It has chest padding. It has 3 outside pockets in 3 different styles. It has 3 inner pockets again sewn using different techniques. It has a label in it from a tailor shop in the British Virgin Isles. I found it at a thrift shop and grabbed it. I think the sales clerks thought I was nuts because I was freaking out over it. I’m wondering if it was a sales sample with all these variations.

    I plan to dissect it slowly sometime next spring. I’m hoping to see some top notch tailoring with V stitching holding the lining in place and all the rest of the tricks.

    Although, if I manage to lose enough weight, I’ll wear it a while first. It’s a great looking jacket with only one small rip to fix.

  18. Jessica says:

    Jen, you could try adding a sleeve header to support the cap if it doesn’t already have this; it’s essentially a strip of lambswool or batting covered in bias cut muslin.

  19. Sarah_H. says:

    Jen, I, also, would recommend a sleeve head. But also, I think a collapsing sleeve like this means that the top of the sleeve is a little too high. Try pulling it up just slightly (no more than 1/4″) and see what that does. If the fullness is in the vertical line, that should remove it. I would love to see a comment from Kathleen on this, because she is much more expert in suit jackets than I am.

  20. Kathleen says:

    I currently have a menswear suit in for alterations and one if the issues is that the top of the sleeve at the shoulder is actually caving in.

    One option is to cut a bias strip of self and sew it in the cap before adding the sleevehead. You can’t do this with the alteration of course but maybe you could find an appropriate fabric in your shop?

    Are chest pads made out of layers of thin batting, like shoulder pads?

    Everybody does theirs differently and probably swears they’re the only one doing it right. I say it depends on the weight and characteristic of the shell. Mine are usually 3 layers, each layer graded smaller than the one its set to. For mine, the largest layer is a hair canvas. I used to use another product called Imperial but I can’t find it. Hair canvas isn’t quite stiff enough. But anyway, then I put two layers of batting. I’m using a thin organic cotton batting used in quilts. The latter is great stuff. It’s also good for sleeveheads and shoulder pads.

    Jen, you could try adding a sleeve header to support the cap if it doesn’t already have this; it’s essentially a strip of lambswool or batting covered in bias cut muslin.

    Again, like chest pads, sleeve heads vary. I haven’t ever made one in bias cut muslin covered lambswool. I could see how this could work given materials or what have you. On one end you have the sleeve head Jessica describes. On the other, a man’s heavy suede (cow) split coat would take a substantial strip of poly batting -not cut to shape, literally a rectangle. You’d need something like that to full out the cap seam. The more delicate the fabric and smaller the cap (women’s wear), the more likely you are to need a sleeve head cut to shape or one that lends itself to shaping (bias muslin).

  21. Sarra Bess says:

    Thanks for the info, Kathleen. I think I might try making a few chest pads and tacking them into my half-finished suit jacket (shell and lining sewn, but not bagged yet; I’m waiting on shoulder pads) to see what difference it makes.

  22. Jen Rocket says:

    Hello Jessica and Sarah_H. I did manage to fix the sleeve issue! I did a mix of your suggestions. I checked to see if it was pulling due to the cap being to high and it didn’t seem to be the case. so I added a sleeve head of dense wool plus I fused the crown of the sleeve fabric where it was missing. The crown just needed the right padding to smooth it out.
    Thanks so much!

  23. Ela says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for a pretty long while now but it’s the first time I dare to make a comment. I’m a self taught ex home-sewer struggling to become a dressmaker but until now I only sewed womens’ garments. I was very excited and hungrily devoured the Fusible Map for mens’ jackets in this pots as I’m about to dive into my first menswear garment sewing project: making a jacket for my boyfriend. From what I understood, Kathleen, your fusible map is for lined jackets. So my question is… How would a fusible map look on an unlined jacket? I suppose even an unlined jacket (mine will be the casual, informal, destructured kind) must be interfaced in some areas… I’m just really wondering WHERE. Also if anyone else of you guys around here ever made something like that, I would be very grateful to receive some advice about how to interface an unlined mens’ jacket. I’m willing to make this jacket professionally looking and I will not spare any effort to do it. Thanks so much in advance
    ! P.s. The fabric will be wool,, heavier than normal suiting but lighter than the “blanket-y” one.

  24. Amanda says:

    I have a question about the type of fusible that goes in the front of a womenswear blazer. I don’t want something so rigid that it doesn’t move, but I need something that will keep a crisp silhouette. What type of fusible would you suggest? Thanks.

  25. Amanda says:

    Kathleen – I am in the middle of rebuilding my blazer. I like a very structured style and I have been gathering info from several different places. What do you think of this method? http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/30556/how-to-interface-jackets-lessons-from-an-yves-saint-laurent-garment
    My blazer, as of now, is fully fused in the proper places, but I think I’m looking for something a bit more stiff to smooth out all of the lines of the piece. Thoughts?

  26. Kathleen says:

    I don’t know in which posts I’ve written it before, but I’ve suggested using bias cut woven fusible for years. It makes for a very pretty finish.

  27. Amanda says:

    Thanks, Kathleen! I’ve been finding so many different ways people do it, but your answers are ultimately what I base my decisions on. You’re the best!

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