How to use wigan

Posted by Kathleen Fasanella on Jul 30, 2008 at 5:40 am / Sewing, Tutorial / Trackback

Note, I am away……
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Stuart has requested a tutorial on the proper use of wigan in jacket sleeve ends and hems. As per my usual, I thought I’d dispensed with the topic here but obviously not because Stuart is quite brilliant. Stuart amended his request with these questions:

  1. Should wigan edge at the hem line, or fold the wigan over at the hemline? If the latter, how much overlap (just a seam allowance worth?) Any special consideration when using facings versus a self-hem?
  2. Is there any particular relationship between inside hem/facing length and wigan width when linings are in use (like, stop wigan below the lining/facing seam, or extend wigan 1″ above, or doesn’t matter, or …)? Catch the upper edge of the wigan in a seam to the inside hem/facing, leave it loose to move?
  3. Given a (costume) style with hemlines that are more like bias than cross-grain, just keep running wigan parallel to the hemline, or should the interfacing always be cut to remain “on bias” relative to the shell grain? (Yeah, I know angular hems can require “interesting” self-hem/facing shapes.)
  4. In what circumstances would a different type of interfacing be more appropriate than wigan in hems? Or, when is it most appropriate to use wigan rather some other form of interfacing?
  5. In that old entry, the wigan ended at the hem and was flush with and sewn to the top of the inside hem. Is that “the way to do it” or is there a range of common industry practices?

Okay, first of all there are (evidently) two kinds of wigan. There is the internet wigan meme which from all descriptions seems to be narrow cut fusible. You buy it by the roll (2″/3″/4″). People who do alterations (shorten sleeves etc) use it. I wouldn’t consider this wigan but whatever. The usual kind of wigan is a very stiff bias cut narrow strip, also in rolls. It is hard to find these days so many make their own. I use two layers of bias cut horse or goat hair interfacing.

If you can find it, wigan comes in different weights and widths. I’ve only worked with the narrower (1.5″ wide) and heavier wigan. If you’re using the internet version of wigan (fusible interfacing), there’s no problem with the “wigan” crossing the hem fold line. I don’t recommend that if using heavier or real wigan. It’d make a bulky fold line at the hem if it crossed the line and I have never seen that done. I would assume it was a mistake. Of course, if using wigan (the real stuff) you should also fuse the hem area being certain to cross the fold line with the fusible.

Regarding the grain of setting the wigan, you can’t match the grain of the wigan to the shell because wigan (the real stuff) is bias cut.

If you’re making very light weight jackets, maybe a fusible strip of “wigan” would be fine. I prefer using the fusible to firm up the hem and use one layer of bias cut goat or horsehair. I mostly cannot use the (internet) “wigan” because this strip fusible is straight and the pattern hems of my sleeves rarely are. I know you can meld the strip fusible wigan to match the curves but I don’t like that. I don’t want to stretch or shape the fusible because I don’t want to distort the fusible so I cut actual pattern pieces for the fusible to match the sleeve hem shaping precisely rather than straight. If the strip is not forced to shape while flat, the potentiality of its recovery and give is retained to do it’s work of shaping the hem after the sleeve has been sewn up.
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Oh, and about the spelling of wigan vs wiggan. People will argue endlessly about this as we have here in comments. It depends on how you learned it as to what you prefer but either is acceptable meaning everyone knows what you’re talking about. I don’t care either way but purists will bolster their argument based on the spelling of the town of Wigan in the UK where wigan is presumed to have originated.

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