Coat Month

So, I decided at the end of August that I needed to get making some coats before the weather turned.  Before it was cold enough to need one and it still wasn’t in a corporeal form…  This is in addition to still having numerous items yet unmade from Daughter No2’s summer list and thinking I might give the Refashioners 2017 challenge a go.  While I’m listing reasons why September is not a good month in which to try to make 3 or 4 coats, I should add that we had a week away in the beginning and still had Daughter No2 home until the middle of the month before she was back to uni.

But I had decided…  So what coats am I making?  I have the Eagle Jacket/Coat from Vanessa Pouzet for Daughter No2, the Goldstream Peacoat for Mr Not Compulsive and I wanted a new coat for myself, exactly which one was only decided after I saw @_ym.sews_ Waffle Patterns Tosti in the most amazing yellow dry oilskin.  I sort of wanted an Eagle jacket for myself too, but after toiling it realised it wasn’t the shape for me.

So, I took patterns with me on holiday and traced them out on the dining table in the holiday apartment in the evenings, helped by a glass or two of wine.  I toiled the Eagle jackets upon our return and Daughter No2 likes hers, the only alteration is to lengthen the sleeve by 2cm.  Mine, as already said will be recut as a different toile!  Now that I have the go-ahead for the Eagle, I hit a stumbling block.  She doesn’t like the fabric from the stash that I picked out.  Press pause on that project then.

After toiling the Goldstream Peacoat for the other half, that project was nixed.  He didn’t like the shape, it was too bulky, didn’t like the large collar or wide lapels either, then decided he didn’t actually fancy a double breasted coat….  So nothing about the Goldstream Peacoat then.  Back to square one, I decided to draft a coat block and put all the “right” ingredients together to form the “perfect” coat.

So in the meantime, it’s now the end of October and still no coats to be seen, but there are a few toiles.  None for me, I haven’t got that far!  But daughter No1 has chosen an pattern and fabric from the stash that I’ve toiled, fitted and adjusted, so that can get going.  Daughter No2 has also chosen a pattern and other fabric from the stash for two new coats, still to be traced, toiled and fitted.  The other half has a block that is undergoing a very slow transformation.  It seams the perfect coat will take a while to be realised.

Say tuned for more of what I’ve been doing while the coat projects hit their respective brick walls.

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Morgan Jeans

In between playing with ricocheting sequins and vintage patterns, I decided to make (finally) a pair of Morgan Boyfriend Jeans.  I bought the pattern earlier this year and got the non-stretch denim from Croft Mill Fabrics at the same time.  It’s one of the few pieces of fabric I have bought this year, and I’m chuffed that it’s been used!  No stash building here.

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Morgan Boyfriend Jeans

I started the project back in April with very careful measuring!  The instructions are pretty clear that as the fabric will be stiff and has no give, that you might have to go up a size.  Added to that, it’s supposed to be snug on the hip and if you happen to be between sizes, the advice is to pick the bigger size.  So I really wanted it to be right!  Being so used to my Birkin Flares with their fabulous stretch and fit, I was wary of jeans that wouldn’t have that give!

On the measurement chart, I was between the 18 & 20 on the waist, and between the 14 & 16 on the hip!  So, deciding that I didn’t mind a slightly slouchier fit on the hip, and thinking that I might just need that with the heavier fabric, I picked the 18 to trace.  I toiled, following all the instructions to the “T” as it’s the first time I was using this pattern.

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I had a rather fetching heavyweight brocade ex-curtain from the charity shop for my toiles.  The instructions are pretty good, illustrations to accompany the instructions and I had no problems there at all.  The first toile was excitedly put on, just in time for me to be disappointed.  It was far too big!  It literally fell down around my knees once I’d let go of the pinned waistband.  The fit across the hip was too loose, length far too long (although I expected that) and everything just too roomy.  I started by taking it in and then realised I really just needed a different size all over.

I went down a size, retoiled and swapped the fly opening to the opposite side and shortened the leg length.  Better this time, but still really roomy across the hip and on the upper thigh.  Given that it’s supposed to be fitted in those areas, I started to wonder if this was the pattern for me.  It was all put aside while I grumped for a bit got on with other projects.

So when I was looking for a break from all the sequins, I thought of the jeans again.  Going back to the toile I took in the outside leg seams up to the hip line, inside legseams, took a wedge out of the centre back, changed the crotch line, shortened the crotch depth and shortened the leg.  Phew!!  The toile was better, but as always, it’s the proper fabric that will tell if you’ve done the right job or not.  So I figured I’d best just get on with it.

 

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The fabric was difficult to work with purely because of the stiffness.  My old Bernina had no problem with the bulk and I used a jeans twin needle for all the double lines of topstitching.  I chose two different colours for the topstitching just for fun.  In the areas where just one line was needed I used the colour that had been closest to the edges.

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Dual tone top-stitching & non-regulation jeans buttons!

Buttons came from the stash, and are definitely not jeans buttons!  But hey, I wasn’t going to use rivets either, so why not use non-jeans buttons…

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The fit is much better than the first and second toile, but I wonder if there’s still too much ease in the thigh area.  I’m not 100% happy with the fit under the butt either and feel I need a belt to keep them in place on my hip.  Length is good, comfortably worn rolled up or not.  And the pockets are perfect!  Easy to get your hands into, and the back pockets are the right size to take a phone and not lose it!  Good sized pockets are important.

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So here’s the dilemma,  are my issues with the “fit” just issues with wearing a stiff fabric in a pattern that has way more ease than what I’m used to?  I have loads of baggy linen trousers, but they’re soft and drapey, not stiff and bulky, so the feel is very different.  I’ve looked for people online who’ve made this size in the Morgans and found nothing clear.  Are there any sewists out there who’ve made the bigger sizes, and by that I mean the last two or three???

I’m happy with what I’ve produced, don’t get me wrong, but there are niggles.  Not that they’re stopping me wearing the jeans!  They came in very hand during our week in Cornwall last week. (Why is our week always the wet and windy one?)  I might pop them in the tumble drier to soften the fabric a bit, apparently that’ll help.

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Now that we’re back from holiday and I’ve got a couple of traced coat patterns, I need to get on.  Daughter No2 goes back to uni next week and I – in my completely sane mind – thought September would be good for a coat making month.  It’s half way through (almost) already and all I have are two toiles and 3 traced patterns.  Best I pull up my socks!

 

Shout to the Top

Take a bag of fabric scraps and a simple pattern, no small amount of time and fiddling and you’re rewarded with a pretty unique item of clothing.  I’d wanted to make a tee from the different white and blue pieces of jersey in the scrapbag for ages, inspired by a tee from a Burda magazine from a couple of years ago.

I decided to make the Lark Tee, traced the 4 with slightly widened shoulders, moving to the 2 at the waist and then out to the 6 for the hip.  This was to be for a friend.  I started by tracing the outline of the tee from the pattern art/line drawings and playing around with placement of the different prints.

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Trying out different pattern placements

It needed to be done hand in hand with checking the actual amounts of the different fabrics, no point in deciding to do a large panel and finding out later there was only enough for a neckband!  Once I decided I’d have enough of each of the pieces to do the required panels, I started blocking off the traced pattern, making sure each piece had a grainline and was labelled with the intended fabric.  I also marked the top and bottom of each piece.  The fronts and backs were cut separately.  There were two types of blue and white stripe, a solid navy blue and a piece of navy blue with randomly placed white blocks.  As each piece was cut I pinned and sewed, making a full front and back.

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On the left are the pieces for the back, front pieces on the right with the sleeve in the middle and the neckband on the top front panel

I’d have liked to have been able to have more of the solid blue, but as I told myself I was only using what I had this is the result.  I’m pretty chuffed with it, for a pretty much free tee, can it get better?  Afterall, I’ve used the narrow stripe on 3 other tees, and the solid  blue on two.  That pile of stuff on the right of the above photo is what was left once I’d finished cutting!  Not too shabby!!

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The finished tee, modeled by Betty.

I haven’t been able to persuade my friend to show it off herself yet, so Betty will have to do.  It’s a little baggy on her as she hasn’t the same shape.

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Neckline detail
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Left side with the wide stripes running round from front to back
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Right side with narrow stripes matching
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Last, but not least, the back!

Now that this has turned out so well, I’m keen to make another – but for me this time!  It’ll join the sewing queue, so it might be a while before I’m showing it off! I have just finished my Morgan Jeans today, so perhaps their blog post will be ready mid September…

What’s on your sewing table for the weekend?

Stepping Out

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While neutrals are decidedly within my comfort zone, bold, stand out colours are most certainly not!  However.  After making the gold and black Anza Dress last month, I had a bit of the fabric left over.  The lady I made the dress for didn’t want the remains for herself, so it went into the stash.  But not for long!  Also in the stash was the remains of a decent amount of plain black viscose.

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Deciding to prove my point about using Burda top 124 from 5/2015 for left over pieces of lengths of fabric, I decided those two fabrics would be perfect.  There was enough of the print for the front and sleeves, the plain black was used for the back.  This time I didn’t cut the keyhole opening but instead converted it to a slit, like the sort you’d get on a shirt cuff.  The bias for the bindings was cut from the print viscose, plain grey sections for the slit and the coloured sections for the neckline.

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I really like how it’s turned out!  Although it feels longer than the other versions.  That might just be because of the startling band of colour at the hem.  Otherwise, it’s great!  I’m not sure how much longer we have to wear short sleeved, lightweight tops this year, the weather has turned decidedly autumnal and it’s nowhere near the end of August yet!

An update on the other sewing, the 1920s sequin dress only needs a hem.  After many, many hours of cutting out sequins and then sewing them back on again, I think I’ve had enough!!  I’ve also finally started working on my Morgan Jeans, having done two and a half toiles last month and actually cut it out 2 weeks ago.  Hopefully they’ll be finished this week.  There are other things still on the cutting table, but I’ll get there – eventually!!

 

On my Sewing Table – 1920s Evening Dress

Oh my word, how fast is this year spinning by?  I still have a pile of fabrics to use up and patterns to find, not to mention still ploughing through daughter no2’s summer wishlist.  I have done pretty well using up stashed fabric this year, I haven’t calculated any totals yet, not measured anything, but I’m feeling positive that I’m going in the right direction!  The project I’m working on at the moment is also a stash bust, but only half.

Earlier in the year, I was asked by a friend to make a 1920s evening dress for her to attend a charity ball in September.  At the time I said, yes, why not?  Sounds like fun.  I started looking at patterns online and had a few ideas, then when I won a pattern of my choice from Decades of Style I thought I might as well pick something useful.  So together we decided on the Zig Zag dress.  I duly ordered it and promptly forgot all about it.

A couple of months passed and said friend mentioned that we probably ought to make a start on the dress…  OH DEAR!  I admitted total forgetfulness and then thought, where’s that pattern??  Decades of Style assured me that it had been sent out long ago, so someone else is enjoying my pattern – grrrr.  They sent out a new one, but of course, now we’re getting twitchy.  In the meantime we bought what we thought was the perfect fabric, but it was all Croft Mill Fabrics had left, and it was less than the Zig Zag dress required.  We needed to figure out contrast areas.

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Ideas based on the Decades of Style Zig Zag Dress

So I went back online, made a few sketches, had a few ideas.  Eventually we settled on a new design and I started to draft from her close fitting bodice block.  I drew a panel at the hip, divided the skirt into three and added 3cm of flare to the hemline of each panel.  The front and back bodice both got a v-neckline, the back deeper than the front.  Because the fabric has a zig-zag sequin motif I decided against any curves, so the hip panel is straight and angular.  The pattern pieces fitted comfortably on the fabric, I had enough black silk charmeuse in my stash to use for the lining, we were sorted.

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Top left, curved hip panel and fuller, non-paneled skirt with straight hip panel and 6 gored skirt. Right, straight hip panel in plain black with 6 gored skirt. Zig Zag sequin fabric, bottom left.

Except that we couldn’t decide whether the hip panel should be sequins or plain.  A general agreement on Instagram was that it should be sequins, you can never have enough!  I had only one way to make sure we were on the right track.  I had my friend hold the fabric up against herself and I tied a width of black chiffon around her hips.  Folding the fabric up to the finished length, we then looked in the mirror.  We liked what we saw, then I removed the chiffon…  Not so dramatic.  Even though we thought sequins would be better, turns out we both preferred it with a plain black hip panel!  Go figure.

The lining has been made up, all seams French seamed and the neckline stabilised with Vilene bias tape.  As of now the sequin fabric has been cut and I was left with masses of chopped sequins on the cutting table, and everywhere else in the sewing room where they’d ricocheted after being cut.  Thankfully my new vacuum cleaner made short work of the stuff on the carpet, but I’ve a feeling I’l be hoovering up sequins for a while yet.

Now my task is to hand baste the skirt seams, remove the sequins that are in the way and then machine the seams.  The sequins are attached to mesh, so there won’t be any fraying.  I’m tempted to run the seams under the overlocker, but I’m not sure it’ll play nicely with that fabric.

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Sequin casualites everywhere!

The Decades of Style pattern eventually turned up on Friday morning, sadly, too late for this project, but hopefully I’ll have occasion to use it.  I really appreciate the company sending out another pattern, who knows where the first one ended up, but I hope the person who has it eventually gets a conscience.  So, this is my task for the weekend and into next week.  I want to get it all finished by next weekend, partly so I know it’s done and partly because there are lots of piles of things still waiting on my cutting table!!

Ditto

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BurdaStyle 7/8 trousers 105 May 2017

I’ve found another favourite trouser pattern to add to my list.  I liked the cropped wide trousers from the May 2017 edition immediately and dived into the stash almost straight away to find something suitable to cut up!  I went ahead and traced the 44 & 42 anyway. (44 for the waist, grading to the 42 at the hip and down)   I had an idea that a piece of grey chambray I’d bought from Croft Mill last year to make a top just might be good for this pattern.

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The fabric was narrow than that required, and although I had 2m, it wasn’t enough to make the trousers up as the pattern was.  The bottom part of the trouser leg is folded in half to make a deep cuff, that was the first bit to go, no double folding, just a deep hem.  Next, the easiest bit to change – the pocket linings.  I used a scrap of Liberty lawn, black and charcoal with madly bright printed flowers.

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I haven’t shortened the pattern at all, and I think maybe, just maybe, I should look at removing about 4cm from the length, in the main trouser section, probably a the knee line.  I’m happy with the length while wearing them, but when I see photos I do think they could possibly look better shorter.  Especially if I’m wearing flats.  They’re almost culottes, no pleats or extra width, but wearing them feels like wearing culottes, without the extra bulk.

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Enter version two!!  I was digging in the stash for something else entirely when I dug out a large-ish piece of lightweight black linen.  I immediately thought of the cropped trousers again, I don’t have a pair of black linen trousers yet.  This was a piece that had already been cut into, I cannot remember what else I’d made from it!  I used the pattern in the same way as the first pair, still not enough fabric to do the double cuffs.  The waistband facing is cut from white and black polka dot cotton, which is used for the pocket linings too.

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It just needed a bit of something else…  I thought there might be some silver ribbon or something in the ribbon box that could be useful and came up with a bit of silver piping instead!  It’s so cool on the edge of the pocket, but there is one drawback.  The pockets are nice and deep, the angle of entry just “gives” enough to be able to shove your hands in comfortably.  However, with the piping on a cotton tape this doesn’t really happen, not to mention the piping is not soft, the silver metallic threads are rough.  So it’s not as comfortable to shove my hands in these pockets as it is in the other pair.

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I love the back pocket, deep enough to hold my mobile phone 🙂  All buttons came from the stash, as did the zips, although I now have to replenish my stash of black invisible zips.  I have yet to make the full length version, but as it’s quite similar to others I have, I might give it a miss, enjoying the cropped versions for what’s let of our British summer (which already feels like autumn….)  I know southern Europe is struggling with the intense heatwave of the last few weeks, but I don’t think we’d mind if the Jet Stream shifted a little more north and brought us some of that heat for a little.

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In the mean time, I’m working on a 1920s flapper dress in gold and black sequins for a friend to wear to a themed ball early in September, trying to get my Morgan Boyfriend jeans to fit better and find the time to run up a black linen jumpsuit before it’s too late to wear it.  See you on the other side!!!

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Argentum

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Burda top 105 02/2016

The fourth, and most definitely not the last version of this top, Burda 105 from February 2016.  This is the result of a nice big stash bust!  In moving fabric from the original stash position in my bedroom cupboard, to it’s new home in the guest room cupboard (until it has a “permanent” home in the sewing room), I came across this gorgeous metallic silver embroidered linen.  I bought it in 2009 to make a corset.  Needless to say the corset has never seen the light of day, but I did have a decent amount of the fabric left-over to be useful.

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Combined with a small piece of cream linen from the scrapbox, which thankfully matched the embroidery, this top was born!  I think I might be able to make these in my sleep now.  I wish I could, at any rate!  Sewing in your sleep while still a. producing something wearable, and b. getting much needed rest would be a super power I could deal with.  The metallic linen is sturdier than the cream, because of the metallic finish and the embroidery.  This gives the top a more boxy shape than any of the other versions, which I quite like. I love wearing it with my Birkin Flares.

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I’ve had many comments on the top, it’s not often you see a lovely fabric like this.  I am concerned that the metallic finish might wash off (given the rotation it’s currently enjoying in my wardrobe, this is a major worry!), so I’m washing on a handwash cycle in the machine for now.  It doesn’t like the iron, so needs to be pressed on the reverse.

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I had to cut the back without a fold and meant to use a centre seam, but in the cutting out, because I hadn’t marked that it still needed seam, I cut along the back edge.  Clever…  However, because the fabric was to be a corset and I still had all the bits left over, I had a pile of cut and pressed self bias binding.  So using a 5mm seam on each back piece, a bias strip now forms the centre back.  It looks like it’s supposed to be there on the outside, so I’m not complaining.  So another successful stashbust for me!