Cost – I checked out several retailers looking at basic, lined, medium length wool or wool blend coats. The coats I found all had front pockets and polyester lining. Prices ranged from $150-$400 for mid-range brands. I made a mental note that I did not want the materials for my coat to exceed $150.
Fit – Although fit is less crucial in a roomy garment like a coat, it still matters. Obviously, sewing your own leaves fit in your own hands.
Quality – I don’t think I have ever had any problems with the construction of store-bought coats. Materials are another story. I’m hoping that I can avoid torn linings, pilling and other wear and tear by using better quality fabrics.
Style and Details – I like pockets. I love when I am able to go for a walk without having to carry a bag because my pockets do the job alone. While most coats typically have some kind of front pockets, that’s where it stops. I think I can do better. I also don’t want to have the same thing as everyone else.
I mentioned in a previous post that I purchased a coat-making course from Craftsy*. The interactive, online video lessons also come with a pattern, Vogue V9040, which the instructor, Steffani Lincecum, uses as her example throughout. Before buying anything else, I went through the course. I confirmed that I still wanted to do it, and noted all the ways the course instructions deviate from the pattern. For example, the pattern calls for sew-in interfacing while the course uses fusible knit interfacing.
*Craftsy and Bluprint both offer this course. If you are a Bluprint customer, you will need to purchase the pattern separately.
With pattern and notes in hand, I started hunting for materials. It took over a month. I am glad that I started looking when I did, because it took a while to wait for swatches and make final decisions.
I think I’m ready to begin. Here’s the result of my shopping spree (includes shipping):
3 yards Italian Dark Brown Wool Blend Coating from Mood (on sale) $62.96
I’m already over budget by $60. Oops. I chose to use silk for the lining, and that was really expensive. My rationale was that silk is warm and hard wearing. It’s also something that will bring me joy whenever I put on my coat. New budget rationalized!
I wish I could say where the yarn came from. I only know that I have had it for a long time and that I was saving it because it was too good to use. I have revised my thinking and now more often consider materials not good enough to use. 😉
I do remember that both colors are undyed 100% alpaca yarn. They are so soft, warm and light.
This is a very very easy scarf to make. It only uses one stitch, so it can be done almost mindlessly. I finished it in 4 nights while binge-watching TV. If you are interested, I have a few more details on Ravelry.
More sewing coming soon. Until then, happy making!
Last weekend daylight savings time began. For those of you not in the USA, it’s a charming custom whereby we set our clocks back one hour until spring. (Not everyone does this – it’s a whole big thing…)
For me, this is when autumn starts to feel real. Here in Rhode Island, the sun is now setting at 4:30PM! I think at a subconscious level, I knew I had to prepare. October found me as busy as a squirrel collecting acorns and about as focused. Unfortunately, that meant that many projects have gone unblogged.
Rather than go into a lot of detail (for a change), I’m just going to share some October highlights.
Fall Wardrobe Sewing
I didn’t do a lot of ambitious sewing in October. I finished a few projects I started earlier in the year though.
I made another pull-on knit circle skirt from the Butterick B6578 pattern. The skirt was part of my original Fall 2018 sewing plan and coordinates nicely with the rest of the collection. I made View A. The fabric is a nice brushed poly from Sincerely Rylee.
Also for Fall, I made a neat cloche hat with leftover green twill. More on that below.
I also finished another fit and flare top using McCall’s M7356. This top was actually constructed from my original muslin. The fabric is way too thin, but I never intended to use it for real. I just really liked how the muslin looked. So I took out all of the basting and put it together properly. There are a few imperfections, but I think with a camisole I will wear it a lot. I go into more detail on my pattern review here.
Above: Fall cloche and fit and flare top
My Mom has saved all kinds of interesting things, including a number of old handkerchiefs from the 1930s to the 1960s. I took some back to Providence after my last visit to incorporate into my fabric stash. After a bit of effort, I now have 34 clean, ironed bits of old-fashioned charm. The collection is a veritable needlecraft sampler, with hemstitching, tatted lace, appliqué, embroidery, and crocheted edges. I can’t wait to start playing around with them! I have already started a board on Pinterest to collect ideas.
Spoiler: I did not sew my costume. But I will take credit for making the accessories that pulled it together. This year I dressed as a suffragist. I can well imagine that this might have been me in reality if I have been alive 100 years ago.
The dress I found in my Mom’s closet – she wore it in the 1970s. Since we have an election around the corner, I thought a suffragist would be fun.
I found a free downloadable cloche pattern which I used to throw together a vintage style hat. I’ve never made a hat before. It was much easier than I thought. Since the individual pieces are so small, I was able to use scraps alone. The ribbon is even saved from a Christmas package. I wound up making two hats because I misread the instructions the first time and sewed the seams with too narrow of an allowance. This led to a large and loose hat, which someone else might enjoy some day. I cut out another hat, following the directions the second time. The fabric is scavenged from the scraps of my fall 2018 collection, so it coordinates with everything. It’s already found it’s way into my closet. I reviewed the pattern on patternreview.comhere. The pattern itself was from the website sewmamasew.com. There are gorgeous versions of this cloche and other styles for sale on Etsy at the Etsy store Elsewhen Millenery.
I made the sash using some plain unbleached muslin. The lettering was really easy. I found a font that was close to the one used by the marchers in historical photos. I typed the words, scaled them to the size needed for the sash, then flipped them to be mirror image. Then I used my inkjet printer to print it on an Avery light fabric transfer sheet. I followed the instructions on the box to iron the lettering onto my sash. I think it looks great.
As if that were not enough, I somehow found myself in a yarn store early in the month. I am constitutionally incapable of leaving a yarn shop without buying anything. This time was no exception. I have been knitting my way through my purchases. So far, I have finished two winter hats, both with the same yarn. I’m keeping one for me and the other for donating. I have a bunch of other works in progress, which I will add to the blog as I finish. For other knitters (and curious onlookers), you can find my work going back to 2004 on Ravelry.comhere.
I finished a couple of embroidered day-of-the-week dishtowels recently. Aren’t they adorable? They are made in the same way as the ones in this post from earlier this year, only with a different iron-on design. You can find the puppy design here.
Mending and Editing
I have been making my way through the work basket as well lately. In the past month, I have mended or altered at least 6 items from my work pile. They have all been there so long that it seems like I just went shopping and came home with 6 new things. I haven’t seen the bottom of the pile yet, but I think there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll feature some of the more interesting upcycles in the coming months.
Remember when camisoles with built-in shelf bras were popular? It was a great idea, but rarely worked well. The problem was that the bra was usually just an extra layer of stretch jersey with an elastic band around the ribcage. It didn’t provide much support or coverage.
Since I learned how to make supportive linings for athletic wear, I vowed never to make an unlined camisole again. Since the bra does not show, there is no need for fancy embellishments or time consuming finishing techniques. I didn’t time myself, but I think it only added about an extra hour to the project.
I had a piece of stretch velvet ready to go, having already used it in my recent princess seam top. Since it is a metallic, it goes with just about any color. But it looks especially good with the pinstripe I used in the wrap skirt that is also part of my fall mini-wardrobe. I think it increases the dressiness of the outfit while also being very comfortable.
I really liked the V-Neck shape of my inspiration piece from Rebecca Taylor. I didn’t have any patterns that would work, but I did have a favorite camisole of my own with the same V-Neck profile. So I took a chance and used it as a template for my new top.
Here’s my process:
Lay out velvet in a single layer, smooth side up.
Carefully lay camisole on top.
Using 5/8″ ruler and a disappearing marker, mark a cutting line one seam allowance width away from the camisole directly on the velvet.
Cut on cutting lines – this is the front piece.
Use the front piece as a pattern for the back, changing the upper edge using the camisole as a guide.
Cut back piece.
Use the velvet pieces as pattern for power mesh front and back, making power mesh pieces bra length.
Another somewhat unusual feature is the contrasting straps. I got the idea from Vogue 1591, which uses grosgrain ribbon for shoulder straps. I thought that stretchy straps would be more in keeping with a stretchy top, so I was really happy to find foldover elastic in a grosgrain texture. I like a wider strap, so I left it unfolded.
I had fun positioning the straps into a V in the back. With a built-in bra, the straps can go anywhere. There are no worries about having to cover up the straps from the bra you wear underneath.
And that’s it!
The gold camisole is the final garment in my Fall 2018 Mini-Wardrobe. Voting at patternreview.com is open until October 10. If you like what you see, I would love it if you would give me your vote.
As I was planning my Fall wardrobe, my Oct./Nov. 2018 issue of Threads Magazine arrived.
I soaked up Becky Fulgoni’s article “Single Layer and Reversible.” There were so many great ideas for making garments from double-faced fabrics (or just fabrics with an equally interesting wrong side). I already knew I had the perfect fabric to make the loose casual jacket in Vogue Patterns’ V9275. The jacket (View A) is intended to be lined, but I thought a reversible version would be even better.
The fabric is a sweater knit with a squishy olive green boucle on the right side. I think the wrong side is just as interesting: a smooth black with olive flecks. It’s lighter than it looks, so it would be for outside on crisp days or wearing indoors.
I did several tests before I started. I needed to find seam, hem and closure treatments that would work with my sweater knit and also look good from both sides. Once I figured out which worked best, I started planning in earnest.
Above: I tested binding and seam techniques using swatches like this.
I have found that sketching projects helps me plan. When I work through details on paper, I find I almost always need to make changes. This time, I had to do double the sketches, because I needed to visualize how it would look from either side. Sure enough, I realized that I had to account for the knit collar and cuffs in my plan.
Above: Puzzling it out
I used most of the pattern pieces for the jacket. But to make it reversible, I omitted the side seam pockets and back shoulder darts.
Editing for Reversibility
My version differs from the original in many ways:
Two sided pocket: patch pocket on green side; slot pocket on black side (details below)
Instead of hemming, bind the lower edge
Use a reversible separating zipper for the opening
Trim and bind front opening before zipper application
Zipper tape exposed on black side; hidden on green side (see below)
Slip-stitch cuffs and collar on black side to give them a finished look
Decorative, error-hiding buttons
The Threads article described a technique for making a pocket accessible from either side. From one side, it is a patch pocket. From the other, it is a slot seam pocket. I love this idea! Here is my slightly different method:
Make the slot seam. I was using bound raw edges as a design element throughout the garment, so it made sense to use them for the pocket slot as well.
Cut the front pieces along what will be the new seam line. Because I was binding the edges, I did not need to add seam allowances.
Apply binding to slot seam raw edges. To keep the seam from stretching, I set my machine to use the longest straight stitch. I didn’t use a stretch stitch because I wanted the slot seam to be stable. Some machines have an option to reduce presser foot pressure. If you have it, this is why. It really helps with lofty stretch fabrics.
Join the top and bottom of each front piece. I chose to apply strips of grosgrain ribbon to the green side. They will not show, since the slot is only visible from the black side.
Draft a patch pocket piece to have an ample side opening, making sure it is placed where your hands go. Mine covers the entire width of the jacket, ending at the same place as the jacket bottom. Ensure that the pockets completely cover the slot opening.
Cut two patch pockets and two lining pieces. I made my lining from the same quilting cotton I used for my princess seamed top.
Sew the right side of the lining to the green side of the pocket piece for each side. Only the upper edge and pocket opening need to be sewn. Trim, turn, press.
Topstitch pockets to front pieces. Again, only the upper edge and pocket opening need to be sewn.
Two Sided Zipper
This is my first separating zipper, exposed zipper application, and reversible zipper. I think it’s the first time I have tried putting one in a sweater knit. So I am going to forgive myself for putting it in a little too low. I think it looks nice from the green side, where the zipper tape is hidden. The exposed tape on the black side looks… just ok. I would like to find a nice trim to cover it with, but I don’t have anything on hand right now. The main problem is that by putting it in too low, there is a janky looking gap between where the tape ends and the collar.
The only thing I could think of was to sew buttons at the neckline to hide the tape end. I didn’t have anything that I liked, so I made a couple of cover buttons. I think it looks pretty good.
Above: The exposed zipper tape didn’t line up the first time. Then it didn’t quite reach the top of the jacket. I made a couple of cover buttons to conceal the ends.
Making the large amount of binding was really simple. Since the material was already stretchy and shapable, there was no need to cut bias strips. All I had to do was cut parallel strips across the grain.
Stability without interfacing
Stability was an unexpected factor in planning for reversibility. The sweater knit was fairly loose and floppy, so it had to have something otherwise I’m sure it would begin to grow with use. Interfacing was out, of course. The seams, pockets, and zippers serve that function.
I was pleased that even though there was some loft to the knit, it could be compressed enough to make flat felled seams. The traditional method results in two parallel lines of straight stitches. I did it that way for the shoulder seams, and quickly realized that keeping the green fluff from escaping the seam was going to be a problem. So I used a zigzag stitch for the final step instead of a straight stitch for the remaining seams. The zigzag pinned everything down, kept it controlled, and was much easier to sew.
Above: Some of the jacket’s design features
2 yards x 60 in Boucle sweater knit (can’t remember the source)
1 yd x 60 Stretchy jersey for binding, cuffs and collar (bargain table find)
My new top is a take off on McCall’s M7356 pattern. View A has short sleeves, no sash, no godets and no hi-low hem. I do like the frillier versions, I just wanted something a little more serious for Fall.
Since I hadn’t made anything with princess seams in a while, I started by making a muslin. I lengthened the waist as usual before cutting anything, but otherwise made no changes. Even though the thin white cotton woven was only for practice, it frayed so easily that I went ahead and overcast all of the edges. Then I basted the whole thing together using my new favorite trick, the double-eye machine needle (if you missed it, I talk about it in my last post here).
I was delighted to find that the only change I needed was to raise the shoulders by 3/8 inch. It’s a good thing I remembered that that also meant changing the sleeves and facings before I cut into the good fabric!
I thought it would be neat to change the center panel to a contrasting pattern. I selected gold stretch velvet, because it coordinated with the floral pattern and I also planned on using it in another wardrobe item. The gold by itself looked terrible. It had way too much shine to go with the flat cotton. I found some black crochet lace in my stash and tested a layered look. Bingo!
I again prepared the panels, facings and sleeves by overcasting the edges. For the layered panel, I pinned the top and bottom together carefully then headed to the serger. Both of the layers stretched like crazy, and not in the same way, either! It was ok, but far from perfect. After some consideration, I forged ahead anyway.
I had recently purchased a cording foot and used that to insert the black piping. What a difference! The neat piping also stabilized and straightened the center panel quite a bit.
I again used the cording foot to insert a invisible zipper in the center back. It’s definitely better than using a plain zipper foot, but I suspect a purpose made invisible zipper foot would be even better.
The only other construction detail that gave me pause was sewing the v-shaped neckline facing. I’m not a big fan of facings. Even when I catch-stitch them perfectly, they have a tendency to flip to the outside. I followed the instructions, but also understitched the whole neckline. I think it will be fine when I am wearing it, but because the front panel is so bulky, the centermost part does not want to lie flat. We’ll just keep that between us, right?
Scroll down to see the finished top. It looks a little more medieval princess costume than I intended, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I will add more pictures of me wearing it once it stops raining long enough to take them.
Floral print is a quilting cotton from Mom’s stash – 1 1/8 yard (pattern calls for more)
Cording feet are available in various styles. Mine is similar to this one. You can see that one side is higher than the other to allow the foot to contact both the cord and the fabric at the same time. If you are shopping, make sure the foot you purchase is compatible with your machine.
The last two projects for the contest are nearing completion, so I’ll be back soon.
I bought five yards of it a few years ago from FabricMartFabrics.com and even after this skirt, I still have more than a yard. I don’t think you have seen the last of it yet!
This skirt is one of McCall’s 2018 early fall patterns, M7813. The pattern includes options for different hem profiles, but they all share the same basic design. I was drawn to view D, which has two curved front pieces that come together in a neat jagged line. It’s a very simple pattern. The only closure is a single snap. There are no pockets, lining, or anything tricky. It may not be obvious on first glance, but all views cinch at the natural waist, continuing anther 5 inches or so upward. The part above the waist can be turned down, sort of like a shirt collar.
I like that this skirt can work with or without tights as a transitional piece. I just wore it for the first time and loved the way it looked in the mirror. But…. if you plan on wearing it on a windy day, definitely consider putting in some extra closures. While having your skirt fly up worked for Marilyn Monroe, it’s not really what I’m going for. I’m still deciding how I want to handle mine.
I did another contrast facing with the skirt. This time I chose a scrap of flannel stripe that I salvaged from a jacket that was on its way to jacket heaven. The pattern matched almost too perfectly. It might add a little more bulk than desirable, but it’s really soft and comfortable.
I don’t have too much to say about construction or techniques this time. It was so darned easy! Instead, I’ll just post the supply list and some pretty pictures.
I’m getting started on my Fall wardrobe with a pair of olive green sailor-style wide leg pants. These are View E of the Butterick wardrobe pattern B5859. Essentially, they are high waisted pants with a back zip. If they look a little familiar, it’s because I have made them before. Why re-invent the wheel?
After I finished cutting out the pants, I cut the selvedges off the remaining fabric and set them aside. Pre-washing the fabric had brought out their texture as well as a short fluffy fringe. After recently buying some trim by the yard, saving this “trim” seemed like a good way to economize.
Meanwhile, I went through my scrap pile and picked out a piece of pretty floral lawn that coordinated with the green. I think that one of the delights of sewing for yourself is using surprising fabrics for pocket linings, facings, and bindings that only you can see. The floral became the waistband facing fabric.
Serendipitously, I had piled the twill strips piled on top of the facing pieces. They looked so good together that I used the strips to make a sharp binding for the facing’s bottom edge. Here’s a little slideshow of the facing going together.
Basting with Double Eye Needle
Do any of you read your sewing machine manuals just for fun? It sounds dull, but if you haven’t cracked yours since your machine was new, it’s worth going back and taking a second look. When my machine was new, I was only interested in learning the basics: threading, straight stitch, zigzag, etc. Now that those skills are second nature, the rest of the manual is much more approachable. All of this is by way of introducing the double eye needle.
My manual has a page devoted to using a double eye needle (not to be confused with a double needle) to make long basting stitches. I don’t know if this trick works universally, or only with some machines, but it is pretty slick. Here’s what you do:
Thread machine normally, threading the needle through the upper of the two eyes.
Set stitch to blind hem stitch
Set stitch width to widest setting
Set stitch length as desired
These settings will result in a long straight stitch slightly to the left of center (test the needle position before sewing to learn how this works). Since the blind hem makes its stitches in a 3 to 1 pattern (RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT LEFT), you will get a stitch that is 4 times as long as the selected stitch length.
Once you are done, you can continue to sew normally by just switching to the bottom eye.
Double eye needles are a little tricky to find. I have never seen them in shops and they are even hard to find online. I located a package of 5 size 80 universal double eye needles in just 3 places:
If anyone else has other or better sources, please post a comment!
I really like the look of vintage sailor-style button front pants. I can’t imagine how annoying they must be to actually open and close when you need to (ahem). For my pants, I just copied the look without copying the design. Besides, I was already going off on my own with the green color. The buttons are just sewn on – there are no actual buttonholes. I sewed the buttons on top of the seams created by the front darts.
I wound up using an invisible zipper, just because that is what I had on hand. I don’t think it makes a big difference in this case, but I think a plain zipper would go better with the casual style.
Here’s what I used:
1 1/2 yards 60 inch green twill from Mood Fabrics 5% spandex, 95% cotton
Although I love the jumpsuit, I just couldn’t justify making it when I don’t have any events to bring it to.
Also, I find myself drawn to Rebecca Taylor’s style aesthetic. Her collections provide me with a lot of inspiration, featuring prominently in my Fall 2018 mood board on pinterest.
I was reluctant to cut into the silk I chose for the final version (Thanks, Mom!). So, I looked for some lightweight cottons to make a (hopefully) wearable muslin. I have plenty of sundress-worthy cottons in my stash, but it was tricky to find something that would look good from either side. In the end, I went with a sort of washed denim colored solid for the dress and a fun multicolor stripe for the lining.
I wanted to make sure that the ties fell at my natural waist, so I spent a more time preparing the pattern than usual. I added my normal long waist adjustment all the way around. The back overlay piece was a little perplexing. When I added the extra length, it completely changed the shape of the ties. I improvised a new curve to smooth it out, keeping the start and end points where they were and crossed my fingers.
I cut the pieces according to the directions with one exception. I thought it would be kind of neat to have the inside back piece be the same as the skirt lining.
Once I got to the sewing machine, I was delighted with how quickly it went together. The neckline and armholes are faced, but use bias binding for the facing instead of the more common facing pieces. I have been experimenting with this technique for a while, and actually prefer it in most cases. However, until you are used to it, it can be maddeningly confusing. If you are doing this dress and have never tried the technique, find an online tutorial and practice a bit first. It may save you a lot of seam ripping! The “very narrow hem” that I was wondering about turned out to be really easy. I like the way it turned out and will use it again on projects with lightweight fabrics. I think that some fabrics might do better with a rolled hem, though. I’ll have to test that out for the final version.
One weird thing about the pattern is that instead of using a conventional casing for the waist elastic, you make a completely inner casing using the seam allowances. Essentially you get a casing “tube” that is only attached to the dress on one side, not both. It works out, but probably would fail with any elastic wider than 1/4 inch. It doesn’t seem to matter that the casing is kind of free-floating.
Another technique that was new to me was reinforced stress points. You are supposed to cut small pieces of fabric and sew them to the wrong side of the overlay at each point. I departed from the instructions and chose to fuse my little patches in place rather than sew them. I think they are probably stronger and they don’t show on the front. I used heat-n-bond lite 5/8″ tape for a quick and easy patch.
Close up of stress point patch
From a distance it’s invisible
Reinforcing was a great idea when sewing the overlay gathers
I haven’t done a lined skirt in a while, but it was the last step and there wasn’t anything unusual about it. That kind of complacency is probably what led to me putting it in inside-out. Sigh. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. I’m leaving it that way. Shhh…
The finished dress fits! The ties wound up in the right place and look good. I do think it will look much better in a silkier fabric. The overlay sleeves made with semi-crisp cotton don’t drape elegantly down the shoulders like the ones on the pattern photo. I also think it would be much better with side pockets. But those are minor quibbles. It meets my test for wearability and I have a usable pattern so I’ll call it a success.
The next one in this series will be my first ever silk dress. Wish me luck!
Until then, happy sewing!
More nuts and bolts…
Untied, it’s just a simple elastic waist
Kind of tricky origami putting the three shoulder/sleeve pieces together
You can see how large the arm openings are in this picture from before the overlay went on.
And a few more pictures from my fashion shoot/dog walk…