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Pick Three

If you had to choose three (and only three!) things you’ve ever sewn to best represent what you can do, what would you choose?

I’ve recently been tasked with exactly this, and I found it incredibly difficult to decide. I mean, it’d be difficult enough if I was confined to just one type of garment, like “Pick three dresses” or “Pick three casual garments”, etc, but just three, from the hundreds of garments I’ve sewn in the past nine years?! This required thought.

Pick One…

Having said that, strangely, the first of my picks was pretty easy – my Winter Coat.

I made this coat two winters ago and I’m really, really proud of the finish on it. The wool is extremely thick, with bound buttonholes, metal buttons, single welt pockets, a thick silk lining, and (most proudly for me) I didn’t use a single bit of fusible anything in its construction. I wear it to death in winter and I love everything about it.

Pick Two…

Should I play my trump card and pick my vintage refashioned wedding gown? Well, alright then!

The MyImage Purple coat

This coat originally appeared on my Fall 2011 sewing plans, so it feels good to finally finish it just as the weather’s starting to defrost (I hope anyway!). I’ve been wearing my muted turquoise coat for most of the winter, but I’m hoping to wear this to transition into Spring!

I’ve used “coat” in the title, but is it really a coat? Is it a jacket? Where’s the line drawn, anyway? It’s short like a jacket, but wool and warm like a coat, so I’m not quite sure what to call this.

This pattern appeared in the Winter 2011 MyImage magazine (along with that awesome cowl top!) and it’s still available to buy if you fancy it (and holy crap, it’s on sale right now for €1.95/US$2.63, too)!.

You can see some in-progress photos of this coat here and here. The nice thing about working on a project for a while is that you get to see a lot of the “guts” as I work! The downside, of course, is that I have the attention span of a gnat and I get bored when projects stretch over the fortnight mark…

The first thing you notice about this coat is that Big! Collar!! It’s a “whole lotta look”, but I totally dig it. Your mileage may vary! I’ve worn it out twice over the weekend already and the collar is great – it’s substational enough and close enough to the neck that I don’t need a scarf!

A bit of everything

Housekeeping time! I’ve got lots of little bits to update you on, either with my in-progress project, upcoming things, or small projects I managed to gloss over at the time…

So in no particular order:

My purple coat

Progress is slow on my purple jacket/coat from the Winter 2011 MyImage magazine, not because of anything to do with the coat, but because life keeps getting in the way. I’ve finished the shell and I’m onto the lining now, so I’ve just got to finish constructing the lining, attach the two together, flip, and sew the buttonholes.

I’d prefer to do the buttonholes on my vintage buttonholer attachment, but the templates I have aren’t big enough for my enormous (2.5 inch?) buttons. Anyone know a clean way around this? Can I set the buttonholer to do double-length holes somehow?

In any case, I should be able to finish this coat this weekend and (hopefully) get a photoshoot in. Not long now before I can do evenings photos again – it’s already light out when I go running before work!

Gift update

My go-to baby gift is to sew a changing mat, with a hand towel on one side, and nice fabric on the other with big, deep pockets and ties to fold it all up. I had two baby boys arrive in January, so both sets of parents got changing mats with this awesome Alexander Henry vintage robot fabric. 1 meter of it wasn’t quite enough to stretch to the pockets, too, so I filled in with some scrap denim.

MyImage Purple coat – in progress

Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve started sewing the asymmetric, collared coat from the Winter 2011 MyImage magazine, and after a prep period that felt like forever (probably exasperated by the fact that my ironing station is hovering around 0C/30F), I’ve now got some progress to show you!

I’m sewing this up in a wonderful purple basketweave/boucle coating, which was another gift from Claire (she’s so good to me!) at the end of last winter. I always like to underline my coats when I can to just add that little bit of extra warmth, but it made even more sense here as it will help to stabilise the coating fabric and prevent any bagging out that might otherwise occur with looser-weave fabrics. The alternative is to block-fuse the coating with a lightweight interfacing, like I did with my Patrones duffle coat.

For this coat, all the facings were interfaced (the usual front and back facings, plus the front and back hip band facings), and pretty much everything else was underlined in black cotton flannel. This meant there was a lot of prep – everything but like 3 pieces needed underlining or interfacing! I love sewing, but prepping is dull dull dull work!

I machine-basted the flannel underlining to the coat pieces here, because frankly, the prep work was tedious enough as it was. I normally hand baste my underlinings, but in this case, the coating and the flannel “grabbed” each other quite nicely, so this, plus the walking foot, plus a long basting stitch meant it felt okay to do it by machine. I still made sure to never turn any corners though (when basting underlinings, you always stitch to the edge, cut the threads, reposition, and stitch the adjacent side so that you don’t create puckers at the corner)!

A wool maternity coat – finished photos

Last week I was nearly finished with Holly’s coat, and the week before that l told you all about underlining it, but finally I can show you completed completed photos!

If you recall, I used this maternity coat from the August 2008 issue of Burda, but after the first muslin we made some design changes (namely, eliminating the band and gathered sleeve caps) and an added dart as a consequence of an FBA (full bust adjustment) so it’s not quite the same as you see in the original tech drawing below…

Apologies for the slight blurriness and busy background – this is why I try not to do photoshoots after dark, but it couldn’t be helped this time around! At least you can see how it fits her, even if the photo quality isn’t great.

A wool maternity coat – nearly there…

As you recall, last week I underlined Holly’s maternity coat and created all five bound buttonholes, but I had the day off work on Friday so I was able to make loads of progress over my long weekend! In fact, her coat is now 95% finished and ready to hand over, so I thought I’d give you a rundown of what I got up to…

I’m making this maternity coat from the August 2008 issue of Burda, but after the first muslin we made some design changes (namely, eliminating the band and gathered sleeve caps) so it won’t look exactly like this tech drawing:

As I constructed the shell of the coat, I took the extra step here to catch-stitch all the thick wool seam allowances to the flannel underlining. I started off just doing this on the sleeve seams as I feel the bumps are most noticeable during wear there (and therefore most likely to get annoying quickly!), but I carried on and just catchstitched everywhere.

I wanted this coat to be as nice for her as one I would make myself, so why not? I also noted that Gertie was asking last week how to make the seam allowances lie flat on her coat – well, the answer is catch stitching!


(I forgot to take a photo of all my stitching before lining it, though, so you’ll have to make do with a shot through the “window”!)

A wool maternity coat – basting and buttonholes

If you recall from last week, my next project is this maternity coat from the August 2008 issue of Burda, which I promised a very good friend:


(The issue date is still wrong above – it is indeed in the 2008 issue…)

After we sorted out the fitting and design alterations (including a second, quick muslin fitting of just the upper bodice in the pub toilets on Saturday night!), my first step was to cut out all the pieces in the green wool and then again in the black cotton flannel I’d bought to underline the spongey wool coating and give it a bit more structure. The coating is wonderful, but I’m a bit concerned about it bagging out in places, and I wanted to give it some added stability as well as a bit of extra warmth (though if warmth were my primary concern, I’d call it “interlining” and attach it a bit differently!).

Here’s all the pieces hanging on the line in my tiny sewing room:

I then hand basted all the layers together around the edges of the pieces, plus through the darts, and then also marked out the placement lines for the five bound buttonholes:

A beginner's knit maternity dress

Just to make things absolutely clear – no, I am not pregnant!

But my very good friend (and beginning sewer!) Holly is, so I’m doing some maternity sewing for her over the next few months, and helping her to sew a few things for herself, too. We’ve already had an afternoon session converting regular trousers to maternity versions (and I’m thrilled to report that she’s since gone home and done a few of these herself, too!), but it’s down to me to start the “from scratch” garments.

The first project was to make a “wearable muslin” of this Burda knit dress from June 2010. She picked this pattern out of a lineup, and it’s actually great for a beginner. The seamlines and construction are pretty straightforward, and you get a lot of bang for your buck with this, as there are two sleeve variations and two length variations!

I traced off all the different versions, and used the double tracing wheel I picked up in Budapest to even add the seam allowances on for her, too (something I never bother to do for myself, as I prefer my patterns without).

For this muslin I used some viscose jersey donated by Claire (Seemane) specifically for muslining purposes. The print is definitely too wild for me, but it might come in handy for Holly while she’s got a limited wardrobe. I don’t think it’s an ugly print by any means, and I could see her toning it down with a black or navy jacket or cardigan.

The Winter Coat

Hooray, my winter coat is finally finished! As you may have seen with all the coat sewing activity going on around the internet lately, making your own coat is no mean feat! While you’re perfectly able to take some shortcuts, it’s still a several week time investment no matter how you look at it. It’s for this reason that lots of us chose to sew them over the holidays, as it doesn’t feel like quite such a long ordeal if you’ve got several full days to devote to it at one stretch.

If you remember, I used Patrones 285 #29, but with the collar from #28 and major changes to the pockets so that I can easily put my hands inside while I walk to work (which I did today wearing it! yay!). After a muslin, the main changes I made were to lower the waist seam to match my natural waist, shorten and widen the front darts, add walking ease to the lower centre front, and change the pocket design.

I’ve already made a lengthy post about the coat construction and hair canvas interfacing, plus tons of HAWT handstitching action, so if you’re interested in the couture techniques I used or some interior shots of the coat shell, please click through before reading on…

The Winter Coat – construction

About a year ago I bought some gorgeous, ex-Burberry wool coating fabric from Ditto with plans to eventually make another winter coat. The muted turquoise wool has a patterned herringbone weave on one side but it’s also very thick and un-drapey but has the advantage of not fraying at all (almost like a boiled wool or Melton).

The fabric is so thick that I knew had to choose my pattern wisely, leaving out coats with lots of pleats or gathers that would’ve meant lots of bulk here.

As soon as I saw the Armani knockoff coat in the September Burda issue, I thought I’d found the match for my fabric, but as you recall, that pattern was just downright awful. So I started looking through my coat patterns again for something suitable, and Claire (Seemane) suggested I combine Patrones 285 #29 with some elements of the other coats in that issue, which is more or less what I ended up doing (though I need to change my tech drawing here to show the applied welt pockets I finally decided on rather than buttoned welts).