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).

Manequim April & May 2010

Are you ready for some exquisite eye candy? Remember when I showed you my one and only Manequim magazine last year, and I raved about how amazing the designs were? Well, Susannah from Cargo Cult Craft came over for Crafternoon and brought not one but two issues of Manequim with her that a friend recently brought back from Brazil!

And she is WAY nicer than I am, because she actually let me borrow them! I can’t believe she let these pretties out of her sight for a week while I scanned and traced like a mad woman… I actually only ended up tracing three patterns, but I scanned a lot more so I could go back and draft others in my size when the inspiration strikes. Manequim may have an amazingly talented design team, but the sizes offered are really limited – usually only one size per each design, with a few patterns being offered in three sizes. Not to mention that the roadmap pattern sheets are crazy to trace from. They make the new Burda sheets look like child’s play…

So thanks to Susannah, we can all have a few minutes of total escapism, as we marvel at the inventiveness in these designs (no really, some of the pattern shapes are mental!).

Manequim April 2010

I actually rather liked the dress shown on the cover, until I saw in the tech drawing that the ruffles extend from the shoulder down to mid-thigh, and are only being held in by the belt. As far as I’m concerned, belts should never be required for a dress to look good!

Metric Pattern Cutting

It’s fitting that Neighbour Helen decided to buy me this book for my birthday, as she’s the one who got me interested in drafting recently, and she liked it so much she bought one for herself, too!

I’ve heard that this is one of the best pattern drafting books around (alongside the Armstrong book, but there’s a £60 price difference there, too!), and I can see why. It’s certainly not an easy book to get to grips with, but if you’re a visual learner like me, then you probably really only need the drawings to be getting on with anyway. The book is absolutely packed with different blocks and various sleeve, collar, skirt, dart, yoke, etc drafts, with precious little else included. It’s a book that doesn’t mess around and gets straight to the point, which is great as it doesn’t take up much space on the bookshelf, either (frankly, I’ve seen thicker magazines!!). There are no wasted pages here, and Winifred Aldrich certainly doesn’t mess around!

The Honest 'Tooth

Even experienced sewers do dumb things. I hardly ever make muslins except when I’ve got really expensive fabric (like coating) or when I’m working with a pattern company I’ve not used very much before. But for Burdas, I know I’m a size 42, and that size 42 always fits me.

Until now. I’ve just finished sewing BWOF 05/2009 #117 and (yes I know it’s a stupid thing to do) I didn’t try it on until I put the invisible zipper in right at the end because it’s a PITA to get someone else to pin you in and out and frankly, I still hurt from that surgery so I just like to get into my sewing zen zone and proceed without interruptions. That’s my excuse, anyway.

So what’s Burda’s?? Being polite, I could say this pattern runs small. Besides the fact that Burda patterns don’t run anything, they just fit, every time, with German precision, since when is it okay to have zero inches of waist ease in any woven pattern (seriously – measured dress waist is 30 1/2 inches. Size 42 body waist measurement is 30 3/4 inches on the size chart)? Argh. I think I’m most annoyed because I trusted Burda so implicitly, and because I did such an awesome job on those pointed underarm gussets that so intimidated me (they actually turned out to be really easy – just make sure you thread-baste the seam lines, interface the point, and sew each in two steps like Burda suggests).

I even had to dial Susan down to her absolute smallest setting (39-29-40) to get the dress to fit onto her, and even then the zipper is really straining at the back bodice!

Embroidery and bunting

I seem to be pretty lucky so far to have escaped the constant chemo nausea I was told to expect. I’m on two different chemo drugs now until Sunday when I switch to a third on its own, and so far one of them has had zero affect on the way I feel, and the other seems to be giving me wildly different comedy afflictions each day (first fever & headache, then the next day a weird bumpy rash like mosquito bites all over my body plus breathing problems, then tonight it just seems to be a 2 hour long sneezing fest. weird.). In any case, it’s so far much easier than I was expecting (knock on wood), so it’s given me some time to do some crafting in amoungst my tv and film watching.

Yesterday (Day -7) (in bone marrow transplant land, the day you get your stem cells is Day Zero, so right now I’m counting down to that, 8 July. After I receive them, I’ll go into the positive numbers!)

Yesterday I did a bit of ham-fisted embroidery, finishing up a bit for a baby present, which I’ll reveal when it’s totally finished, as well as finally finishing that Sublime Stitching apron kit I’ve been working on here and there over the last few months (remember this from the al fresco sewing day?).

November workwear log

At the beginning of the month, I thought it’d be an interesting experiment to document exactly what I wear to work over the course of a month in order to observe how much of my wardrobe I actually wear, and how much of that I’ve made. I made a really informal attempt at this in the form of my Most Worn Awards last winter, but I felt it was high time to do something slightly more scientific and allowing FehrTrade creations to go head-to-head with ready to wear.

I didn’t include weekends into this because my clothing choices are usually the same grotty work clothes for doing boat DIY, and also because I change a few times during the day which would complicate things. I made a real attempt not to let my experiment influence my clothing choices in the morning, and I think I’ve been as impartial as I could’ve been.

Monday 3 Novbrown twill trousers and Uni Qlo white cashmere sweater
Tuesday 4 Novgreen corduroys, brown sleeveless turtleneck, and mom’s vintage mustard cardigan
Wednesday 5 Novchocolate brown bamboo wrap dress
Thursday 6 NovThames jeans and beige cashmere sweater
Friday 7 Novstretch jeans and blue KnipMode twist top

The Most Worn Awards

I’m nearly finished the tuxedo-inspired trousers which are made from the same vintage Pendleton wool as the tuxedo-inspired jacket – I’ve just got to hem and turn up the bottoms and they’re ready for a photo shoot! But in the meantime, if you’re a Pattern Review member, take a second right now to go vote in the One Fabric: Wool contest in which said tuxedo-inspired jacket was entered. Go on, I’ll wait.

So finishing up such classy threads has made me stop and think about which parts of my wardrobe I actually wear most on a day-to-day basis. I absolutely love making the smart ensembles and special occasion wear, especially since the aim of my FW/07 Collection was to increase my business attire, but I tend to wear a lot of basics in my otherwise very casual office. I think looking through the garments I wear most often might help to give me some focus as I start mentally planning what I’ll be sewing this spring…

Fehr Trade Most Worn Awards

(in no particular order)

  • Black leather handbag – I use it to haul all my supplies, lunch, mittens, iPod, and everything else around every single day. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Project Catwalk

No, this has nothing to do with the tv show. But I am going to a catwalk show at London Fashion Week tomorrow morning! It all transpired last weekend on our mooring’s First Annual Boat Crawl and BBQ… One of my neighbours is quite big in the fashion industry, and as I was showing her around our boat and my sewing room, she asked which shows I was going to. To which a I replied “Shows?” “You know – Fashion Week, which shows are you going to?” And at this point I admitted I’d never been to a catwalk show, and she was so flabbergasted she promised then and there to get me on this list.