Buckle up, because the story of this jacket starts four years when I received a remnant of Dashing Tweeds “Urban Shadow” tartan coating from a friend for Christmas. Now, if you’re not familiar with Dashing Tweeds, they’re a really cool company who’ve revived old tartan and twill patterns and modernised them with great colours and even some reflective threads woven in. The remnant I received was one of these “Lumatwill” designs, and has reflective threads running along all the horizontal yellow lines in the design.
After a few weeks, a head cold, and a lot of hand stitching through two seasons of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, my cape is finally finished! I’ve made an awful lot of coats over the years but this is my first cape. I thought perhaps it was a cloak, having mistakenly thought the difference was that cloaks have hoods, but in fact it’s a hem length distinction, so this is indeed a cape!
I covered a lot of the details of the making of this cape last week, so you’ll already know that it’s entirely underlined in cotton flannel to cut the wind, and that it uses this Burda magazine pattern from 2011 (still available to buy as a pdf). Funnily enough, there’s actually a fairly similar hooded cape pattern in the current December 2016 issue, too, which I’ll cover in my review post soon…
I don’t tend to post about in-progress garment much anymore. I think part of the reason is that I tend to make projects quickly, so there’s not much to document and I roll any construction notes into the finished garment post, but also because I’m not not exactly light on garments to post about and it takes enough time putting together the ones I do share without adding any more to the To Blog pile!
But I’d been making a lot of quick garments in the past few months and decided I wanted something a bit more involved to sink my teeth into, so I started making a cape, using this Burda magazine pattern from 2011 (still available to buy as a pdf). I had some gorgeous teal wool coating a friend had bought for me in Tokyo in January, and I thought it paired really beautifully with some black and pink abstract tartan fabric I chose from Sew Essential as my #sewphotohop prize draw. It’s a lightweight John Kaldor satin with a lovely hand that you really could believe was silk, but alas, it doesn’t appear to be on the site any longer!
I am both back from our trip to the States and feeling back on form now, so I’ve started to tackle documenting the absolute mountain of finished makes from the last four months. I have some garments from early January, some made more recently and well, I’m just going to share them with you in no particular order! The photos are a bit more slapdash than usual, but I know that if I waited to do proper photoshoots of all of these then it’d be another 6 months before you’d get to see them!
So I’m going to start with a garment that was the longest in the planning, and also quite possibly my favourite of the early 2016 makes. It all started back in summer 2014, when I bought some fabulous navy wool coating & vintage silk twill from Ditto when I was down in Brighton. I knew I wanted to use them together for a transitional, short coat, but then I had quite a journey in finding the right pattern!
Over the course of 18 months, I ended up making five different muslins before I was happy enough to cut into the wool and silk:
- StyleArc Audrey (the silhouette and proportions were just so bad on me. So bad.)
- Burda Jan 2015 jacket in size 42 (way too small for non-stretch outerwear, oddly, though Burda’s fit is usually very standard)
- Burda Jan 2015 jacket in size 44 (traced ALL the pieces again and it still fit very weirdly)
- Patrones 342 No23 dolman sleeve coat (ridiculously tiny sleeves and zero arm mobility even with the underarm gusset)
And then finally I muslined Named’s Harriet lumberjacket pattern, bought during a flash sale during their advent calendar promotion. And I was like Goldilocks, it was juuuuuuust riiiiiight.
My next pattern is off with the pattern testers right now and I’m frantically sewing up final samples for photoshoots, filling in missing illustrations, and responding to comments as they come in, but I’ve managed to occupy my brain with the thought of things I might sew for fun next!
I did indeed wear my traced-from-RTW mustard yellow sheath dress to Number 10 Downing Street last week, and even managed to get some photos with the famous door(!) afterwards, but you’ll have to wait for those until the proper photoshoot is done showing the rest of the dress details in some decent lighting.
But I can say already that I love the dress! It needs some slight tweaking to the shoulder area, but apart from that, my tracing was spot-on, and I’m so chuffed it turned out so well without a muslin.
The crazy seaming really started getting my brain thinking about all the ways it could be colourblocked, though, and I looked up and suddenly found inspiration from a magazine photo I’d cut out years ago and had hanging on my sewing cave wall!
So I rummaged through my ponte scraps and realised that I had the most perfect shade of teal viscose ponte leftover from a client commission, and together with the leftover mustard scraps (and some newly-bought white ponte), I could make my very own Chalayan-inspired sheath dress!
I whipped up a tech drawing in Illustrator so I could play with the different colourblocking combinations, and I’m not sure which I should go for.
I’ve only got 1.2m of the teal and even less of the mustard, but I could buy whatever white I need to make up the rest. I think I have enough to make any of these combos, but I will of course double-check with my pieces before I order the white.
I also finally sewed up a muslin of this short coat from the Sept 2010 Burda (also known as one of my favourite issues Of. All. Time.):
Remember a few weeks ago when I took a quick trip down to Brighton and came back with some gorgeous wool coating and vintage Italian silk lining from Ditto? Of course you do!
Well, as shown in the photo above, I bought it intending to make the StyleArc Audrey pattern to be a transitional Fall “car coat” (heavier than a jacket, but not a full-on winter coat). So having arrived home to decidedly Fall weather, I thought I should get a move on with this coat or else it’ll be too cold before I can make it!
So I pulled out my Audrey pattern, cut out all the million pattern pieces (the attention to detail is really terrific – the lining and facing pieces are exquisitely drafted rather than just carbon-copies of the exterior), and made a muslin.
I know muslins can be super useful, especially for fit problems, but there’s something about them that makes me lose all enthusiasm for a pattern once I see it made in beige, crumbled fabric held together with pins and covered in Sharpie marks. I think I’ve probably dumped more coat patterns at the muslin stage than any other garment (let’s all try to erase the Armani coat muslin horror from our minds… oops)! I put this one on, looked in the mirror and thought…. meh.
So I recruited James and a friend for second opinions. They both gave it the thumbs down, then started going through the list of things that could be done to improve it, lengthen here, take out fullness here, etc etc. Err, no – for something that’s supposed to be “fun sewing” I’d rather just dump this and use another pattern I haven’t yet lost all enthusiasm for!
Sewing a coat is always a big accomplishment, but this coat in particular has been a long time in the making. I first told James I’d finally make him a coat like Benedict Cumberbatch wears in BBC’s “Sherlock” for his birthday back in early December. I drafted up a pattern using the details provided in this livejournal post, then made a muslin for him later that month. With only a few tweaks needed for fit and style (I made the lapels too big, for starters!), I then moved on to purchasing the wool coating, cotton flannel underlining, and black acetate lining.
But this is also where the first delay came in, as he wanted a black wool coating with faint blue and brown checks from Crescent Trading, who turned out to be closed over the full Christmas period, when I was hoping to get a lot of the work done. All of the above are detailed more
in this “progress report” post from January.
I then had more hurdles involving the hem bubbling (which meant I had to baste it in place, flip it back wrong-side out, handstitch, re-press, etc), waiting for some woman on Etsy to make more replica buttons (which we finally gave up on and just made our own with gold enamel paint), and getting the right upholstery thread to do all the buttonholes.
But it’s finished, it looks fantastic on James, and the proportions are really flattering on him, too! So the lengthy making process shall soon fade away in the light of the finished coat. He definitely prefers it open (as dos Sherlock himself), but it can be buttoned up in the coldest of days, too:
It’s a very warm coat, having underlined the body and sleeves in flannel, a trick I picked up in previous coats to stop the wind.
I can’t take the credit for these, as James was having fun with photoshoot ideas!
Argh I’ve done that thing again where I get really busy in my sewing cave (and elsewhere!), ignore my laptop altogether, and end up accumulating a full week’s worth of posts that I can’t face writing. This usually bogs me down mentally for a few days until I realise I have to face the laptop at some point, and I work a “computer day” (I much prefer “sewing days”!) to clear the slate.
But a-ha! I gotcha, “internet day”, because I’m going to cram together all the updates I really should write about in one big go. Didn’t see that coming, didja?!? (frollicks off to the sewing cave…)
Thank you again so much for all your compliments on my galaxy print birthday dress last week! I’m not sure what I did right, but I ended up getting an awful lot of lovely sewing gifts this year…
Clockwise from upper left:
- An amazing, handmade pressing ham and stand from Claire (protip: she’s selling these right now in custom fabrics so get in touch with her!). The ham is a funny shape because she’s cleverly designed it to mimic a crotch curve so you can really get in there and press it well, and the stand essentially acts and a hands-free for it! She also got me some royal blue ponte knit that was just so me that I cut it out the same day (seen in the upper right and below…)
- From my friend Jennie, Liberty gift coins! They’re like gift cards, but because Liberty are so damned classy, you get a gorgeous purple suede bag with special coins instead. Mmmm, shopping!
- From James, a Marfy dress pattern I’ve been lusting after for ages (Marfy 2935)
- From my inlaws, the Style Arc Steffi Jacket (and March freebie pattern, Nancy) and Clover fork pins (which hold silks in place better than anything else, apparently!). I’m particularly pleased with the Steffi jacket as I love the design and it saves me the trouble of drafting it myself!
- From James and my parents, an Eva Dress reproduction of a 1933 Katherine Hepburn jacket that I’ve literally had on my WishList for 3+ years (hurrah!), and a brand new Men’s drafting book that came recommended from Fashion Incubator and has better, modern designs included than anything I’ve seen actual patterns for. So I’ve got high hopes for that, even though it doesn’t contain a tight-fitting stretch block.
(I also got a bunch of books and running stuff, too, but I do attempt to keep this blog on topic!)
On my birthday itself, I decided I wanted to do some “fun sewing” and not “work sewing” (you make this distinction when you start doing this for a living, I’ve found), so I actually ended up cutting out Marfy 2935 in the blue ponte knit – surely a new record for both pattern and fabric to be used in less than 24hrs!
The first snag was that there was no pattern piece included for the horizontal waist drape on the green version – I emailed Marfy saying it was missing, but that I presumed it was just a gathered rectangle and could I please have the dimensions. Several days later, I got a vague and partial reply saying that I was correct and it was important that it’s cut on the bias. That’s it – no “yes, you should’ve received that piece” or “here’s the dimensions”, oddly.
But I had already carried on with my dress using guestimated dimensions for that piece, and got to a try-on stage with basted side seams:
Real life is starting to run away from the documented garments on this site, so it’s definitely time for a little roundup of projects which I’ve been working on, yet haven’t quite done a full photoshoot for yet…
The Sherlock coat
The Sherlock coat is 90% done – I’ve attached the lining and flipped it all right side out, but there’s still some hand-stitching to be done. However, this is currently “parked” while James is waiting for the Etsy lady to put up more replica buttons for sale (yes, someone makes buttons that look just like the ones on Cumberbatch’s coat!). When those arrive, I’ll finish the handstitching, sew them on, and make a gajillion keyhole buttonholes with my vintage Singer attachment.
The Rainbow PB Jam Leggings
I used some of my most precious, imported Space Dyed “confetti” supplex to make a pair of my PB Jam Leggings to wear to the Bath Half marathon next weekend, and possibly run London marathon in, too, depending on the weather. These are totally finished and road-tested at Run dem Crew last week (to rapturous compliments!) but I’m waiting until next weekend to do a photoshoot in the race environment.
You saw these in my invisible pocket tutorial, remember?
(Actually, now that I think of it, I still need to show you all my last set of PB Jams and XYT Tops from my big pre-release photoshoot, too!)
The Brasilia Dress
I’ve been wanting to make Rachel’s free Brasilia Dress pattern since she released it on Christmas Day, and I finally got the kick I needed, in the form of a big opportunity – I’ve been asked to speak at the House of Commons on Monday about a new stem cell bill! Omg!! So of course I needed a new dress, and I figured the red cotton sateen in my stash would be perfect, both for confidence and the connotation with blood. Even though it was a rush job, I still made enough time to sew up a muslin first, and the finished dress is now finished, too. I’ll try to do a photoshoot this weekend and the grab a few photos in the Houses of Parliament itself next week!
I mentioned briefly back in December that, for James’s birthday, I gave him the promise of a custom-made coat in the style of the one Benedict Cumberbatch wears in Sherlock. Or as it will henceforth be known, “the Sherlock coat”.
A few others online have made this coat (including a few FehrTrade readers, hello!!), but I found the most helpful resource to be this livejournal entry from a lady who sketched and measured a lot of the details after analysing screen grabs. This was a big help in taking James’s TNT short jacket pattern and adapting it to look more like the coat on screen!
I first made an approximation on his paper pattern and sewed up a muslin. From this the only real fitting problems were that the upper back was too tight, and the Centre Front needed to be shifted by about an inch, but it was otherwise fine. I guessed a bit wrong on the collar and lapel shape though, but it was fairly easy to just draw a nicer shape onto the muslin itself and transfer it to the pattern.
Once the muslin was settled, I then bought the wool coating (delayed a bit as Crescent Trading were closed over the holidays) – not the exact black and grey small houndstooth used in the original (simply because I couldn’t find any locally), but instead a black/grey/brown check which still had the same feel. I also bought the black acetate lining at the same time, but the black cotton flannel for underlining came from Minerva.
I then settled in for the mammoth task of cutting out all the pieces in wool, underlining, interfacing, and lining, then fusing the crap out of everything that needed interfacing. With two patch pockets (and flaps), plus two welt pockets, two back belt pieces, sleeve cuffs, and a collar, (not to mention facings!), there was a good day taken up just by fusing alone!