Monthly Archives: December 2009

Thank you!


I am so overwhelmed by all of the positive response I have received on my trench coat here, at the Trench Sew Along, and at Pattern Review.  This sewing community (and you too Mom!) are the nicest, most supportive bunch of people.  Ever!

And speaking of Mom; she asked if Jack was about to hug or kiss Katie.  Yes!  He adores Katie, one of my gorgeous nieces, who was posing with me as my sister took the pictures.

A lot of the commenters made mention that they thought I wasn’t a beginner anymore and thought I should change the name of my blog.  *blushing*  Hmmm…  Maybe someday.  But I still have not constructed a dress or a jacket, worked with set in sleeves or a collar with stand, among many other things.  So, I think I am still a beginner for now.  But I will probably change the blog name…. someday.  😉

Karen B. said, “I’d love to hear how you attached the lining as that is a total mystery to me.”  I didn’t do anything fancy.   I just used the same pattern pieces as the fashion fabric minus the facings (plus the seam allowances) and sewed it right sides together with fashion fabric.  Surprisingly easy.  Then you tack the lining to the shell at the armpit seams and slip stitch by hand the arms to the fashion fabric.  Let me know if you still have questions.

Rachel said, “I’m particularly jealous of your perfect top-stitching!  Do you have a trick to getting it that nice and straight and even?”  Honestly, I don’t have a trick and it’s not that perfect either.  😉  But from 2 feet away it looks pretty good.  I just did all the edge stitching first and then used the edge of my foot as a guide for how far away to stitch from the edge.  It came out pretty evenly the entire time give or take a wobble here and there. 

Again, thank you so much for all of the lovely comments.  I am so proud of this trench.  I could not have done it without the help and encouragement of this awesome online sewing community.  I would never have attempted it if not for the nudging of Sue!

And a big thank you to Karen for graciously guest blogging on the Trench Sew Along.

Happy sewing!



The trench in all its glory…

Or, how I got my trench on.  🙂  Be forewarned that this will be a picture heavy post. 

Friday night I did the last bits of hand sewing, attaching the buttons, “fixing” the overly long lining problem, etc.  On Saturday, before the snow came down in NYC metro area, I wore it out with Jack in the ‘hood.  When I stopped by my sister’s apartment, my brother-in-law was floored that I had made the coat myself.  I’m gonna take that as a compliment.  😉

Here’s my PatternReview review with a few additional comments:

Pattern Description: 3-2009-112 — From Burda: Material is the special feature!  The metallic fibres sparkle on the casually crinkled lightweight poplin and its dark bottle-green colour matches nearly everything.  This coat is uncomplicated to sew: it’s not lined and also does without the traditional sleeve tabs.

Pattern Sizing: 38-46, I made the size 40 because I wear suits all the time for my job and wanted the extra ease for bulky clothes.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes and no.  I used a different fabric and it had a crisper hand and stiffer drape than the fabric used on the model in the magazine, but the silhouette was the same.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were typical Burda, a little inscrutable, but if you have sewn a coat before, they should make some sense. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I originally liked the pattern for the raglan sleeves, thinking they would be easier for me as a beginner, but with the top stitching that one does on a trench coat for style reasons, it ended up being a little more difficult.  The key point to ensure you follow in the Burda instructions is to stitch the shoulder seams’ top sleeve seams as continuous seams.  If you don’t, your top stitching won’t match from front to back.  Also, don’t forget to clip into your curved seams, otherwise you run the risk of very puckered seams.  Ask me how I know. 😉

I loved the simplicity of the pattern.  It’s a classic trench look without all the “bling” like tabs, gun flaps, or epaulettes.  I wasn’t looking for an overly intense experience for this project.

Fabric Used:  Navy cotton with peach skin finish on one side for the outer shell.  Silk charmeuse for the lining.  Notions cannibalized from my Burberry trench coat (RIP 11/30/09): buttons and belt buckle.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I added a lining.  The pattern is for an unlined coat, but I didn’t want to add french seams and I wanted a finished look on the inside.  It was relatively simple to add the lining, I just used the front and back  and sleeve patterns minus the space for the facings.  I stitched the lining together and attached it to the facings after I almost completely constructed the coat and attached the collar. 

I only used interfacing in the belt.  Burda suggests interfacing the collars and facings as well as the vent.  My collar is a little floppy even with the stiffer cotton fabric that I used, so I definitely recommend interfacing the collar. 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I most likely will not sew this again as I don’t need another trench coat, but it was a great introduction to coat making.  I definitely recommend this coat to anyone needing a classic yet simple trench coat.

Conclusion:   This was a huge learning curve for me.  I am a beginner sewist and have not attempted anything so complex before.  There were a lot of firsts for me in this project: buttons, button holes, notched collars, eyelets for the belt, slip stitching, adding a lining, adding patch pockets, and top stitching.  I’m sure I am forgetting something here, but that’s already quite a list. 

One more thought in parting:  This is meant to be a more casual, unlined coat, and a “quick” project because of those characteristics.  However, due to the simplicity of the pattern, this coat feels a bit unstructured even with adding a lining.  Possibly this is due in part to the lack of my interfacing, but I really feel the lack of structure in the collar and shoulders.  It’s difficult to put into words, but it feels not as substantial as I think a coat should feel.  But that may be because I am expecting more from it than I should.  If I want more substance from a trench coat, then I suppose I should put the time and effort into making a more traditional one with all the bells and whistles. 

And now for more pictures.  🙂

side view

back view

flashing the lining

See the Burberry buttons???

close up

Notice the Burberry belt buckle and Prym Vario eyelets.

belt with buckle and eyelets

To make the Burberry buttons more secure, I added small buttons on the interior side of the coat.

inside buttons

As mentioned in my previous post, the lining suddenly grew about an inch and a half the other night.  Tacking it up didn’t help; it still drooped below the hem in some spots.  I did a temporary fix of making the lining hem a little higher on one side, but at my next lesson I will try to resolve the problem a bit more elegantly and more permanently.  See below…

tmeporary fix

Here’s what remains of my Burberry trench, just the outer shell which is stained beyond recovery, devoid of all it’s notions, and the lining which I will salvage for a future unknown project.

the sad remains of my Burberry Trench

salvaged Burberry lining

 I am looking forward to wearing my trench to work tomorrow, assuming it’s warm enough of course.  I am also looking forward to working on something other than a trench coat.  😉  Perhaps Burda 11-2009-120.

Happy sewing!

Almost there! Need some advice

(Warning: No trench pictures in this post) 

Ugh.  I thought I was going to wear my trench today.  I had just the finishing stuff left to do… You know, buttons, belt buckle, hand sewing, etc.  But everything takes so long.  You think it’s going to be quick and then it’s painfully slow-going.  I’m not complaining, although it may sound like it.  Really I’m not.  I just can’t wait to wear this coat. 

As mentioned earlier in the sew along, I intended to cannibalize my existing Burberry trench coat which I detested for numerous reasons.   I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to take it apart and be able to use the things I love about the coat: the leather buckle, the cool Burberry buttons.  I am also going to salvage the Burberry lining (which isn’t slippery at all and totally useless as a lining) and use it for something else.  I don’t know what but something.  Maybe I could make a scarf for my trench?  I wonder if I have enough fabric left from my trench to use on one side.  Hmmm… 

Prym Vario-Snap Kit (image from Atlanta Thread)


I have to tell you how much I love my new Prym Vario-Snap Kit.  I put the eyelets on my belt and love them.  I want to put eyelets on everything now.  What a cool thing this is.  LOVE IT!  It’s so easy to use.  I just want to point out one thing for anyone who has not used one of these things before that’s not explained on the very spare and terse instruction sheet.  Once you’ve pierced the fabric, place the eyelet so that it protrudes through the hole in the fabric so that when you use the “pliers” to press the eyelet into place, the metal “bites” all the fabric all the way around.  If you don’t, you run the risk of not all the fabric catching and the eyelet attached only half way.  Ask me how I know this.  *nodding sagely* 

There is one itty bitty problem with the trench however.  THE LINING SUDDENLY GREW OVERNIGHT AND HANGS BELOW THE HEM NOW.  Thea and I checked and double checked the length of the hem.  I think we even triple checked.  How could it suddenly grow an inch and  half?????  Please let me know how I can remedy this situation.  PLEASE!!! 

I would really like to use my trench coat tomorrow.  

Happy sewing!


Don’t be mad at me for teasing you guys last night.  I was deep in the throes of getting my new iPhone in working order and am exhausted this morning.  It took so long to set up and I didn’t even get my contacts loaded yet.  But enough about me, let’s talk about my Burda skirt.  🙂   I just posted this review on PatternReview

Pattern Description:  This pencil skirt is anything but stiff, prim and proper! The deep, diagonal, unpressed pleat in front is both
a special feature and the waist fastening.

Pattern Sizing: 38-46  ETA: I made the size 40 and it fit perfectly.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, yes, yes!!! Especially since I used a similar fabric.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Shockingly, yes! I am a newbie to sewing and pattern reading challenged, and even I could understand these directions!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I loved the pleat drape, the ingenious way of using the pleat as a closure and I especially loved that I didn’t have to insert a zipper.

Fabric Used: A grey wool/lycra suiting from the Paron’s 50% table.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I changed the pleat closure from a button fastening to a suit closure fastening. This worked and I like the clean look of it, but it did make the waist a tidge smaller to put on. So if you have ease issues it might make it difficult to get on and off.

I also added a full lining thanks to advice from Karen. I attached the lining to the inner waistbands for front and back skirt panels and then stitched the side seams in one go from the fashion fabric through the waist bands and then the lining. Once both side seams were complete, I stitched in the ditch to attach the front waistband to the back waistband. My ditch stitching isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time hand sewing as I was anxious to wear this skirt right away. Some people in other sewing blogs had mentioned concerns over too much bulk at the seam, but I didn’t find that to be the case at all and I like how the lined skirt feels on. It also reduced wrinkling!

This skirt has a pegged skirt hem which makes hemming a bit difficult, especially with the drape pleat. To counteract this problem I opened that particular sideseam up about 2 inches and restitched it at an angle opposite to the peg shape. That way, when you fold the hem allowance up, you can hem flat against the skirt instead of making a bubble edge. Does that make sense?

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I will definitely sew it again for next summer, possibly in a linen.

Conclusion:  I love this skirt. As a beginning sewist, this super easy project was a huge confidence builder. The end result looked pretty professional. I wore it to work the next day and everyone was impressed.  Here are the pics!


full lining




alternative drape closure

as worn at work

Now I just have to finish the trench coat.  Happy sewing! 


Burda sneak peek

Don’t have time to do the full review, but I thought I would tease you with a sneak peek at the finished skirt…

Review will be posted here and at PatternReview tomorrow.

I know, I know.  I’m such a tease.  Sorry!  😉

Happy sewing!