Category Archives: Coats

To interface or not to interface?

That is the question!  My friends, I am trying to decide if I need to interface my fall coat.  The pattern instructions say to interface the front and the facing.  Ordinarily, I would have blindly followed the directions, but I forgot that I don’t have enough interfacing on hand because I only purchased small samples.  So I emailed my teacher Thea to ask her if I could use the flannel I bought as stand in sew in interfacing and she totally threw a wrench into the works here by asking me if I really wanted to interface the coat at all.  She asked me how stiff I wanted the coat and collar to be.  And now I can’t decide.

When I made my trench coat last year, one of the few disappointments in that coat was that it had no internal structure.  No shoulder pads, just the shell and the lining.  That’s it.  It just didn’t feel substantial to me.  I don’t want to make this coat and end up being disappointed by a lack of structure.  In fact, I was going to underline the yoke on the back to make sure it didn’t stretch or warp.  And speaking of structure, you know how you use a ribbon to stabilize knits on the shoulder seams?  Should I do that here too???

So the poll of the day is…

Please vote by 5pm as I am working on my coat this evening.  Thanks!

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Retro Jacket

Once upon a time my dad had a corduroy jacket.  He bought it when he was stationed in Germany in 1967.  It was a dark navy blue, with a mandarin collar, and while  not too fitted, it was slim fitting.  It had front pockets at hips level and it was lined.  At one time, my mom appropriated it from him.  Then I wore it all the time in high school and then my sister wore it too.  It was worn to shreds. 

I loved that jacket.  I would like to recreate it.  The last year and a half, I have looked off and on for a pattern that fit the style details of this jacket but have been fruitless in my searches. First I looked at images on Google images to find something that looked similar.  Never found it.  Then I looked at men’s patterns in all the usual places, the big pattern companies, Simplicity, and New Look.  Couldn’t find anything that worked.  I even called upon the esteemed Peter.  I thought, “Surely he must have a pattern that fits the bill in his stash.”  Actually, it is Peter’s most recent project, the cranberry corduroy suit, that reminded me of my dad’s jacket.  Although Peter had some good ideas how to work around a regular blazer pattern, he did not have a pattern with that mandarin collar I so craved.

And then I remembered Kwik Sew.  The Kwik Sew of the famed Xmas pj’s I made last year.  So I took a gander at both their men’s and women’s jackets.  And lo and behold, there it was.  THE. PATTERN.

Enter Kwik Sew 3438 my friends.  It’s not fitted, yet is still slim fitting.  It’s simple, has the mandarin collar.  My father’s jacket didn’t have rounded jacket corners, but that’s an easy fix.  The pockets had flaps and I think were on the interior, not patch, but again, a simple enough change.  Obviously, I won’t be binding the edges, but I think this may be it!!!

It really closely resembles the jacket in my memory.  Right, Mom???

Question of the day: Do any of you have clothing from your past that you miss and want to recreate some day?  This is one of those projects for me.  Tell me about yours!

Grrrr!

You see that?  That purple wool up there?  Yeah?  Well, I’m mad at it.

Why you ask?  Well, I spent a little over two hours last night pulling threads to find the grain.  I was doing the fringe method because the thread method kept breaking.  I mean the thread that I pulled kept breaking because the thread that makes up this wool fabric are very fuzzy and grab at each other.  They’re not slide-y and smooth making the pulling a thread method virtually impossible.  The self-same fuzziness makes the fringe method equally as difficult too.  About an hour into it I realized that I could cut off the fringe as I pulled to keep the fuzzy factor at a minimum.  That speeded things up, but it still took me two hours to find the straight of grain. 

Why does it matter?  Well, I am really excited about this coat and want it to be a successful garment.  If I sewed it off grain, it would twist and pull and then I’d never wear it.  So, pulled and cut, pulled and cut, and pulled and cut for two hours last night.  Needless to say, I never got to the actual cutting out of the pattern.  *big sigh*

But tonight is another night.

Wish me luck.

Muslin-y Pictures of S2311

Last night’s session with Thea was very successful.  I continue to be excited about this coat.  I just adore this pattern.  Did I mention that it is well-drafted???  And the collar/lapel is just about as perfect as can be.  LOVE. THIS. COAT.

So, I realized some errors I had made, but it’s all good.  No animals were harmed in the making of this muslin.  😉   I forgot I had changed the seam guide on my Featherweight from 5/8ths to 1/2 inch, so all my seam allowances were an 1/8th off. 

Oh, and I figured out why my bobbin thread kept breaking.  Now this is just a theory as I have not really researched it, but I think the needle position must be in its highest position when you pull out your work.  I think the way the machine works is that having the needle position high changes the way the bobbin releases the bobbin thread.  Oh maybe I’m on crack here, but it’s just a theory.  I experimented last night with keeping the needle up at its highest position whenever I removed my work after a seam and I had no problems whatsoever with the bobbin thread all night.  So, I think I’m on to something here.  However, this mild success in using the Featherweight did not convince me to use it for this coat.  I am still going to use my Emerald 183.  I think I need to practice on the Featherweight with less complicated, less important projects first before I sew something like a coat.

Thea helped me fit my coat.  She agreed with me that the fit was basically fine but I could use some shaping in the back to remove some of the bulk there.  The pattern provides a center back seam, but there is not much if any shaping in it, so we added about a 3/4 inch of shaping out from the waist tapering to the hem and yoke.  It looks great now.  We inserted the sleeve pretty easily.  Thankfully there is not an excess amount of ease in the sleeve cap, so very little easing was required.  There was also easing for the elbow which I love.  Gives great shaping to the line of the arm as well as being practical for something pointy like an elbow.  I should mention that I was mistaken about the pattern calling for sewing on the sleeves in the flat.  I just misread them because they have you jump around the instruction sheets from Coat A to Coat B instructions. 

Thea also helped me figure out how to attack the back yoke to the front and collar better.  The pattern itself is missing some markings, so that was part of my problem. The other was not know how to properly sew a squarish u-shaped piece to a straight piece.  I will explain that later.  Ingenious method though. 

Without further ado, here are the pictures of the muslin on me!  I wore a suit jacket to fill out the coat a bit.  I am really pleased with the fit and look of this coat and can’t wait to start cutting out the purple wool.  Please ignore the goofy faces.

Note: the muslin is really stiff. the wool has a softer drape.

Again, the back will be smoother in the softer wool

Happy sewing everyone!

S2311 muslin

There are two things I want to discuss today folks.  So, buckle up! 

First, my Simplicity 2311 muslin for the sewalong.  Here’s a refresher on what the finished coat looks like (top left, the short camel version).  

S2311

I cut a straight sz 14 in heavy weight muslin (think of it as almost like painting canvas).  I found this weight to be extremely helpful to give an accurate read of how the coating would drape if a bit ravelly.  It took me forever last night to get to a point where I could try on the muslin (more on why later).  Essentially I got to the point where you attach the sleeves.  I believe they instruct you to sew them on in the flat as opposed to in the round.  But it was late and I wanted to see the fit, so I skipped that and basted the side seams.   

The verdict?  I.  LOVE.  THIS.  COAT.  I love the wide lapels.  I love the princess seams in front.  The back needs some fitting but luckily enough there’s a CB seam to play with.  I think I might take some bulk out of the shoulder blade area through to the waist, but that’s about it. This coat is going to rock!!!  I was scared of the princess seams, but they were really easy to sew.  I didn’t need to clip anything to get them to lay flat.  Weird!  The collar and lapel have a great shape and lie around my neck and shoulders beautifully.  And I didn’t even do the inside facing/over collar yet.  This is a really well-drafted pattern.   

I’ve decided that I won’t interline this coat.  I’m intending it to be a fall coat, something transitional and more like an accessory rather than true outerwear.  So, even though I bought cotton flannel for it, I am just going to use the purple wool coating and silk charmeuse lining for this coat.  But I could totally see myself making the longer version for a more substantial winter coat next year.   

I wish I had a picture of me wearing the muslin, but I was too tired and not camera ready last night, so here’s a totally craptastic shot with my iphone to tide you over.  

  

Thea is coming over tonight to help me fit the back and show me how to sew the back to the front better.  I had major problems sewing that part last night and just did a down and dirty job of it in the muslin to see how it looked on.   

And speaking of problems…  I had an awful time using my Featherweight last night.  AWFUL!!!  I almost dragged out my Emerald 183 from retirement.  I couldn’t get the bobbin to wind correctly and smoothly so my bobbin thread kept getting stuck and then breaking.  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong.  One time when it broke, something jolted the needle thread tension discs and now they are really loose.  I hope I didn’t break my “new” Featherweight.  I guess the honeymoon is over.  😦   As a matter of fact, I am probably going to un-retire the Emerald 183 to sew my final coat.  I don’t want to slow down the making of this coat due to machine temperamentality.  

Happy sewing everyone.

Stuff

As I mentioned in my last post, the wonderful Robin and Karen nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger award.

Thank you both again!  My part in accepting this award is to share ten things about myself that people don’t know about me and nominate five other people.  This list is going to be hard since I’m a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person.  I don’t have much hidden from sight.  So here goes…

  1. I’ve read The Lord of the Rings 11 times, long before it was “fashionable”.  Probably the last reading was in early 2000.  I love these books, so much so that I read a biography of J.R.R. Tolkien to find out more about the genesis of the works.
  2. Related to #1: I started reading TLOTR because I mistakenly thought my father liked the books.  I found a box of his college things when I was a teenager and within it was the entire trilogy.  Thinking that he liked the books, I read them and got hooked on Fantasy/Sci Fi ever since.  Years later (think 20 years later), I mentioned this to my dad and he said that he never liked those books and could never get into them.  Go figure!  Why did he keep them all those years???
  3. I am a terrible joke/story-teller.  Really!  Ask everyone I’ve ever known.  If there ever was a biography written about me, it would be entitled, “Unintentionally Funny”. 
  4. I am very particular about how my dishwasher is loaded.  If anyone loads my dishwasher in what I consider a sub-optimal fashion, I will change it to my preferred loading style.
  5. I used to be an aggressive driver before I moved to NYC, but my driving now might best be described as Old Granny style.  I rarely drive now and on the rare occasion that it is required, I am quite nervous about it.  I white-knuckled it a couple of years ago from Napa to Sonoma over the mountains.  I had a line of 15 cars behind me honking the entire way.  I would have pulled over to let them pass, but there was nowhere to pull over. 
  6. I sang from the age of about 12 until I was 34.  Opera.  I gave it up 8 yrs ago and haven’t sung a note since.  Oh I’ve sung a lullaby or two in the years since I quit, but not what I consider real singing.  As a matter of fact, my son asks me not to sing.  I miss performing and the collaboration with other musicians.  But I do NOT miss auditioning and being poor.
  7. My mother gave me my first voice lesson.  I remember it clearly as if it just happened.  I was in my jr high school choir and wanted to try out for one of the solos.  I sang it for my mom and asked her how I could make it better.  She suggested that I sing with vibrato.  I don’t even think she knew the term vibrato, so she demonstrated it for me.  That was the first time I used vibrato.  I nailed the audition and I got the solo.  My voice comes from my mom; she has a beautiful voice.
  8. At one point, I knew all the singing parts to Handel’s Messiah.  And I mean all.  Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, and Baritone/Bass choral parts and all of the solo parts.  I sang the Messiah every Christmas for years and sitting in on all those rehearsals can get tedious no matter how good the music.  So I decided to keep it interesting and learned all the parts.  I can’t say that I remember them all now, but it was fun learning them. 
  9. I have good hearing and I have bad hearing.  I have really bad hearing when there’s a lot of background noise, but put me in a silent room and I can hear someone farting two floors below me.  This hearing is especially irksome when you are trying to concentrate on a complicated sewing skill and you keep hearing a BOOM BOOM BOOM from your next door neighbor’s stereo.  Ask me how I know this?  😉  
  10. I have never considered myself a creative person.  Really.  I thought singing wasn’t creative because as an opera singer, you are just singing music someone else has written; singing was a skill I could do.  I can’t draw, not even stick figures.  I can’t write fiction.  I sew from patterns; I’m not a designer.  The first time I considered myself a creative person was when I started working with mosaics and created pieces from my own imagination. 

Phew!  But now that that’s over, I have to nominate others.  I have to admit there are too many people I would like to nominate, so I will cop out and nominate anyone reading this post or on my blog list.  Sorry!

And in sewing news…  I have finally gotten off my arse and started my fall coat.  See below for the evidence. 

I am sewing up the muslin tonight and will hopefully have muslin-y pictures to show you tomorrow.

Happy sewing everyone!

Lots to Show and Tell

I’m back from the wilds of the Midwest and have lots to report.  I met my new niece Chloe who’s cute as a button.  Jack fell in love with her and was so sweet with her.  He loved caressing her little head.  So cute to see him be so tender.  🙂 

As for those of you asking for pictures of the dress in action at the wedding (ahem, Karen), sorry but no actions shots were taken.  I just was not in a dancing mood I guess, and I felt shy about asking anyone to take a picture.  Here’s my take on how the dress “wore” though.  I’m stealing the interview idea from Tasia

How did the dress look?  It looked pretty good standing still and as I was running. 

What do you mean by “standing still” and “running”?  Well, when I stood talking to people it looked great.  It was also fine as I was running to the wedding after the taxi driver dropped me off at the opposite end of the pier.  I had to sprint about two football lengths in 7 minutes with another wedding attendee.  Both of us looked mahvelous!  😉  

So how did it look sitting?  Funny you should ask actually, as that was the part with which I was most dissatisfied.  When I sat down at the wedding ceremony, my dress rode up so high pooling at my waist and thighs, almost 3 inches of my lining was left exposed for all to see.

Why on earth did it ride up so high???  Well, I suspect the underlining was the culprit.  I used silk organza because I was being all fancy.  The last time I underlined (the Christian LaCroix skirt), all I had on hand was cotton batiste, which worked, but this time I was prepared with yards and yards of silk organza.  As most of you know, silk organza has a stiff hand, which helps enormously with preventing SBS (Saggy Bottom Syndrome otherwise known as bagging out) and wrinkling.  It also has the added effect of giving the fashion fabric more body.  In the case of my Vera Wang fabric, too much body, as the brocade had body already, just needed the protection against SBS.  I should have used cotton batiste in retrospect.  *sigh*   Live and learn I guess…

Any other things you liked or disliked about this version of B5147?  I’m so glad you asked.  Dislikes: If you’ll recall, I altered the armscye to cut in towards the chest.  Boy was that a big oops and I will be putting that back in.  Now everyone has the viewing pleasure of the fleshy area between my arm and chest.  Isn’t that a great visual?  Bet you didn’t know that area could even be fat.  Likes: Love the scoop neck.  Not too deep but just deep enough.  I also pegged the skirt near the knees and really like that silhouette.  And I loved the sheathier look of widening the fisheye darts in the front of the dress; they were much more figure flattering.  I will definitely keep those changes for future iterations if there are any.

Will you make any more B5147’s?  Hmmm… Not sure.  My teacher Thea thinks that I can get a much more flattering fit with less fiddling around with a princess seamed sheath dress, so I am going to try another dress soon.  I’m considering the Simplicity Amazing Fit sheath dress, S2648.

What’s next in your project queue?  I am finally getting to my Fall coat for the Trench Sew Along.  I am making another Simplicity pattern, S5380.  I already have my purple wool, bought the purple charmeuse at the PR Shopping day a couple of weeks ago, and today I ran out to buy cotton flannel with which to interline the coat.  Not sure how much tailoring I am going to end up doing.  We’ll see how in depth I’m willing to go later.

**********************************************************************

Ok, enough with the pseudo interview.  Do you want to see pictures of my new baby up close and personal like?  I’m talking about the Singer Featherweight 221 from 1938 that received this past weekend.  Oh boy am I excited and yet a little intimidated.  The directions on how to just thread the machine don’t make any sense to me.  It came with a bunch of feet, most of which I have no idea what they are for.  Can any of you deduce their purposes?

Original manual!!!

My very own buttonholer!!!

Slightly broken zigzagger with inscrutable manual

Here are the feet for which I have no idea of their purposes:

I think this might be a quilting guide but a slightly bent one

a ruffler perchance?

some kind of binder? if so, what kind?

Let me know if you know what feet I actually have.  Can’t wait to start playing with them all.  I am super excited about the Singer Buttonholer!!!

Happy sewing everyone!