Overall, I am pleased as purple punch with this coat. I really took my time with the construction. I love the fabric and color. I love the pattern, Simplicity 2311; it’s really well drafted and the instructions are excellent! I love the topstitching. I went through 3 and a half spools of Gutterman thread, but it was sooo worth it. With my structural additions of shoulder pads, sleeve heads, and interfacing, it really does feel like a real coat!
After wearing it to work today, I might add some more hand stitching to the hem of the coat and maybe hand stitch in the ditch around the collars and shoulders where I am able to meld the two layers (the under collar and the upper collar) together better so they move as one.
The only thing that could be improved on this coat is a personal label. I would love to order some, but just can’t decide on how my label should read. Sew A Beginner is too cumbersome (and not really accurate anymore). Sewn by Elizabeth seems so loving hands at home-y. I need something with a little more oomph and style. Any suggestions?
Full review of this awesome pattern to come in the next couple of days. I need to take some more interior photos.
Yesterday I boldly stated that I would not be pad stitching my lapels. Anita C commented that I might want to reconsider that decision. So, with an entire evening to myself dedicated to sewing, I decided to do a little research. I took out all my books that had the slightest mention of jackets and coats and looked through them. Interesting things of note: not one book called it pad stitching. One called it slant basting. The only book I owned with great instructions was the Reader’s Digest sewing bible. So I thought about it long and hard. I knew if I went ahead with the pad stitching I would be adding on one or two days of more construction to my already late coat. I put on my shell one more time to check the drape of the interfaced undercollar. I looked in the mirror and…
It looked fine. I called Carolyn and asked her opinion. And she said to ditch the pad stitching. Since I was leaning in that direction already, I decided to let it go.
I was almost to the point where I needed to add shoulder pads. I had bought some from P&S Fabrics, my neighborhood sewing stuff store last week.
P&S shoulder pad
I knew at the time of purchase that there was something off about these pads. The insert was made of foam and the outside was made of some synthetic fabric. It just seemed too poofy and retained its shape too well. I have niggling feeling that this shoulder pad will not decompose for a millenia it’s so unnatural.
Anyhoo, I snuck a peek at my RTW winter coat to see how big its shoulder pads were. And I found out some very interesting things. It’s shoulder pads were made of four layers of cotton fleece batting that were fused together with no outer fabric encasing them. They were sewn into armscye/shoulder seam allowance and tacked to the shoulder seam, then the lining was tacked to the pad itself. Very cool. The sleeve head was sewn into the same armscye/shoulder seam allowance but on the bottom and was made of polyester fill batting. I thought to myself. I can do that and got out my measuring tape.
The measurements of my winter coat’s shoulder pads were pretty much dead on for the P&S shoulder pad, even down to the thickness, but I liked the feel and malleability of the winter coat shoulder pads so much more. I happen to have cotton fleece batting in my stash from when I made my one and only quilt. I just used that and measured out all the pieces of the winter coat shoulder pads and steam a seamed them together. And presto change-o, I had me some should-a-ma-pads!
Interior of shoulder pad
fused shoulder pad from top
fused shoulder pad from bottom
Isn’t that cool?!?! I forgot to take pictures of my sleeve heads, but they’re just rectangular pieces of polyester fill batting measuring about 8 inches by 2.5 inches.
I worked on my sleeves next last night. One detail that I absolutely adore about this pattern is the ease provided for the elbow at the back of the sleeve. That is sooo cool. Love it. Here’s a pic of my unattached sleeve with ease stitches already gathered for ease of insertion (see the elbow ease added to the left of the seam allowances? Despite the gathers shown there, there was no puckering at the seam).
I have been getting some unexpected but welcome sewing time this week. Not much, but enough to make some incremental yet gratifying progress on my fall coat. I was able to cut out the interfacing and fuse it to my sleeves on Monday as well as cut out my back stay. Last night I was able retrofit my back stay into the shell of my coat.
I say retrofit the back stay because, if you will kindly recall, I have already constructed the shell of my coat without installing the back stay along the way. Someone forgot to sew it in. I’m not going to name any names, but Elizabeth that person just completely forgot about the back stay because I she was so excited about sewing my the luscious purple wool. I knew I wanted to incorporate a little structure into my coat as I wanted it to be a little more substantial than my trench coat last year. However, that doesn’t mean I am going to pad stitch the lapels. I’m not going crazy here, I mean sheesh! 😉
I bet you’re wondering how you retrofit a back stay. And I bet you’re wondering how many times I can say retrofit a back stay in this post. Hahaha! I thought about it for a while and then I thought, why not ask on Pattern Review. Nancy K answered me right away. She suggested that I sew the back stay onto the seam allowances of my shell. A simple yet elegant solution to a knotty problem.
So I got to work. I cut out the back stay by combining the pattern pieces of the back yoke and the back, overlapping 5/8ths at the seam. I cut the stay from two inches below the armscye and used my french curve to angle up to the CB fold ever so gently. Et voilá a back stay was born! I used the cotton flannel for the stay that I was originally going to use for interlining the coat. I decided against that because I am lazy wanted a more transitional fall coat rather than a winter coat. Then I staystitched the neck and armscye of the stay and pinned it to the back of my shell. I carefully stitched the stay to the seam allowances of my shell, only once sewing it to the actual back for a few inches. Of course I spent some quality time with my seam ripper at that point. Fun times I tell you, taking out stitches from wool. Fun times indeed.
That’s the stage where I remain today my friends. I will reconvene with the sewing committee (aka my Emerald 183) tonight and see where the evening takes me. I can’t wait!!!! Of course as the weather is wont to do, it will be dipping into fall temps on the morrow, so I am feeling a lot of pressure motivation to finish this coat pronto!
*crossing fingers for some good progress tonight!*
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!
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*
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).
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.
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…
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.
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???
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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? 😉
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.