Category Archives: Trench Along

Pattern Review: Simplicity 2311

S2311

 

Here’s my pattern review for Simplicity 2311, my beloved purple coat pattern.  I’m officially in love.  🙂  

Pattern Description:  Misses’ Coat in two lengths with collar, sleeve and belt variations.  I made Coat B in the shorter length with the tie belt and wide collar.  I did not include any buttons as my fabric was grabby and the belt was sufficient to keep the coat closed.

Pattern Sizing:  14-22.  I made the sz 14 and found it very true to size with little fitting adjustments needed.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes! (aside from the different color fabric)

Were the instructions easy to follow?   The instructions were easy to follow if you read carefully.  I found myself skipping on ahead thinking I understood everything perfectly.  It really pays to read and follow along one or two sentences at a time before moving on to the next step.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I LOVED the pattern; it is drafted so well.  The collar did not need any pad stitching to retain its shape.  My teacher said that most RTW collars don’t have any pad stitching, especially when using a fusible interfacing, and I took the excuse and ran with it; the collar came out great. 

The princess seams and CB seam allowed for great fitting opportunities.  I love the multiple opportunities for top stitching, which takes this coat from plain jane to a gorgeous model in heartbeat.  My Emerald 183 has a special topstitching stitch that made my topstitching look so professional.  I recommend loading up on matching thread if you plan to topstitch most of the seams.  I used 3 and a half spools of Gutterman thread for this project.  Top stitching accuracy is easy, if you take it slow. 

FYI: I did not find there to be excess ease in the sleeve head.  Yes, you had to gather, but with a wool fabric, I would expect that.  In fact, I found the amount of ease needed to be gathered quite minimal.  I did not have any problems with puckering nor did I end up with a poofy sleeve.  Love that!

The only dislikes I have, which are minor, are that the hem with the lining attached needs to be tacked to the shell.  That instruction was not included in the pattern sheets.  I think its necessary or else the hem will sag and show the lining.  I will tack my hem down tonight. 

Also, I think some kind of hand stitching in the ditch is needed to join the upper collar/lining/under collar together at the shoulder/neck area so that they act as one piece instead of two pieces that can pull away from each other as you take the coat on and off.  But these are minor points and would probably be obvious to advanced sewists.

Any difficulties encountered?  The most difficult part of this pattern is when you attach the shoulder and collar to the back yoke.  The shoulder and collar form a U when sewn together and sewing that U shape to the squarish yoke is a bit tricky.  You have to pivot at just the right spot making sure not to catch the shoulder in the seam you’re creating.  And then after the pivot, you have to move the collar out of the way to continue.  Just make sure you sew this part slowly and carefully and you will be fine.  I even needed to do one pivot over again, and it was actually easier to do the second time, because the stitching from the first pass allowed me to hold the pieces together better for more accurate sewing.

Fabric Used:  I used an imperial purple wool purchased from FabricMart in Sept 2009 and a silk charmeuse in a coordinating purple color from Metro Textiles purchased in August 2010. 

Both fabrics were a dream to sew.  The wool pressed beautiful.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  The only fitting change I made to the pattern was to sculpt the CB seam to take some of the squarishness out of the fit and give it a more fitted and tapered look from the shoulder blade to waist area (in total I took about .75 inches out tapering to the yoke and waist).  I thought I might need to fiddle with the princess seams in front, but left them as is so I could wear suit jackets underneath if need be.

I did add some interior structure changes to the pattern such as a interfacing all the pattern pieces, and adding a back stay and sleeve heads.  The pattern already called for shoulder pads which I included, but I decided to make my own since I didn’t like the store bought ones that I had bought for this project which were made out of foam.  I just looked at my RTW winter coat to see how its shoulder pads were constructed and did the same.

 

fused shoulder pad from bottom

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I honestly can say that I would sew this again.  I tend to do only one complicated project a year, so I won’t probably make this again anytime soon, but I love this pattern.  When I make it again, I might place the carriers lower on the coat as I am long waisted.  As they are indicated on the pattern, they fall about an inch or two below an empire waist.  I would like them about an inch lower.  So be sure to check placement for yourself before blindly following the pattern’s placement.

I definitely would recommend this pattern. Maybe not to a beginner as it is a long and involved project (although a beginner could definitely make this pattern; I just think it’s a complicated process to make a coat with many opportunities for frustration), but an intermediate or advanced beginner would definitely enjoy making this pattern.  I think an advanced sewist would enjoy the excellent drafting and fit of this coat and could add more structure and couture details to make it their own.

Conclusion:  Great pattern!!!!  I love my coat and am so proud of the work I put into it and all the interior structure details I included.  I received so many compliments today on my coat.

Sneak peek: Simplicity 2311 Fall Coat

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.

Happy sewing everyone!!!!

Look Ma, should-a-ma-pads!

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 cannot wait to work on my coat again tonight.

Happy sewing everyone!

Retrofitting

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!*

Happy sewing everyone!

Make way for progress

Good morning everyone!

Yesterday, I was gifted with rare, uninterrupted daytime sewing time by a friend who took Jack off my hands for a few hours.  Wow!  You can get soooo much done during the day when you are fresh and don’t have to deal with sub-par lighting.  I almost completely constructed the shell (minus the facing).  Saturday night, I fused my little interfacing heart out with Kashi’s interfacing.  I had enough for everything but the sleeves, so I will use Pam Erny’s for the sleeves, because I received my order last Thursday.  In retrospect, I guess I could have waited for my order to arrive, but then I wouldn’t have all that nice doubleknit now would I?  😉  

I thought I’d share with you a little trick I picked up on the interwebs… I think it was from R0bin’s blog, A Little Sewing on the Side.  She interlined her winter coat with hymo and to reduce bulk at the darts, she cut the excess fabric from the dart of her fashion fabric after sewing the dart, and she just cut the hymo on the dart legs before sewing it to the fashion fabric.  Et voilá!  So while I forgot to cut the excess fabric from the dart of my fashion fabric, I did remember to cut the dart legs on my interfacing.  So when I was ready to fuse, I just brought the sides of the dart on the interfacing together as if it was sewn and fused it to the fabric that way.  It worked like a charm.  See the picture below for how I cut out my interfacing.  Using the pattern pieces, I just lifted up the edges of the pieces to cut inside the cutting line so that each interfacing piece would be slightly smaller than the fabric piece.  That way, I would reduce bulk and reduce the chances of fusing my ironing board! 

And here’s all my pieces (minus the sleeves) interfaced and ready to be sewn.  Now isn’t that a pretty picture???

So, as I mentioned before, I had a lot of time to sew yesterday.  I completed the outer shell construction during the day and last night I made the tie belt.  I did a lot of top stitching.  A. LOT.  I love it.  On Carolyn’s recommendation, I used the special topstitching stitch on my Emerald 183 (remember, I am not using my “new” Singer Featherweight 221 yet until I get the kinks figured out).  I love this stitch!  Basically, it’s a straight stitch that’s slightly longer and is sewn twice, side by side, so that it’s slightly wider and longer looking, making for a beautiful topstitch.  I practiced different ways to topstitch on scraps before I actually did it on my coat.  BTW, I highly recommend that; I always practice my stitches for every new piece of fabric I sew.  That way there’s no nasty surprises during construction.  I tried two threads through the needle with an even longer stitch, but the stitches weren’t consistent.  My only wish for the special topstitching stitch would be the option to make it longer than 3.0 which is the max length setting on my machine.  I think the topstitching would look even better at 3.5.  But I still love the way my topstitching looks now, so I’m a happy camper. 

So tonight, I will fuse my sleeves, re-cut my lining back pieces (remember the dreaded grease ring?) and continue constructing my coat.  By my calculations (time you think it will take you to finish x 3 = actual time to finish), I might be able to finish this coat by Weds night.  That is, if I put in three solid evenings of at least 4 hours of sewing time each night.  Remember, I’m a slow sewist.

Wish me luck!

Slow down, you move too fast

Haha!

Thank you to everyone who participated in yesterday’s poll and for sharing your great advice. A lot of the advice was to tell me to slow down and to go with the process. I will definitely do that. The overwhelming voting result was to interface. I put in an order with Pam Erny’s interfacing supply site. But I just found out it won’t arrive here until Thursday. I can’t wait that long people to work on my coat.

Coat update: I cut out the lining two nights ago using cans from my pantry as weights instead of pinning the silk. This method worked great until I realized that one of the cans had oil or grease at the bottom which stained through the pattern onto both layers of silk of the back pattern piece. Needless to say, I was pretty shredded about this.

Canning

Long story short: I braved the torrential rain and tornado warnings today to go uptown to Kashi’s Metro Textiles in the garment district for a little retail therapy. I went because I was on a mission for interfacing, but thought I could stop at Kashi’s too. I went to Kashi’s first actually and ended up staying there the entire time. I knew he sold muslin, so I asked him if sold interfacing. He answered what kind; I knew right then and there I wasn’t going anywhere else. He gave me a medium weight fusible interfacing that I think will be great for my jacket for $2/yd. Carolyn had put a bug in my ear about his double knits, so I bought the black and brick-red for my collection. I already had the dark charcoal from the NY Shopping day at the end of August. I also bought one yard of the silk charmeuse so I can recut the back lining without a grease stain, thank you very much! But the piece de resistance was the Ralph Lauren wool suiting in a lovely dark charcoal in a great medium weight with a great drape. Did I mention it was great? Lurve it! I bought 3 yds of that as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make with it. Mmm mmm good!

T to B: RL Wool, silk charmeuse lining, red d-knit, black d-knit, interfacing

FYI: Kashi will provide a swatching service every three months of all his new arrivals. Call him to sign up! Also, he has tons of new fabrics in right now. It was difficult to be focused while I was there today. 😉

My plans for tonight? Testing my interfacing, recutting the back lining and whatever else I can get done. Wish me luck!

What are your plans for the evening?

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!