Contemplating Coats

As I prepare to head off to hot hot climes, I am doing something rather ridiculous and contemplating coat sewing. When I first started sewing, I remember reading  DidYouMakeThat’s chronicles of sewing V8548 and thinking that sewing a coat was an insurmountable task open only to super human sewers such as Karen. However, the more I have gotten in to sewing, the more I am tempted to give this coat thing a go. Here’s a list of reasons why I think sewing a coat would be fun:

  1. I find it incredibly difficult to find coats that aren’t double breasted and where the buttons don’t strain over my top half or alternatively look like a sack. Sewing a coat that fits me would make me feel smug and delighted.
  2. Sewing a coat would appear to give me a great opportunity to use some chunky buttons. I do love a good chunky button.
  3. Sewing a coat would expose me to using new materials – scary can be fun right?!
  4. Sewing a coat is necessary – my current dress coat has seen better days!
  5. Sewing a coat would be a long term project that could see me through the cold dark month of January.
  6. Sewing a coat would hopefully be a timeless and classic addition to my wardrobe.
  7. There seem to be plenty of participants in the V1467 Pea Coat Sew Along – If all these people can do it, why can’t I?!

With those 7 reasons in mind – who wouldn’t want to crack on with a coat?!

Helpfully, the McCall Pattern Company shared this great blog post today, helpfully entitled “If You’ve Never Sewn a Coat Before, Start with One of These Patterns”.  It was like they’d been reading my mind. There’s some great and very wearable coats in this selection. My particular favourites are Butterick B6244, Vogue 9136 and Vogue 9156.

I also really like Butterick 6143, Simplicity 1254and New Look 6325 (not from the McCall’s selection).

As it stands, I think I would be wise to choose an unlined coat as my first attempt, so I think that takes Butterick 6143 off the list for this time round. I’m keeping it in here as an aspirational piece though, it has everything I am looking for in a coat pattern! A full skirt, fitted waist, nice collar, chunky buttons *sigh*. When I’m looking for something to sew next Autumn, I hope by that point I can return to Butterick 6143 and whip up a lining in no time!

Between the rest it is a tough call – I think Butterick 6244 is very on trend in terms of the Coatigan look, although no chunky button usage there! I love the hood on Simplicity 1254, but then I equally love the draped cape look and chunky button of New Look 6325. The stand up collar of V9136 looks very snuggly, and yet V9156 looks very practical for wearing over work outfits. I think I’ve got some tough decisions to make! Any suggestions? What would you pick?

Here’s hoping I can pick up some bargain priced wool or felt in the January sales – nobody else will start coat making at that point in time right?!

With thoughts of coats I shall depart off to sunnier places to wear my Espadrilles! I will miss sewing and the sewing community, but it doesn’t hurt to be offline once in a while! I’ve got stacks of things piling up on my pre-Christmas sewing list, so I’m sure there will be plenty of sewing to be done when I get back! Enjoy the rest of November people!

 

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Making Moneta

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It’s been a busy busy time recently, which hasn’t left much time for sewing or for blogging. When I have been sewing, I’ve mainly been squirreling away at a couple of Christmas gifts that have taken a serious amount of man hours! I’ve managed to finish them now, but won’t be able to share the finished results with you until Christmas, so in the meantime I thought I would share my unblogged Moneta with you. 

Moneta was my pattern of choice for my first ever sewing class. I chose the pattern as I wanted to learn more about bodice fitting at the class, so thought a dress would be a good choice. It was also my first attempt at side seam pockets and shirring with elastic, so all in all it offered a good number of techniques to get some help on! 

The fabric that I chose for this dress was a touch on the expensive side at 28 euros/m, which notched up the sewing fear factor a bit further! I’m glad my teacher encouraged me to choose this fabric though, as the quality is fantastic and I feel like I have a classic and timeless dress now that will last a lifetime. I do refer to this fabric as the sea sick fabric though, as it has tiny white dots on it and when I was sewing the hem I got a sort of car sick feeling from watching the dots go through the machine! It seems to mess with your eyes …. No pain no gain though! 
We made quite a few alterations to the bodice and sleeves. On the bodice we added some extra on the width as the fabric didn’t have much stretch. We also added 4cm to the sleeves to account for my bingo wings. The sleeve alteration was a great learning point for me as I finally got my head around using the finished garment measurements on a packet to work out if something is going to fit before you sew it. It’s simple now I know, but as a self taught sewer I’d never worked it out! After sewing up the bodice we also added a bust dart to get a better fit up top which seems to have worked really well. 

In terms of construction this dress was really fun to make. I got a bit lucky with the shirring on the waist as I eyeballed it rather than using four separate sections as the pattern suggests. It seemed to turn out just fine though! I loved learning how to do side seam pockets – now I want to add them in to everything! I also got my first go on an overlocker making this dress – we overlocked the hem before sewing it down which produced a nice tidy result … And my desire to get my hands on such a wonderful machine!

My sewing teacher insisted that we add a facing to the neckline, as she didn’t think much of just hemming the neckline as the pattern suggests. It was great in terms of learning how to self draft a facing, but to be honest I’m not sure if I agree with her that it was necessary (shhhh don’t tell her) as sometimes it likes to make an appearance when I’m wearing the dress. 

My final verdict is that I love this dress though, and I really love the pattern. It’s a flattering shape for me and the pockets and sleeves make it very wearable. I wear it  all the time to work, it’s become a real favourite. It’s also been on business trips crumpled in a suitcase and still come out completely wearable. I’m planning on making another one of these in a jewel tone purple which I think would make a lovely Christmas dress with lots of room for turkey!! Despite me wearing this dress all the time, we’ve still not managed to get a picture of me in it in daylight, so Maud has kindly stepped in! She doesn’t wear it as well as I do though! 

 
Have any of you tried Moneta? Did you love it or hate it? Do you have any other great jersey dress patterns for me to try? 

My New Toy

Today I thought I would introduce you to someone special – my new toy – Serge! Serge is a Toyota SLR4D Overlocker (serger) and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have been gifted it for my birthday by the lovely PB! Here’s a shot of me when I’d just opened the box – you can see that I was one happy lady!

One happy lady!

I’d been considering purchasing an overlocker for the last few months. With making pretty much all of my clothes now, it seemed like a sound investment, and you can’t argue with the professional finish it gives to seams. However, I didn’t really feel justified in biting the bullet, what with saving up for our new house, so I really did feel extra lucky to receive one as a gift. I’d been looking at a couple of models, however the ones with the best reviews in my price range had really only been the Toyota and the ever popular Brother 1034D. PB had cheekily asked me one night to show him what I was looking at (little did I know he was scoping me out for gifts!) and I happened to see that the Toyota was on flash sale … I still couldn’t justify the price though and spent the next few weeks telling PB what a great purchase it would have been. Little did I know he had sneakily gone and bought it for me!

Serge fresh from the box

Serge and I are still very much getting to know each other. I’d used an overlocker before at my sewing class – and I am so glad I had at least had a few tips to get started. I had heard real horror stories of 3 hours + to learn to thread it so I was quite worried. Although mine had come pre-threaded, something had gotten tangled, so I had to start from scratch. Although not easy, I would say the threading wasn’t too bad. Maybe 45 minutes for the first go? I learnt one key thing: it’s the order you do the threading that counts.

  1. Lower Looper
  2. Upper Looper
  3. Right Needle
  4. Left Needle

Amazingly this makes all the difference! Feeling triumphant that I had threaded the serger, I thought I’d dive in to a project. This was a huge mistake – I think I picked a bit of a tough fabric with a lot of stretch and I just could not get the tension right. After that I packed Serge away again (not in a huff, honest!) until I had some more time to fiddle with the dials … it is all in the thread tension and understanding which thread on your fabric comes from which cone of thread. To help me with this, I found some great online resources which I wanted to share with you:

SewMcCool’s The Anatomy of Perfect Serger Tension has some fantastic colour coded photographs which help you identify which thread is which – I’ve referred back to this one a lot already!

Sew Quick and Easy’s Youtube video on Basic Serging:Tips and Tricks is also great. All I can say is I wish I’d listened to Susan and spent time making a fabric chart of all my thread tensions. It would have saved me lots of trouble!

Serge and I are getting along much better now, although I certainly still don’t feel confident with him. I did some quilting on my beloved Pfaff today and felt so comfortable and at home. I just have to remind myself that once upon a time I used to feel nervous with my sewing machine too! It’s all just a learning curve! This evening I re-threaded Serge in some navy blue thread – I have three Navy projects to work on in the future so it seemed well worth it. Project one involves sweatshirt fabric, project two a low stretch navy woven and project three a crepe georgette. All of them will offer some good opportunities for Serge and I to cement our friendship! I will let you know how it goes!

Serge in Blue

Reversible Baby Skirt

If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you will know that I love fat quarters! I love their prints and how cute they are – the colours and the different patterns. I love the cute animals and the comical ones – basically all the ones you buy when you have no idea what exactly you are going to make with them! I’ve been having a bit of a tidy up of my craft stash of late (trying to make space for my new serger on my tiny Ikea table!) and I realised that I really do need to do something about my fat quarter stash!

I saw a little Ra Ra skirt recently to purchase for soon-to-be-here niece and thought they are a great choice for new babies, but you had to be able to sew them yourself in some cute prints. Luckily this amazing free pattern and tutorial for a reversible baby skirt crossed my path and answered my baby ra-ra-skirt and fat quarter stash dreams. I loved how simple it is and the different effects you can get by combining prints and decided I had to give it a go!

While tidying out my stash, I picked out these two cute prints along with some contrast bias binding I had been gifted and had waited to find the right project for. This project seemed just the one!

I purchased the fat quarters during Tschibo craft week and have been super positively surprised by the quality of the cotton. I love the contrasting prints! So perfect for a newborn baby girl gift! Hearts and polka dots, what’s not to love?

This pattern is ridiculously simple – I didn’t even print the free pattern as it was a bit of a spontaneous make this evening, so I just improvised by drawing round a plate to get a good curve on the waist. You pin the two donuts of fabric right sides together and stitch the inner circle and you are already on your way to skirt cuteness!

After that you turn them the right way out and sew around the circle again to create a channel for the elastic. Once the elastic is in, all you have left to do is bind. The binding is a little fiddly and seems to go on forever (but aren’t all circle skirt hems that way?!) However, it was good practice for me on using bias tape, so that was good. I was proud that I just worked out by myself how to attach it.

Overall I am delighted with my finished make. There is nothing on it I would change for once! I can’t believe it only took me an hour from start to finish – such a great project for when you have an itch to stitch but you don’t want to start anything major. Now I am ready to make a whole package of these to gift to friends and relatives. I can picture a matching set of three in a little gift box tied with a cute ribbon. What do you think? What a great way to use a fat quarter!

Oh also, I forgot to mention the best bit, the skirt is reversible! Two skirts for the price of one!

Unfortunately I don’t have a baby to help me model this skirt in all its cuteness, so I called in a friend to help …. meet Dave, our friendly household Minion!

Dave and I wish you a great rest of the week filled with stitching and crafting!

Grainline Studios Morris Blazer 

I’ve seen a lot of Morris Blazers out and about on the web, and couldn’t help but want to get my mitts on the pattern. It’s one of those patterns that just seems super versatile for an array of fabrics and colours, offering a finished garment that would be suitable for all shapes and would enhance any wardrobe. The shape of the blazer also seems to be bang on trend right now, with similar blazer styles to be found in all the high street stores. However, as I didn’t want one I could find on the high street, I set about making my own! 

  
I had planned to make my Morris in a sensible black jersey and create a wardrobe staple that I could chuck on over a variety of work and weekend outfits. However, while I was at fabric market I discovered this shimmery jersey somewhere between olive green and grey. As it was a good price and I find sewing black garments a bit boring, I thought why not just give it a go?! 

I cut the Morris pattern straight from the tissue *insert theatrical gasp here*. The more I sew the more I loose patience for tracing, but also the more I realize that if I am likely to make another version of a garment, it will probably be smaller, and therefore I can always trace off a small version later if I want to reuse the pattern. I cut a size 16 based on my bust measurement, thinking I would take it in on the side seams at the waist later as I do with a lot of my dresses. As it happens, I later realized that once you’ve sewn on the myriad of facings, changing the side seams becomes more difficult, so that’s something I’ve definitely learnt for next time. 

If I’m honest I found the construction of some of the parts of this jacket a bit of a challenge. I couldn’t quite get my head around how the collar would work, and I was certainly not helped by having chosen a fabric that was an absolute horror to press. I had to use lots of steam and a pressing cloth as otherwise that lovely shimmery finish just started melting. If I have one tip for fabric choice for this jacket it is to choose a fabric which presses well! You will thank yourself for it in the end! 

The first part of the jacket comes together really fast – I was sat there thinking ‘oh I’m so clever, I’ll be wearing this jacket by tea time’.

  
Not so. Then comes the more challenging part – gathered sleeves and the shawl collar. The sleeve gathering was really not bad at all, however next time I want to make sure that the gathers are really concentrated at the top point of the shoulder and don’t slip down the sides. The shawl collar was also ok – just pressing intensive which wasn’t great for the fabric. I was greatly helped by the official Morris Sew Along blog posts as well as Sew Busy Lizzy’s post on the Morris, which helped me through the perplexing step 15 which involves attaching the hem facing. 

  
This was my jacket pre top-stitching. I tried it on at this point and it looked quite puffy and weird – I was convinced I’d chosen the wrong fabric and it was all going horribly wrong. I then left it alone for a couple of days and came back with an iron fully ready to steam the hell out of it, and it actually turned out surprisingly well! Once I’d given it a really good press, I managed to get all the top stitching done which made such a difference. The seams all just looked much crisper and the points were much more even. I even decided in the end that I liked the jacket enough to wear it out for my birthday dinner on Saturday: 

  

It’s certainly not perfect – I have a selection of fitting adjustments to make for next time. 

  1. Reduce the distance between the collar and the shoulder seams – it turns out I have narrow shoulders
  2. Grade between a 16 and a 12 between bust and hips
  3. Narrow the sleeves on the lower arms 

It may not be perfect, but I love my Morris Blazer. I learnt so much while I was making it. A shawl collar and gathered sleeves were new, along with all the fun facings. I’d never made a jacket before as I was always scared of fitting my bust, and now I know what I will want to do on round two to help with that. I’m also super proud of my top stitching – when I think back to a year ago I would have been happy to follow a circular line drawn on a piece of fabric, and now I am top stitching a shawl collar! All in all it was a project with a bit of a new challenge and I’m pleased with the results! Roll on Morris Nr.2 – I have promised myself that the next one will be sensible and for work – although in Navy blue (not black!) 

How about you? Have you had any projects that were a bumpy ride but you loved them in the end?