Crystal Midnight

I’ve been sewing up a storm – all the fabric bought from Fabworks has been made up!  This is the last piece, a really nice jersey, although I’d call it a knit rather.  I had thought it would make a fab tee, loved the colours and digital type print.  When it arrived I realised it was thicker and weightier than I had pictured.  I’ve still made a tee-shirt, but this will be more of a cooler weather tee than a hot weather one!  I am most definitely counting it towards part of my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe.

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Birgitte Tee by Maria Denmark

I reverted to the Maria Denmark Birgitte tee, v-neck with three quarter sleeves.  These particular sleeves are 4cm shorter than the pattern and 3cm narrower at the cuff.  I find the pattern as drafted is a little too wide at the cuff, and I prefer them a little shorter too.  I really like this pattern as a quick make, the fit works for me.

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I am sorry the fabric isn’t softer and drapier than I imagined.  However, if you were thinking of making a cardi, in particular the Wendy Ward Longley cardi, you could definitely use this!

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This summer looks like it will be made mostly in blue and white, which is no bad thing.  My colours in general tend to be blue, black, grey, white and a bit of beige/camel/tan thrown in for warmth.  They all go together well and remain pretty classic.  I know some people will think it’s all a bit boring, but I like it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

A Little Unselfish Sewing

and a little fabric shopping

I got tempted by the new Sewaholic Vancouver range of patterns on their release earlier this year and bought two patterns in the 2 for 1 launch special.  I liked the Fraser sweatshirt to make for myself and the girls, and I got the Cypress running cape, definitely only for making for the girls!

On a recent trip to Birmingham and The Fancy Silk Store, I bought a fabulous fleece lined jersey in charcoal.  As Daughter No2 was with me at the time I got enough for both of us to have a Fraser sweatshirt.  She didn’t want any of the fancy stitchlines, just a plain one please, with looong sleeves.  She has rather long arms and battles to find bought tops that stay anywhere near her wrist.  Everything ends up looking like it should be 3/4.

The fabric doesn’t have much stretch, it’s pretty sturdy, so I hope it fits….  I made an adjustment to the shoulder width (1.5 cm wider) and lengthened the sleeve by 4cm.  She won’t mind if it’s a little long but will be very disappointed if it’s short.  I used View B for the front and back and added length according to the sleeve for View A, but used B…  Make sense?  I started with the size 4 on the top part and graded to a 2 at the waist and hip.  Funnily enough, in Burda (and almost everything else) patterns she’s one or two sizes bigger in the hip than the waist, but with Sewholic we need to go down by 1 size.

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Sewaholic Fraser sweatshirt, View B with long sleeves

The pattern itself is pretty easy, especially if you’re doing View B!  Basically, think Renfrew in a sturdier fabric.  The construction is the same.  The only thing I would change about the order of work would be attaching the cuffs to the sleeves.  Because I sent down to size 2 on the sleeve (skinny arms) it was nigh on impossible to get the cuff on after the side seams had been sewn.  Next time I’ll attach the sleeve cuffs and then sew the sleeve and side seams, turning up the cuff and just attaching with the sewing machine.  Although I still won’t be able to get the ends over the free arm.  But overlocking it was damn tricky!

I hope that when she comes home after her hockey tour in the Easter hols that she’s happy with it.  She’s seen some photos but it still needs to be tried on.

So, riding high on a quick easy make, I decided I’d make another.  But not my version.  I’d had a little splurge this weekend buying fabric online (I know, I’m supposed to be clearing the table of stashed fabrics) from Ditto Fabrics, Fabworks and Croft Mill Fabrics.  Bad.  I’m hopeless.  Anyway, I wanted to be sure the fabrics all got used up as soon as they arrived, so on Tuesday the Fabworks delivery arrived (as well as the Ditto stuff, but that’s for later).  I’d ordered linen, of course, and two pieces of jersey.

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Sewaholic Fraser sweatshirt View A – details

The one I wanted for the sweatshirt is blue with circles and flowers, sort of reminds me of delft tiles, and I wanted to use it to make something for my Mum.  I decided to go with View A, although I wasn’t going to use a contrast fabric.  This time I didn’t need any pattern alterations, my Mum’s measurements put her firmly in the size 12.

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Two new sweatshirts, one new favourite pattern.

Again, construction was simple and straightforward, the only part you need to watch is the triangle point insertion.  It was done in an afternoon and I’m pretty happy with it, although on close inspection I know I missed centering the top front exactly, but I don’t think anyone looking casualy will notice, and no, I’m not unpicking it!!

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So to round up the pattern stuff – Sewaholic have delivered a quick make with clear, concise instructions alongside plain talking illustrations.  I can see a whole stack of these being made, and as you have such a plain canvas, whose to say there won’t be many hacks on the horizon for those so inclined?  Already the Renfrew had been hacked into so many different things by enterprising sewists.

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Fraser View A, pointy details.

Now, Fabworks.  I’d spotted them on Instagram, someone I follow had bought something yummy, so I took a look.  They have a good selection of fabrics, and lovely, interesting jersey fabrics.  The prices are pretty good too.  The ordering only lets you pick whole metres, which means for a tee shirt you’re either going to be short, or have too much.  So I emailed them asking if I could have a custom order and they were very helpful.  So if you like what you see there but don’t want 1 or 2 metres (or more, who’s counting) email them for a custom order.  Postage is a flat £5, but it comes the next day!!  So for impulsive shoppers, that’s not bad.  So far I’m happy with the pieces I’ve ordered, I will see how the fabric behaves in the long term before I can judge the quality of their offerings, but on customer service they’re sitting pretty on my list of online shops.

I have only one purchase from Fabworks left, I made the linen up yesterday, so I need to get the last piece of jersey cut up and sewn today!  I also need to allocate patterns to the jerseys I got from Croft Mill and Ditto.  I promised myself that if I bought all of it, I’d use it up within 2 weeks – nothing to stash.  This might just be a promise I can keep…

If you’re sewing this weekend, have fun!

True Love

Moar linen trousers for me!
Moar linen trousers for me!

Linen trousers mean summer time to me.  I have said it before, and I will definitely be saying it again!  When everyone else is reaching for skirts and shorts, I’m swanning about in my long, wide linen trousers.  So here’s to true love, & making yet another pair of linen trousers – another version of one of my favourite ever Burda patterns, 116 from March 2004.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I’ve used this pattern, in both summer and winter weight fabrics.  The last one I made was this indigo and white pair in herringbone linen blend from Fabric Godmother last year.

So I thought I’d make another.  This time I’ve got the most beautiful natural linen herringbone from Ditto Fabrics.  The second I saw the fabric on the website I added 2 m to my basket.  I didn’t even need to think about it. I might have added some other colours to my basket while I was at it.  But that’s for another day.

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The pattern was cut and made in a day, for me this pattern is so quick to make, even when making sure details line up properly.  I love the shape of the hip yoke pockets and the way they intersect with the shaped back yoke.  There is no waistband on these trousers, but for that, they fit beautifully at the low waist/high hip.  This is the second of my makes for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe and will oh so definitely be packed in my suitcase for our holiday next month.

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The intersection of the shaped pocket (left) and the back yoke (right) at the side seam.

Mr Compulsive and I will be spending 3 weeks in South Africa next month and I cannot wait!  It’s been 5 years since our last visit and I am very keen to see friends and family again.  My suitcase will be a bit empty going out, I’ll need the extra space for the return!  Hopefully I’ll be making a few fabric purchases & I will be looking for more vintage atterns to add to my collection.  I also hope we can find some mid-century modern goodies to bring back.  Top on the list are glass and ceramics, but we’ll look at anything!  Considering the last time we returned with a 1m tall African drum, and the time before we had a 2x3m rug over our shoulder, nothing is beyond the realms of impossibilities.

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Details

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New Burda linen trousers worn with white Maria Denmark Birgitte tee and Burda linen jacket
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This is my “Bloody hell it’s freezing, have you got enough photos yet?” pose.

Is anyone else firing ahead on sewing for a yet to come summer/winter?

Changing of the Seasons

Sewing a seasonal wardrobe – and looking forward very much to summer and a three week holiday in the southern hemisphere.  I have a pile of fabulous linens from Ditto Fabrics in my favourite colours, and some piles of fabric in the stash still awaiting their turn to be sewn up too.  In order to get some progress made I decided to join a couple of Facebook groups last month,  One is the Sew-A-Longs and Sewing Contests page.  They’ve got a contest running from the beginning of February to sew up 8 garments that match and belong to a theme.  My theme, apart from sew as much as possible, is to have garments that co-ordinate with each other, and the other stuff in my wardrobe, that will be my summer and holiday wardrobe.

Sewing for the summer in the tail end of winter sounds great,  dreaming of linen trousers and drapey tee shirts in the sunshine.  But when you’re looking out of the window at frozen gardens, rain and now snow falling, it’s tempting to sew a coat instead!

I will post each garment once it’s finished and I have a photographer.  Mr Compulsive is a very, very reluctant photographer and Daughter No2 is away at university, so photo shoot opportunities are extremely rare.  I have actually finished a pair of jeans, 4 pairs of trousers, a jacket and two tee shirts.  No photos though….  Until today that is.  Daughter No2 came home for Mother’s Day weekend so I’ve co-opted her to get as many photos done as possible!  It’s darned cold though for photographing summer stuff…

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Birkin Flares by Baste & Gather

I made these jeans in the first few days of February, they had their first outing for a visit to Birmingham to see Daughter no2 on a day off from lectures.  While there I bought more fabric, of course!  I got denim for another pair of Birkin Flares which I might make without the flare, and sweatshirting for two Sewaholic Fraser sweatshirts.  More Birkins? Of course, my first pair are worn at least twice a week!

My second pair of Baste and Gather Flared jeans is loved almost as much as the first, but due to the fabric not having as much stretch as required, they’re a teeny bit tighter!  I love the colour.  I’d bought this twill from Croft Mill Fabrics last year – or maybe even the year before – but waited until I had what I thought was the perfect pattern.  That’s one of the ways to grow a stash, by the way.  Buy fabric and then dither and procrastinate about which pattern you’re going to use before taking the scissors to it.

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Prepped and ready to sew

I didn’t use topstitching thread for this project at all.  I’d found a perfect colour match of ordinary thread and it’s worked out just fine.  I had to get the zip online though, none of my local stores had a 5″ beige jeans zip.  Jaycotts are pretty quick and before I’d even finished cutting & marking the pattern, the zip had arrived.  Pretty cheap too for a YKK zip!

I made the same alterations on the upper thigh and in the back crotch curve as the first pair, and as I was left with 8cm to chop off the bottom the first time round, I altered the pattern at the mid thigh and mid calf, taking out 2cm in each place, leaving 4cm to be removed from the hemline.  This pair went together just as easily as the first, and I made the same change in the zip, accessing from the left instead of the right.  I remembered to alter the direction of pressing of the back seam this time, so all seams and stitching lines up perfectly.

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Dead chuffed with how these lined up!!

I am really happy with how the topstitching worked out on the yoke this time.  Generally I really love this pair, especially the colour, I just wish there was more stretch!  It means I have to work harder on losing that Xmas and Winter padding before we go away in mid April…

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I found this cool button in my stash, as it was the only one, it was perfect to use on the jeans.

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The lack of stretch means the jeans are a little tighter than I’d like…

Back to getting more photos before the weather turns… 🙂

Life in Colour

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Koh Sok National Park – Thailand

Daughter No 1 has been sending home the most amazing pictures of her travels, currently touring Thailand.  These photos are making me want to go there myself!  The sea is the most beautiful colour and everything seems to be so much more vibrant than here in the UK.  I thought I’d show you another of the items I made for her travelling wardrobe.   Daughter No 1 had chosen this Vogue pattern V9008 last year at the NEC.  We (I) never got round to making the pattern up for the summer, it just wasn’t that sort of summer here in the UK.  So when it came time to decide what she was going to pack in her rucksack, she remembered this shorts pattern.  She liked the pale blue colour of the envelope, but not the pleated style.

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Image from Vogue Patterns. V9008

We bought some pale blue cotton poplin from Croft Mill Fabrics to make view C.  There was only one problem she had with the style, no pockets!  It was easy to quickly draw a pattern for some in-seam pockets.  I toiled the 8, in according to the measurements.  I knew there would be adjustments, I almost always have to fiddle around with the waist and sometimes need to make a swayback adjustment for her.

I found some African printed fabric in the stash that I’d been given and knew I’d never use for anything else and made the toile.  Wouldn’t you believe it, she loved the fabric so much she wanted me to fix the toile up and finish it off properly so she could pack it too!  Someone else did that to me a couple of years ago…

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The toile that wasn’t

As suspected, the sides needed to come in, dramatically, and I needed to take the back in more.  I enlarged the dart in the back to make it 1cm and narrowed the back yoke to make it fit better.  The side seams needed to come in enough to effectively make it a size 4!  The pattern’s smallest size was a 6.  The length was perfect.  Daughter No 1 wanted clothes that would be comfortable as well as suitable for wandering around towns and cities.  As you can see, the toile is now a complete, wearable pair of shorts with a zip and button from the stash.

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Vogue shorts in blue cotton poplin

Adding the pockets was easy and definitely made a difference.  I don’t know why no pockets were included in this design. Where’s a girl suposed to put her phone, nevermind her hands??

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I love how these fit now.

I had also bought some floral cotton from Clothspot to make the short version for purely beach wear but she decided she had enough shorts by then so although I’d already started them, I stopped to work on other things, like that silk dress!  The unfinished foral shorts have languished on my cutting table for the last few weeks, waiting for me to just finish them off and move on.  February over at the Monthly Stitch is UFO month.  Perfect motivation!

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This is how far the shorts got before being abandoned. Only the hem and waistband to go!
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Finished floral shorts! Something awaiting the return of the wanderer.

Back to sewing! That stash isn’t going to “bust” itself….

 

 

 

 

 

We Like to Boogie

Flared jeans, I’m never taking them off!

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Jeans.  The staple of just about everyone’s wardrobe since the 70s.  They come in various guises, colours and lengths but we cannot get enough of them.  Since their introduction as basic workwear they have undergone dramatic transformations in style, detail and of course, the fabric they’re made of.  The quest for the perfect pair of jeans is rather like the Quest for the Holy Grail.  We’d do anything to find them, including shelling out large amouts of money on designer jeans.  But us sewists are the lucky ones, we can make our own!

I’ve made jeans for the girls before, but never made a “proper” pair for myself.  I bought a couple of Hot Patterns jeans, came very short with the one and gave up on the idea.  Then the Closet Case Gingers came along & I bought the PDF immediately.  I even bought fabric, but when it came to the crunch I chickened out of actually making them.  I just wasn’t convinced about the styling and fitting – that they’d look good on me. I’d already justified the purchase of the pattern, I was going to use the skinny version for the girls, of course…

In the intervening months I bought more stretch denim, black, caramel & beautiful blue.  They liked my stash, too happy there to ever come out & be used.

The style is always the thing I get stuck on.  I like a straight leg, but you just cannot beat a bootcut or flare to make your legs look longer, or to balance out a larger body/hip.  I buy bootcut jeans whenever I can and love a flare.  My ordinary trousers can attest to that!  Then in December I started seeing flared jeans aplenty on the internet.  Sewists were making flared jeans!  Where is that pattern!  I NEEDED it!

I bought the Baste + Gather Birkin Flared Jeans on my birthday at the end of December (getting Mr W to print the pattern on A0 at the office, ssshhhh).  I had the fabric, I had the pattern.  Just to make it up…  Now Daughter No1 is safely wandering around Thailand with a rucksack of handmade goodies to wear, I can turn my attention to sewing for myself again, and JEANS are on the top of the list!

I started tracing the pattern last week, finishing on Monday this week and finally making a half toile.  I really wanted to check the fit around the top half, the length wasn’t a big worry.  I made the size 35, based on my waist measurement.  Apparently the hip should have been a size lower, but I have a bum & tum to fit into that space and with 3inches (7.5cm) negative ease, I wasn’t taking any chances!! After the toile I decided to add a little (5mm) to the inseam on both legs to accommodate wide thighs and curved out a little extra on the CB seat seam.  I also wanted to change the opening of the fly from the right to the left.  All of my trousers are left hand opening, & I can’t explain how confused I was trying to open and close the toile with my right hand!  Silly, yes??  The rest seemed ok & I couldn’t wait to start!

I chose a dark charcoal denim with 2% lycra from the stash.  I’d bought it from Croft Mill Fabrics around this time last year!  It has a fabulous handle, soft on the underside, and a slight sheen to it.  I thought it would be perfect as a slightly dressier look than “normal” coloured denim.  Threads, zip & button were all from the stash.

I really like the instructions for this pattern.  All are well written and illustrated and you really cannot go wrong with them.  I think quite a few pairs of jeans were taken apart to provide the exact level of detail that has gone into this pattern.  It’s the best way to learn to make things – take something apart and see how it was put together in the first place!  I used white pocketing for the pockets and instead of simply sewing the bottom seam and overlocking, I make some quick French seams.  Hopefully this should be stronger, depending on what I decide to jam into my pockets!

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French seamed pockets, a vintage button and more topstitching details.

The fly is inserted in a way that not many sewists will be used to, it’s a method used mostly in industry for men’s wear.  But it’s well described and goes together well.  The only thing I’d say is, if you have the right length zip (I had 5″) you will not have to cut off anything, pliers will be unnecessary and you will skim past the bottom end of the zip with your topstitching.

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Zip details & topstitching

Topstitching……  I don’t use topstitching thread most of the time but for jeans you need that thicker thread for a more authentic look.  I have in my needle box a twin denim needle, perfect for accurate double lines of topstitching on the perfect jeans.  Except my Bernina didn’t like it at all.  It allowed me the satisfaction of neatly stitched pocket top edges and then stopped.  Any more attempts resulted in a hissy fit and a nice lump of thread under the fabric.  Similar effects happened when trying to use a single row of topstitching.  I have to add here that I didn’t use a topstitching needle.  That’s one thing I didn’t have to hand and the local haberdashery didn’t stock so exotic an item.  The stitching looks ok from the top, but when you turn the fabric over there’s a lovely collection of loops of topstitch thread and the bobbin thread is ineffective.  I tried tightening the bobbin tension but nothing worked.  Just to show how perverse my fabulous Bernina is, it was perfectly happy for me to use the jeans twin needle with normal thread in one needle and topstitch thread in the other.  Machines! *throws hands in the air*

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Adventures in topstitching, using the twin denim needle only lasted the top of the pockets. No decorated back pockets this time, I was far too impatient!
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Various attempts at topstitching, bottom left you can see the loops of topstitch thread on the underside, right you can see the compromise, twin needle with 1 topstitch & 1 ordinary thread.

There is even a little trick to make sure the centre back seam still looks like it’s in the centre, topstitching and all.  You place one back leg piece 1cm away from the other, then stitch at the normal 1.5cm seam, once you iron the seams in one direction and turn it over to the right side, you’ve (hopefully) got a matching yoke seam and what appears to be an even placement of the pockets.  Topstitching can seriously throw the symmetry off, even if it all measures the same, visually it’s tricky!

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Centering the CB seam

But seriously folks, my misbehaving machine was the only issue I had with the construction of these jeans.  That and my over-enthusiastic estimation of the length of my legs!  I measured the inseam of 34inches (84cm) with my boots on and determined it was a good length for me…  Erm, nope!  I chopped off 8cm and turned up 2.5 for the hem!  I didn’t have to worry about loosing too much of the flare (there’s plenty!) thank goodness.  I have now used the shortening lines to take out 2cm in the mid-thigh and another 2 mid-calf.  The remainder will come off the bottom, it’ll be fine! 😉

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Never taking these off…

Once on, the jeans are so good!  The high waist, and it is high, ensures no muffin top, HURRAY!  In photos of other versions of the jeans the waistand doesn’t to be as high as it is on me, but the lower edge of the waistband sits on the top of my hip bones, so it cannot go any lower if it is to be a high or natural waist.  But I likes it!  I didn’t think I’d be going back to waistlines on the natural waist ever, but I might be persuaded now.

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By the way, that’s a new tee!  Made last night after a day of gallivanting, I needed to do something productive.  Luckily it was already cut out the night before so all it needed was a little Vilene bias tape for the shoulder seams and it was good to go!  The pattern is a self drafted one.  I shortened the sleeve from the original version which I wore to the dreaded wedding in December.  The fabric is the most beautiful viscose jersey from Ditto Fabrics, the drape is fabulous and it’s so soft!!  It’s my second make for the summer (who said I was wishing the year away??)

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Happy in my new jeans, just need a bit of healthy eating to remove that tummy sticking out there!

Mr W likes these jeans, says the fit is really good, so I must have done something right! 🙂  Apparently there will be an “add-on” for this pattern which involved making the legs into skinnies.  Could be interesting.  I’d prefer a straight leg myself, and with a fit around the top as good as this one, playing with the legs to make millions of pairs of jeans will be so much more fun!

ps, this is my just-in-time sumbission for Jeans in January!

 

A Head Full of Dreams

A hit or a miss?

Dreams of winter coats… Now maybe in a colder, snowier climate, white and cream are fine for outerwear, but it’s not the most obvious choice for a coat in the UK.  It’s far to wet and muddy here in the winter.  So why make a white coat you ask?  Because I had the fabric, is my answer!

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Burda Jacket/coat 117 September 2015 9 (a little longer IRL!)

I spotted this “coat” number 117 in the September 2015 issue of Burdastyle magazine and rather liked it.  Not altogether my style, but something about it kept me coming back to look at it.  Then I remembered I had 3m of off white/cream basketweave English wool in my stash.  I’d bought it from Arkwright’s Mill in Derbyshire in 2012 for a song, £6/m!!  Originally I had intended to dye it, even on a good day that amount of cream/white does nothing for me.  But how do you dye a 3m x1.5m length of fairly heavyweight wool?  I certainly didn’t have the facilities.  So it sat in the stash.

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Cream English wool coat and dark grey herringbone tape for the edges

I thought, if I made the coat in the wool and it didin’t turn out quite right I wouldn’t have lost anything, beause the fabric wasn’t doing anything anyway.  I thought I’d make it a little better for me by buying an awful lot of dark grey herringbone cotton tape for all the edges. Of course, having mis-read the amounts, I bought 20cm too little and had to get another whole metre to rectify it, but that’s all done.

The pattern pieces are huge!  I suddenly wasn’t sure I had enough for the whole thing,but managed to fit all the pieces on the fabric by opening it out and cutting in a single layer.  The belt had to be pieced but I don’t think it’s noticable.  The tape was sewn on by hand – all of it!  I ironed the tape in half, lengthwise (of course) and pinned like mad.  I sewed one side, then the other, in sections and mitered all the corners.  That’s a shedload of hand stitching folks.

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Coat with pinned grey herringbone tape, awaiting handstitching…

So, the pattern itself.  It’s a big, chunky style, narrower at the hem.  I used the overlocker for everything as the insides are easily seen and the coat is not lined.  There are no hems or facings, the edges are bound with bias or seam tape. The belt goes through a slit in the right front/side to wrap around the body, but apart from that slit, there’s nothing holding the belt in place, so you have to wear it tied up constantly, or leave it off.  I added a chunky belt carrier to the centre back to there’d be more support for the belt, but in actual fact, now I am wearing the coat I prefer it unbelted.

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I stil wasn’t sure whether or not it was “me”.  Wrapped over and tied up I felt like a bag of potatoes.  There was too much cream, too much bulk.  I’d made the 44, but wonder if, with the size of everything, that a smaller size wouldn’t have been better.  Possibly it just doesn’t suit my body shape.  Those big flappy “lapels” all in white over my front just seem to enlarge everything from where I look – down.

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Can I just say that while I’m not sold on the bulk, I love the huge turn-ups on the sleeves, and the decent size in-seam pockets!

After making it in plenty of time for the cold winter the coat languished in my wardrobe.  It was never cold enough to wear!  Until last week, finally proper winter temperatures, frost on the ground and the car.  Cold enough for a heavy, warm wrap around coat.  I make sure to wear it with dark coloured clothes and scarf, and never, ever tie it shut!  It looks better draping down and the dark scarf and trousers underneath at least give a hint that there might be a shape under all that bulk!  Saying that, the cream is still the least practical colour I could ever have chosen to buy!  I must remember that although dying fabrics is a great idea, I need to actually be able to do it.

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So for now, I wear the coat.  I don’t love it and I don’t think it’s amazing, but it is at least being worn.  You never know, I might cut it up and make something else out of it for next winter!  Or send it to a charity shop, which would be a shame….

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These photos were all taken after I’d finished the coat back in October, sadly thankfully I have no-one to take a pic of the coat belted, seriously, you really wouldn’t want to see it anyway.  I am working on a pair of Birkin Flared Jeans by Baste & Gather at the moment, looking forward to seeing them with this coat! 🙂