So much has been going on this week! I finished my coat on Sunday, I have some photos to edit and the post to finish before you can see it all, but it’s so nice and warm! It’s just what I needed.
One of the projects I really want to finish this month is Hubby’s coat. The main pattern pieces were drafted last November, adjustments made and pattern altered. But we were no nearer finding the right sort of lining, so the whole thing stalled. I think I have finally persuaded the other half to accept a plain lining, with a patterned piping strip and other internal details for this version. I can make another coat, or even a jacket (one day) when we find and buy that elusive “perfect lining”.
The pieces of pattern that still needed to be sorted were the linings, front and back facings and pocket pieces for both the internal pocket and the welt pocket at the waist. Somehow I’d only drawn up the pieces for the chest welt pocket. So now everything is ready, no excuses! Except that we still have no lining…
For now. I have ordered samples of The Lining Company’s shot twill lining that have already arrived (one day service, I love it!). The linings are plain as in they have no pattern, but at least with the two tone colours there’s interest. I found some leftover silk in the silk box that would work perfectly for the contrast piping and other bits on the inside of the coat, and will work with 4 of the 5 samples I’ve ordered. I also ordered a stripe lining sample from Fabric Godmother that’s still to arrive. It should also work with 4 of the linings, if not all, should Hubby decide he doesn’t like the silk I’ve looked out.
I’m reluctant to cut the wool until I know I have everything I need, so while I wait for that last sample and we agree on colours and patterns, I have time to make something else! Not one to sit on my laurels, I decided I’d run up a toile of The Assembly Line’s new pattern, the V-Neck Dress. I liked the look of the dress the minute I saw it on IG at the launch.
I thought it would be perfect for Indie Pattern Month over on The Monthly Stitch. It hadn’t arrived in time for me to make for Week 1, dresses, but I figured I’d be able to squeeze it in by the time Week 3 came around. This week is “Around the World”,which means you have to make a pattern form a designer from a different country to that in which you live. The Assembly Line are Swedish, so that’s perfect!
The pattern is multi-sized and I decided to go with the Large, based on measurements and finished garment measurements. Technically I should have done an FBA, on that size, but the measurements gave me enough width/ease to be comfortable. I didn’t want it too big. The toile went perfectly, I only did the main pieces. I realised the skirt was a little too long, so I took 4cm out of the length. The depth of the V bothered me a bit, I don’t usually go for something this low, but I told myself I was being a fuddy duddy – get on with it!! And the bust seemed fine, there were no drag lines and there was definitely enough ease. Done!!
The dress is actually made now, but I’m not going to give it away just yet, I am going to enter that competition now! See you on the other side!
Coat update! Last time you saw it, it was all in pieces. I’d done the interfacing and needed to tailortack and then get cracking! So that was Thursday morning’s position. By the end of the day I had assembled the hood, the back, the sleeves and the two fronts with the welt buttonholes. I’d left the pockets to the last, because I knew it would be fiddly because of the bulk of the fabric. Actually, they were fine, and the rest went together really well.
On the weekend I attached the zipper to the centre front and made up the collar, attached the hood and facings. I attached the zipper before I sewed the shoulder and side seams, figuring that it would be far easier to do with less fabric and fewer pattern pieces flapping about. I also attached the collar and hood pieces before sewing the side seams. If fact, I didn’t sew the side seams until I’d finished all the faffy, bulky work on the front. It was tricky enough to do flat, I can only imagine how frustrating it would have been had the sides been attached.
Things got really tricky with the front tab and collar, there were so many layers of wool that it was tricky to get it all in under the foot of the machine. This is one of the times when I am very happy to have a sewing machine that weighs so much! I really don’t think I’d have been able to manage with a modern, lightweight machine. Then adding the front fastening band made more bulk and made things worse.
I am unhappy with the position of that piece, I couldn’t get it higher as the machine pushed it down every time I forced it under the foot, even when I basted it in place. It also seems to be too far from the centre front, and I think that’s because of the width of the zipper. I really should have attached the band closer to the front. Monday wasn’t a great sewing day, I had a re-occurence of my nasty headaches and attempted to work through it. It wasn’t one of my best ideas, and I had no relief the next day either. So now I have a pretty much finished coat, but I’m unhappy with that band and know it will be a mission to move it. So I’m inclined to leave it. But I know it’s not right. Grrr
In contrast, the sleeves went in so easily! If you’re making a jacket or coat, run a line of long gathering stitches 2cm from the edge of the fabric, just one line, and pull that up slightly, to give you the shape of the sleeve head. Then pin it into the armhole with the armhole folded back, and the sleeve over it. Next, pin on the stitching line, parallel to the stitching line, easing the fullness into the sleeve head. It’s fiddly and the pins bite, but it gives a great finish. Then you sew the seam from the inside, the sleeve side up, picking out the pins as you get to them and using both hands and almost all your fingers to smooth out the fulness and avoid puckering. Once you’re happy with it and the hang is good, sew in the sleeve padding. This can be purpose made wadding or you could cut bias strips of your fabric and fold in half longways. Stitch just before the original sleeve seam and fold it over and into the sleeve head. Some jackets need this step, some don’t, it all depends on the look you’re after.
The lining is in, and the hem handstitched in place. The lining is from The Lining Company. It’s an acetate/viscose twill, and it’s shot, so you get a lovely shade of colour, depending on the direction in which you view it, and which side you use! I chose the Light Blue Fawn colour, which looks fabulous with the colour of the wool. I’m using the blue-er side but have decided to use the other side which has more of a gold tone to cover the snaps for the front. I was hoping to find a brass/bronze colour snap in the time I had, but I couldn’t. So simple silver snaps are now covered with the lining.
I had originally intended to finish the coat to wear to the Knitting and Stitching Show in London tomorrow, but the weather is not showing me I’ll be needing it, and I haven’t got the fastening band buttonholes done yet either. I guess that although my headaches have finally passed, I’m not in quite the right place to finish today. I’ll get it done over the weekend, and hopefully some proper photos will follow soon! In the meantime, I’m looking forward to my first visit to a big London sewing show!
I’ll show you what I buy over the weekend, all the fabric I bought at the NEC earlier this year has now been made up, so I’m kinda justified in getting a bit more! 😉 And I would love to find the perfect fabric to make up another dress, The Assembly Line’s V-Neck Dress.
Sometimes you have to have early Christmas presents. Those are the sort whose usefulness will be reduced if you have to wait for Christmas Day to receive them. Definitely the case with coats!
Daughter No 1 spotted the long line blazer in the May 2017 issue of Burdastyle and immediately put it on her list of things for me to sew. We just needed the right fabric – same old story. So the project languished with all the others I desperately want to get on with, but am held back on. The arrival of Autumn heralded a change round of fabric boxes, summer stuff into the back reaches of the cupboard, winter weights rediscovered. And in that box was a 2.5m length of grey wool with a darker windowpane woven through it. I’d bought it from Croft Mill Fabrics 2-3 years ago and never got round to turning it into the “perfect jacket”.
But it could be the “perfect coat”. The blazer in the May Burda was made with crepe, soft and draping. But this was no heavyweight coating fabric – I thought we could gamble. As luck would have it, Daughter No 1 rather likes grey and gave her seal of approval to it’s use for her coat immediately. I also had a lovely dark blue satin lining in the stash (bought for the grey wool) that proved enough for the coat.
A few adjustments were necessary, she didn’t like the slits in the side seams of the original coat pattern, so these were omitted, and she wanted less volume in the back. I took the centre back seam in a total of 3cm at the waist, and 1cm on each side of the back panel where it joined the side panel. This gives more shape to the coat, and eliminates the need for a belt, or half-belt as in the original design. I made small adjustments to the seams where the inseam pockets were to be inserted to that they’d be more invisible and have less bulk at the seam.
I pinned the checks of the windowpane together in a 20cm grid to ensure nothing moved around and to make sure the pattern would be easier to line up afterwards. I drew lines on the pattern pieces to make sure I was laying everything out exactly and that the patterns would match. It took some time, but was definitely worth it in the end. I chose the speed tailoring route rather than traditional, time was of the essense here, and while I know you get a fabulous look with traditional tailoring, I think you can get just as good a finish if you use speed tailoring correctly.
All in all, it took 5 days from starting to cut until the coat was finshed. I took my time, no rushing, and I’m dead chuffed with the result. My second coat was to be a very different one, but there was a little change of plan after the first one was seen…
Originally Daughter No 2 was looking at a more slouchy fit coat, dropped shoulders, slight cocoon shape. I’d already got the wool, 3m of the most beautifuly soft lambswool from Fabworks Online. And the colour? Most appropriately named “Autumn Maple”. It’s gorgeous!! On a flying visit home from Uni, she spotted the grey coat hanging in a wardrobe, tried it on and fell in love. Thank heavens it didn’t quite fit her properly or I’d have been looking to make another for Daughter No1!!
So I needed to trace the bigger size of the first coat, lengthen the sleeve by 4cm and make the same alterations in the back, and to the pockets, as I’d made first time around. This fabric is a coating fabric, so I made the upper collar a little bigger that the first one to accommodate the turn of cloth, as well as the revers and remaining centre front. (Tip, when making coats and jackets, always make the upper pieces bigger, never trim the under pieces smaller).
Again, taking 5 days and working carefully with my interfacings, organza cloth and clapper, I think I managed to turn out a lovely looking coat! I love the lining fabric which she chose from Fancy Silk Store. The gold spots pick up on the orange of the coat and just shine. I chose a dark bronze snap for the closure and attached it with nice neat buttonhole stitch. I was tempted to use a brown or dark thread for this, but the orange makes it look like a star, and that I like.
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Both girls love their new coats, and the different fabrics and colours are enough that they don’t look like they’re wearing the same thing when they’re together. At least, I hope not!! They look amazing, and warm and cosy, which is the most important job of a coat.
Now there’s still the matter of a certain coat for Mr W… It might have to wait for next year. There are plans afoot for trousers, more sweaters and some self drafted goodies for Daughter No1’s boyfriend. If they get going before I have a “suitable” lining for the famous coat, they will be done first! 🙂
I’ve been promising Mr W something handmade for years. It’s usually met with a look of doubt, those shifty eyes that say “yeah, right!” The first thing I thought I’d make was some shirts, found lovely ex-Paul Smith fabric at some of the sewing shows. Then he got fussy – “make sure the stripes follow exactly, make sure they join at the cuffs and collar, make sure it doesn’t look homemade…. Well, that last one did it!! HOMEMADE!?!?!?!
Needless to say, that lovely Paul Smith shirting found its way to making shirts and blouses for myself and the girls instead and he got nothing! But for a while now I’ve wanted to make him a nice coat, something smart but comfy. He’s massively allergic to spending money on himself, so wouldn’t ever think of dropping £100 or more on a single item of clothing that only gets worn in one season a year.
I originally thought I’d make a peacoat, but after trying out the Thread Theory Goldstream, we realised the shape didn’t suit him. So I resorted to drafting one. I have a couple of menswear drafting books, but the only one that had a good enough looking block and resulting patterns was this one, Patternmaking for Menswear – Classic to Contemporary by Injoo Kim and Myoungok Kim. I bought it about 2-3 years ago from Foyles at their Charing Cross Store. (amazon link) We’d had a day in London, finishing at the book store while we waited for our train home and ended up with quite a pile of lovely books!
Anyway, I’ve looked through it loads of times, but never found the time (or inclination) to use it, until now! Having made exclusively for females, this book helped to make sure I was measuring all the right places with good photos of where to measure for a man. The only thing I had a problem with – and it was a major problem, was the unit of measure. As it’s a US book, it’s all in inches!! I tried to work that way, but got myself completely muddled. My ruler might have inches on it, but trying to find 6.3225 inches on my ruler just wasn’t happening!!! So I threw out that draft, which looked so wrong it wasn’t funny, and converted everything to metric. I have a chart in my notebook now with all the little bits of inches converted into nice and tidy millimetres.
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So, depending on what works easier for you, you might like to convert everything before you start, or maybe you know where to find 6.335 inches on a ruler that shows only 1/8. The draft, once the measurements were converted, looked much better! You start with a torso block – I chose the slim fit as we wanted a more fitted garment. Then that block is converted to a slim fit coat block. You do the same if you’re wanting a jacket, start with the torso block and convert to a jacket block. The sleeve blocks are drawn for the correct block.
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The original block had a pretty good fit, the sleeves were too long (not sure how I measured that much!) and they needed a bit more room in the bicep area, but otherwise all was good! The only thing that threw me a little was when you’re told to extend or move a line out 1/4 to 1/2 an inch, or 1/2 to 3/4. Doesn’t sound like much, but converted to millimetres that’s 3-6mm or 12-19! That’s a lot of mms! So I opted for safety and chose the middle.
Drafting the style lines and making the working pattern was next. We chose the Chesterfield style as the base for this coat, drafting the main body of the coat was straightforward and the instructions pretty clear. When you get to the lapels, collar and facings though, you start jumping around the book. The collar and lapels are in the jacket section of the book, facings in the shirt section and pockets are back in the coats! I have a fair few bits of paper sticking out the top of the book to keep my places!
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The first working pattern toile went together really well, I was pleased to note all the pieces went back together properly and all the notches lined up well. Pretty chuffed with the two piece sleeve too, the head is nice and smooth. “Client issues” were as follows:
Coat too long!
Sleeves still too long (how??)
Break point just a bit too low
Collar fall a little too short
lapels just too narrow
So these are my adjustments:
Shortened the coat by 32cm so now it’s just above mid-thigh
Moved the back vent up so it works properly with the new length.
Shortened the sleeve by 3cm, 1.5 above the elbow line and 1.5 below.
Lifted the break point by 3cm.
Redrafted the lapels 7.5mm wider and the collar 1cm deeper in the fall.
I made these adjustments to the pattern on Saturday and toiled again, adding the pockets, yesterday. I was lucky enough that Mr W came home before I went to bed and so I was able to get him to try it on again and check. It all works! I got the thumbs up!! The fit is great, he thinks it may be too long still, but any shorter and it’ll be a jacket…. A coat needs to at least keep your bum warm!!
My next task is to draft the facings and lining pieces. He wants two internal pockets and I know they’ll need to be reinforced, judging by what he does to his jacket pockets. I want to find him a jazzy, different sort of lining and he’s asked for extra trims on the inside. So I might dig out my silk box and make reams of bias strips to sandwich into the seam between the facings and lining.
We had a devil of a time finding a suitable fabric that didn’t break my bank, I had thought this fabric from Fabric Godmother would be different enough, but he turned up his nose at the sample. Evidently it’s “too different”. Eventually in desperation I got some Melton samples from Fabworks and made him agree that the Classic Onyx Melton would do just fine for his first handmade coat. If the inside is interesting enough.. (insert eye-roll here)
That’s only part of my coat making adventure that was supposed to take place in September. If you follow on Instagram, you’ll have see I’ve already finished one coat, and as soon as the person for whom it was made comes to put it on, I’ll to show it all off! There’s another in progress, only at toile stage at the moment, but hopefully I’ll be able to move it forward this weekend after a fitting. That’s everyone else’s coats, I haven’t even started on mine!
After finishing the cushions the other day I am really inspired to get going and finish the jacket and coat I started the patterns for last month. However – Daughter no 2 and Husband and I went into Birmingham on Friday…. A quick visit to the Fancy Silk Store and a much longer visit to the Bullring has resulted in more fabric and more ideas!
I got a lovely piece of caramel coloured wool (only £12.99/m!) to make some carrot leg trousers for me – I do need to make sure the style works on me first though! I also got a caramel and blue plaid – daughter no 2 fancies a jacket…
But – a pop into the French Connection store put something else in the front of the queue… She found this coat, and can I please make one of these???
It’s double breasted, collarless and has an interesting skirt. The back doesn’t connect to the front at the side, but further forward. This accommodates in-seam pockets pretty well. It also has bound buttonholes, but I didn’t think the opening on the facing side was done very well – it wasn’t very “City & Guilds”!! 😀
Of course, I don’t have fabric for it now either, so I may have to force myself to go shopping – again! 😀
We also slipped into the Waterstones in the Pallisades. The best part of the shop is right at the very top – 4th floor- in the Book Garden. Daughter no 2 and I collected up a pile of craft, fabric and cookbooks and snuggled into the leather seats. About an hour later we had whittled the pile down to three that had to come home with us. All told it was a productive day!
Wow, I can honestly say I am gobsmacked! This little blog of mine has been ticking along with a handful of visitors, when suddenly the tracking spiked!! Thank you so much to BurdaStyle for making me featured member of the week! Another big thank you to those who have added my blog to their subscriptions lists, and those who left me comments.
So back to work! I have re-drafted some of my personal blocks. After making the jacket this last month and having way too many adjustments to make, I gave in. So yesterday I drew a new Jacket Block, Coat Block, Close Fitting and Easy Fitting Bodice Block. They will all be used this season! I still need to toile and fit them, and draft their respective sleeves, but in the mean time I thought I’d share what I intend to do with them!
I have a lovely purple georgette that has been begging for something pretty and floaty. I am going to use the Easy Fitting Bodice Block to make a loose-fitting top with a dropped shoulder and ruffles along the neckline. Isn’t that top cute? And purple will make a change to my usual grey, black or blue! The georgette is not silk, unfortunately, but I loved the colour when I saw it on Ditto Fabric‘s website, so I had to have it!
Next, the Close Fitting Bodice Block will be converted into a One-Piece Dress Block and then I will adapt the bodice and sleeve to form a Kimono Block. I have FINALLY decided what that green and turquoise silk is going to be!
The Coat Block is going to be a hip length Pea Coat in the most beautiful pale, ice-blue cashmere that I bought at Fred Winter back in January on their winter sale! I already knew I wanted something different, so I also got some Liberty silk for the lining and some Dupion to make piped details!
And the Tailored Jacket Block?? Something simple. A cropped jacket with 3/4 length sleeves, possibly cut on the bias to take advantage of the burgundy/maroon flecks in the grey wool I got last week at Fred Winter. I was really good, only getting 1.7m instead of going for the remains of what was on the roll, 2.5m! I am sure I would have used it somewhere, but if I had got 2.5m I just know I would still be procrastinating this time next year! I am going to use the last three buttons from my antique shop purchase, the others are on the Spotty Jacket.
So that’s that!! Busy me! Have a fabulous sunny weekend (if you are in the UK) I will be making winter goodies! 😀