I’m pretty sure this isn’t supposed to be a painter’s smock, but that’s certainly what this feels like to me! In the October edition of BurdaStyle magazine Burda call it a “retro short coat” – a reprint of a vintage pattern that originally appeared in 1952. From the magazine and original sketch, it reminded me loads of a coat Bel wore to the country house party in the first season of The Hour, so I was keen to make it to inject some vintage styling into my usual modern wardrobe.
(It’s available to download from Burda’s English site if you like it, or just fancy reading the instruction pdf)
I made it here in some silver-grey linen gifted to me by Veronica when I was in Paris. It’s nice fabric, but I think the colour isn’t helping the smock comparisons! Maybe it needs something brighter…
Burda’s patterns are very nearly always well-made, but this one in particular is impeccable drafted (well, except for the curved collar), with tons of inset corners that joined up perfectly. It’s one of those patterns that’s a joy to sew, when everything matches up and just comes together like a little puzzle – match up corners and notches here, a bit of gathering there, pieces join to be the Centre Back in unexpected ways – that sort of thing! If I wanted to be picky, there’s some generous gathering across the back, but there wasn’t quite enough gathering on the front seams for my liking. Personally, I’d rather the gathering be concentrated in a smaller area than have it be wide and hardly any gathers.read more >>
If you had to choose three (and only three!) things you’ve ever sewn to best represent what you can do, what would you choose?
I’ve recently been tasked with exactly this, and I found it incredibly difficult to decide. I mean, it’d be difficult enough if I was confined to just one type of garment, like “Pick three dresses” or “Pick three casual garments”, etc, but just three, from the hundreds of garments I’ve sewn in the past nine years?! This required thought.
Having said that, strangely, the first of my picks was pretty easy – my Winter Coat.
I made this coat two winters ago and I’m really, really proud of the finish on it. The wool is extremely thick, with bound buttonholes, metal buttons, single welt pockets, a thick silk lining, and (most proudly for me) I didn’t use a single bit of fusible anything in its construction. I wear it to death in winter and I love everything about it.
Should I play my trump card and pick my vintage refashioned wedding gown? Well, alright then! read more >>
This coat originally appeared on my Fall 2011 sewing plans, so it feels good to finally finish it just as the weather’s starting to defrost (I hope anyway!). I’ve been wearing my muted turquoise coat for most of the winter, but I’m hoping to wear this to transition into Spring!
I’ve used “coat” in the title, but is it really a coat? Is it a jacket? Where’s the line drawn, anyway? It’s short like a jacket, but wool and warm like a coat, so I’m not quite sure what to call this.
This pattern appeared in the Winter 2011 MyImage magazine (along with that awesome cowl top!) and it’s still available to buy if you fancy it (and holy crap, it’s on sale right now for €1.95/US$2.63, too)!.
You can see some in-progress photos of this coat here and here. The nice thing about working on a project for a while is that you get to see a lot of the “guts” as I work! The downside, of course, is that I have the attention span of a gnat and I get bored when projects stretch over the fortnight mark…
The first thing you notice about this coat is that Big! Collar!! It’s a “whole lotta look”, but I totally dig it. Your mileage may vary! I’ve worn it out twice over the weekend already and the collar is great – it’s substational enough and close enough to the neck that I don’t need a scarf!read more >>
Housekeeping time! I’ve got lots of little bits to update you on, either with my in-progress project, upcoming things, or small projects I managed to gloss over at the time…
So in no particular order:
My purple coat
Progress is slow on my purple jacket/coat from the Winter 2011 MyImage magazine, not because of anything to do with the coat, but because life keeps getting in the way. I’ve finished the shell and I’m onto the lining now, so I’ve just got to finish constructing the lining, attach the two together, flip, and sew the buttonholes.
I’d prefer to do the buttonholes on my vintage buttonholer attachment, but the templates I have aren’t big enough for my enormous (2.5 inch?) buttons. Anyone know a clean way around this? Can I set the buttonholer to do double-length holes somehow?
In any case, I should be able to finish this coat this weekend and (hopefully) get a photoshoot in. Not long now before I can do evenings photos again – it’s already light out when I go running before work!
My go-to baby gift is to sew a changing mat, with a hand towel on one side, and nice fabric on the other with big, deep pockets and ties to fold it all up. I had two baby boys arrive in January, so both sets of parents got changing mats with this awesome Alexander Henry vintage robot fabric. 1 meter of it wasn’t quite enough to stretch to the pockets, too, so I filled in with some scrap denim.read more >>
Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve started sewing the asymmetric, collared coat from the Winter 2011 MyImage magazine, and after a prep period that felt like forever (probably exasperated by the fact that my ironing station is hovering around 0C/30F), I’ve now got some progress to show you!
I’m sewing this up in a wonderful purple basketweave/boucle coating, which was another gift from Claire (she’s so good to me!) at the end of last winter. I always like to underline my coats when I can to just add that little bit of extra warmth, but it made even more sense here as it will help to stabilise the coating fabric and prevent any bagging out that might otherwise occur with looser-weave fabrics. The alternative is to block-fuse the coating with a lightweight interfacing, like I did with my Patrones duffle coat.
For this coat, all the facings were interfaced (the usual front and back facings, plus the front and back hip band facings), and pretty much everything else was underlined in black cotton flannel. This meant there was a lot of prep – everything but like 3 pieces needed underlining or interfacing! I love sewing, but prepping is dull dull dull work!
I machine-basted the flannel underlining to the coat pieces here, because frankly, the prep work was tedious enough as it was. I normally hand baste my underlinings, but in this case, the coating and the flannel “grabbed” each other quite nicely, so this, plus the walking foot, plus a long basting stitch meant it felt okay to do it by machine. I still made sure to never turn any corners though (when basting underlinings, you always stitch to the edge, cut the threads, reposition, and stitch the adjacent side so that you don’t create puckers at the corner)!read more >>
If you recall, I used this maternity coat from the August 2008 issue of Burda, but after the first muslin we made some design changes (namely, eliminating the band and gathered sleeve caps) and an added dart as a consequence of an FBA (full bust adjustment) so it’s not quite the same as you see in the original tech drawing below…
Apologies for the slight blurriness and busy background – this is why I try not to do photoshoots after dark, but it couldn’t be helped this time around! At least you can see how it fits her, even if the photo quality isn’t great.read more >>
As you recall, last week I underlined Holly’s maternity coat and created all five bound buttonholes, but I had the day off work on Friday so I was able to make loads of progress over my long weekend! In fact, her coat is now 95% finished and ready to hand over, so I thought I’d give you a rundown of what I got up to…
I’m making this maternity coat from the August 2008 issue of Burda, but after the first muslin we made some design changes (namely, eliminating the band and gathered sleeve caps) so it won’t look exactly like this tech drawing:
As I constructed the shell of the coat, I took the extra step here to catch-stitch all the thick wool seam allowances to the flannel underlining. I started off just doing this on the sleeve seams as I feel the bumps are most noticeable during wear there (and therefore most likely to get annoying quickly!), but I carried on and just catchstitched everywhere.
I wanted this coat to be as nice for her as one I would make myself, so why not? I also noted that Gertie was asking last week how to make the seam allowances lie flat on her coat – well, the answer is catch stitching!read more >>
If you recall from last week, my next project is this maternity coat from the August 2008 issue of Burda, which I promised a very good friend:
After we sorted out the fitting and design alterations (including a second, quick muslin fitting of just the upper bodice in the pub toilets on Saturday night!), my first step was to cut out all the pieces in the green wool and then again in the black cotton flannel I’d bought to underline the spongey wool coating and give it a bit more structure. The coating is wonderful, but I’m a bit concerned about it bagging out in places, and I wanted to give it some added stability as well as a bit of extra warmth (though if warmth were my primary concern, I’d call it “interlining” and attach it a bit differently!).
Here’s all the pieces hanging on the line in my tiny sewing room:
I then hand basted all the layers together around the edges of the pieces, plus through the darts, and then also marked out the placement lines for the five bound buttonholes:read more >>
Just to make things absolutely clear – no, I am not pregnant!
But my very good friend (and beginning sewer!) Holly is, so I’m doing some maternity sewing for her over the next few months, and helping her to sew a few things for herself, too. We’ve already had an afternoon session converting regular trousers to maternity versions (and I’m thrilled to report that she’s since gone home and done a few of these herself, too!), but it’s down to me to start the “from scratch” garments.
The first project was to make a “wearable muslin” of this Burda knit dress from June 2010. She picked this pattern out of a lineup, and it’s actually great for a beginner. The seamlines and construction are pretty straightforward, and you get a lot of bang for your buck with this, as there are two sleeve variations and two length variations!
I traced off all the different versions, and used the double tracing wheel I picked up in Budapest to even add the seam allowances on for her, too (something I never bother to do for myself, as I prefer my patterns without).
For this muslin I used some viscose jersey donated by Claire (Seemane) specifically for muslining purposes. The print is definitely too wild for me, but it might come in handy for Holly while she’s got a limited wardrobe. I don’t think it’s an ugly print by any means, and I could see her toning it down with a black or navy jacket or cardigan.read more >>
Hooray, my winter coat is finally finished! As you may have seen with all the coat sewing activity going on around the internet lately, making your own coat is no mean feat! While you’re perfectly able to take some shortcuts, it’s still a several week time investment no matter how you look at it. It’s for this reason that lots of us chose to sew them over the holidays, as it doesn’t feel like quite such a long ordeal if you’ve got several full days to devote to it at one stretch.
If you remember, I used Patrones 285 #29, but with the collar from #28 and major changes to the pockets so that I can easily put my hands inside while I walk to work (which I did today wearing it! yay!). After a muslin, the main changes I made were to lower the waist seam to match my natural waist, shorten and widen the front darts, add walking ease to the lower centre front, and change the pocket design.
I’ve already made a lengthy post about the coat construction and hair canvas interfacing, plus tons of HAWT handstitching action, so if you’re interested in the couture techniques I used or some interior shots of the coat shell, please click through before reading on…read more >>
About a year ago I bought some gorgeous, ex-Burberry wool coating fabric from Ditto with plans to eventually make another winter coat. The muted turquoise wool has a patterned herringbone weave on one side but it’s also very thick and un-drapey but has the advantage of not fraying at all (almost like a boiled wool or Melton).
The fabric is so thick that I knew had to choose my pattern wisely, leaving out coats with lots of pleats or gathers that would’ve meant lots of bulk here.
As soon as I saw the Armani knockoff coat in the September Burda issue, I thought I’d found the match for my fabric, but as you recall, that pattern was just downright awful. So I started looking through my coat patterns again for something suitable, and Claire (Seemane) suggested I combine Patrones 285 #29 with some elements of the other coats in that issue, which is more or less what I ended up doing (though I need to change my tech drawing here to show the applied welt pockets I finally decided on rather than buttoned welts).read more >>
Are you ready for some random sewing goodness? Let the randomosity begin!
- When I was at the bookstore on Brick Lane buying James’s birthday card, I couldn’t resist this reusable wrapping paper (okay, it’s just fabric to me and you!) with London streetsigns. I love that it’s a London fabric without being OMG UNION JACKS THE QUEEN TOWER BRIDGE! I figure I could use it as a lining like I did with that Japanese tea towel and my bolero jacket a few years back…
- We were supposed to meet up with Pip and her boyfriend two weeks ago to celebrate Christmas, but we had to reschedule due to my swine flu, so I’m only just now able to sew up her present – a Nairobi bag made up in gorgeously soft red wine leather, bought in NYC from Global Leathers (I find it interesting that Americans would call this colour “burgundy”, whereas in the UK it’d be “claret”). I’m about halfway done and already I can tell she’s going to love it!
With the Burda/Armani coat firmly OFF my list for my winter coat (a few of you suggested I could change/fix/alter the pattern but sorry, my time is too valuable to throw after a bad pattern. I know when to cut my losses and choose a better one!), I’m now in the process of picking a different winter coat pattern for my luscious and very thick ex-Burberry wool coating.
Since I scan all of the “At-a-glance” pages for my pattern magazines and store these in a private online gallery, looking through these and creating a shortlist is much, much easier than wading through each and every one of my magazines! I went through the gallery, and when I found a coat pattern I quite liked, I took a small screenshot of it (on Macs you can Shift-Apple-4 to draw a small square and only capture just that area), and renamed the screenshot to the pattern issue and number so I wouldn’t forget where it came from. Then I pasted all these into one big image so I can see all my choices at once.
This is the same process I used to narrow down my wedding gown pattern shortlist, but I cleaned the collage up a bit nicer in Photoshop this time around!read more >>
I absolutely LOVE the Burda magazine September 2010 issue. Loved it from the first second I saw the technical drawings, and now, several issues later, I’m still not seeing much that tops it. I literally have 11 or 12 must-sew patterns from it, and one of them is the Tall coat, #118.
As you recall, when I was in New York, I saw an eerily similar coat in the window of the Armani 5th Avenue store, and this sealed the deal – I must make this coat using my super thick, ex-Burberry dusty teal coating that’s been in my stash since last winter!
I don’t make muslins for a lot of things, but when the fabric is expensive, or can’t easily be resized (like leather), or if there’s a lot of work involved before a fitting can be made, then I’ll grumble and moan and make a muslin first rather than waste my nice fabric (and time!) and get any fitting issues out of the way first.
Let’s get down to the instructions first – Burda’s instructions aren’t too bad on this one EXCEPT for the zippered inseam pockets – they are absolutely nuts, and account for a good third of the instructions for the entire coat. But the instructions are besides the point, because if you jam your hands into your winter coat pockets when you walk like I do, you really don’t want metal zipper teeth digging in to the backs of your hands! So leaving off the zippers not only saves you time, but makes for a much more usable coat.read more >>
By now, you should be fully familiar with Patrones #261-17, the spring duffle coat I’m making in turqouise basketweave wool…
After all, first it won the public vote, then you heard about how I bulk fused the tricky wool, then you saw all about my muslin and the resulting fit alterations, then you saw how I dealt with the tricky hood seam allowances and finally, last week you got a chance to see the bound buttonholes and the finished shell.
I’ve been concentrating on assembling the lining (and the lining pocket) all weekend, and finally finished all the handsewing at Monday night’s moorings crafty club!read more >>
Are you thoroughly sick of the sight of the Patrones spring coat yet? Well, too bad, because it’s taking me forever!
The good news is, I sailed smoothly over the speed bump that caused me so many headaches and delays in making my winter coat – the bound buttonholes. I’d already decided that with such a thick, loosely woven fabric that’s so prone to unravelling, that I’d use the satin bias tape I’d bought for binding the hood seam allowances to also make the bound buttonholes.
So I pressed the satin bias tape flat, cut it down to 1/2 inch wide strips, then folded these in half (right sides out) to make the buttonhole “lips”. After basting my ladder stitches on all the coat tabs, I did the usual technique of sewing these lips to the right side and cutting open the buttonholes.
But here’s where I deviated a bit – since my wool unravels so much, I knew that trying to stitch those tiny triangles at the ends would just be an exercise in futility, so I pulled out some lightweight knit interfacing and cut out a tiny strip. I then pulled the triangles to the back and fused the interfacing over top to keep them out of the way:read more >>
On Saturday I went shopping for supplies with Johanna Lu while she was holidaying in town, yay! We hit up Goldhawk Road and MacColluch & Wallis so I was able to get the rest of the supplies I needed for the spring coat, as well as stock up on a few things I knew would be difficult to get online for the rest of the year, like quality interfacings (I knows it when I feels it, okay?). She had the forethought to bring a camera along shopping, so you’ll have to stalk her blog for the next few days to see us giddy in fabric mecca!
I was very disciplined on Goldhawk Road and only bought three fabrics (at the end of the list there) – grey corduroy, since I adore the cords at one particular shop there and I don’t think I’ll be able to go back before Fall, a red & white cotton poplin with stylised flowers that’s already earmarked for two projects, and my one impulse buy – a very cool lycra jersey with tons of overlapping stripes going every which way. Oh, and the lining for my Spring coat.
Speaking of that Patrones spring coat:read more >>
Since I’m not entirely confident of how Patrones patterns fit me, and I’m equally not confident that I am a size 44 anymore (well, I was when I traced it 18 months ago, argh), I decided to play it safe and make a bedsheet muslin for my Patrones spring coat before cutting into the basketweave wool. If you remember, this is the coat:
And this is how the muslin looks straight off the pattern sheets:read more >>
Now that I’ve finished all my other spring projects (the Colette dress is coming, sorry for the delay!), I can now devote all my available energy toward making my spring coat, Patrones #261-17, as voted on by all of lovely you!
Also sewing along with me are Zoe (whom I borrowed and traced the pattern from originally!) and Houkje, who’s also tracing and joining in a bit later on, creating our own London-Patrones micro-Sewalong!
First off, Zoe says:
I took a quick photo this morning of the fabric I’m using for the coat.
The wool on the left is a remnant from the cloth house and not enough
for the whole coat. The velvet on the right is for the hood, button
tabs and possibly the collar if I don’t have enough of the wool for
that. I bought some great brass toggles on Walthamstow market (couldn’t
find them a 6am without waking the family up), but forgot about the tabs
on the sleeves so I need to get back soon to get some more. I’m looking
for a two tone lining in beige and turquoise to match the stripes in the
wool, but no joy so far. Need to find time to get over to Shepherd’s
bush I think.
Whereas for my coat, I’ll be using that great, soft teal basketweave wool, bulk fusing it with lightweight interfacing, before cutting, then overlocking all the cut edges to prevent fraying and unravelling.
I’ve got 4 yards of the wool, but only ordered 3 metres of the Vilene H180 lightweight interfacing. Only I forget it was super narrow, so by the time I laid it side by side on the wool, I only had about 1.5m of the wool covered. So I’m waiting to see if I can lay out all the pattern pieces that wouldn’t normally be interfaced onto the bulk fused section, and the pieces like the collar, facings and button tabs onto a section that I’ll cover with heavier interfacing to avoid having to buy more. Confused? Don’t worry, this plan might fail anyway…read more >>
I’ve got lots of turquoise basket weave wool coating that I bought from Fabric.com on a deep discount the same time I bought that gorgeous faux fur, and I’m envisioning it as a great spring coat (believe me when I say it’s the perfect weight for London springtime, okay?). But I’m torn between three different coat patterns, so maybe you all can help me decide?
1. Patrones #261-17 – Pros: It has a hood, and big pockets, and it’s already traced, since it from an issue I borrowed from Zoe ages ago! Cons: I’m not as confident on Patrones’s sizing so a muslin is a must, and it’s not got any pockets (Wtf?) so I’d have to add on some patch pockets.read more >>
Let me just start off by saying I love this coat. I would jump up and down on Oprah’s couch like a crazy woman for this coat. It makes me happy just to look at it, and to touch it makes my day. I love it so much that I actually feel paranoid wearing it out for fear that some Peta idiot is going to pour paint on me because it looks and feels absolutely like real fur. But wear it out I do, because I love this coat!
I mean, seriously, look at this faux fur, is it not fabric porn?
And the end result is just love at first sight!read more >>
I’ve finished sewing together the furry exterior of my luscious long pile faux fur coat, and now, as I set about creating the lining for it, I thought it’d be a good time to share all the tips and tricks I picked up along the way. Some are from the special “sewing with faux fur” supplemental lesson in the October 2008 Burda WOF magazine, but others are from my own experience.
Faux fur sewing tips!
- Only cut one layer of fabric at a time, with the wrong side facing up. Be sure to cut through the backing only and NOT the fur itself! I used the very tip of my tailor’s shears, but an exacto knife would also work. A flat layout also means you need to duplicate any pattern pieces that would normally be placed along the fold, and other pieces must be cut out as mirror images (ie: one sleeve needs to be cut pattern face down and the other cut pattern face up so you end up with a left and right read more >>
- May 2008 – The original proposition
- June 2008 – Choosing an interlining
- June 2008 – Muslin fit and alterations
- July 2008 – Tailoring supplies shopping
- January 2009 – Making the bound buttonholes and attaching the microfleece interlining
I joined The Great Coat Sew Along all the way back in May because I’d never made a coat before and it seemed like a great opportunity to gather together with like-minded people and learn an awful lot, too! Even though I (and others) really fell behind on the timeline, I’m really proud to have finally finished my coat while it’s still cold out and to have learned a huge amount of techniques that I never would’ve on my own! So I owe this coat to Marji, really, for setting up and organising the Sew Along, and I’m already planning my next coat…
But for this coat, the pattern was BWOF 09/2005 #102:
I made a huge amount of alterations on the pattern: raised the waist by 1”, lengthened the arms by 1.5”, added a wedge to the lower centre front for walking ease, widened the top sleeve (and shoulder seam) by 1”, and increased all the vertical seams below the chest by about 1/2”. And then on top of all that I changed the pockets and added the interlining, too! It’s probably more alterations than I’ve done on all my other 2008 patterns combined! But as much as BWOF usually fits me straight off the sheet, this pattern didn’t really have enough wearing ease to fit big sweaters underneath…
Previous posts about this coat
Ok, ok, enough with the backstory, here’s the photos!read more >>
Cast your mind back to the heady days of May, when I decided to join hands with the internet and start in on The Great Coat Sew Along, with this beautiful long coat pattern from BWOF 09/2005 #102:
(There are two similar views – mine’s using the exposed buttons and sleeve tabs of 102, but the in-seam pockets of 101.) Anyway, I got as far as the material gathering, muslin fit and alterations, and even sewed together the body pieces of the coat before I lost momentum in August. The half-finished coat has hung in my sewing room ever since, taking up valuable space and making me feel bad every time I glanced at it, but the abnormally freezing cold temperatures we’ve had in London have made me jump back in with both feet to get this finished, because I could really use this on my daily walking commute to work. I’ve got a RTW long wool coat, but with the wind and extreme cold we’ve had, I can feel the cold through what I’ve got now (the papers are gleefully reporting that, at -10C, London is colder than Antarctica right now, and I’ve lost count of the number of Russian-style fur hats I’ve seen out and about).read more >>
Since we can’t really afford to take a proper holiday this year, what with the boat renovations and wedding to save for, I’ve opted to take a few days off here and there to just spend at home or around town. My first “holiday at home” day I took on Thursday, starting with a decadent breakfast at The Chop House (which I walk past every single day and drool over) and then moving on to pick up a bunch of haberdashery supplies at the stores around town that are normally best visited (or only open) during the work week.
I did really well, starting at McCulloch & Wallis around 10, and finishing up at Borovick around 1, with a quick jaunt around Uni Qlo‘s sales (navy chinos and a white cotton/cashmere jumper for less than a tenner total!) and a pit stop at the Japan Centre thrown in there, too. The shops were nearly empty and at some points, there were more staff than customers. It was a revelation that shopping can actually be fun if you go on a midweek morning, as it’s usually the 9th circle of hell in that area on the weekends…read more >>
Phew! It’s been a very busy week, both in my sewing room and elsewhere on the boat. Parties, film nights, more deck grinding, music selection for a friend’s wedding, gardening, broken water pumps, gifts, muslins, and BIG shopping, but to name a few!
The deadline for the finished instructions and my bio for the “Pillowcase Challenge” book were also due this week, so I devoted a big chunk of Sunday to getting that perfect, and then the rest of the weekend was spent making a twin blue KnipMode shirt for my mom:read more >>
As part of my project to sew my winter coat, I’m finding it tricky to source suitable interlining and lining fabrics here in the UK without resorting to expensive overseas shipping prices.
Following Kay Y’s experience with the 150gsm Thinsulate, I rang up Pennine Outdoor who stock it here in the UK and got their advice on suitable warm interlining fabrics. They stock a huge range of outdoor and sport fabrics, so I spoke to a lovely lady on the phone who helped me through my choices. She ultimately recommended microfleece as the best warm, lightweight, and draping choice for me, but conceded that it wasn’t windproof (but that using a silk twill lining would probably help the wind anyway). The only windproof fabric they stock is very bulky and doesn’t drape nicely, and when I enquired about Meraklon, she said that it was tubular and stretchy and also had a bad drape and that it was more suitable for linings of close-fitting garments.read more >>
I’ve been planning on sewing myself a new winter coat for a while now, and I’ve been lurking on Marji’s Great Coat Sew Along site (currently members-only) for a bit, but after I saw her timeline, I finally realised I can jump right in and sew this alongside all my other summer sewing! So the month of May is where we’ll be gathering supplies, then doing muslin fitting in June, and finally starting the coat construction in July in order to hopefully finish in September.
The more I thought about it, the more I felt confident I could stick to that schedule, and now our renovation plans are looking likely to include the demolition of my temporary sewing room in the fall (to make way for our bedrooms and our lounge) so I may not have a place to sew my coat if I wait any longer!
As you know, I’ve already bought my exterior fabric – some gorgeous charcoal grey, 100% wool coating fabric from Rosenberg’s.read more >>