Monthly Archives: February 2014

Camo & Lace

The Coat

The Coat. Yes, I added lacing at the back.

I’m kinda torn. I almost don’t want to post about this at all, and wait until spring when I can get better photos. But I’m also afraid if I do that it just won’t happen. And I’m impatient. And I really, really like this jacket.



Ralph Lauren Duster

Inspiration: Ralph Lauren Duster. Don’t see the resemblance?

So, way back in the day, Lady Katza of Peanut Butter Macrame posted about this (already-not-news) “duster” coat-dress-thingy. It’s apparently Ralph Lauren. I don’t know. All I know is I agreed with her about its general fabulosity. Anyway, memory morphs, as it does, so what I remembered was a long, swingy denim coat trimmed in lace. And somehow when this drab camo twill showed up at my local Fabricland (which has been a pathetic, camo-less wasteland for over a year, I will point out), well, it seemed like the perfect riff on this idea. Especially matched with McCall’s 6800, which I have had a crush on since it came out.

McCall's 6800

McCall’s 6800

In fact, it’s pretty much everything you could want in a swishy coat pattern. Princess seams (two sets). Two-piece sleeve. Lapelled or standing collar options. Detachable hood. Detachable fur collar, if that’s your style. It even had the high-low hem option ready-made! And I will make a real wintery-coat-version someday, but it was a great starting-place for the image in my head.


Front view. Ok, I’m a little surprised at how short it ended up. The pattern photos made me think it would go from just above the knee in the front to mid-calf in the back.

Curiously, the really ugly greige-colour of cluney lace at Fabricland looked perfect with this fabric. Unfortunately, they don’t have much selection in that colour, and and this was the only one that was the right kind of edge and scale. And all they had was four metres. Which seemed like plenty at the time, but as it turned out, was just enough to go around the hem once. My dreams of lace frothing at throat and cuffs were dashed. Maybe I’ll add it in later.

back lacing

back lacing

After checking the finished measurements, I figured I’d be safe to go down a size, with the possible exception of the waist—so I made part of my usual petite alteration right at the waist, figuring that would shave off the narrowest part. Then, I figured I’d add lacing in the back, for some extra fit insurance. Because who doesn’t love lacing? And it turns out I’m glad it’s there, so I probably didn’t need to worry about the waist being too narrow. I’m glad I made my usual petite alterations, though I could’ve skipped the swayback. I think I don’t need it in full-skirted things like this, hard as that is to wrap my head around. I added 4cm length to the sleeves, divided between upper and lower (and there was a lengthen-shorten line in each! This was enough added length, but definitely not excessive. 5 cm (2″) would probably be perfect, especially in a bulkier fabric. I did find the sleeves quite full when I first tried it on. Of course, I had already topstitched the outseam, but I was able to take it in fairly satisfactorily at the under seam. By 1/2″, so a total of a full inch per sleeve. Of course, if I were making a winter-coat version, I would probably want that fullness. While I’m talking about the sleeves, I shaved down the sleeve-heads by about 1/4″ and could probably have taken off more, considering cotton doesn’t ease well. In wool, I think the amount of ease would work. The shoulders are nice and narrow, maybe because I went with the size 10. They’re perfect for this, but I wonder if they wouldn’t be a little narrow for a winter-coat version with shoulder pads (yes, you do need shoulder pads for a tailored coat. Not thick ones, but *something*)



I showed you my bound seams before, but here you can see (however blurrily) the pockets. I made a little support running between the pocket bag and the facing, so it doesn’t flap around. Speaking of the facing, that’s one of the two (maybe three?) things I didn’t like about this pattern. There is no separate piece for the facing—they just tell you to cut four of the CF pieces. Well, I did that in my Winter Coat and I can’t help but suspect that it was a contributor to the mysterious front-flaring-out that almost killed the coat at the final stages—only major hand-stitching (basically padstitching the two layers together) saved it. Anyway, when I went to cut my second pair, I skipped the flare. For this topstitched design, I wasn’t concerned about turn-of-cloth allowance on the lapels, but if/when I make a proper version, I’ll be over at the RTW Tailoring Sewalong posts, where Sherry went over all the necessary changes for drafting a lining and facing properly. Such a good sewalong.


Buttons and buttonholes. If you look close, you can see where I ran out of topstitching thread SIX INCHES FROM BEING DONE!

Of course I had to use jeans buttons. Of course, I couldn’t find ANY of my handy-dandy little thingies that hold the two bits in place while you hammer, nor could I find my awl. Let me just say, those two gadgets make life a lot easier. I made the buttonholes with a vintage Singer buttonholer.

Buttonholer. First use.

Buttonholer. First use.

I should perhaps mention it was the first time using this particular buttonholer; in the past I’ve used my Greist one. I did not notice a measurable difference between the two (and they both use the same templates, which means my little extra kit that has the short keyhole template works in either). I did NOT try to use the topstitching thread for the buttonholes—I have come to the conclusion that this is just asking for trouble. They look just fine in regular, matching thread.



I used 8 buttons, which felt like quite a lot, but I like the closely-spaced look. Also, less gaping if when I lace things up really tight. And my nifty-measury-gadget only does 8 holes. Probably that’s enough for most things.


Neck yoke, with hanging loops. Also, I love binding.

There was no rear neck facing piece (another boo—basically there were no proper lining pieces, though there was a proper undercollar). So, I made my own. I’d go into my process, but a) Sherry covers it really well, and b) I totally didn’t follow her advice and just kinda laid some tracing paper over the half-finished jacket and traced out the shape. I am glad I remembered a hanging-loop, even if I didn’t think to add it until after.



So, I’m pretty happy with the outcome. And even Osiris approves, which is pretty rare, although he wondered why I didn’t use more lace. Sadly, the weather being what it is, this jacket won’t get much wear for a couple of months. What can I say? I was, ah, inspired. Which is a great feeling to follow, isn’t it?

Now I had better go be a good girl and make a onesie for Syo next…



Filed under Sewing

Somebody Else’s Handmade Dress (II)


I bought an old dress.

Apparently, my Value Village now has a “Vintage” section. Apparently I am a sucker, and bought a dress, which I may well not wear. Because it was nifty, and handmade. And it makes me think about the kind of blog post whoever it was sewed it, might have written, had there been sewing blogs back in the 60s. Finds like this always make me want to trot over to the Vintage Pattern Wiki and hunt down the pattern. Unfortunately for you guys, all the photos were taken by Syo on the iPhone, so are pretty much terrible (more to do with lighting and iPhone than Syo). I miss the days when I had time and space to take actual good photos (and then edit them properly), but at this point it’s largely iPhone photos or no photos.


Woo crazy hair

I assume it’s 60s. The construction is straight out of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. It’s a green lace underlined with what is currently a rather beige lining (either rayon or a much nicer species of polyester than I’m used to.) I love the hem detail with the buttons (is that a flounce at the bottom or an extra-extra dropped waist?), not so much the high neck with the placket-yoke-thing.


Problems with the facing rolling out.

Despite her careful understitching, the facings have a tendency to roll out. Obviously they’ve been doing this a long time—she hand-stitched around below the understitching to try and keep everything in place. She even went as far as to handstitch much of the facing down to the underlining.


Side-ish view

It’s a classic 60s sheath, high cut neckline, straight profile, with steep, curving French darts that reach the side seam somewhere around my hips. The dart placement is pretty good on me, but the tips are a little high. Presumably whoever made it was a shorty. Or very perky.


French darts

It’s a touch roomy in the bust, and a touch tight through the hips. Although possibly that’s just from all the chocolate I ate over Christmas.


Back view

The yoke wraps around to the back of the neck. I bet there was a version on the pattern image with big buttons on the front.


Front placket

It’s trimmed in lace, which just barely stands out from the rest of the lace texture. I guess she was going for subtle. I do wonder how the colours have faded over time. Did it originally match better? Was the lining always a pale, nude under-layer, or did it used to be a brighter, seafoamy colour?


Lapped zipper

Our unknown seamstress did a killer lapped zipper. Teeny and neat!


“Design feature”

Maybe the coolest feature is this little wedge pieced in at the side of the skirt. My first thought was that she needed a little extra room in the booty, but the piece is only on one side and doesn’t extend into the flounce, so my next thought is that she either was trying to squeeze the pattern out of too little fabric or, had it folded to cut and didn’t notice that a little wedge was missing on the under-side. C’mon, I know you’ve done that too. Can you imagine how much she swore when she figured that out? Or maybe she was an old hand, and just sighed and pieced it in and trusted the texture of the lace to keep anyone from noticing. Although I notice the lace is running in the other direction—which makes me think she was probably short of fabric.


Bottom “flounce”

Look at that bright green hem-tape! Did the dress really fade that much? Or was it always meant to be a fun flash of colour?


Hemming with seam binding (and handstitching)

The edges are tucked under and hand-stitched to the underlining, so the finishing is invisible on the right side. Also those buttons are great.


Running out of hem tape.

But look at the other side of the hem—d’oh! More swearing, echoing down the decades. Running out of that perfect colour of hem-tape just a few inches from the end! Obviously, she made do. One does.


Happy. Grainy, but happy.

I love examining vintage construction (when I run across it, which admittedly isn’t often). There’s one more weird feature, that I didn’t get a good picture of—the inside of the front, under the yoke, has a big slash cut in it. At first I thought the lining had just given out from age, but the cut goes right through the lace, which is quite sturdy, and is very straight in the lace (more frayed in the lining). So maybe the yoke is a cover-up for some earlier mistake? Or maybe there was the option of an opening in the placket, and our seamstress decided against it mid-construction? (There’s a centre seam down the middle of the yoke that makes me think an opening option would be likely. Unless she really was just that short of fabric.) Or maybe it was cut into at some later date… the neatness with which she hand-finished all the other mods makes me surprised she didn’t at least overcast or otherwise neaten those raw edges.

I love these little mysteries. Problem solving, or design feature? We’ll never know…


Filed under Sewing

In Progress


McCall’s 6800.

But first, bias tape.

Lots and lots of bias tape.

Sandpaper for distressing seams before topstitching.

Topstitching. Also lacing loops in back. Because everything is better with lacing.

Bound seams.

Sneaky pocket topstitching.

It’s coming together! Also, full circle skirt. Also, I got 4 metres of that lace, and it’s all laid out there.

Tomorrow, I put in sleeves! And maybe buy more lace. And more fabric for bias tape. I’m going to run out.


Filed under Sewing