Monthly Archives: November 2015

Small and purple coats

Simplicity

Simplicity 5934

My best friend (long ago recipient of this slip as her wedding gift) has finally joined me in the adventure of parenthood, albeit a decade late and two provinces away. Two years ago I made a cute little coat when her first daughter was a baby. Despite my misgivings about the size, it turns out she was able to wear it all that winter, so I’ll call that a win. This past summer my friend and her husband had baby number 2, another girl, and again opted to spend some time, albeit more brief, visiting here. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to make another coat. And use up a bit more of the same purple coating. (I have enough for at least one more size up, too.) What was I thinking when I bought that?

Q wearing the first coat

For a quick refresher, this is what Big Sis Q looked like, when the little coat still fit her.

 This time the pattern of choice was Simplicity 5934, another 70s kids coat pattern, in a size 2. Q is now just shy of 3, but the chest size was a match, and once again I added some length to the sleeves and the hem.

Simplicity

Simplicity 5934, with bias undercollar and “cut here for lining” lines!

This pattern has the same overall lines as the first, though it lacks the cute yoke feature. I initially thought it had facing pieces but no lining, but the pattern pieces are marked with separate cutting lines for the lining. And there  is a separate under collar piece, cut on the bias and allowing for turn of cloth and everything! (OK, the fact that I had been working with some insipid modern McCall’s coat patterns that can’t even be bothered to include real facings may have left me easily impressed.)

Lining back

Lining back

The lining ended up being the real star of the coat, though. I couldn’t find any more Kasha flannel-backed lining in stash, cry, so I had to settle for some random ivory satin and a heavy flannel (left over from the winter petticoat) for underlining.  I had done a cute little hand-quilted “Q” on the back of the first coat’s lining; for this one I knew I didn’t have it in me to hand-quilt, so I decided to try my hand at a wee bit of machine quilting a more overall pattern. I’m not much of a quilter, but I do have a walking foot for my Rocketeer, so I spent a wee bit of time testing how it worked with the two layers (smashingly!) and what kind of shapes I could manage. Q now has little sister T, so I doodled up some Q and T shapes for the centre back, and a swishy braid (ok just two windy lines) for along the hem.

Front lining, mid-quilting.

Front lining, mid-quilting.

For the front pieces, I worked in an A and a D, for each of the parents. It’s either really cute or way over the top saccharine. If you think the latter, you do not need to tell me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Frankly, I’m just impressed that I was able to doodle up some decent-looking letters freehand—no printouts or templates were involved. The wash-away blue marker worked just fine, but for the first time I can see why the stuff that just disappears on its own would be handy, too.

Back lining

Back lining

I did some stupid things in construction, like forget that I had added a back-pleat to the lining so it ended up looking kinda gathered when I eased all that extra fabric onto the facing.

Green Bear

Green Bear

Now, the 70s pattern has cute pocket flaps, but no actual pockets. Q has been carrying around a very tiny green teddy bear (imaginatively named Green Bear) for the last several months, so obviously a pocket for Green Bear was mandatory. I guessed at the size, made a lined patch, and hand-stitched it on for invisibility, with knots every other stitch since, um, preschooler. The fit turned out very well.

Try-on

Try-on

I haven’t gotten a report on wearability since they returned to the coast a few weeks back, but we did manage to get her to try it on. (That only took most of a week of coaxing.) Although I’m hopeful she will enjoy wearing it (she seemed to like it once it was on), even if she doesn’t, her mama’s excitement is always more than enough for me! ๐Ÿ˜€

With bear in pocket.

With bear in pocket.

Confession: I don`t actually think I’ve topped the CUTE of the first coat (tinier is always cuter, plus the yoke feature is adorable) but I’m pretty proud of the lining, at least, and feeling a distinct twitch towards making myself a quilted skirt or something. And A has promised me pictures of BOTH girls in BOTH coats as soon as little T is big enough for the smaller one.

My monkeys

My monkeys

Syo and Tyo agree that it’s pretty cute.

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Pretty Bella

Jalie Bella in Red

While I was in the mood for fit ‘n flare scoop necked dresses (and still well under my November project budget), I took the opportunity to try out the Jalie Bella dress in a textured doubleknit-type fabric that has been screaming  “Bella!” at me since it first arrived in the store back in September.

(A real downside of working at a fabric store is you spend a lot more time petting the fabric at the store than you do at home petting your stash, which gives you plenty of opportunity to fall in love with Shiny New Fabric.)

Jaie 3460 - Bella

Jaie 3460 – Bella

I got this pattern in a glorious Jalie binge back in (?) June after it first came out, and have been excited about it ever since. Gillian’s version didn’t help a bit, despite her having some reservations about the pattern.

As Gillian said, the 60% horizontal stretch the pattern calls for is a lot once you step outside the world of dance wear Lycra, and my fabric, while having great recovery (also a must for this pattern), only just barely had it. I should probably have upsized a bit. I did not, and it’s fine, but the seams are definitely under some pressure. I hate to complain about 1/4″ seam allowances under any circumstances, but they don’t give you much leeway for letting a thing out. 

Back view

Back view. Wrinkles are mostly from how I’m standing.

Like Gillian, I used the curved scoop from the back on the front as well. I did actually trace out the slightly-different front and back pieces (since I wanted to add a swayback adjustment), and just added the front scoop to the back, so I have scoops in both directions—which is probably why it’s slipping off my shoulders a bit and showing some bra-strap. My bad. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bella sleeve and my sloper

One thing I loved, when I went to lengthen the sleeve, was how close the Jalie sleeve draft is to my knit sloper. (Although it is a symmetrical sleeve, unlike my sloper; it works ok in a stretchy knit.) The pattern itself has a half-sleeve, to be cut on the fold; I mirrored the pattern to a full sleeve when I traced it, mostly so I didn’t have to cut it out twice. I added about 2.5″ of length to the sleeves to get the slouchy-over-the-hand look that I covet so much, but really a single additional inch would probably have been adequate. (If you haven’t noticed, a lifetime of too-short sleeves has left me traumatized—I prefer my sleeves to come down to the fold of my thumb.)

Fun flared skirt!

Fun flared skirt!

One thing I didn’t notice from all the photos I’ve seen was that the very-full skirt actually skims the hips quite closely before flaring out right around butt-level. Not a bad thing (actually, I love it), just something I didn’t pick up on before.

Neckline closeup.

Neckline closeup.

For the neckline, I used just a cross-grain strip stitched to the outside, folded to the inside, and topstitched with a twin needle. Then I trim of the excess from the inside. My twin needle lasted through topstitching the neckline and the sleeve hems, but died less than 1/8 of the way around the skirt and I was way too lazy to thread up my Rocketeer, so I used a triple-stitch zigzag on the skirt hem. It’s so nice to have that stitch again.

Twirl!

Twirl!

In honour of the Better Pictures Project (and the full, full skirt) I tried to get some twirling shots. Um. Well, points for trying?

All in all, though, I’m pretty happy. It’s a nice, beefy fabric that handles the shape well. The colour is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. And it’s a great basic dress that will be fun to layer up for winter (I’m wearing it with one of Tyo’s little vests right now and she may not get it back.)

Happy.

Happy.

What I didn’t get photos of is the part right after I finished it, where Syo demanded a dress just like it and then I had her try it on and it basically fit except for the long sleeves and then Tyo tried it on too and demanded a shirt from the leftovers.

So, yeah. Jalie patterns. Betcha can’t make just one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Besides, I might still need to make a red velvet version…. >_<

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Going 90s

The Inspiration

The year was 1994; I was in grade 9, which in our particular corner of the world is the first year of high school, and my world was bursting into life. Freed from the strict sartorial shackles of my elementary-school class, for the first time in years, I could wear what I wanted, without being informed that my socks were rolled wrong or the cuffs on my jeans were too wide, or that I shouldn’t wear my T-shirts tucked in/untucked (depending on the year.)

I wore babydoll dresses; short shorts and crop tops; fluffy romantic things, and neo-hippy tie-dye clothes from the import store that always smelled of patchouli. And I had a crushed velvet dress.

Velvet Dress

Velvet Dress

It was green, not black. (I was not a goth, although I did hang out with an awful lot of them and ended up married to one.) It had a scoop neck, princess seams, and lacing at the back that let me pull it in ’til it fit just right. In fact, the only problem with it in the world, as far as I was concerned, was that the sleeves were too short.*

Eventually, as with most of the pivotal wardrobe items from this period, the sleeve-shortness irritation eventually outweighed my delight in it, leading to the dress getting donated. And seriously, I’ve missed it ever since.

Pretty much as soon as I started “seriously” sewing (around when I started this blog), I started plotting to re-create it. An array of 90s dress patterns found their way into my stash over the last few years with just this project in mind, most of which appear in the first picture in this post.

DSC08382

Serious Goth Pose

But, well, other decades called and the queue is long and my attention is fickle and the right fabric just never really appeared. Until this past fall, when my Fabricland got in a small and fairly random crazypants assortment of printed black crushed velvet that just screamed to become this dress.

Mmmm, printed black crushed stretch velvet…

Frankly, from the way it smells, it`s probably been sitting in someone’s warehouse since the 90s. MUSTY. Sigh.

Anyway, since we are on a zero new fabric budget this fall, in order to happen, the dress had to be a store project. And they really prefer you use an in-print pattern for those. So in the end I didn’t use any of my patiently-hoarded original 90s treasures, but rather the more-or-less identical current version, McCall’s 7189. It’s designed for wovens, but this is not a particularly stretchy stretch velvet, especially with the nasty scratchy print stuff on the outside. I figured I would size down to a 10 and it would probably be good. I cautiously want to suggest that I could’ve gone with an 8, since I still took the 10 in quite a bit, but I don’t know. I’ve never had good luck with that.

I am still trying to get a handle on fitting McCall’s patterns; I keep overshooting and then backing off too much. For this one, I did a square-shoulder adjustment (which was great—I don’t think I’ve ever actually regretted doing one of those) and a full swayback adjustment.

Back view

Back view

Let me explain a little. I almost always do a swayback adjustment, taking a wedge out of the back of the pattern so I don’t end up with too many wrinkles in the small of my very-curved back. I don’t need a big one, but I do need one. I also almost always petite bodices, because my back length is a full inch shorter than the patterns are drafted for, and a high armscye works much better for my skinny arms. But if you think of the curve that is my torso, while my back length is shortened, my length in the front is actually longer; not longer than the original pattern, but a little longer than my petite’d versions often end up.

Anyway, for this dress I decided to try and do things a bit differently. I kept the full amount of length in the front, and started my wedge in the side front, made it deeper in the side back, and just took the full horizontal tuck out of the Petite Alteration Line on the back pattern piece. (So the back was about a full 1″ shorter than the front.) For what it was intended to do, I actually think this worked brilliantly—the waist seems to fall in the right place both back and front, rather than being right in back but a bit high in front. But I still feel like there’s a bit too much height above the bust, since I didn’t shorten at all between bust and shoulder. It’ll do, mind you. Oh, and I deepened the scoop neck, because MOAR CLEAVAGE.

Back, with lacing you can almost see if you squint real hard.

Back, with lacing you can almost see if you squint real hard.

In terms of on-the-fly fitting, I wound up taking in the whole side-seams by about 1cm (a bit more under the arm), and also taking in the shoulders probably almost an inch on each side. I’ll attribute this largely to using a knit fabric. If I hadn’t had the lacing in I would probably have removed more.

The other change was more aesthetic than anything—the McCall’s pattern only has three quarter sleeves; while these are cute and maybe even more practical, for the sake of my teenage self, this dress needed to have long sleeves. LONG sleeves. As usual, I used my knit sloper to extend the pattern piece out to the correct length, although I kept the width of the original pattern (well, until I took it in during construction.)

Velvet tubes, turned via bobby-pin

Construction wise, there isn’t much to say. I did most of it on the serger, except for the hems and neckline, which I twin-needled on my new regular machine. Which really deserves a post of its own, but anyway. I added little loops along the back princess seam to run lacing through, as per the 90s original; I made my lacing and loops out of self-fabric stitched into a tube and turned, also as per my original. For the sleeves and hem, I finished the edge with serging with the differential cranked up to gather the fabric, which makes turning up the hem a cinch; I also used half-inch Steam-a-Seam for the hems, because life is just so much better with that stuff in a hem.

Voila!

Voila!

And, voila! An evening’s worth of work is all it took to bring a greater measure of peace to my latent inner fourteen-year-old.

It may be a little sad, but once I get it back from Shop-Project-Land, I have a feeling I will wear the snot out of this.

*Sleeves being too short is the single biggest reason I even started making my own clothing. Every once in a while I think I should step it back, and that there are plenty of great storebought clothes out there, and maybe I should give moreย time to one of the other passions I used to indulge in, like art and dance and reading and science and spending time with my family… and then I remember the sleeves. Sewing it is.

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