Tag Archives: jacket

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

Slow and steady…

Blinded by the lining

Progress has been made on Serena’s coat. In fact, if I hadn’t kinda-sorta said that I would have it done by the end of the week, I’d be extremely pleased with myself. As it is, I’m still half-ass panicked. The coat construction itself isn’t the issue, it’s the embellishment which eats up time, both physically in terms of stitching it on and mentally in terms of thinking about designs—how much? How intricate? How many different materials? At the moment I’m trying to constrain myself to gold-twist piping and lots of flat upholstery braid, but it’s hard. Give me a few months of this and my latent bellydancer would bling this coat out to the nines.

Which is why I should’ve done the basic work back in the spring and then spent the summer in leisurely construction/embelishment, but anyway. That ship has sailed.

Muslin #2 (with collar)

After the fitting I basically made up a whole ‘nother muslin. If I thought I could’ve hunted Serena down for a last fitting I would’ve, but she was out of town, so I tried it on my dummy, really liked the adjustment over the rear (I added 2cm to each side of the rear princess seam below the waist) , decided that the sleeves still needed more poof, and started cutting.

And fusing.

Happy fusing fun.

Lots and lots of fusing. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank Sherry enough for introducing me to the concept of fuse-tape. I lurve this stuff. Anywhere you might use stay-stitching.

Ready for ripping /sigh. At least the grommets aren't terrible.

Anyway, at this point I have the lining basically constructed, the shell lagging slightly because I had to run out to get grommets for the lacing and now I need to do some ripping (even with the heck fused out of it, stretch corduroy is still prone to creeping; I should’ve marked better).

Oh, and I made the collar.

The collar was rather scary. It needs to stand up, so lots of interfacing was required. Pepin has instructions for drafting a stand-up Elizabethan-type collar in Modern Pattern Design, but they’re a bit confusing (In particular, she advocates spreading 1/4″ per slash while only illustrating four slashes. This is not enough.) Still, it got me on the right track, and a series of paper tracings later I had a workable pattern. Fortunately for me, it was actually perfectly possible to pin the paper pattern in place on the dummy and get an idea of what I needed to tweak next.

Collar innards

Stitching wire into casing

I also wanted the edges of the collar to be wired, for stability and moldability—who knows if it’ll look best straight up, or with the corners rolled back, or whatever. So I hunted around and found some medium-weight wire in the old jewelry/beading box, a half-package of quarter-inch bias tape (one of those thrift store finds that you’re never quite sure how you’re going to use as it was rather grubby), and set to work stitching the wire into a casing around the trimmed-down edge of my interfacing piece (which consisted of the “muslin” drapery fabric collar plus some hair canvas). It’s not at all pretty, but it’s attached and now the collar’s constructed everything should be pretty much held in place anyway. I folded the ends of the wire back on themselves and encased them in little fusible-interfacing booties, so hopefully there’s no danger of that working through the fabric.

Collar exterior

Then I hand-stitched my wired interfacing piece to the collar outside, which was already piped and embellished. Once it was in place I topstitched along some of the embellishment again, just to hold it in place extra well. Overkill? Possibly. To finish it off I slip-stitched the lining fabric to the inside. For this jacket, I am using interfaced lining fabric in place of facings, as the lining is as much for show as the shell fabric, especially in areas like the collar and tails.

No other great insightful comments at the moment. Halfway through Saturday my Janome machine grew crankier and crankier and eventually stopped turning. The engine whirs, but nothing goes around. This sometimes happens when thread is jammed in the bobbin, but there is no thread, and even un-threading the machine completely does nothing. I can still force it to stitch with the hand-wheel, but it’s difficult and doesn’t feel like something I should be doing a whole lot of. I’m thinking a visit to the sewing doctor is in order, /sigh.

Most of what I’ll be doing this week can be done on the straight-stitcher, but of course now it’s not working I keep coming up with things I need a zig-zag for.


Filed under Sewing

All I need now are the bellbottoms

Simplicity 6602

Thank you everyone who reassured me about my jacket’s cuteness in the comments to the last post—I know I’ve written before about that horrible sinking feeling mid-project, and I know I’m not alone :).  This time around was a little different because I wasn’t convinced it wasn’t going to fit—I just wasn’t sure it would be flattering on me. I still don’t know that it’ll replace the Springy Little Coat in my heart, but I think it’s a decently cute little jacket anyway. And I do love the finishing.

So hmm, what to cover? The pattern, again, is Simplicity 6602, from 1974.

I decided against the topstitching. It worked well in samples in the middle of the cloth, but as soon as I tried edgestitching it went wonky. I had an insane moment where I considered ripping the cuffs and collar and adding piping, but I resisted (mostly because self-fabric piping would’ve been too bulky and I didn’t think I would be able to match the colour perfectly otherwise. And for whatever reason, I’m picturing tone-on-tone piping for this, not contrast).

Cuffs of Doooooom

The collar went on fine. The cuffs drove me absolutely bonkers. Seriously, I had them on, off, on, off, on a different way… and they’re still not perfect. I’m not sure if they were drafted too narrow or if it’s just my sleeve stretching out with handling, or an artefact of the flared shape of the cuffs, but they were too short for the wrist-diametre of the sleeves. So I narrowed the sleeves rather than re-make the cuffs. In the end they’re all right, although at least one of them has the side that I meant to be inside on the outside. Having ripped it three times at that point, I left it. I didn’t do any turn-of-cloth alterations this time around and I really should have. Mea culpa. I have such a hard time visualizing which side’s going to end up facing out when doing this kind of fold-back cuff. Maybe when I’ve done eight or ten more…

Back view. I think I would probably like a bit more flare in the peplum.

On the up side, I got the tight curves of the cuffs sewn much more smoothly than I usually manage, so I’m kinda stoked about that. I shortened my stitch length and sewed slowly but continuously. At times like this I really wish my machine had a slow setting, but anyway. I also used the trick where you press the seam of the cuff open before turning it, and it really does help the curve turn more smoothly. Who knew? (Yes, I’m bone-headed that way… it seems like there’s a lot of good sewing advice I hear, but then don’t absorb until I’ve learnt it the hard way.)

Hmm, what else? This is officially the best facing/hem finish I’ve ever done, facilitated by the lack of lining and the bound edges of both pieces. The pattern would have you finish the bottom of the facing

Front facing and hem

by tacking by hand, but I did it by machine and turned it up and it worked peachy. I even managed a nearly-invisible hem, again facilitated by the binding. I may just bind all my hems in the future. I did tack the facing in place at the waistband and the shoulder seams. The facing/collar/neck combination is super bulky and doesn’t lay very smoothly despite my best efforts. Possibly using Sherry’s collar technique would’ve helped, but silly me, I followed the pattern instructions. I know, it’s so unlike me. I also think I might’ve benefited from a square-shoulder adjustment this time around—it’s something I’ve often suspected I should need but it hasn’t seemed like a big problem in the past so I haven’t attempted it. It’s not a huge problem here, if only because the collar covers that area, but I think at least some of the wrinkling is probably from that.

Button and snap

There is a single button closure in the front (perfect for using up one of those striking, solitary vintage buttons). I was a little concerned that the top would gape—the pattern illustration shows a nice, close finish right at the bottom of the collar, but there’s no obvious way to achieve this. Well, on arriving at that point in the instructions, all is revealed: or rather, a single large, heavy-duty snap is called for. Fortunately I had picked up a couple thinking I might use one on the Springy Coat (I haven’t yet, the slight gaping doesn’t really bother me while I’m wearing it). I was hoping for clear plastic, but all they had was metal… ah well. It’s more “vintage”, right?

I was SO excited to try out my new buttonholer. One big keyhole button should do the trick perfectly, right?


Psst, kid, wanna buy a seam binding?

The buttonholer did NOT like this stretch corduroy stuff. All my samples bunched and bagged like crazy, with big loops of thread tangling underneath. WTF? Worked fine on other fabrics. Even interfaced, it still had issues. I went ahead with it, only because I know how much I suck at doing manual buttonholes, and the buttonhole on the finished jacket (where it’s going through two layers of corduroy, one of them interfaced, and the lining layer) actually turned out better than any of my samples. Which isn’t saying much, but it will hold, anyway, and is still probably better than I would’ve managed otherwise.

Also works open

The only other thing I’ll say about this pattern is it had notches out the wazoo. I think every single piece, every single seam had a notch, if not two. Some were helpful, but a lot just seem extraneous.

Gratuitous shot

On the subject of a frock-coat for my hubby, I’m happy to say I think this pattern will do the trick nicely. Just omit the patch pockets, add a welt pocket or two, change the side back vents to centre back, and lengthen to about knee length. The rest of the seaming is identical to his jacket. Although I’m not planning this for an immediate project, he may get excited about it and become a pestering pain, in which case it will probably get done sooner than otherwise. I hope not. I have lots of other stuff I should be doing.


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70s Jackets

Simplicity 6602

… are possibly not as cute as 70s dresses.

Rather than getting to any of my non-selfish sewing, I started work on Simplicity 6602, out of a narrow-wale stretch corduroy.

This is a fitted, un-lined jacket. I decided to throw caution to the wind and use the same basic alterations as my last 70s Simplicity pattern, shortening the bodice through the armscye and doing a swayback adjustment (oh, and plenty of extra length in the sleeve…)

Simplicity 6602 pattern envelope

This definitely gets the waistband to where it needs to be, although it’s still possible that I would be better served shortening a little less at the armscye and a little more from the lower bodice. I have such a horror of low armscyes, though…

Anyway. At this stage I have to admit it’s feeling a bit more like the somewhat dumpy model photo and less like the fun, svelte illustration on the envelope, but hopefully that will pass.

At least the inside is looking fun. I made bias tape for Hong Kong binding the majority of the seams. I am finally getting better at making my bias-tape (as in, having it come out at least relatively even) and sewing it on a heavy cotton like this was dreamy. This is the first time I’ve bound both sides of the seam allowance separately, and it’s a bit time-consuming, but definitely attractive.

Seam binding and waist-band lining

Stitching porn

The only lining piece is an inside piece for the waistband. The instructions would have you slip-stitch the entire thing down by hand. I couldn’t see a reason not to attach at least one side by machine, so I did, but I dutifully slip-stitched the other. It looks pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. Cotton is so lovely to stitch. (Except that this stretch corduroy loves to pucker when you’re trying to sew an uninterfaced section to an interfaced one. Argh. Anyway.)


I used fusetape around the neckline and shoulders rather than stay-stitching. We’ll see how that holds up. I hope it does—I love it like crazy.

Jacket Collar. I don't know why the closeups all turned out beautifully crisp but this one had to go blurry.

And, just in case I run out of excuses to make jackets for myself, my hubby has decided I should make him a replacement for his rather battered mandarin-collared frock coat, a much-loved garment that is sadly showing its shoddy construction by self-destructing after less than a decade of intermittent wear. Well, and the cigarette burn in the back doesn’t help. Anyway, I may be trying to figure out how to clone that pattern. Or how to draft a man’s jacket. I’m not sure which would be easier (or, more importantly, more fun) at this point. And my fave drafting resource, Modern Pattern Design (by Harriet Pepin, published 1942) at vintagesewing.info, seems to have evaporated (the entire site, actually), which is a tragedy of immense proportions. I may have to actually hunt it down and buy it. I’ve looked at a few other drafting books (albeit not nearly all that are out there) and none of the others seem to combine precision with clarity and lots of nifty details quite as well as Pepin’s. Sniffle.

Now… I need to decide whether or not to topstitch my jacket. The pattern recommends it and the corduroy is a narrow enough wale that it doesn’t seem to distort the stitches particularly in my experiments. But… hmm. I can’t decide.

Also, you have no idea how hard it was not to pipe the collar and cuffs. I may be a piping addict.


Filed under Sewing


What I Did Today

And twitchy. That inspired feeling where you want to madly do SOMETHING but aren’t sure where to put it. Which, considering I’m in the middle of a rather demanding sewalong, is ridiculous, but anyway.

Today, I fused.

And fused, and fused, and fused.

And then, when (almost) all of the fusing had been done, I cut my fashion fabric for the RTW tailoring sewalong. I am a good little sewist, yes I am. I’m still behind—I have to cut my lining, and I haven’t finished drafting my lining pattern yet (just need to do the pleat-less skirt lining). I should just do that, but I haven’t quite been able to bring myself to. Partly because the hubby and I spent half the afternoon nosing around a motorcycle repair/junkyard (I do love me an old, fugly motorcycle, even if I am far too chicken to ride one myself) and fantasizing about the near future when he will be able to ride his again. If it ever stops snowing, anyway. It snowed again yesterday. I swear if we don’t get a good, hot summer this year I’m going to run away to Australia. Argh.

Anyway, since I was feeling twitchy but unable to settle on what I should be doing (sewing-wise, anyway), I pulled out my new patterns. I was weak at VV the other day, and walked home with a couple of kids patterns (I know, what am I thinking?) and (yes, the End Times may be upon us) a home dec pattern.

An assortment of (mostly) unwise patterns.

For a kids’ stuffed chair.

I know, I know. Bear with me, though:

I have a house. (This is a fairly new thing for us). Said house has a finished basement, which is basically a large rec room in which the children run wild.

Despite having lived in this house for nearly two years, the only furniture in the basement is still the coffee table the TV is sitting on, one random (kitchen type) chair, and my ironing board. Well, unless you count the various plastic tubs the kids’ toys get shoved into at irregular intervals. We keep meaning to buy a futon, but haven’t found one we like (at least for a price we like), and so the usefulness of the space for anyone is kind of limited (although it’s excellent for banishing any number of visiting children to).

In addition to this un-furnished space, I have a lot of fabric scraps. Bags full. I’ve been thinking for a while that I should use them to stuff floor cushions. So when the chair pattern presented itself—well, I gave in. I’m pretty sure I have scraps for at least one chair already.

I’m not sure that squishy cushion chairs will actually make the basement more appealing to adults, but hopefully they’ll at least make the children more willing to watch movies down there (instead of, say, my bedroom).

I thought this Simplicity kids’ wardrobe pattern (bottom left) looked cute, too, and it was in sizes 8-16, which is a pretty nice range to give a try in the next few years.

Except that it’s not actually 8-16.

It’s 8 1/2 to 16 1/2

Man, I love these dresses...

Those would be, erm, robust sizes. My children, while not exactly string-beans, are really no wider than average relative to their heights. Heck, given the bust sizes on these patterns, I could fit a 12 1/2. If I were, y’know, 4″ 10″. (Which, given my success with the Junior Petite sizing, might actually not be that much of a stretch. And I wouldn’t have to do an SBA…)

Anyway, we’ll see; the kids are confident in my grading abilities; I am sceptical of my motivation. It’s still in its factory folds, too.

What I really want to make is hiding at the back.

Yes, my recent lovely addition to the “dresses I shouldn’t be sewing” list, another gorgeous 70s maxi-dress. I want to make the high-necked halter, and I will doubtless be seduced by the lure of the maxi-skirt even though the above-knee would be more practical. /sigh. I’m really going to have to make an effort to wear all these great dresses as the weather improves. And it will soon be joined by this pattern from Peter (squee!) So many dresses, so little time (and need!).

I did complete one (actually, two) finished objects today, though! Yes, Tyo and a friend need

Cave Girl

caveman (or cave girl, as the case may be) costumes for their spring choir concert. Fortunately for their theatrical aspirations, Value Village supplied a nice big piece of rather unglamorous fun-fur at just the right time, so I spent approximately half an hour with Tyo this afternoon figuring out the best way (or at least the way that meant the least amount of effort for me) to turn one very long rectangle of fur into two fur “dresses”.  So I got to photograph my very own Homo habilis. Although with that posture I’m not sure she’s even on the hominin lineage…

To prove that this actually is sewing (not just cutting and draping), there is actually one seam at the side. The shoulder is pinned together with sticks, pending production of some “bone” pins.

I really do prefer this picture, though:


Cave Girl Rock


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Accessory after the fact?

In the interest of having something to talk about other than pattern twiddling (almost there… I think…) and tiny pleating samples, I thought I’d muse for a minute or two on something that came up a bit in the comments of my last post.


Yes, I know, this includes a fairly large chunk of things I can’t sew, so really has no place here, but bear with me, I just spent two hours trying to figure out how to rotate an undersleeve. (Thank you, Sherry, for responding to my piteous pleas… 😉 ). So, accessories.

I was a bit surprised to get compliments on my shoes and belts, of all things, since I generally think I’m… not rubbish at accessorizing, exactly, but I tend not to think about it much. I have a few go-to pieces that I use a LOT (like my belts) and then there’s the really costumy stuff (like the spiked belt in the foreground up there) that only comes out for special occasions. Which are few and far between these days, frankly. (Ok, I did wear the belt with the big spikes a lot at first, but it’s gradually shedding spikes so now I save it…)

I know a lot of people (*cough my mother cough*) who can do amazing things with accessories. Scarves, necklaces, bracelets, rings, hats, shoes—all can put an outfit from boring to chic, or from chic to out of the ballpark. But most often I don’t even think of them. I do up my game a bit for photo shoots (shocker) especially since I don’t need to limit my footwear to what’s weather-appropriate that I can put up with on my feet for eight hours. My usual accessorizing is a pair of big dangly earrings and maybe (maybe, maybe) a necklace. Once in a blue moon, a bracelet. The one big thing I really never, ever got a hang of is scarves (for decorative, rather than functional purposes… when it comes to wrapping up your face, I’m a champion scarf-wearer). My mom does amazing things with them. I just feel fake and showy.

The jewelry box

I have a mixed relationship with hats. Obviously they’re necessary for winter—I have a red velvet, vaguely turban-esque hat that I wear in the winter that is my “hat that makes winter worthwhile”, and it does admirably except that it’s not warm enough for the truly cold weather, so when it gets really grim I wear a toque, or my hoodie hood, underneath it. Not the best look, but fashion suffers all around when it comes to the deep minuses. Anyway, I like hats. I look good in them. But they don’t work well with my short, spiky hair. And since it’s very unlikely that I won’t want to take my hat off at some point, I never wear them. Sad, I know.

I am a big fan of the huge, dangly earrings. Unlike hats, they do go well with the short spiky hair. Although I do find my ears getting a bit sensitive now that I’m older (I fear the days of shoving a safety pin through the hole and calling it good are gone) so I don’t wear them every day.

Necklaces I’m fine with as long as they’re short, I prefer chokers or just a little bit longer… but I don’t really think of them for everyday. Same with bracelets, although these tend to annoy me, and don’t play well with long sleeves (or at least I don’t know how to make them play well)

A lot of my pieces in the shot above are, you may have noticed, a wee bit costumy? Most of it was bought with belly dance in mind, even the stuff that didn’t end up being quite over-the-top enough. Once in a while there’s a regular outfit or occasion where I get to break out this “good stuff”, but it’s rare. Too bad, really. I love these pieces. They may technically be costume jewelry—no precious metals or genuine jewels here—but they warm my heart.

What’s your favourite accessory? Are you using your accessories to the best of your ability? And most importantly—what am I missing out on?

Sample pleats. Interfaced version on right.

Now, so it’s not a completely sewing-free post, I’ll show you my sample cuff-pleats. After my musing the other day, I thought that I might try and just line my cuffs with lining fabric rather than fashion fabric, to reduce bulk. And I’m happy to say, I think this approach will work. The sample on the left has no interfacing, the sample on the right has, and really I don’t see any difference at all between the two of them once pressed. For each sample pleat I edgestitched one folded side but left the other (you should be able to see the difference if you click through to the full-size photo)… I will edgestitch the inner folds, but I’m kinda leaning towards leaving the outer folds alone. Thoughts?


Filed under Sewing

Springy Little Coat—Muslin edition

Hip hip hooray for the RTW sewalong kicking off! … once I got over the shock of realizing (silly me) that it was starting a day earlier than I had thought, on acount of being run from the future, aka the other side of the International Date Line.

Those of you on flickr may have seen this image a couple of days ago, but I thought I’d share it here for (I hope) a wider audience. (No hope of taking outside photos today, it’s dreary and with the winter storm warning in effect it’s not a matter of if we get snow, but when)

Coat skirt muslin

This is a muslin for (most) of my Springy Little Coat. And overall, I think it looks pretty good, although I must admit, at this stage it looks remarkably similar to this. Perhaps I could’ve saved myself some pattern-drafting time and just swiped the skirt panels from the dress? Ah, well.

That aside, the skirt hem is pretty level, the width is nice, the pleats seem to fall relatively as-they-should. I think I want it a wee bit shorter (say, two inches), but that’s why we make the muslin. I was quite chipper.

Then, yesterday, I was looking at my pattern pieces, and I realized… my front skirt piece is more than an inch longer than my rear skirt piece.

This is disturbing on two levels. Not that I would manage to measure them the wrong length—I know that kind of drafting sloppiness is well within my capabilities, and I hate walking seams so I’m not surprised I didn’t catch it, either. No, what have me flummoxed are 1) how I actually managed to sew those dissimilar lengths together and have them match up perfectly (with no visible puckering, although obviously a crapload of bias easing was involved), and 2) oh crap, that means that my skirt front probably does need to be longer than the back… at least at the CF. Which makes sense since I know by under-bust seam isn’t perfectly level—it runs straight around my body, but straight around my body is at an angle to the ground, as my entire rib-cage is tilted—part and parcel of that weird postural thing called a swayback.

So I should really probably modify my skirt lengths to reflect the uneven waist—basically what I did here by accident, but on purpose, with pattern pieces that actually match up. /sigh.

In (final) MMM news,

Cowly Jacket and 70s Dress!

At long last, I managed to wear this combo yesterday, for the last day of Me-Made March. Hooray! I’ve been waiting for the weather to warm up enough for a decent photo of this combination ever since I finished the jacket. Yay! Of course, my backdrops can’t quite compete with Debi’s, but, well, that’s life. There’s a few east-coast places that can compete with Europe for architecture, but nothing this far west. And miracle of miracles, the outside photos seem to have finally captured the fact that this dress is purple, not black! 😉

I’ve actually worn this dress three times this month, which is pretty unusual considering the weather and the dressness of it all. Yesterday, for a plus, I wasn’t even staying home all day—I had to drop the car off at the shop, pick up the rental, and then, as it turned out, pick the hubster up at work and drive him to the ER since the silly boy put something heavy and metallic through his finger and needed a number of stitches.

I may do a MMM-wrap up post later in the weekend (depending on how much real sewing I get done 😉 ), but for now just a couple of thoughts.

  1. It was a lot easier than SSS, in terms of variety of items (especially pants!)
  2. I still wound up wearing my RTW hoodie… I guess I should break down and make a me-made version. More warm things!
  3. But they need to be in neutral colours—I don’t think I wore my red cardi-wrap once, not so much because of the hole I accidentally snipped in it back in November (although that didn’t help), but because it doesn’t go with any of my new, springy-coloured shirts. And I am thoroughly bored of my black knit tops by now…
  4. my photography this month was not great—worse than last time 😦
  5. I am a little relieved to get back to not-quite-posting-every-day. Much as I love it, it’s a bit much to maintain with everything else in life.

I’ll go into what I didn’t wear, and why, a bit more comprehensively later. For now, I just want to toss this out there, with maybe a link to the full flickr set of Me-Made March (missing, I think, only one day)


Filed under Sewing

More fun than a barrel of monkeys



This is exciting. It will also be a bit challenging, especially combined with the RTW tailoring sewalong.

So an old friend came by yesterday with a project. She’s in the final stages of putting together her debut album (yay!) and wanted a frilly, over-the-top tailcoat for a photo-shoot. So we did some discussing, trawled Fabricland for suitably sumptuous fabric—the paisley corduroy is actually quite a lot more subdued than we were initially thinking, but Fabricland’s sumptuous-crushed-velvet selection is sadly understocked (go figure). Still, I love the fabric we did come home with, and I’m (not so) secretly hoping that there will be enough of the corduroy left over for me to get a little cute something out of it, too.

I’m planning to use the M-sewing tailcoat pattern, with considerable modification as you can see if you squint (or click through for full size) at the sketch on the photo. Fortunately Modern Pattern Design has diagrams for most of the modifications I’m going to need to make, although I’m still not quite sure about the collar—mostly because I’m still not quite sure exactly how I want it to look. Will figure that out soon enough.

In Me-Made March news

Here’s photos for yesterday and today. Again not overly glamorous, which I will blame on the continuing snow. Yes, it’s still snowing.

Me-Made March 27

Me-Made March 28

MMM 27
Cowl-sleeve jacket
Super-cowl top
skinny cargoes

MMM 28
raglan-sleeve top
skinny cargoes


Filed under Sewing

Yet another knockoff…


Someday I’ll make something original. Sooner or later the universe is bound to get tired of throwing other peoples’ really cool ideas at me, right?


So, I feel a teensy bit guilty about this knockoff, because it’s inspired by this EvaDress pattern, and I really feel like I ought to support her and buy the pattern. But, I’m also a starving student… and I wanted to try some kind of jacket with my new basic princess-seam pattern… and, well, here I am. I’ll buy it someday, I promise. In my own defense, the actual construction of my jacket is almost completely different—the original is a cut-on kimono sleeve, as far as I can tell, while mine is a standard princess-seam jacket, cropped to underbust length, with a set-in sleeve.

Drapey 30s jacket

Drapey 30s jacket

Debi’s made a great version of this jacket. (And here she shows more of the construction, which highlights the many differences between the “real” version and mine). If I’m not mistaken, it’s also the one pictured on this Threads article, which I’ve been lusting after since this time last year. Can we say, yum?

It’s really a very basic idea—a scrunched, buttoned-on scarf over a basic cropped jacket, with cowl sleeves. Lauriana featured a version of the sleeves here, and there’s a description in Modern Pattern Drafting of how to draft it—really simple, actually. I kept my cowl fairly small, partly because I like the close-fitted sleeve and partly because I didn’t have a lot of fabric.

Really, hardly any fabric, barely a metre. I had wanted to make a circle skirt out of this fabric (I’ve been cherishing it, waiting for the perfect project, since last summer some time) but didn’t have enough.

Without scarf

To avoid trying to match plaids (across princess seams, no less!), I cut the side pieces on the bias, then interfaced. The interfacing is probably a bit heavier than would have been ideal on this very light, soft, loosely-woven plaid, but hopefully it won’t be a problem in this location. I do wish I’d been a little more precise matching up the plaid across my CF, as it’s a hair off, but ah well. Not visible behind the scarf anyway.

The jacket has no collar (just the scarf), which was fortunate given the fabric shortage and the need to reserve a fair bit for the scarf. The underside of the scarf is made of flannel, as well.

The Built by Wendy book suggests using 1/2″ seam allowances on straighter seams and 1/4″ on highly curved ones (like the princess seams and the neckline and armscye). I followed the advice, and I like it, but I wonder if for this fabric I shouldn’t’ve used wider ones, as it’s pretty loosely-woven and ravelly. Time will tell, I suppose.

Back view, with pleat

The bias sleeves are interesting. They tend to stretch and narrow, which works well with the style but could make getting a long-sleeved shirt on under them tricky. I also didn’t line the sleeves, as I was concerned with messing up the drape. The bodice is lined with some more bits of leftover silver Kasha from my Winter Coat. Someday I’ll run out of that… I’ve still got nearly a metre left, though!

I’m not 100% sure I handled the back pleat the best way possible. I made similar pleats in the lining and fashion fabric, meaning they’re both kind of occupying the same space. I wonder if it wouldn’t’ve been better to try to wrap the interior box pleat “around” the exterior one so they were folding the same way… anyway, it’s not too terrible, I think.

Scarf, lining, really bad buttonholes.

Nitty gritty details: the scarf is lined in black flannelette, as I didn’t have enough to make a wide enough scarf just out of the fashion fabric. As it is, I could’ve made it a bit narrower, and probably an inch or two longer… ah well. It’s pretty hard to get more than a general sense of this until the buttonholes are already in place, so such is life.

I piped both the inside of the facings and the neckline and front openings of the jacket. I like the piping around the facings, but perhaps a softer cord would be better next time… anyway, as is typical with coats and my sewing machine, the facings were too thick to work automatic buttonholes in, so the resulting buttonholes are as attrocious as you might expect. Ugh. The buttonholes on the scarf, on the other hand, worked out just fine… so look at those ones instead 😉

Piped facings

The facings were squeezed out of scraps (I didn’t actually think I’d have enough fabric for them) so are pretty narrow but worked out well enough. Note to self: remember to remove the back pleat when drafting the facings. And here I was trying to figure out how my neckline had stretched out so much…

Cowl sleeves: Bias sleeves are, well, interesting. They tend to grow (which is a good thing from my point of view) but also shrink width-wise. I will admit I took a couple of loose, surreptitious stitches inside the drape part to keep the folds in place. The cowl edge is finished with a fold-back facing, and the seams in the sleeves are finished with serging. I’m glad I didn’t try to line the sleeves, as it would’ve messed with the drape thoroughly, I think (at least with my lining and this particular fabric)

Button front

There are a LOT of buttons on this jacket. Well, eleven, in fact, and I have some extra little ones I might put on the sleeves, just for decoration. I had an assortment of black, white, and grey buttons of this same shape, in a couple of different sizes, from a thrift-store button baggie picked up a while back.  The arrangement I went with colour and size-wise is probably not optimal, but it was the best I could come up with given the limitations I had. They’re not overly visible when it’s worn, anyway. I’m actually really glad I was able to use them all together, and I like their shape—plain but distinctive—with this style.


This jacket really deserves a much more glamorous photo shoot, but this is the best I was able to muster up today, as I’m still sick (have been all weekend). It looks killer with the 70s dress, actually. I had been hoping it would work with my circle skirts, but I’m not loving the combination—too much going on both top and bottom; instead of the hourglass look I was hoping for, it just looks busy. This jacket really seems to stand out with a slim, sleek bottom half—coincidentally just like the dress it was originally paired with.

I think I am officially satisfied with my fitting of the cropped bodice version of the “Built By Wendy Fitted Jacket”. Next up—sleeves and collar :). I’m thinking I might try a little cropped jean-jacket to test out a two-piece sleeve.

Warning: I have a deep and long-suppressed passion for boleros and severely cropped jackets. You may get sick of this look… soon.

I don’t know if I’ll ever actually do any of the particular projects in the Built by Wendy Coats & Jackets book (well, maybe one or two…), but I am loving having the basic pattern blocks to play with. So many possibilities! I may not be quite up to drafting my own patterns from scratch, but I love messing the heck out of  an existing one :).

Oh, and you can see the full Flickr set, with even more photos, here.

In Me-Made March news,

I did actually manage a picture today! (I promise I’ve been wearing my usual me-mades, but being sick just drains me of the energy to run around, get cute pictures, and then do the little followups like making links for the construction posts. Bleh.

At least the inch of snow that was covering the deck this morning is gone…

Me-Made March, day 20

Is the equinox today or tomorrow? Either way, the days will soon be longer than the nights! Hooray!



Filed under Sewing

Haphazard progress

Lady Grey---side view

So, I have now stitched up the bodice of my mutant Lady Grey. In a way, it’s good, as it works something like another iteration of muslin for the pattern. In particular, it’s highlighting how my severe swayback alteration is playing havoc with the peplum (and still needs tweaking), but anyway.

Lady Grey---Back

I opted for topstitching. Lots of topstitching. This adds a bit more structure to the sweatshirt material, and will also (theoretically) make the inside a little neater since I’m not planning on lining it at the moment and my serger is still MIA. Lining would probably have been a good  idea, but I don’t have any fabric suitable for a stretch lining in the stash.

The lumpiness in the upper back is mostly show-through from the layers underneath; there might still be a bit of extra fabric there, but I think it’ll be fine for this version. As you can see the upper part of the swayback is fitted very nicely, but it all kinda goes to hell below the waist. I suppose the peplum is designed that way, but I feel like a gentler flare at the back would work better for me. However, it won’t be happening in this version as I did all the topstitching before I sewed the side seams to try it on, and I’m not particularly inclined to pick it out at this point

Bust curve, with topstitching

Almost as an afterthought when I was mussing with the pattern, I flattened the bust curve a little bit (very unscientifically) and I’m quite happy with the result. I don’t have quite the cups Colette is drafted for.

(Also, doesn’t it look cute with a contrast puff and then a narrow sleeve? Kinda Shakespearian…)

Speaking of Colette’s draft, I was ogling my Ceylon pattern again the other night. I have a sinking feeling, however, that it’s going to require some serious muslining, as it will need both a major swayback and, I’m rather sure, a small-bust adjustment.  Again, I’m torn whether to make the size 0 (which matches my bust and hip sizes), or go up to a 2 and do an SBA. Which didn’t seem to work particularly well for this coat. Grumph. Maybe I won’t tackle that until after I have a duct-tape double to do fitting tweaks on. Also, I was planning to grade the waist panel from 0 (or 2) at the top up to my actual waist size (6) at the middle, but looking at the pattern pieces that would actually give me a convex waist! I’m rectangular, but I’m not literally apple-shaped (yet, anyway). The waist-curve on the pattern is definitely a bit extreme, but I don’t think I can go up more than one size. And then there’s the darts to think about (ugh) and whether to add a center-back seam (I’m told that’s the way to go when swaybacks are in the air). /sigh. Anyway, a lot to think about for that pattern.

Why, yes, I will cheerfully insert fly zippers ’til the cows come home, but double-ended darts send me running for the hills.

Next step: collar (I think I’m going to cheese out and do a straight band, like a traditional kimono collar), “obi” wrap, and how to finish the #%$# hems.


Filed under Sewing