Tag Archives: Lady Grey

Joining the Lady (Grey) in Red Club

Red Lady

Since I’m still suffering from PCSD (Post-Coat Stress Disorder) and can’t quite look at my sewing machine yet, I’m going to throw in a bit of blog padding :). To start with, I wanted to talk about the Lady (Grey) In Red Club. (And yes, I am shamelessly stealing the name from Ali.)

Did you know this club existed? You do now. I made it up myself. And if you made your Lady Grey in red, you’re a member! Isn’t that exciting? 😉 Membership benefits include, well, having an awesome red statement coat.

The Lady Grey really is a statement coat—not for the faint of heart, nor for the shrinking violet. It thus really deserves a statement colour (although there’s some lovely more restrained versions, too). And while there’s some terribly striking versions in teal and mustard (AKA blue and yellow, the other primary colours 😉 ), I have to say, when it comes to a statement colour, for me red takes the cake. And probably the ice-cream and the sprinkles, too.

As of this moment, other people who’ve agreed with me on the awesomeness of red members of the L(G)IRC (okay, not the catchiest acronym, I know)  I’m aware of include:

Liza Jane
Li’l Miss Muffet
The Sew Convert
Erika Jeane

If you made one and I’ve missed you, or know of another one out there, let me know! Now it’s conceivable that some of you will argue that we’re being trendy (or just terribly obvious) in our colour choice, but really—there are not many colours out there more awesome than red. Seriously.

My first day of school... I remember picking out the outfit so carefully.

Okay, I’m not dissing on the other colours of the rainbow, I’m really not. There are fabulous Lady Greys in plenty of other colours, as I said above. I don’t think less of any of these coats for their colour, and many of them are probably more original than red.

It’s just, none of them would feel quite as much me.

My fondness for red goes back for as long as I’ve had the power to choose my own clothing. The picture at right is from my first day of school, way back in 1985 (behind the big yellow bag you can just see bits of the red skirt and socks. Probably knee-highs). Back in early Uni I gloried in my original HBC blanket coat. I love red for its intensity; I love the ambiguity of its symbolism—blood and sex; violence and passion; left-wing and right.

My old HBC blanket coat, c. 1999

Do you have a signature colour (or palette?) One of my friends is all brown and teal, all the way. My mom thrives on the classic autumn palette. When I’m feeling summery I toy with cream and pale blue, as in the blog theme (but it was a bit of a wrench to change it away from the old reddish theme), and other colours catch my fancy again and again, but I always come back to red.


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The Christmas Coat

The Christmas Lady

Day-Glo Red

It’s (mostly) done!

This was technically my Hudson’s Bay Blanket Homage Coat, but given the timing and the colour, I’m probably wishing if I think I can make it something other than the Christmas Coat.

The Christmas Lady

Holy peplum, Batman!

Tyo pried herself away from her new PSP long enough to take these photos for me, saving me the hassle of trying to set up the tripod in the snow. Although as you can see, it’s not quite the winter wonderland it was a month or so ago when I finished Tyo’s Coat. We actually had wonderful weather for Christmas—it was +6 C on Christmas day! My dad and I took the girls to the local playground and they ran around without their coats on. Amazing what feels like tank-top weather once you’re inured to -20 ;).

The Christmas Lady

Lining---needs letting out

I think nearly everything that needs to be said about this coat has been already. One of the buttons is missing in action, having disappeared prior to being sewn on somewhere in the dozens of rounds of “clean up” that have swept through my house more or less continually since last weekend (without creating a notable overall improvement, I’ll add). If it doesn’t show up in a day or two I’ll have to go buy another. Also, the two inch hem I took in the lining wound up being a bit too much, so I should really let it out a wee bit. At least I have that luxury, having cut my lining to the full length of the shell.

The Christmas Lady

Coat front

I only took a 1″ hem, but as you can see my fabric has plenty of body.

Christmas itself was lovely but hectic. We hosted my father, my hubby’s father, and my hubby’s father’s girlfriend. I was pretty spoiled my first seven or so years of marriage—I never once had to make a turkey on my own (or even in my own kitchen). It really is much more fun doing all the culinary craziness with three or four or five other people helping out. Fortunately my Dad, of all people, came to my rescue, peeling potatoes, washing innumerable dishes, and helping stuff the turkey. I fear I was a touch crabby, but hopefully it wasn’t too bad. I really was happy to have everyone there.

I did get one bit of sewing paraphernalia for Christmas, from my mommy. Look: pinking shears! My mind is racing about what I can pink. Or it would be, if I weren’t thoroughly sluggish from chocolate overdose.

Pinking Shears!

At any rate, I hope your Christmas (or seasonal equivalent 😉 ) was as merry as mine. I expect I’ll start thinking about sewing again in a day or two. For now, I’m going to go read one of the books I got for Christmas (The latest Terry Pratchett—oh, the joy!) and listen to my husband and children murder things on their various video game systems.

You can see all these photos and more on the Flickr Slideshow

All the posts on this coat can be found here. And this has been a (very belated) contribution to Gertie’s Lady Grey Sewalong.


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Details, details

… and an unexpected benefit



A lot of little things got done yesterday. I made it to Fabricland to pick up thread and got my buttons (By the way, photographing black, carved buttons is a bit of a trick. Oblique lighting for the win!). I picked up some bias hem-facing strips but then, on a whim, grabbed a couple of metres of red grosgrain ribbon to try.

Ribbon as hem facing

Now, proper grosgrain ribbon has bumpy edges and actually eases around curves a bit, so would be perfect for a hem facing.

This ribbon was not that kind, however it did have those attractive little decorative white stitches at the edges.

Which, it turns out, also make perfect gathering stitches. WOOT! (This didn’t actually occur to me until after I had the ribbon sewn in place, by the way.) I sewed the bottom end to the hem itself, easing the shell fabric to the ribbon, and then gently tightened the upper row of white stitching to ease the upper edge of the ribbon in. Then I stitched it to the underlining. I actually started catch-stitching between the underlining and the ribbon, as Gertie describes, but it was lame and annoying, so I ended up doing something more like a slip-stitch. The final look may not be quite as soft, but it’s more secure and, more importantly, didn’t make me crazy. I generally enjoy

Hanging loop

hand-stitching (especially to the dulcet and soothing soundtrack of my husband’s latest video game) but the catch-stitching inside the hem drove me nuts.

So the hem is hemmed and the lining assembled. I remembered (after forgetting in my last two coats) to add a hanging-loop, too, just some bias tape folded in half and stitched. Not the prettiest thing ever—perhaps I should’ve made one out of the lining fabric—but it will be functional. The collar is also sewn up and basted in place (as per Gertie), but I’m going to save those pics for the big reveal ;). I will say that the padstitching really does make a difference in how the collar sits (or rather, how it stands rather than lying down), although I bet you could skip the outer padstitching and just do the seamline and maybe the below-the-roll padstitching and get much the same effect.

Anyway, To do:

  • insert shoulder pads
  • hem lining
  • attach lining
  • bag lining inside sleeves
  • finish inside of buttonholes
  • attach buttons
  • take fabulous photos, preferably in the snow

Hmm, I’ve probably forgotten something on that list.

Oh yeah, and clean the whole darned house because my father’s arriving today, not tomorrow, and the children have been running rampant for almost a week.


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Bit by bit by bit


Maybe it was Laurwyn’s Coat Marathon, or maybe it was Liza Jane finishing her gorgeous red Lady Grey, but MAN I want this coat done! I want to flounce around in it, to whatever extent I can given the weather, and whip up a bunch of quick knit tops and maybe another pair of jeans (funny how jeans are something to whip up—they’re not exactly the least involved of projects, but are easily doable over a weekend).  I want to be there—not getting there.

But I am getting there, impatience aside. I got the lining cut, which was a major mental hurdle—then I was stymied by promptly running out of black thread. Oops.

I never did find the rest of the pattern, so cutting the lining took a bit of

Back neck facing and CB pleat

improvising. I added an inch to the CB  seam to turn into a back pleat. I decided I couldn’t be bothered to re-draft the front facing, so I just cut the facing the same as the full front, which will work better with the buttonholes anyway. I should probably think about grading it for roll, but I’ll get there. The back neck facing I will topstitch into place on top of the lining.

It occurs to me that I’ve completely forgotten a back stay. Again. D’oh.

Pockets---catchstitched to underlining so as not to droop

Unable to progress with the lining, I went back to fussing with the shell. I did the pockets, which I also had to re-draft. Fortunately, it’s almost easier to draft a pocket than it is to pin and cut out around the pattern piece. I had the length and position from the notches on main pattern, so I measured them, and then made a generous shape out from that that would accommodate my hand. A lot of people had trouble with the pocket drooping below the hem (the pocket is really located only a couple of inches above the hem) so I catch-stitched mine to the underlining and will make sure that the bottom is caught in the hem, too.

Speaking of the hem, I’m working on doing it properly, too. I am taking a fairly

Lady Grey with sleeves---back

narrow hem (1″) to preserve length and make the easing in of the top easier. I followed Gertie’s video on this, running a gathering-stitch along the edge and tightening at intervals, then steaming/pressing to shrink the fullness. It’s basted in place but still needs seam binding and to lose a few pins, hence the lumpiness in the photos. I also cut my linings to the full length of the pattern, since a lot of people found their linings came out a bit short as well.


Oh, yeah. I put the sleeves on, too. Again using Gertie’s tutorial, although I substituted strips of my own knit coat fabric for the bias pieces. It worked, although I’m not sure how you gauge or control how much easing you get from it. Also that makes for a TONNE of layers for sewing around the sleeve. I had to swap out to a denim-weight needle after snapping my first one clean off. With the sleeves on, I think the back ease is just right.

Now I just have to decide on shoulder pads.

My construction order has been all over the place for this coat. Ah well—as long as I don’t try to attach the lining before I sew on the collar or anything.

… so close…


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Side seams

Lady Grey---all seamed up

What with (not) finishing Christmas cards, kids’ Christmas Concert, and general craziness, not a lot of sewing has gotten done this week (shocker, I know). However, I did manage to find a few moments (and I do mean few) to sew the side-seams and shoulder-seams of the coat together.

I think this is one of the most magical moments in garment-making—when you go from two or three flat pieces of cloth into something you can actually try on. Setting in the sleeves is a close second, but I still think sewing the shoulder and side-seams tops it. So here we go with some (ulp) fitting shots—unglamorous, no makeup, bed-head, and all.

The first thing I noticed was that the full hair canvas of the front and front side

Lady Grey---Front

pieces (as per Gertie’s sewalong instructions) was way too stiff. I don’t know if it’s just because my coat fabric is quite stiff to begin with, but it looked wooden, and was forcing the side-seam of the peplum back and making the excess flare at the back even worse. So I cut it out—everything below the waist on the front side piece, and curving down into a narrow front panel on the front piece. This helped a lot, though it’s still a bit stiffer in the front, as you can see (all these photos are from after I took it out).

Lady Grey---Side

Raising the roll line really does reduce the lapel, doesn’t it? I think I kind of miss the big, from-the-waist look, but we’ll see. It’s too late to change now, anyway. (The anti-droop alteration I made probably reduced the lapels as well, although I tried to add it back when I re-drew them.)

The side—there’s that swayback! It’s still loose, as in the fabric is not actually following the curve of my back, but it’s not pooling and puddling, so I guess we’ll call that wearing ease. There’s still a lot of fullness at the rear. I added a full two inches to the hem at the centre back, which I thought would be too much but it actually looks about even, although faintly like I’m wearing  a bustle. Perhaps I just need an Edwardian skirt to go underneath? 😉

Lady Grey---Back

In the back view, you can see the gorgeous smoothness of the lower back, and still a bit of excess between the shoulder blades. Does this mean I have a narrow back (?!?) or just reflect the fact that I used a size larger pattern? No idea, although I guess next time I tackle a Colette, I’ll make the 0 and just do whatever brutal, soul-destroying alterations I’ll need to the waist. I’m not sure if I want to bother fixing it or not—I think I’ll wait until I get the sleeves on and some shoulder pads in to decide. The main thing holding me back is that I already catchstitched down the seam-allowances in this area.

From the rear it looks like there might be a little extra length at the back hem, although I’ll have to trim it smooth (joys of a knit) and then check again.

Can you guess what I forgot to do when I stitched up the side seams?

Got it one—pockets! *headdesk*

Now where’s that seam-ripper…


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Oh Frabjous day!

… to keep up the literary theme, although it’s been a while since I read the Jaberwocky, so I don’t think I’ll go any further with it today. My mother preferred reciting “The Walrus and the Carpenter” for some reason. Which always made me sad when they eat the oysters. That might be why I don’t much care for Lewis Carroll (shocking, I know).



My patterns arrived! Happy dance! I made my firstest-ever Etsy purchase a month or more ago, two vintage patterns from the Cupcake Goddess’s Etsy Store. I excercised great, great restraint and did *not* order one of her darling tailor’s ham and sleeve roll sets, although if she ever does some in spiderwebs or skulls (preferably black and pink) I might not be able to resist.

Why so long? Well, aside from the fact that I payed by echeque, which takes some time to clear, the package arrived in a plastic sleeve from Canada Post apologizing for the damaged condition “it was received in”—edges chewed up and water-damaged; it apparently spent some time lost in transit. My heart pit-a-patted.

Fortunately, Her Divine Cupcakeness had packaged the envelopes in a sealed plastic sleeve (complete with well wishes) within the cardboard shipping envelope, so all was well. I am now the proud owner of Butterick 3364, a fitted men’s shirt pattern, and Simplicity 5728, an adorable little dress. Both date from the 70s, the dress earlier, the shirt, I think, later.

Butterick 3364 and Simplicity 5728

Let’s start with the dress.

I bought this pattern for one reason and one reason only. At my grandmother’s house on the family farm, in the closet of my mother’s old bedroom, hangs a dress of almost exactly this same pattern. Even the colour and print are very similar to the long version. The only glaring difference is the fold-over collar. And I always have liked that dress—which fits me divinely, or at least did last time I tried it on, probably when Syo was a baby—except for the fabric, which is a godawful, polyester-knit-flannel-scratchy stuff that could only have been spawned of the 1960s-70s. The little floral print is a bit twee, as well—I don’t really do prints, as you may have noticed. But the bones of the dress, the lines—killer.

So when I saw this pattern, in a 34 bust, I almost bought it straight away. I forced myself to wait on it, but a month later it was still there, and I still wanted it. So I jumped.

The only downside is while it’s a 34 bust, which is only one inch over mine, it’s also a junior petite. The junior part is good—I am not exactly full figured—but, er, it’s drafted for someone five foot nothing. That’s 1.5m for the metric folks who aren’t clinging illogically to an arbitrary and outdated measuring system. That’s a more than half a foot shorter than me.

Still, adding length can’t be that tricky, right?

So, stand by for Adventures in Grading… although given how prolific I am when it comes to sewing dresses… well, it may be a while. Ceylon has been marinating for several months now, after all.

Butterick 3364 Views

The shirt, obviously, is for my hubby. I’ve been wanting a princess-seamed shirt pattern for him for a while, ever since I saw Peter’s version. You see, y’know how you look at the measurement charts, and very often ones’ bust measurement, say, is several sizes smaller than one’s waist measurement?

Well, my husband has the opposite problem. In fact, the man has a 40″ chest and a 32″ waist, which would make him spot on for his size… if he were female. This is when he’s “fat”(he also has Body Issues to do an anorexic proud)… any number of times during our marriage he’s had a 28″ waist, which is the same as mine on a good day. That’s an 8 to 12″ drop from chest to waist. Mine is about 5”. On a good day. The bastard.

McCall's 7123 front view

Anyway, all bitterness aside, this means that most dress shirts fit him like the boxes they are. Which is fine if that’s what you’re going for, like the shirt I made him last summer… but I can’t help but fantasize about something different. Something a little more fitted, that actually flatters the body he’s got. Especially nice, this pattern has options for with and without princess seams, including back darts like the tailored men’s shirt draft Laurianna posted on.

And I love the idea of making him shirts because, although he wears them frequently, he won’t wear any with breast pockets, ever, and far prefers a mandarin collar to a roll collar. Which reduces the selection in RTW by about 80% right off the bat. But for me—it just means I don’t need to fuss with de-70s-ifying the collar that comes with the pattern (although really, it’s not at all bad by 70s standards anyway).

Now the only trick will be getting him to actually wear a fitted shirt. (See above about Body Issues.)

In Lady Grey News

Padstitching in action

… a relentless weekend of hand-stitching has produced results. I have pad-stitched lapels!

I did something resembling pad-stitching on the collar of Tyo’s coat, if you recall, but only after it was constructed, relying on the thickness of the fabric to let me bury my stitches within the fabric; the actual stitch used zig-zagged back and forth, rising to the surface in a tiny bite at each corner of the zig zag. Anyway, another idiosyncratic feature of an idiosyncratic coat.

But this time, I determined that I would do my research first. Unfortunately, the

format of Gertie’s video on padstitching wouldn’t play on my ipod, the main computer was off because it’s been randomly shutting down lately, and the padstitching illustrated in the taloring book Santa’s going to put in my stocking didn’t look much like Gertie’s either (it was pretty much straight along the lines). I also checked out my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, which had padstitching more like what I thought Gertie was getting at.

Pad-stitching for zig-zags

After a certain amount of experimentation, I got it figured out (or I think I have), and if you do it right you can get the illusion of a series of zig-zags of thread across the surface… I don’t know if that’s actually important, but it looks nice. Now I just need to brace myself to finish the bound buttonholes. Inspired by Kbenco’s long version (in turn, apparently, inspired by my winter coat, yay!), I decided to go for four, functioning buttonholes, because A) I liked the higher, shorter roll of the collar, B) I think it looks better if I am not wearing a belt, and usually I don’t like things belted at my waist), and C) it’s more like Tyo’s coat this way.

This is what happens when you hold the pad-stitched lapel upside down

Hmm, maybe C) isn’t actually a good thing.

Now, the miracle of pad-stitching is not really obvious when you look at it flat on, or even when worn, so let me demonstrate (see left). Even if you hold it upside down, the curl remains, flexible but undeniable. Nifty!

Anyway, that’s already more post than I imagine any of you wanted to read, so I’ll let it go at that.

And, as the Cupcake Goddess says:

Happy Sewing Adventures!



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Look what I did!

I spy, with my little eye, something that looks like a Lady Grey!

Oh, oh!

Oh, see!

See what I did?

Look, look! Funny, funny sewing.

Sorry. Syo’s on a Dick and Jane kick, believe it or not. My aunt gave her a set of board-book reprints featuring such classic tales as “Jane and Mother” and “The Funny Baby.”

Now, I’m a big fan of classic children’s books. Maurice Sendak and Dr. Seuss; Robert Munsch and Dennis Lee (those two might actually be Canadian phenomena, but they still rock). A dozen more that I could reel off. Top-notch children’s literature is critical, not so much for the kids—they’ll listen to pretty much anything—but for your own sanity, because you’re going to be reading these books again and again and again. I think I made my parents read me “The Secret Garden” seven times when I was Syo’s age.

… But somehow “Dick and Jane” were notable in their absence in my literary upbringing.  I suspect my mother may have had an active role in this, although maybe it was just the 80s. I was sort of under the impression that “Dick and Jane” were dull, cruel readers that children of an earlier time were forced to read in grim school-rooms, probably under threat of The Strap.

Apparently not. Apparently, they are fascinating, enthralling masterpieces of prose for that child on the cusp of literacy, craving the familiarity of a limited, repetitive vocabulary. Apparently the serene, white, nuclear world where Mother vacuums in heels and pearls while Dick and Father throw a baseball and Sally ties Spot’s ears above his head so they don’t splash in his water dish, is just what my younger daughter relates to.


At least she’s reading, right?

As long as no one’s expecting me to vacuum in heels. Pearls, maybe.

Anyway. Look at that! Genuine Lady Grey progress! I laid out my fabric (this is the remnants left after Tyo’s Russian Princess Coat). There was just over 2m of the red (although functionally not very wide since it’s so off grain) and just under 1m of the black. And, I had enough fabric! The belt may be touch and go (I’m not worrying about it at this point… worst case scenario it will have a seam down the centre and lining fabric on one side), but I had enough! The collar and facings will be black, which I think will be supremely striking.

I managed to squeeze both fronts and side fronts and a collar out of the 2m of (very narrow) hair canvas I had bought a while ago, but there won’t be enough left over for a back stay, which I would really like this coat to have, so I’ll have to pick up more. I also didn’t have quite enough of the super-light-weight interfacing I used to stabilize the whole back pieces (this is a knit fabric, remember, with a disturbing amount of lengthwise stretch), and I can’t find the rest of the pattern to cut the lining, but I did what I could with what I had today, and I should be able to keep busy with the hand-stitching until I can make it to Fabricland to get the other bits and pieces. Hopefully the rest of the pattern turns up before I need to cut the lining, otherwise I’ll be winging it. Which, given the number of fitting tweaks I made might not be a bad idea, but I’d like to have the option, anyway.

If Tyo’s coat is the Russian Princess Coat, will that make mine the Czarina Coat?

Coat back. Ready to catchstitch down the seam-allowances by hand.


See Tanit-Isis! Look, look!
See Tanit-Isis sew.
Tanit-Isis sews and sews.
Funny, funny Tanit-Isis.


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