Tag Archives: Winter Coat

A Whole Lotta Coat

The Amazing Coat of Doooooom

In a way, this is the garment that started it all. More than a year ago, now, I was facing down another Canadian winter realizing, sadly, that my erstwhile-winter-coat (really more of a fall weight) was not going to get me through more than one more brutal season. And the kinds of winter coats I like—long and elegant and warm—are hard to find, dastardly expensive, and never have long enough sleeves.

So a kernel was planted in my brain.

It took a long time to germinate. I had candidacy exams last fall, which constitutes the most intensive and brutal academic hazing I’ve yet encountered. I couldn’t really contemplate anything that fall; I woke up, got the kids off to school, and sat in bed and read, researched, and wrote. All day. For months. Finally in early December the final (oral) part of the exams was finished, and I had just enough time to inhale, explain to my kids’ teachers why they were both acting out in school (can we say stress at home?), and get ready for Christmas.

Around the same time as the coat-kernel was planted, the idea of making the girls some coats had also been sown, as I had some burlap-weight curtain material that I couldn’t imagine actually wearing myself. So after Christmas, I took myself off to Fabricland, in search of little girls’ coat patterns, and found this one. Keeping in mind at this point, the only lined garment I’d ever made was a vest.

The girls’ coats became the ones blogged here and here and I moved on to other things, but the dream of a winter coat percolated ever in the background. I was absolutely delighted when Elizabeth decided to revive the Trench Coat Sew-Along in a more relaxed format. Just what I needed, I thought.

A whole lotta skirt!

I won’t bore you with too much more blathering. It’s pretty much all documented here already, probably in triplicate, right up to my button crisis the other week. And there’s the trials of the flipping-out-facings, which haven’t been totally tamed, as I’m sure you can see.

Anyway, last night I finally tackled the dreaded buttonholes of doom. Er, tackled might be a little too strong a word. At present they are hand-finished, but the thread I had (buttonhole thread, but not hand-buttonhole thread) didn’t give good coverage; I may try just zig-zagging over the cut edges. All my sewing incompetence comes roaring to the fore in the face of buttonholes (at least buttonholes I can’t accomplish with my buttonhole function on my sewing machine, anyway. Which is pretty much anything that isn’t a light blouse). Probably I should’ve gone for bound buttonholes, but the chances of me getting (eight! of) them even and matching… well, anyway. I didn’t.

But here it is. Perfect? Not hardly. Well fitting? Well, the sleeves are long enough and it creates

A nice back view, except for the closed eyes.

the illusion that I have a curvaceous figure, which is exciting in a coat. How warm it is remains to be seen—it’s certainly more than adequate for a crisp fall morning like today, but will it get me through -30, -40, -50? There isn’t much ease for stuffing extra sweater layers underneath it (the idea was to render those 2 or 3 extra layers unnecessary, of course. I’m still not sure I’m absolutely in love with the stand collar, especially in grey—not a great colour for me—but it’s interesting and different. Maybe I’ll try the regular lapel version sometime. I like it best with the red accessories—I have a red winter hat, too, that goes well with the scarf, but I couldn’t find it just rooting around this morning.

Obligatory twirly shot

Front shot

Front, no scarf

And here’s a link to the slideshow on Flickr with a few more photos.

Whew! That was exhausting!



Filed under Sewing, Winter Coat Sewing

Premature blogging

Grey suiting (left); purpe plaid knit (right)

If I waited until bedtime, I might actually have something to show for myself. As is… not really. But since I’m home, kids not in school, and guys fixing the driveway making it a bit hard to concentrate, I’m going to pretend I’m justified in wasting some time blogging now :).

Syo and I popped into Fabricland this morning (in her lovely new dress). I wanted to pick up more twill tape and clear elastic. I walked out with four metres of this suiting to make my Lady Grey muslin, a metre of that purple knit with diagonal tartan print, and another metre of a garish poly-lycra knit for Syo to replace the play-value of the fabric that got made into a dress yesterday. For $2/m, I was willing to indulge her. For that matter, the purple was $2.50, and the suiting was only $6/m (clearance from $18). It kinda chokes me spending money on fabric for a muslin, but I wanted something heavier than old bedsheets from Value Village (and old curtains from Value Village would have cost about as much as the suiting :P). Anyway, it’s actually kind of nice, even with that odd super-imposed criss-cross pattern… maybe I’ll feel driven to try and make a wearable muslin after all. We’ll see.

Here’s a question—the purple knit is obviously destined for some kind of top. What kind do you think? Another straight-up Lydia? A cowl neck? I’d love to do another Manequim cowl with sleeves but I can’t quite wrap my mind around adding sleeves to that weird armhole. I’m really not feeling making anything with short sleeves right now ;). The reverse of the fabric is all the lighter-purple colour, which would make a nice contrast binding, I think.

I also bought buttons for the coat.

Bought buttons.

I’m feeling guilty about this because I know just last week I took Tasia up on her super-sweet offer of mailing me some buttons, and they are on their way already. I’m sorry, Tasia! I promise I’ll find a good use for yours, too! But I really liked these ones, and the notions are all 50% off right now, anyway…

Actually, there were a LOT of really nice buttons I’d never noticed before—mostly metal ones, however, and I was looking for something black. I like these because they’re sturdy, black, classic, but have an interesting pattern to them if you look close. All of which may or may not show up in the photographs ๐Ÿ˜›

In Self-Stitched September news, the weather is divine but the morning was still chilly. Also, the leaves started falling yesterday.

Self-Stitched September 27

Leaf fan. Not as impressive as the idea was in my head.

Top: Quick Cowl Top from Burdastyle.com, and the ubiquitous Cardi-wrap (I need one of these in black or ivory—something a little more neutral than red. Not that I don’t dig the red, but there’s certain wardrobe items it doesn’t go with.)

Bottom: the Jaie 2908 capris again. You bet I’m gonna get as much wear as I can out of these this week.

Self-Stitched September 27

Communing with autumn


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Yeah, that about sums it up. Sorry for the no-post yesterday… I have about enough stamina to run downstairs and heat up some tea before collapsing back into bed right now. Probably I’d be doing better if I could actually sleep, but the general malaise and sinus-balloons aren’t helping there, either. So, anyway, enough whining.

Yesterday, I did manage to take in the white Lydia and hem the sleeves, but not the bottom as I like to iron in some wash-away stabilizer for that, and I’m not up for that much running-up-and-down of stairs. I also spent some time working on The Coat—finishing the hem and making chain tacks between lining hem and shell hem out of some silver embroidery floss I happened to have handy. I have a small

Chain-tack to keep lining and coat hems from shifting too much.

stash of embroidery floss, mostly dating from high-school, when I enjoyed cross stitch, before I realized that if you do cross-stitch, what you end up with at the end of the day is a piece of cross-stitch.

Man, I’m a pack-rat.

Anyway, the exertion of sitting upright for a whole three hours or so was enough to send me back to bed for the evening too wiped to even write, much less photograph my accomplishments.

Today, by contrast, I lay in bed. I did bestir myself enough to open up my Lady Grey pattern, unfold the tissue, separate the pieces, and mark out the size 2 in a felt marker so I can trace them off more easily later. I napped, or tried to. In a fit of boredom, I took another stab at designing labels, this time using Inkscape (since I have it on my laptop, whereas my elderly copy of

Labels made in Inkscape. Also a cooler font.

Illustrator only runs on the old XP desktop). Inkscape is another vector graphics program, rather like Illustrator’s awkward, ungainly cousin. It has one huge advantage over Illustrator—it’s free—and one smaller one, which is that although its user-interface is fairly clunky, I actually find it more intuitive than Illustrator’s, which has to be the least-intuitive graphics program I’ve ever messed with*.

Anyway, you can see the outcome. The illustration actually printed out quite nicely… I was a little worried about

Label, v. 2.0

that. And here is the label in place in my coat:

So that’s where I’m at.

Oh, Self-stitched September.

Self-Stitched September, day 20


Lydia v. 4


All right. Off to bed.

*I’ve never actually had any formal training in graphic arts. All of my photoshop prowess, which is passable, and my Illustrator and Inkscape and GIMP fu, which are rather less, come from messing around. A lot of messing around. If you have actual training in any of these programs, my hat is off to you and you can undoubtedly make them dance circles around what little I can do.


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I hung the coat from my upstairs railings down into the kitchen below to facilitate hemming it.

Erm, y’know that coat?

Yeah, the one I’ve been cracking away at all week?

That I was hoping to finish today or tomorrow?

So here’s the thing.

I don’t have any buttons for it.

Yeah, I know. Wee bit of an oversight, there.

Um. I’m forgetful that way?

I do have the button insta-stash now, but while it does have a few large buttons, it has nothing like the eight to ten matching ones I need for this coat.

Now, in addition to having no buttons, I have no money. Zero cash. As in, bank overdrawn, credit card maxed, parents already hit up for money this month. Ouch. September always bites this way, and every year I swear I’m going to plan for it, and every year it whams us like a frying pan. I had tuition to pay, kids have school fees (most of which I put off but I kinda have to pay for Syo’s school bus fees up front because… well, it’s a long, ranting story better saved for the non-existant “Kids school blog.” And I had to register and book a plane ticket to the big yearly conference I’m presenting at next month. Speaking of which, anyone know any good fabric stores in Pittsburgh?

Anyway, next installment of money comes soon, we are not about to starve or lose the house or anything, but it does mean I can’t justify buying buttons until at least next week. No coat for me. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

However, that didn’t stop me from spending most of my Saturday (between ferrying hubby to work and Syo to buy a birthday present

A whole lotta coat!

and then later go to the birthday party) working at the coat. It’s almost entirely hemmed now. The front facings still hate me (or each other). I swear by the time I’m done the front panels are pretty much going to be pad-stitched to each other. It’s like some part of my brain is convinced that if I throw enough hand-stitching at it, it’ll all turn out alright. I think I need to coin a new word for this… basse couture? Pauvre couture? Whatever it is, it’s like the opposite of haute couture, but still with all the hand-work.

Also, I spread it out on the floor just to see, and the skirt is almost a full three-quarter circle. That’s a whole lotta coat!

I really hope this coat ends up gorgeous at some point. Because on the hanger it just sorta looks bleh. And I was not going for bleh. Not at all. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I think tomorrow I need a quick, satisfying project. Another Lydia or something.

In Self-Stitched September news, the outfit is a complete, item-for-item repeat of the ninth, so I decided to accessorize.

Self-Stitched September, day 18

The backdrop of my crummy garage really doesn't do us justice, I know.

I know, you can’t really see the clothes.

Self-Stitched September, day 18

In real life the skulls are actually a medium grey. They reflect the flash from the camera, however.

Sadly, I don’t actually ride this myself. I do an awesome job of looking cute on the back, however (or so my hubby assures me). I hope we get at least a few more days in before the season truly ends.


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So close…

Zig-zag butted edges and twill-tape covering

And yet so far away.

The interlining is assembled. This was interesting and kind of fun, but not very tricky. I cut it out sans seam allowance, butted the edges, and stitched them together with a three-step zig-zag. Then, just to make the join stronger, I covered it with twill tape stitched down on each side.

Then I ran out of twill tape.

Unwilling to be delayed or sacrifice the two hours it would take to get to Fabricland on transit to get more twill tape, I

My space suit!

sacrificed some nice ribbon instead. Sorry. If I’d had crummy ribbon I would’ve used that. Well, at least it’s pretty.

I actually have gotten quite a bit further… I have lining inserted, collar attached, and am currently fighting with the hem. It’s not going well. The front panel has an edge on the bias, which stretched out when I hung it up. Now, I’m pretty sure the instructions included a part on hanging before hemming… but anyway, it threw off the fit with the front facing, which is interfaced so didn’t stretch… I was suppose to interface the front itself but I messed it up… actually the instructions didn’t say which until AFTER, I guess assuming your front and facing pieces will be interchangeable. Sine I had to piece together my facings, that wasn’t really an option. So anyway, I’m having some issues there. I’ll take pictures when it’s looking a little more kick-ass than it is now, hopefully by the end of the weekend.

In Self-Stitched September news, here’s today’s outfit:

Self-Stitched September, day 16

I am a goddess of compassion.

As you can see, it’s only one piece (the pants… ok it’s actually the other Lydia shirt but really, the arms are identical) off from this much better pic from last week.

Self-Stitched September 6

But really, I'm just a goofball.

Taking pics outside is WAY more fun, I think.

Anyway, having sewed more than I ought to today (even if I don’t have much to show for it yet), I will take my leave… hopefully when we meet again I’ll have a coat to show off!


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The north wind doth blow…

And we shall have snow. Apparently by tomorrow morning.

pause for a lengthy insertion of expletives.

Okies, moving on. Or, not really moving. The kids-in-school thing is definitely turning into a stranglehold. Tyo had homework, dictee (spelling in French… yes, my children are receiving their education in French), and a bunch of forms for me to fill out. Between that, running to the grocery store, and making supper, somehow the evening flew and I barely got anything resembling sewing done at all. Here is my progress:

What will be the interlining of my coat

I traced around the pattern pieces with marker because I was too lazy to pin them down. The plan is to cut them out (minus seam allowances) and butt the eges together and stitch with a 3-step zig-zag, possibly reinforced with twill tape. We’ll see how this goes.

But, in happier news, I opened my mail this morning and look what came!

Ceylon and Lady Grey!

Colette patterns! Are those not the cutest little pattern booklets you’ve ever seen? (ok I’m sure they’re old news to everyone else in blogland, deal) You open them up and there’s the instructions in a little booklet on the left, and a pocket with ย the folded tissue on the right.

Inside: instructions (in booklet form) on the left, pattern on the right

I got to admit, for a $20 pattern I may prefer the Jalie way of printing it on real paper, but these are adorable anyway, and more compact.

Now Gertie’s officially starting the Lady Grey sewalong tomorrow (cutting muslins) and somehow I’m thinking I’m not going to make it. Especially since I don’t have my original winter coat done. Which I need, and soon, if it’s going to start freakin’ snowing on us.

Speaking of coats, I decided to photograph today’s ensemble with mine, since otherwise it’s an incredibly boring repeat (Lydia and Jalie jeans, OMFG). This is not a self-stitched piece, it’s thrifted, ages ago (but if I started counting thrifted and hand-me-down items for the challenge, well, that’s almost everything in my wardrobe except some of my jeans). I’m liking the cozy thrown over one shoulder under the coat… it works like a big red scarf, and keeps my belly warm since the coat itself doesn’t have any closure. It’s a lovely coat, though, as long as you’re wearing it for purely fashion-related purposes. Which I’m not.

Self-Stitched September, day 15

Speaking of which, it’s officially halfway through September. Crap. Well, I got SOME of what I needed to get done accomplished. Anyway, I have done it “all” Self-Stitched. Barring, y’know, socks and undies and sweaters and coats. But pretty much all self-stitched. Hurray! Thanks for the encouragement, you guys, because I would not have had the guts to step it up if you hadn’t.

And, y’know, it’s not so much that I’m bored of wearing the clothes, so much as I’m bored of recording the same ones over and over. Yet on some level I’ve bought in to a must-photograph-to-document-my-participation kind of mentality. Kinda weird. Anyway, what do you think? Continue with the daily outfit or let it slide? At least it gives me something to blog about on the days like today when I got almost nothing done. On the other hand, it’s pretty boring. Which is worse, no post or boring post? ๐Ÿ˜‰


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Twinkle, twinkle, little bat

More edgy photography by Tyo... if you tilt your head right you can see a few under-arm wrinkles left.

How I wonder where I’m at?

Hrrrmm. Working on this coat definitely does not produce the kind of instant satisfaction sewing a Lydia or a cardi-wrap does. But, I have conquered the sleeves of doom. Or, at least, we’ve fought each other to a standstill, an uneasy cease-fire marred only by occasional skirmishes as I tug futilely at the remaining wrinkles under the sleeve. It’s not perfect, but considering my limitations in the no-dressform department and my idiotic abandonment of the idea of using pieces from the same pattern that actually match… well, I can’t really complain. It took many rounds of pinning, basting, and ultimately a felt-tip marker, but they’re in.

Oh crap. Now I have to do that all over again with the lining.


I tackled that touchy subject, the shoulder-pad. Now, my original pattern called for 1/2 shoulder pads. Can we say 80s, anyone? I generally

Believe it or not, this is the inside of my coat (sleeve to the bottom). The blobby half-circle thing is the shoulder pad, the white thing is the sleeve head.

don’t think my shoulders need much additional breadth, plus I’m pretty sure I removed most of that ease when I petite’d the jacket bodice, but I figured I’d give some thin pads a try. I took two layers of my coat fabric, cut into half-circles and zig-zagged along one edge, with a smaller half-circle inserted between to give it a bit more substance. And, y’know, it really does smooth out the look of the shoulder. I also did my own improvised sleeve-heads, which I may even have inserted properly, and they seem to help, too, with giving a nice, smooth line to the shoulder. So I may be half-ass, but I’m only a half-ass half-ass. Or something. For some reason in the picture above one side looks pointier than the other, which is certainly possible but I don’t really see it in the real coat so I’m going to hope it’s an artefacte of the monster’s photography.

Anyway, here’s the front view:

Gee, I look short. That's kind of amazing, actually.

And the back view:

Coat back. I look less short, for some reason.

And this is the inside where the pocket is hanging out (Tyo figured you needed to see this. I’m mostly including it because it’s the closest we got to photographing my clothing today—the

Coat inside, and today's outfit.

Manequim cowl top and the black Jalie jeans again. I believe I’m wearing them both in this original picture, anyway, which is much more flattering than anything I can pull of today. I won’t lie, I came close to cracking and putting on RTW jeans today… but I gritted my teeth and got another day’s wear out of the black jalies. The nice thing about this overly-stretchy fabric-store denim is it doesn’t bag out as badly at the knees as the RTW does, which is usually my cue to change my pants. The ex-capris are washed now and assuming they’re dry by tomorrow I’ll be back in them. Isn’t this exciting?!?)

Ok, the hubby is whining that I’m not spending time (aka watching TV) with him, so I’d better go bum around support my marriage. Tomorrow… lining sleeves! And interlining.


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Splurgey Splurgertons

It’s almost my birthday. I can justify it. Right?


My favourite was this red sweater knit. It was NOT cheap, but none of the cheaper alternatives had this fabulous colour. But I got two yards; I’m hoping I can get a warm topper and a long-sleeve shirt out of it (I may be overly optimistic). I also got a couple of yards of a much more reasonably priced plain black knit, from which I hope to get a long-sleeved Lydia that could be worn under nearly anything as the weather gets colder, and maybe a better version of one of my cowl-necks. Ichigogirl has a tutorial on Burdastyle for putting cap-sleeves on her cowl neck top, and they look great. What really broke the bank (it is, after all, a very small bank) was the 4m of black Kasha lining I picked up for my Lady Grey (I haven’t picked a fabric yet, but linings were 50% off and black seemed a safe bet for whatever. I want it in red, of course, ideally with a black hem- and cuff-stripe and points across a lapel ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Self Stitched September (day 5): Fall Arrives

Sept. 5

Sept. 5

If it weren’t here already, anyway. The forecast daytime high is like 11C.

Top: Cowl Neck Top

Bottoms: Jalie 2908 (black, skinny version)

On the plus side, I finally made some progress on the winter coat!!! And I might even love it after all.

Winter coat!

I don’t think this picture really does it justice… I love how long and full the skirt is! Of course, now I need to get the sleeves on, which is going to be where the fit hits the shan, as I’m using a different sleeve. I cut it with lots of ease in the sleeve cap, so I’m hoping by dint of a lot of basting I can get it working. It would be a lot easier if I had a dress form. I’m really glad I shortened the upper chest of the pattern—the bust fits in a better spot now and I think the armpits won’t look so droopy as they do on the pattern envelope. The waist seems really high but it actually hits at my natural waist, as opposed to an inch below it where most stuff hits. ย I also have the lining partly cut out. Now I need to do a no-seam-allowance version of the bodice for the interlining.

But I’m probably going to work on a Lydia instead.

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I cut out my coat!

Yes, that is what you think it is.

It’s what, until a few hours ago, was 5 m of 60″ wide “unknow fibre” coating. Yup, this stuff.

Winter Coat Supplies

This is Progress On The Winter Coat. The project that, really, started it all.

I might just pass out with excitement. Or is it exhaustion?

I’ve probably rambled about this before, but not in a few months, so here it goes:

I wear long winter coats. Now, I live in Canada. The climate I grew up with is very similar to the climate of Siberia. The area I live in now is somewhat more moderate, but still, a nice warm winter coat is a must.

A nice, stylish winter coat, on the other hand, is almost impossible to find. Those which are warm enough are mostly down-filled parkas with all the flair and panache of the Marshmallow Man, and those with an ounce of style are never, ever, ever warm enough.

All right. I admit—I have not worn a full-length fur coat out in real cold. It’s possible that would be warm enough, and still stylish, depending on how much you wish to enrage the PETAns. But even this delightful, and very Canadian, Hudson’s Bay Blanket coat I had in University wasn’t really warm enough. Shortly after I

Old Winter Coat

tearfully acknowledged that I had worn it to death, my mom scrounged the coat to the left out of a duffel bag found in an alley. Thrifting at its best, right?

It’s lovely. (Well, it was, except for the sleeves being too short). ย I would call it a fall weight, however; it’s a single layer of medium-weight wool coating and a thin lining. No tag indicating fibre content, but it certainly feels like wool. Made in Belarus, if that’s of interest. I’ve worn it for the last four or

My worn-out winter coat

five years, through two sets of buttons and some serious pocket surgery. I got through winter by the practical but not overly stylish method of layering two to three hooded sweaters underneath it, at least one as long as the coat itself, depending on the temperature. By this past spring, however, the back was getting… a little worn out. I won’t even show you the lining.

But—I had a plan. After Christmas, when I was searching out patterns for my girls’ coats, I had also stumbled upon this:

My Winter Coat Pattern

Butterick 5425. Everything I could possibly want, as far as I could tell, in a winter coat. I was going to make my own! It would be lined, underlined, interlined, and super-duper warm! It would be classy and stylish! It would have long enough sleeves! And really, considering that the kind of coats I like really cost hundreds of dollars, and still wouldn’t be warm enough and would have too-short sleeves, I could spend an awful lot of money on fabric and still come in cheaper.

Now, I will make a confession: if I were picking a pattern now, I might not choose this one. I’ve seen a lot more patterns for coats now, and having made the muslin I’m not totally thrilled with the armscye of this one. But I still love the princess seams and the full, long skirt and the pattern was almost twenty bucks, so I’m going with it. I made some alterations to the upper bodice (shortened the whole thing a touch) and I’m going with a different, two-piece sleeve. With any luck this will fix my dislikes, although given my recent track-record with jackets I’m not feeling as optimistic as I was a few months ago.

This spring, in the depths of the spring clearance at fabricland, I found my fabric. Like the pattern, it’s probably not perfect—I don’t think it’s pure wool, for one thing—but it will do. At least for this first coat. More recently, I finally got my other materials together. So for the last month or so I’ve been dodging around actually starting the damn thing.

But—as of today—it’s cut. Progress! I actually gave up on tracing the pattern, as that step was blocking me too much. Yes, I confess, I cut a pattern. I’m disappointed, too; I’m sure I’ll regret it later. I’d like to have it finished by the end of September, so I’ll be able to devote my full attention to the Lady Grey Coat Sew-Along!

(I know, a little weird to be making the winter coat before the fall one. Sorry, can’t be helped.)

All right… that was a lot of words for not a lot of actual progress. But it is progress, nonetheless.


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That’s it.

I want a duct-tape double.

Not that I’d scoff at a fully-fledged dress form (most duct-tape doubles are a touch ugly, and not always as accurate as you would hope) but I’d rather spend my money on fabric (speaking of, the linings at Fabricland were on sale buy 1m, get 1 free last week, which is the sale I need to get my lining for my winter coat—and I had no money. Hopefully it will still be ongoing come payday. They don’t have black, but they do have oodles of a light grey that would work. Alternatively I could go for a crazy colour—burgundy, say, or teal—and have an awesome surprise inside my coat. I like that thought, actually).

So, doubles. I want to be able to fit stuff (especially in the back!) and that’s just hard to do on yourself. And I’m going to need something to hang my coat on for hemming—that big skirt is going to have tons of bias stretching out at the hem that will need to be trimmed before hemming. Not hard to do when someone else is wearing the garment, but hard to do yourself. If I make one over a coat-hanger, I can hang it in the closet and keep it out of the way when not in use, too.

Also, I can spend way more time than I can possibly justify reading about tailoring.


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