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16 April 2014

Final Winter sew: a coat!

As promised here is my last project for Winter: a plaid coat! 
WARNING: this post is loooooong! If you don't want to be bored look at the pictures :-)
I have a coat for Winter but as you can see on my pictures from my last trip to London, it's not the most beautiful one, although it is really warm. 
But I wanted a pretty one. 
I had in my stash a piece of wool fabric that happened to be large enough to make a coat out of it, so there I was, I decided to make my first coat ever!  

Am I going to state the obvious? Yes this coat is really the sum of what I seem to enjoy: plaid and purple... I really should expend my tastes!

Making the pattern was rather easy, I am used to it know. I took my block pattern added 0,5 cm all around except around the neck and did the same for the sleeves. 
The rest is just a question of taste, I lurked on the Internet to find coats I liked, shaked the ideas in my head and voilà! Plaid and leather (faux leather), I think it's current and Winter appropriate.

Concerning the sewing part I thought I would try myself with tailoring, but there was no horse hair at the shop, nor silk thread. 
OK, so no fancy tailoring. But there is not one way of making a coat, you can still have a nice looking one without using enhanced techniques. Here is what I did with the help of my sewing book.

I interfaced all the important parts : neck, coat and sleeve hem, facings, collar, upper part of the chest until the bust dart. I didn't interface the back because it's mainly leather.

interfacing the hem of the sleeve
I added some cotton ribbon to all the important seams. It's mainly those who give a nice crisp look: collar, facings and hem. I just followed my book. 

attaching the collar
I attached the collard in a different way as usual. I stitched one side to the facing and the other to the coat, then turned the edges facing the "gap" inside, pressed  and hand stitched together the two stitches so that the edges facing the outside stay on the outside. Does it make sense? The goal is to reduce the width of the edges by distributing them inside and outside of the collar.

I did quite a lot of hand stitching on the coat. I can't say it tool me a long time. Anyway I was watching the Great British bake off at the same time, so time passed on really quick!

In the pictures below you can see that there is a lot of folding and attaching the lining to other seams or seam allowances. The result is nice, you can see sometimes that it has been attached by hand. I find it really fancy: my coat is partially hand sewn! What a luxury!!

attaching the lining
Before, I added some fleece to the lining, because Winter is cold and my fabric was not thick enough.

I really enjoyed that part. It went on really fast and if I might say, really pretty. I cut my lining then added some fluffy fleece. As you can see the fleece is cut without seam allowance, then pinned.

I traced my stitching line on the lining, and simply used a wavy stitch on my machine. I had no problem with it, even with the fleece face down. I was really pleased with my machine!

I also did something funny:

It' really simple, I cut three circles of fleece and shaped them in the form I needed. It's a really interesting method because the pads are custom made to the exact measurements that you need. Us seamstresses we know that we are all different and we have special needs for our clothes.

How pretty are my shoulder pads! They are simply attached by hand to the shoulder seam and sleeve head. I my opinion it is a really compulsory addition to a tailored garment, it really gives the sleeve an elegant finish, by keeping it's shape.

Of course, as I make my own patterns, I have to find out how to attach all the pieces together. I usually don't need a lot of help from my book, but as it was the first time I was making a coat I decided to be serious and to make everything as good as I could so I gathered information in the sewing book make by the same person that wrote my pattern making book, and ugh...

There was not a specific chapter for coat making or simply tailoring. I had to go back and forth across several chapters, and even inside the chapters, that lazy women often doesn't explain everything, she just refers you to previous paragraphs, I hate that !! I made it through, but next time, I will copy the pages I need to make myself my own coat making book!

In commercial patterns sleeves head are often not gathered. It's an old way of making sleeves I believe. But I make my pattern the old may. So I had to gather my sleeves. It's easy on thick wool, but it's my nightmare on thin fabric.

Patched pockets are the best! No fuss, easy, fast, LOVE!

The coat is closed with a fancy metal zipper.

Can you believe I don't like to read long posts? I should have sliced it into several but I really wanted to be over with winter sewing... and also I am not good with this blogging thing.

I saw before cutting the fabric, that it seemed to be a bit thin. But I had no other fabric and I really wanted to make a coat! Maybe a solution would have been to interface everything, to give it some body.
What is done is done. Maybe if I am bored one day I will hand stitch the lining to the fabric of the coat, so that it will be one. I think it would be nice.

But I think I did a good job, I really like it and seems to be warm, although maybe not warm enough for really cold temperatures. No problem, I'll just make a new one!

We had warm weather the past weeks (of course now it's over...), many trees have leaves and I have begun sewing for spring and summer. Can't wait to show you. Spoiler alert: there might be some purple outfits :-)


31 March 2014

one pattern, three pants, the last one.

I thought I needed some pants to go to London. Turned out I didn't, but this is another story!
As you know, I sew from my stash. I didn't really have a lot of fabric left for winter, so I went for some plaid. 

The pattern is the same that of my Chanel pants. But this time I didn't make any alteration to the original.

my original sailor's pants
Same length, same back welted pocket, 

welted pocket
same sailor's pants look.

plaid sailor's pants
It's really interesting to use the same pattern with different fabrics. The green fabric is rather sturdy, so the pants really have a sharp clean look. But that plaid one is different. It's all synthetic so I had to line it to be able to wear my pants in cold weather. The feeling is different, the legs don't behave the same way as in the green one. They don't fall straight, I think I'll have to iron them strongly.


I used a new technique for me: underlining. Basically, you cut your pattern two times, first in your fashion fabric, second in lining and then you work with the two fabrics are if they were one. I think this is a fast method of sewing, but I don't really fancy the result. It is clean but it's not as nice a when you line a garment. I like when the stitching is hidden.

But I was in a hurry, so I chose to underline. You could say that if I was in a hurry I shouldn't have chosen a plaid fabric :-)

aligning stripes
I don't know what's with me and sewing in a hurry, but it's clearly not a good mix!
I managed to line correctly the fabric, and then I realised that maybe I had cut the fabric in the wrong way...
Can you see the black stripe? Should I have put it, because it's strong, horizontally?? I am baffled. I have found explanations on how to cut and align plaid all the way trough the pattern, but no explanation on how to make it look nice!
Look at the side:

Horizontally it matches, but clearly something is off. Look at the hip, see how the black stripe finishes its course in the stitching line in a strange way? I makes me wonder...
I think it stresses that when dealing with plaid, you should really have a lot of fabric to be able to play with it and find a appealing way of aligning all this mess.

BUT, all plaids are different right? So,  maybe the smaller the pattern, the smaller the plaid we should use, don't you think? 

Maybe this was my problem, the plaid print was a bit to big. But, I don't really mind too much. You got to love your stuff right? Especially when you make it. I mean, it's comfortable, it's original, I like them. 

Oh, look:

Fancy buttons! Can I say it again? I love my stash!! Gold and blue, it adds a fancy note to the pants, and I'm always happy to know that I wear something that comes from my dear island.

Well, winter related post are almost over. Next my coat and then it's going to be all fun colours and no more plaid!!

28 March 2014

one pattern, 3 pants

This month I attended a baptism in London. My idea was to make a pair of pants for the event, knowing that the weather could be cold, maybe too cold to wear a dress. I really don't like being cold!

This is what I made. The fabric is a wool bouclette. At first I thought I would make a coat out of it. But, hey, I can change my mind no? It is really soft, I mean it feels like I am in my pyjamas, elegant pyjamas!

Maybe I should have stuck to my first idea because the fabric is a bit heavy. I have worn it a few time already, but not an entire day's work. Will see if it holds itself  when I 'll go back to work.

Contrary to normal I reused a pattern. I almost never do that.

Excuse the poor quality of the pictures, I took them in a hurry for the blog. Those pants are my favourite. The colour is really bold, a very nice green, and the fabric doesn't winkle or poach at the knees. They are sailor's pants.

sailor's pants
Hum, sailor's pants, it could be the subject of another post. But today I am talking about my beige pants, stay focused Kate!

As you can see I changed the front of the pants. No more sailing stuff, just a plain front with no darts (I know I said I would stop this non sense, and I have! I just made the pants before this life changing decision).
Instead I opted for pockets.

In my mind, I was making Chanel pants. The fabric, the colour. I screamed Chanel to me.
There are four pockets. The ones on the front are bigger then those on the back. I had problems figuring out the size of the front pockets. And the placement was not easy either.
I fixed them by hand. I didn't want any top stitching.  These are not sportswear.

Ha, the buttons. Gold seamed to be a good idea. But what golden buttons? I made a first selection from my personal collection :-)

I finally picked some elegant black and gold buttons. I think they are maybe a tiny bit small. I might try and find them in a bigger size this summer. The shop where I buy them has really a huge stock, I might be lucky!

After trying them on, I decided I needed a lining. I know, bad idea to decide that after finishing the last details... But I think it is quite compulsory with this kind of fabric. The weaving is so loose, I am sure that after only one hour of wearing them, the pants would have looked terrible.
And the lining is so comfortable, I smile of pleasure each time I put on the pants, it's divine!!

I added some bias to fancy up the inside. The bias is hand sewed to the waist band on the side where you can see it. Same for the hem.

bias at the hem
This is what I really like about home sewing. I can make myself fancy outfits I would never be able to buy, or maybe just one every once in a while. But never enough to make an entire wardrobe.
And also, I don't know if you have this problem, but in Brittany the weather can be cold in Winter, and our Summers are not the most warm either. But it is really hard to find wool clothes, or pants with a lining at moderate prices. It is sometimes hard to find sweater with sleeves, I am not kidding !
Here in Germany you can buy all sorts of gear for winter. I have to say it's really nice, but I am not staying in Germany, so a round of applause for home sewing and the ability to make clothes that fits us and the weather we leave in!

The pants were fast to make, just long straight seams. But I didn't wear them to the baptism.

Why? They look so good!
Instead I chose to wear my purple dress. Just because.

I thought it would be better for the trip to have pants who resist a long day of walking and who can be worn with flat shoes. Witch is not the case of my beige pants. The hem is for high hells.

That's all there is to say I think. I might call them my Chanel pants. They may not be worn again before Autumn, it seems that spring is already here this year. No complaints from me.
I have two winter related outfits to show you and I am of to spring sewing! Glorious dresses! I can't wait for it !

9 March 2014

The dress I forgot I did, and I really don't know why.

Rock and roll everyone!!

How could I forget that I had made this super cool dress?? It's all part of my plan to sew more intelligently, and by that I mean, making things that fit into my life and are more current.
I know I said I was going to make a special unworn garments in London, but I figured, why not posting those pictures, who knows when the husband is going to be free?

I had some fake leather left from my previous shirt, and I also had some wool. I have to say that, when I bought the wool I was not really sure what to do with it. It's a bit thick and I didn't get a lot, so, what to do with it?

I had barely enough to make the dress. At fist I was going for a warm sort of shirt, but the winter is so mild, and I love short dresses. And also I was watching Project runway and really loved that dress from Michelle Lesniak Franklin:

I also had some studs, kind of, in my stash (I love having a stash, it really makes sewing easier).


I just glued them on the fake leather. Really fun to make. But I omitted them on the back, because I was afraid I would fell them while seated in a sofa. And sofa time is important!
lapped zipper
 As you can see, the front has no pleats. It had at firt, this was a big mistake! All those pleats, bah! It was awful. It created too much volume, I had to take them of.

The dress has no dart, the one you see is from the lining. I should really stop trying to make garments with no darts. I takes an awful lot of time to figure out, and the fit is always less good. Maybe it's a nice option for women with a small bust, but it's not my case, so I should just abandon the idea and begin loving darts!

I love darts!
Yes, just like that. 
But hey, I think I am doing not too bad this year considering that the weather is really not helping. In Germany Winter is supposed to be cold. So I bought fabrics for snow... And it has never snowed this year! See, I can take pictures outside without freezing.

That's all for this one, nothing complicated, it feels nice to wear.
I just wish I had a fabric shop nearby with normal prices, I think I would make a few dresses out of wool again, but in spring colors (I also wish I had bought those fabulous boots I saw in Rennes, they would look sooo nice with the dress).

Anyway, I have to do with what I have, my stock of warm fabric arrives to its end, so hopefully the weather will stay warm, and I will authorized myself to dive into spring sewing in a few weeks. In the mean time I have some interesting ideas, you'll see soon!!