Quilted coat toile

I’ve finally picked the pattern for my winter coat and found the perfect fabric so on to making a toile. The pattern is Burda 114 11/2019. I’m not intending to make a lot of changes, just to miss off the bow and make my usual length alterations.

Burda 114 11/2019 line art

Here are a couple of front views. Excuse the terrible lighting and phone pictures. For this toile I have included the facings and pinned up all the hems so the edges are where they will be on the final version.

The sleeve and hem lengths are good. It doesn’t look super roomy here but there’s a lot of ease in the body. Even with the front opening pinned all the way down it’s easy to walk in. In the real thing there will be a two way zip so it can be partly opened at the bottom for even more space.

Burda 114 11/2019 toile front view
Burda 114 11/2019 toile front view showing sleeve length

Now the back and the side. The shoulder seam is in the right place. The ease is much more apparent from the back. However I think it’s all going to be needed because the final coat will have a thick layer of wadding under the shell fabric. I often make a rounded back adjustment on outerwear which I find improves the arm mobility, but I didn’t need to on this one because the back is already roomy.

Burda 114 11/2019 toile back view

I think the front needs to be very slightly longer to make the hem level.

Burda 114 11/2019 toile side view

The pockets are in a good place. I haven’t included the pocket bags on the toile but I have doubts about whether they are deep enough. Oddly enough on this picture it looks like the back is too long. But I think it’s the way I’m contorting myself to get the photo combined with the angle of the mirror.

Burda 114 11/2019 toile side view showing pocket

The collar is enormous. I like a dramatic collar but I’m going to adjust the shape of this one a little. The front edge is drafted dead straight but looks a bit concave here so I shall correct for that on the pattern. If it doesn’t work I can always re sew along the original stitching line. I also notice the collar seems wider than in the technical drawing but I’m going to leave that alone because it might change with the wadding in, and can always be adjusted later by sewing a deeper seam.

Burda 114 11/2019 toile collar

So all in all pretty good. I’m hoping to cut the real fabric out this weekend.

Argh! On finding the right fabric

I always knew what fabric I was going to make my quilted winter coat out of: a silver foiled denim that I’d previously used for a pair of jeans. I had a couple of metres left in stash and it was still available from the original website so I was planning to buy a bit more to make up the necessary length. This is my original sample from when I made the jeans. It’s really bright silver on a black denim substrate.

Sample of foiled denim fabric

I’d carefully worked out the exact amount of extra to buy by laying all my pattern pieces out according to the width of the fabric and crawling around with a measuring tape.

Then doubt set in. The pattern recommendation is for ‘technical fabrics backed with batting’. I take ‘technical fabrics’ to mean those lightweight water resistant polyester and nylon things. Here’s the line drawing for the pattern so you have some idea of the sort of garment I’m talking about.

Burda 114/11/2019 quilted coat technical drawing

The denim is medium weight and not at all drapey. Would the quilting lines even show up? Would the whole thing be too heavy and stiff? I sent off for some samples of alternatives.

Sample of lame fabric from Minerva crafts
Sample of lame fabric from eBay
Sample of foiled viscose from Minerva Crafts

Here are all four fabrics together.

The three new ones are at the top. They are all described as lame, but in the top two the shine comes from metallic threads in the weave and the third one is a plain white fabric that’s been coated. The fourth (bottom one) in the picture is the original foiled denim.

The first two are definitely not suitable. They have a very crispy hand and are almost transparent.

The third one is very drapey – the base is a lightweight woven viscose – but at least it’s opaque. I was concerned about the lack of body through – I’ve got to sew a heavy zip and snaps to this thing. I’m not sure how you measure drapiness scientifically, but hanging it over a chopstick demonstrates the problem.

At this point I was seriously considering going in another direction altogether. Burda had made up the jacket length version of this pattern in a gorgeous velvet which seemed like a good alternative. I went down a rabbit hole searching for the perfect grey woven velvet but nothing quite fitted the bill.

So after days of agonising I went looking on Pinterest to see if quilted denim coats are even a thing, and if so what they look like. And actually I found quite a few. They aren’t as super puffy as the nylon sort, but they don’t look ridiculous. (Yes I appreciate that a silver coat is a fundamentally ridiculous garment. But I want the particular ridiculous look I’m aiming for, not a different one.)

So, greatly relieved to have made a decision, I went back to the original plan. You can no doubt guess the next bit. I went online to order the foiled denim fabric, only to find it has sold out. And I still hadn’t found any alternative I really liked.

Finally I came across an old sample I’d acquired last year of what I think is called a tonic fabric: it combines black and white yarns in a twill weave to give a shiny, almost metallic effect. It’s a cotton/acetate blend, it’s opaque, it has more body than the viscose, and most importantly the supplier still has it in stock. I leapt on it! It should arrive next week.

Burda 116 09/2014 modelled photos

Burda 116 09/2014

So we set out last weekend to get some modelled photos of my Burda 116 09/2014 shirt dress. I’d intended to go to the local country park, which has some great locations for photography. But my three year old really wanted to visit a particular playground in a nearby housing estate instead, so here I am disporting myself on playground equipment an attempt to get interesting shots. Kudos to my husband for managing to make a fairly small and toddler friendly climbing frame look dramatic.

The photo below shows a bit more detail. The dress is made from lightweight ivory stretch cotton poplin from Tissu Fabrics so it’s more of a big shirt than a dress. I’m wearing it over my fake leather leggings in these pictures. The original Burda version was chambray and was styled as a dress.

Here’s the Burda version for comparison.

The back view is almost entirely plain. It needs a yoke to break it up a bit. It looks a bit wide in the shoulders here but it’s certainly comfortable to wear.

As I suspected the pockets on the bodice are not very useful because there isn’t enough depth below the opening for anything to stay in them. The position is unusual too; they start just at the bust point. They add some interest to the front and that’s about it.

Burda 116 09 2014

The bodice has come out a bit blousey. I added the usual amount of length I do for Burda patterns, so that would be worth checking if you’re making this. It’s possible that the problem is actually too much interfacing in the front bands; there’s a layer in each band and two in the button band so it’s got a lot of body. Next time I’d definitely only interface one side of the buttonhole band.

As for styling this: I think it works with the leggings, and it also looks OK with black tights and a black long sleeved t shirt underneath. I’ve also worn it with my grey Oxford bags. So it’s fairly versatile. I’m not sure I’d make it again as a shirt, but it might be a good summer shirt dress.

So that’s another ticked off my list of favourite Burda dress patterns. I’m putting that project down for a bit, because the next thing I’m tackling is my long delayed winter coat.

Tracing

It’s finally time to start my winter coat project. I’ve made a decision at last: it’s going to be Burda 114 11/2019, but without the ribbon tie. There’s a zip and snaps under the overlap so I don’t think I’ll miss the tie.

As it is a Burda pattern, that means the first step is tracing the pieces from the magazine. I do this on thin paper off a huge roll I bought from Morplan some years ago. It’s the most cost effective way to get good tracing paper that I’ve found. But when I came to start this one, I discovered I was at the end of the roll. It seems unbelievable that I’ve used up 300m of tracing paper. I trace envelope patterns as well as magazine patterns but even so I’m surprised.

I’ve acquired another of the rolls now and started work. Tracing really does take time. I’ve heard people say they can trace off a Burda pattern in half an hour. By the time I’ve copied the original pieces, added the seam and hem allowances, done the pattern adjustments I need, and checked it all still fits together I’m looking at 2-3 hours total for a moderately complicated pattern. This coat has only nine pieces – I have used patterns in the past with more than 30! I’ve already got gadgets for adding seam allowance, and a big table to work on. I really don’t know how else to make it any faster. Top tips welcome; I can’t wait to get through the tracing and get on with a toile.

More Burda dresses: Burda 116 09/2014

I’ve been working on this shirt dress for about a month now. It’s Burda 116 09/2014. This has been on my Burda to-sew list for a long time, but I struggled to find the right fabric. Burda’s version is in grey chambray. The variant design (tunic length, with a hood instead of a collar) is made in wool muslin – a fabric I don’t think I have ever encountered in the wild.

Mine’s ivory stretch cotton poplin from Tissu fabrics. This makes it more of a big shirt than a shirt dress – at least that’s how I’m intending to wear it. I had the fabric in stash, left over from a very full-skirted McCalls shirt dress I made a while ago, and eventually realised it would work for this. There was only just enough and I had to piece the drawstring casing. It’s so satisfying to only have tiny scraps left over though.

This is a dress with a lot going on. I find a lot of sewing patterns have much less detail than equivalent ready-to-wear garments, but this one can’t be accused of that. About the only thing missing is a back yoke. I haven’t got any modelled pictures yet, but here are closeups of all the crunchy details.

The collar is unusual. It’s a band collar, but it stops where the front placket starts instead of overlapping. This makes for quite a weak point at that sharp inward corner between the band and the placket. I’m a bit concerned it won’t wear well and I think next time I’d add some interfacing there.

There are patch pockets on the front, which I suspect are more decorative than useful, and side seam pockets too.

And then there’s a drawstring at the waist. Don’t look too hard at the buttonhole position; it’s too high. It won’t show when the drawstring is tied though.

The back is plain apart from the drawstring casing at the waist. I think a back yoke would be a nice addition but I’m way too lazy to adjust the pattern.

I love the hem treatment. There is a very deep hem facing which gives a completely clean finish. A weighty hem is so much nicer on this kind of dress than a narrow one.

The sleeves are finished with elastic in a casing instead of cuffs. I like how it echoes the waist.

I’m looking forward to figuring out how to style this. I might try it over my silver jeans or my grey Oxford bags. Lots of possibilities. Ideas welcome!

Andy’s gizmo

When I was doing GCSE Creative Textiles many many years ago one of the things the course included was ‘soft sculpture’: using fabric to create facsimiles of objects. I never thought I’d be using those techniques in real life. But last weekend I found myself recreating a prop from my son’s favourite TV programme in fabric and it’s actually a pretty similar process.

The prop is the ‘gizmo’ from Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures. It’s a blue mobile phone-like device that the lead character wears strapped to his arm. The gizmo is quite thick, so I used some scraps of foam heat resistant table covering to stuff it and give it shape. I also used heavy weight iron-on interfacing on the back of the blue felt body fabric.

The gizmo has a screen, which I made with black felt, and some controls which I machine embroidered. It attaches to an arm band with Velcro. Here’s the body fabric with the screen, embroidery and Velcro applied before I sewed it up.

The arm band is a rectangle of sweatshirting fabric. It is wrapped around the arm and is held together with Velcro on the long edges. The gizmo attaches to two smaller strips of Velcro.

And here’s the finished object. It’s already been well loved and the felt fabric is showing the effects. In Creative Textiles we used to use cotton twill fabric and paint it with glue to make our soft sculptures have a bit of body. I don’t think I’ll be going as far as using glue, but I bet denim or gabardine would work for the body fabric and be harder wearing.

I made a proper pattern for this, which turns out to be a good thing because we recently discovered Andy’s Wild Adventures; a very similar series to Dinosaur Adventures but the gizmo in it is red not blue. So this weekend I may be making a red version.

Knowing when to give up: Burda 116 09/2018

Looks OK on the dressform, doesn’t it? This is my version of Burda 116 09/2018, a fitted dress from my list of favourite Burda dresses. Here’s Burda’s version:

Model photo of Burda 116 09/2018. Blonde woman wearing fitted grey dress.

Sadly however the end result does not look at all OK on me. It’s oddly droopy in most places, and yet tight across the bust.

I did make a few changes which may have contributed to the problems. I used a stable ponte knit instead of a woven. I checked the ease on the pattern and it seemed OK for a knit, but once I tried the dress on I realised I should have sized down and done a full bust adjustment. I also added somewhat unsuccessful hip pockets; the lines don’t harmonise with the princess seams on the bodice very well. And I made the sleeves full length, only I got that wrong too and they are only full length because they’re not hemmed!

This is the dress where I followed Burda’s method for adding length to a bodice by splitting the adjustment above and below the bust point, instead of adding it all below as I’ve been doing for years. Many commenters said Burda’s instructions didn’t sound like a good idea and you were right! Look how deep the armscye is. At least I know now not to bother with that again.

I’m also not terribly happy with the neckline and collar. Burda’s version has square corners and a sharp v, but the sewing lines on the pattern are curved. I followed the pattern without really thinking, and the end result is pretty different to the one photographed in the magazine. It’s not curved enough to look intentional in my opinion.

I’m pleased with my top stitching though. There’s a lot of top stitched seam detail on the back. I skipped the centre back zip as I was using a knit.

I’m also quite pleased with the finish I got on the inside. The lining is black tricot mesh. It was an absolute beast to sew; it slipped and snagged at every opportunity.

But unfortunately I don’t think the dress is savable because of the armscye problem. Everything else could be fixed or lived with, but that would need recutting the whole bodice and I haven’t got any more of the fabric. And to be quite honest I’m pretty much over this one and don’t want to put the effort in! I’ll just have to chalk it up to experience.

Sewing top fives: goals

Sewing top fives of 2019 logo

And here is the last post of the sewing top five of 2019 series: goals. To make it more interesting I’m not making any concession to practicality. This is what I currently want to sew regardless of climate and lifestyle.

First up is a quilted winter coat in silver. As soon as I saw Burda 114 11/2019 I wanted to make a metallic version. Here’s the technical drawing. I’m intending to skip the bow.

Burda 114 11/2019 padded coat technical drawing

This one is quite likely to get made. I really need a warm winter coat and I already have a fabric in mind for it: an amazing bright silver foiled denim. I still need to do a toile and gather quite a lot of supplies apart from the shell fabric so there’s a way to go.

I was lucky enough to get some of the recent Vogue patterns from my wishlist for Christmas (thanks!) and the one I am really itching to make is V1645, the Rachel Comey Standfast jumpsuit. The pattern envelope recommends ‘cotton blends’ but some versions of the original were made in a fabric that’s described as ‘white pebbled foam’. I still can’t quite work out what that might mean. I think I’ll play it fairly safe and look for a tencel denim for my version. I’m not sure what to do about the buckle detail. The original has a self fabric covered buckle but I quite fancy using a metal one. The trouble is I’m not sure if that will make it tricky to wash.

And the last one is a real stretch: this amazing Pamella Roland Vogue coat/cape. It’s out of print and I can’t say I’m entirely surprised because it’s not exactly practical. But I do love it.

I’m also carrying on with my project to work my way through my wishlist of Burda dresses, and in fact my next couple of posts will be about the next two on the list. That seems like more than enough plans for one year. So thanks to the Sewcialists for running this blog series again, and on to 2020.

Sewing top fives: reflections

So, on to sewing reflections for 2019. I find this is the hardest post in the series to write so apologies if it’s deadly dull.

For a while now I’ve been trying to reduce my fabric stash by sewing from stash where possible, only buying fabric one project ahead, and always getting samples before buying fabric online. The idea is to make better choices and sew up new fabric before I can change my mind about it. I managed to stick to that for most of the year. I also gave away some stash fabrics I knew I would never ever sew because the colours and prints didn’t suit me.

The stash has shrunk somewhat as a result, but there’s still a way to go and it’s getting more difficult to reduce it. I’ve already sewn up the easy stuff and am now left with lengths that I am struggling to find a suitable project for. There’s one length of green wool coating in particular that’s a problem. I don’t sew it up because I’m not really convinced the colour suits me, but I can’t part with it either. This picture gives some idea.

Green coat fabric with pink lining

I can’t possibly dye it; I’d need an industrial dye vat for that much heavy wool! Nor am I really up for sewing an entire coat for someone else. My current hope is that I’ll find a coat pattern I love that’s sufficiently out there that I wouldn’t risk buying new fabric for it.

I’m also on a pattern buying diet. This year I only kept up my Burda subscription and didn’t buy envelope patterns. Again this is getting slightly harder now because Vogue, my favourite brand after Burda, are really on a roll at the moment.

I did buy the Bootstrap Vado custom jeans PDF pattern this year which was a fun experiment. The fit was better for me than unadjusted Burda jeans, but it was not perfect enough for me to get over my general dislike of PDF patterns and go back for more yet. I might consider Bootstrap or Lekala again for something I was finding really difficult to fit though.

The other thing I’ve been trying to do this year is to feed Kibbe style advice into my choice of projects. (If you want more on Kibbe, check out Doctor T’s in-depth blog series). I’m pretty dubious about style typing systems in general but some of the ideas in this one work for me: it recommends I wear vee and boat necks, monochrome colour schemes, dark neutral colours, long lines, and avoid any fussy details. Of course I also have my own rules: pockets are essential, metallic is a neutral, everything must be machine washable.

I’m not sure using Kibbe has made a huge difference to how I dress – part of the reason I like the system is that it agrees with my existing ideas about what suits me – but it did make me consider choosing longer skirt lengths, which I’ve found aren’t as dowdy as I would have guessed…or maybe this is all a coincidence as fashion’s just come around to longer skirts. Anyway I shall carry on keeping his recommendations in mind, and doubtless reject them the minute they clash with something I really want to wear.

Phew. Next up: plans for 2020!

Sewing top fives: highlights

On to the next sewing top five post. This one is ‘Highlights’ – for things that aren’t sewing projects, which were already covered in Hits.

I’ve got one that vaguely relates to the subject of this blog. We finally finished building our extension. It took nearly a year and there was a grim few weeks when we had to move back into the house before the kitchen was finished; we also didn’t have any windows! But it’s lovely now it’s done and it turned out the new kitchen island makes a handy cutting table. And there is no longer a leaking and decaying conservatory in my blog photos. Before:

And after…this is obviously taken from outside the house but that patio is where the conservatory was.

And here’s part of the new kitchen and dining room with the island.

I’m so glad it’s finished…it’ll be a while before we can face anything like that again!