On changing my mind

The coat project rumbles on. But something far more exciting happened that I want to tell you about first: I was interviewed by Joanne of Stitch and Witter! She’s been doing a series of interviews with sewing bloggers about their personal style. I’ve been realy enjoying reading it, and I’m so flattered to be picked. I love reading about how other people dress themselves – or maybe I should say I’m incurably nosy. My interview’s at http://stitchandwitter.com/2012/11/22/my-handmade-style-catherine-daze/. You can read Joanne’s whole series here.

So on to the coat. I had a major change of mind about it; specifically the fabric I’m using.

Here’s the technical drawing. The original was made up in plain white wool which looked fantastic. I liked the very stark, plain effect with just the seamlines for interest so I knew I’d want to use a solid-coloured smooth-faced fabric. Sticking with white would clearly have been insane because it doesn’t suit me and it would need dry-cleaning every five minutes. Besides, I have never seen pure white wool coating on sale anywhere.

Burda 104-12-2011 technical drawing

The green fabric came in a pack of samples from Stone Fabrics and I fell in love with the colour. Here it is with the pink lining I got to go with it.

Coat fabric with lining

But I’ve been having major doubts about this project and I think I’ve finally worked out why. I think all I am going to see on the finished coat is the green. The style isn’t bold enough to stand up to the fabric. I think the fabric would work as something short and dramatic like Colette Patterns’ Lady Grey though. That’s a pattern that’s been lurking on my to-sew list for some time.

So I’m making the Burda coat up in this fabric instead. It’s a stone coloured woven wool coating with a very slight nap. From the right side you can’t see the weave at all. I included my hand and the paper pattern in the picture to give a better idea of the colour.

Stone coloured wool coating

Once I decided to switch fabric and use the green for Lady Grey I started feeling a whole lot better about the original project. So I am going to end up sewing two coats this winter after all!

Shoulder pads to the rescue

Thanks for all the good fitting advice on my coat muslin. I was all set to call it good enough and start cutting my fashion fabric, but you convinced me to go back and have another go.

The previous problem I had on the front was horizontal folds on the princess seams. ozviking, Lisette, Claudine, BeccaA, and maria all suggested shoulder pads so I took myself down to John Lewis to pick up a pair. I had no idea there were so many types! I picked a pair labelled ‘small’ with a picture of a set-in sleeve on the packet. No idea if they’re the technically correct sort, but they definitely help. I’ve also taken out a bit of length above the bust seam here as Beth suggested .

Coat muslin 2 front view

Here’s the back view with shoulder pads, a tiny bit of width taken out of the centre back seam, and again with reduced length above the bust seam. (Can I call it a bust seam when it’s on the back?) Clio and Beth both pointed out that the back seemed too wide to start with.

There is still a very small fold of fabric at the back shoulder but it’s really improved. I don’t want to risk trying to get rid of absolutely all the excess, I think I need some of that room to move!

Coat muslin 2 back view

The bust seam was rising up slightly at centre front so I let it out a little there, tapering back to the previous seamline before hitting the princess seams. That’s made a bit of difference.

The waist seam’s still rising up in front and falling slightly below my natural waist in back so I’ll adjust that in the same way as I did the bust seam. Not that you can see the back waist seam in this picture. I’m regretting using black fabric for fitting! It’s not just the photos; it’s quite hard for me to see what’s going on too.

Coat muslin 2 side view 2

This really has been a learning experience, thanks so much everyone!

Bewildering wrinkles

Well I took the plunge. Armed with everyone’s good advice from my last post I put on some music and sewed my coat muslin up, a few seams at a time. Doing it over a few sessions wasn’t too bad. Thanks for all the encouragement and advice, it really helped!

It’s come out pretty well! The most important thing is that I can move my arms, despite having removed all the ease from the sleeve cap. I seem to have forgotten to take any pictures of that. In passing, isn’t it great not to have to keep getting undressed to try a garment on? I did wonder if I should be putting on more layers to simulate a really cold day! However I am wearing several thin layers and a very bulky belt under the coat in these photos, which is my normal winter work wear. I guess if the coat goes over all that then things will be OK.

Coat muslin full length

I had a hard time deciding what, if anything, needed adjusting. Every time I move the wrinkles seem to move as well, and most of them don’t match up to anything at all in my fitting books. The most obvious problem is a wrinkle on the front princess seam. That one doesn’t come and go. I think this is due to excess length above the bust point.

Front princess seam with wrinkle

I took out a tiny amount – about 5mm – above the seam and things are somewhat improved. I think I need to take out a little width from the seam as well, but on the other hand I don’t want to overfit things. I measured the pattern and this style is unusually close-fitting for a coat.

It looks like it needs a full bust adjustment in this picture (taken after taking out the length) because of the way the horizontal seam is rising up and there’s a wrinkle pointing from the waist to the bust point, but I can’t see the problem from the front or in the other pictures I took. Also if I take a pinch of the fabric over the bust there’s actually lots of room there. This is why I find fitting so confusing!

Front princess seam with wrinkle

There’s a similar problem on the back, only more so.

Back view of muslin

But I think I need some of that extra fabric for mobility, because look what happens when I put my arms forward. The excess width vanishes and there’s just a bit of extra length.

Back view with arms forward

Three quarter back view

I’m just going to take out a little length at the back underarms as well as at the front, and stop there. I picked my muslin fabric because it has a similar (lack of) drape to my shell fabric, but the shell fabric is substantially thicker so I guess it won’t make up quite the same and there’s no point worrying too much at this stage. Wish me luck.


I dreamed about my coat project last night. It went disastrously wrong. And something is certainly stopping me from getting on with it. I have just finished cutting out the pieces for the muslin but I keep on finding reasons not to start sewing it. Must do the washing up. Must tidy the sewing room. Must sort the washing.

Coat muslin pieces

I love the pattern I’m using. But I’m worried I won’t be able to set the sleeves in. I did give myself a little bit of insurance by reducing the ease in the sleeve cap but now I’m also worried I have a pattern I won’t be able to move my arms in. I also love the fashion fabric, but it’s really thick and I’m concerned it might be too much for my machine to sew. And I’ve no idea what needle to use. Or which interfacing. And I really want to make a good job of this.

I know how to deal with a lack of sewing mojo (cleaning the sewing machine always works for me). But has anyone got any tips for complete sewing paralysis?

Birmingham blogger meetup

Saturday was such a great day. Marie and Kat organised a sewing blogger meetup in Birmingham. Check out Marie’s blog post for pictures. We shopped, ate noodles, swapped a ton pf patterns and fabric, and then shopped some more. But absolutely the best bit was talking to like-minded sewists all day about fabric, sewing, and patterns.

So what did we buy? Quite a few of us bought some of this sparkly heavyweight knit from the Rag Market. When I saw Kat’s I had to get some of my own. I’m seeing this as a cowl-necked, long-sleeved knit dress worn with a big belt.

Sparkly heavy knit

This one came from the Rag Market too. It’s a really bright blue with a hint of purple. My camera insists on rendering it as a sort of sky blue. I tried reading the camera manual, but no amount of fiddling with white balance and lighting was effective so what you see here is courtesy of the GIMP. The fabric itself is a lightweight, silky texture and very narrow.

Strange blue fabric

I think it would work well as something like one of these two patterns. The 80s one is one of the ones I got from Katie in the swap! And coincidentally it has a layout and yardage for 90cm fabric. Were fabrics narrower in the 80s or something?

Possible patterns for strange blue fabric

I got bright pink lining for my chartreuse coat. Claire and Alice spotted it in the Fancy Silk Store. Here are the two fabrics together. Yummy.

Coat fabric with lining

I also found the fabric for my sister’s birthday dress which was lucky because her specifications were somewhat exacting. I’m not posting a picture of it just yet because she ought to see it first, but suffice to say I’m certainly looking forward to sewing with it. (And if she doesn’t like it after all I have an alternative plan for it…is that bad?)

Thanks again Marie and Kat and everyone else who came along!

Another shirt dress

After I made my Death Star shirt dress I found I couldn’t stop at one. They’re so practical for work. This time I used a vintage pattern, Simplicity 6270. I made the view in stripes on the envelope: long sleeves, shirt collar, and worn with a leather belt rather than a self-fabric one.

Simplicity 6270 envelope picture

I swear I didn’t plan to make it in the same grey as the left hand picture on the envelope. But I had some grey stretch cotton poplin that was perfect for a shirtdress and I’m trying to reduce the stash a bit. So here it is.

Unlike the Burda pattern I used for the previous dress this one has proper cuffs! They were quite a faff to make but worth it.

Binding the slashes in the sleeves was less fiddly than I expected.

Binding on sleeve slashes

I really like the 70s collar but if I was making this again I think I’d make a two piece collar. The one in the pattern has the collar stand as part of the main collar piece and it took a lot of pressing to make it sit right. This photo was taken just after I attached the collar; the buttonholes haven’t been made yet.

Close up of collar

Here’s the back view. I shortened the skirt by a good three inches. Vintage patterns have such low hemlines and they look terrible on me!

You can just about see one of the side seam pockets in this photo. They weren’t in the original pattern, but I’m trying to make the effort to add pockets to patterns where I can. I’m always glad I’ve done it after the event, even though it seems like a lot of extra work at the time.

So there it is. Next up will be the coat project I hope!