Anticlimax? Burda 114 11/2019 finished

It doesn’t look much different from the pictures in the last couple of posts, but my Burda 114 11/2019 quilted coat is finally finished.

The big change since last time is that new vertical line of top stitching down the front. It’s sewn right at the end, through all the layers, and goes from level with the top of the zip right to the hem. This holds the lining and facing in place – there was no need to understitch the lining on that side of the zip at all! And if you recall it was my attempt to understitch which led to the whole thing getting jammed in the sewing machine. I should have just followed Burda’s instructions in the first place.

I haven’t been able to get modelled photos yet. This has been such an involved project that I really want to do them in a location that’s more interesting than my back garden, but as we all know that won’t be possible for a while yet. But I do have some detail shots.

The closure has a zip and snaps too. No wind is going to sneak through that front opening.

Sewing on the snaps seemed to take forever. They’ve come out neater than I usually manage. Maybe I’m getting the hang of hand sewing at last.

The zip is two way but I’m not entirely sure it needs to be. There’s plenty of room even with the zip done right up.

At the moment I can’t quite believe I’ve finally finished it. It’s come out pretty much how I imagined it, but I’m completely unable to judge how successful it is as a garment because I’m not likely to have an opportunity to wear it until next winter now. And I’m very conscious of the less than perfect bits. It feels bit weird after all that effort. I’m hoping I’ll be delighted and surprised with it when I pull it out of the wardrobe in October.

Standards for success

Comic courtesy of XKCD

OK so the comic is about computers, but the moral applies equally well to sewing projects. The coat project continues, but standards are slipping.

Here’s what it looked like when I was trying to sew in the lining. That didn’t go too badly, so I turned the coat right side out and tried it on. And the zip got promptly got caught on the lining. So there I was, wearing a duvet, and unable to take it off. I eventually managed to wriggle out and extract the lining from where the zip puller was trying to eat it, and decided to understitch both sides of the zip to keep the lining and facing well away from the puller. Which meant all that bulk ended up on the right, stuffed under the harp of the sewing machine. This was a bad idea.

I got to a point where the whole thing got completely wedged. I couldn’t lift the presser foot because the lever was hidden in a tangle of wadding. I couldn’t pull the jammed fabric either forwards or back without risking damaging the machine because something was well and truly caught around the needle shank. I seriously considered getting a screwdriver and taking the whole shank off.

After much careful pushing and pulling I got it out, at the cost of a small snag on the the fabric. Luckily it’s right under the arm so it doesn’t show. And my machine seems to have survived the experience.

There was no way I was going to be able to complete the under-stitching to the top of the zip, so I pressed it all as hard as I dared and so far the zip hasn’t jammed again. But after all that I didn’t feel like rearranging the room to take pictures with a clean backdrop! So here it is quickly slung on the dressform surrounded by a pile of clutter. The lining isn’t attached to the neck or armscye seams nor have I sewn any of the hems yet.

The collar needed a little bit of reshaping from the pattern; the edges looked slightly concave near the points so I shaved a bit off. I think it looks OK now.

So I’m still plugging away. I’m definitely making something simpler next!

Quilting fix

Well I for one need a distraction from external events right now, so I’m going to keep on blogging about my coat, trivial though it is.

Thanks so much for all the advice and support about my quilting error. In the end I decided to go with susew’s idea of repeating the quilting lines close together down to the hem. I really liked the idea of doing the double line on the sleeves but I didn’t want to unpick the sleeve seams and I didn’t think I’d get it sewn without the layers shifting if I sewed it in the round. The new hem quilting lines aren’t entirely flat either but being lower down I hope it isn’t obvious.

The hem isn’t turned up here but when it is there won’t be that gap at the bottom; the fold line is placed at the same distance from the last line of quilting as the space between the lines.

The actual quilting was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t want to rip the side seams in order to quilt each piece separately, so I laid the whole thing flat and drew the guidelines across the entire width of the coat, with chalk this time not pencil, so I had a chance to correct any mistakes. Then I fed it through the machine, using a walking foot to try to reduce creep between layers. It worked pretty well; there’s a little bit of puckering where the stitching crosses the side seams but it’s liveable with.

It looks amazingly wonky below but it’s much better when viewed from a more normal distance.

The seamline that got crossed second is slightly worse for puckering.

I’ve also figured out what’s going on with the vertical quilting line that is present on the technical drawing but didn’t seem to be marked on the pattern. Summer Flies spotted it: it’s sewn right at the end, along the line of the zip, through all the layers, so it’s correct that my coat hasn’t got it at this stage.

I’ve started sewing the facings. Here’s my coat chain basted to the back facing piece. Really pleased with how nicely that’s worked out.

And here it is with the facings laid in place but not yet sewn on. I need to construct the lining too.

Feels like the finish is still a long way away!

Spot the mistake

Progress on Burda 114 11/2019 continues, slowly. I have the body constructed now. But can you see the mistakes?

Here’s the line drawing for comparison.

I missed the vertical quilting line down the front completely. Oddly it doesn’t seem to be marked on the pattern, or maybe I missed it when I traced. It’s not shown on the diagram of the pattern pieces either, which does include the horizontal lines.

I also put the lowest horizontal line in the wrong place on the front pieces. I unpicked it but I couldn’t get the markings out of the fabric, so I ended up restitching the quilting along both the wrong and the right lines. As it’s the lowest line I think it looks like an accent rather than a mistake, but maybe I’m kidding myself.

The fabric is nice and shiny. Here it is with flash. Sparkly. I’m so glad I ended up with this fabric and not my first choice; this one can tolerate a lot of pressing which has been essential to tame the batting around all the seams.

Setting the sleeves in was a battle. Usually I just pin strategically and then sew without bothering to gather the sleeve heads or baste, but these involved several rounds of basting, ripping, and basting again to get them in smoothly. It was just like how I remember setting sleeves always went when I first started sewing. So maybe if I make a load more of these coats I’ll get the hang of it, heh.

Funnily enough the second one went in much more easily than the first. They look like they need shoulder pads here but I think they are better on a body than the dress form.

In other news I finally found a nice coat chain, after being disappointed with the Prym ones that are most readily available. If anyone else is looking, the Hemline brand ones look good but I eventually ended up with a no name one from eBay that was exactly what I wanted and cost about a pound.

Anyway I’m having a few days break from the coat while I recover from those sleeves. Maybe I’ll go back and add the missing front quilting next week.

Quilting my coat

The next step on my Burda 114 11/2019 coat is quilting the batting to the shell fabric. I was a bit dubious about doing it without a layer of something underneath the batting to help it feed through the machine, so I took my calico toile to pieces and used that. It worked really well; no problems feeding at all and very little shifting of the layers.

The problem was deciding what thread to use. Burda’s instructions don’t recommend anything different to the usual sewing thread. I thought I might use top-stitching thread to make the lines stand out a bit more. I tried a few sample lines of Gutermann top-stitching thread on scraps and it looked very heavy. I then tried regular Gutermann sew-all thread and it looked too light.

I’d read on Fiona’s blog that she prefers to top stitch with extra-strong rather than top-stitching thread because it’s a little bit finer, so I got my hands on a spool of that. It makes a nice medium line, but after comparing all my tests I went back to the original plan of using the heavy top-stitching thread to make a really bold contrast. Here are my samples.

Once I’d decided on the thread the quilting itself went smoothly – or at least as smoothly as possible given the bulk and size of the pieces. Quilting blanket-sized pieces must be a real challenge! I can see why quilters need those long arm sewing machines.

I marked the sewing lines with an HB pencil because it gives a sharp line that shows up against the fabric but is close though to the base fabric colour not to be very obvious. I then pinned the layers together along the lines with a lot of extra long pins rather than hand basting, and added a few more pins around the edges. The pinholes press out easily on this fabric once the pins are removed.

And finally I sewed along the lines, rolling up the section of the piece on the right side of the line so that I could fit it under the machine. Quilting the whole coat took me a couple of hours. That includes marking, stacking, and pinning the pieces but not cutting them out.

Now all I have to do is sew the pieces together. Watch this space.

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.

Modelled photos of Burda 105 02/2019

It seems like ages since I finished making this coat. I posted about it at the time but didn’t manage to get photos of it on me. Now it’s had a couple of months of wear so time to see how it’s held up. The pattern was originally Burda 105 02/2019 but I have shortened it and given it a lot more waist shaping. The fabric is a very heavy cotton/acetate blend denim.

I don’t wear it every day, but it’s getting a lot of use at the moment. The fabric isn’t intended to be waterproof but it’s sufficiently heavy and tightly woven that light rain bounces off. It’s also nicely windproof. I thought all the structure and the very stiff fabric might make it a bit awkward to wear but it’s actually very comfortable. I do slightly regret putting the buckle on the end of the belt. It looks great – it’s really solid hardware and the perfect shade of pewter – but it’s also rather a liability as I keep knocking into things with it. If I wear the coat open I have to be careful to arrange the belt so I can control it.

Here’s a back view. I’d been sitting down just before we took these as you can probably tell from the creases. Let’s just call it keeping things real.

The storm flap sticks out more than on the original because of the adjustments I made to the back to give myself some arm mobility. With hindsight I should have put a couple of darts in the bottom edge of the flap to control the volume, which I’ve seen done on RTW.

The collar works well worn up as well as down. I definitely should have added sleeve heads because the shoulder seam hasn’t come out totally smooth despite removing all the sleeve cap ease.

The fabric is holding up well. I was a bit concerned it would show wear quite quickly as it’s slightly shiny, but so far so good.

The pockets are good; roomy enough for things like gloves and nothing falls out of them.

I’ve been surprised how much I enjoy wearing this coat. I thought it might end up in the category of garments which look good in photos but are just slightly too much fuss for every day. But it’s very easy to throw on, goes with everything, and still makes me feel like I’ve made an effort to be smart. Sadly we had our first really cold morning of the autumn this week and the coat is clearly not going to be warm enough for winter weather, so the hunt for a winter coat continues.

Thanks to my husband for the pictures, and my brother for toddler wrangling duty while we took them.

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in silver grey denim, seated, in botanic garden

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in dark silver denim, front view, in a botanical garden

This is one of those projects that came from the fabric rather than the pattern. I had a surprising amount of this dark silver denim left over from my trenchcoat and wanted to do something with it. It’s very heavy fabric and hasn’t the slightest stretch which limited my options considerably. After going through my entire Burda collection I found 112A 03/2012, a pair of straight cut culottes. Burda made them up in canvas, so they ought to work in a heavy non draping fabric. Here’s the technical drawing. The back pocket detail is a little unusual but otherwise they are fairly plain. I traced my usual Burda size and set to work.

Technical drawing of Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes

Burda describes these as ‘roomy’. Well my fabric choice probably didn’t help, but I’ve had to let them out considerably on the hips and waist to be able to wear them at all, and they’re still quite close fitting even now. I really should have gone up a size. If you’re thinking of making these check the finished measurements carefully before cutting – I wish I had!

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in dark silver denim, back full length view, in botanic garden

Having said that, I really like the style. They might be from seven years ago but the shape seems very modern to me with the very high waist and wide cropped legs. The length is good, and the heavy fabric helps the wide legs to hang well. I never like that effect you sometimes get with wide legged trousers where the legs collapse and cling to your calves. This pair could practically stand up on their own so there’s no danger of that happening. There is something a bit off with the balance though, as you can see below with that diagonal fold running towards the back. I’m guessing if I’d made the next size up that wouldn’t have happened.

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in dark silver denim, side full length view, in botanic garden

I would never have managed to get the centre back belt loop sewn over the centre back seam in this bulky fabric so I replaced it with a pair sewn one to each side. I’ve yet to find a belt that goes with them though.

The back pockets are excellent: very roomy and well positioned. They don’t look huge here but they easily hold a phone.

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in dark silver denim, back detail view

Despite the size issue I’ve worn these a lot. By the time we managed to photograph these (thanks as ever to my husband for patiently taking a great many pictures in difficult light) they’d been worn and washed multiple times, and the fabric is starting to show some fade marks. I’m tempted to make them up again some time but the thought of tracing the pattern over again is putting me off slightly. Maybe next summer.

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in dark silver denim, side view, in botanic garden
Three views of Burda 105 02 2019 trench coat

Finished at last

I finally finally finally finished my coat. It got a bit frantic towards the end when I came to sew the lining in and realised I’d seriously messed up. I went to pin it around the back vent and realised it was impossible to attach the lining to the coat on the overlap side because the vent facing wasn’t wide enough to reach the lining stitching line. Cue puzzlement as I tried to work out what had happened and how to fix it.

I eventually discovered I’d cut off almost the entire overlap facing by mistake at a much earlier stage in proceedings. I was supposed to just trim it a bit. I can’t even blame Burda because their pattern instructions weren’t wrong, I simply cut on the wrong line. That’s what comes of being lazy and using the same pattern piece for the left and right back instead of making separate ones.

After some swearing I cut a rectangle out of scraps, ripped out the vent stitching, sewed the rectangle on to the edge I should not have cut along and put the vent back together. It’s not perfect but can’t really be seen from the outside. If you squint there’s a tiny ridge where the seam allowance of my repair lies, and that’s all.

Outside view of coat vent
Inside is another matter, but at least it’s neat.
Inside view of coat vent

Luckily everything else has gone pretty smoothly. I’ve been following a sewalong for Ready To Wear Tailoring from Pattern Scissors Cloth for this project and it’s been a huge help. My coat’s a little bit different to the one in the sewalong, not least in having the nearly fatal vent, but thanks to Sheryll’s advice about adjusting the pattern in advance the potentially awkward steps like the collar and lapels were easy to sew. It gave me a new appreciation for Burda patterns too; I noticed that several of her suggested pattern adjustments to allow for turn of cloth were already drafted in. It’s Burda 105 02/2019 although I’ve shortened it from the original length and reduced the ease at the waist.

With perfect timing I’ve finished this just as the UK weather goes insanely hot, so I haven’t worn it even once yet. Normal cool and cloudy service is expected to resume next week though. But in the meantime here it is on the dressform.

Butda 105 02 2019 on dressform

Again, again, again: Vogue 1247

I don’t normally find that sewing clothes is any cheaper than buying them, but this project is one of the exceptions. The pattern is one I’ve made several times before: a modified version of the skirt from Vogue 1247 (previous versions: green, silver knit, grey). The fabric is the scraps left over from my silver jeans. I had plenty of suitable top stitching thread to go with it left too.

The technical drawing for the pattern is below but my version has some changes.

Vogue 1247 line art

I am trying to use more things from my stash, and amongst my zips I had a metal one of about the right length with a large silver decorative puller. It was a good match for the fabric but there was no way I wanted the puller digging into the small of my back, so I moved the zip to the side seam.

Close up of zip

The puller meant it had to be installed as an exposed zip. I used a lot of Wonder Tape to hold the zip in place while I stitched it because you can’t pin or baste this fabric anywhere it might show!

I wasn’t sure what to do about the waistband. Previous versions I’ve made of this skirt have an invisible zip which stops just below the waistband, and a hook and bar closure on the waistband itself. I couldn’t find a picture of an exposed zip installed like that, but I was worried that it wouldn’t stay closed without the help of an additional closure at the top; the waistband is close fitting and so takes a lot of strain. In the end I stopped the zip just under the waistband and made a small overlap on the waistband with a hook and bar to hold it. Seems to work and looks fine.

Another change I made was to add a centre front seam and top stitching along it and the yoke seam. The front of the skirt is very plain and I thought it needed something to break up the expanse of shiny silver.

Silver skirt with centre front seam

Here’s a back view. Yes it needs pressing, but on the other hand this is how it really looks after I’ve been sitting down.

The reason I keep going back to this style is the pockets. They are well placed and nice and big. I’ve got my purse, keys, and phone in them in the modelled photos.

I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to style this. I thought black would look too stark against the silver and so tried various grey tops and tights, but they all looked wrong. It would probably work with a white top and bare legs but the UK is well into autumn now so that’s not going to be an option for a long time. The black top and tights seems to be the best option.

Modelled photos taken by my husband; flat ones by me.