Archive for November, 2009

Finally, My Trench!

I wish these pictures were taken with my good camera but I had to settle for my “work camera” that I keep in my desk drawer. Maybe I will take more pictures another day.

But without further ado…

1124 002

1124 003

(back – coat is on crooked, apparently, or I’m standing funny! The belt loop is really in line with the D-ring above it, I promise.)

1124 004

1124 005

1124 007

1124 008

1124 006

1124 001


Read Full Post »

Photos At Last!

I just finished the coat a few hours ago. I ended up hemming the coat twice (first time was a mess, then I decided to steam press the edge to reduce the bulk and help ease the curved hem and it worked). Then I hemmed the lining/attached it to the coat hem not once, not twice, but four times before I had it right. I’ll spare you the details but it was a mess. I had to consult my sewing books several times but I am happy with the finished result.

Then it was on to buttons, which I had no trouble locating at Martins House of Cloth in Bedford, NH. They have literally 1000s of buttons to choose from. I went from thinking I would not find any 1″ buttons in gray/blue to agonizing over 5 different colors/styles that would work with the coat.

I made one crucial mistake – sewed the lining in before attaching buttons. I’ve never done anything lined with buttons before, and I didn’t realize that the buttons would end up attaching to the coat front on a side opposite where the lining was (double breasted means wider button placement). This meant that you can see the button stitching on the lining. I think it looks awful but no one will know it’s there except for me, I suppose.

So, without any further ado, The Mod Spy Girl Coat (that’s what the vintage pattern sellers call it), Simplicity 7905 from 1968:

Read Full Post »

Hello again,
I have to say I missed you girls (and sewing in general). Not only did I not have time to sew, I barely had time to read the sewing blogs. I haven’t been on a sewing related website since September. I forgot how much you can learn from the Internet.

I did a lot of research on tailoring techniques because I really wanted my coat to look as close to perfect as possible. I was especially worried about the sleeves. I have set in sleeves many times, but I would say that I have never successfully set in both where there was no puckering or gathering along the ease line. One of the things I liked about the photo on the pattern envelope for my coat was the smooth lines along the shoulder seam. I wanted shoulders like that. So, I did some research on sleeve heads and started thinking about trying to put one in. But, before I did that, I tried one other technique for easing in a sleeve. I found this interesting method, and I figured it was worth trying on my muslin.

Basically, you use a strip of necktie interfacing, and sew it along the ease stitching line (from notch to notch) of the sleeve. You do not sew any ease stitches. Stretch the interfacing as you sew, and it will ease the sleeve for you. The interfacing also adds structure to the seam. Inserting the sleeve this was way the easiest ever. Usually I have to mess around with tons of pins and keep adjusting the gathers to fit, then I have to hand baste, then fix it where it gets all wonky, hand baste some more, then machine sew it in, pick out stitches were part of the bodice got caught up in the stitching, resew, etc. Even after all of that the finished product is not perfectly smooth.

I tried the interfacing method on my muslin and it went in pretty well -still some gather, but not that bad. However, it went MUCH better on my wool fabric. I made a few adjsutments to the technique – Rusty Bobbin recommends 12″ x 2″ of interfacing. I used more like 16″x1.25″. It seemed that the 12″ was not long enough to make it from notch to notch.

My sleeves are perfect. I thought maybe this was a result of the heavy wool and that the technique might not work on a lighter fabric, so I tried it again in my extremely thin flannel backed satin lining fabric…and it worked great there too! Even better, the interfacing along the seam line of the shoulder seams acts similar to a shoulder pad, so the shoulder seams in my coat have a little more structure and do not droop.

Another technique that I have finally mastered is ‘bagging a lining’. I tried it twice before and had some success and some failure. I never really understood any of the written instructions on how to do it. This time I just thought about it real hard and then had a lightbulb moment. I pinned the lining to the outside of the coat, matched it up along the shoulder seams at the facings, and sewed. I could not believe how easy it was and how professional it looked.

I still have to hem my lining and stitch it in and find some buttons (I am having a terrible time find ten 1″ buttons in a gray or gray blue color). I might have to switch to black or another neutral color, and I am too impatient to order online.

I am going to take photos of the inside of my coat before I sew up the lining hem to show my sleeve techniques. Hopefully everything will be done by this evening.

Read Full Post »

At last…

No, I am not finished with my trench yet.  But at last here’s my long-awaited, twice-announced update.  I have been laid up with a nasty stomach virus this week, so you will have to forgive the lateness of this post. 

I believe the last time I wrote, I had just finished the pockets.  Since then, I have eked out some more progress but am probably only two-thirds finished.  I am only working on this project in my lessons as each step of the way is a new technique for me and I would rather do each thing under the tutelage of someone who is more experience than I am. 

So, on with it…  I have since sewed up the side seams, the back seam, inserted the raglan sleeves and top stitched them.  I have sewn the belt and added the belt carriers, added the front facings, sewn and attached the cuffs, and sewn and attached the collar.  I have also sewn the lining together, but have not yet attached it.  Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  Well there’s still so much to do.  I have yet to attach the buckle to the belt, or even buy the eyelets for the belt.  I have to attach the lining, sew the vent up and top stitch.  Speaking of top stitching, I need to top stitch the collar now too.  Then there are the buttons and button holes, oh my!  So, there’s a lot to do. 

Remember how I spent a long while choosing a pattern, insisting on raglan sleeves because I had heard they were easier to insert?  Well, they are easier if you don’t have to top stitch them afterwards.  I had to put those puppies on twice in order to get the order of construction right and get all the seams pressed the right way so the top stitching would match from front to back.  It took me a while and a lot of seam ripping, but I got there and it looks great now.  Also, it doesn’t hurt to clip curved seams too.  I forgot to do that and it really started puckering quite a bit and I thought a disaster was going to happen.  So folks, let this be a lesson to you, please clip your curved seams!

Enough of me talking, let the pictures do the talking now…

raglan sleeve with top stitching

raglan sleeve exterior

raglan sleeve on the inside

raglan sleeve interior

sleeve cuff w/o lining attached

sleeve cuff

trench collar unpressed and prior to top stitching

trench collar unpressed

trench lining

trench lining


My next lesson with Thea is on Monday.  Can’t wait to get back in the game.  Until then, I might practice a buttonhole or seven.

Happy trenching!

Read Full Post »

Hemming the Trench

I finished my trench last Saturday in class (sorry, no pictures yet as I turned it in and won’t get it back til next class) and followed a unique (to me) method of hemming the trench that my teacher showed me. I thought I would try to recall the steps to document it. I think the only real unique thing is incorporating muslin to sort of “pad” or reinforce the hem, but I’ll share it anyway. There are a few things I’m fuzzy on that maybe you other more experienced people can fill in for me.

1. Serge hem edge to finish

2. Pin up hem so coat is desired length

3. Lightly press hem – trim to approximately 2”

4. This part I’m confused about – it has something to do with undoing the topstitching at the bottom 3” or so of each side of the facing/front of the coat, then opening it up and folding it back and sewing across the bottom with the machine. It’s almost like doing this part of the hem on the machine. Maybe someone can clarify this step.

5. Cut a piece of muslin on the bias. It should be as long as the width of the hem and about 3” tall (?)

6. Catch stitch the muslin to the bottom of the hem

7. Fold the hem up and catch stitch the muslin to the top of the hem

8. After trimming the lining (about 2”?) then fold the lining under 5/8” and fell stitch it to the coat (the needle should horizontally “tunnel” under the wool or fashion fabric, and then take a tiny “bite” at the edge of the folded under lining.) I also used this technique to hem the lining to the fashion fabric on the sleeves.

9. After sewing the lining, use a small “x stitch” (literally making an x) to close up the folded, unfinished vertical few inches of the facing and sew the corresponding few inches of lining in that section as invisibly as you can (I used fell stitch.)

One thing I really learned from this project was hand stitching! I had avoided it like the plague before this project, but now I actually like it. I learned slip stitch (to sew the belt edges together), catch stitch (used on the hems), fell stitch (used to sew the lining to the fashion fabric inside the hems) and x stitch (used to close up the facing – not sure if that’s a technical stitch name or not but that’s how my teacher referred to it.

When I get my coat back I’ll show all the details!

Read Full Post »

Hey there,
I have not forgotten about the great Trench sew along. Nope, life has this way of stealing all of one’s free time, and I hadn’t an opportunity to touch my muslin since starting it in early September. I wasn’t doing much sewing at all because grad school got busy (I finally started data collection for me research study – right in the middle of clinical exams, which I have a knack for failing, but I’ll save that for my personal blog).

Anyway, I didn’t do any personal sewing for two months. I worked on some yoga pants for a friend’s yoga studio (we’re trying to design our own line…I’m basically the pattern maker/sewer…and I am not exactly accomplished in this area, so it’s taking a while to get a good finished product). Then I offered to make a Halloween costume for another friend’s 18month old daughter, so that took up some more time. Then I had to finish my own Halloween costume, which involved a fair amount of alterations and sewing to get it right.

Finally, I had some free time this week to sew. I picked up my muslin and decided that I made some huge errors in altering the pattern pieces to make them shorter. I had inadvertently straightened out the lines that make the coat flare from the waist. This explained why the muslin fit like a giant rectangle. After hours of fussing with it on Saturday, trying to make it work, I called in the help of my fiance to assist. Math is not my strength and I am not a visual person. I knew what I needed to do do shorten it, but I didn’t know how. Andy looked at the pattern pieces, did some folding and pinning, and we finally solved the problem (sort of). I then retraced all of the bodice pieces and painstakingly shortened each one by cutting it at 8 different spots and overlapping the pieces to carefully remove length while preserving the flared lines. Saturday night I finally was able to cut the good fabric. I was beginning to think this project was never going to really get started.

Sunday I didn’t do any sewing, but I did finally decide on interfacing. I wanted fusible horsehair, but I couldn’t find any so I got some Pellon Tailoring heavyweight fusible, and carefully fused it on with a dry iron and no press cloth. Despite breaking the fusible interfacing rules, it worked great. I haven’t had much luck with fusing interfacing to jacket fronts and collars, but this time there were no bubbles or wrinkles.

Mondays I have off from school, although lately I have been there anyway. I decided to take the day and get started sewing. I sat down with the interfacing, cut that out, fused it on, and proceeded with the sewing. This began at 12:30pm. I took one break from 5-7 for a bike ride and dinner, then went back to work. At 10pm I had the entire bodice, collar, and facings put together. Now it needs sleeves and some more topstitching and a lining. I am not looking forward to attaching the lining or hemming…I have successfully attached a lining once, but I think it was sheer beginner’s luck. Everything I have ever hemmed (besides pants) looks awful.

Any suggestions on a professional looking hem are greatly appreciated. I’ve not yet mastered a blind hem but I am willing to try for this one.

Pics to follow…I promise!

Read Full Post »

Serious Trench Progress…

I have been working (somewhat feverishly, lately) on finishing up my trench coat. Just for a refresher, here’s the pattern I’m doing – S4084, View C, shown in purple in the center inset:


This has been my first coat, and there are a lot of other firsts with this too. (First completely lined garment, first lined pockets, first belt carriers, first sleeve tabs, first two-part sleeve, first shoulder pads, first sleeve heading – this is a neat trick) first woven with princess seams, first sewn wool garment, etc. etc. etc.) I have learned so much but in that learning process it’s been very difficult to document everything, mostly because I’ve done the majority of the work in my six-hour sewing classes on Saturdays. The other reason is that I feel like I’ve ripped out practically everything that exists on this coat.

Here it is as it stands – right now it first needs pressing again and then it needs topstitching, buttonholes, buttons, sleeve lining hems (outer sleeve hems are already handsewn – what…) and bottom hem. I have pins to mark where the buttonholes will go. I had to lighten the exposure on many of these pics to get the details to show up in my dark hallway outside my sewing room, despite taking the pictures just now at lunchtime.

s4084coat 007

s4084coat 006

s4084coat 009

Here’s the full length shots – I think the dress form is crooked, so I have to fix that.

s4084coat 003

s4084coat 002

This picture looks a little weird, as I had to get going back to work and didn’t have time to mess with it:

s4084coat 001

I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it if I didn’t have this class (and this sew-along!) to hold my feet to the fire, but I’m glad I did. The next one (what…) will be even better. The fit part was easy – it was a straight pattern size 12 with Miss Petite adjustments, no others were necessary. Other than needing to shorten the bottom hem a little, it really fits me perfectly everywhere, which is pretty amazing given my height. It’s nice to know that whenever I’d want a trenchcoat, I could make this up.

It was more “fabric management” (i.e., fraying) that made me crazy. I think I would make this is a regular trenchcoat fabric next or in another fabric that didn’t fray, or wasn’t loosely woven so I could serge the hell out of the pieces first. I did serge a few of the pieces to clean them up, but it tended to distort them a little even with the differential feed set to zero. I am liking the (close-to) end result though and plan to finish it up before class on Saturday. Next up for the class will be pants – should be interesting!

Read Full Post »