Archive for May, 2010

Trench Coat-Take Two

This is my second go at making my first trench coat!! I was part of Trench Coat Sew Along 1 but never got past the muslin stage. Fitting issues, fitting issues, fitting issues. So this time I’m aiming to get my coat completed. My pattern is a Hot Patterns jacket as pictured below. I have had success with HP sizing in other patterns so I’m hoping it’s going to be the same with the jacket.

I haven’t picked out fabric yet but am thinking of denim or something similar And I’m really loving the topstitching.
Looking forward to seeing the rest of your coats evolve!


Read Full Post »

We’ve had a flurry of people joining the Trench Sew Along here.  There’s always room for more.  Here’s the latest crew additions:

Peter from Male Pattern Boldness

Barbara from Flowery Skirt

AdelaideB from Pretty Sweet


Mary Nanna from Make it Smirk

San Antonio Sue

Jana from 98 Red Balloons

And now for some housekeeping.  It would be lovely if everyone would introduce themselves and let us all know what your project plans are.  As I have mentioned before, any and all coat making is welcome here.  It does not have to be restricted to trench coats.  A coat is a coat is a coat.  All the same principles apply in sewing a coat, it’s just the styling that’s different.

The timing of this sew along is pretty loose.  Here’s what I’m thinking:

May 24 — June 24: Pick out your pattern, do some trench coat research, gather your fabric/notions

June 25 — August 25: Make a muslin or two, work on your trench coat, commiserate, learn and don’t give up!

August 26 or whenever you finish: Wear your trench coat bursting with pride and maybe a little disbelief at how awesome it is!

I know there are sewists of all levels on this Trench Sew Along.  Some will finish in what seems like 1 day to the rest of us.  And some will take a little more time, like the several years months it took me to finish mine last time.  So please don’t feel at all constrained by this schedule; it’s all good. 

I am dying to hear about all of your projects, especially what patterns you’re using and most especially see what fabric you have chosen.  Tell us about your process, how things are going, if you’re stumped on a step, how the fitting is going, etc.  I want to hear it all. 

Next up for me, picking the pattern for my fall coat.  I already have the fabric.  I’ll write more about it next time.  I hope to take this to a whole new level in my sewing.  I am really excited to make my next coat. 

Good luck everyone!  And don’t forget, you can always join the sew along.  Newcomers are always welcome.

Read Full Post »

On the Work Table

I took several photos of my trench coat in (painfully slow) progress on the work table in my sewing room this morning.  Here’s an overall shot, with all the pieces laid out a bit higgledy-piggledy:

This is the same Burda trench that Elizabeth completed.  I was lucky enough to meet Elizabeth in person at the Pattern Review Philadelphia weekend a couple of weekends ago, and to see her trench in person.  It looks great!  As does Elizabeth’s other sewing.

Taking inspiration from Elizabeth, I have recently gotten a sewing friend of mine to help me out with this sewing project.  I kept letting myself go immobile with fear at doing it wrong.  So, it was wonderful to get help from an experienced sewist (the fantastic Yvette Ryan, a DC-area fashion instructor and costume designer), who was able to see to the heart of the issues and move me forward again.

Yvette found Burda’s instructions to be almost as incomprehensible as I did at many points.  She also felt that the coat, particularly the pockets and collars, needed much more help standing tall, as it were, and so she encouraged me to use some tailoring techniques to make them better.  Remembering Elizabeth’s complaints about some of her interfacing issues, this seemed sensible.

I’m still several hours from completion on this project.  Here are a few close-ups of where I stand on particular parts, with notes following the photos:

Pockets.  I originally sewed the pockets as suggested by the pattern — essentially, they were bagged, so that first you just sewed them right sides together leaving a hole to turn it out, clip the curved seams, turned them right-side-out, pressed them, and sewed the opening closed by hand.  But I was not happy with the result, which did not result in a crisp line around the pocket edges.

Yvette suggested that I undo what I’d done and follow the instructions, more or less, from the Vogue Sewing Book (1970s edition).  So I undid all my seams on the pockets to separate the fabric, and started fresh.  I cut out and added horsehair lining (I taped out the gusset from the pattern piece before cutting out the lining), basted the fashion fabric to the horsehair, then sew the lining directly onto the back.  My technique is not amazing and as I had to use my already-clipped fabric the lining is closer to the edges than is ideal.  It’s still basted together until I sew it onto the garment.  I do think it’s much better and crisper than it would have been the other way!

Pocket flaps.  These are interfaced on one side with silk organza.  I’m flipping up the edge to show you the ironing technique that Yvette employed to sort of roll the outside fabric over the seam, so that the seam itself is on the underside of the pocket flap.  Because I’m making this coat out of wool crepe, it’s quite easy to just steam the bejeezus out of it and make it relatively maleable.  I like this technique but definitely need to work on it — Yvette did an effortlessly lovely job, and my own attempt did not turn out as well.  It would help to have teflon fingers, because you to a certain amount of massaging of the freshly steamed and ironed fabric, with your fingers.

Ironing notions.  I already had a sleeve board (item at left), which is great.  Yvette suggested I think about getting a clapper with point-turner (item at right) which is just a block of wood that has a handle with a very sharp end on one side. This post at Pattern Review explains its use better than I could. Yvette critiqued my ironing technique, suggesting that I should be using much more steam on a fabric as forgiving and steam-friendly as wool, and so I’m getting used to working in what feels like a Turkish bath with all the steam that I’m generating at the ironing board now ;^).

I’ve also learned how to padstitch, and once I get to the point of placing my collar on the garment, I will have more to say about that.

Read Full Post »

Um… introductions?

I am so excited to be here…

I’m new to sew-alongs, but I figure a good way to start is by introducing my project, yes? (I hope so) My goal is to make a winter coat for our Canadian winters that doesn’t look like a puff marshmallow. I’ve been wearing one or another long, princess-seamed coats for the last decade or more (including a genuine Hudson’s Bay Blanket Coat, if you know wat that is), but they have three things in common: 1) they’re not warm enough, 2) the sleeves are too short, and 3) I wear them out. Literally. Big holes in the back, armpits, linings… Butterick Princess-seamed Coat So I figure being able to make my own would be awesome, especially since a coat like this in RTW is going to cost me $$$ (and the sleeves will still be too short).

The pattern I’ve picked out is Butterick 5425, a long, full-skirted, princess-seamed coat. I love how full and twirly the skirt is (though it’s going to be a pain to hem). I actually got the pattern last Christmas, and have managed to pick out fashion fabric and make a muslin of the bodice (not terribly successfully… I think I need to go down a pattern-size and shorten the upper bodice). It’s hard to get a grip on the fit I want because on the one hand I want a curvy, flattering coat, and on the other hand I need to stuff a fairly warm interlining and maybe even a chamois shell into the bodice, not to mention the ubiquitous sweaters I’ll always be wearing under it, so it can’t be too snug. And I am not exactly curvaceous, so loose=box-like.

Fashion fabric for my coat

It’ll probably take me most of the rest of the summer to gather (read: afford) the rest of my materials. I want to use Kasha lining (the stuff that’s fleecy on one side and satiny on the other) so I will have to wait until that’s on sale (because I refuse to pay more for the lining fabric than I did for my fashion fabric), and I still have to look into the chamois and interlining. I have ideas on where to source those, but more research is needed, especially about interlining. I find it really hard to get a sense of how warm the different fleeces and thinsulate-type products are relative to each other (and their thickness).

So that’s where I am at; if I can have the coat ready in time for next winter, I’ll be happy. What about the rest of you?

And did I mention I’m excited?

Read Full Post »

Well, our little Trench Sew Along II is starting off nicely.  So far we have the following participants (in no particular order:

Robin of Yarn Crawl


Andrea of Knit-Knac

Kerry of Small Things Considered

MarLou of Vintage Ditties

Cidell of Miss Celie’s Pants


Sheryll of Pattern Scissors Cloth

Susie of Things Be

Tanitisis of Tanitisis’s Blog

There’s no limit on how many can join.  I am not being picky about what you make however, the bare minimum would have to be of the coat variety, but it definitely doesn’t have to be a Trench Coat.  I myself and going to make a fall coat in purple wool.  Yum!

So, if you’re interested, let me know!

Read Full Post »


Please join Sara, Robin and me in a revival of the Trench Sew Along.  I may not make another trench, but I will definitely be making something of the coat persuasion.  Should be fun!

I hope you’ll join us.  More information to come…


Read Full Post »