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Simplicity 2311

Here’s my pattern review for Simplicity 2311, my beloved purple coat pattern. I’m officially in love.

Pattern Description:  Misses’ Coat in two lengths with collar, sleeve and belt variations. I made Coat B in the shorter length with the tie belt and wide collar. I did not include any buttons as my fabric was grabby and the belt was sufficient to keep the coat closed.

Pattern Sizing:  14-22. I made the sz 14 and found it very true to size with little fitting adjustments needed.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes! Yes! Yes! (aside from the different color fabric)

Were the instructions easy to follow?  The instructions were easy to follow if you read carefully. I found myself skipping on ahead thinking I understood everything perfectly. It really pays to read and follow along one or two sentences at a time before moving on to the next step.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I LOVED the pattern; it is drafted so well. The collar did not need any pad stitching to retain its shape. My teacher said that most RTW collars don’t have any pad stitching, especially when using a fusible interfacing, and I took the excuse and ran with it; the collar came out great.

The princess seams and CB seam allowed for great fitting opportunities. I love the multiple opportunities for top stitching, which takes this coat from plain jane to a gorgeous model in heartbeat. My Emerald 183 has a special topstitching stitch that made my topstitching look so professional. I recommend loading up on matching thread if you plan to topstitch most of the seams. I used 3 and a half spools of Gutterman thread for this project. Top stitching accuracy is easy, if you take it slow.

FYI: I did not find there to be excess ease in the sleeve head. Yes, you had to gather, but with a wool fabric, I would expect that. In fact, I found the amount of ease needed to be gathered quite minimal. I did not have any problems with puckering nor did I end up with a poofy sleeve. Love that!

The only dislikes I have, which are minor, are that the hem with the lining attached needs to be tacked to the shell. That instruction was not included in the pattern sheets. I think its necessary or else the hem will sag and show the lining. I will tack my hem down tonight.

Also, I think some kind of hand stitching in the ditch is needed to join the upper collar/lining/under collar together at the shoulder/neck area so that they act as one piece instead of two pieces that can pull away from each other as you take the coat on and off. But these are minor points and would probably be obvious to advanced sewists.

Any difficulties encountered?  The most difficult part of this pattern is when you attach the shoulder and collar to the back yoke. The shoulder and collar form a U when sewn together and sewing that U shape to the squarish yoke is a bit tricky. You have to pivot at just the right spot making sure not to catch the shoulder in the seam you’re creating. And then after the pivot, you have to move the collar out of the way to continue. Just make sure you sew this part slowly and carefully and you will be fine. I even needed to do one pivot over again, and it was actually easier to do the second time, because the stitching from the first pass allowed me to hold the pieces together better for more accurate sewing.

Fabric Used:  I used an imperial purple wool purchased from FabricMart in Sept 2009 and a silk charmeuse in a coordinating purple color from Metro Textiles purchased in August 2010.

Both fabrics were a dream to sew. The wool pressed beautiful.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  The only fitting change I made to the pattern was to sculpt the CB seam to take some of the squarishness out of the fit and give it a more fitted and tapered look from the shoulder blade to waist area (in total I took about .75 inches out tapering to the yoke and waist). I thought I might need to fiddle with the princess seams in front, but left them as is so I could wear suit jackets underneath if need be.

I did add some interior structure changes to the pattern such as a interfacing all the pattern pieces, and adding a back stay and sleeve heads. The pattern already called for shoulder pads which I included, but I decided to make my own since I didn’t like the store bought ones that I had bought for this project which were made out of foam. I just looked at my RTW winter coat to see how its shoulder pads were constructed and did the same.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I honestly can say that I would sew this again. I tend to do only one complicated project a year, so I won’t probably make this again anytime soon, but I love this pattern. When I make it again, I might place the carriers lower on the coat as I am long waisted. As they are indicated on the pattern, they fall about an inch or two below an empire waist. I would like them about an inch lower. So be sure to check placement for yourself before blindly following the pattern’s placement.

I definitely would recommend this pattern. Maybe not to a beginner as it is a long and involved project (although a beginner could definitely make this pattern; I just think it’s a complicated process to make a coat with many opportunities for frustration), but an intermediate or advanced beginner would definitely enjoy making this pattern. I think an advanced sewist would enjoy the excellent drafting and fit of this coat and could add more structure and couture details to make it their own.

Conclusion: Great pattern!!!! I love my coat and am so proud of the work I put into it and all the interior structure details I included. I received so many compliments today on my coat.

I wish all of you well who are still in progress on your coats.  I can’t wait to see everyone’s finished coats!!!  Good luck.

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I have been getting some unexpected but welcome sewing time this week. Not much, but enough to make some incremental yet gratifying progress on my fall coat. I was able to cut out the interfacing and fuse it to my sleeves on Monday as well as cut out my back stay. Last night I was able retrofit my back stay into the shell of my coat.

I say retrofit the back stay because, if you will kindly recall, I have already constructed the shell of my coat without installing the back stay along the way. Someone forgot to sew it in. I’m not going to name any names, but Elizabeth that person just completely forgot about the back stay because I she was so excited about sewing my the luscious purple wool. I knew I wanted to incorporate a little structure into my coat as I wanted it to be a little more substantial than my trench coat last year. However, that doesn’t mean I am going to pad stitch the lapels. I’m not going crazy here, I mean sheesh! 😉

I bet you’re wondering how you retrofit a back stay. And I bet you’re wondering how many times I can say retrofit a back stay in this post. Hahaha! I thought about it for a while and then I thought, why not ask on Pattern Review. Nancy K answered me right away. She suggested that I sew the back stay onto the seam allowances of my shell. A simple yet elegant solution to a knotty problem.

So I got to work. I cut out the back stay by combining the pattern pieces of the back yoke and the back, overlapping 5/8ths at the seam. I cut the stay from two inches below the armscye and used my french curve to angle up to the CB fold ever so gently. Et voilá a back stay was born! I used the cotton flannel for the stay that I was originally going to use for interlining the coat. I decided against that because I am lazy wanted a more transitional fall coat rather than a winter coat. Then I staystitched the neck and armscye of the stay and pinned it to the back of my shell. I carefully stitched the stay to the seam allowances of my shell, only once sewing it to the actual back for a few inches. Of course I spent some quality time with my seam ripper at that point. Fun times I tell you, taking out stitches from wool. Fun times indeed.

That’s the stage where I remain today my friends. I will reconvene with the sewing committee (aka my Emerald 183) tonight and see where the evening takes me. I can’t wait!!!! Of course as the weather is wont to do, it will be dipping into fall temps on the morrow, so I am feeling a lot of pressure motivation to finish this coat pronto!

*crossing fingers for some good progress tonight!*

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Good morning everyone!

Yesterday, I was gifted with rare, uninterrupted daytime sewing time by a friend who took Jack off my hands for a few hours.  Wow!  You can get soooo much done during the day when you are fresh and don’t have to deal with sub-par lighting.  I almost completely constructed the shell (minus the facing).  Saturday night, I fused my little interfacing heart out with Kashi’s interfacing.  I had enough for everything but the sleeves, so I will use Pam Erny’s for the sleeves, because I received my order last Thursday.  In retrospect, I guess I could have waited for my order to arrive, but then I wouldn’t have all that nice doubleknit now would I?  😉  

I thought I’d share with you a little trick I picked up on the interwebs… I think it was from R0bin’s blog, A Little Sewing on the Side.  She interlined her winter coat with hymo and to reduce bulk at the darts, she cut the excess fabric from the dart of her fashion fabric after sewing the dart, and she just cut the hymo on the dart legs before sewing it to the fashion fabric.  Et voilá!  So while I forgot to cut the excess fabric from the dart of my fashion fabric, I did remember to cut the dart legs on my interfacing.  So when I was ready to fuse, I just brought the sides of the dart on the interfacing together as if it was sewn and fused it to the fabric that way.  It worked like a charm.  See the picture below for how I cut out my interfacing.  Using the pattern pieces, I just lifted up the edges of the pieces to cut inside the cutting line so that each interfacing piece would be slightly smaller than the fabric piece.  That way, I would reduce bulk and reduce the chances of fusing my ironing board! 

And here’s all my pieces (minus the sleeves) interfaced and ready to be sewn.  Now isn’t that a pretty picture???

So, as I mentioned before, I had a lot of time to sew yesterday.  I completed the outer shell construction during the day and last night I made the tie belt.  I did a lot of top stitching.  A. LOT.  I love it.  On Carolyn’s recommendation, I used the special topstitching stitch on my Emerald 183 (remember, I am not using my “new” Singer Featherweight 221 yet until I get the kinks figured out).  I love this stitch!  Basically, it’s a straight stitch that’s slightly longer and is sewn twice, side by side, so that it’s slightly wider and longer looking, making for a beautiful topstitch.  I practiced different ways to topstitch on scraps before I actually did it on my coat.  BTW, I highly recommend that; I always practice my stitches for every new piece of fabric I sew.  That way there’s no nasty surprises during construction.  I tried two threads through the needle with an even longer stitch, but the stitches weren’t consistent.  My only wish for the special topstitching stitch would be the option to make it longer than 3.0 which is the max length setting on my machine.  I think the topstitching would look even better at 3.5.  But I still love the way my topstitching looks now, so I’m a happy camper. 

So tonight, I will fuse my sleeves, re-cut my lining back pieces (remember the dreaded grease ring?) and continue constructing my coat.  By my calculations (time you think it will take you to finish x 3 = actual time to finish), I might be able to finish this coat by Weds night.  That is, if I put in three solid evenings of at least 4 hours of sewing time each night.  Remember, I’m a slow sewist.

Wish me luck!

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Muslin-y Pictures S2311

Just posted my muslin pictures on Sew A Beginner

Last night’s session with Thea was very successful.  I continue to be excited about this coat.  I just adore this pattern.  Did I mention that it is well-drafted???  And the collar/lapel is just about as perfect as can be.  LOVE. THIS. COAT.

So, I realized some errors I had made, but it’s all good.  No animals were harmed in the making of this muslin.  😉   I forgot I had changed the seam guide on my Featherweight from 5/8ths to 1/2 inch, so all my seam allowances were an 1/8th off. 

Oh, and I figured out why my bobbin thread kept breaking.  Now this is just a theory as I have not really researched it, but I think the needle position must be in its highest position when you pull out your work.  I think the way the machine works is that having the needle position high changes the way the bobbin releases the bobbin thread.  Oh maybe I’m on crack here, but it’s just a theory.  I experimented last night with keeping the needle up at its highest position whenever I removed my work after a seam and I had no problems whatsoever with the bobbin thread all night.  So, I think I’m on to something here.  However, this mild success in using the Featherweight did not convince me to use it for this coat.  I am still going to use my Emerald 183.  I think I need to practice on the Featherweight with less complicated, less important projects first before I sew something like a coat.

Thea helped me fit my coat.  She agreed with me that the fit was basically fine but I could use some shaping in the back to remove some of the bulk there.  The pattern provides a center back seam, but there is not much if any shaping in it, so we added about a 3/4 inch of shaping out from the waist tapering to the hem and yoke.  It looks great now.  We inserted the sleeve pretty easily.  Thankfully there is not an excess amount of ease in the sleeve cap, so very little easing was required.  There was also easing for the elbow which I love.  Gives great shaping to the line of the arm as well as being practical for something pointy like an elbow.  I should mention that I was mistaken about the pattern calling for sewing on the sleeves in the flat.  I just misread them because they have you jump around the instruction sheets from Coat A to Coat B instructions. 

Thea also helped me figure out how to attack the back yoke to the front and collar better.  The pattern itself is missing some markings, so that was part of my problem. The other was not know how to properly sew a squarish u-shaped piece to a straight piece.  I will explain that later.  Ingenious method though. 

Without further ado, here are the pictures of the muslin on me!  I wore a suit jacket to fill out the coat a bit.  I am really pleased with the fit and look of this coat and can’t wait to start cutting out the purple wool.  Please ignore the goofy faces.

Let me know what you think of the fit.  Thanks!

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S2311 Muslin

Apologies for my absence friends.  I am now turning my attention to my Fall Coat.  I worked on the muslin last night.

Here’s a refresher on what the finished coat looks like (top left, the short camel version).  

Simplicity 2311

 

I cut a straight sz 14 in heavy weight muslin (think of it as almost like painting canvas).  I found this weight to be extremely helpful to give an accurate read of how the coating would drape if a bit ravelly.  It took me forever last night to get to a point where I could try on the muslin (more on why later).  Essentially I got to the point where you attach the sleeves.  I believe they instruct you to sew them on in the flat as opposed to in the round.  But it was late and I wanted to see the fit, so I skipped that and basted the side seams.   

 The verdict?  I.  LOVE.  THIS.  COAT.  I love the wide lapels.  I love the princess seams in front.  The back needs some fitting but luckily enough there’s a CB seam to play with.  I think I might take some bulk out of the shoulder blade area through to the waist, but that’s about it. This coat is going to rock!!!  I was scared of the princess seams, but they were really easy to sew.  I didn’t need to clip anything to get them to lay flat.  Weird!  The collar and lapel have a great shape and lie around my neck and shoulders beautifully.  And I didn’t even do the inside facing/over collar yet.  This is a really well-drafted pattern.   

 I’ve decided that I won’t interline this coat.  I’m intending it to be a fall coat, something transitional and more like an accessory rather than true outerwear.  So, even though I bought cotton flannel for it, I am just going to use the purple wool coating and silk charmeuse lining for this coat.  But I could totally see myself making the longer version for a more substantial winter coat next year.   

 I wish I had a picture of me wearing the muslin, but I was too tired and not camera ready last night, so here’s a totally craptastic shot with my iphone to tide you over.  

  

Thea is coming over tonight to help me fit the back and show me how to sew the back to the front better.  I had major problems sewing that part last night and just did a down and dirty job of it in the muslin to see how it looked on.   

 And speaking of problems…  I had an awful time using my Featherweight last night.  AWFUL!!!  I almost dragged out my Emerald 183 from retirement.  I couldn’t get the bobbin to wind correctly and smoothly so my bobbin thread kept getting stuck and then breaking.  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong.  One time when it broke, something jolted the needle thread tension discs and now they are really loose.  I hope I didn’t break my “new” Featherweight.  I guess the honeymoon is over.  😦   As a matter of fact, I am probably going to un-retire the Emerald 183 to sew my final coat.  I don’t want to slow down the making of this coat due to machine temperamentality.  

 How is everybody else doing with their projects?????  I am going to be a more active participant in this sewalong.  I promise!  I am super excited about this coat and can’t wait to wear it!  Hopefully I will have better muslin pictures to show you soon.

Wish me luck!

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I’ve found it!!!

Ok, I know I have been MIA from the Trench Sew Along, but I’ve been very distracted with my TNT project at Sew A Beginner.  But I received an email from Simplicity last night about their new fall patterns and I meandered over there to peruse the new selection.  And lo and behold, but what did I see? 

Simplicity 2311

Why, S2311, of course.  I love the short version with the wide lapels in camel on the left hand side of the pattern envelope.  What do you think?  Wouldn’t it be perfect for my imperial purple wool??? 

Imperial Purple wool coating from Fabricmart

And the bonus is that this pattern is fully lined.  FULLY LINED!!!!  I don’t have to do mental gymnastics to make this coat. 

I’m so excited!

Happy sewing everyone!

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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!

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