plaid wool coat

A couple years ago my husband’s aunt sent me a box of fabric, which included several cuts of Pendleton wool in various weights. No idea where it all came from originally, but there were receipts mixed in with the fabric dated from 1992. (So does 20+ years make it vintage? Egads!) Most of the fabrics coordinate in a pink and teal color scheme—not so much my style, but it occurred to me that this plaid fabric would look great on my 10 year old daughter, Sylvia.

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Since the fabric is crazy bold, I wanted to pair it with a classic tailored style. I used Burda 8/2013 #143, which I’ve had on my favorites list for ages. It is quite a bit of work prepping a Burda coat pattern, but the lack of included seam allowances allows me to add SA widths of my choosing, which I actually love. I followed the RTW Tailoring Sew-A-Long over on Pattern-Scissors-Cloth (instead of the Burda directions), which makes the whole process go so smoothly. Gawd if she released an eBook with all that great information, I would be first in line to buy it!

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I used Pro-Weft Supreme, Medium fusible from Fashion Sewing Supply for the interior structure. This interfacing was an absolute pleasure to work with. It’s very soft and easy to fuse; perfect for a coat. I also used fusible hair canvas for the collar stand and lapels. I lined the coat with a thin poly satin (leftover from another coat project) and then underlined the main body pieces in flannel for some additional warmth.

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Cutting out plaid coating is no joke people. It took me several hours, even though there were relatively few pieces. Each piece was cut individually in a single layer, and painstakingly matched. Despite being suuuuper careful, I managed to cut the back pieces about 1/4″ off from the front. Thankfully, I was able to shift and trim things ever so slightly to fix it. Sheesh, that was a close one!

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I really waffled about whether to cut the welts on the bias or to match them across the front. I cut some scraps of fabric for comparison, and ended up nixing the bias cut. The plaid is so large that it was hard to find a spot where the bias cut looked good. Before diving into the welt pocket construction, I took a practice run on scraps. The coating fabric isn’t super thick, but thick enough to create a challenge getting everything to lay flat. Basting the welts shut and giving it a good press with steam followed by a clapper did the trick.

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Since this is a proper tailored coat, I made sure to add shoulder pads (teeny tiny ones that I made!) and sleeve heads. The shoulder pad is just one layer of thick fleece covered in muslin, and the sleeve head is cut from a scrap of flannel. You can kind of see all the inner structure in this photo where I’m attaching the lining to the facing.

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I decided to make fabric covered buttons for the coat because there was nothing in a store that was going to be just right. Remember how I said I had coordinating wool fabrics? That came in handy here! The pink wool that I used to cover the buttons is lighter weight (I made a blazer out of it a while back) and was just the thing for covered buttons. For the buttonholes, I used top stitching thread to give them a little more substance. My machine does’t have a keyhole feature, unfortunately, so these are just plain jane. I thought of doing them by hand, but these ended up looking good enough.

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For once I didn’t want to rely on top stitching to keep the lapels nice and crisp, so I made sure to under stitch the collar, lapel, and front edge. Then I basted the edges and gave it all a good solid pressing and steaming, and let it set over night. This step makes all the difference in the world on the finished product.

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I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome on this coat! The pattern is great, the fabric is perfect, and my daughter loves it. Initially, I was worried that the fit was a little too perfect, but It looks like she has a good 1.5″ in sleeve length for growing room. In other words, she should be able to wear it next fall/winter as well.

lisa g.

Butterick 6169

Man, life has been busy! I made this jacket, took photos, and drafted a post that has been sitting here for exactly a month. So yeah, this jacket was a last minute fall project, but the weather here has been cray cray warm, so I’ve managed to wear it so much more than I anticipated! I figured it would have been closeted until spring, but even this week—Christmas week—we’re looking at 60F degree weather. Unheard of out here in the Northeast. So anyway… I’ve been wanting a lightweight jacket as an alternative to my RTW denim jacket for a really long time. I love a denim jacket, but every once in a while it just doesn’t work with an outfit. So I decided to make Butterick 6169, which had been on my mind ever since it came out this past spring.

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I used a lightweight canvas from Joann’s for the shell and bemberg rayon for the lining. The canvas was pretty inexpensive, and I don’t think I’d really recommend this particular fabric. It’s thin, which is fine, but it’s a little bit “crispy” feeling. It has softened up a with wear, thankfully. Even though the fabric quality is a bit meh, its redeeming quality is the color—it’s the perfect neutral olive green and will go with so many different things in my wardrobe. I used a solid black bemberg for the lining. As much as I like bold colors or patterns for linings, I decided to keep it simple this time around. Ugh bemberg I hate working with you SO MUCH. But, it’s soft as buttah once all is said and done… worth the headache for sure.

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This pattern has been really popular, and for good reason. It’s fairly quick to make, as far as lined jackets go, and the exposed zip is a great feature. I did feel that the zipper was a little awkward to put in, though. The center of the zipper teeth are supposed to sit right on the seam line of the pattern piece, which means that you have to sew the zipper with a smaller seam allowance. So when sewing above and below the zipper, you have to kind of scoot your stitching line back to 5/8″. It looks totally fine in the end, so maybe I’m just being weird?

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I decided to top stitch many of the seams, using my 1/4″ foot as a guide. I wanted to use actual top stitching thread, but I couldn’t find a good color match and had to stick with regular thread. At least that saved me the trouble of switching out my thread constantly.

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I’m happy with the fit of the jacket, and I really didn’t fuss around with making many adjustments. I made an 8 through the shoulder and bust, grading out to the 10 at the side seams around the waist (my measurements here are approx 34″-28″-39″ and I’m fairly petite through my upper body). If I were using a heavier fabric I would have to go up a size, but for the most part this jacket will be worn with sleeveless tops and dresses, so I wanted it more fitted. I can easily wear a fitted long sleeve tee, but anything bulkier would be uncomfortable. I do like that the armhole is nice and high and the sleeves are narrow. I usually have to make alterations for that, but not this time.

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If I were to make this pattern again, I would do a forward shoulder adjustment and lengthen the sleeves. I usually add 1″ to sleeves but just forgot! Also, since I used a stiffer fabric, I had trouble with the seams that that required easing. If I were using a wool, or other more tailorable fabric, it would be totally fine. Overall, this is a really solid jacket pattern, and I wouldn’t mind making it again. It’s both streamlined and detailed and the style works with many different types of fabrics. Since our fall has lingered a bit I’m so glad I didn’t wait until the spring to sew it up!

lisa g.

MORRIS BLAZER| Grainline Studio

Full disclosure: I am a Grainline Studio fangurl.

I ordered the Morris Blazer pattern the second it was released.  Jen had been teasing us about releasing it for what… years? Ha! It seemed like the perfect casual blazer—I knew there would be no hesitation. Fortunately, it was totally worth the wait, as I’m completely in love with it! No weird fit issues or tweaks, just pure love.

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Side note: I also made this t-shirt. Appropriately, it’s a Grainline Studio sleeveless Hemlock Tee with a slightly curved hemline and narrow bound neckline. I love this tee, and wear it all the time!

I made a size 4 and graded out to a 6 at the side seams (for reference, my measurements are 34-29-40). I usually make a forward shoulder adjustment, but I skipped it here since the shoulder seam sits a little bit forward anyways. And… that’s it for fit. Nice!

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I feel like I ran into problems with my fabric choice though. I used a really nice ponte from fabric.com and while I adore the fabric itself, I feel like it has too much drape for this blazer. You can see that the front of the blazer wants to bag out and not hang quite right. I made sure to block fuse my facings, since I find that knit fusible tends to shrink slightly under the heat and steam. However, if I make this blazer in ponte fabric again, I’ll throw in some fusible on the outer piece where it would be hidden by the facing. I don’t think you’ll run into this problem if you go with a stretch woven, but I’d be tempted to play it safe and use a lightweight fusible anyway.

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So that’s my only quibble with the pattern, and really the issue is specific to knit fabrics. Otherwise, the construction and directions are fantastic! Despite the fact that this blazer is unlined, the interior finish is very neat and tidy. Plus, holy cow, is this a quick project. I’m pretty sure the cutting and fusing took longer than the actual construction. I cut and finished it over a very-busy-with-other-things two days.

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I so badly want to sew up another right away, but I’m trying to move on to my summer wardrobe. I’m in need of new shorts, tanks, and t-shirts. We’re heading back to our hometown for our summer vacation right after school is out, and I’m pretty sure the Kansas summer will be in full force upon our arrival. Until then… mad sewing to make all the stuff I want and need for me and the family!

—lisa g.

Mccalls 6172 | finished!!!

Man, I feel like this blazer took me an eternity to make! There’s that point in blazer and coat-making where you feel like you’ll never finish and you just can’t bear to complete one. more. step. It’s been a while since I’ve made any tailored outerwear, so I was a little rusty in terms of construction order. In the past I had followed the RTW jacket sew-a-long on Pattern~Scissors~Cloth but I thought I would do more hand-sewing this time around (this comes to play once you start attaching the lining). In the end, I ended up going back to the machine and scrapping most of my hand sewing plans.

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Since I’ve already detailed my fitting and construction in previous posts (here and here) I won’t rehash all that. In short—I found the fit to be very good, so long as you go down one size from the size chart. The “size down” thing is pretty standard (unfortunately) with Big 4 patterns, so always make sure you check the finished garment measurements first.

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About the only thing left to talk about is the lining. I picked up a poly charmeuse from joanns, mostly because I was really excited about having a print instead of a solid color. I love the print, but I don’t think I’ll be using this type of fabric for a lining again. It was extremely difficult to sew, it frayed like MAD, and it does end up feeling a little plastic-y. However—PAISLEY! So that basically makes it all good in my book. The shell fabric (wool) has a good weight to it, so this will be a blazer to wear when it’s cold. The poly lining actually lends extra warmth, for better or worse. I do prefer the feel of a rayon bemberg lining, but the stuff I can typically find around here is too thin for blazer or coat lining.

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As I already mentioned, I decided to ignore most of the pattern’s directions and instead followed the construction order of the RTW Jacket sew-a-long. I did the sleeve shell/lining join, and started the hem bagging by machine. It is so much cleaner to finish the facing/lining/hem join by machine rather than trying to hand stitch all that. What I did was sew the facing hem all the way to the dart seam by machine. Then from there, I catch-stitched the remaining hem turn up, and then fell stitched the lining in place. I do think that this gives a nice crisp hem line, superior to simply tacking the hem facing at the SA’s. Plus, that small bit of hand sewing doesn’t take that much extra time.

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One thing I wish I had done differently would be to draft a better lining. Except for the back piece (which at least has a deep pleat for wearing ease) the rest of the lining is just a duplicate of the shell. I was all set to draft this, but I was feeling a little burnt out at that point and just didn’t want to deal. In the future, I will take the extra step! (Jen at Grainline Studio has an excellent tutorial on how to do this.)

Random note: I typically need to lengthen sleeves by 1″ on patterns, but I didn’t make any changes here. So, if you suffer from an average to short arm length… you may need to alter the sleeves.

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I did feel like I had a hard time getting a good crisp press at the lapel and collar edge. Part of this is due to my failing iron (the water chamber leaks, so I have to use a spray bottle with water to get any steam) and the thickness of the wool. In the end, I decided to topstitch the collar and lapel to get the crisp edge I needed. I’m completely happy with this decision given that I wanted a casual look and I had already topstitched the patch pockets in place. The extra topstitching at the collar fits right in and ends up being a nice detail.

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All in all, I am very pleased with the fit I achieved, the fabric is killer, and I know I’ll be wearing this a lot. I can already imagine sewing up both the short and long length options in a variety of fabrics. Basically this pattern is very versatile, and if you’re looking for a classic blazer pattern—this is a good one. Sheesh… now that’s it’s winter here, maybe I should start a winter coat. Ya know, so I can wear it sometime by March.

—lisa g.

blazer | mccalls 6172

Life has been pretty hectic around these parts… unfortunately my sewing time, not to mention blogging time, has been virtually non-existent. So, so sad… I actually had decent Halloween costumes made up for the kiddos this year, but I never got around to getting good photos, so… oh well. They’re up on IG if you’re interested.

Instead of trying to post all the unblogged things, I’ll just jump ahead to what I’m working on now. Namely, a blazer! I’ve been wanting to make a blazer for a long time, so I jumped in when Gail and Shar teamed up on IG and were all like “Yeah! We’re sewing blazers! Wooooooo!” Andrea joined up as well, and we were all pretty gung-ho for a couple of days. So… that was the end of Septemeber, and we aimed to be done by the end of October-ish. Oh what, it’s mid-November now? Heh heh… oops.

I’m making view B, but will add patch pockets

I muslined the blazer (what seems like) ages ago but only this week did I transfer my alterations to my pattern and got cutting. I’m going for a relaxed fit, so I tried to keep my fitting low key. I stuck to my usual changes and did a 1″ SBA, a 1/4″ FSA (I didn’t mess with the sleeve cap, I figure it will be easier to just make some small adjustments when I set the sleeves), and took a small tuck out of the lapel. The only thing left troubling me was some restriction in arm movement. In the past I’ve shortened the depth of the armhole to gain more movement, but when i fiddled with the seam line on my muslin it left the back of the armhole looking kinda funny. Then by chance, I read Idle Fancy’s post with a ton of fitting links, including this one from A Fashionable Stitch. BINGO. That’s exactly what I needed. I don’t have broad shoulders, but I think perhaps my forward shoulder makes the standard armhole placement a little off? Or maybe it’s something else altogether… who knows!

The change was fairly straightforward. I simply straightened out the curve on the back of the jacket, and added a little extra in the same part on the sleeve. Things got a little dicey when I was altering the sleeve since this has a two-piece sleeve and the adjustment crossed between the two pattern pieces, but I think I’m in a good place. Basting will be my friend when I get to the sleeves.

I feel the need to apologize for the terribly lit iPhone photos… it’s a dark and dreary day!

The fabric I’m using is a very nice Pendelton wool that was gifted to me by one of my husband’s aunts. A few months ago she sent me a box of five cuts of wool (with receipt dated from 1992!) and the pink is just the right shade of bold without being obnoxious. Now that my fabric is cut, I need to get to fusing. The fabric has nice weight to it, so I’m using a weft fusible, reinforced with a little hair canvas fusible on the back collar, front lapel, and upper chest.

I’m pretty excited to get going now that my schedule has eased a bit and I have some momentum behind me. Who knows, I may finish it by the end of November… only a month late!

—lisa g.

P.S. If you’re really interested in seeing our slow progress, just search #bourbonandblazers on IG

sewaholic cordova plans

i’m currently suffering from a terrible backlog of unblogged garments… this intolerable winter that will never end is really getting to me. i think there may be a slight warm up in the near future… my indoor pics always look so terrible, so hopefully if we have a warm day i can get a few things photographed!

anyways, if you’re with me on  instagram, you’ll know that i’ve been playing around with the sewaholic cordova lately. i love that pattern so much! i knew i would eventually make it as soon as i saw the design. yet… i’m only now getting on that. actually, i’m surprised that more cordova’s haven’t popped up. i’m going to take a gander that the lack of pockets are one of the main reasons. i mean, jackets need pockets. so, my cordova will have pockets.

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i’ve given the pockets a big long think. like a year’s worth of think (last year i was debating between making the cordova or the minoru—spoiler alert: i made the minoru) and finally inspiration struck as i was perusing style arc’s jacket patterns. check out the ziggi jacket. that pattern has zippered pockets just off the front princess seam. ah-ha! easy enough to add to the cordova! once i worked that detail out, inspiration was in full force.

i made up a muslin last week based on my measurements. seems as though this pattern runs on the boxy side, because i had to take it in about 3″ all around. i left the shoulder and hip alone, so the entire bust/waist was just too big. once i took those seams in i was super pleased with the fit!

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i want a two piece sleeve with exposed zipper sleeve vents, so i drafted one based on this resource. it came out… okay, but it still needs a ton of work. converting a one piece sleeve to a two piece sleeve is basically impossible. i don’t say that because it’s hard, but because they are just so different; the only thing they really have in common is the sleeve cap. the good news? the sleeve cap is the bulk of the drafting. so i’ll be trying again because i think i have a better idea of how to go about getting the sleeve i need.

while i was making all these changes, i decided the jacket would look super cute with turned back lapels. i lowered the stance and re-drew the front line to accommodate a nice wide lapel. i don’t mind the lack of collar (though it wouldn’t be all that hard to add, were you so inclined—just borrow one from a blazer pattern) but i think a lapel will help balance out the small bust/large hip thing happening with my figure. in fact, the collar-less look seems more popular now than it was when this pattern was released—perhaps sewaholic was just ahead of the times!

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onto my fabric… i have a heavy-weight brown cotton sateen (no stretch) that i picked up for cheap last summer. it was marked twill (from fashionfabricsclub.com) and i had planned to make some pants for hubby. however, upon receipt, it was decidedly not twill, and really too heavy for pants. since the fabric was inexpensive i initially thought i would make the jacket with out a muslin, but the more i thought about how useful a brown jacket would be, the more i thought i should do the job right the first time. to top it off, i remembered this ikat silk remnant i scored a while back ($6/yd) that is a bit shiny for every day wear, but would be perfect as a fun lining! all the pieces fell into place—design, fabric—so i plan to do this jacket justice. usually, i practice project monogamy (one sewing project at a time, please!) but for this, i’m allowing myself to work on smaller things in between so i don’t rush through. let’s face it: i don’t need this jacket right away since i’m still wearing my winter coat on a daily basis.

since the fabrics were already hanging around my sewing room (even the pattern was a christmas gift from my sister!), i get to splurge on fancy metal zips. and my zips are the only piece i haven’t yet figured out yet… contrast (red-ish/dk pink) or matching? if i only needed a front zip, per the pattern, contrast would be a no-brainer (yes!). but, since there will be five zippers, all that contrast might be overkill. at the moment i’m leaning toward matching for the front zips, and contrast for the sleeve vents. or would that be dumb? i have plenty of time to decide so—to my lovely readers who have made it to the end of my post—whaddaya think? all matching? all contrast? a mix of matching and contrast? do tell!

burdastyle | fur hood parka

my oldest daughter adores the outerwear that i’ve made her, so when winter coat season rolled around we started checking out coats and patterns. to keep it simple i had wanted to use the same pattern as the jacket i made her recently, just change up a few details. however, that was immediately shot down. darn kids and their opinions. after some browsing she really honed in on the parka style coat. natch, burda had just the pattern so there you have it. easy peasy lemon squeezey. sure…

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i planned to crank out this coat the few days before thanksgiving because i was feeling really guilty that she was still wearing last years coat (she had the audacity to grow a whopping three inches in the past year, so it was all sorts of too small). then of course, the whole family was working through a stomach bug, runny noses, etc, and i generally felt like total crap. i took one look at the excessively long list of pieces to draft and almost cried. why burda… WHY?! clearly i was not in the best emotional state to tackle a coat. wisely, i set it aside for after thanksgiving, and thankfully the viruses we were carrying moved on to other unlucky souls.

once i got over all the pieces i would have to draft, i set to work. i made these super awesome bellows pockets that nearly did me in! ohmygosh four of them. with flaps. those friggin pockets took me hours to make! i was not helped by the fact that my fabric was just a hair too thick for all the layers, and by the fact that there is a substantial lycra content. it didn’t seem nearly as stretchy in the store as it turned out to be when i was sewing. hate. that.

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i added a zipper facing to avoid clothing snags

once the pockets were on, the entire shell took maybe an hour to construct. at that point i felt much better. the lining went together easily, though it was a little time consuming. i decided to interline the body with polar fleece, and the sleeves with flannel. to keep down the bulk at the seams, i flatlocked the fleece where i could, then joined the lining and fleece at the neck, armholes, CF, and hem. i also tacked the lining to the fleece down the side seams. since the sleeves were one piece, i simply underlined the lining with flannel and constructed them that way.

really, things went along just fine until i got to the zipper. there was so much bulk in this area i had a crazy hard time sewing as close to the teeth as i needed to. so, this is where i started to have problems with the pattern. as i understood it, you were supposed to have the teeth covered by the shell fabric (as in a standard zip install), not exposed as i have it. but, because of how far the hood zip comes to CF, i really didn’t have enough room to do it as instructed. and then oh horror of horrors, i couldn’t topstitch around the zipper. SOB! i am crazy upset about this. if you’ve been reading this blog for very long you will know of my obsessive topstitching, and here, of all things, the zip had to go without. between the bulk, the weird zip install, and the stretchiness of the fabric, i just couldn’t get any topstitching to look decent. i tried so hard… seriously, i am mortified over this egregious omission.

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then to top it off, there wasn’t really enough room to sew on the front flap that would have covered the zipper. i’m pretty bummed about that as well. in fact, the whole neckline on this pattern is problematic. it’s so snug she can barely zip it up all the way, and that coupled with the fact that i inadvertently added width at CF makes me feel like something is off in the drafting. were i to make this again i would have to make some adjustments there for sure.

the pattern does have a small facing around the zipper on the inside. i didn’t think of this until it was too late, but i’m pretty sure i could have used that facing piece on the flap side of the shell and seamed the flap in instead of sewing it on top as (i think) the pattern was instructing me to do.

the color is a bit off here but it was the only pic that really shows all the details

the color is a bit off here but it was the only pic that really shows all the details

other than not getting the flap on, the only thing i changed was how i did the drawstring casing. and this is hardly a change, but i thought i’d mention it. the pattern has you sew a casing to the inside of the shell. i did this with some leftover bias tape, then after i had the lining in i went back and topstitched over my original stitching to anchor the lining to the shell all the way around. it’s a small thing, but i thought it might look kinda sloppy on the inside with the drawstring only gathering the shell.

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for finishing touches, i did the fur trim on the hood, and hammered in ten shiny snaps. yeesh those snaps were hard to get in! i’ve only used the pronged type of snap before, so this was a new experience. i had to cut a hole in the fabric and insert them more like an eyelet (where you use a tool to hammer down this tube thing that curls over on itself to secure).

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not gonna lie, this coat was a mega hassle to make! some difficulties were my own doing, some were due to the pattern. the frustrating part is that changing up just a few small details would have made it go soooo much smoother. even though i wanted to burn this pattern by the time i was done with it, i think i may use it again for a lighter jacket post-winter. it would make a really cute anorak-style jacket, or even mix up some details for a military-inspired style. if i ignore the zip/flap disappointment, i really love how the coat came out! it’s so squishy and cozy, thanks to the fleece interlining, and it keeps her nice and toasty warm. anastasia loves it and positively squealed with joy when she saw the pockets. the girl loves her pockets, especially these deep roomy ones. all and all the coat is a win, though i hesitate to recommend the pattern. it’s been a while since a project has frustrated me as much as this one did, and it may belong in the “not worth the effort” category. unless you make a second one and are content to call the first a learning experience.

—lisa g.