Saturday, April 24, 2021

Plaid wool coat with a Patrones pattern

Spring is trying to arrive here in N. California and as I said in my previous post, I've finished another coat that will have to hibernate until next fall. 

Combining a plaid fabric for outerwear can be a bit of a tricky thing to get right and I think this simple coat pattern worked for this fabric. As I mentioned in the previous post, this plaid is both uneven and unbalanced so I wanted a pattern that had very few seams. I received this fabric from Minerva and I have posted on their site here, but as usual I like to post everything to the blog.

Plaid patrones coat1

When I saw this fabric on the Minerva website I didn't think the plaid was as large as it turned out to be. So that meant a bit of a rethink on what to make with it. Originally I had planned for a jacket but I thought the large scale didn't suit the pattern I had in mind. That's what sent me looking for a simple coat pattern. Also this fabric is definitely the right weight for a coat and perhaps a bit too much for the type of jacket I like to wear. 

Plaid coat front 7

I think for a coat like this it's all about the plaid matching, if it didn't match then I would consider the thing unwearable.  My previous post has all the details on the pattern used which is from the Spanish sewing magazine Patrones Issue 402, pattern 26.  Last summer I first tried this pattern magazine, which is actually available as an app for iPhone or iPad. Here's the link to that post if you are interested in learning about Patrones. 

Plaid coat side view

I really wanted the facing to match exactly as well, which you can see in this picture below. When you wear a coat like this it's often open and unbuttoned, so the facing shows a lot. 

Plaid coat front 6

However with this large plaid I barely had enough fabric to cut all the outer pieces and the facings needed a bit of help. I had to piece the facing at the bottom edge. I find that doing piecing weirdly satisfying. It's a pattern puzzle that's fun to solve - or at least I think so. Also piecing is a strange looking word, I checked the spelling and that seems correct but it still looks odd to me.  But the piecing is just about tolerable. 

Plaid coat piecing in front facing

Plaid coat inside lining

The lining is something that I received in a stash of fabric and linings that was given to me a few months ago. I get offered a lot of fabric and usually don't accept but this sounded intriguing as it was from a former instructor of fashion design. As it turned out I took a couple of bins which had a bunch of lovely wool crepes (which you will see sewn up next fall) some great linings, a lot of interfacing (always welcome) and quite a few patternmaking books plus teaching materials. Score! This red lining was ideal for this coat. 
plaid coat belted on me

I took these pictures a while ago on a very gray day, which turned to sunshine for the last few weeks. Meaning no coat wearing for me, although it's supposed to rain a little bit tomorrow and that will be our last for a while. 

Plaid coat back on me

Plaid coat 2

I kind of wanted to make a tie belt of the same fabric to give the coat some shaping but didn't have any to spare. With a belt it does give a bit more shaping although I probably wouldn't wear it with that, too much trouble to deal with a belt. 

So that's a wrap on my winter sewing - definitely time to think Spring! 
We have a couple of live/online classes on the calendar for the next couple of months, here are the links to sign up. Note we call it the Hello Stitch Garment Sewing Club - but you don't have to take each month's class. However the sewing camaraderie we've developed has been great, with lots of people jumping in and out depending on their availability and interest. The other night we were talking about meeting up in person for some fabric shopping! very exciting :) Things are finally feeling better here in N. California, businesses and schools are opening back up, people are getting vaccinated and I think we will have a much better summer than the previous one. 

Classes for May and June:
Sew Crop Pants  4:30-6pm Starts May 11  
Sew the Kalle Shirt or Shirtdress  7-8:30pm Starts May 11  (by the way - you can sew any shirtdress you would like if you prefer a different pattern) 

Hello Stitch has a lot of other really interesting classes online as well, embroidery, quilting, paper arts, here's the link.  I think after the pandemic problems are over, the live+online learning habit might continue. It will be interesting to see. 

Today I need to get outside and work on my hanging flower baskets, which have been neglected all winter, and of course more weeding. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain so I will plan on some sewing, I started a silk top in a color I'm not so sure about (grass green) but it may work out. 

Plaid coat unbuttoned1

Happy Spring Sewing,

Today's garden photo, a lone red tulip which survived the gopher attack. Honestly, most years that center island is filled with tulips but this year my little nemesis has caused some serious damage all over the garden. So I just had a few tulips and now I'm investigating more gopher resistant plants! 


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Some jumpsuits for friends and the beginning of a new coat

Oops I've done it again, sewn up a nice winter coat as our weather changes to sunshine and no layers required. If I look back on the blog I seem to have done this a few times. Note to self, make the coat before November. Yeah, that's not going to happen as it is still quite hot here then so I couldn't deal with sewing a wool coat. Consequently I have another one that I may keep for next winter or pass on to a friend. That seems to be the theme of my pandemic sewing, which is just as well since my closets are bursting and I don't need anything. But there are so many interesting patterns and beautiful fabric that I want to sew up. 
I will get to the coat in a minute - this will be the first of two posts about it as it had a few interesting details. But what I have been busy sewing lately are a couple of different jumpsuits in anticipation of my April sewing class with Hello Stitch Studio. For this class we're doing coveralls. I think that is a great catch-all term for what are variously called boiler suits, flight suits, and jumpsuits. They all have a bit of a mechanic's workwear look and I had to be convinced a little, but now I'm fully on board. However I haven't made one for myself. (see above paragraph re: bursting closets) 

So to familiarize myself with these patterns I sewed the Merchant and Mills Thelma Boilersuit for Stacey, one of the owners of Hello Stitch. 


What a great style, it has just the right amount of ease to be comfortable and plenty of pockets to carry everything. I did puzzle a bit over the instructions but that's why I sew up things before my class so I can explain the construction details. 
Not to be content with making one coverall, I managed another one for my friend Halnya (@zigzagstitching on IG). This is the Blanca Flightsuit from Closet Core Patterns, in a mystery fabric which came in the big stash of fabrics an estate clean-out gave me earlier this year. 


Both these patterns have some clever details and some opportunities to learn new skills (hidden buttonhole placket, center front zipper with placket, both a bit tricky!)  
So if you are interested in making a coverall style jumpsuit the class starts next Tues. April April 6, 7pm. for four weeks. By the way - if you aren't interested in this specific type of jumpsuit but want to join in the class anyway that's fine, on Thursdays we sew together, check progress, I answer questions and troubleshoot how things are going. Plus we all get to have some sewing conversation with fellow fabric lovers. 
By the way, for both these garments I chose a size based on their measurements and the fit was nice so I think these styles have a bit of wiggle room and fit is not such an issue  - although I have some ideas about construction allowing you to fit as you go. 
Back to the coat. When I saw this fabric choice as a Minerva Ambassador I was really excited as I've seen a lot of very cool fashion-y plaid coats this past winter and wanted to try one. The slight trouble with plaid outerwear is that you have to choose your coordinating outfit kind of carefully, but I thought that the grey/red/black combo would work out with things I like to wear in the winter. Note I received this fabric from in exchange for sewing it up and posting about it. 
Here's a look at the fabric and a bit about how I match the plaid. This step was cutting out the coat front facings. I like the facings to match the plaid lines exactly as the outer part, and fortunately I had enough fabric to do so with a tiny adjustment which you will see later. For big stripes like this I draw them on my pattern pieces and it really helps to get everything lined up. I generally choose one dominant stripe and use that as my guide line, so here I used the white line. 

Matching plaid on facing patrones coat

Note that this is an uneven plaid - meaning it is not symmetrical so you have to approach it carefully and decide where you want the prominent lines plus how you can lay it out so it doesn't look unbalanced on the back, for example. 
Here's another look at the plaid matching.  I think this was matching at the side seams, front and back. Also for coats I often put a cut-on extension on the pocket area so that you don't see the pocket lining, so much easier than sewing something on. 

matching side seams Patr coat

This is the pattern I used, it's from Patrones digital app, I will have to look up which issue it's from. But my main goal was to use a pattern with minimal seaming and thus simple pattern matching. 

I did a good rummage through my button box and found these 4 red buttons, which were entirely suitable. If I was running out shopping for every little thing these day I might have chosen some larger buttons but these are just fine and had the added bonus of being right there in my stash!


That's a test buttonhole, extra large but I was trying to see if doing it on the bias was noticeable. I decided it was so I went with that. 
Since I took the photos as I went I'm just going to include all the bound buttonhole process photos for those who like details. 
1. Thread ladder

2. Pin welts on outside of coat, mark stitch end with chalk
Buttonhole patr coat 3

3. Stitch on right side, turn and press
buttonhole patr coat4

4. later when facing is attached I slice open the facing, turn in edges and hand stitch to rectangle of buttonhole on that side. (I don't use the "window" method)
buttonhole patr coat 5

Here's a look at the coat in progress, with buttonholes mostly done but before I attached the facing.


So that's what I've been up to. Spring has definitely arrived, time to get out the sandals although we all wish it would rain again - it's going to be a very dry summer. 
Perhaps my next project will be a spring dress for meeeeeeee! I have my first vaccine and with the next one a couple of weeks away I think this summer will be a big improvement over last year. 

Happy Sewing and stay well. 

today's garden photo, I don't think much of azaleas, as they bloom for a short while and then they are done - but oh when they do, the color is fantastic. 


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Vintage Vogue Suit, completed

Time to post this finished blazer and move on to spring projects. I started this jacket back in late November, as I was looking for a time consuming project that would keep me busy during the winter months. As it turned out my stay-at-home time increased even more, with the weather making most outdoor socialization not possible and the surge of cases here in California very serious. So it was a project for the dark days of December and to be honest, I'm not all that wild about this jacket. In fact since I have so many other jackets which are more colorful I feel like I will probably never wear it and plan to see if any of my friends would want it. 

But onward to discussing the finishing touches. If you want to see the pattern look at my first post which was back at the end of January. The pattern is a vintage Vogue designer pattern, Vogue 1987 Yves St. Laurent suit, I think released sometime in 1978. I also made the blouse in the pattern but I don't like it at all, and then made some trousers using a different pattern however they have a very similar look. 

Tweed blazer sq

If you look at my previous posts you can see that I used most of the traditional tailoring methods for this jacket, with horsehair canvas, pad stitching, hand sewn patch pockets etc. In fact the pattern instructions specify all these techniques which was one reason I decided to use them. I haven't made anything using those techniques in a long time and probably won't again. It was rather satisfying to see all those pad stitches creating a shape but I do prefer using modern fusible interfacings.


I finished the jacket a few weeks ago and on a rainy day when the light was nice I stopped by a friends and she took some pictures in the park. On the whole the fit of the jacket is ok, I did make a muslin and I feel that it is the right measurements on me, but I don't care for the exaggerated and lower lapel shape, plus there is something about the hang of the sleeves on me that isn't quite right. 


It needed some zing so I used this rose colored bemberg lining and with some remaining silk charmeuse from the pocket linings I made some flat piping for the edges. 

tweed blazer sleeve button

The sleeves do have a button opening but it is different from that you see on most jackets as it is a rounded end and just one button. The pattern was great to work with as it had every pattern piece for the lining, interfacing and jacket included. 


I noticed on the pattern envelope it was one that came with this label, however my pattern which I got at at a Bay Area Sewists Meetup swap didn't have it in the envelope, perhaps the original owner used it on her jacket. In any case, I had a few of these Vogue designer labels but not this exact one so I ordered it on eBay. I added that welt pocket inside the front lining, it's not on the original pattern but I often add pockets in the lining of coats or jackets. 

Tweed blazer back sq

Back view, it's a more boxy shape than I've made in a while.  

Tweed jacket with black pants1

Here it is worn with a silk blouse and my Tatjana trousers made in black wool crepe. The trousers deserve their own blog post but I think that will wait until I make them in a fabric that shows up better in photos. The pattern is from my friend Delphine's pattern company, Just Patterns and this is the Tatjana trousers. It's a really great pattern and for experienced sewers it includes all the info you need but can skip the instructions, or if you are a beginner the instructions are quite thorough. 


I think this is the combo of fabric and pattern that would become a slouchy and comfortable blazer, getting softer and more worn in over the years, and due to the wool tweed will probably last for ages. 
In the photo above I'm wearing it with a turtleneck sweater and black jeans, not the pleated trousers. 

Tweed blazer back of lapel

A look at that lapel crease and the upper pocket. I'm very happy with that pad stitching and the built in shaping it gives the jacket, it was a perfect combo with this nice herringbone wool fabric. 


Back lining view which shows the center back pleat. I think the sleeve lining is a bit too long, as it wants to peek out when worn. I will go back and fix that. I didn't shorten the sleeves when I made the jacket (as I usually do) since I had a sneaking suspicion I would pass this one on to a friend.

Tweed jacket and pants2

Yeah baby, the 70's are back. As the expression on my face says, No thank you to the fashions of that era. Big shoulder pads and pleated trousers, not something that I think looks right on me but perhaps it might with some modifications. I've seen so many ruffles, pants shapes and dress styles from that decade reviving now - not one of the best fashion eras but perhaps a lot better than what came next, the 80's which don't deserve any repeat!

Next up some jumpsuit sewing, or actually boiler suit and/or flight suit sewing, as our Hello Stitch Studio class in April is just that. Plus I've a few silk fabrics that are just longing to be sewn up into spring tops. 

Happy Spring Sewing,

Today's garden photo - some very reliable dianthus that are blooming right now. Dianthus are also called pinks and I think they are the most sewing themed flower, with the edges looking like they have been cut with pinking shears. 


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Vintage Vogue Suit part 3

Time to finish my blog posts on this jacket - as I have sewn several other things in the interim and I want to get caught up with my sewing/blogging. The previous post covered the collar and lapel construction, with all the pad stitching and pressing details. Next up were the pockets. I don't think I've ever made a jacket with hand sewn pockets but I decided to follow the pattern instructions and give it a go. IMG_5194

The jacket had the pattern pieces for the pockets plus separate pattern pieces for the actual pocket lining. I actually traced the pattern pieces and placed them over the jacket so I could match the herringbone stripes in the fabric.


The fold line is marked by my yellow tailor's tacks, and then the left and right pockets are differentiated by the yellow and green basting threads shown on the pockets above. 
I did put some lightweight fusible interfacing on the wrong side of the pockets. It just seemed to need a little more structure so they would lay flat and not sag on the jacket front. I trimmed the fusible away in the seam allowance before applying. I made a pressing template from a manila folder, which is my go-to item to cut up and make templates. It really helped with getting the rounded corners of the pocket to press perfectly and all match. 


Behind the pockets on the inside of the jacket the instructions said to stitch a rectangle of firm cotton fabric, to give the stitching at the corners of the pocket some reinforcement. That is the spot that might ultimately tear a bit on a pocket. I did baste it down a bit more than they indicated, so that I wouldn't mistakenly stitch it down with a crease when hand sewing on the pockets. 


Next was applying the pocket lining. I rummaged around in the scrap bag and came up with just enough of this grey silk charmeuse to make the linings. Which was also hand sewn to the pockets. 



Here's a look at my pattern matching, a detail that will be lost when the jacket is viewed as a whole but I just had to do it. 
Then the pockets are basted on, and hand stitched all around. I went around each pocket twice, plus extra reinforcement at the tops. 



Which seemed like it took forever but was worthwhile. I found the trick was not to pull the silk thread too tight as the patch pocket needs to be secure but also almost float on top of the jacket front. 
Once the pockets were completed then the sleeves were next. 
The pattern came with a specific piece for the hair canvas interfacing which goes at the sleeve hem.




After stitching on the hair canvas, then the sleeve seams are sewn up, with the curved self-facings. 
Next up, sewing in the sleeves. 


I basted in the sleeves before sewing the on the machine. As it turned out, the sleeves are the one part of the jacket where I'm not really happy with the fit. I just sewed them in according to the markings and didn't really try it on. Now I think I could have rotated the sleeve a bit forward to change how they hang, which I often do with other jackets. 
The pattern called for a 1/2" shoulder pad but it also needed a sleeve head so I added that, but didn't take a picture. 
After that, it was hemming the jacket, then putting in the lining which I did in the same manner as I have in other blazers I've made. So sewing all the lining pieces together, and then hand stitching it to the the jacket facings and hem. 
Here's a look at the finished jacket - but I'll have more photos in the next post, including the lining and wearing it with my Tatjana trousers from Just Patterns

Tweed blazer sleeve side view

So that's this jacket almost completely blogged - and I'm ready to move on to other things. Which include a plaid coat that I finished as our warm weather is arriving. Another coat I'll have at the ready for next winter, when hopefully we are going out of the house!! 

Happy Sewing,

Daffodils blooming everywhere now.  


Sunday, February 28, 2021

Vintage Vogue Suit part 2

Time to pick up where I left off on this vintage Vogue pattern. It's all finished and on a rainy day (one of our few) I took a couple of outdoor shots. That may be all there is. I'm actually not crazy about this jacket, while I'm glad to have it finished it might just be another one of those 2020 items I give to a friend. However it did pass the time during the winter and reminded me why I like to use the quicker tailoring techniques to make things. Further down in this post I will pick up where I left off with sewing details in my previous post.

It has been finished for a couple of weeks, but it just feels so strange to add substantial items to my wardrobe with basically nowhere to wear things. In fact I was at Trader Joe's this week, wearing my bright blue wool blazer (here's the link) and one of the guys stocking the freezer cabinet turned around and said "great jacket - love the color!" So perhaps I need to wear some of these items for my mundane outings. Fingers crossed that summer is a lot different around here - I don't even want to talk about it (going on 12 months of social distance here in N. Calif 😩. 

As to what I've been sewing - not all that much as I just finished a month of teaching several online classes  via Zoom for Hello Stitch Studio. I can say they are a lot more to prepare than teaching in person but I'm happy to do them. We structure the classes as part instruction/learning time and part social time. I think we all miss our sewing social events so much and while I talk often and even see some friends periodically most of my friends don't sew. (and think that making clothes is a mysterious and unfathomable activity).

We have two classes in our monthly sewing club starting this week, the Button Front Shirt class which is an early session (4-5:30 pm pst ) and you can use any shirt pattern.  Also we have the  Myosotis Dress class 7-8:30pm. If you want to join in this class it would be fine to use shirt dress pattern that you already have. One upside of this whole situation is that people from outside the bay area can join in so it's been great to meet (virtually) some new people.  Here's the link to Hello Stitch Studio for all their other offerings. I made this chambray shirt in the class a few months ago, so I will be looking around in my stash tomorrow for fabric to use in new shirt project in the class. 

Chambray shirt

OK, back to jacket construction. In my previous post I ended with the start of pad stitching on the lapels. The next pattern piece to be pad stitched was the collar. I really feel I am out of practice with this stitching technique but wool tweed is a very helpful fabric and my stitching seemed to work. I like to use a contrast silk thread color as it make me happy to see the stitches marching along in turquoise rows, plus it doesn't show on the other side since the needle takes an invisible bite into the wool on the right side. 


Next step is attaching the under collar to the jacket front. At this point it is sewn on but not trimmed nor the seam pressed.


My next step is to press that seam which joins the collar to the lapel, trim and catch-stitch it down with silk thread. I do this same process also when I have made a jacket using fusible interfacings, it keeps the seam allowances smooth inside the jacket and then the upper collar and lapel can overlay with out any seam allowance getting in the way. 


Onward to the upper collar and lapel. Here is where in deviated from the pattern instructions, they didn't have any interfacing on the upper collar but I don't like the way that looks, although in this fabric it might not have been as noticeable as it might be on a solid or light color fabric. In any case I put some lightweight fusible on the upper collar and the jacket lapel facings.  The seam there was also trimmed and then catch-stitched down.


Time to sew the upper collar/lapel facing to the jacket body. I have no reservations about marking my stitching line on curves, angles etc. It just makes the machine sewing more accurate and avoids having to redo things. Soft lead pencil, chalk or Frixon pens all work fine for this purpose. 


More trimming. Grading the seam of the collar.



Pressing open the seam on the edge of the collar and lapel, and notching the curves which need space when the seam allowance is on the inside. 


Collar and lapels done. Onward to a couple of steps that I have never done before. Hand sewn patch pockets! I had doubts but I do like them. So sleeves, pockets and a few finishing details will be in the next post which I intend to do later this week. I like to blog projects as I go and this has been lingering a while. 


That is a very satisfying lapel :)  The herringbone stripes show off the collar angle nicely. So that's the mid-point on this jacket construction. I did make the shirt that is shown on the pattern but it is just way to 70's for me (the collar puts it out of the range of wearable for me) but I will post it you can see how it looks. The start of this jacket as well as a look at the Vogue pattern and the muslin are in my previous post here. 

Stay well and Happy Sewing,

Today's garden photo, not a lot blooming right now although the roses are all trimmed and sprouting their new leaves and stems. There were tomato plants for sale at the nursery this week. I have a new neighbor who has moved here from Michigan and she was saying that this California garden thing is quite confusing - I can imagine. Apparently they have plenty of snow on the ground in her former neighborhood while we are out walking in shorts and dealing with our drip irrigation in anticipation of the dry year to come. Here's a camellia that always puts out so many of these huge red blooms, filled with nectar for the bees and hummingbirds. 

red camelia