Sunday, January 30, 2011

The coat-cape continues...

I really wasn't sure for a while there if I was going to continue down the road to completion with my cape-coat-cape. Those interfaced sleeves are just really bugging me and sadly I do not have more fabric to do them over again.

So I let it sit for a few weeks. My dressform, Lydia, wore it silently and I looked at it every time I walked by her. Which was a lot, considering I have yet to move Lydia from my dining room to the basement sweatshop.

I started a minimum of four more projects in the meantime. OneTwo, total wadders. One, a prototype of something super exciting I hope to share the pattern for this spring (free, of course). And one a vintage knit top waiting to be hemmed.

And still, I just couldn't find the energy to tackle Sherlock again.

Until today! Voila, out of the blue, I just wanted to work on it. I need to start trusting my instincts now and again. Today's progress was at least forward moving. I got the pockets installed and the princess seams tweaked. I put together the collar and attached it. And then...then I had the moment that I dread in every project. That moment when I put my hands to my cheeks and say "oh chit."

In a moment of inspired lunacy during cutting out the coat-cape, I put off cutting out the center back facing. I had added width to the pattern pieces and since that piece is a curved piece, I decided I would wait to cut it out until I had the body put together and knew the exact measurements.

And then I threw away my scrap fabric.

Yep, you got that right. I threw away the fabric before the project is even close to being done. I don't remember doing it, but I'm sure my thought process went something like "Oh, I don't have enough to save for anything big like another front section, and I'm pretty sure it fits ok, and I'm not even sure I'm going to finish it, and I took a pledge to keep my sewing area clear this year...." and so on. Scratch that part where I trust my instincts. Clearly, they can't be trusted.

So now I must wait until tomorrow when I will be scouring the local fabric shops for 1/4 of a yard of black melton wool to match my 20 year old fabric. The odds are less than excellent.

However! This post is not entirely a downer. I did manage to snap some photos of something that might help someone.

You remember how I made bound buttonholes? Well, this coat's front is self-faced, and for the longest time I could not find a tutorial on bound buttonholes that actually explains what to do on the underside. I finally did run across a paragraph (no pictures) in an ancient Singer book that tells you to "make buttonholes" on the facing side and stitch in the ditch to attach the pieces before moving on.

So I did that. I made three buttonholes that match perfectly to the bound fronts, and as soon as I sit back down at the machine I will be stitching in the ditch to attach them. And praying I interpreted that right?

That's it for me. I hope to be able to share pics soon of the three (yes, THREE) dresses I made in the last few weeks that I can't wear. Maybe someone out there can help me....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A pattern sale? Why yes, thank you.

I need more patterns like I need more night terrors. Nonetheless, need has nothing to do with why I sew or collect pretty things like fabric and patterns.

Today, Joann's put their Vogues on sale for three days. New Vogues? Yes, yes, they're finally stocked too. You can see the ones I chose. I did not choose the bondage wiggle dress. No one needs to see me like that. I also didn't care for the parfait chiffon thing. But the Anna Sui dress is my favorite, followed closely by the gray Donna Karan. And I think 1222 has been highly overlooked. Look at the lines! The seams! Beautiful.

I also picked up a bunch of new (at least to me) Burda patterns. Some of their new patterns are super cool. The strapless dress with chiffon strap things that can tie in many different ways (the first pic in my post is the line drawing)? I love it! The little shift with the ruffle shoulder? LURV. I think the two on the bottom row are older, but still worth purchasing for $5. I could probably download them but for $5, I'd much rather just cut out the tissue than tape and cut and print and tape and curse and tape.

New Look had new patterns, too. Somehow it seems a little expensive to be paying $3.99 for a New Look pattern when the Vogues are also $3.99? Eh. I'm OK with it. I thought their two or three newer tunic/dress patterns were cute, with a little interest at the top.

So. Now I sit with way too many patterns than I could ever make up, far too much fabric, and no time. Better get crackin.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Making progress - vintage Vogue 7044

The Batman coatcape is taking shape. Now I know why I don't make a lot of coats. They're crazy time-consuming! I like instant gratification in my sewing projects, not projects that drag on for weeks, as this one literally could considering my other commitments for time (kids, job, husband, house, kids, kids, job, etc).

I squeezed in an hour of sewing today and got the body constructed, at least loosely. You know what? The fit isn't that bad! Apparently my pattern upsizing (from 32 bust to 38) was at least a success, that's good news.

The bad news? Those cape sleeves probably shouldn't have been interfaced. I know, the pattern called for it but with the interfacing they tend to hold their bow shape a bit too much and kind of bell out. Also? That line of interfacing along the seam is a little bubbly. I did steam-shrink the interfacing before pressing, but it was a bear to press along that seam crease using my ham.

I need to adjust the shoulder line on one side, can you see how it's sticking up?

More good news - the bound buttonholes look lovely, and the pocket placement (I raised it a little) is spot-on. I'll be shortening the length to hip level sometime this weekend. Maybe. If I get time. And if I can stop thinking about a jersey knit dress I want to make for my meeting in Atlanta next week.

See, a jersey knit dress is a one-day project. I like one-day projects. This coatcape thing is becoming a two-week project.

One interesting note about the construction of this capelike garment - it's actually a lined vest with the cape sleeves attached at the princess seams. I was so confused about the assembly and just followed the directions, and voila - it suddenly became obvious why they were asking me to sew the front and back together at the sides and shoulders!

Forging on....

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I had made a private resolution to myself (or did I make it public, I can't even remember) before New Year's that I was going to sew down my stash. Absolutely NO NEW FABRIC unless it was a lining or something I needed to complete a stash project. I even signed up for Pattern Review's stash busting contest. Not that I thought I'd win, but I was excited about the potential of really reducing my fabric collection. I'm on a consume less kick.

And then this happened.

Hancock's put all their value fabrics on 50% off this weekend. If you've read this blog or any of my pattern reviews, you'll know I really like to buy knits from the value section at Hancock's. I was told by an employee once that these are discontinued fabrics, often from other vendors.

I have found some really great French terry, stretch cotton knits with lycra, doubleknits with unique drape, all for $2.95 a yard. A lot of the fabrics are total junk, you just have to be very careful and selective, but sometimes there are some real pearls in there. You can imagine my delight when that price went down to $1.47 a yard today!

You'll also note that I jumped for joy and tried to hide my delight when I found 100% silks marked down from $15.99 a yard to $4.95 a yard and then another half off that!

I can see a few summer sewing projects taking shape. Dresses like this Tracy Reese, or this Rebecca Taylor, in a light and airy silk chiffon.

Out of this lovely red and cream silk, kind of has a texture like crepe de chine.

Or this dress out of a lovely pink silk chiffon print.

I did buck up and spend $10 per yard on the red and the blue prints, primarily because they both are so ME I felt like if I didn't buy them I'd regret it all summer.

A top out of the blue, maybe?

And this bubbly silk twill could make a beautiful lining on a winter coat! I got four and a half yards of it, the bolt end. It cost me all of $11.

I even grabbed an awesome piece of charcoal gray matte jersey for $1.97 a yard.

Now back to my regularly scheduled stash-busting. NO NEW FABRIC.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sherlock Holmes? Why yes, Batman, indeed it is. Vogue 7044

When we last left our ate-up heroine, she was steadily plodding along with the underlining of her vintage Patou jacket project. Sadly, that jacket has been moved to the side due to some misgivings I have about the general fit. Not to worry! I picked up a new vintage project last week and that's what I'll be making for the Great Vintage Sew-Along.

I like to call it the Sherlock Holmes-meets-Batman coatcape. It's a coat with cape sleeves, and I'm making it out of black melton wool my mom gave me that had been in my grandma's stash for a while. We're 99% positive it's Pendleton, as all of her woolens were Pendleton.

On a whim, I decided to forego the muslin this time and just give it a go. Muslins haven't served me particularly well, considering I made two for the Patou jacket and it still doesn't look like I got the fit right? This may turn out to be my Waterloo because I had to resize this pattern from 32 bust to 36. Who am I kidding, I'm probably more like a 38.

I started off by interfacing the entire body with Palmer Pletsch Pro-tailor interfacing, recommended by quite a few better sew-ists than me who recently completed the Winter Wear contest on Pattern Review. It was on sale over the New Year so I splurged.

After spending all that time cutting and interfacing, I was so excited to get started on the project! Note to self in choosing sewing projects - cutting fabric, lining, underlining and interfacing and then ironing on all said interfacing takes SO STINKING LONG. Reconsider coat projects in the future. I digress.

I finally got to start sewing!

First step? Make three bound buttonholes. Something I've never done before. But I've made plenty of welt pockets so I followed this tutorial and carefully measured, marked and stitched and I am really happy with how they've turned out.

As you can see, my first buttonhole was off by exactly one stitch. Easy fix, thank goodness, since they have to line up exactly the same.

The second step is assembling the cape sleeves. I'm underlining the coat with houndstooth flannel, hence the crazy print on the inside. The seams and hemline are also interfaced with more Tailor-pro.

That's as far as I've gotten. I hope to get the sleeves lined and attached tonight, and then hopefully start in on the body work maybe tomorrow night? I have a three and four-year-old underfoot so my sewing is usually done in very short spurts! Here's hoping for another long stretch.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Just in case you missed it, there's something really awesome going on at Talbot's these days. For the past few seasons, they've really been trying to re-vamp their image and put out a product that's a little younger, a little more streamlined, and a whole lot cool.

I got a new catalog in the mail today, and there is so much good about it I have to share it (also because my memory is so poor I have to post the things I love so I can remember in two months when it's time to start sewing for spring).

In no particular order, these are the things I would love love love to make:

The lace top.

The swing jacket (that color! I swoon).

The ruffle jacket.

The mum skirt.

The skinny dressy cargo.

The wrap dress.

The satin glamourak jacket (I dunno what a glamourak is, but me likey).

The mac trench.

The double pocket jacket.

Don't worry, I don't plan on making all of those jackets. I need more outerwear like I need more acne, but I do like the ideas.

Oh, and I started another vintage project yesterday, shut up! I know. It's another coat. I said shut it! I can overindulge in outerwear if'n I want to. I hope to post progress this weekend. We shall see.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

i love mutton chops - Vogue 1109

I have to start this post by saying that I LOVE THIS TOP. Yes, I freely call it my mutton-chops top, but I love my mutton-chops top!

It started out as Vogue 1109, a Sandra Betzina Today's Fit pattern. Kinda mature looking? Which is polite for saying my mom might like the seaming and colorblocking a whole lot more than me.

But those sleeves! The neckline interest! Those sleeves! It kept rattling around in my brain, begging to be made up.

New Year's weekend was my massive sew-stravaganza, and I made the white muslin of my prototype that weekend. I call it a muslin now because I totally screwed it up and it didn't fit right, but to be honest it was meant to be the final product.

See the big fat seam on the sleeve? That's because I sewed it inside out. Yay!

That's ok, I'm not ashamed to show my wadders. The prototype taught me a few things - the sleeves were way too short, the seam needs to hit below the elbow for the pleats to have their best dramatic effect. And let's see, what else? Oh yeah, be sure to sew both sleeves on the correct direction, that always helps tops look nice. Oh, and the neckline was a little chokey in front, so I lowered that by an inch.

A few days passed and I managed to cut out the second (and final) version, this time in a gray cotton/poly knit I scored at Hancock's in the super bargain section for $2.95 a yard. I can't remember exactly, but I think I used about 2.25 yards for this top? I cut it super long, it doesn't really need to be that long. I fully expect it to retract in the washer and dryer, so there's room for that.

After adding three inches of length to the upper sleeve and lower sleeve bands (both), and adding a little to the bodice length (OK, a lot, bordering on too much but ignore that part), I have what I call the perfect mutton-chops top. Soft, a touch slouchy without being sloppy, with full distinct sleeves you just don't see on every Mossimo t-shirt from Target.

I can't wait for spring, I have BIG PLANS for these mutton-chop sleeves again. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dalsland Wrap - post post

I had some thoughts today about the Dalsland wrap tute I thought I should share, in case anyone out there decides to make their own version.

My shoulders measure 21" across the back. If yours are wider, you'll need a length of fabric longer than my original 116". So the wider the fabric you can find, the better. Or if you happen to have a long strip of fabric left from a different project, you could practice to see how long you'll need. You can always hem up the bottom shorter once it's done so the tails don't drag on the floor.

If your shoulders are not as wide, you can either keep the 116" length and simply make the armholes longer than 9" (giving you extra fabric coverage in the front), or you can adjust your length down to 98" or so (the length I used in my cream colored prototype that didn't fit me).

The Dalsland wrap in the store is made out of a patterned doubleknit that is almost reversible, and I saw a few options online that I could see would be awesome. Something like this or this? That way, when the inside shows, you get a flash of a different pattern!

If you do make one or need help, just email me! Happy sewing.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dalsland wrap - an anthro knockoff - with tute

I stopped by Anthropologie the other day, just to see what was on sale and what this Spring is going to look like. I do shop there occasionally, but what with my whole "buy less, sew more" mantra these days, I am trying really super hard not to bring home anything I don't really really really need.

I did find something super darling, though! It's called the Dalsland wrap, and there was only one of them in the store. I totally scoped it out, even sitting down on their couch to take measurements and figure out how they constructed this doohicky. It's made out of a lovely substantial doubleknit.

Then I came home and scoped it out online some more, and then I made a prototype out of cream organic cotton sweatshirt fleece on my shelf.

The great news is that out of ten reviews, it gets almost five stars! The bad news is the prototype doesn't fit me, sadly, but I learned a lot from it and in my second try ~ voila! My own personal version of the Dalsland shrug in alpaca/wool/nylon yardage from my own stash (plus), and the whole thing cost me $12 instead of $118 (another plus). If there's anyone out there reading this who wears a size 4 or possibly 6 and wants the cream sweatshirt wrap, just send me an email and I'll mail it to you. Thanks, she found a home!

Here's a quick tutorial, with diagrams instead of pics because it's a tad confusing.

I am a tall size 8 or 10 in RTW, so these measurements are based off of that and off of the Medium sized shrug in the store. The prototype I made would fit someone with smaller shoulders, maybe a 4-6?

You need a long strip of fabric, 24" wide by 116" long. I cut two pieces of sweater knit, each 24" wide by 58" long. Serge all four long edges. If you're buying yardage, that means you will need 1 1/3 of 60" wide fabric, and cut it in half.

Because I didn't have one continuous piece of fabric 100" long, I seamed my two 58" pieces in the middle, and made it a flat-fell seam because you may be able to see it when or if it folds over. This is optional (the flat-fell part, you really do need a seam).

Then fold the piece, right sides together, at the center back seam. You will be stitching closed the bottom 20".

Now for the hardest part, and it's not too hard. You will open up the piece by holding the center back seam and the seam you've just sewn in each hand, right sides together, matching the two seams up and pinning them together. Leave 9" (or more, this becomes your sleeve opening) open at each end, and stitch this seam closed.

To finish, turn under the serged edges 1/2" and stitch the hems down. I also stitched down a 1/2" around the armholes.

This is the easiest project! The hardest part is envisioning the "envelope" when you pull the two seams to the sides. The great thing about the Anthro site is you can zoom in on their finished product and actually see some of the construction of it.

I'd love to see if anyone else makes one of these wrap/shrugs/cardi/thingies!


**Edit: I've added some additional thoughts on sizing and fabrics in a second post, here.