16 december 2012

The Cloudy Coat

So... I finished that basic coat I was working on. And even though it's nowhere near perfect, I'm pretty damn proud of myself!

Here it is:

Ok, that doesn't say much. But it's a pretty picture.

Here's a clearer one:

DERP! Oh well. As I said before, this is a coat from the October issue of Burda. I liked it because of its simple lines and thought it would be a good first coat, to get familiar with the techniques before I tackled a more complicated project.

I quickly found out that being lucky before with Burda patterns fitting me really well straight from the pattern wasn't true in this case. I ended up removing a substantial chunk of fabric from the back to avoid that 'I'm wearing my dad's jacket'-look. The shoulders are still too wide. But the thing is damn comfortable.

The instructions actually had you slipstitch the patch pockets on the coat before topstitsching them, something I really liked. If you only topstitch the lining tends to peek out, which isn't a good look...

Now for a List of Things I Did Differently:

- I made bound buttonholes instead of machine-stitched ones. I don't like the ones my machine makes and I'm too lazy to handwork them.
- I cut the under collar in two pieces on the bias, instead of one piece. Really happy I did, because it would have been even harder to make it sit flat.
- I attached the collar and lining mostly by hand.
- I underlined my (silk charmeuse!) lining with flannel for extra warmth. This was a great thing because the coat is now super cuddly, but it also made the lining pieces easier to handle. Slippery fabric bullet dodged!
- I inserted my sleeves using Gertie's method and it was AWESOME, they went in perfectly the first time and I was grinning like an idiot.


Overall, I'd say this project was a success. I was surprised at how much I liked all the handstitching and basting and fiddling, being such an impatient person. But the thing I loved the most was the pressing: the last time I tried using the steam function on my iron the power went out, so now I made do with a bucket of water and a damp press cloth. It felt very old-school and sort of magical, seeing the wool shape and transform like that.


10 december 2012

(Insert Smug Face Here)

Can I just shamelessly gloat for a second?

I've been working on a very basic winter coat, a pattern from Burda Magazine. It seemed like a nice and basic coat, not too fussy to make and a good way to practice coatmaking and get familiar with some techniques before starting the real deal (a coat that's been in the pipeline for a long time, with loads of tailoring and pattern alterations).

Anyway, this coat is double-breasted, and requires three buttonholes. I really don't like the buttonholes my sewing machine makes (and I kinda lost my buttonhole foot), so these weren't an option for this. My hand-worked buttonholes aren't exactly up to the task either, they still look too much like they want to bite the buttons off. So I realised I'd have to have a go at (gasp) bound buttonholes.

Now these require precision, patience and a whole lot of basting. I had seen other bloggers post about them and show off their crooked first efforts. SO last night, I was prepared to spend the whole night cursing and fiddling with tiny pieces of fabric, counting stitches and wondering why the hell I was doing this.

Let's just say, that didn't happen. Here's my first bound buttonhole ever:

Um, ok. That's not too bad, right? There's a bit more of a parallellogram going on than I'd like, but apart from this and the accidental chevron, it's actually quite... good.

So after this one test I marked, cut and sewed all three bound buttonholes immediately. And they came our perfectly fine. Yay!

I used the instructions in the tailoring book by Adele P. Margolis I mentioned here, which uses two narrow strips of fabric instead of a patch, and it all went together without a hitch.

So hooray for learning new skills without too much fussing!

08 december 2012

London Fabric Haul

Ok, this isn't really a fabric haul. And this post is way too late. But for some reason I took the photos and then marked the folder as 'posted', and failed to notice this until a few days ago.

So, I went to London at the end of September, and managed to buy a few sewing-related things! Not a lot of fabric (I was still getting over the Garment District), but I did find a few very nice vintage sewing books:

These were all bought at the same vintage store in Camden. I don't really shop for clothes anymore, and most vintage stores these days seem horribly overpriced, so I simply don't have the patience anymore to browse through them. In this store however, a large bookcase drew my attention, and I noticed they had an extensive selection on costuming and sewing! These three came home with me, for different reasons.

This book is one from a series, and I had another one at home: the only book on tailoring I've ever found in Dutch. The Dutch one came from my stepfather's bookcase, he has loads of books on subjects he was once interested in (it was next to one about keeping chickens).

The techniques described in this one are pretty basic, but I love the wacky illustrations.

Next I found a copy of the Singer Sewing Book from 1961. I bought it because it has loads of nice ideas for trims and decorations, and a few gems when it comes to sewing tips (they say you should always look your best when sewing, because worrying about someone dropping by and seeing you look sloppy is bad for your concentration. Wow.)

I like simple ideas like this one, using topstitching to mimic stripes!

But this is my best find so far: the Complete Book of Tailoring by my dear Adele P. Margolis. It has over four hundred pages of information on tailoring alone! Everything from pretreating wools to finding the right silhouette.

All you need to know about pressing, hand sewing, three different ways to do bound buttonholes... I squealed when I found this.

Of course, I couldn't help but stop by Liberty. I have a confession to make: I'm not always too fond of their prints (gasp!). It's just that small-scale flower prints look really really dull on me! I love them on other people but I just have to steer clear from them. But then I did see something that struck my fancy.

Ooh yes. bright colours and poppies? Bring it on. I've got three yards of this lawn and it's going to become a summer dress, all the way!