Butterick 6385 1

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have an, umm, obsession with coats. Being a New England inhabitant, it almost feels mandatory to have more than one coat to get through the seasons, and who wants to wear the same boring coat over and over for months on end (especially when it doesn’t feel like winter will ever end)?

So when Sew News approached me about writing an article with my top 10 tips for sewing coats for their Sew Daily blog, it was the perfect excuse to make yet another coat to add to my collection!


Butterick 6385 4

Both this pattern and the fabric were on my wish list for a long time, and the idea to use both of them together seemed like a no-brainer.  I scooped up this Oscar De La Renta double-faced wool from Mood and love the unusual texture that the horizontal herringbone pattern creates.  What’s great about this pattern, Butterick 6385, is that it’s cup-sized – perfect for small-busted gals like myself!  The A cup bodice piece was a perfect fit with the Dior dart, not too much fullness created and I didn’t need to do any adjustments after I tissue-fit the bodice. I also winged it and didn’t make a muslin for the coat, just made my normal adjustment of grading out a size bigger from the waist to the hips.


Butterick 6385 7


Butterick 6385 5

When it came to interfacing, I mapped out a plan for where to apply it: the hems of the coat and sleeves, the center fronts, the underarms of the front and back, the sleeve cap, the upper back, and of course, the stand-up collar.  I was under a time-crunch with making this coat (can you believe I made this whole thing in a week??) and used fusible weft-insertion interfacing instead of using a hair canvas. In addition to the weight of the wool, I worried that over-interfacing the coat, especially the front, would make the coat very stiff and not allow for the fabric to drape correctly. The interfacing ends up providing gentle support to high-stress areas, and the steam from the tailoring process shaped the wool.


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I wanted to use buttons just as special as the wool and found these vintage glass buttons on Etsy, and backed each button with a small, flat button for extra security on the inside of the coat.  Etsy really has become my go-to place to find notions these days and other special things that I know I can’t find at Joann Fabrics.

Speaking of buttons – the buttonholes were a bitch to make on this coat with all of the thicknesses I needed to sew through.  If it wasn’t for my Bernina compensation plate, I don’t know how I would have made these buttonholes, and it still wasn’t an easy feat trying to get this wool into the compensation plate.  It felt like I was wrestling with a wooly blanket on my machine as I made them!


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With the wool being so heavy, and double-faced, I didn’t worry about trying to make this coat extra-warm with interlining since I knew it already would be warm!  I used a flannel-backed satin lining from Britex like I used last year for my Cascade Duffle Coat, which is now my favorite type of fabric for lining coats and provides a bit of extra insurance against a cold wind.  I have some RTW coats that need lining replacements this year, and I’ll probably reach for this fabric when I get around to sewing new linings.


Butterick 6385 2

I absolutely adore this coat! It’s the longest coat I own and is much more exciting to wear than a boring black coat all winter.  With all of the details like the top-stitching and buttons, wool fabric, and pattern styling, this feels like an expensive designer coat you’d find at Neiman Marcus.  I definitely would make this pattern again, either the view with the peter pan collar or the regular pointed collar.  Shhh, don’t tell my husband, who thinks I have too many coats and jackets already!

Pattern: Butterick 6385, View C
Fabric: Oscar De La Renta double-faced wool from Mood
Buttons: vintage, Old Thyme Notions
Top: Lark Tee




xmas gifts 2017

Can you believe it’s December already? This year has flown by! As I’m making my holiday shopping list for friends and family, I’ve come across some sewing related goodies that made it to my wish list this year.  Maybe they’ll be the perfect gift for someone on your list (or for yourself, wink wink!):


  1. Sewing Clock – this clock is perfect for any kind of sewing space.
  2. Scissors Necklace – I’m crushing so hard on this necklace; the blades actually open and close!  It’s hand-made in the UK and comes with a bit of a steep price tag, but it’s the cutest necklace and the size looks so dainty.
  3. Vintage Sewing Machine Tee – I love how this is a sewing-themed tee but doesn’t have a cheesy saying on it like so many sewing tees on Amazon.  The sewing machine is a technical cross-section illustration of a vintage machine.
  4. Sewing Themed Cookie Cutters – I’m not much of a baker, but if my cookie cutters are sewing shaped, I’ll make a batch of cookies!
  5. Unicorn Scissors – anything unicorn related is gold in my book.  I have stork scissors, so why not unicorn?
  6. Pantone Sketchpad – I like to sketch out ideas for outfits and garments, but I’m no artist and can’t draw to save my life.  However, sketch books like this Pantone Sketchpad are great because the figures are already there, you just have to trace them!  I like that there’s a couple of different stances so the figures won’t look all the same throughout the sketchpad.


Do you have any sewing-related gift ideas on your wish list this year?





Simplicity Jumper 1

How was your turkey day? Mine was filled with friends and family, kids running around, and lots and lots of food – all the things that make Thanksgiving such a great day! I came prepared this year with a new jumper that disguised any kind of post-turkey-and-pie digesting that was going on after dinner. And because a husband who’s full of turkey and gravy is a happy husband, I finagled a couple of snaps of my new jumper combo after dinner outside at my in-law’s.


Simplicity Jumper 3

I planned on making this outfit for Thanksgiving last year, but realized when I went to cut out the navy blue twill I bought to make this jumper, I bought the yardage for the tunic length and not the dress length.  Sadness ensued, but that twill ended up as a Lonetree Vest instead, so all ended well. This navy stretch wool suiting by Theory (love!) from Mood has been sitting in my stash since a trip to NYC last December; I brought a swatch of the original twill with me to see if I could find it in store again, but I ended up trying to color-match it to other fabrics since it was out of stock.

The dress is really straight-forward to make, just a sleeveless lined bodice with a bias-cut skirt attached.  I tissue-fit the bodice to see where the bust darts would hit and they seemed to be fine, no adjusting necessary, but in retrospect I could have benefitted from the bodice being taken in at the center a bit to tighten up the fit, this would have allowed the darts to fit around my bust a little nicer and not look so poke-y – there’s a bit of room in there.


Simplicity Jumper 4

The zipper gave me a stupid hard time…and boy, do I mean stupid.  It was just one of those things, you do something that you’ve done a bunch of times before with no problem and for whatever reason, you just can’t get it right (I mean hello, I have an invisible zipper tutorial on my blog and I couldn’t get this sucker to work, smh).  The alignment is slightly off at the top of the neckline and the waistline and even though I tried two or three times to get it right, I gave up and said to myself, “better done than perfect.” Sigh.


Simplicity Jumper 2

Since my closet is predominately black, and a lot of my shoes are black, I wasn’t sure how to wear a navy blue dress.  I thought going out to find shoes just for this dress was silly, so I turned to my favorite fashion research site, Pinterest! Even thought I’m in the “navy blue doesn’t go with black” club, many Pinterest fashionistas swayed me to give it a try and I ended up pairing my jumper with black booties and maroon-colored tights.  I figured that the maroon broke up the navy and black and served as a bridge between the two, making the choice in colors intentional, not one of those “I got dressed in a dark closet and couldn’t tell the difference between navy blue and black” situations.  French ladies wear navy and black all the time, and because I love French fashion, maybe I’ll give this a chance in the future…


Simplicity Jumper 5

Pattern: Jumper and Top, Simplicity 1325
Fabric: Jumper – Theory stretch wool suiting; Top – Saint James knit, both from Mood Fabrics NYC
Tights: Hue (similar here)
Shoes: Vince Camuto (similar here)


party dress 3

party dress 4


Ahh, it’s fall and grad school is keeping my busy like crazy. Whenever September rolls around, my sewing cadence grinds to a halt and it’s a challenge to find time to balance work, school, and my love of sewing. I think I figured out a little strategic planning that’s helped so far, like starting our Halloween costumes in August, and planning out what to work on each weekend when there’s a little time free to work on some steps of a project (like cutting out the fabric one weekend, sewing some parts here and there…you get the picture).

Originally, I wasn’t planning on making a dress to wear for a friend’s wedding at the beginning of October, thinking I was going to get something from Rent the Runway instead and call it a day. But with a little pattern-hacking, I quickly made a new party dress based on my fave bodice, By Hand London’s Elisalex Dress, with a skirt from Simplicity 1873, a Cynthia Rowley pattern similar to the designer version of this dress.


party dress 1

Now, I could have easily made the Simplicity dress right out of the pattern envelope – that dress versus the one I made look pretty similar, right? However, the bodice of the Simplicity dress had bust darts and waist darts, and it would have taken time to make a muslin and get it to fit correctly. Which is why I decided to use something that I know fits well and works, the BHL bodice. All that was left to do was figure out how to make the Simplicity skirt fit the bodice – I pinned all of the tucks in place on the skirt pieces and fitted the pattern tissue on my dress form so that it was the same circumference as the bodice. The size 14 did the trick and magically the side seams of the skirt and bodice matched up perfectly – it was meant to be!


party dress 2

I love the back of this bodice so much, I think the original Simplicity dress could have benefitted from something like this. Well, this is why I sew – to make my own version of things!  Also, this skirt is reallllly short, so I took the hem up about an inch.


party dress 5

Let’s talk about this yummy fabric! I bought this from Metro Textile about two years ago, and it was one of those impulse purchases where I didn’t know what I’d make from it, but had to have it. Waiting for the right project was definitely worth it, it’s not quite a brocade but heavy enough to provide the right kind of shape and body to the skirt of the dress. I also played with the pattern placement on the bodice and centered the paisley motif on the center front bodice piece.


party dress 6

I always get sad when I make special occasion garments that I only get to wear once or twice, but I think this dress will be pretty versatile. Since it’s green, I’ll most likely wear this for my husband’s company Christmas party with some tights and ankle booties, plus a faux-fur wrap for warmth.


Pattern: By Hand London Elisalex and Simplicity 1873
Fabric: poly brocade from Metro Textile


Alder Shirt 1

I finally finished my last two garments for the Summer of Basics sew along – however, there was a change in plans along the way! Originally, I planned on making a Kelly Skirt since I don’t have a lot of skirts in my closet anymore (no idea how that happened). But after wearing the Maritime shorts I made last summer so much this year, I changed my mind and made a new pair of shorts instead of a skirt. I love how both of these garments turned out!


Alder Shirt 2

Let’s talk the shirt first: I altered my original Alder Shirtdress pattern to make it into a plain shirt by following Jen’s tutorial on the Grainline blog.  I tried on my dress I made earlier this spring and liked the length at just after the sixth button, so I altered the hem and shortened it to that length.  The only alteration I didn’t take into consideration, and will on subsequent Alder shirts/dresses, is raising the bust dart up.  See, when I made my shirtdress this spring, I used the upper part of the Archer shirt with the bottom as the Alder dress to make my pattern, I never used the bodice portion of the Alder pattern.  If I had, I would have noticed that the bust dart hit below my bust and needed to be raised, like I usually do on patterns with bust darts.  I don’t know why I didn’t do that alteration this go-around, but now I know – d’oh!


Alder Shirt 3

Isn’t this fabric the cutest?  It’s a cotton poplin I bought at Ribes y Casals in Barcelona this spring.  It was one of those fabrics that just jumps out at you and says, “take me home!”


Alder Shirt 4

I cut out these Maritime Shorts last year at the end of summer and put them to the side until warm weather rolled around this year – I’m glad I did! These are made out of a navy blue pique from Fabric Place Basement and go with so much in my closet.  Navy is creeping in more and more this year and I like it as an alternative to black, especially in the summer.  Anywho, I made this version of the Maritime Shorts with back pockets this time and used a button closure I found in my stash.  Jen, if you’re reading, I hope you come out with a pants pattern because these fit 100% perfectly without any alterations!  I guess I could always blend the shorts pattern block with another pants pattern…but still, a girl can wish 🙂

This sewalong was a lot of fun and added some needed basics into my closet.  I think I’d like to do a sewalong like this for every season, and it’s good to become aware of the gaps in your wardrobe.  For fall, I’m focusing more on bottoms than I usually do – more to come on that!


Alder Shirt 5
Patterns: Alder Shirtdress, altered to a shirt; Maritime Shorts
Fabric: cotton poplin from Ribes y Casals, cotton pique from Fabric Place Basement