polka dot coat
 

It only seems fitting that I post about a coat that I started, well, a year ago, on the first day of the new year! Last year, I had an idea to create a course on how to make coats and this was the coat pattern I was going to use as my example through the course.  I cut this pattern out in January, but by the beginning of February, I began panicking because I hadn’t started the sewing on my wedding dress.  So, I put aside the pattern pieces and the idea of making a course, and worked on my wedding dress up until May.  With my first semester of grad school winding down earlier in December, I needed something new to work on.  Well, I dug this out of my closet and got right to sewing everything – all of the pieces were cut out, interfaced, and interlined!

polka dot coat
 

I had a close call with this almost not fitting and turing into a disaster.  Like, it barely met in the center when I tried everything on with the lining installed!  I made a muslin previously and made some adjustments to the fit in the hips since McCall’s describes this coat as fitted and it was a little snug on me.  Heck, when you look at the model wearing this coat on the McCall’s website, it’s pretty tight on her!  Even when I tried on the wool shell of the coat, it fit.  I believe what caused the issue was that I didn’t think that the lambswool interlining I added was going to take away that much ease since it seemed so thin.  Plus, I used a double-face wool that was a bit thick.  After assembling everything, this is how my coat fit:

This coat barely fit!
 

Eeeek!!  To fix this, I ripped out all of the seams up to just below the armholes in the wool and lining and restitched all seams with a 3/8″ seam allowance.  This gave back about three inches around the circumference of the coat, which allowed me to properly close it.  Whew!  I also intentionally tried to fit this coat wearing something a little bulky like a sweatshirt since I always wear something like that in the wintertime, not a thin t shirt.  That ensured that the fit of the coat would accommodate at least some layers underneath.

I mentioned earlier that I interlined this with lambswool – it’s good stuff!  I bought it from Steinlauf and Stoller over the phone – all I did was call them up, tell them what I was looking for, and I received it in the mail from NYC in a few days.  They’re great to work with if you need to order tailoring supplies like hymo that aren’t readily available locally.  The lambswool interlining is attached to the all of the lining pieces except the sleeves, and let me tell you, it really makes this coat warm and doesn’t weigh anything.

polka dot coat
 

Because the coat is so fitted, I changed the type of pockets.  The in-seam pockets at the side seams did me no favors and bulged open at the hips.  Instead, I took a patch pocket pattern from McCall’s 6172 (a blazer I still need to make!) and spent quite a bit of time with my dress form trying to figure out a good placement on the front and making both sides symmetrical.  It’s a great patch pocket size for a coat, I can fit my iPhone 6 in them comfortably.  The pockets are lined with flannel to keep my hands nice and toasty.

polka dot coat
 

I used hymo interfacing (aka horsehair canvas) for all of the interfacing in the coat, it’s really my favorite for coat making since it shapes so nicely with steam.  Per the recommendation of my beloved tailoring book, I opted to add top stitching along the collar and the front edges of the coat instead of top stitching down the center front of the coat like the directions called for.  I also opted to hand sew all of the hems on the sleeves and bottom of the coat, it looks much nicer that way than by machine.

polka dot coat
 

Sadly, when ripping out all of the stitching in the lining to let it out, I got all sorts of pulls along the old seam allowances.  At least it’s a fun purple color!  The pattern has a pleat drafted into the lining pattern piece, but in my opinion, it’s not generous enough of a pleat to allow for movement of the lining and wearing ease.  If I made this again, I’d go back and redraft the center back piece with a better ease pleat.

 

polka dot coat
 

How I love big buttons!  The pattern calls for 1″ buttons, but the ones I bought seemed kinda weeny down the front of the coat, especially since there’s only supposed to be four total.  I found these 1.5″ buttons at Pacific Trimming earlier in December that were exactly what I was looking for for this coat.  However, my automatic buttonhole feature on my machine only goes up to roughly 1.25″ buttonholes, and I wasn’t about to try and manually make the buttonholes (I’m truly terrible at doing that, and the automatic buttonhole feature on my Bernina was a big selling point).  Plus, after doing some reading on buttonholes, the bigger the buttonhole, the more prone they are to stretching out and looking wavy.  The only solution seemed to be sewing on giant coat snaps to close the coat and sewing the buttons to the outside of the coat.

I mentioned earlier that this coat is more of a “coat-igan” than a coat because since it’s so tight, the snaps at the bottom pop open when I sit down in the car or bend over to pick something up, rendering this more of a super-warm cardigan.  I think if I made buttonholes, there would have been a lot more strain on the coat closure and seat, so at least the snaps allow the coat some ease even though it means my coat popping open at the bottom.

 

polka dot coat
 

Here’s a view of the back – it’s a little roomy in the back waist, but if you look at the photos on the McCall’s website, it looks like there’s some ease with the way the belt cinches in at the waist (I opted to not make a belt, obvs).  I can move ok through the back and shoulders of this coat, but if I was to make this again, I’d cut a larger size in the back to allow for better range of movement.

Now I’m working on – surprise – another coat!  I’m about 50% of the way through making up a blue wool melton Cascade Duffle Coat and I’m thrilled with how it’s turning out (I’m obsessed with coats, if you haven’t guessed.  It’s the one good thing about New England winters).  I also have some videos I made for my coat course last year that I’m thinking of releasing in chunks throughout the month – I want to get back into making videos for Youtube like I did last year for my wedding dress, they were a lot of fun!  Maybe doing some pattern reviews and actually wearing the garment so you can see how it moves etc.  Depends on how crazy I am next semester with school, I guess!

Pattern: McCall’s 7058
Fabric:
Marc Jacobs double-face wool from Mood Fabrics
Poly lining from Mood Fabrics
Lambswool interlining from Steinlauf and Stoller
Buttons: Pacific Trimming
Coat Snaps: Dritz
Sweatshirt: Linden from Grainline Studio (not blogged)
Jeans: Paige Denim
Boots: Nine West

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mimosa cape
 

Nothing beats a quicky instant-gratification project like a cape, especially while working on a lengthy project like a winter coat. I stumbled upon a new (to me) pattern company recently that I absolutely adore – I Am Patterns. They’re a french pattern company that designs classic garments with a modern twist, like the Sirius top and Aphrodite dress – both of which are in my ever-growing sewing queue.  Plus, after finishing up my first semester of grad school, I want to crank out as many garments as possible from my sewing machine over winter break!

mimosa cape
 

After drooling over Julie’s Mimosa Cape made out of a yummy YSL wool check, a lightbulb went off in my head that I had fabric in my stash perfect for this pattern – a double-faced wool knit from Metro Textiles with a soft jersey backing.  I’ve had this fabric for a few years and wasn’t sure what to make with it, a dress would be too formal for my current work.  But a houndstooth cape is perfect!

mimosa cape
 

I had juuuuuust enough fabric yardage to squeeze all of the pattern pieces onto, and I ended up cutting the back piece with a seam instead of cutting it as one piece on the fold.  Sewing the cape was super easy, it’s essentially two shoulder seams and a ginormous collar, which I lined with some checked flannel scraps from my stash.

mimosa cape
 

What makes this project a little more advanced are the welt pockets, which I must say are fun to tuck my hands into.  I liked the technique to make them, the welts are much more secure with how they’re constructed versus hand-sewing the welts down like I’ve done in past projects.  Hard to explain here, but I’m going to try to make my welts that way in the future.

mimosa cape
 

The edge of the cape isn’t supposed to be hemmed, which is fine if your fabric doesn’t ravel.  After wearing this for a day, I might end up adding some nice bias tape to the edges and turning it under, there was some slight fraying as I wore it.  Nothing major, but it would make for a nice detail on the inside.

mimosa cape
 

This cape is so fun and swishy to wear!  I’m glad I waited until I found the right pattern to use for this fabric, it’s a perfect match.  I think I’ll be getting a lot of use out of this during the cold winter months ahead.

 

Pattern: Mimosa by I Am Patterns, size 40
Fabric: double-faced wool knit from Metro Textiles
Jeans: Paige Denim
Boots: Nine West
Sunglasses: Tommy Hilfiger
Lipstick: Rouge Dior in Rialto

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Butterick 6292
 

I mentioned in my last post how limited my sewing time is now that I’m going to grad school part-time.  To illustrate how slow I am: I started planning this jacket at the end of August, bought the fabric in September, started sewing in October, and didn’t finish until November.  Part of that is, like I mentioned, because of starting school, but the other part is that I needed to redraft the sleeves.  You see, this is a complete knock-off of the jacket featured on the cover of Thread’s November 2016 magazine!

 

The fabric I used is exactly what was stated in the article – a double-face cotton serge twill from Mood Fabrics.  I searched the site and ordered a swatch – it’s such a nice weight, perfect for a fall jacket, and has nice stretch and recovery.  It does wrinkle a bit as you wear it, especially in the sleeves, but that’s what happens when we wear cotton I guess!

Butterick 6292
The original sleeve of Butterick 6292 is a single seam set-in sleeve.  In the Thread’s article, they show you how to re-draft the sleeve into a two-piece sleeve in order to make a Detroit cuff, an adjustable cuff finish used on workwear such as Carhartt jackets.  It’s a pretty looking design element on this jacket that has a functional purpose – the cuff can be rolled up when it’s nice out, or buttoned closed when its breezy outside.  Hard to see in the photo below, but there’s two buttons on the cuff that can adjust how tight to close the cuff.

Butterick 6292
 

The pattern itself was pretty straightforward, but redrafting the sleeve and adding the cuff made the pattern a little more challenging.  My stitching isn’t perfect and I ended up getting a small tuck when I attached the cuff, maybe I was off with some of my drafting.  And oh boy, the top stitching on this!  Definitely something I need to work on and take my time doing.

I also had a bit of  hard time with the button placement.  When I tissue-fit the jacket, I thought it was going to fit just right (my standard grading out of a size 10 to a size 12 from waist to hips).  Once I sewed it together, I realized it was too big and needed to take it in.  Then, when I marked the button hole placement, the fit was still off.  So, I improvised with the button placement and made it work with how I wanted the jacket to fit overall.  I also wasn’t that crazy about the buttons I used, they’re pretty boring and not as fun and fancy as the buttons on the original jacket.  The selection at my local Joann Fabrics is so limiting!  Maybe I’ll order some buttons online from Pacific Trimming and swap them out for these boring black ones.

Butterick 6292
 

I used a new-to-me interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply – I read so many good things about their interfacing from other sewing bloggers, and since I couldn’t find any more of my Touch of Gold interfacing that I love, I ordered some medium weight fusible.  I didn’t completely read the instructions though, and the bond of the interfacing to the jacket isn’t 100% as you can kind of see in the photos above.  Oh well!  Definitely a user-error, I used it correctly for another upcoming project and it looks much better.

Butterick 6292
 

Jackets and coats are so much more fun when there’s a surprise “pop” with the inside lining!  I just love this floral poly fabric from Mood.

Would I make this pattern again?  Maybe in a wool tweed, but I have so many other jacket and coat patterns on the brain I want to sew.  This project was an example of how you can take an easy pattern and make it more challenging by customizing different design elements.  My red jacket is now tucked away in the closet until next year because winter is here and there’s snow on the ground!

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Toaster #2 Sweater
 

Pattern: Toaster Sweater #2 by Sew House Seven
Fabric: french terry knit from Indiesew (sorry, sold out)

So yeah…this whole “slow sewing” movement is my jam because that’s all I seem to do these days when it comes to sewing.  Sewing time is now few and far between – I started grad school this fall and work kicked into high gear two months ago.  I thought after the wedding I’d have the time to get back into the swing of things with sewing, but I guess not!

(Oh, and I got a hair cut and chopped off 6″ since my last post – I swear my hair is not that poofy IRL)

Since my time is so limited now, I need to really focus on garments that I will absolutely enjoy making (and wearing) or will challenge my sewing skills – no more time to waste on garments that I don’t have 100% of my heart into.

Toaster Sweater #2 was a perfect jump-start to get back into garment sewing this fall.

Toaster #2 Sweater
 

When all was said and done, I made this sweater in an afternoon.  I have a weakness for funnel necks/turtlenecks and jumped on this pattern as soon as I saw it as part of the Indiesew Fall Collection (now I need to check out Toaster Sweater #1!).  The fabric is such a soft, yummy french terry and I just want to wrap myself up in a giant french terry burrito with this fabric.  If you’re thinking about making this pattern, make sure to pick a fabric that has some body to it for the neck to sit correctly, anything jersey-like will result in a flimsy neck and the neck facing may flop open.

I loved the construction of the funnel neck – it’s a brilliant way of drafting the facing into the neckline and constructing the curved shoulder seam in the beginning of making the sweater.  Hard to explain, but pretty cool when you make it.

 

Toaster #2 Sweater
 

I’m gravitating towards loose-fitting tops and dresses these days and I love the a-line fit of this sweater – see how roomy it is?  The only thing I would change next time is to lengthen the top – I love the split hem and the hi/lo design, but I feel like it’s a smidge too short in the front for my liking.  I’m also wearing a tank top underneath because the splits go pretty high on the side and I would be flashing some skin without an underlayer.

Toaster #2 Sweater
 

The mitered corner instructions were great, too, and made it easy to hem everything in place with professional-looking results.  I used my twin needle for both the sleeve hems and bottom hem, pivoting around the slit opening.

Did you know there’s a Toaster Sweater #1 as well?  I’m itching to try my hand at that one since I love #2 so much – I wore it twice already in the last week!

This post is part of the Indiesew Blogger Network – pattern or fabric may have been provided by Indiesew, however all thoughts and opinions are my own 

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Lucinda+Chris-2521
Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography

This is a long overdue post – heck, I’ve been married for exactly two months!  I made my wedding dress from scratch and lived to tell the tale.  Get ready, this is a long post of everything I went through in the last year of making my dress with a lot of photos.

First, I’ll get this right out of the way: making my wedding dress was 100% the right decision for me.  I never was one of those little girls that “dreamed” about what kind of wedding I’d have one day, I honestly wanted to get married at City Hall and save the cash for a house.  However, I always knew that I’d make my wedding dress – sure, the thought was daunting at first, especially with everything that comes with planning a wedding, but I felt that to not make my wedding dress would be to ignore who I am as a person – I’m a creator.

My Parent's Wedding
 

On top of that, I also liked the idea of starting a tradition out of making my wedding dress; my mom made hers when she married my dad in Tucson, AZ in 1972.  I’d like to think that if I have a daughter, she’d make her wedding dress as well.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
THE DETAILS

Fabric (all bought in The Garment District in NYC):
Monique Lhuillier French Alencon Lace – Sposabella Lace
Reem Acra Silk – Mood Fabrics
Silk Georgette – Metro Textiles (thank you, Kashi!)
Rayon Lining – Metro Textiles

Belt
Silk Ribbon – M&J Trimming
Silk Flower – M&S Schmalberg, made from my leftover Reem Acra silk fabric

Other Odds and Ends
Faux Bridal Buttons – Joyce Trimming
Zipper – Pacific Trimming
English Netting (for veil) – Vogue Fabrics
Silk thread used for all handwork, cotton/poly thread use for construction

Dress Pattern
Marfy S568

 

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography

BLOG POSTS

In the past year, I posted several updates on my progress as I went through trial and error figuring out how exactly I was going to make a wedding dress from a pattern that was one size only, had no instructions except for some vague and roughly translated notes here and there on the pattern pieces, and working with fabric I never used before (all of the above I don’t recommend for the faint of heart thinking about making their wedding dress!).  I also made some YouTube videos to show the dress in more detail and talk through my thought-process.

Are Wedding Dress Patterns Turning Off Brides?
Starting My Dress
Fitting the Bodice
Getting the Fit Right (Video Post)
Cutting Out My Dress Fabric (Video Post)
Attaching the Skirts (Video Post)

THE DRESS

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
 

The dress is a flowy dress with a flared skirt that sits at the waist with a sweetheart neckline and kimono capped sleeves.  The lace bodice is underlined with silk – I opted to underline each piece individually and then construct the bodice instead of sewing the lace together with appliqué seams for a seamless look, sew the underlining pieces together, and then joining the two layers to make the bodice.  There are three layers for the skirt – the silk underskirt, and then two rounded overskirts of silk georgette that open at the side and are gathered with small pleats.  The entire dress is lined in a coordinating rayon lining.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
 

I wanted to add some kind of visual interest to the back of my dress, so I sewed tiny faux bridal buttons down one side of the zipper seam (they have a fabric shank, not a real shank, which allows the button to be sewn closer to the garment).

You can also see a bit of an opening in my overskirts in the above photo.  Because of the flowy nature of the shape of the skirts and the fabric, I didn’t want the overskirts to be anchored down as part of the zippered center back seam so they could move freely and naturally.  I used a tutorial at Grainline Studio to make the layers free hanging; they didn’t turn out as well as I hoped since you can see the openings in the back, but I think it resulted in a better look than having a zipper go through my silk georgette.  I also used a small clear snap to close up the opening a little more between the two sides of the skirts.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
 

The belt was a tricky element for me to figure out since I wasn’t sure how I wanted to decorate it.  I knew it needed a motif or something at the side where the skirts gather at the side opening, but I couldn’t find anything that I liked or would compliment the design of the lace.  After stumbling upon this belt at BHLDN, I knew it was the look I wanted to have for my dress…but when I saw the price at $500, I burst out laughing.  No way!!

M&S Schmalberg (also known as Custom Fabric Flowers) came to the rescue.  I called them up to find out how to place a custom order, sent over the photo of the belt I was trying to recreate at a smaller scale, and they said they were very familiar with the original belt – hello, awesome!  I had just enough leftover silk from my dress (about a yard) to send to their facility in NYC, and within a week they sent back the finished floral arrangement.  I secured the blooms and leaves to the silk ribbon with a few small stitches and presto – a custom, coordinating bridal belt at a fraction of the cost of the inspiration belt.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
 

The belt secures in the back with two ivory hooks and eyes instead of tying in a bow like some bridal belts.  The hooks got stuck on the lace throughout the evening, which was a little annoying at times.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
 

Oh, the hems!  How I agonized over the best way to sew the hems so the dress wouldn’t look “homemade.”

First, I had to figure out the correct amount to turn the hem up on the silk layer.  I jacked up my dress form to the height I would be wearing my heels (originally I was going to wear flats but they looked plain awful with my dress!) and turned up the hem slightly at the center front and tapered the hem as I got to the sides of the skirt.  I actually goofed this up the first time I turned up the hem and had a nasty crease in the front from pressing the hem in place; I spent a lot of time steaming out that crease with a hand steamer.

The first attempt at hand sewing the silk hem also failed – for one, I used regular poly thread to sew the hem, which made the tiny hem stitches in the fabric very visible since the weight of the thread was heavier than the weight of the fabric. So, I ripped it all out and used silk thread instead, as I should have from the beginning.  The hem was also pretty flimsy and needed a little extra “oomph” so the skirt would hold its shape and flow nicely.  The solution to that was to cut long 1/2″ strips of lightweight sew-in interfacing, stitch together the strips into a loop the same measurement as the circumference of the silk skinny layer, and encase the interfacing loop in the fabric of the hem as I hand-stitched the hem in place.  Problem solved!

For the silk georgette layers, I originally thought I was going to sew the hems by hand.  Hah!  Those skirts were a mile long and I would have pulled my hair out stitching all of those tiny stitches and the time it would take to do so.  Plus, when I tried a test swatch of sewing a hem by hand, it looked wonky and not as crisp as I wanted since the fabric isn’t very stable.  After lots of research online, watching Youtube videos, and asking Jen at Grainline Studio for some advice (thank you so much, Jen!), I figured out a way to hem my dress on my machine using my regular ol’ presser foot, no fancy rolled hem foot or spray stabilizer required.  You can see in the above photo that the hems turned out nicely!  There was a wavy effect of the rounded edge after I sewed the hems due to the bias nature of those parts of the skirts, but I kind of liked how it turned out.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
It’s pretty easy to see here how the skirts flowed open as I walked, which I absolutely loved.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
To bustle the skirts, I treated each layer separately instead of bustling them all together.  Because the fabric of this dress didn’t have the body of a heavy silk and the shape of the skirt was very fluid instead of full, the best type of bustle to use was a single-point bustle (believe me, I played around with all sorts of different types and numbers of points and they just didn’t work).  For the silk underskirt, the heaviest of the layers (by comparison), I used a thread chain loop and a leftover faux button for my bustle point, and for the silk georgette layers I used a white hook and eye on each layer.  I initially was concerned that the hook and eye would be visible to everyone when my dress wasn’t bustled since there was no way to hide it in a pattern on my skirt, but it’s really true what you read in all of those wedding dress articles – no one will notice!  Even when I stood back and looked at my dress on my dress form at home, I didn’t see the hook and eye unless I was really searching for it.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
 

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
Dancing in this dress, especially doing a conga line, was a little tricky!  I ended up hiking up my skirts as necessary and boogied on down all night for every.  Single.  Song.  No joke.

And yes, as soon as dinner was over I kicked off my heels and donned a pair of flip flops.  Comfort over fashion, my friends.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
Not wedding dress related, but I made matching clutches for my bridesmaids so they could carry their essentials with them, and I even had enough lace leftover to make a clutch for myself.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
I also mentioned earlier in this post that I made my veil.  If making your own wedding dress is too daunting of a task, I recommend all brides try to make their veils, even if you don’t feel comfortable with your own level of sewing.  It’s stupid easy!  I used English netting for a more fluid-looking veil a la Catherine Middleton, since the one I made out of bridal illusion felt too goofy to me, and attached it to a plastic comb that stayed in my hair the entire time.  Make sure to check out the Modern-Inspired Veils class on Craftsy if you’re thinking about making your own, it was really helpful.

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Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography
It’s so weird to be finished with something that’s consumed our lives over the last 16 months.  We have our free time back to ease into our hobbies again, cook dinners together on a regular basis, and just enjoy spending time with each other without discussing wedding decorations and and every bit of minutia that comes with planning a wedding.  I’m even starting business school this fall to work towards getting my MBA.

Well, that was a pretty exhaustive post!  Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, making my wedding dress was the absolute right decision for me on my wedding day, and there’s not a single thing I would have done differently.  It definitely was a journey that challenged me mentally at times, as well as my technical skills, but after making my own freaking wedding dress, I feel like I can tackle any sewing project that comes my way now.

 

 

Lucinda+Chris-2663
Photo Credit: Maria Burton Photography

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