Taking an Instagram poll! Should I make the Named Yona Coat or Vogue 1365? I'm torn between the two, like the styling of both. Would be made out of eggplant purple cashmere wool. #instapoll #coatproject #sewing #tailoring

It’s the middle of January, so I suppose it’s time to get cranking on what I’m calling “The Great Coat Project of 2015,” or, my attempt to make a tailored winter coat this year.  Prior to starting, I made a quick tailored blazer that boosted my confidence in my tailoring skillz (which you may have seen on Instagram, photos to come), so I’m ready to go!

Of course, I got cold-feet initially – there’s so many variables to take into consideration when launching into a major project like a coat: what kind of fiber/weave/weight of fabric to use, combinations of interfacing to get the right support and drape, should I underline or interline (can’t do both!), how to make the coat warm without adding bulk, hand-tailoring vs fusible tailoring…I could go on.  There were quite a few nights recently where I was up to the wee hours of the morning researching and reading and making myself dizzy with the knowledge and contradicting opinions of those who have prior experience making coats.  And of course, I doubted my choice in pattern selection at the last minute and put up a poll on Instagram and Twitter last weekend on which coat I should make.

Vogue 1365, on right above, won the poll on Twitter.  The Named Patterns Yona coat, on left, won on Instagram.  Since I originally planned on making the Vogue coat, I went ahead and cut out the muslin this week to see what the fit was like – if it was bad, I could always use Yona as my backup plan.

To sum up my Vogue 1365 fitting-experience: I’m making the Yona coat now.


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Doesn’t look too bad, right?  I’m not standing up straight, so the fronts aren’t lined up correctly. Holy lapel action, Batman!  Those are some statement lapels, amiright?


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Not too crazy from the side either…


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I think the back is ok, too.  Setting the sleeves in would alleviate some of the bagginess around the armholes, I wasn’t too concerned with it.


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Seriously, I could fit my lunch in here.

So here’s where it gets good…my friends, this coat is drafted with 10 inches of ease in the bust.  After doing some extensive research on coat ease (on one of those recent late nights I referred to), 10″ is standard ease for a loose-fitting coat and is calculated to fit over a jacket and a blouse (here’s a great post on Sewingplum about layering ease for BMV patterns).  However, on the model on the pattern envelope and also in the article “Secure a Coat Lining” from the December 2014 issue of Threads, this coat has much more of a semi-fitted look.  I cut a straight 10 for this coat, which is typical of what size I make for Vogue patterns, so I figured I would just go down a size in the chest and grade out at the hips – no big deal.

HOWEVER – observe the following photo illustrating where the real issues with this coat lie:


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In order to get this coat to fit correctly, there needs to be some major overhauling of the entire front.  The bust point is two inches below my actual bust point – I run into this problem from time to time, but never to this dramatic effect!  The waistline is almost down to the top of my hip bones by my belly-button.  Fixing the waist would be no problem, since I could just adjust along the “lengthen or shorten here” line on the pattern, but altering the pattern to raise the bust to the correct level would affect: the front, front facing, length of the lapel and lapel facing, side front, armhole, and all three parts of the three-piece sleeve.  Maybe even the collar, too.

It was at this point that I threw my hands up in the air and said, “fuggedaboutit!”  There’s already going to be so much labor put into constructing the coat, since I decided to hand-tailor this project, that I couldn’t really bother/deal/didn’t want to go through with the pain of redrafting half a coat to get it to fit me correctly.  Hmm, is there a reason I couldn’t find a single person on the internet that made this coat pattern?


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Additionally, the side seams irritated me.  No, this is not an error – the side seams are really supposed to hang like that, I checked the line art and it shows the side seams curving towards the back (the front is cut much wider than the back).  In my opinion, even though this is an intentional part of the design, it just looks bad – one of the hallmarks of a well-tailored coat is a side seam that hangs perpendicular to the floor, and I want my coat to look well-tailored.

I love the style of this coat, but I’m quitting while I’m still ahead and moving on to the Yona Coat – this is why we make muslins to test-drive patterns before cutting into our nice fashion fabric!  Yesterday evening, I made a muslin of the Yona pattern and the fit is absolutely perfect – more to come on that, I can’t wait to share!


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Are you making a coat this winter?  Sew along with me!  Use #coatproject2015 on Instagram to tag your progress so we can all see what you’re working on!

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Pattern: Renfrew bodice/Vogue 8663 skirt
Fabric: sweater knit from Joann Fabrics
Size: Renfrew – 2; Vogue – 8

Boots – Nine West

The idea for this pattern mash-up came from Sarah’s awesome SkaterFrew dress over at Katie and Laney – the Renfrew is a great pattern that I’ve made many many times (like most sewists in the sewing blogosphere!), and I loved the fit-and-flare style of Sarah’s dress.

I can be a bit of a lazy sewist – I’ve curbed some bad habits I used to have, but I like things to be as uncomplicated as possible when it comes to certain things in my sewing.  Take PDF patterns – ugh!  I hate the idea of printing them out, taping them together, cutting them out, and then still having to cut out my fabric!  Way too much work, but I make the exception with some patterns that are truly awesome or I know are well worth the effort (hello, Grainline Studio!)  So, the idea of going through hoops to print out and assemble the Lady Skater pattern when I had a perfectly fine flared dress pattern in my stash.


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This dress is so comfy and easy to wear!  I wanted it to be a little more fitted than my other Renfrew tops, and I learned from another dress I made based off of the pattern that it would look better fitted.  But the best part is that because it’s a fit-and-flare, you can eat a big lunch and no one will know! (I did that the day I wore this dress and it was awesome)


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It was a little tricky getting the skirt to match up to the waist, and I had to do some adjustments off of a mock-up I made first to get it just right.  Just a little grading magic and redrafting between the two patterns and the dress was all set – had this done in about half an hour.  The waist is slightly higher than I would have liked (I wanted it more at the natural waist), but ah, live and learn.


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Back view – the waist line is a teensy bit lower than in the front, oh well! 

Hemming this dress was a biotch, there was no way I could do it by myself – knit fabric on the bias?  Yuck.  I actually had to bring it home with me during Christmas vacation so my mom could help pin up the hem while I wore it.  It totally sold me on the fact that I need to get one of those nice dress forms Gertie posted about a few weeks ago… 


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I ended up catch-stitching the hem by hand since there was a bit of easing that needed to be done with the skirt hem.  After some vigorous steam with my iron, you could even see the tiny hem stitches (because, you know: “it’ll steam out”).

I love this dress!  It’s perfect for wearing with boots and is great for cold snowy days, which seem to  be happening even more frequently every week in the Northeast.

Is it spring yet???

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Pattern: combo of Renfrew by Sewaholic and Vogue 8138 (OOP)
Fabric: sweater knit from Fabric Place Basement

Leggings: DKNY
Boots: Franco Sarto

I don’t own anything designer.  Probably the closest designer items I own are a Michael Michael Kors blazer and a Marc by Marc Jacobs iPhone cover.  I love looking at designer clothes for inspiration, like the Calvin Klein top I used last year, or even going into Nordstrom and inspecting the inside of garments for construction details and ideas.  As I was snooping around my favorite local fabric store, this fabric jumped out at me.  It makes me think of the Italian fashion house Missoni, know for their famous zig-zag and geometric knitwear.  So, in a sense, the fabric inspired me to make a dress styled like the Missoni dresses I’ve seen in Neiman Marcus, but for a fraction of the $1,000 price they usually retail for (seriously, I made this for under $30).


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Knowing I wanted a simple silhouette, like many Missoni dresses, I looked in my stash to see if I had a simple knit dress pattern, but everything I pulled out had some kind of styling to it that wouldn’t lend itself well to this funky print.  You know where this is going…

Oh good old Renfrew, how I love you.  I took the top of the Renfew pattern and the bottom of my Vogue dress pattern and combined them together at the waist, grading seams where necessary.  I had some tweaking to do at the sides to make it a bit more fitted than my Renfrew tops, attached the long sleeves, and hemmed the dress to a shorter length that I’ll be ok wearing in warmer weather, sans leggings.  I’m thinking that these colors will make my faux Missoni dress a great transitional garment when the weather decides to get a little warmer.


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While I may not have used real Missoni knit fabric for this dress, like Sarah’s version, I still feel like this dress is special and fun to wear.  I’m looking forward to getting lots of wear out of this in the coming months!

Where do you look for sewing inspiration?

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Pattern: Vogue 8825, view B
Fabric: Jersey ITY from Metro Textiles, NYC
Size: 10 graded into a 12

Boots: Bandolino

I’m sure I’m not the only sewer that’s bought fabric intending to use it for another purpose.  Take this knit jersey, for example, that I bought back in May – I saw it and instantly thought, “long maxi dress for a wedding this summer.”  Instead, this is the dress I wore to that wedding, and the jersey ended up sitting on a shelf in my closet.  Sometimes the original design intention is just not meant to be, which was definitely the case when I flipped through a pattern book at Joann Fabrics and discovered Vogue 8825.  I needed a “festive” dress for my coworker’s Christmas party, I loved the retro feel of the pattern, and I had this funky red and black fabric begging to be made into something fun.  Presto!

Plus, it’s not like I’d get much wear out of a maxi dress in New England…the summers are way too short.


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The Pattern

Even though Vogue calls this a “Very Easy Very Vogue” pattern, I believe I’ve sewn patterns other than this one that deserve that title.  Yes, it’s not complicated, but I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to someone sewing a knit dress for the first time, which is how I view “Very Easy Very Vogue” patterns to be classified.

It was also the line drawing, not the photo of the dress, that caught my eye in the pattern book – I think that really speaks for something…

After cutting out the pattern, which consists of eight pieces, it went together fairly quickly.  The neck facing is built in to the bodice pattern piece and connects to a back neck band – pretty great pattern drafting, if you ask me.  I think I only referred to the directions when I attached the sleeves to the bodice.  

The raglan sleeve is actually a two-piece sleeve, which gives the sleeve the fullness necessary to create the gathered puffiness at the cuff.  The barrel cuff could have been a little smaller in circumference, I found that while wearing the dress the sleeves kept slipping down over my hands.  If the barrel was tighter, it would stay up better and create a more poofy sleeve – my biggest disappointment of the pattern.  Don’t get me wrong, I love how it turned out, but I really wanted that dramatic sleeve flounce shown in the pattern illustration.  I definitely want to make the tunic version of this pattern and will draft my own barrel cuff for the next go-round – probably out of a solid colored jersey.


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There’s also some shaping to the dress as well, it’s not just a dress shaped by a sash like some other simple knit dresses – the back bodice and skirt pieces have waist darts.  The sash is super duper long so it can be wrapped around obi-style and tie either in the front or back, depending on your preference, which I love.  It keeps the surplice style of the bodice in check as well and prevents it from gaping open, something I was very concerned about with this style of dress.

Also, I took the hem of the dress up about four inches so the proportions of the dress would work well with the boots I intended to wear.  


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The Fabric

I’ll be honest – it’s the fabric that’s doing all the work and really makes this dress.  I love that the giant paisley paired with the dramatic sleeve give it a retro-cool vibe, hence my cheesy pose above!  I was a little worried that with so many pattern pieces, the print would be broken up and not work well, hence the reason I originally thought of using this fabric for a maxi dress.  But really, this print is so crazy that it didn’t even matter.  I’m really glad that I bought the three yards of fabric that I thought I needed for that maxi dress, otherwise this dress would never have happened.  I’ll be getting more wear out of this dress for sure this winter, even though it’s quite bold and loud.

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This morning I realized that I have exactly one week to whip up my dress for the Christmas party next Saturday.  Eeek!  Needless to say, everything today was about the holidays – cutting out the fabric for the party dress, making wreaths, and decorating in general.

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