Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pattern Review - McCall's 6711 Wool Blazer

wool blazer 1

Pattern: McCall's 6711, view A
Fabric: Italian wool from Mood Fabric
Size: 10

Shirt: Gap
Jeans: Gap
Sunnies: Tommy Hilfiger

Remember my post from November about this fabric?  I originally slated it for a Gerard Coat, but when the fabric arrived, I realized it was much too lightweight for a coat and more suited for a blazer.  Then, I thought about using Vogue 8887, but the muslin I made had some fitting issues in the back I didn't want to deal with, and the entire front and back was cut on the bias - something else I didn't want to deal with.

The blazer from McCall's 6711 was on my sewing list from fall, and seemed like a good alternative pattern.  It has simple princess seams and a one-piece collar that would be easy to fit and sew, so I decided to take a stab at it - the muslin was perfect!  Not a thing to alter.

With beautiful wool fabric like this, I wanted the blazer to turn out looking like a well-tailored, high-end blazer worthy of a designer label inside.  If I do say so myself, I think I did a pretty good job!  I owe all of it to Pam Howard's tailoring classes on Craftsy, which I've been watching obsessively (and highly recommend!).  A lot of the extra steps I took elevated this blazer from a quick-and-easy sew to a in-depth project with nicer, more professional results - here's what I did.

wool blazer 2


Modern tailoring really comes down to choosing the right weights of interfacing in a jacket - you don't use the same weight throughout.  There's a great article from Threads Magazine dissecting the innards of an Armani jacket and the different types of fusible interfacings used throughout.  For the jacket front/lapel and collar, I used a weft-insertion fusible to give the front more structure, and a fusible tricot for the jacket side front.  Typically, sewing patterns recommend that you only fuse the fronts and not the sides, but it's necessary to fuse the entire front to get a nice shape and support the jacket.  I noticed a big difference in the body the interfacing gave the wool after fusing the whole front.

Also, I steamed the crap out of the lapels to shape them and get them to lay as flat as possible instead of flopping around.  The design of the pattern is pretty casual and there isn't a roll -line (heck, the model has her lapels "popped" on the envelope...is that a thing?), but I wanted this jacket to be more structured.

wool blazer 3

Tailoring the Sleeves

When I made my Anise jacket last year, I was disappointed by the dent that formed at the top of the sleeve cap when I moved my arm, and also how the sleeve hung from the sleeve cap. This was probably cause by a few different factors, but it made me aware of the importance of supporting the sleeve cap in a jacket and masking the look of the jacket innards (sleeve seams, shoulder pads, etc).  To solve this for my wool blazer, I interfaced the sleeve from the sleeve cap down to about two inches below the underarm with fusible tricot interfacing.  This gave the sleeve a nice shape and supported the fabric beautifully:

Damn fine set-in sleeve. #tailoring #blazer #wool

Isn't that a yummy set-in sleeve??  It hangs absolutely straight with no dents or divets.  I also eased the whole cap instead of just the section notated between the small dots on the pattern, and I think that helped me get a better result.

wool blazer 4

The Back and Hems

In retrospect, I should of used a back stay to get better support in the upper back since the fabric is floppy, but ahhhhh whaddayagonnado.  Interesting fact:  the more pieces in a jacket, the better the tailored result.  Why?  There's more seams to tweak to get a better fit.  A jacket pattern with a back like this that's cut on the fold will not be as fitted as a jacket with a back center seam - there's no way to really adjust the fit other than tweak the darts, which can be limiting.

The jacket and sleeve hems are all interfaced with a 1 1/2" wide strip of weft-insertion interfacing cut on the bias.  The bottom hems really keep their shape with the interfacing and it add a bit of weight, causing the hems to hang better.

wool blazer 5

The Lining

And just to show you the last, final shot - the lining!  I love color pops and surprises with my linings, so why not make that functional part of a garment a little bit more fun?  When I was researching jacket patterns to sew, it was very hard to find a pattern out there that included a lining.  Why guys, why?  Linings really aren't that hard to sew, I swear.  And they make it so much easier to wear the finished jacket, they protect the inside and prolong the life of the jacket etc.  Anyway, this was a well-drafted lining with a center back pleat, and I sewed a jump-hem in the bottom by hand.

Well, that's my first project of 2015!  It was definitely a good project to make as a way to ease myself into the coat project I'm up to my eyeballs in right now.  Hands down, this is the best/nicest garment I've made thus far in my sewing career, and I can't wait to sew more blazers and jackets.

PS:  the snow in these photos is from the storm that hit Boston this past weekend...I'm bracing for #snowpocalypse #BOSnow right now!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Gathering The Supplies [Coat Project 2015]

Yona coat supplies

There's a snow storm heading up the east coast this weekend, and staying inside to sew a coat while it snows sounds like the perfect way to spend my day tomorrow!  I think I've finally gathered all of the supplies I need for my Yona coat:


Wool cashmere - obviously what the coat is going to be made out of!  I think this will be warm enough, it's a little lighter weight than a regular wool fabric, but after doing some research, I learned that cashmere is one of the warmest animal fibers.  Plus, I did the "wind" test: I held up the fabric near my face, blew on it, and couldn't feel any air pass through the fibers.

Rayon coat lining - originally I bought a coordinating rayon lining for the coat, but since it's pretty lightweight and I want to be able to wear this during the winter, I thought it would be prudent to upgrade to this hefty lining fabric.

Diaper flannel - yes, this is what people use to make cloth diapers!  But seriously, this stuff is nicer than regular ol' cotton flannel - it's a little thicker and much more plush.  I'm using this to interline the coat for extra warmth.


Hair canvas - I bought lightweight and heavyweight hair canvas for this project, since I wasn't sure what I'll need, but I think I'm going to go with the lightweight hair canvas for tailoring the coat front, lapels, collar, and interfacing for the sleeve and body hems.  Part of me wants to padstitch/custom tailor the coat front, the other part of me wants to machine tailor...

Sew-in interfacing - the cashmere fabric is sooooo nice, and I'd hate to ruin it with a fusible interfacing that doesn't really stick.  So, I'm going to safe route and using sew-in interfacing for shoulder stays, back stay, facings, and maybe interfacing the front of the coat instead of the hair canvas.


Coat snaps - for keeping the front of the coat closed and the cold air out!

Buckle kit - I thought it might be cute to make a belt with a buckle to tie around my waist instead of just a sash of fabric.

Poly and silk thread - the poly thread is for sewing the whole coat, the silk thread is for any hand-basting I need to do.  Nothing like silk thread for hand-basting, it glides through fabric like buttah.

Thread conditioner - I've had this stuff kicking around since my jewelry-making days.  It's great for strengthening your thread and keep it from getting tangled, and necessary for hand tailoring.

I think that's everything!  My Friday night now looks like I'll be watching some episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix while I slowly cut out all of my coat layers...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Yona Muslin [Coat Project 2015]

yona muslin 2

Hey hey, I had success with my Yona "muslin!"  On the day after my failed attempt at fitting Vogue 1365, I went out to pick up some more muslin fabric so I could try out the Yona pattern, but the idea hit me to try to make it out of some legit Malden Mills Polartec fleece I spotted at Fabric Place Basement.  It was so nice and soft, came in a heavier weight suitable for outwear (300 weight), and I thought it would closely emulate how the layers of my wool, interfacing, interlining, and lining would behave.  Plus, it would end up being a "wearable" muslin - what a nicer alternative to wearing my big red bathrobe to stay warm in my apartment!  A stylish house coat that I wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in when the FedEx guy drops off my boxes...whoops!

yona muslin 1

So yes, I'm very happy with how the fit turned out - it has the perfect amount of ease for a slouchy coat, and the subtle cocoon shape is perfect.  I cut out a size six, which was almost spot on with my measurements, and I really don't need to adjust a thing - that's the perks of making an oversized coat with an adjustable closure.

yona muslin 3

I was a little concerned with how the back would fit since this coat is roomy, but the belt cinches everything in nicely and I don't have "bubble butt" with pooling, excess fabric; it's actually quite fitted in the rear.

 Have you ever sewn with Polartec?  It's really easy - you get a warm, lightweight garment and you don't have to finish any edges or seams.  For this muslin, I cut out the body and sleeve pieces, the undercollar, and the belt using my rotary cutter to give everything a nice, clean edge.  Heck, in warmer weather, I may even wear this out of the house to run errands, it's that nice!

I'm getting close to starting the real coat - tonight I'm testing out some options for interlining with my cashmere wool, interfacing, and heavy rayon lining fabric.  Once that's final, I'll gear up to cut out alllllll the layers and pieces - it'll be like cutting out four coats when everything is said and done.  I'm a little bummed that I'm not going to be making a super-tailored coat like I was originally planning this year, but I'm pretty stoked about making Yona and I'm going to use quite a few tailoring techniques anyway.

Well, I better get a move on this - Jen just released her Cascade Duffle Coat pattern today and I'd love to make that as well this winter!  Having a wardrobe of coats is what makes winter in New England a little bit more bearable.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

So It Begins - The Great Coat Project of 2015

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.

vogue coat 1

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?

vogue coat 5

Not too crazy from the side either...

vogue coat 6

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.

vogue coat 2
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:

vogue coat 3

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?

vogue coat 4

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!


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!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Living in Lindens

floral linden1

Pattern: Linden from Grainline Studios
Fabric: floral scuba knit from Metro Textiles, black fleece from Fabric Place Basement
Size: 4

Jeans: Paige Denim
Sneakers: Reebok

Happy New Year!  It's the first Monday after the holidays and the winter "blahs" are setting in for me...temps are dipping waaaay low this week (12 degrees tonight, brrr), the snow we've avoided in New England so far this winter arrived last weekend (with more to come this week), and spring feels very far away.  So what's a gal to do but hunker down with some tea and whip up some cute sweatshirts!

floral linden2

As the title of this post suggests, I've been living in a couple of new Linden sweatshirts I recently made over the past few weeks.  At first I wasn't sure about the pattern - the fit is much boxier than garments I usually wear and felt like I was wearing a big, shapeless sack for a top.  But since I kept reaching for my first version over and over again, made out of a navy striped double-knit, I knew that the style grew on me and I really liked how easy it is to wear!

floral linden3

Like a lot of Jen's patterns, the Linden is versatile and can change in look and feel depending on what kind of fabric you use - heck, I wore my gray version for New Year's Eve with some sparkly necklaces and skinny black pants.  For my third version, my favorite, I paired a floral print scuba knit (aka neoprene) for the front with a super soft black sweatshirt fleece for the rest of the sweatshirt.  I like that the floral makes it a little dressier and special than a regular sweatshirt, sort of unexpected.  When I was sewing this, I kept getting flash-backs from the 90's of a floral shirt and leggings set I wore in elementary school!

I made all of my Lindens on my serger, which made them a fast sew.  Like, criminally fast, even for someone as slow as I am.  The only change I made was to lengthen the neckband pattern piece by about 5/8" since it was too difficult to stretch correctly on my first version.  The longer length fit better around the neckline, and I didn't get any puckering as a result.

floral linden4

I never miss an opportunity to take a cheesy photo.

In all honesty, the Lindens I've been making are just "sewcrastination" - I keep putting off prepping for my Great Coat Project of 2015.  I have one more project that I'm just about finished with (which will be my first finished garment of the year!) and then I'll start.  Pinky swear!