Thursday, February 19, 2015

McCall's Wrap Dress Sewalong!


What an exciting week - I finished my coat and McCall's Patterns also announced their newest sewalong: The Wrap Dress!  What's so exciting about a wrap dress sewalong, other than the fact that a wrap is the greatest wardrobe staple ever?  I'm co-hosting the sewalong with McCall's Patterns and another blogger, Ruqayyah Davis of ReDpants Designs!

Wrap dresses are easy to make, now that I understand how to adjust them to fit my chest and not gape, and I have quite a few in mind to make for the spring and summer weather that will eventually (hah!) arrive here in Boston.  Here's an overview of the sewalong schedule:

2/16: Announce sewalong
2/23: Try before you buy: Do wrap dresses work for you? Social media: hashtags, Flickr, Facebook, badges for blogs
3/2: Choosing your fabric. Cutting and working with slippery/rolling fabrics like ITY, silk jerseys, etc.
3/9: Making a muslin if necessary; how much ease do you want?
3/16: Sewing and working with knits. Finishing seams with and without a serger
3/23: Sewing the neckline area and preventing gaping
3/30: Making the sleeves; hemming the skirt; finishing up
4/6: The Big Reveal!

It's a long timeline, but that way it's easy to fit it in to your busy sewing schedule and make it a stress-free sewalong.

For patterns, it's really up to everyone individually on which Vogue/McCall's/Butterick pattern you want to use, as long as it's for a knit dress - those are the easiest to fit, and the closest to that classic DVF wrap dress look.  They all pretty much have the same fundamental construction steps.  Last night I went "fabric shopping" through my stash and discovered I had enough yardage to make a full-skirt version out of this fabric:

Wrap dress sewalong plans

This is an ITY knit I bought from Metro Textiles a few years ago because it was so pretty, but didn't have a plan in mind on what to make with it.  Luckily, I bought 2.5 yds, which is just enough to use for a swishy-skirted wrap dress.  I'm planning on blending the bodice of Butterick 5454, which is what I used for my first wrap dress and fits me well, with the skirt off of Vogue 8379.  Why, you ask? The bodice of Butterick 5454 doesn't have gathers around the bust, which would be difficult to fit on me since I have a small chest and gathers create extra fullness I don't need.  I love the flare/a-line shape of the skirt of Vogue 8379, so I'm going to try to pattern-Frankenstein the two together to make a new dress pattern!  This fabric is also a little on the sheer side, so I'm planning on underlining the bodice with a swimsuit lining tricot leftover from swimsuit sewing last year.  I'm very excited to get started on this and to share some tips and tricks along the way!

Are you planning on participating in the new sewalong?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I Made a Yona Coat!

yona 1

Pattern: Yona Coat from Named Patterns, c/o Indiesew
Size: 6

All Materials For This Coat:

  • Outer fabric - cashmere wool from Metro Textiles
  • Lining - coat-weight lining from Fabric Place Basement
  • Diaper Flannel Interlining -
  • Interfacing (hair canvas, sew-in) - Steinlauf and Stoller
  • Fusible weft interfacing - Fabric Place Basement
  • 1" Button - Fabric Place Basement

Sweatshirt: Linden (just made, unblogged)
Jeans: Gap
Boots: London Fog
Hat: Topshop

To quote Led Zeppelin, I come from the land of ice and really, we have seven feet of snow here in the Boston area after this weekend's little Valentine's Day storm (10" more, woof) and there's major icicles of doom hanging off of every single building.  I had a fear that once I finished this coat, which I've been chronicling since early January, the weather would turn and it would become too warm to get some wear out of it this year, kind of like what happened when I made my Anise wool jacket last spring.  Seeing that we're going to have the coldest temperatures of the season this week (it was 16 degrees in these photos) and there's, of course, more snow on the way, I don't think it's going to turn spring-time with daffodils blooming anytime soon.

yona 6
This is my "I'm tired of this winter shit" face...seriously.

Even though I went through the whole "how to tailor a wool jacket" thing last year with Anise, I still learned a ton more this year making this coat.  I pretty much threw away the instructions after I glanced through them to get a general idea of construction, and exclusively followed my tailoring book for every step of construction.  Sure, you can make the coat following the included instructions, but it may not drape how you want it to, the collar may not roll right, and the lapels could flop around instead of staying put.  There's really a lot more to making a coat than just sewing the seams together - there's a lot of secret engineering inside the coat that gives it shape and makes things lay just right.

yona 3

I am so damn happy with the lapels and collar, especially since this is the first time I used hair canvas and padstitching.  Taping the roll line made a world of difference with the lapels laying flat - it's a little puckery underneath, so I may not have adjusted the ease as best as I could, but you can't see it so it's ok.  Adjusting for the turn of cloth of the collar ensured that the seam line doesn't roll out in the back.

yona 2

With the drape factor of the cashmere, it was definitely a good move to add a back stay and shoulder stays for the raglan sleeves.  The sew-in interfacing didn't make those parts of the coat too stiff, but there's noticeable, light support through the back and no sag lines.

yona 5

I drafted welt pockets in place of the patch pockets, since welts are a lot easier to sink your hands into when it's cold, or for stashing  your keys and phone.  Kinda wish I placed them a bit higher, since the pocket bags are about six inches and hang down very close to the hem.

Yes, let's talk about the's three inches shorter than it should be.  This is due to the fact that I didn't notice that the facing piece wasn't drafted long enough for the front of the coat...grr.  Because I didn't want any exposed raw edges inside the coat, and I didn't want to bag the coat lining, I had to shorten the length of the coat by quite a bit to finish the lining correctly by hand.  It's not ideal, but at least the coat still keeps my behind covered and warm.

Edit 2/20/15 - Allie from Indiesew contacted Named Patterns about my feedback - apparently, the coat has a wider turn-up at the hemline than what I used, and that the pattern drafting was intentional.  Good to know if you plan and finishing the hem by hand vs bagging the lining. 

yona 4

For the lining, I called B&J Fabrics in NYC to get some purple samples of their Sunback lining fabric (it's a rayon lining backed with flannel), but when they arrived, the samples seemed so flimsy and I didn't think I'd get the level of warmth/insulation I wanted.  Instead, Fabric Place Basement had coat linings that were a thick, heavy rayon fabric with a brushed back that seemed like a good option if I interlined it with diaper flannel.  Testing this coat out yesterday in 16 degree weather with a windchill of -1 confirmed that yes, this is indeed a warm coat!  However, it's also a really heavy coat because of the weights of all of the coat layers combined.

Something I didn't take into consideration was the design of the coat vs. the drape of my version of the coat.  Using all of these layers (diaper flannel, heavy coat lining, cashmere wool) made the coat a little thick and fairly structured.  The bulk of the coat didn't lend itself well to wearing it closed with a belt, as it's designed - it just looked really awkward and made my midsection look chunky.  Had I known this beforehand, I would have redrafted the front overlap to be wider than 1" to better accommodate the button closure I had to end up using (I originally wanted to use coat snaps, but they were too big).

yona 7

This pattern has some definite flaws that weren't apparent when I made my muslin, but if you like the shape of the coat and have a couple of blazers or button-down shirts under your belt, it's do-able to work through some of the issues.  Morgan wrote a great post on all of the changes she made to the pattern, it's a great reference that I wish I could have used when I made my coat.

So yeah, I made a winter coat!  Now I can look all cool and stylish like the street-style city girls on Pinterest in their oversized coats, skinny pants, and Stan Smith sneakers (I'll sub in my Classic Leathers instead).  I also had plans to make the Grainline Cascade duffle coat this winter, but for my mental health, I think I need to start thinking warm thoughts and work, optimistically, on my spring wardrobe.  Thank goodness Chris and I have a trip to Florida coming up in two weeks, we gotta get out of here!

Be sure to check out my other posts for coat construction details and tips:

Disclaimer: I received this pattern from Indiesew as part of being an Indiesew Blogger Team member, but all views and opinions of this pattern are my own

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tailoring the Yona Coat [Coat Project 2015]

yona wip1

You've been warned...there's some serious geeking out about tailoring in this post!  I've been using Evernote on my iPad as a brain-dump to keep track of all of my thoughts and the different methods used in this tailoring process, and I'd like to share them with you, dear readers, in case you'd like to make a tailored Yona Coat of your own.

I alluded to this in one of my earlier coat posts, but there's a lot to consider when you're working on a tailoring project on this scale - do you custom, machine, or fuse tailor, or a combination of the methods to achieve the desired result?  What types/weights of interfacing are best for the fabric you're using?  Do you interline or underline, since you can't do both?  And if you're interlining, will you have enough wearing ease after the fact?  These questions just skim the surface of the types of things to think through before cutting out a coat, it all starts with having a clear plan in mind of the processes you'll use before you begin.

If you've ever sewn a blazer or a jacket, the basic construction of the Yona Coat is pretty straight-forward.  I quickly skimmed over the instructions to get the general gist of construction, but heavily relied on the book Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket for all methods of tailoring and construction outlined in this post.

yona wip3

The Coat Front

Pockets - those patch pockets had to go, I want to sink my hands into some nice welt pockets when I wear this coat.  I drafted a pattern for an angled welt and pocket bag (7" deep) and inserted it before sewing any seams.  I also interfaced the welt pocket opening with fusible tricot interfacing for stabilization (this was before sewing any of the welt and cutting open the pocket).

Interfacing - I opted for a partial front interfacing with lightweight hair canvas.  The reason for not interfacing the entire coat front is because I was afraid that the hair canvas would make the coat too stiff and bunchy when closed with the belt, and it's also what the tailoring book recommended for coats, lol.  To attach the interfacing to the coat front, I basted it by machine in the seam allowances.

Lapels - As much as I liked the idea of custom tailoring the front and lapels all by hand, I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much time hand-sewing all of the hair canvas in place (I don't enjoy hand-sewing very much, to be honest).  Using the machine tailoring method, I applied the twill tape on the roll line by machine, and then marked my pad-stitching lines with pencil and pad-stitched the lapels.  I believe it took me about two nights total to finish all of my pad-stitching, and then I steamed the heck out of the lapels and let them dry overnight.  I'm glad I didn't skimp on the hand sewing on this part, the pad-stitching makes such a big difference in the lapels rolling out and staying in perfect place.  It was so cool to see this process happen as I stitched!

yona wip2

The Sleeves and Coat Back

Sleeves - raglan sleeves require neck and shoulder stays to keep the shape and drape of the coat uniform and prevent the coat from looking droopy in these areas.  Plus, if you're using shoulder pads (not sure if I will or not yet...), the stay disguises them from showing through to the front.  I used a lightweight sew-in interfacing from Steinlauf and Stoller - the stays were drafted off of my sleeve pattern and extended down 8" from the top of the sleeve cap, cut on the bias.

Back - a back stay is also important to prevent the upper back from collapsing.  The drafting process was the same as the sleeves, I used the back pattern piece as my guide and drew a curve about 3" below the armhole for the bottom of the stay pattern piece.  This piece was also cut on the bias out of the sew-in interfacing.

yona wip5

The Collar

This was a little tricky to figure out how to execute.  The traditional tailored collar consists of an undercollar and top collar, with the undercollar including the collar stand in the pattern piece.  Then, the undercollar is padstitched to create and shape the roll line of the collar stand.  However, for the Yona Coat, there are separate pieces for the undercollar and the collar stand.  I was torn with how to proceed: do I try to redraft the undercollar with the collar stand attached?  Do I just throw caution to the wind and cross my fingers it will work, drafted as is?

The Threads article about Armani jacket interfacings mentioned how to handle this type of collar construction and interfacing weights to use, so I cut the undercollar on the bias, hair interfacing for the undercollar on the bias, the collar stand on the straight grain, and lightweight sew-in interfacing on the straight grain.  Cutting the undercollar and interfacing on the bias helps the undercollar roll under when it's attached to the top collar.

yona wip4

Now you can see what the collar looks like with the top and undercollar joined together at the neck.  There was some significant turn of cloth that I needed to adjust before sewing the two units together along the collar seam.

yona wip6

And here's what the front of the coat looks like before sewing the side seams!  I waited to sew them up until I applied interfacing to the hems, which I did the other night.  Again, not wanting to do more hand-sewing than necessary, I thought it would ok to use fusible weft interfacing cut on the bias for the hems.  It's not such a critical area that it would be detrimental if the fuse application didn't hold well, like in the lapels, but it seemed to fuse nicely with no problems.

As a side note - yes, this is a notched collar, and it's not sewn correctly in these photos.  This was before I realized that, d'oh!  The collar and lapel weren't connected at that critical seam at this point.  I went ahead and sewed the collar and lapel facings and graded the seam allowances before realizing this, and I got a really funny looking coat afterwards!  It wasn't anything a little seam ripping and hand-basting couldn't fix, and now my coat collar is correct, whew.

All that's left is the lining, and if Mother Nature decides to not dump more snow and let UPS deliver my flannel interlining, I'm hoping to complete the coat by the end of the week.  My ultimate goal is to have a new coat to wear by Valentine's Day (no particular reason, it was a month out from when I started planning all of this in January) and I think that may be a reality!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pattern Review - Butterick 6031

gertie slip 2

Pattern: Butterick 6031, view A
Fabric: slip-making kit purchased last year from Gertie (stretch jersey and lace trims included)
Size: 10 graded to a 12, A/B cup pattern piece

My progress on my Yona coat stalled this weekend due to a) making a big, stupid sewing mistake with the collar and running out of thread, and b) waiting for my flannel to arrive from, the shipping has been soooooo slow.  So, I took it as an opportunity to whip up a quick project from Gertie's slip sewalong kit that's been lingering in my stash since last year.

gertie slip 1

Isn't it pretty??  I just love how girly and feminine this slip is with the lace trims, light pastel color, and cute little bow.  This was a super-fast project that I whipped up in a few hours Saturday afternoon, and wore out to dinner that night underneath my dress for extra warmth.

gertie slip 5

I followed along with the sewalong posts on Gertie's site, which were really helpful in guiding me on what size zig-zag stitch to use on my machine for attaching the different lace trims and sewing together the seams.  This is my first foray into lingerie sewing, and I'm not completely certain if it's for me.  Sure, it's pretty easy to whip up a cute bra or panties in no time, but when making this slip, I wasn't a fan of the fiddly nature of stretch lace and flimsy, slippery fabrics.  It's a different type of fussiness I guess I'm not used to.

The fit is spot-on with the pattern, the cups fit perfectly (which I wasn't sure about, since it's a combo A/B pattern piece) and I did my standard grading of taking the pattern from a size 10 at the waist out to a 12.  This gal is fitted, which is perfect for wearing under clothes - you don't want anything too loose adding extra bulk and making it difficult for clothes to fit!

gertie slip 3

This fabric is a dream and feels absolutely soft and lovely!  It's a stretch micro jersey that Gertie sourced for the slip kits (which I don't believe are available anymore), I'd love to get my hands on some more.  Luckily, there was fabric leftover after I cut the slip out, so I have a pair of undies cut out to make and I can probably squeeze a cami out as well...I'll just need to get some stretch lace trim.

gertie slip 4

However, I wasn't a fan of using stretch lace for the straps, they seem really flimsy and not sturdy enough to function properly.  I think in the long run these straps won't hold up to wear and tear, so I'm going to replace them with bra strapping I picked up at Fabric Place Basement.  That would be my only suggestion to anyone looking to make this - find real strap material, because stretch lace aint gonna cut it.

Have you tried sewing underpinnings?  The new issue of Seamwork has some great information on fabrics and sewing techniques for lingerie, and a cute bra and undie set that I think I want to try!

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 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!