Sunday, 24 November 2013

Fuschia pink Andy cocoon coat

It's cold in London and these days I think only about warm things: hot tea, mulled wine, a warm coat...

This coat is based on one of the Named patterns', Andy coat, which I won in Starcross Sewing blog's giveaway in September. I won't hide from you that as much as I like Named patterns' designs, I don't like to work with their patterns. All of the pattern pieces are overlaid and you have to trace them on separate pattern paper. It's probably not a big deal when you work with simple garments like skirts, because they have very few pattern pieces. But when I taped and looked at the Andy coat, I felt sea-sick.

I also decided to modify the pattern a little bit and to create a cocoon shape because this is the trend of this season. Besides, the word "cocoon" sound very funny to my foreign ears :)

Another modification to the pattern was the creation of the back darts to accommodate my rounded shoulders.

The fabric came all the way from Australia. I bought three metres of this cashmere wool, called Rosewater coating, from Tessuti Fabrics but used only 2.5 metres for the coat. For the lining, I used a piece of polyester bought from JoAnn's last year. Do I have to tell you how happy I was to use fabric from my stash?

An interesting point about this coat is that I used five different types of interfacing: horse hair canvas for the inner front panels, fusible interfacing for the outer front and back, and three types of tape interfacing for the armscyes, neck and shoulder seams. At the same time as learning how to sew coats, I leant why we use so many different types of interfacing :)

Brand new me-made scarf
Last but not least, a story about buttonholes. I had finished the coat before my move to London. My old sewing machine was not known to make the best buttonholes in the world, and I did not want to compromise the look of the coat with average-looking buttonholes. Although I bought a new sewing machine in London, I still was not sure whether I should make buttonholes by myself and for the first two weeks here I wore the coat without buttons, holding it closed with one hand. I felt grumpy to make bound or hand-sewn buttonholes and so in then end I outsourced the work to DM Buttonholes, located in the heart of London near Oxford Circus.

All seven buttonholes look great and very neat. I would definitely recommend them if you would like to get a clean, professional look for your outerwear!

Overall, my first experience with sewing a coat was so rewarding: I ended up with the brightest coat in London. Believe it or not, most people here wear black, grey or brown and my coat clearly stands out in the crowd. So when I meet with friends, they don't miss me ;-)

Needless to say that I enjoyed working with wool: this fabric is the most stable and nicest to work with.  Now I'd love to sew more outerwear!

What about your experience of sewing outerwear? Have you tried it? Do you like it?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Sew-along Part VII: The fell stitches

I hope you all sаw Leisa's last post of the sew-along where she explainеd how to trim the fashion fabric and lining and how to pin the two layers of lining together prior to hand-stitching. In addition, she made two great videos.

Fell stitching is used to join two layers of fabric from the right side. Besides attaching two pieces of fabric together, it is often used for appliquée. Being a very strong and secure stitch, the fell stitch is also almost invisible. If you practice it for a while, fell-stitching will become your best friend. If you don't believe me, ask Melanie!

I was supposed to made a video as well, which I did, but the result was pretty blurry. Nevertheless, I decided to post it especially if you are, like Leisa and I. more of a visual learner.

The video is not of a super quality and some parts of it are blurry. In case you did not understand how to fell-stitch, here are the steps.

1. Position your work with the piece of fabric on top closer to you.

2. Start by inserting the needle between the layers and run it so that it emerges on the fold of the top layer.

3. Then insert the needle into the bottom layer of the fabric, as close as possible to where it came out on the top layer.

4. Repeat the steps.

The length of the stitches should not be very long. I did not measure them but it's something like 10-15mm. It's also suggested that your fell stitches are shorter at the neckline and cuffs.

If you still have question about fell stitching, please do let me or Leisa know!

Happy stitching!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Sew-along Part VI: trimming, seams and lining

Have you seen Leisa's latest post yet? She added two amazing videos where you can see how to trim both fabric and lining and how to properly pin the lining.


I'll come back to you next week with a post about fell stitching.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Sew-along Part V: Fitting, Goodbye and See You Soon

The jacket is now basted in place and starts to take shape, though it still looks like a mess. The real exercise of this fitting is to try to see all the possible faults and inconsistencies and fix them before we start closing the seams with hand stitches. And believe me, unpicking hand-sewn seams breaks one's heart!

For the fitting, pin or baste one sleeve to the jacket and put it on. When you have your jacket on, it's important to move around a bit: bend your arms, turn right and left, try it with the jacket open or closed.

Remember, do not press your basted seams! By pressing them with an iron you settle stitches to the fabric, which we want to avoid at this stage. It is enough to just use the warmth of your hands to press them slightly open.

Luckily for me, the time spent on the muslin paid off: my jacket did not require any alterations. But I would like to redirect you to Leisa's blog where she highlights the fitting issues with her daughter's jacket. It's so well documented! Check it out!

Today I am busy packing because at midnight I catch a plane to London! British weather, please be good to me...

After spending three and a half years in Japan, I will tremendously miss Tokyo and everything it has to offer. But I will equally miss my APAC blogging friends. It was a great pleasure meeting you and becoming your friend! But, hey, I'll see you very soon!