Thursday, 29 November 2012

It not only looks like a coat... It actually IS a coat!

Oh my goodness, I can't believe it, but I have finished my coat!!

Here it is in all it's glory modelled by the lovely Rosie.



I finished sewing the buttons on about 5.30 yesterday afternoon and wore it to go out yesterday evening.  Sadly only in the car, with about a 10 yard walk into a restaurant, so it wasn't seen by many people!

As you probably know, the pattern is Vogue 8548, which was out of print by the time I decided I wanted to make it.  Luckily I managed to track a copy down on Ebay.

I made view C, with the narrower neckline, as although I loved the look of the wider neck I knew it would drive me mad.  I'm glad I made that decision, as I had some major issues with the interfacing and my solution would have ruined the wider neck.  I'll come to that in a minute.

I made a few changes to the construction.  Firstly the addition of bound buttonholes instead of button loops, as mentioned in my last post.  They're not perfect but for a first attempt I'm pretty pleased with them, and to be honest, when the coat is buttoned you can't see them anyway.



I wasn't totally happy with the way the skirt was finished, with the lining coming right up to the front edges, so I altered this to include a strip of the shell fabric along each front edge.  Unfortunately I messed up on my calculations and didn't cut this quite wide enough!  Consequently the seam between the facings and the lining has the smallest seam allowance imaginable, and the front facings don't quite meet up at the waist seam, as you can see near the top of the photo below.



As also mentioned in my last post, I constructed the outer shell of the coat and then the lining completely, rather than the rather convoluted way Vogue wanted it done. I then sewed the outer shell and lining together along the front edges and neckline.

This meant that the sleeves and skirt hems weren't finished in the way Vogue instructed, so I made faced hems for both the sleeves and the skirt.  The skirt hem facing is finished with bias tape and handstitched to the interlining with blind catchstitch - courtesy of instructions in the Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.



This book proved invaluable in assisting me with various aspects of sewing my coat.  I used it for several steps I've described above, and also to assist with insertion of shoulder pads and sleeve heads.  The shoulder pads were purchased and the sleeve heads made from small pieces of polyester fleece fabric. 

The only real problem I had was when I'd put the coat together the collar wrinkled terribly.  I couldn't work out what was wrong, then I realised that the interfacing I'd used was too stiff and was also coming away from the shell fabric!  Eeeek!!!  I did a bit of online research and spent most of Tuesday evening steaming the interfacing off the coat fabric.  It's made the collar sit a lot better, but of course there is now no interfacing at all so it's a little floppy.  I think it's OK as I've made the narrower neckline, but I'm going to add a press stud above the top button just to keep things in place a little more.

It's freezing cold here this morning, but I've braved the garden and taken a couple of outdoor modelled shots with the self timer. 



Can you tell how cold it is?



I'm really pleased with how this has turned out, and it's been a total learning experience for me. 

I've used the following techniques for the first time, and none of them were as scary as I thought they'd be!

Bound buttonholes.
Interlining a garment.
Insertion of shoulder pads and sleeve heads.
Faced hems.

Although it's quite a destinctive style, I would consider making this coat again, as a lightweight spring/summer coat. 







Monday, 19 November 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like a coat!

I finally made some excellent progress with my Vogue 8548 coat this weekend. 



After cutting the main fabric out and handbasting the interlining in place almost a fortnight before I hadn't done anything else to it.  This was mainly due to procrastination about the bound button holes.  I kept coming up with excuse after excuse not to start them, then one evening last week I just though "go for it".  So I did. 

I actually found the bound button holes much easier than I thought they would be.  Isn't that often the way?  You put things off and off, thinking they're going to be almost impossible, then are pleasantly surprised when you actually do whatever it is you've been putting off. 

I took my time, and there's no denying they were fiddly, but not too bad.  They're not perfect, but the patterned fabric helps to disguise any slight imperfections.



The inside looks pretty rough!



After reading several reviews of the pattern, I departed from the instructions and made the outside of the coat completely, before starting on the lining.  They pattern has you make the bodice and line it, the sleeves and line them and the skirt and line that, then machine stitch the outer fabric together and hand sew the waist and sleeve seams of the lining. 

I'm going to make the lining completely, machine stitch the front and neck seam, then hand sew the sleeves and hem.  I think that will give a neater result.

The outside of the coat is pretty much finished, at the moment the sleeves are only tacked in, because there wasn't time to machine sew them before the "Strictly" results show last night. 



The seam allowances have all been handstitched to the interlining so they lay flat, and I've added pockets in the side seams.  How can you have a coat without pockets?

Now I've got started I'm really excited to finish and wear this.  It's definitely my most ambitious project since I've started sewing again (although probably not as ambitious as my sisters wedding dress 10 years ago) and I really hope it turns out well.

Friday, 16 November 2012

On My Needles: A Glittery Sweater

Having finished my Kim Hargreaves Wallace cardigan the weekend before last I immediately cast on for another sweater. 

I'd seen this sweater on Pinterest recently, along with instructions on how to make one yourself by cutting open the neckline of a purchased sweater and adding the bow.



I decided that I'd much rather knit one. 

I stopped off at my local craft store and found some lovely Sirdar Softspun DK.  It's mainly synthetic fibres (only 25% wool), but that suits me find.  I find many wools itchy anyway, and I hate having to handwash sweaters and block them back into shape. 

Initially I was tempted to go for pale pink, but I'm not really a pale pink type of person, so I wondered how much it would be worn.  I decided on black, although with the slight sheen in the yarn its not a solid "dark" black. 



I then set about finding a pattern, and settled on Pretty Mallory sweater, a free download from the Cascade Yarns website.  



My decision was based largely on the fact that I wanted a top down raglan pattern, so I could leave one of the raglan "seams" open to add the bow later.   To achieve this, I knitted the first 3 1/2 inches flat rather than in the round, then joined and continued in the round as the pattern is written.



I've added a single repeat of the lace pattern from the sleeves to the front for a bit of added interest.



I completed the body last night, so it's now onto the sleeves.  I think they'll take a little longer, although the lace pattern is simple it does require slightly more concentration than rounds and rounds of knit stitches do! 


I apologise for the rubbish photos - this yarn is really hard to photograph!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Back with more buttons and slightly better photos!

After posting about my Gathered dress yesterday, I was ashamed at how poor the photos were.

They're still not the best photos I've seen, but a long way, but they're better than yesterdays.



I've never thought of our house as being dark, but we appear to have almost nowhere that has a plain wall and good light. 



You might also notice that I've added more buttons down the front, following a trip back to my little local craft shop to get a few more.  I think the additional buttons improve the look of the dress.  What do you think?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Made by Me: Surprise, surprise I've made a dress!

I'm beginning to think I should rename this blog "I love dresses" or something!  I seem to sew (and covet) far more dresses than anything else. 

I had lost my sewing mojo a little over the last week or so, for a couple of reasons.  One is that I'm feeling slightly intimidated by the thought of making the bound buttonholes for my Vogue 8458 coat, and the other being a problem with my lower back that made sitting at the sewing machine for any length of time rather uncomfortable.  Thankfully my very lovely osteopath is sorting out my back, so I can sit at the machine in comfort again.  Sadly, he can't help with the bound buttonholes, so I guess I'm on my own with those!

Anyway, this last weekend I wanted to sew, but I didn't want anything complicated.  Step forward some fabric I bought for a song on Ebay recently and Burdastyle Gathered Dress 06/2012 #126 (such a catchy name!).



After work on Friday I set about cutting out, having found time earlier in the week to download and assemble the pattern.   I had to do a bit of jiggery pokery and cut the dress with a seam at the centre back, which it shouldn't have had, because I didn't have quite enough fabric to lay both front and back on a fold.   Never mind, that wasn't a problem, because the centre back seam in the skirt is largely hidden by the gathers anyway. 

The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that I failed at matching the pattern!

The pieces went together easily, although I had to fiddle a bit with the pleats on the front, and to be honest you can't really see them anyway. 

The only changes I made were to lengthen the sleeves to full length (although they are still about 1/2 an inch too short really) and sew the front opening up to about halfway, so as not to expose my underwear to all and sundry.   I also lowered the neck about an inch at the front.  If I was to make this again, and I might because it's so comfortable, I'd lower the neck even further. 



The pattern calls for hooks and eyes to close the front, but I did small square mother of pearl buttons and hand stitched button loops.

I'm very pleased with my button loops!

I am going to buy some more buttons and sew them down the front to give the effect of it buttoning to the waist. 

I used French seams wherever possible, and where I couldn't (front and back gathers and armholes) I covered the seam with bias tape as this fabric frays like mad. 



I think it's pretty likely I'll make this again at some stage, either as another dress, or as a tunic length top to wear over skinny jeans.

I'll try and get some modelled shots at some stage, as this actually looks much nicer on me than it does on Rosie, but I struggle with taking photos of myself without a photographer!  



Thursday, 8 November 2012

What's New with Vogue

I had an email from Sew Direct earlier this week with the new Vogue patterns for winter.  I've had a couple of days to peruse them and consider which I like (if any).  Here are my thoughts.

There aren't actually many patterns in the new collection that I like, and surprise, suprise, the ones I do are mainly dresses!  Give me the choice of sewing anything and I'll pick a dress every time.  I love dresses!

I really like this one, V1326.

Source


I actually love the colour combination they've chosen to make this up in, although I don't know that I would wear it myself.  I did have a blouse and skirt back in the 1980's that were striped in these exact colours, and it's always been a favourite combination of mine.  To me they are more summery colours.  I'd be tempted to go for something darker if I was to make this dress as winter wear.


This one also looks like a summer dress to me, although I suppose it could be worn to a Christmas party or something.  This is Vogue 1327.

Source

From the photo it looks like the top twisted section of the bodice is made from different fabric to the rest of the dress, but according to the pattern information, it is all the same. 


Just one more dress to bore you with!  Vogue 1328.  Now this one looks more appropriate for this time of year to me.  Long sleeves, and can be made from ponte knit or stretch satin.  I actually have some teal ponte knit fabric in my stash. 

Source

There wasn't much else I liked if I'm honest.  There are quite a few very strangely shaped jackets/coats and several over the top dresses. 

However, this blouse did catch my eye.  It's Vogue 8857.  

Source

I don't actually own many blouses.  I only like them if they're made from very drapy fabric, and I dislike collars.  They never sit right on me.  I tend to wear jersey tops instead of blouses, and luckily I have a job where the dress code doesn't demand super smart office wear. 

This blouse looks quite pretty though, I like the ruffled fronts and the option to omit the collar.  I could see this in a light colour with jeans, boots and a chunky cardigan. 

Is there anything that takes your fancy from the new Vogue collection?



Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Good Week

Hello!

Goodness, it's been over a week since I've blogged, but it's been a busy (and good) week!  Here's a little of what I've been up to.

Very little progress seems to have been made on my Vogue 8548 coat.  I finished cutting out the main fabric and interlining / underlining (I'm not sure which one it is!), and got the back bodice sewn together.  That took me most of last Sunday!  The next step is the bound button holes, which I must pluck up courage to do this week.   I would love to have this coat finished by the end of this month.

I did however manage to finish my Wallace cardigan.  The knitting was completed sometime during last week, but I actually finished sewing it together and put the buttons on this morning. 

I'm pretty pleased with how it's turned out.   As usual for a Kim Hargreaves design it's simple but the details are lovely.   The turned picot hem provides a lovely edging and the moss stitch pocket accents and collar provide just the right amount of texture.



I made a couple of changes, knitting the cuffs as bands of moss stitch rather than separate buttoned bands, and omitting the breast pockets.  I really don't need breast pockets!

I have it on as I type and it's very warm and cosy.  Just what is needed in this weather.

In order to keep warm in this cold weather (that's my excuse anyway!) I've been eating far too much yummy food this week.   Tuesday was my parents wedding anniversary, so on Wednesday night hubby and I took them to a local Greek restaurant for dinner.  The food was amazing, but the portions were huge!    Going out on Wednesday evening also meant we managed to avoid the trick or treaters!

More food last night, as it was hubby's birthday yesterday.  We had 2 couples round for dinner.  I made an easy starter of cold meats, marinated stuffed spicy peppers, mozzarella and tomatoes (all bought from Sainsburys), then did a home made lasagne and salad.  Dessert was a baked chocolate mousse, from a James Martin recipe.   I left out the fennel, as a couple of the guests were quite conservative eaters.  It was gorgeous, I've just had a piece as I've been typing this. 

I think the diet needs to start again tomorrow!

I had a nice surprise on Friday.  I had an osteopath appointment, and when I got there (at an earlier time than I'd been before) I found the receptionist was a woman I worked with about 5 years ago and got on very well with, so we had a lovely chat both before and after my appointment.  I'm also very pleased that the treatment now appears to be working and the pains I've been having in my lower back, hip and leg seem to be disappearing.  Bliss!!!

I think that's my week caught up with.  The only disappointment has been that I haven't managed to get my apron made for Karen's Apronalong.  Never mind, I look forward to seeing what everyone else who participated has made.  I'll get around to mine some time.