The Monochrome Dream Coat : Part 1

You've all heard of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, right?  Well this is the first part of my story about my Monochrome Dream Coat.

As soon as I saw the photo of this coat a year or more ago I wanted it.  Like really, really wanted it. 

That particular coat would never be in my possession though, for one thing it's a Vivienne Westwood coat, and for another, I don't think was still available even if I could afford it. 

I dreamed about it for ages, I think I even wrote about it here, and then at the Knitting and Stitching Show last October I bought some fabric to make it.  The Simply Fabrics stall had this black and white polka dot coat weight fabric that seemed too good a match to turn down, so I bought 4 metres.

And the fabric sat in the cupboard for a year while I searched for a pattern to use as a starting point and generally procrastinated.  I'm very good at procrastinating. 

Then, this weekend I decided to make a start.  I didn't have a current project underway and I wanted something I could get my teeth into.  I dug Vogue 8505 out of my stash and decided to go with that.  It's a 1990's pattern, but has pretty much the basic shape I want.

My copy of course is one size too small for me, and this is also a dress pattern, not a coat pattern, so my first step was to trace the pattern, enlarge it slightly and then make a straight toile without any design alterations.

This is my initial toile.

As you can see from all the pins it needs quite a few adjustments.  It's too wide on the shoulders - I thought it would be - and I gave myself a little too much extra room in the waist.  I want to be able to wear a sweater under the coat, but I still want a fitted look.  I don't wear hugely thick sweaters anyway, I prefer a few thinner layers. 

The whole coat also needs lengthening about 4 inches, but I had already taken two out of the bodice length before I cut the toile out so I anticipated needing to add length back at the hem. 

I then moved onto the collar, using the collar pattern piece from a Burdastyle coat as the basis, mainly because it was to hand. 

I started off with this one, and thought it was pretty good.

But then when I looked at my inspiration photo this morning I realised that the collar wraps right over on the right front, so I redrafted it and replaced it with this.

I'm pretty happy with this one.   I just need to try it on myself - rather than on Rosie - to make sure it's not going to choke me. 

My next step is to work out the drape on the side of the skirt.  I've already marked an area I'm going to cut away from the original shape (you can see that in the photo of the full toile above) and then I'm going to try my hand at draping a new piece to go in it's place.  I'm not going to add the flap at the top of the hip, I have enough bulk there myself without adding to it! 

Once I've got that right I need to pre-treat my fabric, order some interfacing and lining and get started!

I'm not sure of the best way to pre-treat the fabric (I'm not actually sure of the fibre content - the price I paid leads me to believe it's probably mostly synthetic).  For the last coat I made I steamed the fabric first, so I'll probably do that, but if anyone has any other suggestions please let me know. 

My Favourite Sewing Techniques - Bound Buttonholes

I love a good bound buttonhole and have used them on several garments over the last few years.  Each time I've done them I've used a different method, usually involving thin strips of fabric to create the buttonholes "lips" and some also using patches of fabric to create a kind of facing that secures the lips in place. 

This method is the simplest I've come across, and does away with the separate strips of fabric for lips and just uses the patch to face the buttonhole and create the lips at the same time.  So much easier!  I learnt this method from Alison Smith when I attended her Tailored Jacket class earlier this year. 

So, without further ado, here is my preferred method of creating bound buttonholes.

You will need:

  • The piece of your garment that requires the buttonholes - you need to make them before the garment is constructed.
  • Interfacing for the rear of the buttonhole area.  You may find that if you're making a coat or jacket the pattern has already recommended interfacing the whole section containing the buttonholes.  If not you can do this, or you can use a separate patch of interfacing for each buttonhole.
  • A patch of your fashion fabric for each buttonhole - at least 3 times as wide as the finished buttonhole and 4 - 5 times the height.
  • Your facing piece for the garment and patches of the facing fabric or lining fabric for each buttonhole.
Yellow = outer fabric, Dark teal = buttonhole patch, White = interfacing, Grey = facing, Light teal = facing patch.

1. Firstly interface the rear of your fashion fabric - either the whole piece or separate patches for each buttonhole as mentioned above.

2. Using your paper pattern as a guide, mark the position of the buttonholes with lines of basting stitches.  You will need 2 vertical lines of basting - one marking each end of the buttonholes - and then a horizontal line running between these marking the actual position of each buttonhole. Extend the lines of stitching so that they cross each other by at least an inch in each direction.

3. Cut a "patch" of fabric for each buttonhole, size as described above.  This will normally be your fashion fabric, but could be a contrast if you prefer. 

4. Draw the finished dimensions of your buttonhole onto your fashion fabric, using your basted lines as a guide.  (I haven't used any basting here, as I was only making one buttonhole!). Pin the patch right sides together with your fashion fabric, centring the patch over the marked buttonhole.

Buttonhole marked in position on reverse of fashion fabric.

Buttonhole patch laid over markings, right sides together.

5. Stitch around the marked lines for each buttonhole.  To get a perfectly even buttonhole you can count the stitches to make sure each long side and each short side are identical.

Stitch around buttonhole.

The "patch" side with look like this.

6. Carefully, with very sharp scissors, make a horizontal cut in the centre of each rectangle of stitching and then a diagonal cut into each corner.  Stitch up to, but not through, your line of stitching.

Cut the buttonhole open with sharp scissors.

7. Push the patch through to the wrong side of the fashion fabric and press.  You should have a small letterbox type opening.



8. On the reverse side of the fabric, press the bottom flap up to expose the seam, then back down halfway so that half the buttonhole is covered by the patch.  This forms the bottom "lip".  Repeat for the top flap and pin in place.
Lips folded up and pinned in place.

9. Fold the fabric on one side of the buttonhole back to expose the edge of the patch.  Stitch down over the small triangle of fabric at the end of the buttonhole.  This holds the folded lips in place.  Repeat for the other end, stitching as close to the edge of the buttonhole as you can without actually stitching through it. 

Stitch over the little white triangle. 

Once you have stitched both ends the buttonhole will look like this.

Finished buttonhole from front

Finished buttonhole from rear

We now need to make a similar opening in the facing or lining to cover the reverse of the buttonhole.

10. Repeat steps 2 - 7 above on your facing or lining, making sure that the slots you make in the facing line up with the buttonholes you've made in the outer fabric!

Right side of facing

Wrong side of facing

11. Join your facing piece to your fashion fabric as and when directed in the pattern instructions.

Join fashion fabric and facing / lining together as instructed.

12. Carefully handstitch the edges of the slot in the facing to the reverse of the buttonhole lips.

Handstitch facing to rear of buttonhole to finish.

 Congratulations, you should now have a lovely bound buttonhole!

I hope you found this tutorial useful.  As I mentioned above, this is the easiest method of creating bound buttonholes that I have tried. 

Recreating Ready to Wear: Flutter Sleeve Dress

Happy Friday people!  I'm back today with another post in my "Recreating Ready to Wear" series, although this one is not as successful as the previous two, for reasons which I'll share in a bit.

This time I decided to try and recreate this dress:

I really liked the idea of it, but the neckline was a bit high for my liking and the sleeves a little full when I tried it on.  So I decided to make my own version.

There's a reason why you're seeing this modelled by Rosie rather than myself, and that's because it's too big for me, or the bodice is anyway. 

I made a rookie error - I chose a pattern designed for woven fabric and used a knit fabric to make it.  Nothing wrong with that in principle - I've done it before quite successfully - but I would normally size down and I forgot to. 

I forgot to size down because I used a pattern I'd used previously for a woven and just picked it up and started cutting!  The pattern is the Alison Glass Woven Essentials dress, and this is my fourth version.

The fabric I used is this absolutely gorgeous ponte roma kindly provided by Minerva Crafts as part of their blogger network.  I used the Forest colourway and would highly recommend the fabric, it is lovely to work with and lovely to wear.  Just make sure you use an appropriate pattern or make the appropriate size adjustments!

I needed to alter my pattern a bit to get the look I wanted.  Firstly I wanted to give the skirt a bit more flare, so I made adjustments to the A line skirt pattern to remove the darts and rotate the fullness out to the hem.  I did this by tracing the front and back skirt pieces and marking a line down from the tip of the dart to the hem.  I then cut up this line, and down one leg of the dart, leaving just a small hinge of paper. 

Overlapping the dart I moved the fullness to the bottom of the skirt, and filled this gap in the pattern piece in with more paper. 

I also wanted different sleeves.  I could have slashed and spread the sleeve pattern that came with the dress, but instead I decided to use the flared sleeve from the Named Clothing Lexi dress.  I've used this before and knew I liked the fullness.  I traced the sleeve head from the Alison Glass pattern and then laid the Lexi sleeve over it to get the angle of the side seams and hem. 

Once I'd made my pattern alterations construction was very straightforward.  This is a great pattern and it helped that I've made it three times previously. 

After finishing the dress I altered the sleeves slightly by creating a curved hem which is shorter at the front of the elbow than the back.  It looks more flattering like this and gives the illusion of more fullness.

In addition to making the bodice too big, I think I've made the neckline a bit low.  I did want it lower than the inspiration dress, but I think I've gone a bit far!  I do have a small amount of the fabric left, I just need to decide whether I've got the willpower to unpick the dress and remake it with a smaller, higher necked bodice!  I think it would be a lovely dress to wear if I do, I just need to get started.

So, as you can see, a bit of a mixed success with this one.  Great idea, poor execution on my part! 

Thanks go to Minerva Crafts for providing the fabric and notions to make this dress.   Minerva Crafts also stock the pattern I used, but I already had a copy. 

Free Motion Embroidery Giveaway Winner

Thanks to all that commented on my last post and entered my giveaway for a piece of free motion embroidered jewellery.  The giveaway is now closed and I have drawn a winner.

I picked my winner the old fashioned way - slips of folded paper with each persons name and comment on. 

The winner is: ShelleyLou

who said she'd like a sewing machine in brooch form.  Shelley Lou, if you could contact me with your details using the email button in my sidebar I'll get a brooch made for you and in the post as soon as I can. 

As I mentioned in my last post I've been thinking about making these to sell.  Hopefully in the not too distant future I'll be setting up an Etsy shop, but for now I'm taking custom orders. 

I'll be offering the following options:

4cm round hoop necklace - £17.95

4cm round hoop brooch - £17.95

6.2cm x 3.4cm oval hoop necklace (either horizontal or vertical) - £18.95

6.2cm x 3.4cm oval hoop brooch (either horizontal or vertical) - £18.95

Prices include UK delivery, please contact me for international delivery charges. 

Please contact me by email for more information or to buy.

Free Motion Friday and a Giveaway

Hello there.  It's Free Motion Friday again, and this one is a good one... or at least I think it is!

I've been wanting to share this with you for a couple of weeks, but it was a birthday present so I had to wait until the recipient had opened her present before I shared it here just in case she saw it. 

May I present the tiny sewing machine necklace.


I have to say, I absolutely love this.  It's certainly the smallest free motion embroidery I've ever done, and I think it's possibly the cutest. 

I made it a couple of weeks ago for my friend Rae's special birthday.  She co-owns Fabric HQ with her mum and while I knew I wanted to give her something sewing related I knew I couldn't get the owner of a fabric shop actual fabric, or sewing notions.  So I thought laterally and decided to sew her a sewing machine. 

If you follow me on Instagram you may remember seeing this little teaser photo that I posted when I was making it. 

I built it up bit by bit, adding tiny scraps of Liberty print cotton for the thread spool and the fabric being sewn.

I normally stitch in black thread, but that looked too heavy for this tiny piece so I used gold for the machine body and a co-ordinating green on the Liberty scraps. 

I couldn't resist adding a little heart to the machine body. 

The hoop necklace came as a kit from Cloud Craft, they do various sizes and round as well as oval frames.  They come with necklace chains or brooch fastenings or without either if you prefer.  Delivery was really quick and I think a kit on it's own would make a great gift for someone crafty.  I got one last Christmas and loved it.

Because I loved making this so much I've decided to do a giveaway for another one.  Leave a comment below before Friday 14th October telling me what you'd object/image you'd love to see stitched in one of these necklaces - and whether you'd prefer a necklace or brooch.  After 14th October I'll pick one at random and if it's physically possible for me to stitch then I'll make whatever the winner has suggested for them. 

** The giveaway is open to anyone, wherever you are in the world.**

Please remember that these frames are REALLY tiny, this one was 6.2cm x 3.4cm!  You could also choose a 4cm round frame if you prefer. 

If you're not lucky enough to win but you'd still like one, then I'm thinking of making these to sell.  I'll post more about that when I reveal the winner of the giveaway.