there’s no sugar coating this one

First of all, apologies for there being such a long gap between this post and the last one. It’s not that I have been lazing around, in fact the opposite is more the answer. My efforts to get my waist line back to my original starting point (when I first started dressmaking) have been taking up a rather depressing amount of time. It’s slowly paying off, but in the mean time it is hogging a lot of potential sewing time in terms of energy and opportunity.

I have also been rather foolish in my recent choice of projects. From one coat hang up (literally its on hold so I can be confident I won’t have any fitting problems later because of exercise impact related changes) I landed myself in yet another sticky situation. Literally. I’m sure by now you are thinking I am coating this a bit thick (pun intended). But I decided to make a nice “easy” (hahahaha how self deluded was I?) project and took out of my stash some laminated cotton and a raincoat pattern.

For this uninitiated to the joys of laminated fabric, please approach with a healthy sense of caution and self preservation. I have broken pins on it, struggled with top stitching as the sewing feet get stuck on the laminated side, struggled to ease in the sleeves (it has no stretch) and generally slowly grown to dislike the stuff. Oh, its also really hard to mark as you don’t want to leave holes, so there go the tailor tacks.

Glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to add my own lining to the body of the coat, which was interesting as it had a fold over facing (I just doubled everything up, sewed the two together then treated it as one layer) and had fun trying to hand sew when hemming the sleeves and making the patch pockets.

The result on the coat is a cute on, the impact on my temper less so! Here’s on I won’t be making again any time soon….this is Burda 9458. As usual for Burda the instructions are less then helpful but I do like their designs.

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Now that the coat is finished I am working on my next project. I’m intending to make a corded skirt to act as scaffolding for a dress I intend to make later this year for when I go to a friend’s wedding. At the moment its not very exciting to look at and I am having fun (not) trying to design the thing, but hope to have some photos soon. Watch this space.

batt(l)ing on…the coat saga continues

So, the coat project has been temporarily put on ice (ok, it’s not that cold but it sure is frosty in the mornings) whilst I sum up some more energy and enthusiasm for getting the remaining sleeve fit sorted. I am toying with the idea of adding gussets to help make them more comfortable. I can safely experiment thanks to my toile sleeve which I still have left over. Until I am satisfied, my remaining pink wool shall remained untouched and uncut!

Of course, this does not mean my sewing machine has been idle. Far from it, in need of a straight forward sewing fix (less face it, this coat has been taking FAR too long) I have made another baby jacket for my friend. This one is quilted, which has been interesting in terms of preparing the fabric. It takes a long time. But worth it for the finished effect. May I introduce Kwiksew 4080. I even managed to use some of stash as my mother had given me some lightweight cotton flannel in cream which I didn’t know what to do with. It’s not the inside batting layer. I have also made a matching hat. At some point I’ll get a photo sorted but it got finished at the last minute before delivery so not picture opportunity….

Apart from unpicking two of the buttonholes – please someone invent an undo feature at the touch of a sewing machine button – this was a pretty painless project. Applying bias binding around little baby cuffs is a little tricky!

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fraying temper

The pretty pink wool viscose fabric I am using for my coat project has a dark side. It ravels. Horrendously. I’ve had to zig zag stitch finish everything as it was literally coming apart in front my eyes. This has made it harder to accurately sew as you have lots of fluffy bits obscuring the seam allowance marker on my machine.

I finally thought I’d got somewhere last night, and then discovered it really needed taking in at the waist. This pattern is really odd. Have never had this reverse modification process. Normally I had to add to the waist and hips, not reduce in this area and add to my bust. Still, we now have some photos to look at. May still need to do some more work on those armholes…


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busting a gut – it seams

may I have permission to throw a small minor tantrum after discovering yet more adjustments are required to this never ending coat project? someone kindly pointed out my fabric at the underarms was straining at the seams. For the first time in my life I have had to undertake a full bust adjustment.

No, I have not suddenly gone for surgery, but according to Mccalls I do not appear to fit their measurements at the hip, bust or arm. Given that their sizing chart is exactly the same in terms of measurements as Vogue and simplicity I really have no idea what is going on here….

Unfortunately in hindsight I have made two mistakes. Firstly not wearing a more bulky jumper when trying on my toile. Not a problem when making a dress, but becomes an issue when you need to have the ease for actually wearing winter clothing under your new coat. Secondly, in order to help with pressing my newly made lining, I merrily snipped regularly through all of the seams to have them lie flat.

I not so merrily viewed the available seam allowance when I wanted to reduce them to create more room to resolve the above problem. People, we did not have much room for manoeuvre. Think three point turn in a narrow cup de sac. I managed to squeeze in total about another 3 or so extra cm combined out of the front section. It appears (just) to be enough.

Can someone wish me good luck with the rest of this project? I think I am going to need it!! (holding sanity carefully in both hands whilst saying this).

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seeing triple – pattern pieces

So two months ago when I was making the toile for the mccalls 8600 coat I thought it would be such a good idea to reuse my toile as interlining. After cutting out 52 pattern pieces because of this, I am slightly less enthused at my “great idea”. I am pleased to share finally I am doing some actual sewing, having basted together the interlining and fashion fabric pieces. The lining is now complete, so I can see the difference made from reducing the skirt pieces to a size 10 (I am normally a 16 to give you an idea how much ease there was to be removed) and my cheat’s sleeve cap ease adjustment. Which was to add another sleeve (with more ease included) head behind the existing one and use some sticky tape to temporally fix it in place.

So, you patient readers get to see some photos of my not so fast progress!

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and just for comparison, here’s what the original sleeve cap (black) and the new one (white) look like. What a difference!

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enough room

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can you see the pulling on the left at the underarm?

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very tight sleeve cap (could feel the difference even sitting down with the other side)

counting progress

OK, one Christmas present down, several more to go. The apron, with the time consuming velcro scrabble tiles, has been finished. Unfortunately my carefully written (with aid of stencil) letters have smudged slightly after a quick wash. I guess it was bound to happen anyway, but rather annoying all the same.

I have also finished two hat visors, a start on the three berets I intend to make. Plus the back section of my coat lining is done – there are quite a few seams. Neither of which are very interesting to view on their own. But I’m going to mention them as otherwise it looks like like I not doing much at the moment.

No idea how this present will score (pun intended) but hope it creates a happy moment.

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cooking up a feast of projects

Today I finally got to do some actual sewing. As my housemate accurately pointed out, I do have several projects on the go at the moment which is why its taking so long to get to this stage. I’m trying to make a coat, three hats, some baby booties and then spontaneously decided to make a gift for an and uncle after getting some inspiration whilst surfing online.

Its the last project which has actually got finished first. I have tried to merge two hobbies into one, and have made a scrabble apron. I happened to actually have the perfect striped fabric already in my stash. After finding this free tutorial: I got started. The most time consuming bit was making the hand sewn fabric scrabble tiles to spell out my aunt and uncle’s names. Trying to stitch through velcro is hard work! I just need to add some finishing touches, but would like to share the nearly finished project.

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tied up in (festive) knots

As I am constantly reminded by all possible sources, we are indeed approaching Christmas. I like to make presents for close friends and family, where time, motivation, and inspiration allow. We’ll see how much I get done this time round! I have had one small success so far, in making a bow tie from the lovely fabric I had left over when I made the seaside quilt. It was just enough fabric, and I used this crafts pattern:

It’s for my uncle, who lives near the seaside. The houses look very similar to the area there and I hope he will really like it. It was something of a challenge to work out how to tie the knot, and took about 3 sets of instructions before I finally “got it”.

Given that I don’t have any starched collars to wear this with, I’ve used my knee as a prop…

finally managed to tie it up properly

finally managed to tie it up properly

the "bow"

the “bow”

neck band, love those beach huts!

neck band, love those beach huts!

I have also made (slow) progress cutting out my coat. I still need to make another toile sleeve to ensure I have room in the head, and I need to cut out the lining. The ever so helpful cat acted as pattern piece paper weight and straight of grain inspector.

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alas, this skirt has more flare than fit

Being a firm believer in the benefits of second opinions when it comes to mid progress reports (well, in this case may not quite half way) I’ve been kindly advice my skirt needs a little taming. In short, its got a bit too much fabric at the top near the waist. Taking in all those lovely seams (this coat sure does have a few) has taken a little concentration, but it is looking a bit more controlled now. Still haven’t figured out how to change the sleeve fit yet but I’ll get there…and yes, that’s me taking my own photos with the help of my computer. It’s why I am standing on a chair as there’s no housemate to help me out. Enjoy!

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toil(e) to avoid trouble

I’m not one for making toiles usually, but occasionally if the project is going to require significant investment of either time and/money I reluctantly buckle down to making one. To be honest, despite there being risks, I prefer to spend as much time sewing wearable projects. Which leads me to Mccalls 6800. Yes, the coat where I have bought three lots of fabric for it already. but I degrees.

So, this time round I helped convince myself this would not only be worthwhile in terms of checking the fit, but could also act as an interlining. Even better, I would not “waste” fabric or money, and it would make for a warmer coat. So, has it been worth doing? well, I guess the simple answer has been yes. Apart from my frequently required scoop at the lower back, it appears the sleeves are a little on the snug side. Which was a surprise as this isn’t normally a problem. So I think I will need to add a little more ease, especially to the upper sleeve head area. I want room for more than just a cardigan, and at the moment rather doubt I could wear anything bulky.

Hopefully you can make out the details from the lovely black fabric (it was just over £4 a meter) cotton I’ve made the toile from.

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I’m also trying to work out if I should colour block the collar and bound button holes with a contrasting black wool (the main fabric is going to be pink wool/viscose). We’ll see. Next, I have all the cutting out to enjoy!


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