Friday, September 22, 2017

The Verona Coat

Perhaps I should have called this the non-Verona coat.  I’ll explain in due course.

Sorry, couldn't find the Verona Coat on the Sewing Workshop website!

It was time, once again, to sew samples for classes, and I decided to make use of the opportunity to use a pattern that had been marinating in a drawer for quite some time, as well as fabric that was even more “aged”.  Lesson learned on this one – never, ever use an unknown pattern and a checkered fabric when there’s an actual deadline for getting something done.  It all worked out in the end, though another coat did have to stand in during open house at the store.
That mannequin is a little wonky - didn't want to stand up straight when I turned it to show the back!

So – the Sewing Workshop Verona Coat.  Loved the design when I first laid eyes on it.  This being the first time ever cutting into a Sewing Workshop pattern, I had no idea how the fit would work on me, and with a checkered fabric, there would be no room to fudge when sewing.  So … I made a muslin.  After much measuring and comparing I decided on the x-small.  The fit was fine everywhere but the shoulders.  I needed to add an inch.  That’s quite a lot.  The shape of the armhole is a little unusual, because the side seam is set back a little.  After much fiddling (days of fiddling, actually), I was still not happy with the way things were working out.  The armhole/sleeve seam meandered and looked just plain weird.  Time was marching on, deadline approaching.  Then I had an idea.  The Vogue coat that I made last winter had a similar shape to the Verona Coat.  Out came that pattern to measure and compare.  (You can just imagine the mess now resulting from all the pieces of two coat patterns strewn about the sewing room!)  More measuring and dawdling and time marching on.  I needed to stop figuring and worrying and just get on with sewing.  Finally I just grafted on the design elements of the Verona Coat to the Vogue coat using the highly scientific method of taping one pattern piece atop another and folding the unnecessary bits out of the way.

Some more changes I made: Redrew the Vogue sleeves to two-piece to get rid of the elbow dart, which would have messed up the lining-up of the checkers on the seam.  I also widened the sleeves a bit.   

I opted out of patch pockets (because I didn’t want to match yet more checkers on the front of the coat.  The pocket band piece became the flap for a welt pocket.

In my great hurry, I missed out on the lovely scalloped edge for the join between facing and lining, which is such a lovely detail on the Verona coat, but I had other details to deal with – like matching up all those checks!

I actually managed to line up all those checks!

The checks did make it easy to line up the bound buttonholes … just follow the lines.

And yes, all the pieces are underlined in a light cotton.  The checked fabric (wool and silk mix) is just too loose a weave to exist on its own.  I did use fusible interfacing on the black wool crepe bits.
 Oh yes, and I did lengthen the pattern by quite a bit.  I would have liked to lengthen it even more to actually cover my pencil skirts, but I ran out of fabric.  There are only a few smallish bits of checked fabric left.  Now I’m faced with the dilemma of tossing those, or keeping them in the unlikely event that I would ever want to make a small bag.  Hmmm.
Come Spring, I’ll be happy to have this coat in my closet, although I will have to think twice about what I wear underneath.  Those black and white checks will have to “work with” whatever is sticking out from underneath them.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Video addiction

First and foremost - thank-you for all the lovely comments about my bag.  I didn't have a chance to reply to each one, but ...  I do appreciate them.  I thought of this as a bag for travel, but since I have no plans for travel in the near future, and I couldn't wait to try out all those wonderful pockets, so the bag is now in daily use.  Each pocket has its purpose.

My latest sewing addiction is watching videos from SilhouettePatterns on YouTube.  (I have to do something while I eat!)  And my favourite content is ideas for variations on one pattern.  Some I like.  Some I don’t like.  Doesn’t matter.  I have bought a few Silhouette Patterns over the years – none of which have yet been so much as taken out of their packages.  That detail aside, Peggy’s enthusiasm makes me want to run to the sewing room and start cutting up patterns and fabric to quickly zip up my version of whatever Peggy just made.  Usually this doesn’t happen, because there’s already a project underway in the sewing room which really does need to be completed before anything new hits the cutting table.  Nevertheless, a few items have been influenced by Peggy.

Late winter/early spring I came across some very fine weight wool (and something) knit.  First came the “normal” tops – one colour – one pattern. 

And then there were all these scraps that were just too big to throw away, too precious to turn into swiffer rags.  Some slicing and dicing of my knit tunic pattern resulted in a two-colour tunic.

More recently Peggy added a flounce to a top.  Well, I needed one too!  Hers had a kangaroo pocket.  Mine doesn’t. I also acquired some folded elastic, and again, à la Peggy I sewed it down flat along the centre and used the same elastic to wrap around the neck edge.  The edge of the flounce is just a narrow hem on the serger using woolly nylon thread.   (Elastic would have been too bulky here, I think.)

I may dream of lovely embroideries and old-fashioned details to add some interest to my clothes, but sometimes an easy detail – like using two fabrics together or adding a simple flounce is all that’s needed to take a t-shirt from dull to a little bit more interesting.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Mini Professional Tote

 It only took a few years, but I have finally made myself a Mini Professional Tote.  I had admired the (original) larger version of this design, but when I saw it made up, I decided that it was just too large for me.  Then came the mini version, and this was definitely something that I could see as a convenient bag for travel.  Then I waffled.  That's a lot of work for a bag!  My idea of a bag is something that I can put together in a few hours at most, not days.  But all those convenient pockets were definitely tempting.  Although dozens of pieces of a complicated design for a coat or dress don't scare me one bit, for some reason, I find dozens of little square and rectangular pieces for pockets and parts of a bag rather daunting.  Nevertheless, after much deliberation, I finally acquired the pattern, the fabric, and all the other bits and bobs required.  And then all of this sat for, oh, a few years.  At the beginning of summer I finally decided it was definitely time.
The fabric I chose was an ombre batik.  Dark at one selvage, gradually getting lighter towards the other.  I had (I thought) more than enough fabric to place all the outside bits on the very dark end of the fabric, and the lining on the light end.  Good thing that I didn't start cutting until I planned my placement, because it was soon obvious that there was not enough "dark" for all the pieces that I wanted at that end.  After much juggling around, I finally did manage to fit all the pieces on the fabric.  It's just that I had envisioned the outside pockets to be much darker, but had to be content with  the way things turned out.  I only had a few small scraps of the batik left at the end.  I had no batik left for the handles, but I think that was a good thing, because the contrast dark brown handles (heavy cotton twill) look a whole lot better than more batik would have.
For once I actually had to read the (excellent) instructions very carefully, working one step at a time.  Too much information at once proved confusing for the brain.  I have a bad habit of barely skimming instructions for clothing construction, then ignoring them completely.  Here I had to pay attention, and keep track of all my little numbered pieces.  It was certainly worth the effort.  I'm still not quite sure that I'm in love with my choice of fabric, but I love the design of the bag.  All those pockets...  I'm even thinking that perhaps another tote might be a possibility - perhaps in a lightweight fake suede...(?) 
Too close of a close-up?