Keeping Warm

As I mentioned in my last post, of the 18 new-to-me patterns I tried last year, two of them were free. The first was Peppermint Magazine wide leg pants, and the second was the Megan Nielsen Jarrah. I won the Jarrah as part of the Sew Twists and Ties festivities over on Cooking and Crafting last year, an event which is happening again right now!

It took me a while to find a heavy enough knit, but eventually I ordered this 100% cotton french terry from Joann Fabrics. I’m sure this pattern would make a cute lightweight sweatshirt, too, but I would really like to be warm please.

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Happily I’m as snug as a bug in this outfit! Both pieces are warm and easy to layer. I sewed view A of the Jarrah, the traditional sweatshirt view with sleeve and bottom bands.  

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I placed the stripes on the vertical for the sleeve bands. I wish now I had done the same for the bottom band! At the time, I was skimping on fabric. The yardage came out of the dryer so badly off-grain, it was actually trapezoidal. Because the stripes are mechanically woven, I just ignored the selvage and placed the grainline perpendicular to the stripes for cutting most of the pieces. Because of the wild skew, cutting the bottom band so the stripes ran vertically would have wasted a lot more fabric!

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Except for that, it was easy to work with. The cut edges were only a little curly and because it’s cotton I could iron with lots of heat and steam. This is a super straightforward and speedy sew, especially because of the drop shoulders and with the banded finish. The stripes make some nice angles!

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I’m showing the Jarrah sweater here with my third pair of Peppermint wide leg pants. I’ve tweaked these a little each time I’ve sewn them, and this time I tried a ¼” full stomach adjustment. I’m still getting drag lines pointing to my stomach, though!

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Plus, the pants came out big! Not way too big, but they’re for sure roomy. I’m not sure what happened this time – maybe I usually take a wider seam allowance on the outseams, or perhaps my full stomach adjustment had knock-on effects? I forgot to slightly stretch the waistband when pinning, which I usually do. Also, I swapped jeans-style pockets for patch pockets, which means no pocket stay. You can definitely see the roundness of my stomach more clearly but I like my round stomach. It’s where I keep my buttered toast. Anyway, I know this may sound like the ravings of an attic wife, but there’s something to be said for too-big pants – these are as comfortable as sweatpants. ❤

The color is hard to capture accurately – it’s called “Russet” (Kaufman 14 wale corduroy) but I grabbed these swatch images from a few different websites (fabric.com, robertkaufman.com, sistermintaka.com) and it looks a little different in each picture. In person I think it’s most like the third – more caramel than burnt orange, I guess?

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Inspired by Sew North’s carpenter-style Lander pants (also a house painter I surreptitiously stared at on the subway), I decided to add patch pockets to my Peppermint pants. I drew my own rather than using her measurements since it’s a different pattern. I got a little too cute, though, trying to duplicate the grainline of the pants perfectly on the patch pockets; it was a scant angle off the straight grain, and I should have just used the straight grain for neater pressing and stitching.

I also scrapped the hammer loop – I made one but I wasn’t wild about it, and I’m pretty sure it would have functioned as a child-towing loop, anyway. But hooray for extra pockets! I placed the back pockets by centering them on the back darts, with the top edge perpendicular to the darts. The height was just a smidge arbitrary. Okay fine, completely arbitrary!

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The patch pockets have bound openings – I made too much coordinating binding for my Tamarack but luckily it seems to go with anything!

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I’m a wee bit obsessed with the leg pocket.

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It’s holding my phone and my house keys and nothing pokes me in the stomach when I sit down! Nothin’!

My last change was simple as could be; I added 4” to the pant legs, then took a nice deep hem, so the finished length is equal to the unhemmed length of the pants as drafted. No breezes are finding my ankles. Cozy 4 life!

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As always, I can’t recommend this free pattern enough! I’m enjoying my Jarrah, too. This warm, colorful outfit will get me through January – just another 3 months of winter to dress for after that. But who’s counting? 🙂

Pattern: MN Jarrah

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 10

Supplies: 1.5 yards of cotton french terry, $15.98, Joann; thread from stash

Total time: 2 hours

Total cost: $15.98

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: F, with adjustments, including ¼” full stomach adjustment and 4” inches added to length

Supplies: 2.5 yards of Kaufman 14 Wale corduroy in Russet, $31.88, Gather Here; thread, button, zipper from stash

Total time: 6.25

Total cost: $31.88

Time and money

Hello, everyone! I thought I would start 2020 with one of my favorite new year rituals, a review of the past year. For the purpose of this blog, that means sharing my sewing spreadsheet! Since January 2017 I’ve kept detailed annual spreadsheets, pretty much just for fun. Because what’s more fun than DATA??!

You can peruse the 2019 spreadsheet in detail here (and much joy to you if you do), but I’ve pulled the most interesting info below. And for ~*synergy*~, I’ve used the 2019 color of the year, Living Coral, and its coordinates, to pretty up my charts! (Find 2020’s color here. It’s blue. Yeah. It’s blue all right.) Let’s start with the most interesting data point: DOLLAR DOLLAR BILLS Y’ALL.  

My total out-of-pocket spending was $1,077.29. The total cost (this figure includes gift cards spent, credits, and any fabric Professor Boyfriend purchased) was $1,537.20. I record literally every cent I spend on sewing – including a noteworthy 17¢ on elastic! Here’s how that breaks down:

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Yeah, that fabric wedge is the big ‘un. As it should be! I’m surprised, however, at exactly how much credit I had in various stores (my personal favorite fun money: Gather Here gives you $25 for every 8 stamps, or roughly $200 spent in store). It’s not all gift cards and champagne, though; the Professor also pays for the fabric that becomes his clothes. But I get the loyalty stamps. Mwahaha.

Of course, $200 (about $270 with credit) of the fabric spending was my new winter coat – about 25% of my total expenditure for the year! Yowzah!

In other categories, I’ve dropped 3 digits on buttons and zippers and interfacing. :O Who knew! And the $149.44 figure was spent on 16 new patterns, for an average of $9 per pattern. I sewed 18 new patterns in total but two of those were free (the Peppermint Magazine wide leg pants, and the Megan Nielsen Jarrah – coming next to the blog! – which I won in a raffle). The 33 remaining garments I sewed from 12 different patterns, all repeats from prior years. 

These costs are reasonable when spread across 12 months, an average of $89.77 out of pocket per month. And that number buys fun and clothes. I also bought 3 RTW layering tanks, socks, underwear, and a pair of boots this year, so that figure is almost but not quite my entire spend on clothing.  

Not all hits, unfortunately! Of the 51 garments I’ve sewn in 2019, 8 were for Professor Boyfriend, and the remaining 43 were mine. Of those 43, I’ve given away 8. That’s almost 20%. I could do better! Projects for Prof. BF have a 100% success rate though, because they’re just Thread Theory Fairfields and Jeds over and over. I like sewing button-up shirts! That’s definitely reflected in my garment type chart.

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 My ‘shirts’ slice also includes tanks and tees, I’m not a complete maniac! My eight giveaways: 3 shirts (14% of their category), 3 pairs of pants (23% of their category), 1 jumpsuit (33% of its category) and, with 1, 100% of skirts. And I know these samples are insufficient and lack statistical power, so don’t @ me, statisticians! That being said I have the outerwear bug in a major way. I mean 100% of those were winners SO.

Average out-of-pocket cost per make was $21.12!

But what was I sewing with?

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92% wovens, 8% knits. It looks like linen is edging out cotton (almost 1/3 of my projects used linen) but that’s because I split cotton into several categories. Technically the twill/cord and denim categories are cotton, too, but I found it more fun and useful (useful how?! Oh shush) to separate the bottomweights. In real money, though, woven cotton of multiple weights is half of my sewing!

I was surprised to find no rayon or tencel/cupro on that list. Several of the linens, one of the knits, and some of the wool were viscose blends, but this might be the first year I didn’t sew even one thing out of 100% rayon! Not a single cami! I knew I didn’t like tencel (sshh, it is my sewing secret) but I thought I liked rayon? But I guess maybe not?!

I didn’t use silk or leather, either, but then again I never have!

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But what about that most precious resource – DINO DNA TIME? You can pretty much call this chart “what I did on my summer vacation, also what I did on April vacation”, as it shows how many projects I finished each month. Obviously the new school year threw me for a loop, as I only completed one garment in September! 51 projects sound like a lot (it is a lot. Is it a lot? I have no idea) but partly because I sew so many repeats, I think I might be kind of quick. I thought of myself as a slow sewist, but even though I don’t have a dedicated sewing space, I do tend to dedicate time; I cut a project in an evening, usually, and sew on a weekend day. By finishing a garment in one sitting I don’t have to spend time starting and stopping, setting up/breaking down my sewing area, or finding my place in the directions after a long absence. I’m lucky to have the luxury of these big chunks of time (they’re also necessary, as I’m a homebody who hates brunch. What else am I going to do all Saturday morning?).

That being said I slightly dread finding out how much time I spent on sewing. As a freelancer, if I’m not careful, I could directly correlate that number to lost income. But 1. It isn’t and 2. NO.

Anyway, 335 hours.

O_O

No! That’s fine! That’s an average of 6.5 hours per week! I spend half that much time on DnD, and all I have to show for that* is an imaginary accursed mace and part ownership in an imp bar (*and friendship, etc.)! It’s like a scanty hour a day! Some people work out for an hour a day (oof, can you imagine?)! I AM HAPPY WITH THIS NUMBER! (Also because of the whole 51 garments thing, I also averaged about 6.5 hours per garment, or 1 garment a week. Thanks, calendar!)  

Now I will sing LALALA and not multiply that number by my hourly rate.

You know what I don’t record on my spreadsheet? Blogging! It’s a fun freebie! I don’t record time spent eating ice cream, either. 🙂 I hope you’ve enjoyed these facts and figures – I’ll be back with a finished outfit post next time!

And if you’ve got any sewing data of your own kicking around, I’d love to get a peek!

Silver Bells

This is my first Fibre Mood pattern, the Faye dress! Ordinarily I’m a little hesitant to buy a pattern on a whim (I own so many patterns already!) but I got swoony for this design. Plus, I felt like I had a little pattern “slush fund”, since most years I have a wishlist for the fall/winter pattern sales, but this year I only planned to and did buy one (the Thread Theory Comox trunks – unlikely to be modeled strappingly in the forest on this blog, but it seems like a handy pattern).  

I feel like Fibre Mood just popped onto the scene all at once – or more likely I just got in the know! Beck at I Sew Therefore I Am has been sewing up a storm with their patterns (personal fave, this dress) and Carolyn at Handmade by Carolyn actually made the Faye (how’s that for credentials?).

Anyway, I decided to make several impractical choices simultaneously: I would sew a new Christmas dress (unnecessary) in a metallic fabric (what) from a new-to-me pattern company (why) that requires almost 5 yards of my desired fabric ($$$ ouch). 

Luckily, Mikey likes it I like it!

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I styled this differently for our Christmas party – red ribbon for a belt, green shoes, and garnet earrings. But I was worried about wearing those earrings outside the house (they’re vintage clip-ons and sometimes one gives up its grip and I feel it slither down my neck) so this is a more restrained take on that same outfit. Yes. A staid sparkly swishy silver dress styling session. Indeed.

I’m happy with the pattern drafting and the final dress, but the process was NOT straightforward. First, you have to add your own seam allowances. I know this is standard for many companies and it makes it easier to manipulate pattern pieces, move darts, etc., but I am lazy. Secondly, the print shop file overlaps the pattern pieces, so you’d have to trace or print more than one copy for continuous pieces. The instruction layout is also no bueno. The cutting and interfacing charts are on the last pages, as is a list of seams to which you’re not supposed to add seam allowance. Surprise!

However, I can grudgingly admit it was kind of nice to choose my seam allowances. I added 3/8” because I knew I would be using my serger to finish. I didn’t add a hem allowance, and effectively removed the SA from the waist seam, too, after trying the dress on. And there’s some clever fitting details – the chest flap is not a tuck, but actually a separate pattern piece, and there’s shaping in that seam (front flaps and back yoke). Also, the size range is terrific! I sewed a 40 – near the top of some pattern ranges, but this one goes up to 58. Whoo! That being said, you can’t turn layers off and on, so some of the notches were impossible to distinguish. And there was no yardage listed for narrower fabric (for this size I used 5 yards. Woof). 

I think sizes in the 50s would be able to use 45” wide fabric, too, because the skirt is cut on the crossgrain. Something to be aware of if your fabric is directional. Mine has slubby ‘stripes’, mostly visible close up. I alternated grain direction in a quite a few places, mainly to conserve fabric. That skirt has an appetite for yardage!!   

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I made changes when sewing, some more on-purpose-y than others! Some were simple mistakes, like accidentally using the neckline binding piece to make a rouleau hanging loop, so that workwear-inspired detail is now the silliest, daintiest touch.

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Some were thoughtful decisions, like baby-hemming the whole skirt before sewing the front plackets to reduce hem bulk.

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Or adjusting the pattern pieces to work with the pocket sewing technique from Threads #195, Feb./March 2018 (oh my goodness, these are my best inseam pockets ever).

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Some were combo choices/mistakes, like changing the numbers of pleats from three to two and then signally failing to align them (see above, oops). Still, it was the right decision for my body – I was worried about the waist measurement, but I didn’t want to sacrifice pleat depth. This is your friendly neighborhood reminder to retake your measurements before taping and cutting a zillion pieces of paper, and not immediately afterwards, for some reason, yah goofball.

One was just a honking mistake. Here goes: first I finished the whole bodice but the plackets, then the whole skirt but the plackets. I went to join them, and discovered that I had trimmed one bodice placket and one skirt placket, as directed – on opposite sides. Well, dang it! I had a good chunk of scrap fabric left, so I trimmed the center bodice that was too wide, and added a new placket piece to the side that had been too short. I went to attach the bodice and skirt again, and discovered I had done it right the first time. As in, I had somehow flipped the pieces when pinning, and then went ahead and cut off the bodice placket extension that had actually been on the correct side. What’s a girl to do? Cut off the skirt placket extension, obviously, and cut a new one for the other side. BLERGH. I couldn’t believe myself. This is extra annoying because if I had planned ahead to do all this extra sewing anyway I could have cut the placket extension as a single piece and not had the multi-layered waist seam popping up when worn unbelted!

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GIRRRL. Well, it’s nothing a safety pin won’t fix.

I’ve never constructed a blind button placket like these directions instructed, but the result was fine; a little bulky, but very neat. It’s a bit clever how they have you handle the flap, too – flipping it up and down to sewn a continuous line.

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You can see that stitching line here, plus the seam on the edge of the placket where I had to reattach after my faulty impulse chopping. Also, the texture of the fabric. I used Kaufman Manchester Metallics cotton (plus Lurex, and I think a pinch of polyester). It’s mildly scratchy to wear but a dream to sew. Crisp, light, easy to handle and press, good drape but very stable. I saw it described as semi-sheer but it seems opaque to me!    

This dress is foolish, but dang it, also fun.  I haven’t figured out how to integrate it into my everyday wardrobe, but I’m considering separating the top and bottom halves. On the other hand, am I really much more likely to wear a silver skirt than a silver dress?

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If I ever figure it out, I’ll let you know!

See you in the twenties!

Pattern: Fibre Mood Faye dress

Pattern cost: $8.50

Size: 40

Supplies: 5 yards of Kaufman Manchester Metallic in Silver, $49.69, fabric.com; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 11.75 hours

Total cost: $58.19

Winter Coat 2: Outside

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

I GOT A HAIRCUT!

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Haha, just kidding – I mean, I did get a much-needed haircut, yes, but what I mean is I FINISHED MY YATES COAT! And just in time, as you can see.

First of all, bagging a coat is amazing and I want to do it again. Like, immediately. I don’t have projects planned or even anticipated that will use this technique, but it made me feel like James Herriot delivering a calf in a Yorkshire farmyard except the calf is a coat and the momma cow is that same coat and I’m a good bit drier and warmer and better-rested and more indoors, but either way I want more!!

 Bagging was also the first time I used the Yates sew-along. The diagrams just weren’t cutting the mustard for this step, but the photos worked like a charm. It’s a funny loop, then a goofy-looking mess, and then pow, a coat, just like that!

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Okay, fine, there’s pressing and topstitching, too. I found a small block of smooth wood when cleaning my hall closet and pretended like it was a clapper. It worked really well, in fact! I have Julia-Child-style asbestos hands so the lack of a handle didn’t bother me, but watch out for your fingers if you give my found wood technique a try. 😉 There is shine where I pressed too enthusiastically, despite using a presser cloth, but none too serious and mostly on the inside/wrong side.

Oh, and thread chains! I nearly skipped the thread chains because I was getting impatient to reach the finish line, but that’s a false economy. They take ten minutes and are shockingly fun to make. Mine are almost too long because I kept thinking “One more knot! Okay, three more knots! Three more after this one!”. I couldn’t work out how to reach inside the coat and join the sleeves on the side without the bagging opening, so I opened that sleeve lining seam a few inches, too, and did it locally. I don’t mind a little extra hand-sewing to save a lot of head-scratching.

I didn’t do my topstitching in one fell swoop, either. I topstitched the hem with the lining side up so I wouldn’t catch the lining pleat. I sewed the lapels and coat front with the coat side up so they would look as nice as possible. I also skipped one area of topstitching – the back neck curve along the collar. I couldn’t get it to look nice no matter which side I sewed from, and plenty of coats seem to omit that line of stitching.

The pile of this wool covers a lot of sins! I don’t think you can tell that I stopped, started, unpicked, restitched, unpicked, sewed again…

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And for a final touch, I didn’t cover the snaps! Aw heck, they’re black, it’s all gravy. 🙂

New England fall is generous with colors, but New England winter is very sparing. It’s beautiful too, but one year I saw a photo of a budding Australian garden in the middle of my Northern Hemisphere winter and immediately burst into tears, so I thought a very bright lining might be a wise pick to feed my color-hungry eyes.

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My one week review: I’m very, very happy with the finished coat. It’s not perfect, but I feel good in it, it looks reasonably professional, and I’m confident that the guts are well-constructed and hopeful it will last a long time. I’m a little nervous about the pocket openings stretching out, but I don’t want to borrow trouble.

If the narrow size range works for your body, I think the Yates pattern makes for a good first winter coat sew. The directions were clear and supportive. The supply list was not obscure. Also there were about a thousand pattern pieces, which feels like good value, ha!

I’m happy with my additions, mainly the shoulder pads. They definitely move the coat further towards a masculine silhouette – not that far, but farther than I could accomplish without shoulder padding – which works nicely with my winter wardrobe.     

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There’s quite of bit of melting snow on my lapel in some of these photos. I blame attempted whimsy.

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Darn you, whimsy!

Oh, and as mentioned last time, I still owe a breakdown – thanks to the above-average spending of time and money I did this in a more detailed way than usual, and you can see it here! I came in about $10 under budget, but without gift cards/credit I’d actually be about $60 over. The abbreviated version is still below.

If I made another Yates I could save money in a few areas – of course the pattern cost wouldn’t be debited next time, and I’d get something cheaper for my lining fabric, or possibly use kasha so I wouldn’t have to buy underlining separately. If I shopped around for wool a little more or hit a sale, I could probably get the costs under $150. But I’m not going to worry about that. Right now I’m going to focus on protecting my investment and taking good care of this coat, so it can keep me warm for a long time! Even when I hit myself in the face with wet snow!

Oh did I mention I MADE MY COAT?!

Pattern: Grainline Yates coat

Pattern cost: $20.00

Size: 10 bust/sleeves with 1” full bicep adjustment, 14 hip

Supplies: see spreadsheet for details – out-of-pocket cost of supplies, $181.80

Total time: 31.75 hours

Total cost: $201.80

Winter Coat 1: Inside

Nothing finished to show today, but I wanted to post some details about sewing my first me-made winter coat. Last year I decided that this year I would finally sew a winter coat. Late November/early December is not the most fore-thoughtful time to start a winter coat project, but in my defense a) my cherry tomatoes were ripening on the vine a week into November, so clearly winter would never actually happen and b) I was scaaared. Mostly b. I haven’t all the way stopped being scared, but I did get chilly, and that’s a great motivator.

My first choice was the budget. It’s $212. If you’re thinking this seems arbitrary, then yup, that’s numberwang! But it was the amount of cash I had in credit card rewards when I committed to this project, and it’s been a helpful number to limit spending in some areas but also encourage me to splash out in others. With my financials handled, it was time to start gathering supplies!

The pattern

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Grainline Yates coat – $20.00 (picture from Grainline website)

The Yates wasn’t my first choice, at least not until my even firster choice was a sewalong that would lead me like a baby lamb to gentle pastures. Also, a collar that would keep my neck warm. So yes, my priorities, in order, were:

  1. The baby lamb treatment.
  2. Big ol’ collar. 

Yates it was! Also-rans were the Named Gaia (left) and the Schnittchen Joanna (right) (again, pictures from websites).

Both cool coats (and similar in some ways – boxy fit, wide lapels), but I really didn’t want a cold gust of wind smooching the back of my neck.

The shell

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Navy boiled wool/viscose, Mood Fabrics – 3 yards, $90 (picture from site)

This was the single biggest expense, especially sight unseen (I couldn’t find anything warm enough locally). I didn’t order a swatch – I knooow! – but luckily the wool is very heavy, with a nice drape, and a gorgeous spongy bouncy texture. Unexpectedly, it’s got a pebbly, fuzzy surface. Can you tell? Maybe you’re better at analyzing photos of wool than I am! Maybe you order swatches! Um.

The interfacing

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Pro Weft medium-weight fusible, Fashion Sewing Supply – 2 yards, $40.50 (picture from site)

This was my largest unexpected expense. Completely worth it, by the way! The Yates is fusible tailored rather than pad-stitched or anything like that so I thought it was worth investing in the nice stuff. And this stuff is nice – nicer than some fabrics I’ve sewn with, honestly. And at 60” wide, it’s not actually ruinously expensive. I bought this interfacing in charcoal to minimize any potential show-through. When fused it almost moves like skin. I know that sounds a little gross, but it’s really ideal – soft, smooth, moving flexibly with the wool. I promise this is not a banned French novel. It’s just really good interfacing!

I did a lot of internet searching to figure out the right weight and type of interfacing for my project, and I couldn’t find a definitive source. So while I’m not calling myself definitive, pardon a little SEO for other winter-coat newbies who might be making the same searches – best interfacing for winter coats! Right interfacing for wool! Medium-weight interfacing for heavy fabrics! Supple supple supple! (Eww.)

The lining

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Orange and monstera cotton sateen, Spoonflower – 2 yards, $19/$54 (picture from site)

Since I picked sensible navy for the shell I wanted to have fun with the lining, and these designs by Tasiania, available on Spoonflower, were irresistible. So big and bold and punchy! Technically the Yates pattern calls for a little over two yards of lining fabric, but I have navy bemberg in my stash for the sleeves, so I’ll save $27 thankyouverymuch. I chose the sateen because it was wide, smooth, and vibrant, and because while something slippery might have been a better choice I read one review that described Spoonflower satin as “sleazy” and could not unring that bell. Cotton it is! I don’t mind wrinkling and I don’t wear tights/hose often enough to worry much about static cling. Also, I had a $35 credit and got free shipping, so my two yards cost me $19 out of pocket (hence the two prices listed above).

This was my first Spoonflower order, and I had a minor freakout when the fabric arrived. The hand of the printed fabric didn’t resemble the cotton sateen in my swatch book, but the Spoonflower team was very chill and helpful and let me wash the fabric before evaluating it. It softened up a little and the colors didn’t lose any oomph. It’s definitely still not soft – I wouldn’t use it for a shirt, for example. The pattern is terrific though.

The interlining

I read about Thinsulate. I read about lambswool. I read about silk for trapping body heat and nylon for cutting the wind and Kasha for warmth. I bought two yards of black microfleece. What the heck, it’s warm and cheap! $15.56.

Muslining

I didn’t order a wool swatch but I DID sew a muslin ($8 for 4 yards of muslin), and it was a valuable exercise. I know this looks like a paper labcoat, but it put my two biggest fears to rest – would it pull around my hips (nope!) and are the sleeves long enough (yup!). And it alerted me to a huge issue, which was the narrowness of the sleeve. The size 10 sleeve as drafted is on my right arm, and the size 10 sleeve with 1” full bicep adjustment is on my left arm, and the difference in comfort is enormous.

I’m surprised at how similar they look in photos, but I needed that inch! I couldn’t fit a sweater-clad arm into the original version. And I’ma clad my arms in some sweaters this winter.

All the parts you won’t see later

I wanted to record the insides of my coat before they’re hidden forever, for similar coat beginners and of course for my own glory (*waves regally*). Despite choosing this pattern 75% for the sewalong, I haven’t had to look at it yet! Sewing the shell and the lining are both really straightforward. That’s even with added steps – the interlining, for example, which I cut and machine-basted to all the lining pieces within the seam allowances before construction.

Despite the thoroughness and clarity of this pattern and the instructions, I have one major bone to pick – the booklet asks you to pause after sewing the shell to try the coat on, and then sew the lining if the shell fits! Surely this is backwards? If you’re going to skip the muslin you should sew the lining first, right? Am I coconuts?

Thankfully my muslin was confirmed and the shell fits! I took narrower seam allowances on the upper sleeves, blending back to ½” at the armscye and wrist. Otherwise I just followed the directions.

Right side out shown, followed by inside out. Not only did I follow the directions, I made up more directions and followed those too! First, I catch-stitched all my seam allowances either open or in the direction indicated. No one said to do this but I figured it was so time-consuming, it must be the right idea!

I also sewed some homemade shoulder pads, but I couldn’t figure out how to adapt the sleeve head pattern piece, so I skipped that part. I wasn’t completely sure how to attach a finished pad, but I whip-stitched the relatively straight edge to the armscye seam allowance and then tacked it down at the other end to the shoulder seam allowance. The Yates coat doesn’t call for these, but I’m experiencing a kind of coat-related magical thinking. Do more stuff = better coat.

I also ran a small, not very tight running stitch along the edge of the interfacing, wherever it was applied on the bias, to attach it to the coat. It’s invisible from the outside and it gave me confidence that those crucial areas – the roll line and the back stay – would stay interfaced.

Wool is so fun to sew. I feel very loved by wool.

Here’s the lining, and lots more catch-stitching! I probably wouldn’t choose the cotton sateen substrate at this intensity again. Because of the tight weave and full ink coverage I could feel my needle punching through the fabric, and my stitches ‘float’ on top instead of sinking in, so something to think about if you’re ordering a very saturated pattern from Spoonflower. That being said: it’s fun, right?

I changed the back pleat to back gathers, as my lining + interlining combo was too thick to look anything but stupid with an inverted box pleat. It was like folding a cheese sandwich into pleats. I imagine it’s all very elegant in a single layer of shimmering silk, buuut New England. And I walk to work. So.   

Next: the facings, and then the bagging. OH THE BAGGING. It’ll be a first!

I hope my next post will be of the finished coat. I’ll include a time and cost breakdown there (sneak preview – lots, and lots).

Bye for now!

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

I’m keeping it simple this week with a circle skirt, that classic no-pattern-needed darling. I actually learned about circle skirts before I learned about stay-stitching, which is why one of my earliest sewing struggles involved repeatedly trying on a circle skirt with widening seam allowances AND an increasingly loose waist, two things that seemed mutually incompatible and almost sent me around the bend. Heed my warning and stay-stitch the waist curve!

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I don’t generally wear skirts but I like circle skirts. They’re fabric guzzlers, sure, but with a little careful laying-out, you can definitely reduce fabric waste.   

By the way, I know this is practically sewing internet sedition, but I think the BHL circle skirt calculator is lousy. If your waist is over 30” in circumference and you want a skirt longer than a mini the calculator will announce that IT CANNOT BE DONE. HUMANKIND HAS NOT YET WROUGHT A FABRIC WIDE ENOUGH TO CONTAIN YOUR MAJESTY.

But, I mean, it can though. And it’s not hard. Unfortunately I don’t have a better solution available than just doing the math! But dare I whisper: math is fun?!

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Mine is a full circle skirt, and the finished length is 26”. My waist is about 31.5” at the moment; your longest possible skirt length would vary based upon that measurement, your fabric width, and your preference.

No pattern means no helpful pattern envelope, but I like to use Photoshop to figure out my fabric requirements.

Circumference = 2πr, so 31.5 = 2πr, 15.75 = πr, and 5 = r (or definitely close enough for me). First I draw a half-circle with a radius of 5 inches, centered within a half-circle with a radius of 31 inches (my desired skirt length plus my waist radius). I then create a Photoshop document that’s 44 inches tall, to represent the width of my fabric, minus 1” for seam allowances. I duplicate, flip, and arrange my skirt pattern pieces, then add a few extra inches for a waistband. When I check the image size of the Photoshop document I now know I’ll need 112 inches – a.k.a. about 3 yards – of fabric for my circle skirt! Well, almost. I’m 4” over, but I’m definitely willing to make my waistband narrower, or cut it in multiple pieces, or on the cross grain, to avoid ordering an extra yard. When shopping locally, I’d buy the extra 1/8th yard or whatever.

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I still have to add seam allowances, but I’ll do that when cutting. Don’t forget to add SA to the waist curve too, which will actually make the hole smaller. It’ll work out though.

I like to use the selvages as my side seam allowances, because they’re stable and already finished, which skips a step. Plus, I’d rather install a zipper on the selvage instead of the bias any day! Even if I was somehow cutting this in a single piece I’d try to place my zipper on the grain or the cross-grain, to reduce buckling. Brace yourself for my best-ever invisible zipper, by the way. It’s…fine.

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The waistband is slightly longer than the waist opening and closes with a hook and bar. I didn’t worry about pattern-matching, obviously, except across my pocket openings. For some reason when I decided to add slash pockets I used quilting cotton for the pocket bags instead of self-fabric. That reason is lost in the mists of time – I sewed this before 2017, the first year I maintained a sewing spreadsheet! I don’t mind the rabbits peeping out, though!

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 The hem is finished with bias tape, with one edge hand-stitched, BY FAR the easiest way to finish a circular hem in my opinion. I used yet another quilting cotton here! Scissors this time. One presumes pre-2017 Lia was enjoying herself.

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The fabric is Robert Kaufman Mammoth flannel. I generally don’t consider myself a fangirl but I looove Kaufman fabrics. The Mammoth flannel becomes less soft and plushy after pre-washing, but it’s still warm and vibrant and easy to sew. It’s cotton, so I dry it on the hottest setting the first time, to get any shrinking out of the way, and warm after that.

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There’s not much to say about the fit – if you can measure your waist, you can fit a circle skirt. I like the proportions of a half-circle skirt, even an elegant quarter-circle, but for wintertime warmth and hip accommodation, you can’t beat the whole pizza.

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This is what happens when you have a drippy nose but need to take blog pictures!

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Oh, and this is what happens when you go for a winter walk and drink a white hot chocolate from Burdick’s and then try to twirl for blog pictures – you get dizzy and your insides say “EXCUSE ME?” and then you don’t want to twirl anymore. So no true twirly pics. But the hot chocolate is worth it!  

Wishing you some time to practice gratitude this week (and of course lots to be grateful for)! If you live in the United States of America, perhaps consider supporting a Native organization on Giving Tuesday. Thanksgiving is weird, but I hope you have a good one!

Pattern: Circle skirt, no pattern

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 31.5” waist

Supplies: 3 yards of Robert Kaufman Mammoth flannel in Plaid Scarlet, estimated $30 (pre-2017, so no notes); invisible zipper, hook and bar closure

Total time: Pre-2017, unrecorded

Total cost: $30.00?

Tamarack jacket

All last fall and this spring I found myself reaching for a transitional jacket that didn’t exist – have you ever had that happen? I hoped my missing layer would be warm but not too heavy, with full-length sleeves, and easy to wear with jeans. I picked the Grainline Tamarack right away. However, I stalled on choosing fabric and made zero steps towards a finished jacket until September, when a bighearted friend gifted me her leftover wool in the perfect color, weight, and yardage. Hooray! This justified my spending philosophy – when in doubt, go without.

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Obviously it helps if your friends are the perfect combo of generous and tasteful! The wool is Rag & Bone and I know she got it at Mood – this wool seems similar (different color though), so I’m guessing it’s wool twill? Anyway, it’s gorgeous stuff, very soft and cooperative. The lining is quilting cotton from Gather Here. It’s a bit staid, but I’m happy with my choice. I almost picked a geometric pattern, but I’m really glad I didn’t, as my lining got wibbly while quilting and it’s much less obvious on this organically marked pattern.  

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Oh the quilting! It was prolonged! I’m freshly impressed by anyone who’s ever quilted a quilt on a traditional sewing machine, as I was struggling with these relatively small panels. I used black masking tape to mark my quilting lines. Actually, I only marked two at a time, since I’m a complete tape accountant (poor Professor Boyfriend has more than once been forced to defend using 1” of Scotch tape when ½” would do). It kept me moving – tape, sew, stand, measure, move the tape, sew, repeat…

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I planned my diagonal lines to move consistently around my body in one direction, since I knew I didn’t have the skills to match a perfect chevron and I worried than an imperfect one would give me the screaming jeebies. The lines are about 1 ¼” apart, and I can safely say “about”, because I surrendered perfection there pretty quickly. I think of these vertical lines crossed by diagonals as shortbread slices or pieces of brownie crisp. That is the full and detailed explanation of how I chose that design. Now you know!

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After wearing this a few times I leaned over a chain-link fence to holler at a student and ripped a hole in my finished coat! But I’d used up my coordinating thread – one spool to match the shell and one spool to match the lining, perfect amount, no leftovers. Instead of buying another spool (are you surprised? Did you read the tape thing?) I went with this coordinating tone.

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To mend, I poked a piece of fusible webbing into the hole with a wide needle, ironed it in place to discourage fraying, and stitched a big wide bartack over the whole mess. It’s okay. It’s part of the story of the coat now. And it was difficult to get riled up about a wee hole after the whole pocket debacle.

Oh, what pocket debacle?! I’m glad you asked!

There’s a part in the Grainline directions – after a dozen hours of quilting, when you’re about to sew a welt pocket, and after hand-basting all the pocket markings like a good girl – when you’re instructed to snip very, very carefully through the finished front panel, because if you mess up and snip too far then you’ll ruin your coat.

WELL, I SNIPPED TOO FAR.

AND RUINED MY COAT.

KIND OF!!

Pocket 1, I sewed and snipped and turned, only to find my welt flapping free. The long raw edge was attached but the two short folded edges and the long folded edge of the welt were just hanging loose on the front of my coat. It looked fine otherwise so I just hand-stitched the short edges down and followed the rest of the instructions as normal. Pocket 2, I had a tricky decision – do I sew the pocket to match my first, wrong pocket exactly, or do I sew it right?

I did what any sensible person would do which was accidentally and irreversibly cut my welt opening a full half-inch wider than my welt flap. AND the short edges were loose. AAACK. In the moment, I became very calm and philosophical and just sort of wandered away. When I came back, Prof. BF helped me brainstorm and suggested a little coordinating tag of the lining fabric to cover the excess opening. Bing!

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Later I thought about adding a rivet or a snap to make it look even more deliberate, and chose a snap. It’s kind of stupid but it also makes me laugh – that snap is functional.

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Despite my self-created drama and, in my opinion, the ungenerous seam allowance at the top of my pocket, they’re still totally pockets. Be warned, though. If my fabric was any thicker I would not have been able to turn or stitch that top seam allowance, the one usually concealed by the welt flap. It might be user error but something to pay attention to all the same!

I sewed the first pass on all my bias binding by machine and the second pass by hand. It seemed simplest. I also stitched my bound pocket bags to the lining so they wouldn’t flap around. Actually, the most unexpected time suck was just fiddling the mitered corners on the front into place, and even at A FULL FIFTEEN MINUTES per corner, some are better than others. In general, though, the hand-sewing didn’t seem to take long. But I’m sure many very nice people machine stitch the whole binding! You do your thing.

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Full disclosure: at first I didn’t like this jacket!! I thought the neck was too wide and scooped and that it looked kind of schlumpy. But on the first cold day, there it was when I needed it. And now I love it.

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Sometimes I even wear it indoors with a hot water bottle snapped inside, like I’m trying to revive a little baby Dalmatian. I’ve worn it to three separate apple orchards this fall (yes that’s too many orchards). Professor Boyfriend says it’s not so much a quilted jacket as a jacketed quilt, and I concur! I’ll be reluctantly trading it for a warmer layer soon, but I’m glad it will be waiting for me in the spring.

Stay cozy out there!

Pattern: Grainline Tamarack jacket

Pattern cost: $18.00

Size: 12

Supplies: Rag & Bone olive wool, gift, originally Mood; 2 yards Home Dash in Shale cotton, 2 yards cotton batting, $35.22, Gather Here; thread, Michael’s, $3.58; snaps from stash

Total time: 20.5 hours

Total cost: $56.80