Lovely floral anorak

At times sewing projects tend to be so difficult – every single problem that can happen, would happen. However, at other times projects just go smoothly, and it is such a joy to see this completely new garment happening in front of your eyes. This anorak was the latter. It simply happened, with a little bit of my help. Ok, fair enough, there were few hick-ups along the way, and more about that later. But mostly, it was a truly lovely project and I absolutely LOVE, how this new piece for my spring wardrobe turned out. I am a little bit proud too, as it is not that simple a make – it has many steps to it which take quite a bit of time to complete. But let me share with you how it started and how it’s going! With a little bit of sentimental flavor.

When I started seriously planning to begin sewing back in spring 2020, I knew very little about techniques necessary to sew an actual garment. I was able to perform basic stitches, I owned many Burda magazines and had studied them to understand which pattern pieces garments are made of. And that was admittedly the limit of my expertise. So what I did then, I opened Youtube and in the Search field typed “Sewing”. The search returned a load of those typical “how to” videos, and few other ones which I got very interested in.

The first youtuber whom I started following was Brittany J Jones. I loved her smile and the way of storytelling. Gradually I found her videos extremely well made and very informative. One of Brittany’s videos from probably two years ago featured this lovely anorak that she seemed to honestly like while making and also while wearing. And I was sitting there on the sofa and thinking – gosh, I wish I could make this anorak some day, I just love it. Then I proceeded on to sewing my first garments. How it went I have shared in my initial blog posts here and here, as well as in the closing post of 2020.

Last spring the first quarantine had just started, and the only option to buy fabrics was to order them online. But hey, I had no clue, where to buy fabrics online! So I used recommendations of Brittany and few other youtubers whom I followed. Thus I discovered The Fabric Store that is located in… New Zealand. It is exactly the opposite side of the world from our home. Probably no sane person would order fabrics from that far. But since I hadn’t found anything else yet, I went straight ahead to The Fabric store and ordered the exact same fabric that Brittany had used for her lovely anorak, along with few other beautiful fabrics!

Well, looking back, no one could blame me for the lack of self-confidence! By ordering that fabric I was probably quite sure, that soon I will reach the level of mastery to be able to actually sew this anorak.

Fabrics arrived really fast – in few days, which was remarkable provided the distance. I was exhilarated! They came from New Zealand – the most beautiful country I have ever visited. Probably that was also why I ended up ordering from The Fabric Store. (I am conscious that fabrics are sourced from all over the world, but still 🙂 ). And actually I even went on to check on the map where in Auckland the store is located – to make sure we visit it next time when in New Zealand! 😀 Now, I just have to leave these two photos here. I made them while in New Zealand back in January 2017. Let it be sort of a side note on how magical that country is!

And now, back to sewing! So here I was, almost all set. Well, almost. As I still lacked the skill. One year forward, in the middle of January 2021 with full blown winter outside the window, -20 C degrees and 25 cm of snow on our lawn, the realization suddenly struck me, that if I continue sewing winter clothes, they will simply not be worn this year. It appears that the second quarantine is not ending any time soon, and in one and a half months the spring will come. So after staring at my fabric stash for an extended period of time, I decided to take this lovely fabric from the lovely country and make this lovely anorak.

For this project I used Simplicity pattern S8843 and decided to make view A. Paper pattern pieces had been cut a long time ago – I used some spare time in-between projects to cut the pattern. This floral fabric is sturdy cotton with a touch of lycra. Fabric gives in a little bit cross-grain, but otherwise is stable and structured. Cutting fabric pattern pieces was easy, and so they were ready to get stitched. Along the way I mostly referred to Brittany’s video and only to double check certain details I was looking into the instructions sheet.

The first step was to make pockets and flaps. To complete this stage I had to learn how to install the snaps – a bit of hammering had to happen on the floor, but in general it is rather straightforward process. Next, shoulder seams had to be stitched together and finished. This anorak is unlined, that is why I decided to go ahead just exactly as Brittany suggested and to finish all the exposed seams using bias tape. My problem was that I had like four different kinds of black bias tape, but all of them were of different widths, structures, fabric, and I did not have enough of any one of them. At first I decided to use the most narrow bias tape, 3 mm wide when double folded. Finished shoulders seams using it, however due to exceptional narrowness of the tape, certain parts of one seam were falling apart – the stitch would not catch the main fabric. Had to redo that part and started realizing that this narrow bias tape might create more problems for me later.

Next was the hood. It was relatively easy part of project actually, the hood came together as expected, quickly and easily. In order to be able to attach my label somewhere and trying to stabilize the area at the back around the hood, I cut additional piece of the main fabric and made some kind of facing, to which hanger loop got also attached. The edge of this facing was finished using the same terribly narrow bias tape. Honestly, I really like how this part looks!

The making of this anorak requires to be meticulous and to follow all measurements and seam allowances thoroughly – every millimeter makes a difference. If you follow all the measurements carefully, then the pattern falls together really nicely. Where this became apparent was the installation of the separating zipper. There is the hood seam the ends of which have to meet exactly when the zipper is closed, the same goes for the hem of the garment. And in addition to that, there is also the facing that has to be attached, once the zipper is stitched to the main fabric. There were certainly many ways how to make a mistake in this process. However I managed to install the zipper at the first attempt without an incident.

Next were the sleeves. Here they are installed using flat sleeve method, which was fine and relatively easy. However then the real struggle with bias tape started. Two tapes of four that I had were unsuitable because they were made of linen and too thick. The other two were very different in width – previously mentioned very narrow, and the other – wider, which I decided to use to finish thicker sleeves seams. After doing that, there was only like 120 cm of this bias tape left – realistically, not enough for anything.

The challenge continued with the side seams. These were long seams joining front to back as well as the sleeves and closing them. This meant that there were four rather long seam allowances that had to be finished. I had enough of combined length of two bias tapes, but that would have meant that I would start the seam with one width of the tape and would finish with the other. After assessing all possible options I concluded that this would look ugly. So eventually I decided to spend a bit of time and make myself enough of bias tape, for which I used a piece of black cupro lining. Had the stores been open, I would most likely have gone to the store and bought bias tape, but now this luxury was not accessible. After all this drama, all my seams were nicely finished, and thus three different bias tapes were used for this garment. But it’s ok – if I did not tell this, I doubt if anyone would notice. And, it’s an inside of the garment, after all! So why all this drama 🙂

I hemmed the sleeves and finished the hem of the garment. Then proceeded with top stitching around the zipper. As one of the last steps, the time to install the narrow casing for the waist cord came. At that point I was steaming ahead with the project without any interruptions and was already planning how to make photos of it next morning. But then suddenly, after stitching one seam of the casing, I noticed many skipped stitches – they were flashing along the entire seam. I was like – what is going on here? Everything went just fine up until this moment, and here I stare at this terrible seam!

This fabric is peculiar in one way. If the seam is ripped, the holes remain in the fabric regardless of how much you’d iron it. Aware of that, I was trying my best to refrain from unpicking the seams. Could not avoid this completely, but there were only few small portions of seams that I had to fix so far. And now there was this very long seam along the entire circumference of the garment, sitting right on the waist and therefore very much visible, that was all screwed.

First thing for me then was to google how to fix skipped stitches. As advised, I changed sewing machine needle, then increased the tension of the top thread, and carefully tried sewing on the scrap piece of fabric. The seam looked better. I guess, in addition to dull needle, the fact that I was stitching cross-grain where the fabric was somewhat stretching, did not help. Anyway, I was able to finish those two casing seams, but was not breathing all that much while sewing – just in case.

The final step was to attach the front placket. It was short and simple exercise. The main point here was to make sure that all the measurements were being followed to the millimeter. Otherwise there was a danger for the lower part of the snap to not be placed in the middle of the frame of the zipper (where snaps were supposed to sit is visible in the left picture below).

Well, this was probably one of my favorite projects ever! I loved this fabric and how nice it was to work with it. I loved the pattern, which is clearly well thought through and works really well. And being a little bit OCD as I am, I loved how all the small details were falling along the lines, into places or right in the middle of something – just exactly where they were supposed to go. Highly recommend this pattern – it is a joy to work with.

For this anorak I used Simplicity pattern S8843 and chose to make view A. Fabric used was this awesome floral cotton with a little bit of lycra, which I bought online from The Fabric Store. This fabric is called – Flower shower print stretch cotton, I needed 2.25 meters of it. The pattern was cut in size XXS for the upper part of the garment and merged with XS around the hips. Other notions were: separating zipper, anorak cord, 2 cord fasteners, 2 snap-together cord ends, medium weight interfacing, 7 black metal snaps, and thread. I bought all of this haberdashery from Minerva crafts online store. This anorak cost me 53 EUR. It was made in the middle of January, 2021.

Just in case, let me note that I am not in any way affiliated with the links or stores mentioned in this post, or in any of the previous posts, for that matter. Let’s be fair – I’m only learning and am so thankful for the experienced sewing community members who are kindly sharing their techniques and tutorials online. Without these online resources I would not be where I am now!

As mentioned probably a hundred of times, I absolutely love how this anorak turned out! Am convinced it will be a rather versatile garment that will go nicely with multiple leisure styles. Can’t wait for spring and summer to come to start wearing it.

Let’s all stay healthy!

~Giedre~

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