Summers here usually are either hot or mostly cold, or rainy half of the time and then scorching hot in between. That is why many different clothes are needed to get through this very much awaited time of the year! After my recent dress project I wanted to make few more dresses, but then while reviewing my patterns I came across this top pattern that I’ve used before for my neon sleeveless top, and suddenly realized that this time around I can adapt it for one of recently purchased fabrics and make a puff sleeve blouse for those colder summer evenings. The plan came together promptly, and so next day I had a brand new bright floral blouse in my hands!
When ordering this fabric during one of my recent fabric hauls I already was planning a top out of it. Initially I had in mind a wrap top design with puffy three-quarter sleeves. I did not own any pattern of this sort, however thought that I might be able to hack one of dress patterns. But then this McCall’s pattern jumped in front of my eyes, inspecting which I quickly became convinced that it should work very well for this extremely colorful fabric. Paper pattern blocks had been cut for the previous project, so it was easier to start working on this one.
First I had to make up my mind on how to cut the fabric. It is not the first time I come across the fabric that is directional in a way. A short while back I was dealing with viscose tweed that was embroidered cross-grain, that’s why cutting it had to also be cross-grain. This time around after inspecting the piece of fabric carefully, I had to also conclude that the print is made cross-grain. Colors are less intense at one selvage and become more intense towards another selvage. At first I considered cutting pattern pieces straight grain regardless of the print. But eventually concluded, that it would make much more sense to have less intense print for the bodice and more intense – for sleeves. That is why the bodice of the blouse is mostly green with few odd flowers, while bottoms of sleeves are very colorful and full of flowers in all colors of a rainbow.
This blouse design is fairly straightforward, however there are few small nuances that make it quite time consuming to complete. There are only few pieces to be cut out of fabric – as can be seen in the above right photo, bodice and sleeves, plus front and back facings and sleeve cuffs. At first I was planning to make the main seams as French seams, but then it became evident that I couldn’t quite, as the back neck closure and sleeve openings at cuffs were supposed to be made out of seams. So eventually I dropped the French seam idea, and all the seams inside this blouse are finished with overlocker.
The work started with making center back seam and leaving an opening at the top to be finished later for back closure. Side seams were next. Then sleeves had to be made. First I made a 1.5 cm wide channel at the top of each sleeve for elastic, put the elastic in and secured its ends. Then sleeves had to be set in. These are reglan sleeves, and the elastic in them around the neck makes them fit nicely. When I set them in initially and was able to try the semi-finished garment on, it became clear that the blouse was a bit too tight around the chest. The reason for that was that paper pattern blocks were cut in size 6, the smallest size available. It was one of my first projects ever that I cut this pattern for initially, and back then I had little experience with sizing and fitting. However, that first top I’ve made using this pattern was sleeveless, and since my shoulders are very narrow, size 6 was an ok size for that top. But for this one, with sleeves, size 6 was not my size really. Normally I now cut McCall’s patterns in size 8 or 10, so yeah, definitely not 6.
Upon planning this blouse I determined that the bodice of the blouse is wide enough for me even in size 6, but somehow forgot that there might be a problem with the chest circumference when sleeves get set in. And so while trying the blouse on for the first time I was looking at exactly that problem. I decided to rip sleeves seams and reduce seam allowance to 0.7 cm instead of 1.5 cm, and that’s what I did. This way I created additional 3 cm for chest circumference, and that was good enough a solution. When trying the blouse on after this fix I concluded that it felt so much better, not tight at all, and decided that the problem has been fixed as well as it could possibly be.
The style of these sleeves also made the installation of facings a bit complicated. Facings are installed only to the bodice parts around the neckline but not the sleeves. So it took a bit of time for me to complete the neckline nicely. Right at that stage I also made a narrow button loop for back closure.
Two remaining parts of the process were hemming the blouse and installing sleeve cuffs. For the hem I’ve chosen a narrow rolled hem style which was completed using 4 mm rolled hem foot on my sewing machine. It was not a straightforward exercise, though. I had to stop several times and go back, as fabric feed into the foot would become troubled. Overall it took me quite a bit of time and sweat to complete that hem.
Lastly I cut cuffs out of interfaced fabric, stitched them together leaving an opening at one side, where gathered sleeve end would go in. At first I was reluctant to top stitch the inside cuff, but then figured that top stitching would probably be more neat than slip stitching and decided to go ahead with top stitch. I matched nice mother-of-pearl square buttons for cuffs, made button holes, which went in without incident, and attached the buttons. And with that my colorful summer blouse was complete!
For this blouse I used 1.5 meters of this bright floral viscose fabric, it was bought at my local fabric store. The pattern used here is McCall’s pattern M7899. It was cut in size 6, but I had to reduce seam allowances in certain places to make the top loose enough for me. Other notions were: two short pieces of 1 cm elastic for sleeves neckline, a bit of light weight interfacing for facings and cuffs, one white button for back closure, 4 mother-of-pearl buttons for cuffs, and coordinating thread. This blouse cost me 23 Eur, it was made in June, 2022.
I very much like this blouse styled with white pants or, like in the above pictures, shorts. It should probably go well with jeans, too – haven’t tried this yet, but absolutely will. I like very much how full and colorful these sleeves are – they are something to behold, really 🙂 When we took these pictures this morning in the park, it was becoming really hot, hence the shorts. However, I mostly see this blouse styled with long pants and worn on summer evenings, when sleeves slowly become a very good idea as the evening becomes chilly. It was a very successful project, and I am sure I’m going to enjoy this blouse on multiple occasions.
Today is my birthday! 🎂🌟 For a birthday celebration we would usually invite the closest family for the lunch or dinner, and this year it was also the case. The weather was awesome today, and it was so nice to have a beautiful day out on our lawn with good food and nice chats! I did not plan to sew a dress for specifically this occasion, it just happened so that my need for a new dress coincided with my birthday, and so this now will be The birthday dress!
May this year was very cold – we were all wearing coats of some sort until the first days of June (it was also an excellent opportunity to wear all the coats I’ve made recently, of course). And when June came, it became very warm very suddenly. The previous tweed dress, that I’d made for a specific occasion, ended up being worn for a large dinner event last week. And right there it became evident, that tweed is no summer fabric – I felt really hot in that dress. That was why I ended up choosing another dress for the summer opening event for which the tweed dress had initially been planned for – I ended up wearing my Blue ribbon dress from last year, and it worked very well for that occasion. This conundrum with weather being hot and revelations about tweed comfort in summer changed my sewing plans. I had been planning one more tweed dress as my next project, but lately I had realized that summer dresses would make much more sense instead. Granted, all but two summer dresses I own are me-made. But now as we are back to the office and with post-pandemic life slowly returning back to normal, I felt that I needed more dresses! Of course, as you do… 🙂 So I’ve put my tweeds on the shelf and pulled summery viscose and linen off that same shelf.
This bright red floral fabric was bought two years ago during one of my first fabric hauls, when I had just started sewing. It was sitting in my stash as I couldn’t quite make up my mind on the pattern for it. I had like a zillion of patterns lined up for it, and yet somehow none of them quite materialized. Last week I saw this red dress on Instagram that I immediately recognized – it was made using the Burda pattern that I also own. And then it clicked to me that this pattern could work very well for this viscose crepe. I needed more dresses, my birthday was approaching, I had an idea for the specific dress, and so yesterday I decided to make it.
The fabric used here is really awesome. It is satin backed crepe, it drapes like a dream and is of solid weight, hence not sheer, not too light to be worn unlined. Perfect fabric for a solid summer dress.
The pattern used here is pattern #108 from Burda magazine, issue of June, 2020. So far this one is my most used magazine of Burda Style – by now I’ve made three garments using patterns from it. First two are: Light summer jumpsuit and Neon green statement blazer. After inspecting the pattern I’ve concluded that it is a rather simple design, so hoped for a quick and nice project, and it really was exactly that! In fact, it took just as long to trace paper blocks, cut fabric and prepare it to be stitched, as to actually sew the dress!
This design is simple because it does not have usual sleeves as flounce pieces are used instead, there is no zipper – button closure at the back instead, and there are only two darts. In addition to that, there are not many opportunities for a wrong fit, as it is a straight line dress, worn tied up, so not much can go wrong in it. The only amendment I made was shortening the dress by 3.5 cm if compared to the initial design, however, if I were to make it once again, I would perhaps leave the length as designed. Everything else worked as intended.
Cutting the fabric was one of more difficult parts of the project. This fabric is so flowing and slippery (as one would expect from viscose, really), that it was a true challenge to cut all the pattern pieces precisely. It took me a good hour to do that.
The stitching part started with me applying a bit of interfacing tape to shoulder seams and stitching them together. Neck facing was installed to the neckline, and at that moment I also attached a very narrow button loop made of the same fabric. Since I was trying to avoid top stitching for this dress, the opening edges at the back were finished using the adhesive tape that I ironed, thus gluing those seam allowances in and avoiding the need to top stitch them. I find this method really useful, the only downside being a bit of additional weight that the adhesive tape adds, but this time around it was not a problem at all. I like very much how the back of the dress looks.
Moving forward, yoke pieces were attached to the main back piece. With that I was midway into the project. Sleeves flounces were attached to sleeves openings, and skirt flounce pieces were attached to the skirt front and skirt back. Somewhere there in the process I recalled that I should install pockets, so I cut them out and stitched pocket pieces to sides. I was using flat sleeve method all along, so up until that point I had a large piece of fabric, not really yet a dress. But then the time to close side seams came, and I finally was able to try my dress on and see how it fits. The fit was just fine, I was happy with what was happening there.
Finally I hemmed all the flounces – sleeves and skirt. For that I usually use my rolled hem foot on my sewing machine. This time around I had doubts if this fabric would not be too thick for the 4 mm rolled hem foot. But it worked. I had a tough time to use it over side seams, where seam allowances were making the hem bulky, but otherwise, I managed to hem those flounces without much incident. The last remaining bits of work were to make the belt, to stitch the button on and to attach the neck facing to shoulder seams (for that I again used that same adhesive tape). And with that my new summer dress was complete!
For this dress I used some 1.50 cm of this floral viscose satin backed crepe, the fabric is called Scattered poppy print crepe, I bought it two years ago from The Fabric Store online. Pattern used here is pattern #108 from Burda 2020/06 magazine, I cut it in size 36. Other notions were: one button for back closure, a bit of interfacing tape, a bit of adhesive tape, and coordinating thread. This dress cost me 19 Eur. It was made in June, 2022.
In my view it is a perfect summer dress – flowing, playing with the wind, and yet not too light to not be comfortable. I wore it for the entire day today, during my birthday lunch, and nothing really happened to it – it did not crease much and is ready to be worn tomorrow. Here preparing the table for my birthday lunch, and love how nicely the colors of the dress play with all that greenery around!
During last many months I mostly worked on complex projects that would take days and days – coats, lined dresses, jackets. With this dress I have now recalled how nice it is to actually take a piece of fabric and in good half a day have a finished garment. No lining, no zippers, no sleeve complexity, just easy make coming together beautifully. And I absolutely love it! Will need to make more summer dresses – no number is too large for good summer dresses, right? 🙂
It’s been a while since my last post, but now I am happy to be back with a new project! And what a project it was! 🌟
As I’ve shared in few of my previous posts, my creativity has recently been down and I struggled through this last period quite a bit. I have sewed something, but these were mostly my attempts to keep some sort of normalcy in everyday life rather than delightful time dedicated for an enjoyable activity.
My last trench coat project was interesting and all, I am happy with the final result. However, since then I started asking myself questions that many people around have been asking me – do I really need all this? Can’t I just go to the store and buy clothes there, instead of spending hours on end to make them. The only one who has never asked this sort of question ever is my husband, bless his soul! ❤️ Few other, to me very close people, are less supportive – I’d often get an advice or two what else I could be doing with my time instead of sewing. So yeah, I’ve had all sorts of existential doubts, and also I had a lot of household related things to take care of lately that kept me occupied and did not leave much time for sewing.
Luckily, recently within the group of friends we’ve decided to attend a very nice formal event that we usually attend every June. And of course each time we have fun discussions about what to wear to the event. I have quite a few dresses from before that I could choose from, and yet I’ve decided to go ahead and make a new dress for a change. It’s been more than half a year since my last dress project, and so a new dress was to be an answer to my recent doubts about my sewing journey!
Part of my recent lingering was related with my usual lack of conviction about what to make out of what. Even though reluctant to sew recently, I actually continued purchasing new fabrics and new patterns – going on a buying spree appears to be an answer to many problems in life, even if it is such an unfinished business as a piece of fabric! And so I ended up having even more fabrics in my stash to choose from for my next idea. And it was so TOUGH! During this last shopping extravaganza I purchased tweeds, silks, even D&G embroidery which will have to be matched with an underlining fabric (which I can’t quite find yet) to make something wearable out of it. And patterns for those fabrics were flying around too – blazers, dresses, tops, coats (I know, it is summer, but I just love coats!)… Oh yes, I was in a complete uncertainty frenzy! “So how about all these tweeds”, – I thought, – “Shall I make a bunch of Chanel style jackets out of them?” And here this need for a fancy dress arouse, so I took a piece of tweed that was initially bought for a blazer, and decided to make a dress out of it. Without further ado let me present my new dress here. Could not be more happy about it – it is one of my favorite dresses, ever!
What is more, even though I’ve read many horror stories about how difficult it might be to work with tweed, I just love it! That is such a forgiving fabric – stitches, needle poking, interfacing, nothing would faze it much. And it is such a joy to wear tweed, too! This was my second tweed project, the first was my recent spring coat. After making this dress, I got hooked to make more clothes out of tweed!
So here I had a piece of this subdued salmon pink viscose tweed embroidered in silver. While initially the plan was to make a blazer out of it, I eventually had to come to the conclusion that a jacket contains too many pieces for me to somehow make sense out of all this elaborate embroidery. I would have risked to make a shiny mess out of those intricate embroidered motives. So a dress in a conservative cut ought to work so much better for this fabric.
I had to make up my mind on what pattern to use. Few patterns that I’ve used before were considered. One McCall’s pattern I had in mind was the one I’ve used for my Light autumn dress. It features simple sleeves which was what I initially wanted for this tweed, but I recalled that I had had a very tough time to fit the bodice then, and so I was a bit reluctant to repeat the struggle. So my eyes turned to another pattern, the one used for my Lace jacquard dress which I like very much and wear often. Granted, this dress is made of fabric that has a bit of stretch to it, and that might be one of the reasons why it is so comfy. But still, I believed that I should be able to make that bodice work. The downside of this pattern was gathered sleeves that I was unsure about for my tweed dress idea. And also I did not want gathered skirt as in that pattern, so I had to find an A line skirt pattern somewhere. With these few doubts and after substantial amount of deliberation, I ended up settling on this latter pattern. An A line skirt piece was borrowed from a dress in 2022/06 Burda magazine and I was as ready to go as I could be.
My bodice pattern blocks had a number of notes on them from the last time I had used them. I was supposed to add a centimeter to shoulders, a centimeter to side seams at the waist and the bodice itself was supposed to be lengthened a bit. “That’s quite a set of adjustments”, I thought. And so I proceeded with all those amendments while cutting the fabric. Interestingly enough, very little time was spent for careful positioning of all those embroidered flowers while cutting the fabric. Luckily, when the dress is now complete, I have to admit that whatever I did (or did not), the placement of flowers somehow accidentally turned out really well. This fabric has repeating motives embroidered throughout the entire width of the fabric. At one selvage there were only few odd flowers embroidered, but moving towards the other selvage the motive would become more and more intense. So I cut pattern pieces cross-grain instead of usual straight grain way to make my dress balanced in terms of embroidery placement. That is why there are only few odd flowers on the bodice, while the entire skirt is embroidered.
When all darts were made and I tried the bodice on, it became clear that I had a problem. Even with all that added width as per my initial notes, the bodice was too narrow for me at the waist. After multiple adjustments that helped me squeeze out few centimeters for the waist circumference (reduced seam allowances mostly), I ended up concluding that in fact I should probably omit back waist darts altogether to accommodate for my wider than usual waist circumference. Will try this adjustment next time I use this block.
Somewhere in my thought process I had come up with an idea to add trim to the waist seam to decorate it. And later I decided to use the same trim to finish sleeves and skirt hem. How otherwise I would have neatly finished them? Simply hemming the skirt so that the stitch would be visible on the right side was not an option. So I started by making myself 4 meters of straight grain trim. The trim itself is 1.5 cm wide and I left another 1.5 cm of fabric as seam allowance. For my next project I might consider wider trim actually, but for this dress I think this somewhat narrow one looks fine!
Making the skirt was easy, I installed pockets, so it took a tiny bit longer because of that. When the bodice and the skirt were joined together, I still had to conclude that I was operating at a very narrow margin when it came to waist circumference. When I thought more carefully, I recalled that the same problem I had had with that other pattern that I had decided not to use. So yeah, there is something with my relatively wider waist that standard patterns don’t quite accommodate.
Next, the zipper went in. At first I tacked it in, tried the dress on and identified which portions of the zipper should be adjusted to improve the fit, tacked it again and stitched in place. Then the lining had to be sewn up. With all known adjustments it was quicker to make the lining. When the lining got attached to the main dress, I started getting the feeling that this might turn into a really fine dress.
Another step was to deal with sleeves. The sleeves in the original pattern were gathered and a bit puffy. Before attaching them I had decided to first finish the hem using the trim. Sleeves are the only part of the dress that is not lined. However, this tweed with its silver embroidery thread is a bit coarse, so I wanted to close all parts that would touch my body and would potentially scratch. So first of all I finished the sleeve seams using some bias binding made out of lining, then closed sleeves. For the hem, first of all I attached the trim, trimmed its seam allowance to reduce bulk and attached bias tape on top to finish the inside of the hem. After a bit of pressing I ended up slip stitching the bias tape thus enclosing all the remaining bulk of hem allowance and trim seam allowance. I find this finish really delicate and nicely looking. And oh yes, it prevents the raw hem allowance from scratching my arms!
Finally I had to set prepared sleeves in. At first I gathered sleeve heads and then tacked sleeves in place. The dress looked fine. It was left to hang on my dress form overnight, meanwhile I took a bit of time off on Pinterest collecting ideas for my next tweed project. And what I did not see in any of those tweed dresses there were gathered sleeves! That made me think about my sleeves. And suddenly an idea crossed my mind that for such a sleek and well defined dress gathers do not really work, but pleats can! So the next day I removed the sleeves and made few pleats on the sleeve heads. My first attempt was not great because sleeve heads had too much volume to them making sleeves too protruding to the sides. So I remediated that by removing a bit of fullness of the sleeve heads – pleats became smaller and sleeves got less full. It took me four attempts to set those sleeves in, until finally I was really happy with them! Sleeve setting seams are finished with bias binding too to prevent any scratching from the raw edges.
The last bit of work was to finish the skirt hem with the same trim and slip stitch the bias finish from the inside. It took quite a bit of time actually, and usually I really do not like hand stitching, but this time around I found it oddly satisfying. And with that my fancy tweed dress was complete!
For this dress I needed 2 meters of salmon pink viscose tweed that is embroidered in silver thread, this fabric was bought at my local fabric store. For the lining I used some 1.5 meters of same color viscose blend lining. The pattern loosely used here is McCall’s pattern M8032, the skirt is borrowed from Burda pattern #110 in 2022/06 magazine. Other notions used here were: a bit of interfacing tape for the neckline, zipper installation line and pocket openings, invisible zipper, and coordinating thread. This dress cost me 80 Eur. It was made in May, 2022.
I like my new dress very much! 🥰 It looks awesome styled with pink heels and matching pink clutch. Should work absolutely great as a cocktail party dress. Perhaps too flashy for the office, but certainly quite a statement piece for a concert or summer dinner party. I like tweed so much because it envelops the body like a second skin, I can perfectly well see now why it is so valued by many couturiers, Chanel being perhaps the most prominent. And I found it so enjoyable to work with tweed too, so only positive experiences here, and I definitely expect to continue this new chapter of my sewing adventures! Meanwhile, I certainly hope to enjoy this dress in the upcoming summer opening event that my friends and I are expecting to attend in few weeks!
I have never owned a trench coat. Somehow it happened so. Have always wanted one, but they would be very pricey in stores and I’d decide to save instead of purchasing one. And so when I started sewing all the things, the plan was conceived to also make a trench coat. I bought this glamorous trench coat cotton by Oscar de la Renta last spring. Did not manage to start the project before summer unexpectedly starting last year. So the plan was moved to this year, and this time around I started the project early enough to be able to still wear and enjoy the garment this spring!
I had chosen this particular pattern a long while back, before even purchasing the fabric. My choice was mostly determined by the sleeves being regular sleeves, as opposed to reglan sleeves (spoiler alert – I now want a trench coat with reglan sleeves 🙂 ), and also because it had all the other necessary trench coat features – all those flaps, double breasted closure, lovely collar and looked awesome in general.
It was clear from the very beginning that it would be a tricky project, and it was indeed! I am fairly happy with what I managed to produce. However, I’m not completely happy, not as much as to declare it as one of my favorite makes. So let me share my reflections about this particular style and pattern, also what worked and what mistakes were made along the way.
This was not one of those cases where I would change opinions a number of times before even starting. This time I only had to think intensely about the buttons (very difficult choice, by the way 🙂 ). Despite this relative clarity about all the arrangements, I managed to procrastinate the start of this project for weeks and perhaps even months. Since the war in Ukraine started, I had a very hard time in going with usual life activities, sewing included. However, as April came, I realized that if I don’t start working on this project now, it will get moved one more year forward. And somehow managed to harness enough self-conviction to start.
Upon laying out all the pattern pieces on the piece of fabric I got surprised by how much fabric this trench would require. Luckily, I had purchased this fabric for specifically this pattern, and purchased 3.5 meters, as prompted by the instructions. 3 meters would not have been enough. Cutting pattern pieces out of fabric and preparing everything to get to the point of starting stitching was quicker this time if compared to my previous wool projects. The main difference was that there was less interfacing that needed to be done for the trench coat. It was possible to block interface smaller pieces, and large pieces were not interfaced much. So there was some interfacing, but certainly not as much as for the wool outerwear.
In preparation for the actual stitching, I made few testers with the chosen threads – the main thread and top stitching thread. And immediately it became clear that what I was looking at was a problem. Colors of these two threads differed too much for my liking. Top stitching thread had too much yellow hue. And so I decided to look for the top stitching thread in better matching color.
This immediately stopped me before I even started. Since I was unable to go to the store right away, that Sunday I decided to make all the small parts and prepare them for the top stitching stage. And so that day I only made pocket flaps, sleeves flaps, belt holders. Luckily, during next few days I found a bit of time to go and purchase better matching top stitching thread, and finally was ready to actually start.
Or so I thought. Retrospectively looking, from that initial tester I should have drawn another conclusion, but I was too fixated on color mismatch. I must have noticed that top stitching thread was also too thick. I was using Gutermann top stitching thread no.30. This thickness had worked just fine for my winter coat, and so I mindlessly decided to use it again, ignoring the fact that fabric weights of the trench coat and very warm winter coat were so different! I started noticing that my top stitching looked a bit too heavy too far in the process – then the collar had already been finished and attached, so there was no way of going back and so I had to continue with my initial top stitching choice until the very end.
Important NOTE – no.30 top stitching thread is too thick for trench coats, no.50 or even a regular all purpose thread should work so much better.
Another challenge that immediately struck me and that was a consequence of the wrong top stitching thread thickness, was that I could not seem to find thread tension settings that would produce a balanced seam, when using top stitching thread on top and for the bobbin. The wrong side of the seam was looking as though the top thread was not tense enough, and nothing I tried helped to remedy the situation. I increased the top thread tension to the maximum, and this did not produce any result. When I researched more, it became obvious that I was supposed to use regular thread for the bobbin in order to get more balanced seam. And that was what I did everywhere I could. But there were two seams for which both sides were important – front and lapels top stitching in one continuous seam where both sides show up, and also the belt. At that moment in time I did not know what I would do when I reach that point.
Anyway, when I found top stitching thread in better matching color, I was happy and hadn’t yet had any of the above considerations. I was ready to finally start. And start I did by installing the pockets. The pocket flaps this time were a bit peculiar, however not too complex. The main tricky part was to nicely stitch and then cut the opening of the pocket itself. As always, the stitching lines needed to be very accurate to make sure that all the proportions of the pocket were kept. Instructions were clear enough for the pockets, the only change I did was interfacing the silk piece of the pocket, thus adding stability to that very delicate fabric.
When pockets were done, I continued constructing the front by adding chest flaps (or whatever they are called) and then the back by stitching the yoke in. Then, after joining front and back at the shoulders, the time came to work on the collar. I like this traditional trench coat collar with a pronounced collar stand so much! And it is not too tricky a situation to pull off. Again – sticking to the stitching lines and then pressing each seam carefully was crucial in order to make a beautiful collar.
Next were the sleeves. I made them quite quickly, however, setting them in was a true hassle. It is not the first time I struggle to install sleeves of this particular pattern maker – maybe there is something with their sleeves design, I don’t know. This time around my fabric did not help either – this is a very dry and sturdy fabric, it does not give in at all, so each small pucker would be visible. I tacked and ripped one sleeve few times, eventually when it looked sort of fine, I ended up machine stitching it in place. But the sleeve looked wrong – there were puckers still. So I ripped the shoulder part once again, and yet did not manage to fully deal with extra fullness. The sleeve heads were not interfaced, maybe that was one of the reasons. Anyway, I really did not like the look of my sleeves at all. And so I decided to install felt sleeve heads to try and somewhat fix the look of the sleeves. This helped, the sleeves still aren’t ideal, but they now look much better. There was nothing else that I could do to them. The below slideshow demonstrates the sequence of events with the sleeves.
My coat was quickly gaining the shape. I was able to try it on, it was sitting on me fine. The only observation I had about the fit was the realization that the sleeves felt a bit narrow. However, I hoped that the lining would add wearing comfort when I attached it. But well, it happened not to be the case, oddly. Apparently, my choice of the lining fabric was just a bit off. I was determined to line my Oscar de la Renta trench with silk, and silk I bought. It was silk with an awesome print and ideally matching colors, I loved it so much! However, since I was purchasing it online, I could not touch it. Frankly, even if I was purchasing it at the physical store and had all the opportunities to touch it, I would still have failed to notice that this silk was actually not too slick. It was very light, flowing, but not as slick as the lining fabric should be. While lining is supposed to add wearing ease, my lining isn’t much. But all this became evident only much later – when the lining was in, and yeah, I’ll now have to live with it.
Constructing the lining was fairly simple and quick. I stitched it up, attached to front and back facings, then – to sleeve hems. The length of sleeves was fine, the lining was looking fine too. It was just at that moment in time I started realizing that the sleeves were probably a bit too narrow for my liking and the lining was not helping as my hands would not slide into the sleeves all that easily due to lining fabric not cooperating. It was a bit of disappointment, but well – there was nothing I would have been able to do with that, so narrow sleeves it would be now! Somewhere at that point I also realized that I had forgotten to attach the hanger loop (it was not mentioned in the instructions, so I blame the instructions 🙂 ). Yeah, mistakes were piling on top of each other.
At that time I had to attach the lining to the insides of the coat. From one of my previous makes I learnt a useful tip of attaching the lining to the underarm of the coat. It requires cutting a 1 cm wide and few cm long bias strip, attaching it to the lining underarm, and when the lining is in, stitching the other end of that small holder to the coat underarm point. It looks something like this from the inside:
With that I was slowly moving down the coat, as the last remaining stitching stage was hemming the coat and somehow dealing with the vent. I’ve written in few of my previous posts that when it comes to lining vents, I am each time confused. Instructions usually do not cover this stage all that well, and I end up making the vent “somehow”. This time was no exception. I was unable to understand the description of the vent lining stage, and dealt with it step by step as I saw fit. Eventually I had to conclude that most likely I did something wrong in that “somehow” stage, as the lining at one side of the vent was too short. But well, it was too late for considerations – I was eager to finish this project sooner rather than later. When the vent was done, I had to finish the hem of the coat.
That’s where I kept reading the instructions and couldn’t understand how I was supposed to first of all top stitch the hem and then make a hidden seam by attaching the lining to that top stitched main hem. My mind short-circuited. I was staring at the instructions and kept on thinking – I don’t get it, I don’t get it! At one point I had decided to skip the top stitching phase altogether. However eventually, after like an hour of deliberation I finally got it. In fact, it is fairly simple. You first of all top stitch the pressed hem, and then with 1 cm allowance all along simply attach the lining. And that’s what it is to it. This way it is possible to avoid all of that fancy method that is used for regular jackets, and that method was keeping me not understanding this method. Anyhow, eventually I did it, closed a small remaining gap in the hem by hand, and the coat was almost done.
The last remaining bit was to make button holes and stitch the buttons on. The choice of buttons was tricky. I ran a poll on Instagram about two types of matching buttons and received many votes that I very much appreciate! 70 pct of voters voted for the buttons that I ended up choosing for my coat. I almost always agree and follow the majority opinion that I get on Instagram polls! 🙂 As for the button holes, it was a nerve wrecking exercise, as it always is! I had to rip one buttonhole as it became too narrow, not leaving enough space to be cut. Otherwise, I managed to sweat through this stage and then the very last bit of work was to top stitch the front and lapels in one continuous seam, and also to top stitch the belt. I decided to ignore that slightly unbalanced seam in my thick top stitching thread – there was nothing I could do with it anyway. And finally, oh finally, my trench coat was complete!
For this trench coat I used 3.5 meters of pure cotton, I was told it’s by Oscar de la Renta 🙂 , and 2 meters of pure silk for the lining. I have decided not to share the pattern maker name of this particular pattern. Other notions for this project were: lightweight interfacing, medium weight interfacing for the chest area, quite a bit of interfacing tape, 9 buttons, 2 felt sleeve heads, and coordinating threads – no.100 for regular stitching and no.30 for top stitching. This trench coat cost me 186 Eur and is the most expensive project of mine so far. It was made in April, 2022.
I had hoped that it would be a nice and rewarding project, however, I struggled through it quite a bit. Mostly because not all of my choices were sound. On the other hand, I’ve learnt quite a bit too, so here is my list of what not to do next time:
Narrow sleeves for the trench coat is certainly not a great idea. The coat may look really nice, however sleeves being uncomfortable will restrict arms movement, layering will be restricted, and that’s not cool at all. So from now on I should determine a comfortable sleeves circumference measurement and shouldn’t go lower than that! Another thought here, reglan sleeves should be a perfect choice for a trench coat. I believe I might want to make another trench coat in perhaps a bit lighter color and with reglan sleeves!
Top stitching thread color must match the main thread color, and that’s because the top stitching will be close to the button holes and any contrast would be visible. And thick top stitching thread is a bad idea – no.30 is definitely too thick, no.50 or even thinner should work so much better.
Sleeve heads should either be interfaced, or felt sleeve heads should be installed, or actually both. There is no other way to pull nice and sleek sleeves off.
Every coat should have a hanger loop!
I should always check my intended lining fabrics to be slick enough. This was completely new revelation for me, I had thought that all silks are slick. Well, apparently not quite.
Regardless of all these slight mishaps I really like my new trench coat! It is really comfortable to be worn unbuttoned. While buttoned, the lining gets stuck on the pants and tumbles around the legs, so yeah, slick lining would have helped. But I believe, that’s not a big problem – it is rare that we wear trench coats buttoned up anyway 🙂 As for the styling options, they will only be limited by the sleeves being a bit narrow – so no, I won’t be wearing it on the blazer, and perhaps I shouldn’t, as it should replace a blazer, right? So I should now stop whining and enjoy this timeless design and camel color of this smooth fabric. It is a very proper trench coat I’ve made!
When I was preparing to launch my blog, I was contemplating how to call it and checking whether any of these domains were available. And my thoughts appeared to spin around the word style rather than sewing. Somehow it occurred to me that if I were to sew, I should be creating something more than individual garments, I were to create some kind of style. Hopefully!
Throughout these two years of my sewing experience I kept on questioning myself – was I just sewing, or was I really living up to my quest to create. Two years anniversary of my sewing journey hits this April. This is going to be the 50th post on my blog. I am working on an extensive project which is a trench coat, and it is taking a long time. It will probably be two more weeks until my next post. And so this time I’ve decided to write a bit lighter post on my recent observations and reflections, hopefully you’ll enjoy this small read! My last post of this kind was about why it is so great to sew for self. It was very popular and apparently resonated with many lovers of this awesome craft. Hopefully, this post will be a continuation of the thoughts I’ve shared back in autumn.
So what did I accomplish during these two years that comprise my sewing journey? Have I reached the point of actually creating the style so that I could proudly feel my blog name being justified? Well, the answer is not too straightforward. I believe, I have learnt to sew quite alright. Starting from the most simple and not necessarily always wearable garments, now I rely on my sewing to dress every day. I still purchase RTW jeans, sweaters and other knits, white shirts, so mostly basic garments that end up becoming the backbone of my capsule wardrobe. However, everything else I mostly make myself. I do not suppose I’ll buy dresses or tops in the nearest future. I do not intend to purchase coats either – do not have patience to go from store to store and still probably not find anything suitable. I have just recently bought a white blazer, and this happened because I just saw it without much looking and impulsively purchased. Sewing blazers is a tedious and long exercise. Since I like having MANY blazers, I might purchase one occasionally, however still, I’ll mostly make them myself. So it is probably fair to say that I’ve now reached the point that I wear something me-made on a daily basis. At times my entire outfit for the day in the office is me-made. Have I reached the point of creating a coherent style? Probably not yet.
Now, what is a coherent style, we may ask. In my mind it is probably a capsule wardrobe, something that looks sleek and polished in pictures. Mine is not that at all. And that’s probably because I still sew very impulsively and in all colors of a rainbow. If I were to take a picture of all the garments I’ve made, that would be an extremely colorful mess! 🙂 However, this does not prevent me from creating nice, season appropriate styles everyday. So yes, even though I’m still quite a bit messy in my sewing results, me-made garments bring me loads of joy and energy every day. And that is what’s the most important, isn’t it?
With this wish of creating a well balanced style, an expectation of sticking to elaborate sewing plans was ruling my mind. But this has never really occured. I still make the most weird project choices, change opinions several times before even starting the project, I still purchase the fabric thinking of one pattern and then would change my mind few times before settling on a completely different one. Like for example, I bought 1.5 m of this denim fabric a year ago, was planning jeans, but the fabric arrived very thick and stiff, so from jeans I’ve slowly drifted to an unlined jacket. This doesn’t sound like a consistent styling process, does it? And I don’t know if that’s ever gonna change. However, after thinking about this intensely, I finally realized, that this is probably my way of creating.
Once I’ve received a direct message on Instagram from someone who is not my follower with a question – Are you a designer? Since I rarely reply to users whom I do not know, I did not reply to this one either. I don’t know if the question was sincere or some sort of line. But it made me think. I am not a designer in my estimation – I am a finance specialist! But then perhaps I am just a tiny bit of a designer too? 🙂 Just a bit. And this thought made me smile ever so slightly.
So how do I decide on what I’ll make next? At times the choice is fabric stash dictated, at other times – some kind of inspiration spotting makes me fixate on an idea. Even though I wrote in my previously mentioned post about how we should not stash up fabrics, it is so difficult not to! I constantly have two shelves full of fabrics. Not more than that, as I’ve promised myself not to increase my stash beyond those two shelves. But still, they never seem to become less packed. And when I think of what garment I’d like to make next, I’d first check this fabrics pile and try to use the fabric from it. I also have dedicated, pre-planned patterns for all of these fabrics – plans, that change ever so often. So if I were to lack an idea what to work on next, there is always a list that I can resort to. This rarely happens though, but that’s an option! 🙂
What happens more often is that I suddenly figure out that I want or need some kind of a garment, and then I usually would know very well what color, style and shape the garment should be of. Like this winter I knew that I needed a coat. Made a winter coat, then proceeded on with spring coat, and as spring (hopefully) progresses, am now working on a trench coat. Coats all over the place this season for me! And when I’m done with this bunch of coats, I’ll turn to something else. For example, I’ve figured the other day that I’d like to have a pair of white wide-leg pants and wear them with silver silk sleeveless top. Might have seen this somewhere or maybe not, don’t remember really, but I’ll make that in due time. Will use already tested wide-leg pants pattern and already have in mind a pattern for the top. Won’t this idea get overlaid by some other exciting idea? Have no clue, but if it does, then it’ll be for good!
I’ve found ways to prepare for my impulsive creativity. That’s necessary because the nearest haberdashery store is 10 km from my home, and the best haberdashery store that has anything in stock is 20 km from my home. I’ve had these occasions of figuring out that for my next unexpected idea I need a zipper in some odd color, and so I’d need to dedicate an hour to go to the store and get it. After several funny journeys of this sort I realized that I should prepare better. There is now a good handful of zippers in any color in my box. I have a bunch of elastic in different widths, threads in different colors, shoulder pads of different thickness. The other important haberdashery item is facings. Gradually I’ve collected an extensive collection of facings of different colors, weights and types. And I have ENOUGH of each one for my next potential project. I used to buy interfacing tape in meters, then realized that this makes no sense and bought bulk reels of few kinds. Interestingly enough, none of these supplies are expensive, so there is no reason to purchase them in incremental pieces.
I guess with this extensive treasure of sewing supplies I’m slowly turning into a hardcore sewist. Still not a designer or artisan, but sewist 🙂 That’s ok, though. I believe that I create variety of styles out of me-made clothes, or should I say, my makes nicely complement and extend my existing style.
However the technical implementation will never be of lower importance for me. The reason why I am not very productive is that, of course, I have a full time job that is very demanding. But also, I don’t make clothes that would be just few pieces of fabric stitched together. I deeply care about the fit, the shape (hence all those interfacings), inside finish and nice hidden touches, like trimmings or labels. It takes so much longer to create a garment that would be awesomely made inside out. And maybe, just maybe, this is something that pushes me one step closer to becoming a “designer”! 😀
This might have turned into a bit light, unusual and self-reflective post. However, I decided to share it regardless. Hopefully, you’ve found one or another thought that may appear interesting or refreshing. While for me it was a nice way to summarize my reflections on my recent sewing experience and make sure to not be too serious about all of this 🙂
Let me also use this opportunity to share that I am FINALLY working on the trench coat for spring. Fingers crossed it will be a hit! It better be, because this fabric is by Oscar de la Renta and the lining is luxurious silk. Yeah, that’s something that works fine for both – sewing and style!