Fixes and other musings

It happens so that every half a year I end up writing an insights post, and that is exactly what I decided to do this time again. This November I’ve celebrated two years anniversary of my blog. Am happy to report that I still enjoy sewing and blogging, arguably that’s longer than one could have expected. And yet, here we are – majority of my clothes are now me-made and I’m definitely planning to continue!

I’ve chosen this name for the post inspired by my dear online friend Diane of Dream.Cut.Sew who has encouraged me since the very beginning of my sewing journey and continues being an inspiration to me. Diane once had musings, I loved the expression, often I have musings, too. This time around I’d like to share with you how I go about my decision making process when planning my projects and my wardrobe, and also what I do with some of previously made garments that might not be loved all that much or end up being damaged.

Recent findings and revelations

This year it was so curious to observe my choices and decisions evolving. Few years ago my thoughts were all over the place, partly caused by share abundance that had hit me in the sewing world. I’d purchase all those crazy colorful fabrics, I wouldn’t think through all that well which pattern would work for which fabric. It excited me too much to just be able to make almost any garment there was, and in the process I failed to work out any sort of consistency across my projects. This slowly started being obvious this year, when I realized that many of me-made garments do not match with much else in my closet. It’s probably ok to have a screaming color summer top that you can dilute with neutral pants. But that’s not the same in colder seasons when there are more garments in the outfit that should preferably match.

Slowly but surely I started narrowing down colors and designs meant for my projects. This season neutrals feel the most comfortable to me. For some reason I lean more towards blacks, greys and at times navy hues. Last season that was more Earth colors, but that’s no longer the case this season. From time to time I would still make a colorful garment or two, and that’s mostly because of my fabric stash being collected over the course of several years (one more reason not to hoard fabric!). There still is bright raspberry coating in my stash, it’s cashmere blend, so I’d better find ways to use it! But otherwise, my fabric stash slowly turns to less screaming hues and that’s something that comforts me quite a bit.

Another lane of considerations is related with fabric content. I’m still crazy about natural fibers and rarely purchase anything else. But few revelations appeared during last year. Interestingly enough, it is actually possible to be too warm in an outfit. I have never believed I’d say so, but here we go! I would usually be cold anywhere I go. That’s why it was amazing to be able to make many different pure wool garments as I believed they’d increase my overall level of comfort during colder seasons, which essentially is 9 months of the year in our climate. However, when I wore my recent houndstooth tweed jacket on alpaca sweater to the office, I became so hot, that I had to conclude I’d overdone it. Apparently there might be too much wool in the outfit, and now I know! πŸ™‚

One more revelation is related with silks that I had accustomed to use as linings. I had considered an ultimate luxury to line wool garment with silk, and perhaps it really is! But silks may be different, and I had to learn that in a difficult way. The last time I used silk fabric as lining was for my beautiful trench coat, and that lining is gorgeous indeed. The problem though is that this particular silk is not slippery enough, which means that it does not add enough wearing ease to the garment. Since then I’ve become so much more careful, and haven’t used silk as lining to any of my recent garments. There are still few silks purchased meant for linings, but I’ll test their suitability for that purpose so much more carefully.

I’ve written in few of my previous posts how I had realized that dresses were not the answer to all the questions in the wardrobe. I still stand by this. There are some 15 me-made summer dresses in my wardrobe, whereas I’ve made only 4 colder season dresses and do not plan many more. I love making dresses, but during cold seasons I do not wear them much, so there is no point in making loads of them. Instead I sew many coats, and should now turn more to jackets. Have recently rediscover skirts. Skirts have been undeservedly forgotten item of the wardrobe, perhaps due to me not owning many of them. However, making a skirt is an excellent way to use up wool fabric leftovers, and I have many of those after previous jackets and coats projects. So here we go – skirts have started appearing in my closet as an unintended consequence of making coats!

Rescue work

This summer I discovered up-cycling as the way of creating something new out of something unloved. All of the garments that I’ve remade are worn so much more than initial garments were, so I guess – yay! As part of my considerate fashion efforts I’ve also recently mended few of my garments for the first time.

In general I hate mending! If I bought pants which were too long for me, I’d most likely get them shortened for a fee instead of doing that myself. It’s ridiculous in a way as I’m perfectly capable of doing that myself. On the other hand, I no longer purchase anything that would require mending, so this argument is quite irrelevant.

But recently two independent situations happened that required some sort of solution, and one of the options was to throw the garment out. I did not want to do that, and so here let me share two short stories of rescue work that I’m pretty happy about.

Autumn dress transformation story

Last autumn I made this dress that turned out really well. It was of very nice color scheme, and fabric content was a joy to wear. The dress was light and unrestricting, so in all respects – Ultimate autumn dress. The only problem with it was that in the process of making it I screwed up the length of the skirt. It was designed to be longer, but I made a mistake in cutting it, and eventually ran short of fabric for a longer skirt. That’s how I ended up with length just below knees, which is the least flattering skirt length on me. This dress was worn, but was not loved much. After several considerations on how to style it, I realized, that it looks really well with a wide belt (although it was not designed to be worn with a belt at all – its waistline is higher up than natural). When I put the belt on, it became clear that the dress was too long, and hey – whatever is too long can be shortened! So that’s what I did. I cut 5 cm off of the skirt length and created a proper wide hem for it. Initially the hem was minuscule rolled hem as I was trying to squeeze every centimeter of skirt length. And now I like the dress so much better! It looks so much more fun and flattering, and I’m pretty sure will be worn so much more often than before!

Tweed coat rescue story

This spring I made this glorious unlined tweed coat that I absolutely loved and wore all the time. One day couple of months ago I came back from my workout session, started hanging the coat into the closet and with peripheral vision spotted something unusual at the back of the coat. I looked straight at that something, and it was this:

I was startled. It quickly dawned on me, that I probably wear my coats more often in a car than outside. Of course, majority of me-made coats are long, because, you know – style! So what happens is that each time I get into my car, the coat gets pulled in all sorts of awkward ways. Lined coats are perhaps more flexible, and it is easier to sit comfortably on them, whereas unlined coats, like this one, get abused more harshly. And apparently, unlined and uninterfaced tweed is not too happy to take abuse!

While making this coat I interfaced all the seams that would be hidden. However this horizontal back waist seam was very much exposed, and I did not want the interfacing tape to show up inside the coat, so it was left uninterfaced. Continuous pulling of this seam each time I’d get into the car ended up pulling those delicate warp threads, and eventually the area thinned so grossly.

I was really upset about what had happened. My first thought was that I would most likely need to throw this coat out. This was very disappointing to comprehend as the coat had just recently been made. Next I promised myself to always interface tweeds. Something I am true to from then on. But then I recalled that for some inexplicable reason I had kept a small piece of this fabric, and started wondering if the coat could somehow be rescued. That leftover piece was too small to make anything out of it, so there had really been no point in keeping it. But I did, as though knowing that I might need it shortly.

Let me share how the rescue operation went. First I unpicked 15 cm long side seams portions at the waist. It was tricky to do as the seams were very well concealed in that busy fabric pattern, and also there were multiple seams there as the belt parts had been sewn into side seams too. Next, I had to unpick all bias tape finishes of those portions of side seams that I had just unpicked. It was an annoyingly lengthy process, but there was no other way for me to achieve what I wanted. I was planning to cut out the damaged portion of the back waist seam and install a properly interfaced insert that would be of the width of the belt.

So I cut out 4 cm wide damaged area out of the back (2 cm up and down from the back waist seam). The edges of that hole were interfaced using interfacing tape. I no longer cared that the interfacing tape would be visible. Then I cut 8 cm wide insert out of the leftover fabric and properly interfaced it. What was left to do was installing the insert, which I did using 1 cm seam allowance. To hide those two seams I stitched on a piece of lining the lower part of which was slip-stitched in place by hand.

Finally I was able to stitch back previously unpicked bias tape in order to patch the finish of side seams. The ends of the belt were attached to that newly created back waistband. And finally side seams were stitched back to where they were. The slide show below demonstrates the rescue process.

With this extensive rescue operation I managed to salvage my so much loved coat, and continued wearing it this autumn. I hope this patchwork will hold and I’ll be able to enjoy this coat for the years to come!

I hope you enjoyed this post! It was a bit different than many other posts on my blog, however I thought that it could be interesting to share some of the recent thoughts and especially this latter coat rescue project. I am currently working on one more coat and will of course write a post on this project as soon as the coat is finished!

Let there be peace in the world! πŸ’™πŸ’›

~Giedre~

Casual herringbone coat

When I was offered by Fabworks Mill Shop to collaborate on their fresh-from-the-mill Yorkshire tweeds collection, I immediately agreed! I’ve worked with their fabrics before, and enjoy wearing those garments very much. This project was also a joy to engage in, and so now I have added one more coat to my autumn collection!

I had wanted to add a casual, sporty kind of coat to my wardrobe for a while. Did not have a particular idea for what that might be, but was well aware that my current coats were either unlined and light ones, or then pretty formal and office-like. So adding to this a coat that would work well with jeans and sweatshirts seemed like a good idea. And then I was offered to check out the newest Heart of Huddersfield (a.k.a. HoH) collection that Fabworks create every autumn. Thus the plan was sealed that my next project will be a casual coat. And so here it is – warm, relaxed looking and in this awesome lavender color.

Fabric

This year’s Fabworks HoH collection offers 12 colors in pronounced herringbone weave. I was able to choose any one of them and add matching lining to it. If this had happened a year ago, I think I would have chosen some vibrant color – I’ve made enough crazy color choices before! πŸ™‚ But nowadays I am hopefully a bit more clever. This season especially I’m fond of calm colors – greys, blacks, some earth colors. And this led me to choose as calm a color scheme as I could find. Basically I was looking for something that would be as close to grey as possible, and that’s how I settled on this gorgeous Lavender storm herringbone. As soon as my fabrics arrived, I went ahead with the project. It was important for me to make this coat as soon as possible, as it is not quite a winter fabric really (well, at least not for our winters with -10 C temperature being completely ordinary). I really wanted to be able to still wear the coat this autumn.

Considerations

What I loved about this coat design were its off-shoulder sleeves and wide collar. These features give the coat its signature relaxed look. What I did not like all that much were those patch pockets. Honestly, I could have replaced them with welt pockets, but am ashamed to admit that I fell into the trap of laziness. Had the pattern called for welt pockets, I would have made welt pockets. But it did not, so here we are – patch pockets it is. For my defense, these patch pockets probably contribute to the casual look of the coat. Of course they do, right? πŸ™‚

Another consideration that I had was related with the belt. I decided that fabric covered buckle would work just perfectly here, but had no idea how to get it covered. So first I asked at my local haberdashery store if they provided a service of covering buckles (they have covered buttons for me once). And they do, but the problem was that there was only one size of buckles that they cover, while my belt was supposed to be wider than that. So then I bought few sizes of regular black buckles and secretly thought to myself that I might somehow manage to cover one of them with fabric myself. And I tried, tried thoroughly, but failed miserably. I know there are kits for covering buckles, but I could not find one anywhere in the vicinity, so yes – the buckle is black this time.

Cutting and sewing

Herringbone weave in this fabric is quite pronounced. This meant that the fabric could not really be cut over two layers. Or should I say, I did not want to do that. I wanted to nicely match those herringbone columns. Even though it was not as elaborate an exercise as matching plaid, I still took my time to cut the fabric making sure that the columns were absolutely vertical and perfectly centered. All pattern pieces were cut from a single layer of fabric to achieve that. So the lapels, for example, are perfectly symmetric, the center front starts with a complete column. Pockets are also cut so that the weave continues from the body of the coat to the pocket as though uninterrupted. So yeah, I’ve done some extensive fabric pattern matching for this coat that no one will ever notice, but I will and that is important.

The construction of this coat was simpler than that of many other coats or jackets. Since sleeves are of off-shoulder type, there is nothing particularly difficult happening with shoulders – there are no shoulder pads or sleeve heads installed. The design did not ask for a vent either. Which in hindsight is a bit of a problem. The coat is quite narrow at hem, so the vent would have helped by adding wearing ease at hem. On the other hand, arguably it would have made the coat a bit more formal, and perhaps that’s why it is not there.

All in all the only tricky part of the coat construction process was the collar. As it always is. I just love this collar! It is very well designed and lays perfectly. I like it being wider than many other collars out there. And constructing it was also an ok process. Interestingly enough, this time around I managed to make the collar without any reference to the instructions. Afterwards I checked them out and saw that the method explained there was more tricky that the one I used. Perhaps I am slowly turning into pro! πŸ™‚

What I found useful in constructing the collar was first attaching diagonal ends of the collar (and also undercollar) to the lapels, and only then cutting into the corner and attaching the main curve of the collar stand to the neck opening. This way it is easier to make that tricky corner lay nice and flat. I’ve seen this method used by Mimi G in some of her Youtube tutorials and can confirm that it works really well. Also, you wanna thread-mark all of the main corners and angles of the collar and lapels prior to constructing anything, if you want to be precise and create a truly beautiful collar.

When the lapels were made, i.e. when the facing was attached to the main body of the coat, I took my time to grade seams thus reducing bulk, and understitched the portion of the front opening up to the collar breaking point. So as always, I was pretty meticulous and did not skip a single process step. Love my coats and jackets being perfect!

There was a bit of trouble with the facing, which at the time I did not know how to solve. Since the lining is horizontally striped, I figured I’d attach bias binding to the edge of the facing thus creating sort of a border between the main facing fabric and the lining. And attach I did, but the problem was that the tape ended up slightly pulling the facing edge (visible in the picture below). Of course this couldn’t work, and quite disappointed I ended up ripping that binding off the facing. So now there is no decorative binding there, and my coat does not look any worse because of that! After thinking this through later I realized, that I should have probably used walking foot to attach that slippery satin binding. This will have to be tested next time.

I did not need to make any amendments to this coat design really. Sleeves were of right length, the coat itself was of right length. Installing the lining was pretty straightforward. I’ve had my struggles with installing linings into coats before, and that was mostly because I either did not trust lining pattern, or would skip the tacking phase in the process. This time around the lining was cut in a clever way – nothing peaks out anywhere and looks just perfectly from inside. Now I would never skip the tacking stage while attaching the lining to the facing. It is important to make sure that the lining will not slip or move while stitching it to much heavier and more stable main fabric of the facing. All in all I managed to make this coat without a single serious incident (binding situation being the only nuisance, and still not too important). Few close-ups of the coat – in the slideshow below.


This project was sponsored by Fabworks Mill Shop – check out Disclosures to understand more about this type of collaboration. For this coat I used some 2.4 meters of Lavender storm herringbone fabric, it is medium weight pure wool (275 GSM), and 2 meters of matching Liquorice humbug twill lining (80 % viscose, 20% acetate). Both fabrics were gifted to me by Fabworks. This HoH wool fabric is the realest wool I’ve ever seen, along with many wool coatings that Fabworks have in stock. As my sewing friend Laura once put it – it smells like sheep πŸ™‚ It is a bit coarse though, that’s something to remember while planning the garment as it should be lined at all times really.

I’ve decided not to share what pattern I’ve used for this project. I used the following notions to complete this coat: some 1.5 meters of medium weight interfacing, quite a few meters of straight and bias interfacing tape, 2 spools of thread (Gutermann no. 497 and 493), both gifted too, 3 metal snaps of 2 cm diameter, and a belt buckle. I will not provide the cost of this project, as the main supplies were gifted. This coat was made in October, 2022.


It is a very nice coat indeed. For me it will be an autumn and spring coat, as the fabric is of medium weight. It may as well work as a winter coat in more mild climate. But for us, where the usual winter temperature is -10 C, and at times may drop to -25 C, this coat would not be enough to feel warm. For -10 C I have a very proper winter coat made out of Fabworks fabric too, which I absolutely love. That one is 550 GSM animal and can help endure any winter!

As for the styling of this coat, initially I thought that it would go the best with chunky sweaters, wide pants or jeans and other similar relaxed outfits, and I’m pretty sure it will! But while taking these pictures inside (it was raining outside), I managed to endure for like a minute in this head to toe wool outfit before starting sweating badly. The outfit is still nice though – left picture below. So yeah, wool is great fiber, and my new coat is warm even though not at all thick. Wanting to take few more pictures, I ended up changing the outfit to short sleeved black T-shirt and recently made leather skirt, and in that one I was able to survive a bit longer before again succumbing to sweat. After this experience, I very much trust my new coat. It will be warm, cozy, and will work well with essentially any outfit there might be. Ah, I should purchase black knee-length boots to go with it, too!

I am planning to make a video of all of me-made coats a bit later. Later because my next project will be yet another coat! I just absolutely love making coats. What is your favorite garment type which you can’t have enough of? Share in the comments section below!

As for coats, I have not yet achieved the master level, where my dear online sewing friend Karen at Intostitches on IG is. Karen has made and on a regular basis wears some 50 coats! It’s quite extraordinary. I am still working towards that, but with some 7 and soon to be 8 coats am not too poorly positioned either! There is essentially a coat for every few degrees of outside temperature in my closet. And it’s not yet enough for me. I really want to make a very formal coat, too. Have everything lined up for it – gorgeous black cashmere, a pattern, everything, and I even know how this coat will be called. It will be the Beautiful coat. Will absolutely have to find time for that one. Meanwhile, after this project there is some 0.60 m of fabric still left – a skirt will get made out of it. Have recently discovered the joy of making skirts out of leftover fabrics, and am definitely planning to continue!

Let there be peace in the world! πŸ’™πŸ’›

~Giedre~

Two autumn skirts

Skirts have been undeservedly forgotten garment in my closet. For some reason I have not bought skirts for like forever, and they would be pretty much at the end of the list of my planned projects. That is until this autumn, when I realized that a skirt can be an excellent option to use up leftover wool fabrics. Like in summer it is a top that ends up being a solution for all small leftover pieces. There are remainders of almost all suitings that I’ve used to make jackets out of. So now it seems that all those jackets might get their own skirts to hang out with! πŸ™‚ This time around I’ve made two skirts that match their respective jackets. And have at least one more leftover wool for one more skirt.

My courage in attempting to make skirts is not very stable really. I somehow do not trust my judgment when I try to make a well fitting skirt. That is why each time I’d try and try on the skirt in the making, and would question each and every seam allowance. And that’s using the same single pattern! Well, the reason for this paranoid approach is that each time I make a skirt using that one single pattern that I use, the skirt turns out differently. And I can’t quite wrap my head around this. Maybe I need to make 10 more skirts to finally figure them out?

Pattern

I’ve briefly shared in my post about my recent Recycled skirt how I’ve made the one and only skirt pattern. Essentially I took McCall’s dress pattern M7994, applied few modifications and voila – there I had a skirt pattern! It might as well be that it is far from perfect. But for now it works. With these recent two skirts, I’ve by now made three skirts in total using the same me-made pattern, struggled a bit with all of them, but still intend to use it going forward. Now, speaking about going forward, my dear sewing friend Laura has just recently drawn a tailored skirt pattern from scratch for me (she’s now also working on my pants pattern, which I’m very much looking forward to trying out, too). So it will be very curious in the future to try out that special pattern made specially for me!

Houndstooth tweed skirt

I wrote in my previous post on the Lovely tweed jacket how much I wanted to also make a skirt out of the same piece of fabric and how much I had to economize while cutting the fabric to make sure enough of it was left for the skirt. Honestly, there was just as much fabric for me to make this fairly short skirt!

The start of this project was quicker as I had had all the pattern pieces already cut – I did that while cutting the jacket pattern pieces. I just needed to make sure the front and back were matched over the side seams, and the back seam was also joining two back pieces together nicely. The only caveat to the cutting of this skirt was that I was unable to cut it so that there would only be one vertical red stripe at the center back – I simply did not have enough fabric for that. So now I have two (left photo below). But otherwise the skirt is pretty well pattern-matched, I think. In order to stabilize this tweed and make sure it would not wear out at the areas of the most tension I ended up interfacing the upper half of the skirt. This was not an ideal solution as it made the skirt thicker, but honestly, it is more important for me to wear it as long as possible, and I believe the interfacing will add durability to it.

This skirt for some reason sits higher up on the waist if compared to the next one, even thought the same pattern was used for both. This accommodates the straight waistband that I’ve installed. The skirt is fully lined and has a smaller hem than I would perhaps have liked. But that was because I had to end the skirt with a full horizontal stripe, and also I did not want the skirt to be any shorter – it is short already.

I quite like wearing it with the matching jacket. And I am pretty sure it will get a lot of wearing on its own – with classic shirts or chunky sweaters. The only thing I’m unsure of is if those burgundy tights aren’t too much here (and overall, are colorful tights still a thing? πŸ™‚ ). What do you think? Help me out here in the comments sections below!

For this skirt I used some 0.6 meters of this beautiful wool blend houndstooth tweed that remained after my previous jacket project. The pattern was self-drafted. Other notions were: some 0.5 meters of burgundy lining, a bit of lightweight interfacing, 30 cm invisible zipper, and coordinating thread. This skirt cost me 27 Eur, it was made in October, 2022.

Herringbone skirt

The other skirt that I’ve just recently finished, had been cut a month or two ago, when I got hooked on making skirts. But when I basted it, I couldn’t quite make up my mind if it was turning out ok, and put it aside. Meanwhile, other projects happened, but this time I decided to finish this project.

So this light herringbone wool piece was left after my so well received Jasika blazer. It was also a very small piece, and at first I was unsure if I was going to be able to squeeze a skirt out of it. Well, I managed, but it ended up being so short, that I had to devise a special hem for it, as I simply did not have those usual 4 cm for the hem.

This skirt sits a bit lower on the hips for some reason. That was why I decided to make a convex waistline for this skirt. For that I reused a waistline from the pants I made last year. So yeah – I threw all sorts of things at these skirts and watched what would stick πŸ™‚

The main peculiarity of this skirt is its hem. Provided that I did not have a proper hem, I had to come up with something. So I cut a long 3 cm wide bias strip out of lining fabric, stitched it on to the hem using 1 cm hem allowance, folded the raw edge of the bias strip in, pressed and then slip-stitched this additional hem in place by hand. Even if it is not too sound a solution for a skirt hem, I quite like how I solved the problem I had on my hands.

While making this skirt I was not planning to wear it with the matching blazer. For some reason I thought it to be either too formal or too dull an outfit. Instead I was planning to wear it with shirts or chunky sweaters just as the previous skirt. But when I actually tried the skirt together with the jacket, I realized – oddly – what a fine jacket it is! πŸ™‚ I’m still unsure about the duo, but perhaps am less skeptic than I was before. The question remains, if this outfit is not a bit uniform-like, something perhaps akin to what a flight attendant might wear…

For this skirt I used some 0.50 meters of pure wool in herringbone weave. The pattern was the same self-drafted pattern. Other notions were: some leftover 0.50 m of lining fabric that I no longer remember the content of, an invisible 30 cm zipper, and coordinating thread. This skirt cost me nothing as I had attributed all the fabric costs to the blazer. This skirt was also made in October, 2022.

Few learnings about skirt making

So after making a few skirts using the same pattern and them turning out a bit differently, I’ve learnt few new things.

  • Depending on the fabric, the skirt may fit differently, so it is always worthwhile first basting center back and side seams, even if the pattern has been used before. When basting the skirt I attach a simple 3-3.5 cm ribbon as a temporary waistband so that I could properly try the skirt on.
  • After several mistakes I realized that the lining should be cut a bit wider than the main fabric (by some 5 mm on each side), especially so if lining fabric does not contain elastane. Linings with elastane are really preferable for skirts.
  • Also, to add even more ease, there is not point in making darts for a lining of a skirt. Simple pleats at the waistband will do the trick perfectly.
  • Previously in finishing the waistband I would stitch in the ditch from the right side in order to attach the waistband with the facing. But this used to be very tricky – from the wrong side that seam would not be inconspicuous and at times would veer to the lining. So this time I used another method. The last seam of a skirt project now is hand sewn catch stitch seam along the lower edge of the waistband facing that joins two waistbands together without showing up on either side. It is performed this way:

I really like both of these skirts. Being made of wool they should be warm and cozy. I wear previously made skirts often, that’s why I’m pretty sure these two will get a lot of wearing as part of all sorts of outfits! I have one more leftover piece for one more skirt – will need to see when I could find time for one more skirt!

Meanwhile, I might as well share that I have successfully fixed my Cambria duster that had gotten worn out – the problem I shared in my previous post. It was quite a feat actually and I am planning to share that salvage story in a post a bit later. And now I’ll be working on a coat in a glorious Yorkshire tweed. Can’t wait to see how it will turn out! 🎈

Let there be peace in the world! πŸ’™πŸ’›

~Giedre~

Lovely tweed jacket

With autumn becoming colder and colder I am now wearing all things wool. And do not plan to change my habits, especially as I do not need to! So all of my previously made jackets get worn interchangeably every day to the office. And clearly there are too few wool jackets, skirts or coats in my closet, which will have to be mitigated! So that’s what I’ll concentrate my efforts on for few months to come.

As a non-native English speaker at times I still get to learn how certain things are called. This time I have my doubts about two things at once. I have never come to properly understand, when a jacket is actually a jacket, and when it is a blazer. So don’t be too rough on me if I am using these two terms not exactly as they are supposed to be used (and please, help me out in the comments section below, if you can!) πŸ™‚ And yet, I’m inclined to call my latest make the jacket, hope it is indeed! And then I really did not know how this fabric pattern should be called. One of the kind readers commented below that it is houndstooth tweed, and now I will know.

In the beginning of September I “slipped” once again and bought A LOT of wool fabric. So much that I needed to get one more shelf dedicated to all of my coatings / suitings. It is not ideal as I’m breaking the promise to myself not to hoard fabric. On the other hand, now I’m concentrated on using all this fabric up as much as I can. There currently are 8 fabrics on that new shelf meant mostly for coats, and some – for jackets. This one was one of them, and I am happy to have almost dealt with at least one from the pile!

Initially I was planning to make a very nice double-breasted jacket with large lapels from Burda 2022/09 issue. It felt as though this fabric was meant for that particular design. But then the creative director of the House of G (a.k.a. my dear husband) stepped in and criticized my choice of the design for this fabric, and so I had to pull out another idea which was to re-use another Burda pattern. This one comes from 2021/12 issue, and that one was approved! I have used this pattern for my Very special vintage jacket. It is a very good design indeed, and that’s what ended up being decided. So here we go – my new warm tweed jacket in a very nice, a bit vintage design.

I’ve written in few recent posts about how enjoyable it is to work with tweed. It still is. But, there are few issues with this fabric, that resurfaced recently and that I learnt about in the most unpleasant way. So my much loved wool duster / coat that I made last spring, is now damaged at the back as frequent wearing of it and especially sitting on it while driving a car ended up pulling those delicate fabric threads at the back. It’s not yet a hole, but very much a thin area of fabric at the back which is clearly visible. When I noticed it, I was so upset! But then I tried to console myself by deciding to fix it. I have a piece of that fabric still left, so hopefully it will be possible to patch that area somehow. I might even want to share this story in a post, when I get to it – let’s see.

Anyway, this incident prompted me to realize that tweed, although absolutely awesome fabric, is also unstable and delicate, and that it is probably worthwhile interfacing it at all times in order to avoid similar mishaps. So this jacket is almost fully interfaced. The only part that I left without applying interfacing to were middle sections of sleeves (only the front part, as elbow part is fully interfaced). This of course makes my jacket a bit heavier and thicker, but that’s fine – I want to be able to wear it for a long time!

Something else was different from the last time I used this pattern, and that was this meticulous fabric pattern to be matched all over the place! This is the third project this autumn where I engage in an obsessive matching exercise. And it is fairly surprising, that this does not somehow discourage me. Not that I would extensively love spending time for millimeters play, but I am not opposed to it either. And the final result is so satisfying for me that I can’t even tell! πŸ™‚ So this time around I also started by determining what will be in the center of the garment, and went on from there by matching each subsequent pattern piece to the previous one. The same method was applied while making my recent plaid shacket that I just LOVE and wear all the time! At that moment in time my sewing room was a complete mess – I even took a photo and considered posting it on IG Stories, but then decided not to – too much mess there was! πŸ™‚

The front pieces were cut first. Then I matched horizontal lines of the front with back pieces. The collar and collar stand pieces were cut without much matching, just making sure both of their corners look exactly the same and the same red stripe ran in the middle of all of them. I left cutting sleeves for later, when the body of the jacket would be constructed and colors could be matched. The first thing that had to be stitched were pockets. Of course, I absolutely needed to cut pockets so that they would completely blend into the front pieces. It is actually easier than it could appear. I’ve made a short reel on Instagram how to pattern-match pockets – check it out if you are curious to see how it’s done.

First, the pocket placement needs to be thread-marked on the front piece. Then the paper block of finished pocket gets put on the fabric where the actual pocket would be placed, and fabric pattern is drawn with a pencil on that pocket block. Then this block is transferred on to the fabric and the drawn lines are perfectly matched with fabric pattern. When that is pinned in place, the actual pocket block with all seam allowances is put on top so that the finished pocket block matches the lines within seam allowances on that other block. The actual pocket block then can be pinned in place and fabric can be finally cut. This method worked perfectly for me. I sewed pocket pieces up by lining them, turned to the right side, pressed, and stitched them in place in designated places by hand, thus avoiding the top stitching and making for a very neat finish of the pockets. Love how they turned out!

Next was the time to make a collar. It is a fairly simple design of the collar really. My task was a bit complicated by the fact that this fabric frays like h*ll. So I had to be careful not to let the collar stand to fall apart. I was helped by the fact that all pieces were of course interfaced, but the interfacing I used was that terribly annoying interfacing that I complained about in my post about the Jasika blazer – it kept on disattaching from the fabric and needed to get glued again from time to time. (I’d bought 6 meters of it, and when it is used up finally, I will never buy that one again! It sticks to the ironing cloth too and leaves ugly glue residue on it, I had to throw one of my ironing cloths already, so yeah – no no!)

When the collar was in place, nicely pressed and all, I proceeded by installing the front and back facing, and thus preparing for the lining to get attached a bit later. And then the time to start cutting sleeves came. I decided to match sleeves pattern so that horizontal stripes would continue from the body of the jacket onto sleeves as though uninterrupted (the same method I’d used for the plaid shacket recently). This essentially involves determining what lines / pattern are at the underarm of front and back, and cutting sleeves so that sleeve’s underarm would repeat the same lines / pattern. I do not know, if that’s the “official” method, well, it worked fine for me! Stitching sleeves up was easy, and setting them in was straightforward too – tweed is a very forgiving and flexible fabric, it is easy to shape sleeve heads in tweed.

With that the jacket had already turned into a semi-finished garment. I was able to try it on and concluded that it sits on me really well. The advantage of working with the pattern that had already been used before is that there is so much less questioning self about the fit. No need to try the WIP for a thousand of times trying to figure out if the fit is satisfactory. In this case I just sewed, and it was really nice, and also time saving.

Next step was to deal with all the innards of the jacket and set the lining in. I attached felt sleeve heads and shoulder pads, tacked collar pieces together from inside so that the jacket would be worn with ease and comfort. As always, the insides of the jacket looked messy and intimidating, but that’s how it is with them, that’s how they are supposed to look!

The making of the lining went without an incident. I just cut lining pattern pieces, stitched all pattern pieces together, and there it was. After a number of unpleasant lessons with previous coats, I now always tack the lining to the facing, thus making sure that the lining does not slip or shift while sewing. When I tacked it in place, I saw that the front lining pieces were by some 4 cm shorter than the length of the facing that the lining gets attached to. That’s when I sat there and had to think carefully. The problem on my hands was really caused by the fact that Burda patterns come without seam or hem allowances. I shared a proper rant about that in my post about my Vintage purple jacket. For that jacket I had cut main fabric with 4 cm hem allowance and lining with 3 cm hem allowance. The lining, when installed, was peaking out and I eventually had to rip the hem seam, cut the lining shorter and reattach it again. Having learnt from that, I’d decided this time to cut the main fabric with 4 cm hem allowance and lining with 1.5 cm hem allowance. And that’s why I was staring at too short a lining this time. What I eventually ended up doing was the following. I ripped the tacking of lining sides, pulled it a bit down so that the difference in lengths would be as small as possible (I managed to reduce it to 2 cm if compared to initial 4 cm), tacked again and finally stitched it. And then I just sewed the hem. It is not too bad, it looks fine, when it is finished. But I am still confused as to what to do with those different hem allowances for the main fabric and lining. This puzzle seems to be as permanent as my tough relationship with vents – I somehow deal with the facing hem and the lining, but each time am confused and lost.

When that was done, I ran a hidden catch stitch by hand to tack both sides of hem and sleeves hems in place, and the last bit was to make button holes and attach buttons. For the buttons, I chose special ones. Few weeks ago we visited my aunt who kept all of my grandma’s buttons after she passed away. My grandma was a seamstress, that’s partly why I sew now, and so it was important for me to at least see all those buttons. When checking out the box, I found some buttons that I recalled from my childhood when I played with them, it was a pretty emotional moment. My aunt then said that I was welcome to take those buttons with me. I was very happy to do that, and so that day I came back home with a decent box of vintage buttons. When I needed buttons for this jacket, first I opened my grandma’s box, and there they were – perfect burgundy buttons! I think they work very well for this jacket!

The making of the button holes was an ordeal, though. Actually, it always is! I do not quite remember a coat or jacket project where the button holes step would go without an incident! And this particular instance unfortunately was not an exception. I started by making the third or the lowest button hole, just to test how it would go. It came out a bit tilted. I swore and proceeded on to the other ones. Other two were sewn in fine, but while cutting them open I managed to cut into few threads, and both button holes started fraying. I swore again. I had been very cautious, I used my precision scissors and not a seam ripper, and still I managed to cut into thread (I’ve done that on almost every coat or jacket project in history, so things aren’t improving on that front). Luckily, there is a decent fix for this mishap – I stitch a short zigzag portion on the damaged area, and so those poor button holes get “patched”. Then I had to decide on what to do with the third skew one. After a bit of contemplation I ended up deciding to rip it and start all over again. And rip I did, tried again, and in the middle of the procedure I somehow touched that small sensor / guide thing protruding from the sewing machine that reads the length of the button hole as set on the button hole foot. Surely, the machine started stitching the end of the button hole right in the middle of the actual button hole! I was swearing wholeheartedly while ripping that second unsuccessful button hole. Finally, on the third attempt I managed to finish the button hole without an incident, and breathed a very well deserved sigh of relief. Buttons got attached quickly, I also embellished pockets by attaching the buttons to them, too. And with that my lovely tweed jacket was complete!

For this jacket I used some 1.40 m of 80% wool / 20% poly tweed that I had bought at my local fabric store. This fabric was of a very good 160 cm width, and I economized on the fabric very much in order to squeeze a matching skirt out of the same piece. There were 2 meters of this fabric initially, so I had to play a good puzzle game to make sure I could cut skirt pieces out of it, too. Actually, before cutting jacket sleeves, I pinned skirt pieces on just to make sure I wouldn’t cut sleeves awkwardly and then run out of fabric for the skirt. The pattern used here is a modified pattern #108 from Burda 2021/12 magazine. I cut it in size 36 and modified the fit quite a bit. Other notions used were: a lot of interfacing (I used lighter one for the entire front and back, and then added medium one for upper back part and sleeves), sturdy horsehair canvas on bias for chest parts, 1.3 m of viscose blend lining in burgundy, 2 felt sleeve heads, 2 shoulder pads, 5 24 mm buttons, and coordinating thread (Gutermann no. 46). This jacket cost me 57 Eur, it was made in October, 2022.

I really like my new jacket! I am really proud of matching all those burgundy and green stripes in all directions around the entire jacket. That’s how I think I’ve moved an inch closer to haute couture quality! 😎

And now I am working on the matching skirt that will end up being quite short, as there was little fabric left for it! So these two will hopefully make for a flattering ensemble. Meanwhile, I intend to style this jacket with some chino pants and a light sweater or a T-shirt. Am pretty sure I’ll invent many more styles to wear it as part of. The jacket is quite thick actually, that’s because this fabric is thick itself, and then it is thoroughly interfaced. I hope that will be a good thing and that the jacket will be warm to provide me comfort in winter. And of course, I would not be me if I hadn’t thought of shoes and a bag to style it with! So here they are – my burgundy loafers and my fancy burgundy handbag that in my view go perfectly with this jacket! Love this very much and looking forward to finishing the skirt. Will then write a short post about my styling journey of the two!

Let there be peace in the world! πŸ’™πŸ’›

~Giedre~

Cozy plaid shacket

I’ve wanted to make a shacket since last year, however somehow other projects would end up being prioritized. Having as many ideas and plans as I do, for the project to be prioritized is quite a thing! πŸ™‚ There were few shacket patterns that have been lined up on my list, however the main missing link up until recently was fabric – I simply couldn’t find any suitable one that I truly liked. And then few weeks ago I stumbled across this plaid wool at my local fabric store, it was on sale, there were the last 2 meters left… I liked it a lot and I figured that finally I might actually make a shacket for this autumn. Autumn came very suddenly this year, and now I have my first new outerwear garment to enjoy it in!

Shacket is a mix between shirt and jacket, hence the name. It can be made of plaid or in plain fabric, usually features chest pockets with flaps, cuffed sleeves and curvy hem. I see them worn everywhere this autumn. Now that I’ve made one for myself, it becomes clear why they are so popular. It is a very easy going garment πŸ™‚ Sleeves are wide, shoulders are wide, it’s easy to drive a car in it, it looks nice worn unbuttoned, with collar up, or it can be buttoned up, if it is chilly outside. Perhaps some of those RTW shackets that are made of cotton or wool blends are less versatile. Mine is (of course) made of pure wool, so it is both – nice and also warm! A shacket might be rather utilitarian and not too flattering, but I definitely needed one in my wardrobe for those various occasions when nothing fancy is actually needed.

Preparation

I just love plaid, but it tends to backfire πŸ™‚ Cutting pattern pieces out of plaid fabric is twice as time consuming as using any other fabric. That’s because every single pattern piece needs to be cut separately. Shackets are perhaps somewhat behind trench coats when it comes to the number of all sorts of details, however, they have enough of them, especially as every single small piece needs to be matched meticulously and cut out separately. My shacket features chest pockets that are cut on bias, pocket flaps that are cut out of the plain side of the fabric, yoke tab, sleeve tabs. Since I’ve decided not to line my shacket, even though it has been designed to be lined, I had to sort out the inside finish, too. This meant that I needed to cut front and hem facings as well as inside yoke. All in all there were many pieces indeed.

My project started with something unusual – I had paper pattern printed out in the coffee shop on a plotter printer! This option costs quite a bit more, however it is so worth it! I loved just rolling out a long sheet of paper and quickly cutting all paper blocks without needing to glue anything together. I do not suppose I’ll be printing on A4 paper and glue the sheets together in the nearest future!

Paper blocks were promptly ready, and then I spent a good half a day for cutting all pattern pieces out of fabric, interfacing everything and preparing to start the actual sewing. Plaid matching started with figuring out where the darker stripes should be positioned. I decided that the center of the vertical darker stripe should sit at the very center of the garment and so the first front piece was cut out. Then I marked the center lines of those dark stripes with pins so that plaid could be matched for the other front piece. This method helped me all along as this fabric was double sided.

Yokes, pockets and the undercollar were supposed to be cut on bias. To center them correctly I ended up determining the center of respective paper pattern blocks, cut a small hole at the center and positioned it on the center of the dark rectangle of the fabric. Pocket flaps, sleeve tabs and collar stands were cut out of the plain side of the fabric. Smaller pieces were cut out of block-interfaced fabric – that’s how I tried to save at least a bit of time on cutting part of the process. Eventually I was staring at what looked like a hundred pattern pieces, and my entire sewing room – the floor and any horizontal surface – was covered in tiny wool dust (for lack of a better term). I vacuumed and vacuumed, but I guess it will take a few weeks to completely get rid of it πŸ™‚

Construction

Initially I did not have a top stitching thread in matching color – was waiting for my recent online order to arrive. This meant that I had to change the order of the process a bit. Normally I’d have made the main body first, but this would have involved attaching the back tab to the yoke and that small thing had to be top stitched before installing it. So instead I started by making all the small parts. I made pockets, attached them to the front pieces, made all the flaps and tabs and put them aside to wait for the top stitching thread, and then made the collar. Interestingly enough, the collar stand looked badly too long for the collar. When I somehow managed to pin it to the collar, the entire thing came out terribly curled up. But I did not relent, and when these two pieces were machine stitched and pressed, it started making sense. That special collar stand gives the collar a great shape and it is so comfortable to wear the garment now! When the collar was made, I shaped it and left of the dress form overnight – it gained this nice perfect shape before being attached.

When my top stitching thread finally arrived, I was ready to continue. Technically, it is not even a top stitching thread – I used denim thread which is not as thick, and I really liked how it worked for this project.

Now, the yoke tab could have been installed, yokes were next. To avoid exposed seams I used burrito method to install yokes. Arguably, this fabric is a bit too thick for double yoke, but that’s fine – I like this inside finish very much! Then I attached top stitched pocket flaps that had button holes in them too. Next were front opening and hem facings. They were cut in such a way that the fabric pattern would match across every seam in all directions – perhaps a bit OCD of me, but I just love that πŸ™‚ I had a bit of thinking to do on how to finish the inside of the garment, and settled on bias tape finish for the side seams, whereas all facings are slip stitched in place to make for a very clean and tidy finish.

Next, the collar went it. I had to deviate from the instructions at this stage. Had the garment been lined, it would have been so much easier. Now, I stitched the undercollar to the main body of the garment, whereas the upper collar finish was more tricky. First, I attached the hanger loop to the center back and then tacked the upper collar in place. I considered slip stitching it in place, but honestly, I don’t like slip-stitching on coats, so instead I machine-stitched it just 1-2mm off the edge, and now it is securely in place.

The time for sleeves came. I hadn’t cut out sleeves yet at that stage as I was hoping to match plaid on the sleeves with the main body of the garment. The plaid is matched around each sleeve too. In order to avoid bulk that bias tape would create, underarm seams are simply overlocked. Installing sleeves went without incident, I finished sleeves installation seams with bias tape, and so the project was slowly closing to an end.

Final few steps were top stitching the front opening and the collar, making button holes and finally attaching buttons on. Each time I have to make button holes, I dread that moment. I probably have never had a smooth ride during that process. It was unfortunately true this time, too. For this garment I chose keyhole button hole style. It is a really nice button hole in my view, however more often than not I have challenges with it. This time the front opening edge of the garment with the facing attached was quite thick, and my button hole foot had to be operated very carefully to not get stuck (actually, it is not the sturdiest button hole foot in the whole world, but I only have this one, so here we are). Few of the button holes came out a bit unbalanced. I ripped the worst one, however on the second attempt, the foot got stuck, and so that semi-finished one had to be ripped, too. I started doubting everything. Just to be on the safe side, I decided to change the needle. When the old needle was removed, I was very surprised to see that it was a very thin needle, number 75 actually, that I managed to stitch my entire woolen coat with! Check your needles, people, before starting each project! It took three attempts to complete that unhappy button hole.

But the largest problem happened when cutting the holes open. I usually use seam ripper for that. However, this time, I managed to somehow cut into the edge of the button hole and few stitches got undone. This happened for the uppermost (hence the most visible) button hole too, and that was sufficiently long portion that got damaged. At first I was like – oh, damn it, that’s really not good! Then the problem solver in me went on to look for a solution. I took of those loose threads and stitched the portion of the damaged button hole with a narrow and dense zigzag stitch. The fix worked really well, and you couldn’t quite tell that this button hole got a band-aid to it. From then on I used tiny precision scissors to cut other button holes open, and they made significantly less damage than a seam ripper. When all the button holes we done, I breathed a very explicit sigh of relief πŸ™‚ The only thing left was attaching the buttons, and with that my first ever shacket was complete!

For this shacket I used 2 meters of double sided pure wool with plaid on one side and plain gray on the other side. I’ve decided not to share what pattern I’ve used for this project, you are welcome to check out my Disclosures page to understand a bit more about this. The following notions were needed for this project: a bit of black viscose lining for pockets and the hanger loop, some 1 meter of interfacing, a bit of interfacing tape for the main seams, black bias tape for side seams and sleeves seams finish, 11 buttons of 24 mm diameter and coordinating thread (Gutermann no.701 as main thread and CA02776 denim thread as top stitching thread). This shacket cost me 46 Eur, it was made in September, 2022.

Right when this shacket was complete, I put it on and off I went. At first I thought that it would go really well with pants or jeans and not so much with skirts. But that’s not true. I have worn it with my recently made leather skirt, and the outfit looked really well. Before buttons had gone in, I had my doubts about this garment – it had looked probably a bit plain. However, as soon as it got all the button holes made and buttons attached, it became this lively and balanced garment that I really love! I’m pretty sure this one will get plenty of wearing this autumn and for the other colder seasons to come!

Let there be peace in the world!

~Giedre~

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