Winter coat

It’s been a while since my last coat project. I am somewhat surprised about this, as I absolutely love coats. Love making them too, but mostly I enjoy wearing coats. Before my sewing extravaganza picked up its speed, I used to have a really big problem in purchasing coats for myself. A good quality coat can be really expensive, therefore I’d buy a new coat only every two-three years. There was certain period of time, when I had not bought a new coat for like five years as I couldn’t find anything I liked. So my feeling towards coats is probably deficit induced. And so now, here I am, sitting with at least three different fabrics on my hands that are intended for coats, and contemplating my desires – pointy lapels, round lapels, long coat, short coat. Choices, choices!

I have never owned a truly long coat. I’ve always thought of long coats as something luxurious and rare. That’s perhaps because I have never run into a nice, long coat that would fit me well and would be affordable. After realizing that last year I haven’t made a single coat, and being pressed by my fabrics stash size, I decided that the first project of 2022 was going to be a coat. And here we are – I’ve made a looong and warm coat in very classic camel color. So let me share with you how this project went.

This project was just as long as the coat is. 🙂 Initially I’d expected it to be lengthier than any jacket project, however it wasn’t much. And that’s probably fair enough – technically coats and jackets are garments of comparable complexity, even though a coat might be a larger piece than a jacket. What was different from any jacket project this time was sheer weight and volume that I had to deal with, literally. It was a lot of heavy fabric that I had to work with, to fit on the ironing board or on the table. After having completed the coat now, I’d appreciate to work with something lighter!

As many times before, this project started with the fabric. I bought this awesome Yorkshire melton wool more than a year ago. It was part of my fabric haul in preparation for the previous winter. Clearly, at that point in time I was completely oblivious to time constraints while engaging into all those complex and lengthy projects. Back then it felt absolutely sensible to purchase three different coating fabrics in one haul, and plan for more for another. This now means that a good bunch of fabrics still sit in my stash and they haven’t been touched for more than a year. I no longer do this, and have shared in my post on why it is so cool to start sewing for oneself, that going on a buying spree is one of the mistakes that ought to be avoided when engaging in sewing for self. So among all those fabrics I had this really large piece of extremely heavy wool coating that would not fit onto any shelf, and this time around I’ve decided to deal with it first.

This fabric is literally very heavy, 550 GSM (grams per square metre) heavy. It’s also supposedly very warm, which should be really nice. However, upon embarking on this project, I had doubts if my sewing machine would cope with the thickness and overall heaviness of the fabric (which it did!), and how the fabric would behave while ironed. This was important to understand in order to choose an appropriate coat design for it. I ran a poll on Instagram asking, whether or not I should choose as simple design as possible and avoid eg. pointy lapels. 65 pct of votes went to “any design” as opposed to “no pointy lapels”. However, for the peace of my mind I decided to choose as simple design as I possibly could.

As though perfectly choreographed, Grasser patterns released this new coat pattern, and it was a perfect design for this fabric, exactly what I was looking for! It has patch pockets, which is great as I would not have pulled off welt pockets this time. Conveniently it also has a wide round lapels as opposed to complex pointy ones. And luckily there are no buttons, and snaps are used instead. I knew that my sewing machine would not have managed to stitch button holes on that thickness, so buttons were not an option (I tried and I failed). One downside of the pattern was reglan sleeves. This, curiously enough, was also an upside in a sense, as it is so much easier to set reglan sleeves in if compared to proper sleeves. However, I have been convinced for a long time that reglan sleeves make my narrow shoulders look even narrower and thus make me look tired, that’s why I have avoided them thoroughly up until now. But this time I brushed that small shortcoming off, trying to convince myself that wide collar would partly hide shoulders, and the coat should look fine on me. And so all in all this pattern ticked almost all boxes for me.

Preparation

This time, oddly, I ended up deciding not to make a toile. One reason for this unpopular decision was fabric weight – any fabric that I might have chosen for a toile would not have behaved in a similar way to my coating fabric. So it was unlikely that the toile would have helped me to make any meaningful conclusions. I know, I know, that’s wrong – we’ve established a long time ago that a toile is a must for jackets, blazers, coats! I have to admit that I took a significant risk here and put all trust in Grasser patterns!

First, I pressed the entire piece of fabric with loads of steam. Was trying to get used to that heavy, sturdy feel that I’d be dealing with. Paper pattern pieces were very long, well, obviously, as it was supposed to be a very long coat. My entire sewing room floor was covered with a long stretch of fabric and paper pattern pieces were scattered all over it. But I did not cut into the fabric then. First I needed to make sure I’d have enough of fabric, which I did, just about – out of 3.5 meters of fabric there was nothing left when I was done with it. And also I wanted to plan the interfacing step, which I aimed at performing before cutting actual pattern pieces to avoid fabric shrinkage.

I walked around this long piece of fabric for a long time – was reluctant to cut into it. So at first I cut two belt pieces and stitched the belt up. This helped me harness enough confidence and determination, and eventually I started drawing all the other pattern pieces preparing them to get interfaced and then cut out. Due to fabric being so thick and also while trying to make sure that interfaced parts were cut carefully and meticulously, I cut through a single layer of fabric only. That of course prolonged the exercise even more. It took me an entire day to get to the point when I had all pattern pieces interfaced, cut out and marked with marking thread, notches and chalk marks.

Sewing

I had to get used to using wooden clapper each time I pressed any seam. NOTE: It is such a game changer! I will never even consider pressing seams of thicker fabrics without it! I also had to get used to felled seams – this coat has many of them. It is such a nice seam type, however of course it takes a bit of time to make them. While working with thick fabric the trick is to always make sure that as much bulk as possible is removed from any seam. For flat-fell seam, after stitching a regular seam, one seam allowance has to be trimmed, then both of them ironed to one side (wider seam allowance on top), basted (this step is a must for heavy fabrics, when ironing is not good enough to ensure stability), and top stitched using the longest stitch length.

For all of my top stitching I needed to find a thick top stitching thread. The problem was to match the color of the thread as apparently those top stitching threads do not come in a very wide palette of colors. I was glad that some clever voice inside my head told me to buy an additional spool of top stitching thread even though I knew I had one at home already. I used up both of them. That’s in addition to other two spools of regular thread. I did not have the same color spools of regular thread. One of them was bought as a part of “match the thread” proposition while purchasing the fabric, but it finished really fast. Why on Earth can’t fabric stores consider that one spool ain’t gonna be enough for a coat and give an option to order more than one? Anyhow, I matched a similar color thread, so it was not too big a problem. It’s just that more often than not I have this anxiety of running out of thread in the middle of the project!

The first seam to go in was center back seam, side seams were next. Before stitching side seams I had to decide what to do with belt loops. Instructions asked to simply crochet narrow belt loops and attach them at the very end of the project. However, again, due to the sheer weight of the fabric and hence the belt, I wanted more durable belt loops. At first I made a tester loop out of folded fabric, but it was an extremely unpleasant and thick situation which I did not like at all. So instead I decided to go ahead with the method that was suggested for the hanger loop.

First I cut few narrow bias strips out of matching color lining fabric, folded them length-wise and stitched, thus making a very narrow ties, some 4 mm wide probably. Then I cut as much of seam allowance as I could, and used needle with a long thread tied to the end of each strip to turn it to the right side. Then, by twisting strip ends to opposite directions, I ended up with these nice and firm twisted ties that were stitched into side seams and made for a really delicately looking but sturdy belt loops. I made a small reel on Instagram about this, and it was extremely popular as many fellow sewists probably found this method useful. You are welcome to check it out, if you’re interested – you can access my Instagram profile by clicking a small IG icon on top of this page.

When side seams were done, I had to deal with patch pockets. Here the pockets are HUGE, and that’s great. What was less great was the recommended method of their application. It took me probably half a day to get them in, and that is why I do not think I will ever use this method ever again. The only good thing about this method is that the lining of the pocket will never peek out. But that’s about it.

So the method is the following. Lining piece is attached only to the upper edge of the main pocket, but not the sides. The main pocket seam allowance is ironed in thus preparing it to get stitched on where it will have to go. Then the lining is laid wrong side up where the pocket will be and machine stitched in place. Finally the outer piece, i.e. the main pocket is folded on top and slip stitched in place. This way the raw edge of the lining is hidden by a wider main pocket piece. Top stitching might not be necessary, however, in my case, the top stitching was part of the design. So first I top stitched the pockets, and only then slip stitched the edges so that those raw edges of the lining would get hidden. In my view this method is unnecessarily complex and unpleasant. For my coat, there was one more side effect – since the fabric is so thick, those edge slip stitches can be slightly visible, and thus pocket edges are not quite as clean and impeccable as I would like them to be. So no, I am not going to use this method in the future.

When I had those pockets out of the way, it was a relief. I then proceeded with installing the sleeves. This part had to be done in stages because I was unsure about sleeves length, and that’s because I hadn’t made a toile. The trick here was to be able to determine sleeves length and only then to install those nice flaps. If I had attached the flaps in the beginning of sleeves construction, as instructed, and only later figured that sleeves needed shortening, flaps would have needed to be removed and reinstalled, and I wanted to avoid that. So the ends of my sleeves were only basted at first, and that’s until the point when I made a collar and tried the coat on to see what to do with sleeves length.

This collar is relatively simple. It has few odd corners that were tricky to get pulled off with this fabric, but nothing close to the complexity of pointy lapels. When the undercollar was done and I tried the coat on, I was able to determine, that first of all, sleeves were of good length and that overall fit of the coat was actually quite decent. It was good news!

I proceeded with making sleeves flaps. They were supposed to be made of the main fabric on both sides, however to avoid the bulk and weight, I decided to use lining fabric for the inside of flaps. I interfaced the lining with quite sturdy interfacing cut on bias to accommodate a bit of stetch that would be necessary due to the fact that the inside part was by few millimeters smaller than the outer part. Flaps were quickly done and went onto sleeves. Finally the time came to make the upper collar.

Again, few odd corners had to be dealt with while attaching the collar stand to the upper collar. I also had to sandwich the hanger loop in between them. Here the decision had to be made on what kind of hanger loop would be capable of holding my coat that would weigh some 2.5 kg. I decided to go ahead with the chain, but had to somehow invent the holders for the chain. After few trials and errors, I ended up interfacing a small lining piece with medium weight interfacing, folded it in like double folded bias tape and top stitched both sides of it. Not the most elegant solution probably, but it was not elegance I was after, but durability. Hopefully this will hold!

As it is visible from the above photo, I attached red trimming to the facing, where the lining would get eventually attached, just as I do for most of my jackets. Had to choose from red, beige, purple and black trimming, ended up settling on red and am happy with my choice.

The last bit at this stage was to attach the upper collar and facing to the coat, which meant two long seams – center back down to one side and then again to the other side. At this stage I faced one challenge that I’m unsure how to deal with. Or actually, I’ve just come up with the solution, it’s just that I really don’t like basting! 🙂 The challenge was that sewing from center back and down one side and then another means that one time the facing faces up, and the other time, the facing faces down. Maybe due to the weight of my fabric, I ended up with facing being stretched more and thus becoming longer than the length of the coat on one side but not the other – on the other side it was a bit shorter. At first I did not make much out of it, but later this created me quite a big problem while hemming the coat. So I guess next time I’ll actually need to baste those facings in to make sure the pieces would not slide or stretch while being sewn. Below picture depicts what kind of mess I was dealing with at one side of the hem where the facing was shorter, while the lining was longer.

NOTE: All in all the learning here is that it is crucial to make sure that the length of all long pieces is the same – cut them right first and then baste before stitching together. Only then hemming stage can be swift and easy.

When the collar was done, I had to press internal seams flat and baste the collar so that the seam would not be visible, in that the upper collar would be a touch wider than the undercollar and thus would hide the seam. That basting stayed in until the very last moments of the project, when the last collar top stitching seam was complete.

At that point I again was able to try my semi-finished coat on and determined that I really liked how it looked. It was heavy as h*ll, but hey, that was my initial choice of fabric backfiring. It better be warm now!

Lining

I do not quite like the lining that I have chosen for this project. Not to say that it would have been a great idea to line this coat with silk, because it wouldn’t have. Instead, maybe I could have matched some kind of sateen or even batiste. However, while purchasing the main fabric, I also bought this very regular viscose and acetate lining in stripes. It frayed terribly and is not too pleasant to touch. Fair enough, I might have become spoiled after lining my recent garments with silk. What is more, I do not quite like those stripes being horizontal. Vertical stripes would have looked better, I think. But hey, again, it is what it is now – I followed my initial plan from more than a year ago, and can only stress the point, that it is a mistake to make too many plans in advance!

I made the lining quite quickly. Again, probably it was a mistake to not baste the lining to the facing, as fabric moved while being stitched, and I ended up with lengths of pattern pieces being distorted, as it is visible in the previous picture. Mental note made!

At that point I had to decide whether shoulder pads would be needed to compensate for my narrow shoulders within reglan sleeves. I’ve never made reglan sleeves before, and therefore didn’t even have reglan shoulder pads, so they had to be purchased. I bought few of them in different thicknesses, tried them on, even stitched one in, however eventually decided that shoulder pads were making my coat too much 80’s like, and decided to skip them altogether.

Then insides of the coat had to be tacked – underarm of the coat with underarm of the lining, facing to the main body at shoulders, collar insides. It is one my least favorite parts of these projects, however, it is also a very important stage that helps ensure that the garment would be worn with ease and comfort.

Finally, what was left was hemming my coat and dealing with the vent somehow. I always find attaching lining to the vent intimidating. That is mostly because I have never quite come across a really good description of that stage in any of the instructions. So usually what happens is that I try to figure out what instructions are telling, but mostly end up dealing with the situation as it unfolds in front of me. So my vent lining can usually be described as “I did it SOMEHOW”. This time I also did it somehow. But in the beginning I was very much confused by the fact that the lining was supposed to be of the same length as the main body of the coat at the opening of the front and at vent. I couldn’t wrap my head around this and couldn’t understand how the lining would not be peeking out. Luckily, shortly the trick became apparent. And the trick is that the lining hem is in fact curvy – it is the longest where it is attached to the facing and at the vent, and it becomes shorter closer to side seams.

All seemed good at that point. Apart from the fact that I had trimmed one longer facing to be equal with the main body of the coat. Apparently it was longer for a reason. It mustn’t have been. But by sewing without basting I stretched it. So when I stitched the hem using the method described in my previous post about my Very special vintage jacket, and immediately trimmed all seam allowances and turned everything right side out, it became apparent, that one side of the front was hanging twisted. The facing was too short and was pulling the bottom corner of the coat up. It was bad! And there was no immediate cure – all seam allowances had already been trimmed. After contemplating for quite a while, I decided that there was only one solution possible and I needed to trim the entire hem and shorten the coat. And that was what I did. So my coat is 4 cm shorter than initially intended. It is actually not a bad thing after all – initial length perhaps would have been too long for me. So I didn’t ruin anything with that facing mishap, I just created myself some additional work.

When the hem was complete, there were only finishing touches left. I top stitched the front and the collar, tacked the hem gently right next to where the lining was attached so that the hem would not be gaping inside the garment. By the way, now looking at the pictures I see those tacks slightly visible at the hem – I’ll need to either iron the hem better or remove the tacking stitches after all. And finally I stitched three large snaps on. And with that my heavy and hopefully warm coat was complete!

For this coat I needed 3.5 meters of heavy weight (550 GSM) Yorkshire melton wool, fabric is called Fallen leaves. For the lining I needed some 2.5 meters of viscose and acetate twill. Both fabrics were bought from Fabworks online store. Pattern used here is pattern #866 by Grasser patterns, I purchased it in size 36 (Grasser size 42) and height range of 158-164 cm (my height is 164 cm). Other notions were: quite a bit of lightweight interfacing, quite a bit of interfacing tape, 4 spools of thread, and 3 large snaps. This coat cost me 140 Eur. It was made in January, 2022, I spent almost a month for this project.

How do I feel about this coat? I am still a bit unsure. It is nice, it looks nice, the design is nice. It should look really well with many shoes that I own or with many of my handbags. But I am not sure I’m too fond of that sturdiness of the fabric. I perhaps can get used to it, if the coat proves to be very warm. Well, with all this weight and rough felt-like touch, it at least must be REALLY warm! 🙂 And we shall absolutely test that!

Ok, now, the above paragraph was written right after I finished the project and before I wore the coat outdoors. Admittedly some kind of fatigue may be felt in the description of my first thoughts about this brand new coat. When I actually wore it outside to take pictures, I just loved wearing it! I did not feel the weight of it at all, it was just as any parka or one of my other coats. And it was so warm! The weather was ugly when we were taking pictures – that is also why majority of the pictures are from inside of my office. It was raining/snowing outside and the temperature just above zero Centigrade. I became so hot in my coat so fast, that I could barely endure those few pictures being taken inside. So, oh yes, it is absolutely WARM!

Another observation from the pictures is that I do not like the coat styled with flat shoes the way I thought I would. My initial plan was for it to go with any shoes whatsoever. But probably because the coat is so long and I am the opposite of tall, I look even smaller while wearing flat shoes. I like the look styled with heels so much better. Well, it will be worn in many different ways, I’m sure. It must keep me warm first of all, and that’s why it was made in the first place!

Thanks for checking out this post and let’s catch up next time!

~Giedre~

Very special vintage jacket

This must be the most memorable project of mine of the entire year of 2021. Not only was it the last project that I completed just before Christmas, it has an amazing story to tell, too. I love it very much for its story, but also because it happens to be a truly lovely garment. Am sure I will be thoroughly enjoying wearing it for the years to come!

The story

So what is vintage-like about it, you might wonder. Indeed, paired with distressed jeans and with the collar up it may be looking fairly modern. The thing is that this fabric is almost half a century old.

Back in November, when we were visiting my mother-in-law, she emerged from the attic with fabric in her hands and told the most incredible story. She had bought this fabric back in mid-70’s as a gift for her soon-to-be mother-in-law. Apparently, back in those days it was a custom for the bride to gift a piece of fabric for the new mother-in-law. I did not know this, however, am not at all surprised. It was deep soviet times, good fabric and basically anything good was in short supply, so getting hold of a really high quality gift must have symbolized effort and respect. Now, why fabric? Well, sewing or knitting clothes for oneself, or getting them made was very popular, therefore fabrics were widely bought and used.

However, 45 years later, this fabric was still in its cellophane packaging. Apparently, when my husband’s grandma, the recipient of the gift, passed away few years ago, among other stuff in her apartment my mother-in-law found this fabric untouched. Her mother-in-law for some reason had decided not to get anything made out of it, instead it was put on a shelf and sat there for more than four decades.

At first I listened to this story and concentrated more on my mother-in-law’s comments about this being pure wool and unfortunately not too big a piece, but of a good 140 cm width. She seemed to have been telling those facts thinking that she needed to convince me to accept the gift, and this was absolutely unnecessary. At that moment I was like – “yeah, cool, this is a really nice fabric, bet I could make something nice out of it”. But the more I thought about all this, the more sad the story became. I mean, ok, one might not quite like this deep purple color, which, let’s be honest, may be tricky to style. Or a piece of 1.8 meters may be too small for some garments. However, in my view, regardless of any excuses, one should at least have tried. The fact that my husband’s grandma had decided not to appreciate the gift must have been disappointing to my mom-in-law.

Planning

From a regular piece of fabric, it suddenly turned into a mission to do the right thing. I inspected the fabric more carefully. It was indeed wool, it still had that signature wool smell, even after all those long years. It was not damaged in any way – my husband’s grandma was meticulously tidy person, so I am not at all surprised that her stuff was very well preserved. The best about this gorgeous fabric was its very delicate pattern – it shows up only from certain angles.

1.8 meters is a decent length actually, that’s what I also told my mother-in-law. Various jackets can be made out of this much fabric. I started planning. The decision to take this project on as a matter of priority was boosted by my review of the upcoming Burda magazine. When inspecting highlights of the upcoming issue in the beginning of November, I came across this vintage looking cropped jacket with rounded pockets and delicate collar. I figured it could work really well for this violet fabric. Still a bit uncertain, I questioned my choice a number of times, especially that there was still a month to wait until the magazine would hit the stores. While waiting, I visited the fabric store in search for matching lining. I was determined to find something special that could do justice to this fabric. A lot of time was spent in silks section, but finally I settled on this red-purple check silk. It was being sold in 1 meter blocks, probably meant for scarves. It didn’t faze me, though, I just loved that fabric. Fast forward to today, when the jacket is complete, I am not too humble about my perfect lining choice!

When the December issue of Burda was finally available, I was still lingering, a bit unsure of my pattern choice. At that time I was struggling with ginkgo top and then black pants projects, and my confidence was not at its highest. Anyhow, when the pants were done, and all that black wool project turned out to be a success, and when I calculated that there was only that much time left until the year end, I finally settled on Burda pattern and decided to go ahead with the purple jacket project. Gift buying time did not help. I sewed less, Christmas was approaching. But then on the last weekend before Christmas I suddenly shook myself and hastily jumped onto the project.

Cutting

First, I made the toile. In a rush I only joined the front and the back, and did not install sleeves. This was a mistake, as it appeared later. However, even from that semi-toile it was obvious that multiple amendments would be necessary. The toile was too wide. It is a wide cropped jacket, I get it, but it was too wide for my liking, so I took in 1 cm on each side. Then I did not quite like how the back was falling. The original pattern does not have a center back seam. I decided to make it thus adding a bit of curvature to the back. Upon trimming my paper pattern pieces I was ready to proceed with cutting.

At this stage pattern matching had to be considered. Even though the woven pattern is very delicate, I wanted it to match across center front, center back and also hopefully for the pockets.

From multiple interfacing errors earlier this year I have learnt something. This time around I cut only approximate pattern pieces off the main fabric, interfaced them and only then proceeded with cutting out actual pattern pieces. Thus shrinkage was avoided this time – yay! In order to make sure the top of the closure does not fold much when the jacket isn’t buttoned up, I decided to apply sturdier interfacing (just a bit lighter than horsehair canvas) cut on bias to the shoulders of front pieces (it is visible how that worked in the below picture). When all interfacing was applied and all pattern pieces cut out, I concluded, that this time I might have chosen a touch too heavy interfacing. It was not bad, but I probably could have chosen just a little bit lighter one. However, when the entire jacket was complete and lined, I now think that actually the interfacing choice was right – the jacket holds its shape nicely and is not sturdy at all. I don’t know when I am going to figure those interfacings out!

Sewing

First I lined pockets and applied them to the front pieces. I cut pockets 1 cm deeper than they originally were, and am now convinced that it was a good decision. To sew them on I used the blind hem foot that has a small notch at the bottom of it. That notch can be used as a guide for the pocket edge thus enabling stitching the pockets on neatly very close to the edge. I have a reel about this step on Instagram, if you are curious to check out how it worked (you can access my Instagram account by pressing a small IG icon at the top of this page).

Next were shoulder seams and the most tricky part in all jackets – collar installation. The collar, although very simply looking, is not so simple. This stage was complicated by the fact that Burda instructions are not too helpful, and pattern pieces are not notched well. Being accurate while sewing Burda pattern is really tricky. At first I did not understand how to attach the collar to the collar stand. The first attempt was completely wrong and the seam had to be ripped. Eventually somehow I managed to comprehend how the collar would be coming together and managed to do it right. Before sewing collar pieces together, I sewed on a piece of red decorative bias tape to the front and neck facings, thus preparing to attach the lining.

When the collar was finally in, I tacked side seams and tried the jacket on for the first time. After careful inspection I decided to let it out a bit around hips, so seam allowances ended up being regular 1.5 cm at the underarm grading to 1.2 cm at the hips.

Next were the sleeves. It took no time to sew them up, but when I tacked one sleeve in, it became clear how large a mistake was to skip the sleeves while making the toile. There were many problems with how that sleeve was looking. Shoulder was too wide, the back was hanging too much around the sleeve seam. After few trials and errors, I ended up increasing sleeve seam allowance from 1.5 cm to 2 cm for majority of the seam, only a small portion at the front was left untouched. When this was finally fixed and sleeves went in, I breathed a sigh of relief.

When the front facing was installed, I had left the hem unfinished. That’s because I couldn’t remember how to attach the facing to the front at the hem so that the lining would look nicely later. That’s one more symptom of what is wrong with Burda patterns. They are provided without seam or hem allowances, and I find it really frustrating. It’s probably ok to not be given seam allowances for a simple dress, but for a jacket, where all sorts of weird collar corners are involved, or when the main fabric hem allowance is different from lining hem allowance, it is really frustrating to be left guessing. In order to sort it out I consulted the good old Vikisews instruction of Andrea jacket that I made back in spring. To remember the solution for the next time, I made photos of each step and also a small reel on Instagram which you are welcome to check out.

The trick here is that the facing has to have the same hem allowance as the front piece (4 cm in this case). It is important to cut these pieces right at the very beginning – the stage requiring special attention if resorting to Burda patterns that do not include hem allowances! Then the bottom of the facing has to be trimmed diagonally to be shorter by 1 cm at the edge (2 picture below). This suggests that lining hem allowance should be 3 cm, however I ended up reducing it a bit later. Next, the bottom of the facing is pinned and sewn in the following manner: a) for 2 cm at hem line (3 picture), b) then diagonally down, c) stopping 2 cm short of the facing edge (4 picture). After trimming seam allowances, corners and turning it to the right side, a very neatly looking hem appears (5 picture) and is prepared for the lining to be attached.

Christmas was approaching fast. When I started working on this project, I had a vague idea of hopefully finishing the jacket just before Christmas so that I could wear it when we visit my mother-in-law for Christmas lunch. But the project took its time, I was working on it every workday evening and was still unsure if I succeed to finish it on time.

A part of my challenge was related with buttons. I had decided on large covered buttons. When trying to purchase covered buttons kit at my local haberdashery store, I was offered the service of covering buttons, that they apparently provide. When only few days remained until Christmas, I ended up calling them up and asking how much time it would take for them to cover buttons for me, and the reply was 2-3 days. There were literally 4 days left until Christmas, so on the same day, right after work I rushed to the store to bring them a piece of fabric for the buttons. In two days I called them up again and was glad to hear that my buttons were ready to be picked up. That was good news – I drove straight down to the store to pick up the buttons.

Meanwhile, lining was about to get made and all the innards of the jacket were to be finished. Lining came together quite easily – I had trimmed my paper pattern pieces to reflect all necessary adjustments, that’s why not that much thinking was involved in stitching the lining up. Felt sleeve heads were installed to support sleeves, I settled on medium thickness shoulder pads and installed them, too.

Finally, the lining was bagged in and I could proceed with making up my mind on sleeve length. It is always a tricky part of any project for me. By mistake, again instigated by the fact that Burda patterns do not include seam allowances, I had cut sleeves with only 1.5 cm hem allowance instead of 4 cm. But I knew from trying the jacket on that this was not a problem – my hands are shorter than standard. But now, upon measuring the actual length of each sleeve I had to conclude that one sleeve would need to be longer than the other by 1 cm to accommodate my hands that are of different lengths. I ran a poll on Instagram asking if other sewists make sleeves of different lengths, and only 34 % answered positively. However, I decided to go ahead with this solution – making them even would have resulted in them looking really different while wearing the jacket. When I attached the lining to sleeve hems, it was almost peeking out and thus clearly too long, so that seam had to be ripped, sleeves lining shortened a bit and reattached again.

Christmas Eve day came, and I still had a bit of work to do. I was cooking for the entire day to prepare for Christmas Eve dinner, which is a very big deal for us. At the same time few hours had to be squeezed in to finish the jacket. I had to complete one of my least favorite parts of jacket making – tacking collar pieces together from the inside, tacking lining in place at the shoulders, underarms, etc. When all that innards fixing was done, I finally could proceed with hemming the jacket. The lining with 3 cm hem allowance was hanging too low, also almost peeking out, therefore I ended up trimming it a bit.Majority of the hem seam was sewn on the sewing machine and only a small gap was left at one side to be finished by hand.

And finally button holes had to be made and buttons sewed on. I dread button holes stage each time! It is such a pivotal moment really – all that hard work that has already gone into the garment depends on a very short operation going smoothly. This time my anxiety was amplified by the fact that there were like few meters of thread remaining. Trying to economize on the thread I used black thread for few internal seams.

I measured button holes’ placement meticulously, measured few times, marked clearly. Was probably procrastinating on actually stitching them. The first button hole went in without a problem. For the second the foot got stuck at one moment, and I immediately stopped. That one was going to get ripped and started all over again. Thread was rapidly coming to an end. I left the second button hole aside for just one moment, and started the third one. At the very start of operation I noticed that it was not going straight and stopped too. At that moment I was already swearing, luckily, there was no time for despair as the clock was ticking. Those small portions of two button holes got ripped, I marked their placement once again and finally succeeded. There was like 1 meter of thread left when they were done. About enough to sew the buttons on.

I did not have time that day to iron the jacket, that was done on Christmas morning, because I was absolutely going to wear it to visit my mother-in-law. When we met and I took the coat of, I wondered if she’d recognize the fabric. She absolutely did and smiled ever so widely! She said – “my mother-in-law did not want to make anything out of it, so my daughter-in-law did it”, and proceeded with questions about how the project went. She really liked my jacket, and that’s what makes me so happy! What is even better, I absolutely love my vintage jacket, too! I think the pattern choice was excellent for this fabric, and the lining also works perfectly. Will be thoroughly enjoying wearing it!

For this jacket I used 1.8 meters of vintage pure wool and 1.5 m of pure silk for the lining. The pattern used here was pattern #108 from Burda magazine 2021/12 issue. I cut it in size 36 and had to make multiple adjustments. Other notions were: some 1 meter of medium weight interfacing, a bit of sturdy interfacing for shoulders, a bit of interfacing tape for pockets, 3 covered buttons of 25 mm diameter, 2 felt sleeve heads, 2 shoulder pads, and coordinating thread. The main fabric was gifted therefore I haven’t calculated the cost of this project – my key consideration was to make sure that the supplements would do justice to this awesome fabric. This jacket was finished on Christmas Eve, 2021.

It is my first purple garment ever! It is not that I have any prejudice towards any color, actually quite the opposite – I happily wear the entire rainbow of colors. However, styling purple is tricky. This became clear when I tried the jacket on with various clothes. At first I had thought that it would go nicely with all black outfit, but it doesn’t – the outfit looks too dark and contrasts too much with my pale skin. Instead, denim works fine with something light underneath the jacket. I tried sky blue top and this white sweatshirt, and like both options. Will need to come up with more styles for this awesome jacket. Should try a white classic shirt too – as soon as I get it somewhere! 🙂 I own only one white shirt that is like a decade old, however, am unable to find any replacement in stores. Have started thinking that a new white classic shirt might need to get sewn, too. Meanwhile, I have at least few good styles for this jacket and love seeing it with the collar up and sleeves rolled up – in my view, this style takes away the weight of half a century that this fabric has endured.

With this comforting story I am entering the New Year of 2022 and am thrilled and excited about all of my upcoming sewing projects! Happy New Year everybody! 🎉 Let it be exciting, inspiring and successful! 🌟

Thanks for checking out this post and let’s catch up next time!

~Giedre~

My sewing year of 2021 – highlights and lessons

For some reason the year has come to an end surprisingly rapidly! Just like in life, in sewing I find myself always short of time to implement all my ideas. Like I wrote in my post on why it is so great to be able to sew, a very common trap that many of us get into is planning a zillion of projects, buying tons of fabric, and then the year suddenly ends, while we’re sitting there with all that fabric on our hands unsure how that happened! 🙂

Jokes aside, my sewing year of 2021 was great! I have learnt so much and progressed so far that at times am myself a little bit stunned. If I were to name just one overarching achievement of this year, that would be becoming really comfortable with making jackets. If there is something I truly missed this year, that’s of course coats. I haven’t made a single one in 2021 and am surprised about that myself.

And now let me share my TOP 3 garments of 2021:

These were the most enjoyable projects while they lasted, and these are my most favorite garments to wear!

There are more beautiful garments that I had an immense pleasure to create this year! In order to catalogue my best projects I’ve introduced Favorite category that you are more than welcome to check out! I also made this collage of 9 most loved garments of the year. Not all these projects were absolutely smooth or easy, however they produced these nine beautiful garments that I enjoyed wearing so much in 2021!

This year, opposite from the last year, I haven’t actually thrown a single WIP out. One reason for that is perhaps me having gained experience and having improved considerably at choosing fabrics for particular designs, or, when things were turning really grim, being capable of salvaging the project regardless. I did have my share of truly tormenting projects, though. They ended up being rescued after all, however due to share effort and pain put into them they were perhaps my least favorite. On the one hand, there was quite a lot of frustration compiled in some of these projects, on the other hand, I was truly proud of saving them and making wearable garments after all. The largest rescue operation I had to endure was with my ginkgo top that I am now enjoying wearing so much. Few other examples of really complicated projects are Blue ribbon dress and Cielo dress by Closet core patterns, which was also my first client dress.

I made 29 garments in 2021. The last jacket has just been completed. I haven’t had time to write a post about it on time to be posted before the year end, so it will be shared next week! That one is truly special and is among my top projects this year!

Among those 29 there were many dresses, a handful of tops, 4 jackets / blazers, only one skirt, only one pair of proper pants (leggings are leggings and they don’t count, right? 🙂 ), several pieces of homewear, two pajama sets, even a cardigan, but not a single coat.

As already mentioned, I am the most proud of having become comfortable at making jackets. I enjoy sewing them so much! Jacket projects are of course lengthy and rarely easy. However since I wear jackets often, making them is so much more sensible than making tons of dresses. The thing is that I don’t wear dresses all that much, especially in cold season. It took me more than a year to realize that! 🙂 For autumn and winter various wool types are my favorite, hence my attraction to jackets, cardigans and other cozy woolly stuff. I am also proud to have made a number of great garments out of leftover fabrics. Being mindful and considerate in sewing provides me with a lot of satisfaction.

I wish I could have gotten to love knits more, but I haven’t. Mind you, there still are few knit garments on my 2021 list, however they were more like “I really need that” type of projects. I am still not too comfortable at working with knits, and hence not too eager to take knit projects on. I wish I made many coats this year, but again, I haven’t. To compensate for that, I have one or two still planned for this winter. It is very likely that my first 2022 project is going to be a coat! I am yet to master pants, I am yet to try sewing sequins or velvet, or denim for that matter. So a long learning journey still ahead and I am very much looking forward for it!

Meanwhile, let me take a moment to pat myself on the shoulder for all the progress, fun and immense joy that sewing gave me this year! 😇 When I started sewing some 18 months ago, I was like – “yeah, let’s see how many dresses I’ll make before I get bored”. But getting bored never happened. Granted, I slowed down on dresses, but certainly didn’t imagine back then, how varied my projects were going to become. So I am absolutely going strong into 2022! Am planning many more interesting projects, am looking forward to learn much more and to have a great time while sewing!

With this post I would like to thank all of my readers for your interest in my sewing journey, for your kind comments and ideas. I have received so much encouragement this year from the amazing sewing community! It supported my sewing journey immensely. And if any of you have benefited from some of the thoughts I shared in my posts, that is the best reward that I could dream of! So here’s to successful, creative, impressive and colorful year of 2022! 🎉

Let’s catch up next year!

~Giedre~

Very proper pants

Ok, so this is a continuation of the previous project and my recent Ginkgo top, even though the sequence of events was supposed to have been opposite 🙂 Pants were meant to come first and the top would go second, but well, it was not the case. After extensively cumbersome Ginkgo top project, I somehow managed to keep concentration and went ahead with the intended pants project. This was not an easy make. At times I found myself tempted to not bother with pants and instead jump straight onto some of the beautiful planned projects. But, as I shared in my previous post, I am awkwardly stubborn when it comes to finishing what’s been started, so here we go – pants it was!

Just to recap on how I found myself with a burning need to make these pants, it was this black twill suiting that should be blamed! I bought 4 meters of it more than a year ago, bought so much because it was a good deal and I figured there must be ways to use up pure wool in winter. I purchased this fabric with the purpose of first making my Festive Christmas dress. After that project, a bit less than 2 meters of wool remained, so when this winter started approaching, I decided to make pants for once, and from whatever would be left, I’d make the top. It happened so that the leftover top got completed first because I was dreading to start working on pants. And now with hindsight I have to admit that the pants project was less intimidating than I had anticipated. Not that it was overly enjoyable – it wasn’t much, but it was a decent project which produced a very proper pair of pants. When I completed them and tried them on, I was like – “that’s cool, these pants look like they were made for me!” Which they of course are. After this project I ended up concluding that it makes a lot of sense to make pants. It might not be as enjoyable as making some fancy dress, but those pants will most likely be worn much, and that’s a reason good enough for me.

When the idea was born to make pants, I did quite a research of pants patterns and tried to determine which pants designs would fit me best. The list was fairly long, and at first I had decided to go ahead with Just Patterns Tatjana trousers. Bought the pattern, cut it out, looked at it intently and then… changed my mind. The reason for my doubt was related with size and style choice. My body proportions are inconvenient in one way – I am mostly of the same size from shoulders to hips, except for waist, which is wider than standard for that particular size. This does not have any implications if a garment is not fitted around waist, I then just ignore waist measurement and decide on the size looking at bust and hips measurements only. But for the pants waist measurement is key. So for any pants, if my hips are size 8 for example, then waist must be size 10 or even 12 at times. And so when pockets, pleats and other pants stuff was involved, I was suddenly unsure how to grade in between sizes to accommodate for my relatively wider waist. Tatjana trousers feature two front pleats on each side and welt pockets made on top of darts at the back. It seemed to be a lot of risk to start messing around with size grading. Also, with my relatively wider waist I was unsure how those wide leg pleated trousers would fit me. That’s how Tatjana trousers went into the drawer.

Instead I decided to find less complex pattern, maybe without pleats, but still featuring high waist and wide leg. Ended up settling on one of Burda designs. Inconveniently, this pattern was drafted for tall women – 175 cm and up. My height is 164 cm, so I had an additional consideration to go through in that whether it would be enough to just shorten the pants, or other proportions would also need to get adjusted. I did not know an answer to this question so decided to make a toile. Initial paper pattern was cut in size 38. After inspecting the toile, I had to conclude that multiple changes will need to happen. Am still not sure which of them were impacted by the fact that initial pattern was drafted for taller height. Essentially, I had to go one size down. Decided to take in 0.5 cm for each seam, crotch had to be raised up a bit, and I suspected that the waistband might need to get lower, but decided to leave that decision for later, when actual pants get made. Still a bit uncertain about all of my observations, I cut into the fabric.

The only useful advice that I took from Burda instructions this time was a really clever way of making symmetric creases for both legs. The trick here is, before doing anything else, to fold front leg pieces lengthwise wrong sides together and press the front crease. When the pants get made, this front crease would be used as a guide to press back creases. Otherwise, this time like in many other cases I did not use Burda instructions at all – they are too unclear to me.

Actual stitching started with installing the pockets. It immediately became clear that the pattern was not drafted all that well, because pattern pieces were not matching each other. I dislike Burda patterns in one respect – I miss all those alignment notches that other commercial patterns offer for more accurate pinning and sewing. With Burda patterns it’s always like – “yeah, that more or less matches, should be about right”. Normally I like to be more certain than “that’s about right”. When both pocket pieces got sewn together, I decided to apply decorative bias tape to finish pocket edges. After inspecting my haberdashery stash, I found this narrow pink bias tape that was bought few years ago, and decided to go ahead with pink – love how it looks on a pitch black fabric!

Then the time came to stitch leg pieces together. At first crotch seam was made and then I basted side seams in order to try the garment on an get the first impression of the fit. Everything looked good, so I stitched crotch seam twice for durability and finished side seams. Next stage was to install waistband. That’s where drafting inaccuracies started appearing again. I had to narrow down waistband pattern pieces by various extent. Back piece was taken in by 1 cm on each side – looks like a significant patterning inaccuracy, if you ask me. After few iterations of stitching, ripping, narrowing down, stitching again, I finally made the waistband work and it went in. The time for the main reality check approached. When I tried my pants on, it became clear that they looked fine indeed. The only further adjustment was to make the waistband sit a bit lower than initially intended – before this adjustment the waist was too high for my liking. I fixed that by stitching waistband facing with 2.5 cm seam allowance instead of 1.5 cm. It worked fine.

Next was the zipper – it had to go into the side seam. That bit was not overly smooth – unexpectedly I had to fiddle a bit with it, but eventually managed to make it right. Then the unfinished edge of the waistband facing got finished with the same pink bias tape and I secured it by stitching in the ditch from the right side. To carefully stay in the ditch I used special presser foot that has a small notch at the bottom of the foot that falls into the ditch and allows the foot to stay in it. When that was done, my pants were mostly complete and I finally was able to assess the real fit. I was really happy with how the pants were fitting me! My excessive deliberation with this project and also this small black series of projects started paying off.

The last bit of work was to hand tack the corners of pocket flaps in place so that they would not move around, and finally – hem the pants. I had decided in the very beginning that these pants would be meant to be styled with heels. I always wanted to have pants that would be of exactly appropriate length to look nice with heels. And it was impossible to find pants of this specific length in stores. Luckily, now it was no longer a problem as I could choose the length that I fancied. Specifically I chose 8.5 cm heels that I own few pairs of, and the measuring of pants length started. It was a tedious process. When I finally managed to pin both hems about right, it became quite clear that my legs are somehow disproportionate. It is not that one leg is shorter than the other – I have a normal gait, nothing wrong with my legs. But probably due to my posture or something else, in order for pants to APPEAR of equal length, the left leg must be made a touch shorter than the right leg. I have known this peculiarity for a long time. This time around it was actually possible to conclude BY HOW MUCH left leg must be shorter, and that is a bit more than 5 mm. Maybe 6-7 mm. This time around I settled on 5 mm. I finished the hem by hand stitching it.

Finally, oh finally I was done with this black fabric. And the time came to pair my new pants with the leftover ginkgo top and see whether or not I was right from the very beginning in believing that this duo should actually look nice. And so – IT DOES! Maybe even too much 🙂 My initial intention was to wear this outfit to the office. Since it’s all wool except for ginkgo sleeves, I thought that finally I would not feel cold in the office. Now it starts to occur to me that I again might have made something that is a bit too much for a regular day in the office. I don’t know – what do you think?

As another styling option, I tried my neon sleeveless top that I made last year. Its story is told in the post about too much fabric. I really like this style! However, it is almost impossible I’d wear these two together – the top is, well, small and cold, pants are warm. So nope, unless I’d find a short black blazer or maybe a cardigan to put on to feel at least marginally warm.

For these pants I needed some 1.5 meters of premium wool twill suiting that was purchased from Fabworks online store. Pattern used here was from Burda 2021/04 magazine, it is pattern #118, I cut it in size 38 but had to reduce it quite a bit. Other notions were: 20 cm invisible zipper, a bit of interfacing, few meters of pink bias tape, and black thread. These pants cost me just 15 Eur – that is why I had bought that black fabric in the first place! They were made in December, 2021.

Even though it was not a super enjoyable project, even though I was annoyed by how many adjustments were needed and how much patterns pieces were not matching each other, I am absolutely happy with my new pants! The fact that they were made to fit with 8.5 cm heels might be a bit of a limiting factor to wear them often as I do not own warm winter shoes with such a high heel (they’d be meant to get to the office where I would change to pumps). Well, I can always purchase one more pair of shoes, right? I’m saving so much by sewing all these clothes for myself! 😀

Am sure, these pants will be worn with huge delight. Retrospectively, I probably should have made more pants or pants and a blazer out of this fabric instead of going places with the dress and ginkgo top. This fabric is true and ultimate suiting, it is not really meant for dresses. Even though I like my Festive Christmas dress, fabric choice for it now appears questionable. But hey, that’s what the learning journey entails! Love my new pants! Will have to make more pants in the future, for lower heels too. As I wrote in my recent post on why you should start sewing – any type of choice or extravagance is possible when you sew for yourself!

Thanks for checking out this post and make sure to come back for more!

~Giedre~

Ginkgo top

This project convinced me to create a new category for my projects sorting that I called Salvage. From time to time I find myself embarking on salvage operations with some of my projects. More often than not the problems are completely self inflicted – I might make a relatively small mistake early in the process correcting which turns into an entire operation with hours and hours spent on it. This project was exactly that. Good news though is that I managed to save the project and to complete this top, so all is good in the end. But let me share with you what happened this time.

Normally I would not start a new project before finishing the one at hand. Another peculiarity I have is being incapable of throwing away leftover fabrics even if I do not like them all that much. So even with those (luckily rare) unloved projects I’d usually struggle up to the very end until somehow completing them. This project, or actually, the series of projects, is in exactly that category – not too loved, however must-be-finished.

Last year I purchased 4 meters of black twill suiting. Bought so much because the fabric was on sale and I figured that there can’t be any harm in buying a lot of black wool – I must find loads of projects to use it up for. Apparently, there is a good reason why we buy different fabrics for different projects – sewing stuff out of the same fabric may become really boring. But I did not know that then.

I had bought this colorful embroidered silk organza like two years ago and figured that plain black fabric would complement my fancy embroidered fabric very well. And it did! Last December I made a really beautiful Festive Christmas dress out of this duo. Was hugely proud of that project and really enjoyed it. However eventually it became clear that my new dress was not too comfortable. Wool was doing its job just fine, however those sheer parts of organza were letting too much air in, and so I felt cold in that dress regardless. Moreover, the dress is a bit too posh to go to the office, and there are not too many other occasions to wear it.

When this winter came, before embarking on multiple jacket projects I have lined up, I promised myself to deal with this black-ginkgo situation. There were a bit less than 2 meters of main wool fabric left after the dress project and a relatively small piece of embroidered organza. So it was clear that organza will have to again go into sleeves, whereas for the black fabric I was planning pants and top. It was far from certain if I was going to be able to squeeze two garments out of less than 2 meters of main fabric. Clearly that was about to be determined after I chose patterns for those two garments and laid pattern pieces onto the fabric.

I have never made pants. Even though I wear pants much more often than dresses, and even though I have a hard time purchasing pants at RTW because due to my body proportions they end up too tight around my shins, somehow the necessity to sew pants had not quite occurred to me up until now. I must have been avoiding confronting pants as it seemed complex and unnecessarily unpleasant type of project. Maybe I am all wrong and I will absolutely enjoy making pants, however for now I did everything I could to procrastinate starting pants project 🙂

Anyhow, pants were conceived first, I had to pick the pattern and did quite a research trying to determine which of those zillion of pants designs out there would fit me the best. At first I had chosen Just patterns Tatjana trousers, bought the pattern, cut it, and then became doubtful. Then I abruptly changed my mind and settled on one of Burda pants designs. This one has the zip closure at the side instead of proper front closure – perhaps I was dreading zipper installation process the most. When I laid pants pattern pieces on to the fabric, it became clear that I would have enough leftover fabric for the top. And so the pattern for the top had to be found, too.

Here I was not too careful. For simplicity purposes I decided to reuse the pattern I had used before. Arguably I needed just the main blocks and was planning to adjust pattern pieces accordingly. So I needed front, back and the top of the sleeve, essentially only the sleeve head. After a bit of deliberation I chose one of McCall’s patterns I used for one of my first tops ever – it was the butterfly top that can be seen in the featured picture of my previous post. The main problem with this butterfly top was that being very inexperienced as I was back then, I cut the pattern in too small a size – I cut it in size 6, whereas normally I would later cut other McCall’s patterns in size 8 or even 10. However, this time around I thought I’d be able to compensate for too small size by just reducing seam allowances and thus making the garment wider. It was not a good idea, I should not do this ever again!

And so I finally reached the point that both garments’ pattern pieces were cut out of black fabric and I turned to embroidered organza to go ahead and cut sleeves for the top. In order to do that I had to draft sleeves first because original sleeves were short. So I traced the sleeve head off of the McCall’s pattern and then just arbitrarily drew the sides of the sleeve pattern piece. I tried to measure the circumference of the sleeve of one of my dresses, however eventually ended up concluding that those sleeves were perhaps a touch too wide, so narrowed the pattern piece down a bit. I did not think this through all that well, but it became obvious only later.

So there I was seemingly ready to cut my sleeves. And boom, my leftover piece of embroidered organza was too short for full length sleeves. I was like – “now what?”. Tried to manipulate paper pattern pieces on the fabric one way or another, but without much success. What was more problematic, there was not enough black fabric either to just cut those sleeves out of it. I googled “statement sleeves” trying to find ideas for joining two fabrics in some sort of an interesting way for fancier sleeves, but did not find anything worth a shot. And so I decided to cut my sleeves short and figure out later what kind of cuff could be made to lengthen them. Provided that my dress made out of the same fabrics felt cold due to transparent organza, I decided to line sleeves this time.

After all this terribly long process of decision making and deliberation, I was finally ready to actually start sewing. And of course I was still dreading to go ahead with pants, so started with the top instead. It was funny because the top was supposed to be a leftover project, and now it turned into a leftover project of pants that were not even started! :/ When first seams were made, I caught myself thinking – “ah, this should go fast, I’ve used this pattern before, I know it, that will be just a quick small project”. It was not to be!

First, darts got made, then neck facing was installed. I used 1 cm seam allowances everywhere instead of 1.5 cm. Thought it would be enough to compensate for too small size. Then time for sleeves came. Flat sleeve method had to be used as I wanted to attach lining in a way that would hide sleeve seams. This idea worked quite well, and the progress can be seen in the pictures below.

The first sounds of alarm started ringing when I tacked underarm and side seams and tried the garment on. EVERYTHING was tight around EVERYTHING. Shoulders were tight, upper part of the back was tight, sleeves were so tight that I was almost unable to bend my arm – and that’s for my left arm, so right sleeve must have been even worse. Sleeves’ tightness was amplified by the fact that this embroidered organza is quite sturdy, not at all giving in. I was standing there in front of the mirror distraught and thinking, “well, sh*t, what do I do now?”. Three options crossed my mind: a) throw it away and stop further time spending, a.k.a. “fail fast”in project management terms, b) finish as it is, make nice pictures, hang the top in the deep corner of the closet, c) try to save the project. I am not sewing for pictures or Instagram, conceptually option b was not even an option – if finished, the garment must be wearable. I decided to try and rescue the project.

Eventually I settled on doing two things. The first part of the plan was to try and remedy the tightness around the top of the the garment, I decided to rip center back seam and make seam allowance as narrow as possible, and the same with side seams. And second, for those troubled sleeves, I recalled the solution that one of experienced sewists described in her post and on IG some half a year ago. In my case applying her method meant to just open the underarm seam and sew in a narrow wedge / insert of main fabric. It was not too elegant solution, but at least it was some kind of a solution. All of that salvage work took me like 4 hours to complete – hours of unnecessary pain that could have easily been avoided had I chosen a proper pattern or drafted sleeves more attentively.

Since both sleeve layers – embroidered fabric and lining – were too narrow, I had to sew their edges together and only then insert the wedge. In other words, wedge seams are now exposed on the wrong side. They could only have been hidden had the lining was wide enough, but it was not the case. Eventually when all main body seams were redone with seam allowances reduced to bare minimum – something like 6 mm, the width of the overlocker seam, – and when wedges were in, I tried the garment on and had to conclude that it became so much more comfortable and probably wearable too. Light at the end of a tunnel started appearing.

The last fix to find was to attach something to compensate for sleeves being too short. At first I decided to try and install gathered cuffs. I cut double width on bias, gathered and concluded that it was far too bulky. So instead I decided to install a straight faux cuff, am defining it as faux because these cuffs are not closed in any way, they have open ends.

The last part of work was to decide on the length of the garment and hem it. For that I used catch stitch so that the seam would not be visible on the right side. After ironing the finished garment I finally was able to breathe a sigh of relief – not too enjoyable project was finally over.

For this project I needed small leftover pieces of two fabrics: black twill suiting that I bought at Fabworks online store and embroidered silk organza that I bought at The Fabric store online. The pattern hacked here was McCall’s M7542, however I changed it so much, that little reference to it remains in the actual garment. Other notions were: a bit of lining for sleeves, a bit of interfacing, one small button for the back closure (for those I use up spare buttons from RTW garments – have many single buttons in my box 🙂 ), and black thread. This top was made at the very end of November, it cost me 20 Eur.

When time came to find styling options for my new top and take few photos, I had a really hard time styling this top. It somehow feels dark – well, that shouldn’t be a surprise provided my initial choice of black fabric! Initially I had planned to wear it with those poor pants that I am yet to make, but this would mean me being all black from head to toe, and with my hair also being dark, this might turn into a grim looking situation. I don’t know, we shall see. Tried this top with denim jeans too, it did not make for a good look. Maybe a skirt would fit better, but I do not own any suitable skirts and overall almost never wear them. So all in all, the conclusion is that this one was probably my least favorite project ever. But at the very least I did what I had to do – finished it! Now I really hope that I will learn to enjoy it eventually.

Thanks for checking out this post and wish me luck with the pants!

~Giedre~

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