Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stash Organization

For the last year or so, all of my quilting cotton fabric has been spread out on our ping pong table in the basement. Prior to that, it was all in a big box and I would dump it out when I needed something and then scoop it all back up into the box. Leaving it all spread out was much nicer, but also messier. And, it didn't make it easy to find what I needed. I would have to paw through all the fabric and often pieces would get buried and forgotten. It was time for a change.

This post from Anina of The Twiddletails Blog was just the inspiration I needed to get the mess organized. Several weeks ago, I sorted the fabric into color groups and got the right size containers. Since then, I've been gradually ironing and folding it all one group at a time in between other projects.

When I finished my coat, I gave my sewing space a thorough cleaning and then felt like it was time to move the organized fabric in. There used to be a rocking chair in the corner where the fabric is now. The wire crate shelving isn't the sturdiest, but it's what I had and it fit the intended purpose.

Quilting Cottons Organized

There is a link to the fabric folding guidelines in the post I linked to above. Inside the boxes, the fabric looks like this:

Quilting Cottons

These boxes of fabric make me ridiculously happy. It feels a bit like I have my own little quilt shop. Going through every piece of fabric reminded me of a lot of things that I would like to make.

Purple and orange are my smallest collections. It's good to have some room to expand in case I want to change that. There are also two entirely empty bins in one of the cubbies. I'm not sure what to do with that spot yet.

Quilting Cottons

Comparatively, I have a lot of multi-colored prints and I just lumped them all together rather than trying to determine a dominant color.

Quilting Cottons

Previously, all of my scraps were just mixed in with the larger cuts. I think this is an improvement.

Scrap boxes

Honestly, this picture below is how it will often look. That would be my ironing pile on the top. The chair that was there before often held the ironing and I'm not all that convinced that this new storage system will affect my propensity to iron promptly after wash day.

Quilting Cottons Organized

The combination of getting all of this fabric organized and the hole left in my garment fabric stash by all that coating fabric being used up inspired me to clean out my garment fabric closet, too. It's ready for me to move some NYC purchases in. :)

And, finally, thanks for the comments on my coat. I used all the steam that my own iron could put out, but I hadn't thought about taking it to a cleaners to see what they could do. I might try that.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Coat Progress - Part 5

I hesitate to consider this the "big reveal" because the coat does look very incomplete without buttons and because the pictures are really lousy. Uncooperative weather and an overly busy photographer have conspired against me.

Burda Talea

It was really windy outside when we took these pictures. This was the only one where the coat wasn't flapping in the breeze. I should have pinned it closed. It doesn't look so good here. The shoulders/chest are a good fit when the CF's are pinned how they will be buttoned. I used red thread to mark buttonhole placement on the right front and to loosely tack down the other button locations.

Burda Talea

I really like the seaming on the back and the back latch. But, I feel really defeated by those sleeves. They look beautiful from the front, but they aren't smooth in the back. I think they look worse here because of how  I'm holding my arms, but maybe not - it's hard to know. I matched up the marks, but it seems like they must be rotated improperly as there wasn't much easing necessary at all.

I'm trying to maintain perspective about this (this is my first wool coat, everything else looks great, yada yada), but the look of the finished sleeves has sucked a lot of the joy out of this project for me. Sleeves are my nemesis. I just really wanted to get them right on this coat. Even after a lot of fiddling and following all the right instructions, I still didn't get it. Hopefully when I pull this out of the closet when winter rolls around again, I will be more satisfied.

Now it's time to start thinking about buttons. If this were your coat, what kind of buttons would you look for?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Coat Progress - Part 4

I'm just really not very good with in-progress posts. I thought it might be a good thing for a longer project like this coat, but I still just sew along without thinking to stop for pictures. Oh, well. I think this will be the last progress post before it is complete Woohoo!

Let's see...where are we?

The collar, which I didn't need to be so afraid of, is in.

Coat collar

After thinking about a few options, I decided to use weft-insertion interfacing in the collar and stand. To give the collar a bit of a roll, I used a lot of steam - first on just the undercollar, and then on the whole collar (upper and under) after it was together. After attaching the stand to the collar, I attached it around my pressing ham with pins, steamed the whole thing and let it sit overnight. I don't know how much of a difference that all made, but it didn't hurt anything.

Coat collar

The sleeves are set in with sleeve heads and shoulder pads.

Coat sleeve

They're also hemmed and lined.

Coat sleeve

The lining is partly inserted.

Coat progress
The colors of the coat and lining are truest in this picture.

All that is left is hemming, completing the lining and some top-stitching (and buttons and buttonholes, but I'm not including that right now). The next post should be the completed coat!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Coat Progress - Part 3

A nasty case of pink eye slowed me down a bit over the weekend, but I am still working away at the coat.

Some details...

Yoke with tabs:

Burda Talea in construction

Pocket with flap:

Burda Talea in construction

The pocket is lined. To ensure that none of the lining peeked out to the front, I slipstitched the pocket to the coat before topstitching. I placed the stitches on the underside of the folded edge of the pocket to prevent a flattened look. Burda's instructions don't include lining for the pocket, but a lined pocket feels so much nicer.

Back latch:

Burda Talea in construction

Burda calls this a "latch." North American patterns would probably call it a belt? I kind of like latch. I really like the seams on the back.

Construction thoughts...

This project is a bit of a stretch for me. My experience with tailoring and jacket/coat making is pretty minimal. It seems like something I might want to do more of someday, but right now I just don't have much need for tailored clothes in my life. So, for this coat I've been relying heavily on books and Threads articles to help me out. The problem is that this Talea pattern doesn't have the traditional tailored jacket features -the princess seams curve in toward the top on both front and back, the collar has a stand (rather than being notched), and the facing is cut on to the front. So, this has left me with more questions than answers when I try to look things up in the books or articles. How should the front be interfaced? Does it need a back stay? Is padstitching helpful for a collar on a stand?

For the most part, I'm just going with my best guess after reading about it and reminding myself that no one's life hangs in the balance if I don't get it right. I interfaced the front piece and the upper part of the side front to give the shoulder-to-bust section some support because according to Fit for Real People I have a hollow chest (which I find really discouraging for some reason. Ah, well. It's better than a hollow head. Or a hollow heart). But, I digress...

Burda Talea in construction

I added a back stay made from some a lightweight woven cotton. You can see the inside of the seams here. Each seam is graded and the bottom piece is trimmed with pinking shears to avoid a ridge on the right side. A couple sections of the back stay seam allowance did not get caught in the topstitching.

Moving forward...

The next part that I should be working on is the collar. I am rather intimidated by this collar.

Burda Talea in construction

The top piece is the collar and the bottom is the collar stand. You can see they are quite large. It's pretty important that the collar lay nicely on the coat and I'm not sure what to do at this stage with interfacing or padstitching or other techniques to help it do that. Burda's instructions have you fold the under collar lengthwise and then pin the upper collar to it, but I don't know if that's going to be enough. If you have any suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them.

Now I think I'll go assemble the sleeves and do some more collar pondering.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Coat Progress - Part 2

After muslining, altering, lining drafting, and cutting, the sewing has begun. And I think it's going to be better, easier and more enjoyable than I initially thought. In case I found that I needed to make adjustments to machine settings or technique, I decided to start with the small parts of the coat. That way if I messed up anything too badly, I could still re-cut it and start over.

So far, so good:

Coat parts

These are shoulder tabs (2 sets), sleeve tabs, back latch pieces, and pocket flaps.

Coat parts
Heh, heh...the tabs struck me as finger-like...I couldn't resist.

The pieces aren't perfect, particularly noticeable when they're all lined up next to each other, but I'm still happy with them. Even though the pieces are small, it took awhile to finish them since each needed to be stitched, trimmed, turned, pressed and topstitched. This fabric doesn't like to be turned - it seems a little velcro-like and wants to stick to itself rather than sliding over.


The pressing part went well thanks to my new toy tool. If you, like The Preacher, are wondering why in the world I bought a block of wood to use in my sewing space, let me tell you that this is called a clapper. Not the "clap on, clap off" sort of clapper. From Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket"A clapper is a rounded wooden block used to flatten seams, folds, creases, and enclosed edges, such as facings and collars. Cool hardwood speeds steam removal and cooling to set the press." I've already found it to be a good addition to my toolbox and there is a lot more pressing to come.

Coat Lining

The lining is as assembled as it can be before it goes into the coat. It needs to be attached to the facing before the shoulder seams can be sewn and the sleeves set in. I'm hoping that having the lining and small pieces done will make it feel like the coat comes together quickly. That will help me maintain momentum. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Coat Progress - Part 1

It feels like it has taken me awhile to get to this point, but I'm finally moving forward with my coat. This is a strange time of year to start making a winter coat, since we're so close to spring. Right? Spring is coming, isn't it? Actually, right now it is very windy and snowy outside my window and the temperature is well below freezing. Maybe it's a great time to start a winter coat. Sigh.

I mentioned this awhile ago, but the real reason I'm starting a coat now is that The Preacher and I are going to New York City at the end of March and I'm hoping to bring this coat along and have the buttonholes professionally done at Jonathan Embroidery. I haven't actually tried it, but I suspect that my machine wouldn't be very excited about doing buttonholes on a coat.

Initially, I was going to use Simplicity 2508 - specifically the view made in white on the right side of the envelope. I made a muslin to check the fit and found it to be okay, but after thinking on it for a few days, I decided that it wasn't really what I wanted. It is a beautiful coat when it is buttoned up, but the collar and double-breasted front would look odd if left open.

So, the search for a new pattern began. And it ended when I found BurdaStyle's Talea.

The line drawing looked interesting to me, but I was hooked when I looked at the coat made up and at all the  versions people have posted on the site.

Ironically, the directions suggest using snaps as a closure. I think I'm still going to go ahead with my buttonhole plan.

The pattern is free (as long as you consider 43 pieces of paper and ink needed to print it out negligible) and other than a few oddities in the instructions, it's good. I made up a muslin and all the pieces fit together great. The sleeves practically eased themselves in. Hopefully it goes as well with the wool coating. The major drawback is that it doesn't include pattern pieces for a lining except for the sleeves. A lining seemed pretty important to me, so I drafted those pieces. That isn't something that I've done a lot of, so it took awhile for me to figure out. The cut-on front facing style seemed to make it a little more complicated for me.

I've started sewing some of the small pieces and I'll report about that soon. The further I get into the project, the more excited I am.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

McCall's 3830 - Denim Skirt

So. It's been a little while. Not a lot of sewing to tell about or show in this space lately. Hopefully I've have some coat progress reports to make soon. More on that later...

It seems I've taken a style that was new-ish for me not all that long ago and turned it into a very common piece in my wardrobe. When I find something I like I tend to overdo it, I guess. I give you another McCall's 3830 straight skirt:

McCall's 3830 - Denim Skirt

This time I used a non-stretch denim and chopped up the front a bit to make it a little interesting. I saw a skirt like this somewhere and have had a rough sketch on my bulletin board for several months - too many months to remember where the inspiration came from.

The top-stitching is done with taupe thread and the triple-straight stitch.

McCall's 3830 - Denim Skirt

I include the facings with the lining because I want the waist to feel stable and not stretch out and since the lining doesn't match the outer fabric exactly, I don't want to deal with it peeking out.

As you can see, the back of the skirt is plain. I had a difficult time deciding whether or not to mirror the front. In the end, simplicity won out (didn't have to deal with darts or the zipper crossing the new seams) and I left it in one piece.

Coat Components

Now I'm working on a coat. All the pieces are cut. The purple print is flannel from my stash that I'm using to underline the body of the coat. More on the coat in the next post...