Monday, November 26, 2012

Style Arc Grace Coat finished!

Collar Up

The Back

Collar Down

The hardest thing about sewing this coat was choosing the pattern. I started out thinking it had to be a trim silhouette with waistline definition but the appeal of this pattern won out. And it is so versatile!

The pattern calls for two more buttons on the collar but they were too heavy for my version and I don't need them. Even without a scarf to secure it, the collar stays up pretty well. Another unexpected feature  is that I can roll down the cuffs if I get caught without gloves. And finally, the roomy fit makes it possible to wear plenty of layers on colder days.

Finishing the coat required endurance. It had become the project-that-never-ends. Then, after stitching the last button, I slipped it on. The sense of accomplishment exploded like fireworks and I can't wait to start another project. That's how I can tell I like to sew.

Have yourself a good Monday!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Traditional Holiday Activities

I am preparing to host a sewing get-together and sewing a sofa slipcover. Tell the truth, you follow these traditions, too? As my husband cooked a Thanksgiving turkey, I courteously allowed him full reign over the kitchen and I prepared our home for the group of family coming to eat a feast. Yes - I finished my sofa slipcover!

You may recall that I sewed a slipcover, over a year ago, and I did it using a very inadequate amount of fabric. And, with no shame whatsoever, this slipcover was attached using safety pins and stick-on velcro tape. Not until I injured myself on a broken safety pin (back in the summer) did I think more work was required. I conscientiously purchased a coordinating fabric and promptly stashed it. As the holiday approached, it occurred to me that someone could get hurt on my sofa and that didn't seem like a nice way to treat my guests.

The main steps were to add fabric to the back and to stitch down the velcro (the sticky backing wasn't strong enough anymore).
The pieces go back together like so:

Yes, more pillows were added and the place was generally decorated up with glittered pinecones & flowers & lots of delicious food provided by Howie, his daughter  Kelly and my mom. I mashed the potatoes.
Instagram by Kelly - thanks for the nice portrait!

*Next topic: Sewing Get Together

Are you local to Rockville, Maryland? If so, you may be interested in the get together next weekend at my house. We will be bringing fabrics and patterns for a swap. Howie and I will feed you and one of the attendees made noise about making Mimosas. Shoot me an email via the "contact me" page on this blog and I'll give you more details. I would love to meet my sewing neighbors!

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, and sewed on Black Friday. Why would anyone fight those crowds when you can stay at home and relax? Feel free to argue with me in the comments!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

assembling the coat

To get a nice roll on the collar, the lower collar had to be trimmed a bit; here it is on the dressform before trimming. The collar will be worn down most of the time, I decided to optimize it for that. It will still look fine when pulled up as a standing collar. This might not be necessary with a flatter fabric, like a gabardine.

You can see that the edges line up just fine in the front; it is only on the outer edge of the collar that the top layer needs to be a little larger than the bottom layer. (Again, this is before trimming, so you can see I needed to take off about 1/8")

And for some inexplicable reason, the collar just didn't want to lay nicely in one place. It kept folding into creases on the underside.

I stitched extra quilting on the offending under-collar and problem solved.

Next came the sewing of the sleeves. I wondered whether I'd really manage the top stitching once the sleeve was assembled, and all it took was some extreme bunching. I sewed as far as I could from one end.

And then sewed the rest by starting at the other end of the seam and sewing my way into the middle. It worked!

And here is what the lining looked like from both sides, before installation into the coat. That red piping is snazzy, eh? Can't really go wrong with red when sewing black and white. Truth be told, I'd have preferred gold, to pick up on gold in the best buttons ever, but red was all they had in stock. I wasn't about to make my own piping! Maybe I will do that one of these days, but not for this project. And yes, the lining is a rather boring black, but I wanted to use what I had on hand and avoid frittering away more dollars (mainly because I did not find anything fabulous when I looked).

It was just one big long seam to attach the lining to the coat - and here it is before top-stitching, hemming, buttons and button-holes. Oh yes, and I still need to add the cuffs to the sleeves. All in all, we've come a long way!

I think choosing the pattern was the hardest part of this coat. And I love the Style Arc Grace pattern. It has been a real pleasure to sew.

I guess it will be a coat soon!
Happy Sewing, all y'all, and a very Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

taming unruly fabric - The Coat

This lofty wool novelty fabric certainly considered annoying me, but I wanted a coat from it, so I didn't put up with any nonsense. For starters, I kept those pattern pieces handy so I could compare and re-calibrate often. In the first photo, I have laid the interlining on top of the pattern piece and made sure it still fit perfectly. Then I laid the herringbone on top of that, and made sure each edge was aligned perfectly and the grain was straight.

Even pinning was more handling than I wanted to inflict on this fabric, so I carefully serged the edges of the interlining to the wool. Testing first on scraps helped determine the correct setting on the serger.

During the quilting process, the fabric really wanted to stretch out shape, so I used my hands to cover and clamp down tightly on the fabric as it fed through the machine. The IDT on the Pfaff works like a walking foot, which was helpful in keeping the layers aligned.

I added a few horizontal seams in addition to the vertical channels sew into the pieces.

And one small portion of the collar wanted to misbehave terribly, so I exerted my will and quilted that down into place. No more bubbly parts!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Double Welt Pockets w/Flap on The Grace Coat

Current project is the Style Arc Grace Trans Seasonal Coat:

For the pockets on the Grace Coat, I used the strip method to create double welts. That is not what the instructions said, but I wasn't quite understanding the instructions, so I went my own way.

Once the welts were on (just a ginormous bound buttonhole, really) it was easy enough to add the pocket flaps. The pocket bags came next. As you can see, I used lining fabric instead of doubling up the flaps. It would have made them too bulky.

Nice, eh? Always good to stop and really admire the work. Have a snack. Celebrate, you deserve it.

After adding the bags, it was time to sew on the button and, ever vigilant for future problems, I opted to reinforce the area where the button would be sewn. If I can avoid crawling back into this coat to make repairs, it's worth a little extra effort now.

 Coat front on a nice autumn day. I think I'll just stand on the picnic table and admire my work. I notice that my pockets seem farther away from the center front than the line drawings, but I think it will be fine.

Pockets! Functional! And what snazzy little welts, too. My, but I am a braggart today. Sorry!

Blurry but relatively accurate representation of my work attire. This was taken last week and I forgot to post! 

I sewed the shirt, and re-fashioned the skirt from an awkward mid-calf length to a shorter & flipper style. Hope you are admiring your work, and happy sewing!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

inside-out coat progress

no time to talk.sewing on the collar now.then the lining. BOOM!

Would you like you own copy of Drape Drape 2 

"Where cult favorite Pattern Magic left off, the Drape Drape series continues - skillfully guiding readers through the draping process.  Hisako Sato's Drape Drape 2 focuses on the use of draping techniques to create wearable origami-like garments that draw out the unique character of the textile"
Be sure to leave a comment here for your chance at a free copy!

I have a certain coat to sew, and I'll be back with more to share soon.

Friday, November 16, 2012

** Drape Drape 2 Book GiveAway Now Closed **

Good Morning and Good News
Archie, Brand Ambassador for alittlesewing blog, is proud to announce a book giveaway.
This is, needless to say, the Glamour Shot.

This free book came to me, in exchange for a book review on my blog - and a free copy will go to one of you, dear readers!  When the offer came, I could not say YES fast enough. Read more about Bunka Fashion College here on Cidell's blog where she reviews their textbooks. The publisher says,
"Where cult favorite Pattern Magic left off, the Drape Drape series continues - skillfully guiding readers through the draping process.  Hisako Sato's Drape Drape 2 focuses on the use of draping techniques to create wearable origami-like garments that draw out the unique character of the textile"

I can see myself in this knit top.

or shall we go for the gusto and jump into the deep end of the pool!

yes, that is my coat in the background, with the pockets finished.
I am making good progress.
So, who's in? Leave a comment telling me you are interested and make sure I have some way of contacting you. Archie will make a random drawing on November 18 - Sunday evening - 7pm Eastern Standard Time. The publisher will send the book directly to the name and address of the winner.

Archie says she will use a fair selection process, but flattery is always welcome. She likes ham lunchmeat, too, but I told her no bribes will be accepted.

and I'll keep sewing my coat .......

Update November 18:

Congratulations Curious Kiwi- I'll be in touch with you!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

best buttons ever

My friends, I have gone cheap on the buttons in the past, but today is a new day. I feel certain these are the most expensive buttons I have ever purchased, but oh they are so worth it. I love them.thoroughly.
Still Life of a Button-Hole Journey: Tools of the Trade
There was a lot of experimenting happening in the sewing room this morning; bound buttonholes, machine buttonholes, gimp buttonholes and everything in between was tested. I settled on a hybrid buttonhole. The bound buttonholes looked good, but they were just too bulky.
you can see the photographer (me) in the reflection of the button

Everything is better with a Sharpee

Let me think ... do I love this button? Done thinking. YES!
Hybrid Buttonhole: I zig-zagged free-style on both sides of the buttonhole and did not use the buttonhole foot. Then I clipped open the buttonhole and used a Sharpee marker to blacken the interfacing and any white threads showing. That made it look a lot better! Then I finished up by hand-sewing on top of the machine-stitching, using thread made especially for buttonholes. I love the end result. It is flat and strong and lets this gorgeous button in and out, just as it should.

I also made progress on the pockets and finished cutting the lining and other odds and ends. It will be at least another week, maybe more, before I finish the coat. This project is pure pleasure!

It is so nice when I am in love with my materials. It's not as easy as one would expect, to find materials and buttons that I love.

Is it like that for you, too? How often are you sewing with 'good-enough' materials and how often are you sewing with 'to-die-for" stuff? I guess I am lucky if I sew TDF materials once or twice a year.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

how about a warm coat?

As I posed for photographs in the Stella Coat, it was impossible to ignore the chilly breeze invading the open neckline. Cute coat, but I need something warm! Enter a quick mockup of the Grace Coat:

Now this coat is designed to be trimmed with binding all along the edges and it is unlined. But I see the perfect warm winter coat in this design. It is roomy enough to fit over bulky layers, long enough to keep my important parts warm and short enough to hop in and out of the car.

I suppose it's a little difficult to make out in the photos above, but I added seam allowances to the edges since I won't be trimming them with binding, added a hem and drafted lining pieces that will attach to the facings. Having just sewn up the Stella Coat made the adjustments pretty intuitive.

On the left, above, are the completed back, and fronts stacked on the table and ready for construction. On the right you can see my quilting journey to attach the underlining to the fabric. Yes, I thought I'd do some catch-stitching, but I lacked the discipline to sew logically and it took too long anyway. Once I discovered the right pressure settings on the presser foot, I was able to get seams quickly sewn on the machine and the quilting was complete. That IDT on the Pfaff is indispensible for keeping layers together.

What's with the curtain fabric for interlining, you ask? Fusing didn't work! All that spot-fusing for nothing! ha. There are two reasons: the fabric is too textured and the sparkly threads melt when heat is applied. Well, that's OK - I read sewing blogs, after all. I've seen a quilted jacket or two in my time. My first official quilted jacket isn't hard-core couture, but I am giving myself points anyway.

Here is the pattern:

How exciting, right? A cute, easy, warm coat that should sew up quickly. I can't wait to add this into my winter wardrobe.

Thank you for all the positive comments on the Stella Coat; you almost persuaded me to sew the darn thing anyway, but this will be more utilitarian. You know what else is good about a coat project?The process is easily broken down into sub-projects. It's nice to focus on one thing at a time, such as bound buttonholes. As I complete each chunk, there is a sense of accomplishment to push me ahead to the finish line.

More to come!