Homework for the Sew Over It class this week (after week three) was super arduous. I spent the best part of two days working on it.
I started by unpicking part of the collar to insert a hanging chain.
I then tacked the edges of the fronts and collar down in preparation for pressing. That took ages and was quite stressful as my fabric doesn’t like steam. I also had to hand stitch the neckline facings together, which apparently stops the inside of the collar ripping when you hang the coat up.
Another task was putting the lining together, also known as making a second coat to put inside the first one.
The final thing I did was tack the sleeves into the coat so I can check the fit properly. The shoulder pads aren’t inserted in these pics, which is why the shoulders look a bit droopy.
I felt like there was still an awful lot of work to do during the final class, but I spent hours on the homework, so I just had to hope that I wouldget closer to the finish line during the lesson.
After the lesson
Much of the lesson was spent inserting the shoulder pads and wadding. It was quite fiddly and I needed a lot of help from Julie to get the shoulder pads in the right place- this was my first time using them. Inserting wadding wasn’t in the instructions, but it was necessary in my fabric because the seam allowances were showing through at the shoulders, making them appear wavy.
The only other thing I managed to do was attach the lining to the facings of the coat. This was extremely fiddly and required me to go over a couple of bits. The wool and lining are very different weights, so I had to work to get them to feed through the machine at the same rate.
It’s not perfect, but I’m happy enough. The coat looks so much more finished now that all of the guts are covered up.
This is what the coat currently looks like on.
For the first time, I feel cautiously optimistic about coming out with a coat that I’m happy with. I now need to:
- Steam the collar to get it to lie flat
- Hem the sleeves
- Trim and hem the coat
- Buy buttons
- Mark buttonholes and take to DM Buttons to get them done
- Attach buttons
- Remove tacking and gently and press the coat
Still a way to go, but hopefully I will manage to get everything finished for when the cold weather truly comes to London.
I started to feel a bit less grumpy about the coat after getting a bit more sleep following the second class. I have a ridiculous number of things on at the moment and it’s hard to stay on top of it all.
I finished attaching the last piece of interfacing and sewed up some of the seams I was supposed to do in the first class. I managed to cut out all of my lining pieces. I had around 1m left (136cm wide). I was pretty lazy with the lining so could potentially have used less than 2m.
This week, I started to feel like I wasn’t miles behind everyone else for the first time. I attached the collar, which is very fiddly but the coat is starting to take shape.
I have a lot of pressing to do in the next week, as well as making up the lining and doing some work on the sleeves. However, it’s half-term next week and I have the day off on Monday, so I will have some breathing space. I’m hopeful that I will be able to get everything done to be able to come out with a finished coat.
Since I had only attended half of the first class at Sew Over It, I had a LOT of homework to do in the following week. I still had to cut out many of my paper pieces as well as all of the fashion fabric, lining and interfacing; test the fabric for how much steam it can take, test the interfacing, and fuse the interfacing to the fabric.
I had 1.2m of fabric left at this point- with one small piece to cut. Once more, I got fabric of a non-standard width from Goldbrick Fabrics. It’s 152cm wide. This is something to watch when fabric is over £70/m! However I’m kind of excited at the prospect of making a pencil skirt from the remnant.
I think that one of my pattern pieces is missing an alteration so most of the front pieces aren’t cut out. I also haven’t tackled cutting any lining yet. However, I cut and fused everything I was confident with.
After the class
Managed to cut out all of my fabric and interfacing, and fuse them together. The rest of the class was spent working on the pockets.
It’s quite nice to see my fabric and lining playing together.
I have to say I am not really enjoying coat class rn. I booked it before realising I was going to be crazy busy. Essentially, I have a stressful day at work, go and be stressed for three more hours, then get told to do a lot of stuff that I don’t have time to do during the week.
I do think it’s given me a bit more empathy for the kids I work with. Being stuck in a class, knowing that you’re behind and can’t catch up sucks.
Loads of homework again this week, and I’ll also be at a quidditch tournament in Edinburgh all weekend. We’ll see how I manage that.
I’ve wanted to take part in the series of sewing workshops to make the 1960s coat for ages, but the time was never right. At first, I was not an experienced enough sewist to undertake such a complex project. The workshop then became unavailable for an absolute age. So, when I saw that it was up and running again, I booked straightaway. I’ve been wearing some incarnation of a red coat for more than ten years now and my current version is really threadbare. I would have liked to replace it two seasons ago but red coats are not easy to come by. Now I’m going to try and make my own.
Photo taken from the Sew Over It website.
The course notes state that 3m each of fashion fabric and lining, so the first step was to go shopping. My job semi-regularly takes me near the Goldhawk Road and I hoped that this was where I would find the perfect red wool. I didn’t have a huge amount of time, so I just headed to my best-loved shops. I was tempted by a bolt-end of red crepe in Misan West- £50 for 5m was a bargain, but wool crepe isn’t really right for a winter coat. They also had some nice red wool with a sort of herringbone pattern (£35/m) that was my only other option.
Goldbrick Fabrics is my favourite shop on Goldhawk Road. They have a great selection, good customer service, which is very important to me, and they didn’t let me down. The woman who helped me pulled out a sample of a wool and cashmere mix that was utter heaven. A stunning shade of pillarbox red that felt as beautiful as it looked. I balked a little when I saw that it was nearly £80/m, but I had to have it. Yolo. The lady was willing to negotiate, so I thought it made sense to buy my lining there too. I am a huge fan of a jazzy lining, so I had to have this patterned purple viscose.
All in, I spent £220 on the fabric for this coat. The course was just over £160, which means that by the time I get buttons and interfacing, I will have dropped more than £400 on my new coat- double what I spent on my last (red wool and cashmere mix) coat from John Lewis.
I like to be clear about prices because people often don’t realise the cost- both financial and in terms of time- associated with being a maker. On the other hand, this is a wonderful opportunity. I will spend twelve hours in the company of an expert dressmaker learning how to make something that is literally tailored to my body and my style. It makes sense to invest in fabulous fabric when I have someone so experienced to guide me through the process of creating this garment.
I had to leave the workshop early (for very exciting reasons that I hope to be able to reveal soon) so only managed to alter the pattern.
I cut this dress out soon after finishing my denim day dress, but didn’t do anything else in over a year. I intended to take the pieces to a sewing cafe to overlock them, but never quite got round to it until a couple of months ago.
Weirdly, I had to re-cut a lot of my pattern pieces. No idea why, but a lot of them were too big. This also gave me a chance to take some length out of the back bodice.
The dress seems to be going together okay so far. I found the viscose more difficult to gather neatly than the denim of my previous version. I think next time, I would sew the elastic even closer to the tops of the skirt pieces.
I also found the invisible zip installation instructions a bit confusing- they state to sew using a normal zipper foot, but at no point seem to instruct you to go over it again with an invisible zip foot. I’ll just add this step in as I see fit.
You can see the offending sleeve at the top of this pic. On a more positive note, adding a row of gathering stitches made it a lot easier to pin in the sleeve.
Fortunately re-cutting the sleeve didn’t cause me too much of a roadblock even though I couldn’t find the pattern piece and so had to trace a new one off the second left sleeve. Hope the other piece turns up. The construction goes really quickly once the sleeves are in, so now it’s just the hems and neck facing to go.
Fabric: Around 2m of rayon purchased on holiday in Indonesia
My first Southport dress turned out to be a fairly straightforward and rewarding sewing experience. I realise the waist tie is way too long but for some reason I wasn’t ready to cut it when I wore this dress for the first time.
Here’s a side view. This dress has been great to wear in the recent heatwave in London. Only one metre of light, breezy cotton, yet it’s formal enough that I understand feel comfortable wearing it to work.
Pockets are life.
Notes about the changes I made can be found here.
Pattern: Southport dress by True Bias
Fabric: 1m Liberty tana lawn
I really struggled when it came to what I wanted to wear to this wedding. I have a couple of beautiful silk dresses that I have worn to other friends’ weddings, but this is a younger wedding and I wanted to wear something a bit more fun. I was also keen to make something. I had planned to make my Liberty Macaron, but I went off that idea quite quickly after finishing the toile. Even though most of my clothes are quite quirky, when it comes to lines, I like classic simplicity. Somehow a sweetheart neckline didn’t feel right.
I spotted some beautiful viscose on Fabric Godmother, featuring a cute cocktail print, and thought it would make a great maxi Southport. I vacillated about whether and how much to get, and in the end it sold out before I could buy any. I was sad about that, but the fabric was cream and I was definitely uncertain about wearing a full-length white dress to someone else’s wedding. After some more looking around, I came across this rocket-print fabric that I had spotted on Fabric Godmother before. Soon, two metres were winging their way to me.
I am slightly worried that I am insane. My previous attempt at working with silk was an absolute disaster. I have also never worked with a sheer fabric. I have less than two weeks to learn a lot of new skills, and any mistakes will mean ruining the costly fabric.
I’m also worried the dress won’t turn out the way it looks in my head. The fabric is darkest navy and I’m just not sure the whole thing will work.
- Eliminate button band again
- Cut back bodice neckline to match front bodice neckline (perhaps even an inch deeper) to give a dressier effect
- Fully line bodice. I still haven’t fully decided whether I will be underlining or lining. At the moment, I’m thinking underlining because I don’t want the seams to be visible through the sheer fabric. But then how will I finish the neckline and armholes? Will the bias binding finish work through two layers? This is so complicated! I need to keep reading up on this. Current plan is to underline and use bias binding to finish.
- Add modesty lining to the upper part of the skirt
- Eliminate pockets. These are two words I thought I would never type, but I don’t think they are a good idea in such a light fabric. Also, because the dress is sheer, you would be able to see the contents. Also also, the Southport directions don’t seem indicate to finish the side seams, and I need French seams to finish the silk voile. Update: I just didn’t see the instruction to finish the side seams when I made my my previous Southport. Comment about French seams still stands.
- Remove 2cm length in a curve on the back bodice. Add scant 1cm length in a curve on the front bodice. Really, I probably need to do an FBA, but that’s for another time.
So far the cutting has gone okay. 2m was only just enough to squeak out this dress. If you are using a directional print or making a size bigger than about a 4, you will definitely need more. I also cut the selvedges as part of the pieces for the skirt front as I had practiced a seam finish that incorporates them.
The underlining was pretty fiddly. The silk is actually okay to work with as it is textured. The viscose is more tricky, being drapey. It just takes lots of time to smooth etc. I hand-basted the front and back pieces.
I found the bias binding finish even more annoying the second time! It’s just really fiddly. Not helped by using satin binding, but I thought that would be better suited to my fabric. Even more infuriatingly, the neckline doesn’t really sit flat. Pressing helped a bit. Maybe it’s because I didn’t clip the seam allowances.
Fortunately I took a break after writing the above paragraph. Things seemed less negative when I came back to the bodice, and the bias binding one the armholes went much better.
I’ve got to say I’ve enjoyed learning and trying out some tailoring techniques on this dress. I’m cautiously optimistic about the result.
- Adding length to the bodice in a curve also adds width to the pattern piece! I nearly got in trouble because the waist sections of my bodice and skirt weren’t the same length when I came to join them
Fabric: 2m silk voile, 1.5m viscose for lining
Pattern: Southport dress (maxi version)