Posted in sewing

Prepping a Spring Coat Burdastyle 2/2011 #125

Have I told you about my insane outerwear stash? Yeah? Ok. So, as you’ve heard I’m trying to sew it down. I’d like to make four outwear pieces in 2018. I need a rain parka, an unstructured coat for bulky clothes, a slightly dressy spring jacket and a long winter coat for businessy stuff. I could also use a rainproof coat for travel.

If this kind of prep work is boring, skip to the end and maybe help me with a few questions, thanks!

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This is the start of my slightly dressy spring jacket, Burdastyle 2-2011-125. I’m using a 10 years old Burberry rain coating that I actually got from Marji in a trade when she started her de-stashing ages ago. I made a red trench coat a few years ago that just wasn’t right from the same fabric (rereading the post it sounds like it was too big. And, honestly, looking at it with hindsight, it probably would have been fine then and great now. But, I gave it away).


The fabric was sold at G-Street (when they were still great), Denver Fabrics and Michael’s in Baltimore. Look at some of the glorious colors I found at G Street back then! I now obviously wish I’d bought it in black, lavender AND baby blue. If anyone has more of this fabric they’d like to unload, holler at me, please 😀



Started with a size 44 based on my upper chest measurement of 40″ and made a 1.5″ FBA based on my F/G cup. I graded up to a around a 50 at my lower thigh (this is outside the Burda range for this pattern).

Interestingly, this looooong waist dart ends at the bust point (I double checked where Burda’s BP is — 12 7/8″ for this size). Which also places that pocket right on top of my bust. So, I’ll probably lower the welt pocket a bit.


Widened the sleeve by 3″. Holy skinny sleeve, Burda! I learned my lesson from my Cascade Duffle Coat and didn’t skimp in increasing the bicep width. Since this is for spring, I need to be able to wear it over a sweater.

I made a swayback adjustment of 3/4″.

I’m not making a muslin. So, I’m going to sew this with 1″ allowances so I have room to play with the fit.


Here’s what I’m not sure about:

The pattern calls for interfacing in all the usual places. And, normally, when I do tailoring I’d interface the entire front, do a chest shield, a back stay, etc. This fabric is two layers of thin cotton with a sandwich of plastic in between. My gut says I don’t need to interface. And, if I did, I’d just add to the center front (1),  collar, under collar and collar stand (7 thru 10). What do you think?

Interfacing layout

I don’t really want to line this either. I’m just going to line the sleeves and use flat fell seams throughout. Which also adds to my desire to NOT interface heavily (of course if you all tell me to interface, I can make a half lining).


Second question, back in 2008 I washed two pieces of this fabric. One came out totally fine and the other separated into two different pieces (hence how I know what’s in between the two layers). I was APOPLECTIC.  I had a top loader back then and now I have a front loader with a ‘hand wash’ cycle. Should I risk pre-treating it at home? Or just live with a dry clean only garment that will always be dirty?

UPDATE: Thanks, y’all! I sewed up a mesh bag with zipper, tossed in the fabric and washed it on gentle this morning upon suggestions below. It didn’t separate! So, it’s now line drying (I’m never going to run this through the dryer) and will see how presses with a warm iron after work this evening.

So, deep thoughts on interfacing and pre-treating are welcome!

Posted in sewing

Burdastyle Letterman’s Jacket: 9/2014 #134

Last project of 2017 methinks! Fitting that it’s my favorite person’s Hanukkah gift!


Jordan showed me the tweed Shinola Varsity jacket below a month ago and said how much he liked it. It was $500 — which I actually don’t think is too much to pay for US made product (I mean, it’s what I would charge AT LEAST). But, about $400 more than I would pay if I made it for him.

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He picked out his own fabric from Fabricmart and I settled on the September 2013 #134 Burdastyle varsity jacket.


At first I was like, that’s not a varsity jacket! Where are the leather sleeves? It has a zipper not snaps! But, once I sewed the muslin I saw why they said varsity vs aviator or bomber. The sleeves are dropped like a varsity jacket and it’s much longer in the torso (and my boy has a short torso).


I decided to make a muslin because I’ve only made him one semi-fitted outerwear garments (this Hot Patterns jacket from three years ago) and am I glad I did. I HATE HATE HATED the shoulders on this. Those folds at the armscyce made me want to scream.


Blech. Look how long the shoulders are! Looking at the original photo on the model I can see that they are long/ wide. But, this looked sloppy to me. And, I wanted a more fitted aviator style (in truth, maybe I should have gone with this Burdastyle from 12/2015 #125).


The first thing I did was narrow the shoulder sleeve by 1″ making it more an extended shoulder rather than dropped. The nice thing about using this thick old blanket for the muslin is I could really get a sense of how the fabric would work in wool.


Than, taking advice from Instagram, I saw Jordan has sloped shoulders. I really think he has overdeveloped traps with short shoulders rather than technically sloped. But, semantics.


Jordan’s chest is 44″ which puts him in a Burdastyle men’s 56. His shoulders are 6.25″ long and his waist was between the 50/52 size (I went with 52). I also shortened the jacket by two inches in the second muslin (I just made edits to the first muslin).


Here’s the back now with the shortened shoulder and a 1/2″ adjustment for sloped shoulders. I figured out his shoulder drop by using my level and comparing his drop to that of the pattern. I felt rather clever for having thought of that and it worked! Those horrible folds are mostly gone and the shoulder seam is sitting now where it should. Thanks smarter people than me on Instagram!


The jacket is lined in flannel back satin. And, I used stay tape at the shoulders. The original jacket has quilted satin for the lining. I kind of wish I had done this to increase the temperature range for wearing the jacket. But, then again, I’m okay with the flannel back satin and tweed combo.

The ribbing is from Neotrims Etsy shop based in the UK. I LOVED the selection there. This ribbing is mostly wool with lots of bounce. But, you could certainly find some at Pacific Trim or any one of the NY trim stores (I though briefly about making the ribbing but was running out of time to have this ready for Hanukkah). I did end up taking two inches out of the collar pattern so it would snug up against his neck. And, I see that the collar isn’t 100%. But, it’s good enough. Oh, I also had to shorten the sleeves by 3″.


The welt pockets were sewn using a technique from Kennth King’s Cool Coture. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to wrap my mind around the technique and THREE samples before I got the hang of it. But, once I did I saw how elegant a technique it was. He has a class on pockets that covers this technique on Craftsy if you’re interested.

The pocket bags themselves are a little small I think. Just big enough for a phone really. But, not quite large enough for jamming your hands into for warmth.

Isn’t he the cutest? Like for real. THE CUTEST.

He told me these are the best looking sleeves he’s had in a garment (they are always too long or too short). Plus, he usually has things taken in a bit at the waist. I don’t know that I would ever try and sew for him as a surprise either. It was much less stressful to try it on as I went — just like I would for myself. That’s all! He’s happy with his jacket. I felt like a magician! He saw something he wanted and I was actually able to make it!

Posted in sewing

Grainline Cascade Duffle: The Reveal

Cascade Duffle (15 of 16).jpg My beautiful duffle coat is complete and I am happy about a lot of things and would change just a couple of things. I got to wear it today for our first true cold day it’s just about perfect!

I have to apologize for the quality of the photos. It was overcast today so the pictures aren’t as vibrant as I would like. But, I realized I didn’t really want to take additional photos tomorrow and I need to blog my coat to move on to my next project. Better to have A photo than no blog post at all.

Now, on to the coat!

Likes: It’s a duffle coat! I’ve always loved and wanted to own a duffle coat. If you know me you know I love a military influenced garment and am a casual Anglophile (I can claim it as my parents are from Commonwealth countries and my mom lived in England before moving to the States).  But, have never found a RTW version that fit me well because I’m busty with a big booty or that I can afford because I love me some Burberry. I’m thrilled I made this from plaid. I love plaid but rarely sew with it because matching stresses me out.

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The color is really great on me and will be cheerful this winter. The lining is from flannel back satin so the hood won’t destroy my curly hair and provides a lot of warmth 😀.


Cascade Duffle (16 of 16).jpg I notice the back hem doesn’t lay as flat (rather flares out a bit) as I’d like and the front hem rises. Originally I thought this was the result of not making a long enough FBA at the front and too large a new-to-me swayback adjustment (I took the extra length at center back out at the shoulder/ neckline).


But, when I now look at this plaid version from the designer above, I see that the back hem flares out / away the same way in the middle pic and the front hem also rises. I also see on the designer version that the black plaid between the bust and waist isn’t parallel, as mine isn’t despite a FBA.  I don’t notice this on all versions of this coat online though. I’ve pressed the hem over a ham to have it curve / lay a bit flatter but it’s not enough. Maybe I’ll send it out for a profesh press. I’m not sure what causes the flare. Could be a rounded vs straight hem. Maybe the lining should be a bit shorter to pull the hem in place more? Maybe the rounded hem biased a bit? Perhaps the back should all be interfaced. I’m not sure and I’m willing to live with it in this version. I also used wiggan in the hems which gave me a nice crisp finish (my wiggan came from Lichtensteins in Brooklyn, NY. No website.)

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If I were making this again, I would extend the length of the zipper band and use a 30″ vs 23″ zipper. I’ve noticed on a few versions that the lower front splays open a bit. I assumed that was fabric cut off grain. But, I now think a longer zipper would go a long way to keeping it closed. The zipper stops at the hip length shorter version length. Which does make it easier for zipping up. But, I’d just go longer in the future. The center front band is also too long. There is an updated pattern piece on the Grainline site. But, it’s about 1.5 inches or so too long in  my size.


As for the zipper band, I did choose to interface mine. I’d also recommend reinforcing the bottom where the zipper stop is. I managed to pop mine loose while squatting to put put on my dog’s halter. It can take a lot of pressure there.

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I would also not have done it in a contrast color for the zipper band. It peeks open a bit at the top by my neck and it wouldn’t bother me as much if the colors were the same.

Cascade Duffle (4 of 16).jpg Thanks to a year of lifting weights my body has changed — a lot. I should have made a broad back adjustment and added another inch to the width of the sleeves at the bicep (for a total of 2″). I can wear this with slim to medium garments underneath – nothing thicker than a ponte or wool jersey knit. But, certainly not a heavy sweater. Thanks to the flannel back satin lining though this is warm enough for Baltimore on it’s own. It took wearing of all my other outerwear this fall to realize how much my body has changed. None of my coats fit particularly well through the bodice right now. That said, this is well suited for a big chunk of Maryland winters. My next coat will have boxy fit for oversized winter garments (I’m thinking navy cashmere swing coat with dropped shoulders).

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All of these issues could have been caught with a muslin which I chose not to do. I just couldn’t deal with all these pieces! That said, I hope most of what I see is just what I see. Overall I am happy but would be thrilled with a few tweaks. And, I would make another duffle. Just not in plaid 😀

I’ve been lamenting my lack of clothing labels this year. Especially larger / bold labels for garments with a substantial facing. I actually finished this coat on the fourth anniversary of my mom’s passing so she’d been on my mind all day.  Above, I used an old label from  one of my mom’s custom garments from when they were stationed in South Korea. It was from an outfit I’ll never fit in. I have one more similar label in my closet and will put it in my next nice wool coat.

The first time I made a tailored coat may have been the first time she bothered to figure out how to leave a comment instead of just emailing or calling me. Back in 2011 she wrote here:

Are you kidding me with that thought about maxi coats not being trendy right now? Hold fast! That coat will be around when maxi coats become fashionable again and will compete with the best of them. I particularly love the feel of that satin lining. The details on the coat are to die for. Much more stylish than that red coat you became s-o-o-o-o-o attached to. I get a very warm, comfortable feeling just looking at you in that coat. Wow! You ought to be very proud of your accomplishment. Congratulations on a job well done.


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I’m so happy to have a new everyday coat! I’ve been wearing my high school letterman’s jacket and a puffy jacket from college. If I needed something nicer I’d wear a vintage coat in my closet — but vintage isn’t great for everyday wear. I have SO MANY coats in mind and may come back for a discussion on what to sew next (camel wrap coat? navy cashmere swing coat? oversized menswear influenced coat? rain coat with zip out liner? travel jacket from stretch water proof fabric? red peacoat? dressy spring coat? SO MANY DECISIONS) Now, I need to start working on Jordan’s Hanukkah gift. I promised him a bomber jacket and have a week to get it done.

If you’ve stumbled on this final post, check out these other posts I wrote about alterations, cutting the plaid and tailoring the coat.





Posted in sewing

YIKES. Sorry about the updates.

If you got 100 emails from WordPress with new posts, sorry about that! Photobucket changed their terms and requires $400 a year to host blog photos. So, I’ve spent the last week trying to get photos off there and hosted here on WordPress. I had a slew of private posts from 2007 – 2010 that read more like a teen diary than a sewing blog. I’d made them private over the years for a host of reasons (too personal, too snarky, too silly) So, I “published” just the pattern review related posts in order to update the photos. I didn’t realize that would send out notifications!

And, I don’t know how to turn off the feature. Eep.

Sorry for clogging your inbox 😀 And, um, nothing on the internet really goes away!

Shoutout to Liz, Tanika and Patti who let me know what was happening.

Posted in sewing

Tailoring the Cascade Duffle

There are so many good resources for tailoring out there. I use the Singer Sewing Reference Library “Tailoring” as my main resource. But, I have a slew of others that I tend to read through before a big project to refresh my memory and help me make some final decisions. The original pattern is very lightly tailored. A friend showed me photos of her Gloverall coat and the Cascade definitely is more in line with traditional methods. That said, the Gloverall is a beautifully heavy melton wool and my fabric isn’t as thick, so tailoring it is!

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Personally, I prefer a fusible rather than hand or machine tailoring methods. Ok. Admittedly I haven’t tried hand or machine tailoring. But, I like the speed of the fusible. I love structure in garments. So, I deviated a little from the included interfacing instructions for the Cascade Duffle.

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First, I interfaced the entire front instead of just the upper bodice with medium weft interfacing. While double sided, my fabric is a little on the limp side. I love a coat that can stand up on its own if I’m being honest.

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I did use the included interfacing pieces to cut my fusible horse hair canvas for the armscye reinforcement. I have an insane amount of it and wanted to give it a go. It’s lovely. When I make a no-nonsese tailored work coat I’ll be using this.

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The pattern instructions have you interface the upper back bodice and the armscye. I just did the upper back because the back stay I added (below) would cover the back armscye. The back stay is a poly muslin blend from my stash. Normally, you wouldn’t interface AND backstay. But, my upper back was cut on the bias and I wanted to stabilize it so there wouldn’t be a chance of it stretching out.

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I also added interfacing to the hem of the coat at the back (the front is already interfaced). If you recall, this pattern has a separate hem facing that I decided to integrate into the back and front. I’ll also be using wigan on my hems when it comes time to do the actual hemming (and when my order from New York comes in).

And, I interfaced everything else called for using the weft interfacing. Oh, I also interfaced my pockets and zipper band — not sure if that’s called for in the instructions.

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Finally, I waffled a bit (too long) on the sleeves. I don’t mind block fusing per se. But, I didn’t want the sleeves to feel stiff. I also really personally hate when my sleeves wrinkle at the elbow crease during wear. So, after flirting with a few ideas I decided to underline the sleeves with a cotton batiste from my stash. I considered silk organza (too slippery to be bothered), muslin (too stiff). This will hopefully give the garment the light support I want in the sleeves and stave off wrinkles.

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And, for the sleeve insertion I added a sleeve head to give the cap some support. I think I’ll skip a shoulder pad. But, I’m undecided.

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I just need to bag the lining and I’ll be all done (man am I glad I already sewed the lining!) Quite ahead of my Christmas schedule if all goes well. But, never fear. I bought more coating last weekend at Fabricmart 😚.