I have never paid attention in sewing books when they talked about balanced vs unbalanced plaids. While I have a lot of plaid in stash, I don’t sew them that often. And, when I have, the placement has generally worked out for me.
Except this time. Meet the Unbalanced Devil Plaid.
With this Cascade Duffle Coat my main focus was making sure the plaids matched at the side seam BELOW the bust dart. What I didn’t realize until after I cut out the back bodice is that the plaid is unbalanced. Yes, I was mostly focused on the horizontal line matching up throughout. But, the off balance of the brown stripe to the left made my eyes TWITCHY.
The real solution to this would be to cut the back with a center seam and flip one side upside down and cut. That way the plaids would be balanced. But, I’d have to do that for fronts and sleeves and that was just way too much finagling for me.
Because past me bought five yards of wool coating from Fabricmart back in 2015, I had enough fabric to recut the back. While the right and left do not mirror each other (on the right below), I do have the bolder brighter dark brown stripes equidistant-ish from the center.
I chose to center the turquoise rather than the wider brown because I want more of the turquoise to come through. Well, I really wanted more of the smaller white plaid to come though. But, you can see above where it got me trying to center that 🙄.
What’s really interesting is I did a little poll on Instagram and it was pretty much a 50/50 split on if this was worth recutting. As sewists, we are definitely too hard on ourselves 🤷🏾♀️.
While I like it marginally better with the plaids more balanced, I may come to regret it if my sleeves are a mess and I don’t have enough fabric to recut!
And, below: I’ve got the lining cut and sewn and am pretty happy. This is a size 14 with a 1″ FBA grading to an 18 at the thigh.
Jordan was part of his office’s relay team for the Baltimore Marathon last week. I had to work so I missed his leg which went RIGHT by our house. Knowing I wouldn’t see him run, I decided to make him a new pair of running shorts so it would be a little like I was with him (and I HATE his running shorts. From high school. Baggy and disgusting.). He not so politely declined a matching shirt. Spoilsport.
I didn’t have any specific running shorts patterns. But, realized I could take a pair of pajama pants, shorten them and call it a day. I chose the Burdstyle pajama pants from 12-2010 #134 after seeing them made up as boxers on the Burdastyle website.
I have made him a few pairs of pj bottoms from Simplicity 1520 (above) and he wears them all the time. They have a ton of ease which is great for sleeping but I’ve been dying to get him into something a little more…. European.
The blue fabric is from my stash purchased at PR Weekend in Montreal back in 2008. I used most of it before to make Jalie running skirts in 2010. It has minimal stretch, like maybe 15% and still needed a ball point needle or it skipped stitches. It’s athletic shiny on one side and brushed cotton on the inside (he’s wearing these with some of the Jalie 2327 athletic wicking boxers I’ve made him in the past).
For seam allowance I added 3/8″ seam. And used two strands of thread through one needle for the faux top stitching at the fly.
I added pockets to these stabilizing them with 1/4″ twill tape and understitching so they laid flat. I considered a zipper at the pockets. But, realized the deep pockets with a small opening would be safe enough for his phone while running.
The pattern calls for a separately added waistband and a drawstring. Too fussy for me! I added three inches to the top of the pants pattern, turning that down to the inside to create my casing. I used Stretchrite elastic from Amazon with an integrated drawcord cut three inches smaller than his 37″ waist measurement.
I sewed this up on my sewing machine and didn’t finish the seams on my serger. Hemmed with my coverstitch which I really need to spend some time getting to know better.
I guessed a bit on the length. Jordan was traveling for Yom Kippur when I made them. But, I now have a lovely male body form that my dad bought me for my birthday that I can use to guesstimate these things! Except, it’s definitely bigger in the legs than Jordan so I was worried it wouldn’t fit. Oh, the form is from The Shop Company. I’ll write a review of it and the ordering process (which was a bit of nightmare) after I’ve used it some more.
But, as you see it fits him fine. I wanted them about two inches shorter. But, we compromised on length. This pair is a good model for the swim trunks I’ve been wanting to make him. I might add more seam allowance though just to accommodate for the loss of stretch in the swimwear fabric I bought.
Every year I say I’m going to make a coat, then I don’t. I started one in 2014 and the muslin was a disaster. I sourced wigan from you back then and didn’t move forward. Last year I pin fit the Cascade Duffle by Grainline and lost steam and time. I also muslined a Burda coat I’d long loved. But, it was a horror on me.
Friends, I have five (possible seven) cuts of wool coating and four cuts of rain coating sitting in my stash. And, when I say sitting, I mean stacked in corners, on chairs and crammed on shelves.
So, within the next year I’d like to make three coats. A camel wrap coat, a navy anorak/ rain coat with a hood and a plaid duffle coat. I figured the plaid duffle coat would be hardest, so I’m starting with that.
I’m going to document my process here. Mostly to help anyone else out who decides to tackle this with a similar body type. Secondly to have an old fashioned blog post. I post so much more on Instagram now. But, I miss long documentations for reference. For the record, I don’t think Grainline is particularly friendly to my body type: busty and booty. But, I love, love, love duffle coats and have never found one in store that would fit across my chest. And, as this is not particularly fitted may still work!
Based on the finished measurements and wanting enough ease to wear a sweater underneath, I’m going with a 14 grading out to an 18 at the hip/ upper thigh.
FBA: 1″ darted FBA to the garment and a 1″ princess seam FBA to the lining and facing.
There is a lot of ease in this garment. But, I really like things to fit as well as possible. And, on other Grainline wovens I’ve made had terrible draglines without a FBA.
Lengthen center front / zipper placket 1″ and interfacing piece
Done because of the FBA
Lengthen two-piece sleeves and sleeve lining 1″
I like a really long sleeve and read a few reviews that thought the sleeves were short
Widen bicep / arm and lining 1″
I find the Grainline sleeve crazy narrow. And, when I measured there was barely an inch of ease.
Merge bottom and front bodice together for front and back
I’m working with a plaid fabric and have no desire to match plaid there
Merge / overlap the hem facings for the front and back
Nice touch. But, I don’t need it for this.
Narrow shoulders .25″ on garment and lining
I was gonna do a full half inch but decided I wouldn’t mind if I had shoulder pads
Swayback adjustment .75″ on garment and lining.
For the garment I took it from the shoulder to eliminate the need for a center back seam.
For the lining I took it from the waist with a horizontal overlap/ dart and made sure to true the hem.
I usually trace indie patterns. But, with 40 damn pieces I threw caution to the wind. That said, I would suggest buying a copy shop version of this pattern. That way, if you need to recut a pattern piece you can pretty easily.
Above is my pin fit. I also tried it out on my body and it’s pretty good I think. Here are my general steps over the next month or so
Cut lining, sew lining, hope it fits!
Mark pattern for plaid placement
Layout and cut garment fabric from one layer of fabric
Interface garment fabric and make back stay
Construct main garment
Finish by Christmas. I know that’s so far away. But, I don’t have as much hands on sewing time as I used to.
That’s it for now. I’ll work on the lining and keep you posted.
As I alluded in my last post some four months ago, I’ve started teaching sewing classes at a new fabric and sewing studio in Baltimore, Domesticity. I’d been interested in teaching group classes since July 2016. So, when Domesticity opened up and a mutual friend of the shop owner connected us, it was serendipity. Also, when I sew or put on makeup, I like to pretend I’m on my YouTube channel or my own TV show anyway 😃. Now, it would be the same but with a live audience 🤷🏾♀️.
What I didn’t expect was how hard teaching can be, that there were things I would learn about myself and how much I would LOVE it. Want to read about it? Get a cup because there’s a short novel below.
Hard? Wutt? Yeah. It’s hard. Teaching takes preparation. Any technique I told people to do I wanted to have an example of it, be able to explain the benefits of it, talk about why it works how it does and a clear way on how to do it. That’s not all just in my head. I had to research and make sure I was using the correct terms and perhaps correct any bad habits I had picked up.
I didn’t want people to pay me to watch them read directions and follow along. I wanted people to feel freed from basic instructions, learn techniques and order of construction. Often I’ve thought of in person sewing classes as unnecessary. I’ve said for years if you can read you can sew or cook. Just follow the directions! I had to learn that not everyone learns the same way. Duh. I changed my mindset. But, if someone were coming to to a class and paying money to be there, I wanted to be able to show them things that weren’t in the instructions.
The indie designers to give A LOT of detail in their patterns. For how I sew it’s just too too much. But, for a beginner sewer though, they are learning from these. Yet, the lesson here is that even with 30 pages of instructions there are still things to teach. Sewing is vast and there is more than one way to skin a cat. There are alternate finishes of necklines, seams, hems. Ways to topstitch. What your sewing feet are for. What is the difference between needles. How do you pick which needle size, etc. etc. I had more than one student tell me that our classes taught them to love their sewing machine. Or, they’d never used any of the other feet their machine came with.
I love seeing how excited people get when they complete a garment! Yes, I goad people into smiling when I take a photo. But, for real… they are happy and it makes me all kinds of warm inside.
I’ve had to put aside personal biases about some indie patterns. Beginner sewers see a lot of independent designers on social media and that’s what they want to sew. But, imho *just* sewing indie designers is limiting. So, I make sure to include patterns from the Big 4 so that students are comfortable going between the two and don’t feel limited to just sewing indie. There are some designs I don’t teach because they are too basic for the money or aren’t something I would ever personally wear. I felt it only right to teach designs I could personally vouch for and work in to my wardrobe. After all, I was going to be sewing samples for myself and the shop. Why work on something I think is trash or dumb?
I’ve had to make my samples show worthy and not just good enough. I mean, I love to sew. But, I’ve definitely learned what I am willing to let go of. But, when everyone is going to be staring intently at my work, I want to make sure it holds up. Those pajama pants? Plaids match every which way. Seams are beautifully finished. They came out so nice I can’t get them off of Jordan to actually use in class. He wears them ALL the time. And, I teach finishes for when you don’t have a serger. Guess what I rediscovered? Many of those finishes are WAY nicer. I am back in love with French seams, flat fell seams and a blind hem finish.
I use a lot of different tools and notions. Ok, for real. The start up costs for sewing are not small. It’s not like knitting where you need a set of needles and a ball of yarn. I brought in rulers, marking pens, hams, seam rolls, rotary cutters, nips, zipper templates, twill tape… you name it, I have it and I brought it. Yes, it can be overwhelming to a student. But, it also lets them see how I get the results I do. Near the end I had a bit of a personal mutiny and stopped bringing so many tools. My living room looked like a mudroom and I couldn’t find items in my sewing room. And, you know what? A few students said “This is a job for a ham” when they were opening up seams or pressing in darts. They understand what the tools are for and that’s fantastic.
I’m way more obsessed with fit than I realized. Prior to teaching I’d have told you people spend too much time obsessing about fit. But, as I developed the coursework, I realized I worked fit into every class. I didn’t want people to walk away from sewing because they didn’t like how clothes looked on them.
I suggested people sew muslins. I taught FBAs, swayback adjustments, broad back fixes and ways to make an armhole more comfortable. Yet, my constant refrain was, “I’m not a fit expert. But,….” It helps to have an arsenal of fit books to refer to.
Assign homework. There wasn’t a class I taught that didn’t require you to sew some at home. And, I think that’s really necessary so that people realize they can sew on their own. It also reinforces whatever you taught the week before.
Teaching doesn’t feel like work! Yes, I mean, I still have deadlines of prep work I need to do and late nights/ early mornings getting it done. But, when I’m with students in the classroom time just flies. It doesn’t feel like work to talk about sewing and teaching sewing. I do have a part time day job in my field. And, I don’t know that I could or would want to teach sewing full time. But, when I’m there it feels like hanging out with friends. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to teach. But, I’m enjoying every bit of it right now. It’s fun to help create a community of sewists in Baltimore. I feel like I’m really *doing* something.
*ETA: Jenny of Cashmerette reached out to me about what I thought was a mismatched yoke in the pattern draft. Nope. The pattern is fine. The mistake was mine. Despite having measured and traced the pattern several times in two different sizes, I managed to insert the center back upside down during five different versions of the pattern 😳 That made for the mismatched seam allowance that I noted in an earlier version of this post. I’m removing this post as it’s not an accurate review of the pattern or my alterations. The flipped pattern piece likely caused my fit problems in the back and this post should reflect sewn correctly garment.
My resulting top is the bomb diggity though, so I’m leaving a photo of it up until I get around to sewing this again.