Posted in sewing

Starting a Winter Coat: Cascade Duffle by Grainline

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.

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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.

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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.

Pattern Alterations:

  • 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.

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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

  1. Cut lining, sew lining, hope it fits!
  2. Mark pattern for plaid placement
  3. Layout and cut garment fabric from one layer of fabric
  4. Interface garment fabric and make back stay
  5. Construct main garment
  6. Attach lining
  7. 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.

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Posted in sewing

Butterick 6244: In Which I Conquer My Fear of Plaid

I love plaid so hard. I have so much plaid in my stash I could open a kilt shop. But, I hardly ever sew plaid because I’m terrified of matching.

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Forgive my pigeon toes. Please.

I was inspired to make this waterfall coat for two reasons. I have too much coating fabric that’s not getting sewn (eight cuts and counting). And, I saw a very cool Burberry poncho that I couldn’t afford. I made my friend Sheryl go to Burberry with me to try this on. It was flawless. I also tried on a duffle coat and had small tears in my eyes when I put it back on the hanger.

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Said poncho is $900

This fabric (ostensibly Burberry) was $5 or a yard during my ‘trench coat with wool liner’ phase about five years ago. I never made that warmer but the fabric remained. I in fact have it in a second camel color way (that will hopefully become a poncho next season).

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I sewed this coat in bits and pieces over two weekends. Which is really good for me. It allows me to not mind techniques taking a bit more time. I thread traced my darts instead of just marking (or eyeballing) them with chalk.

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I actually did all the flat fell seaming with my terrific Bernina foot.  And, for all these small touches, it made a big difference in my construction process.

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It was very windy

Because I don’t sew Butterick often I wasn’t quite sure what size to go with. Based on the finished measurements, I sewed a 14 grading to a 16 in the thighs. I did baste the side seams to make sure I had a fit I could live with. I also decided to forgo an FBA because the coat isn’t meant to closed and there’s a ton of drape / ease here at the front. Overall, it’s got a very modern blanket coat vibe and I could have probably gone down one size.

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I made only one alteration which was to shorten the shoulder seam. Of course, I shortened it after I’d sewn in the sleeve :-/

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One main sewing tip if I may. If you have a walking foot, use it. I think nothing will ruin the lines of this coat more than waves / wonkey narrow hems. Plenty of steam and a walking foot will keep the bias under  control.

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I’m feeling pretty accomplished that I sewed a revered plaid coating. I didn’t get the plaid quite right at the front (sad trombone). But, I figure in movement it’ll be hard to tell.

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Posted in sewing

Spring Raincoat in the Middle of Fall: Burda 9-2003-120

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I managed to finish my spring raincoat in the last week of October. Heh. I have the best timing ever. I cannot believe this took me about a month to make. Which, if you read my blog before last year, would know is a ridiculously long time for me. I once made a winter coat in two weeks! It was even harder getting photos now that I leave the house at 7:30 am for work and don’t get back in until 7 pm. It’s dark when I leave and dark when I get home.

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Also, I SWEAR to you, each time it rained I felt like I was being taunted. Now that the jacket is done, it’s just cold :-/ As I said last post, I left my rain coat in Amsterdam back in September. Nothing tells you how much you need a rain coat until you don’t have one!

Unfortunately, my DSLR camera is in the shop. So, we’re using my (still very good) point and shoot. But, I was hoping to try out some of the shooting ‘red’ suggestions. The photos below aren’t too bad. But, the red is photographing hot making it hard to see some of the details. On to the jacket!

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This jacket is a basic parka with interesting details — something I think Burda excels in– when they aren’t making sack dresses. You could easily take about any parka pattern, add some D-rings and zippers and have the same look. But, this is also a good reason to hold on to your older Burdas. There’s a gem in there somewhere. This magazine is well over ten years old.

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I’m a little late on completing this jacket because after I posted my last update I installed the zipper and tried the jacket on for the first time. Well, when I tried on the jacket, the casing wasn’t balanced (one side higher than the other) AND it wasn’t hitting my waist (too low). So, it looked pretty terrible. I sulked for a day and then decided to spend a few hours taking out six rows of teeny tiny stitching for the casing and redoing the whole shebang. When I re-sewed it, I moved the waist band up about an inch and added the missing fourth row from my first go.  I was worried about the waistline casing then looking totally and completely overworked. But, this fabric actually heals pretty remarkably! And, totally waterproof.

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Redoing the waistband casing was absolutely worth it. The jacket is not  super fitted to begin with and I really needed the waist definition. The fabric was from a local warehouse sale and about $2 a yard. I seriously think this jacket was $20 to make or less! I did NOT tape the seams on this jacket. Because of all the topstitching, the seams were fairly water tight.

On this pattern, I made a 1.5 inch FBA, took 1/2 inch off the shoulders and made a swayback adjustment. I sewed a 40, grading out to a 46 with a touch more room in the thigh. My friend Liz thinks the jacket is a hair too big for me. But, I think it fits and allows for some boxier clothing underneath (i.e. the wool sweater I ‘m wearing).

What else… I wasn’t sure how to do the zipper so that the fabric lips covered up most of the teeth. I didn’t quite trust the Burda instructions and just did it my way. It’s not as closed as I would have liked. But, the blue zipper down the center isn’t as distracting as I thought it would be. And, I do love that the brass peaks through. I also found that NO NEEDLE (microtex, leather, sharp, universal)  I had wanted to top stitch through the zipper tape and two layers of my fabric. One of these days, I need take a minute and flesh out my needle stash.

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Speaking of zips… this two-way zip is 36 inches instead of the 40 asked for in the pattern. And, it was only $2.50 locally from Stadham Sewing in Baltimore (compared to $5 to $11 I saw online). The blue 9 inch zippers on the side were only 75 cents too.

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And they had this tiny 4 inch zipper for the totally useless sleeve pocket (I hope that yellow wax washes out!). I love  that place. I really may go in one day and buy four zippers in every color and length and just stash them.

The jacket is unlined and I am fine with that. The fabric is sturdy and doesn’t ravel.

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Overall, I’m pleased with this jacket. And, I’m really glad I had my heavy Bernina to sew it with. I was looking at the top stitching on Jordan’s jacket and it’s kind of wonky compared to this. You really need a heavier machine when you’re dealing with unruly material.

For this jacket, I went with contrast ribbon rather than the recommended leather. While I love the color variation, these ribbons act a fool on the regular. Please see below. If I take the jacket off and let it sort of crumple on the floor, the ribbons comes loose entirely. I’m contemplating stitching them down to keep them in order.

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The best thing about this project? It might our best photo shoot together.  I might not have to fire Jordan as my photograper.

Ahhh. Onward. I’m starting a winter coat next. At my current sewing pace, I figure that will be ready just in time for spring 🙂

Posted in sewing

Vogue 8776: Oscar de le Renta Double Wool Cape

With an unexpected two days off from work from Hurricane / Tropical Storm Sandy back in November, I got to business in my sewing room. I decided to sew three ‘quick’ unplanned projects that could be finished within three weeks. Ha! First, I finished up my Tracy Reese Dress (Part I of the Sandy Collection), sewed up my second Purple Friday dress (Part II of the Sandy Collection) and then moved on to this Vogue 8776 cape (the closing piece in the Sandy Collection runway show). I like my style. But, I am NEVER quite this ‘fashionable’. It’s a step outside my box that I plan to return to!

I first spotted this cape on Erica B. in 2011 and it was lust at first site. I wasn’t sure what to sew the cape with but wildly decided to use my Oscar de le Renta double wool that I purchased locally in Baltimore back in 2010. It was a random remnant piece in the store. They’d gotten it from a closing fabric store down south. So, it was by happenstance that I was able to buy it. But, Mood Fabrics online  is still stocking it in this and a second colorway! The lush (and expensive) fabric quickly became ‘too good to cut’. I consulted with my sewing bestie Trena and she said it was a bigger waste to let the fabric sit for years than sew something I wanted *now*.

Plus, the fabric is Linus Approved. How does this dog manage to sit on every piece of fabric in the house? It’s like he has a Warm and Cozy radar.

The first thing to note is this material is crazy thick. So thick  and warm that I  started regretting not making it in to a nice, every day work coat. But, as I progressed, decided the material is not suited to a structured garment. A cape was just about right.

I found it impossible to mark the wool layers with waxed tracing paper. So, for the first time in 20+ years of sewing, I made tailor tacks using my basting thread from the Netherlands.

Because the material is so thick, I didn’t want to use a double layer of the double wool  for the facings. So, I used two different scrap pieces of thinner wool I had laying about  (black and charcoal) for the inside collar and front facing. Which all required hand-freaking finishing. I’m sure there’s a way to do it by machine. I just didn’t think of it in time. I got it all done during a football game last Sunday. And I’m not handsewing for at least a six months. I detest it. From the facing to all those snaps, hand sewing is the worst. I don’t find it soothing, I don’t care how much control it gives me. It’s why projects languish unfinished for three months in my sewing room 🙂

Oh, speaking of which, Piece 2 (center front) isn’t marked with how many to cut. You’ll need four from your fabric and two from interfacing.  As for interfacing, I didn’t use any. Again, material was so stable with the fused wool, it wasn’t needed. But, I regret not using stay / twill tape at the center front seams. I think my edges are a bit wonky because it needs some stabilisation and the seams have stretched out a bit.

Buttons. You’ll see that I just have two placed at the in-seam buttonholes. I wanted to use all buttons, but with all the layers and double woolness, its was too thick to easily make buttonholes. So, I stuck with the already sewn in-seam buttonholes, and used snaps like Heather suggested in the comments from my last post on the cape. I like that they were already black (except the very last one) so they blend in nicely.

In honor of this cape (and to support two vintage coats in my wardrobe), I bought the cashmere-lined leather gloves I started looking for last year. Neiman Marcus Last Call had them for 50 percent off so they were “just” $47. I was pretty happy with them until I saw Oliva Pope’s cream colored, opera length, leather gloves on the latest Scandal episode. I swear that woman is *owning* winter white!


I know capes can by super impractical. But, they are great for warmer winter days and going in to fall. After a week of 30 degree temps, we’re back up to 50s this week. You never know what the weather will bring! I seriously now believe in having a coat wardrobe.  My blue cape is crazy popular and I get stopped on the streets.

I was so sad when I couldn’t tell you where to find this fabric. It was a total random find for me.  Here’s a link to the black and white herringbone version.  It’s pricey, but seriously luxurious. I’m glad I didn’t let it fester in ‘too good to sew’ land.

Thanks again to my Dearest Lizzie for her photography. Can you believe she has no photography experience?? When she offered to take pictures for me, I was hesitant. She’s big on the dark photos on a camera phone for her Facebook page. But, she blew me away!! Turns out, all she needs is a flash! It was her idea to go under the overpass at our office to get these shots. I apologize for the bitch face. All my smiling photos showed my increasing laugh lines in HD.

I also got several unsolicited compliments on my outfit. I’m wearing a blue bubble skirt I made to bike in the Netherlands with my recently completed black turtleneck.  It’s probably a little short for work but with the tights it seems to be o.k.

Onward! I need a palette cleanser. Two final sweater knit projects are coming down the pike.

Posted in sewing

Red Burberry Trench Coat: Burda Magazine 1-2008 #128

I’m heading to the ATL later today for a 36 hour trip for a friend’s wedding. I’m super excited because I get to wear the yellow vintage dress, the Chinese quipao and hopefully an Indian sari.

I was hell bent on finishing my trench for the weekend since my ‘fall’ coat is good for October in Baltimore, but a little heavy for Atlanta. Plus, I *must* squeeze in a visit to the Margaret Mitchell House and I’ll feel very fancy in a new trench.

I started this trench way back in March 2011. It moved at a glacial pace because I wanted to draft a zip out lining using the Burberry warmer on the right and I wanted perfect buttons.

I finally drafted and cut the lining and ordered buttons from England. Then, in May, I just gave up on it because I screwed up my cutting and it went from double breasted to single breasted.  The warmer is sadly just in a bag waiting to be used on another project. Sigh. Plus, it got *hot* here and I didn’t feel like working on a coat.

Now, it’s late-October, rainy and cool and I decided to finish it off. Plus, it’s a good coat for this weekend and Florida with my parents for Thanksgiving.

But, it’s all for a good cause because the trench is finished and I don’t hate it! Well, I don’t love it either.

There really isn’t anything *wrong* with it.  Well, except for it’s magical neck shortening abilities (more on that later). But, it is just NOT the double breasted, red, Burberry trench that I pictured. Color me disappointed.

The sleeves are lined with lining from Jomar at like $1 per yard. I bound the edges for finish and there is no lining in the body (the fabric is reversible and waterproof).

I made a FBA by adding darts from the Vogue Guide to Sewing and added shoulder pads.

The collar is a little high for my taste and makes me look too much like a Nutcracker. Funny how I never thought I had a short neck before….

The hem is also hand stitched

I added  double bands at the cuffs and decided to remove the pocket flap that I originally had.

There is a fun kick pleat in the back

Overall the jacket is about one or two sizes too big and just isn’t flattering on me. That is again due to my edits to accomodate a warmer.

The belt provides all the shaping. A friend with a less defined waist tried the coat and it wasn’t the best look on her.

What am I trying to say? Well, I should have muslined. And, honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t use the Burda’s 9-2006-103 trench pattern. Like I said, I don’t hate this red trench. But, I do not love it like I do my military wool trench coat. I can’t wait for it to get cold so I can wear my wool trench!

I did get three unsolicited compliments yesterday when I wore it for the first time. The color is good. And at the end of the day, I do have a Burberry coat. Plus, it fills a serious hole in my wardrobe. It’s just not my favorite.

Happily, I can report that I have two other Burberry lengths. One will be a coat in the spring and the other will hopefully become a cape this season.

Have a great weekend!