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31 March 2014

My radiant orchid coat, Vogue 1321 by Donna Karan

My new coat has been done for a couple of weeks now, but it took me a long time to get all the photos done. And then another while to write this post. It's just that I am so proud of this one that I want to give you more details. I hope you won't mind the longer post and gazillion photos.

We begin with a first impression photo. Came out nice, no?

Please forgive the sunglasses, one of my superpowers is to always know precisely when to close my eyes just in time for the photo. After so many tries I just decided to give up and make use of camouflage. Mmmmmhh, that hem needs another good pressing...

Anyway, my fashion fabric is a wool knit that was felted in some way and then bonded to a much thinner and silkier knit at the back. Its thickness and the backing fabric give it a stiff drape. It falls in wide folds, standing away from the body. With the silky backing I can easily get in and out of the sleeves without needing a lining. It also means that I cannot use any fusible interfacing.

All of these qualities make this fabric perfect for Vogue 1321 by Donna Karan, a full-skirted coat with a dramatic collar.

Before cutting into my fabric I made a proper full body muslin. I didn't have any muslin fabric as thick and heavy as the actual fashion fabric, but the muslin could still tell me about the fit, even if not so much about the drape. And I am soooo glad that I did!

In the muslin I could see that the sleeves were too wide and there was too much fabric around the sleeve at the bodice and especially at the underarm. In fact you can see this also on the pattern photo, but because the model is so thin, she still looks stylish even with all that extra fabric around. Me? Probably not so much.

So I removed a total of 6cm from the sleeve, making it narrower all along its length. I divided the 6cm between the underarm piece and the front sleeve piece, 3cm each, parallel to the grainline.

Then I also raised the armhole by 6cm. I also redrew the armhole shapes to match both sides, on the bodice and the sleeve. This was not much change at all since the sleeves are not deeply set.

All the seams are lapped, including the darts on the bodice and on the collar. I had never sewn darts using lapped seams so I made some tests. Lucky for me since the dart point ended up with a gaping hole because the overlap becomes too small for the stitching to grab the underlayer. Nobody wants holes like that, and especially not on an attention grabbing collar! I first tried sewing a normal dart and then topstitching it, but it looked too raised compared to the lapped seams. So in the end I just didn't cut the dart all the way to the dart point as the instructions said to do. I stopped cutting ±5cm before the end point and voila, hole averted!

With all those lapped seams to mark and sew do you know what was my absolutely unmissable tool? A 5/8" gauge, homemade out of cardboard. Completely free and totally invaluable :-)

Except for my choice to narrow the sleeve, it is a rather easy coat to make. There is no interfacing, no shaping with heat and moisture, no lining and only two buttonholes (which you could omit if you decided not to make the sleeve tabs). It did take me forever to hide all those thread ends, but then the inside looks sooooo pretty and neat, doesn't it?

For the pockets I used some leftover silk charmeuse for a lovely feeling on my hands. I used an overlock thread chain to keep the pockets from flapping too far around.

OK. I've tortured you enough with all these details, so here are the three views of my coat. I'm really loving it. The color makes me happy, the collar is actually very nice against the wind and the wide skirt goes perfectly with all my full-skirted dresses.

I did have to rummage through my belt collection to find the longest possible belts since all that fabric requires quite a few more centimeters than usual. And this is not a coat you want to wear without a belt. Saying it looks shapeless doesn't fully describe the mess of fabric swinging all around.

I've submitted my review of Vogue 1321 by Donna Karan to Pattern Review.

BTW, tomorrow is the last day to sew for the Stitcher's Guild 2014 SWAP and this coat is only my second garment posted! Yup, I'm afraid I'm not going to make it... I've actually sewn 6 of the garments in my 2014 SWAP plan, but it is obviously not the full eleven. From the beginning I knew that SWAP was too ambitious for my skill level and speed, but you know what else I discovered? I got a bit bored. Bored of working with the same fabrics and color scheme, but also bored with knowing exactly what I was going to sew for the coming 3 months... I kept getting new ideas that I really wanted to get to, instead of these old ideas I had long time ago. So, I'm officially bowing out, though I will still try to post the rest of the garments I sewed for the SWAP. Here's a sneak preview. Thanks for reading!

08 March 2014

Another peplum, knit jacket Vogue 2989

I've kinda gone astray from my plans for the Stitcher's Guild SWAP 2014. I was in dire need of a warm jacket or sweater or anything that could help to keep me warm in our newly redecorated offices which for some reason have also become colder.

So, I rummaged through my stash looking for the thickest, warmest fabric that I could find and I turned it into this:

Does look warm, doesn't it? It is also super, super comfortable. The pattern is the jacket from Vogue 2989.

A simple jacket with lovely lines, raglan sleeves, a peplum and a sort of scarf collar. I totally love the pattern but the actual jacket came out kinda wide, don't you think? I made my usual size 14 and the waist fits fine. But the sleeves and the upper chest is where I think there's too much fabric. Actually, looking at the side view there is also too much fabric at the underarm. If I make it again I will try to bring the armhole a bit higher. Perhaps even also a small bust adjustment?

Even though it is a bit too wide I am still very happy with my new jacket. It was super easy to make and came together very quickly. Because my knit had a tendency to curl at the edges I topstitched all the seams, holding the seam allowances in place. The knit is very fluffy so the topstitching is relatively discreet, which I think is nice.

One change I made was to leave the collar drape bits "single ply". The pattern asks you to cut 4 pieces of the collar drape, two for each side, one at top and one at bottom. But I thought my thick knit would look too thick and more importantly, I didn't have enough fabric to cut all 4 pieces. In fact, I didn't even have enough to cut 2 collar pieces. I nearly panicked when I noticed this but then I realized that in a real knit like this I could "graft" two pieces of fabric just like I do with my hand knits. It worked beautifully, you can't even see where I grafted the fabric together (it's ~10cm below the shoulder seam. I told you it wasn't visible!).

It closes with a simple hook and eye at the waist.

Despite the extra fabric under the arms it is a warm and welcome addition to my wardrobe.

My review of Vogue 2989 is here at Pattern Review.