Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Isla Trench Coat

My name is Claire and I’m a coat-o-holic. I love sewing coats, because I like a challenge, I like tailoring and I even like top stitching and this coat was going to push my skills and test my patience. I drew my inspiration from Anne Hathaway looking rather fetching in this Mustard Trench and since then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

For my birthday last year I was kindly gifted vouchers for Sew Me Sunshine, (thank you to David and Rose and Grace and Martin) and once I’d spotted this Robert Kaufman Mustard Cotton Twill I knew I wanted to make a Trench Coat. It was set to be a coat to take me into my 4th decade. I procrastinated before I cut into the fabric, firstly because I had such high hopes of this project looking good, (which is nonsense really) plus I needed a big chunk of time and space to get started on it.

After a lot of research I decided for the Named Isla Trench Coat because of all the classic trench coat features, I liked the cape and the top stitching and I knew I wanted the longer length. It was my first time making a Named Pattern after months of lusting over their aesthetic online. Plus the patterns are drafted for a 5’8” woman. Hooray!

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The Pattern has a lot of pieces, so I decided to try out Patternsy for the first time, a service that prints A0 sewing PDFs.  The pieces are still overlaid, so I had to trace the overlapping pieces. I made a rookie error and only sent away the shell pattern pieces to be printed,  so I had to stick together the lining PDF by hand. I was 3/4 of the way through sticking together the PDF when I realised it was actually the shell pieces I was sticking together…big sigh…deep breathe…I just printed out the lining pieces this time and stuck it together again and traced it. This project definitely tested my patience.

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Next, I made a toile to check the fit and construction of the welt pockets. I cut a size 40 and the fit was fine. I was worried about it being too tight around my arms but it was fine with room enough for wooly jumper.  I made the welt pockets after watching a tutorial on YouTube I got my head around the construction. They turned out fine. To be extra diligent I made the collar and the cape to check construction.

I was then ready to cut out the fabric, it used 5.5m of the shell as it was only 115cm wide so I laid all the pieces out on the length of out flat for the shell. I marked on the buttonholes and welt pockets with tailors tacks as my fabric pen kept disappearing into the fabric. This shell requires a lot of interfacing, it took me a whole day and even after 30 seconds under the iron, I still found pieces of it coming unstuck whilst I was sewing it. I’d never really considered interfacing before, aside from weight but this brand didn’t seem like great quality. But it does give the collar the structure in needed. So i’m on the hunt for some better quality interfacing, if anyone had any recommendations?

 I wish I’d used a fabric pen or tailors chalk better suited to my fabric as it was hard to cut the opening for the welt pocket with the tailors tack. My welt pockets turned out terribly, because the pockets were interfaced with heavy interfacing, the fabric was my much bulkier than the toile when I was turning them out, so they are far from perfect. I managed to hide a multitude of sins with the iron, (thank you steam)  but they still show drag lines, I was gutted to be honest, especially as the toile looked so much neater, but it’s a lesson to use a similar weight fabric and interfacing even for a toile. But to be honest, once my hands are in you can’t really tell, that’s what I keep telling myself anyway. 

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From here the construction was straight forward. The instructions are sparse compared to the hand holding of Tilly and the Buttons patterns and Sew Over It patterns I’m used to it. But all the steps are there. This was an intermediate pattern after all and certainly tested my skills.

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I really like the details of the top stitching, for my first row of topstitching I did use a topstitching thread, but my sewing machine does seem to eat this thread and get tangled, so instead I used a Guttermann thread and and it was well matched for my fabric.

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I was searching for a puppytooths cotton lining for this coat, but after a lot of scrolling online and no luck, I went to Aberkhan in Manchester and bought a cotton with yellow flex in it for the body lining and black satin for the sleeves making it easy to slip on and off.  I like the flash of colour on the inside.

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I finished the coat with classic key hole button holes, which was a task beyond my work horse, but basic sewing machine. So I went along to Sew Creative in Altrincham to use th Husquvanah Sewing Machines with an automated buttonholes. Finally I used plan black buttons, which is maybe a bit boring, I tried a trench coat on in Jiigsaw about 10 years ago and it had the most beautiful eclectic collection of buttons down both sides, but black buttons pop against the yellow shell.

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Well, as soon as I finished this coat, a heat wave spread across the UK and it finally stopped raining, so i’ll take that as a success. To make this coat Manchester proof, I sprayed it with a showerproof spray. In hindsight I should have washed the fabric first with a waterproof fabric, but honestly, I didn’t even think of it until it was finished. I expect it to be showerproof with an umbrella, but not downpour proof, perhaps a Closet Case Kelly Anorak in deadstock barbour fabric might be better for the wet, wellies and dog walk days.

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I learnt so much during this project, it reinforced that by taking on challenging projects, you learn more, so just go for it, the finished garment is far from perfect, but I love wearing it, I made it, it’s one of a kind and it will put a spring in my step when I wear it in the rain.

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All for now

Claire and co

XO

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Sew Over It Kitty Dress

So I’m soooo pleased to announce I have been selected out of over 600 applicants (wahhtttt!) to be a Pattern Insider for Sew Over It. Lisa Comfort and the team have developed a huge range of patterns, for a stylish, modern wardrobe, drawing inspiration from vintage silhouettes. It’s fair to say, I am a big Sew Over It fan, I have made many of their patterns in the past, EveCoco, Chloe and The City Break Capsuale Wardrobe, so this is a great opportunity for me to work with a brand that I already love. The role of a Pattern Insider, is simply to make up the pattern ahead of the release and to share photos of your make, so the sewing community can see the pattern made up on a range of ages, races and body shapes. Honestly, I was blown away when I got introduced to other ladies in the group who are all making from all across the globe. This is the first project I took on, The Kitty Dress.

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The Kitty Dress comes with two views, a princess seam bodice, with a panelled skirt (this is the version I went for) or a short sleeve bodice with a gathered skirt. Of course, there is also the option to mix and match. To me, this dress is timeless, perfect for a day at Wimbledon or swanning around on the French Riveira..! I wish! Or just great for a summer’s day and smart enough for an office with the buttons. It really reminds me of the 50’s fashion in the film Brooklyn, which I loved and honestly where I wear it, I definitely feel like Ellis Lacey when she returns to rural Ireland, feeling very glam.

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I deliberated over the fabric choice for a while, initially I thought of the Lisa Comfort ElderPress Cotton Lawn in Navy Blue, in the end I opted for this white linen and viscose blend with black dots on, from The Fabric Rooms so it would be timeless.

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The bodice comes with the option to self line, or to use facings. Honestly, I hate facings and much prefer a finished garment when it has been lined, so it is always worth the extra work. I was a bit worried that the fabric would be sheer, I lined the bodice in the same fabric and thankfully the unlined skirt is fine. The pattern calls for a lot of fabric, 3M, of course you can choose to line in another fabric. I paired the linen with wooden buttons from my local haberdashery.

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The bodice is fitted with a princess seam, the first time I made something with a princess seam I was a bit intimidated by the term, but my advice is just to pin, pin, pin as you ease the fabric on the curve. I didn’t stripe match, that would require some dedicated pattern placement and cutting. There is a lot of ease and room around the armhole, which you can see in this picture. If were to do it again, I would maybe take some off, but the ease around the armholes makes it comfortable to wear and it’s not too fitted around the bust.

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I cut and made a straight size 14 based on my measurements. I’m smaller on top, than the bottom, so I could have got away with grading between 12/14 but I wanted a relaxed fit to match the linen.  The waistband came up a bit short, so my advice would be to cut a larger size, then trim off the excess when folding and constructing the waistband.

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The waistband construction took a bit of head scratching, it’s similiar to that of the Camille jumpsuit, but it creates a really neat finish inside, so persevere with it. The skirt has eight panels, so keep your pattern pieces attached to the cut out fabric as you want to ensure you match the right seam. As I was piecing it together I laid out the skirt in a circle to help me keep track. The skirt hangs and moves beautifully, it feels very elegant.

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Oh and did I mention it has pockets.

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I love this dress, it’s definatley doing to be a classic in my summer wardrobe, worn with my cropped RTW denim jacket throughout spring.  I’m looking forward to taking on more projects over the coming months so eyes peeled for more Sew Over It pattern releases.

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All from me,

Claire & Co

XO

 

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Minerva Crafts Blog: A Chambray Jumpsuit

For my Minerva Crafts Blog Project this month, I decided to make a Jumpsuit,  and used this Indigo Chambray. It’s the first jumpsuit I’ve made that feels like my style and look forward to making more jumpsuits in the future.  It has these huge pockets in the front, which make it functional, but you just put it on that’s your whole outfit done. It was my first time working with Chambray and it’s easy to work with and feels great to wear.

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Pattern: Simplicity K8610
Fabric: Indigo Chambray
Notions: Invisible zip.
Modifications: Heaps, I added a turn up cuff on the trousers, ditched the detachable straps, I tapered the trousers and left out the bodice band.
Fit: Requires a lot of fitting so make a toile
Difficulty: Relatively straight forward, the gathered trousers don’t require much fitting at the waist
Watch out for: Size, I used the garment measurements to decide what pattern to cut and still needed to take a lot in
Make Again?: Probably not, but definitely want to make more jumpsuits in the future.

Head to the Minerva Blog for the full review.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links

Claire

XO

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Dressmaking, Sewing

Minerva Crafts Blog: Joni Dress in Scuba

For my Minerva Crafts Blog Post this month I used the notorious Tilly and the Buttons Stretch Book to make a Joni Dress from black and white crepe scuba.

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Pattern: Joni Dress from Stretch
Fabric: Monochrome Scuba Crepe from Minverva Crafts
Notions: Swimsuit/ Clear Elastic to stabilise the seams
Modifications: None.
Fit: Great, very flattering.
Difficulty: Advanced beginner.
Watch out for: Neckline is a little tricky, I used this great sew-along from Sewisfaction.
Make Again? Happy with just this one, as I haven’t found many occasions to wear it to yet.

For more photos and to read more about construction and working with scuba fabric head to the Minverva Crafts blog here

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links

Happy Making

Claire & co.

XO

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Sew Over It. City Break E Book. My Capsule Wardrobe.

It’s all well and good making posh frocks, I am guilty of this, Etta and Eve dresses hang proudly in my wardrobe. Sadly my lifestyle calls for these to be worn only on the odd occasion, and considering the investment per wear, I set about making an everyday, wearable wardrobe. My starting point was The Sew Over It City Break Capsule Wardrobe E-book, which included five patterns with multiple variations. As the title suggests, it is designed to dress you for all occasions during a city break. All the pieces are designed to go together, and crucially are practical, designed for everyday and transcend all seasons. What drew me to the capsule collection is that it would challenge my beginner skills  with a button down shirt, a pair of jeans and the requirement to use jersey for the first time.

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Molly Top and Dress

I started with the Molly Top, a simple jersey top, with dropped shoulder sleeves, a neck band and a curved hem. Using jersey for the first time, I opted for a stable Ponte Di Roma in navy and white, as modelled in the photos of the book. The stripes created a new challenge of stripe matching and I used advice from Tilly and the Buttons. A lot of beginners, myself included, are put off from using jersey fabric because there is a misconception that jersey can only be sewn on an overlocker. However, this is not true and I made this top entirely on my sewing machine with a zig zag stitch. I struggled putting the neck band in and there are a few puckers. I used the zig zag stitch to top stitch the neckband in place, which did the job fine, but I prefer the finish of a twin-needle and since then I have invested in a jersey twin needle .

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I prefer the Molly Dress and haven’t really taken it off since I made it. It’s comfortable, easy to wear, doesn’t require any ironing and still feels put together. I wore the navy and white version so much that I made it again in black and white ponte di roma. I’m looking for a bottle green and white ponte to make a third version for autumn, so it has since become a tried and tasted pattern. I like it in stripes, to accentuate the dropped shoulder and leave room to play with direction of the stripes on the contrast neck band.

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Alex Shirt Dress

Next, I made the Alex Shirt Dress. I love a shirt dress, because they can be worn for almost any occasion. The pattern is relatively easy, with a soft collar and without any cuffs. Inserting the yoke required a bit of head scratching, I used the Sew Over It Tutorial which helped me through it. The pattern calls for some drapey fabric, like viscose, but because I had been given some mid-wash, mid-weight denim I took a chance. The waist tie creates the silhouette and it sits on the knee. The sleeves are turned up, which suits me because thats how I usually wear shirt dresses. The fabric is a little structured, but it doesn’t cause too many problems. In the future I’d like to make a black tencel version for winter and a linen version for summer.

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Mia Jeans

The slim fitted, mid rise jeans, with back pockets are a great addition to this collection. They are a great beginner jeans pattern and I wrote a whole other post on learning to make jeans, but I did want to show how they work in the collection.

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Erin Skirt

Erin is a button down skirt with darts in the back and a waist band, and with the option of above or below the knee with a slit. I opted for above the knee, knowing I’d wear this mostly with tights. I was unsure about this pattern, I decided to go with a faux suede I bought from Fabric Land in a camel colour, so it would be classic. The fabric was a bit disappointing, but it was cheap and I was unsure if this style would suit me. I didn’t want to invest too much, so I see this as more of a wearable toile. In hindsight, this skirt calls for something with a bit more structure like, denim or corduroy. The Molly top looks great tucked in to this skirt, this variation is a little short on me, but I do like the button down style. Next time I’d make a bottle green version for autumn, but with a length to sit on the knee.

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The e-book comes with a Lola Coat, which is a waterfall style jacket. It’s really not my style and since I recently made the Chloe Coat,  my wardrobe didn’t need another coat. What I like about all these patterns are that they work with tights or bare legs and are very wearable wardrobe staples. A great collection of patterns, great to take confident beginners onto tackling more complicated garments. I know The Molly Dress and Alex Shirt dress will become tried and tested patterns for me.

All for now.

Claire & Co.

XO

 

 

 

 

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