Remake & Re-fashion

green coat pocketsMy first project of 2020 is to remake the last winter coat I made back in 2018.  I intend to shorten it to car coat length so that I will actually wear it, as it has only been worn twice since it was finished.  There are several things that just bug me about the coat:

  • It is a BIG COAT, which is what I was going for in the first place, but I really hated my slap-dash-use-whatever-I-have-lying-around-the-house-that’s-the-right-tone lining (drapery silk shantung that had been washed in hot water and put through a hot dryer cycle with tennis and dryer balls to soften up the hand) because it just made it so…. so…. ridiculous to wear, I guess.  I really wanted a different lining – a softer, lighter lining; lighter than flannel-backed satin or kasha lining, typically used in winter coats.
  • The original Burda pattern is a tall pattern, and I didn’t bother to place the pockets accurately, so they sit about 10cm lower than they should on me.  I want to move the pocket up to where they will be useful and easy to access with my not-tall arms.
  • The R front facing and front edge bugs me.  It’s a grain thing, and I hate wearing it because of this.  I intend to straighten it out and do it properly.
  • It’s just too long and dramatic to get worn much, and I have other fabric for other dramatic coats in my stash that I hope to make up soon.
  • The contrast band of linen velvet is nice in a dramatic coat, but I do actually want to wear this coat, and the current length makes it rather a process to get in and out of the car.
  • It’s too wide.  I hate coats that fit small, and I was very enthusiastic in adding ease to my original iteration of this coat, so each side seam will be reduced by 4cm, for a total width reduction of 16cm.

Coat Re-do 1

I’ve re-cut the lining from a lightweight satin-backed crepe fabric from my local Fabricland that was actually marketed as drapery fabric (???).  I laundered it to get that horrid polyester chemical smell out of it before cutting it out.  I used the old lining as a pattern, after making forward-sloping shoulder alterations and taking in the sides by a total of 16cm.

Coat re-do 2

So far I have completed the following alterations:

  • removed the lining
  • moved the pockets up 10cm
  • taken the side seams in 16cm
  • straightened the grain across the upper chest by doing a forward-sloping shoulder adjustment (Why didn’t I do this the first time around?!)
  • removed the lower velvet band
  • redid the facings, which, in combination with the shoulder adjustments, has made the fronts hang straight.  Happy day!

All that is left is to put the lining back in after deciding on the length I want.

More importantly than my news about remaking my coat, I want to thank each and every one of you for all your comments and kind words on my last post.  It may be cliché, but your wishes and encouragement meant so much, and on hard days, I go back and re-read them.

Risks

I, for one, am very glad the last decade is over and gone, particularly 2019, which has been the culmination of a difficult ten years.

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This last year hasn’t had much sewing for a variey of reasons, and the sewing that I’ve done hasn’t gotten properly photographed, or wasn’t photographed at all.  Some of it hasn’t even been worn… like a pair of jeans made from this fabric, for one.teal leopard denim fabric

It’s been a year of challenges and good things.  I thoroughly enjoyed my French classes every Saturday – my heart was singing every time I drove home – but that came to a screeching halt in May due to health concerns.

I made a few tunic tops from linen and cotton voile that had been lingering for years in my stash.

Burda 2-2018-111 linen front

I cannot remember when I purchased these fabrics, but I do remember where! And the tunics are thanks to Anne’s make for one of her daughters, which reminded me I had had a keen interest in the Burdastyle pattern every since it was released in February 2018.  It felt good to just get on with the projects and get them sewn so I could wear them. Impulse sewing.

Burda 2-2018-111 front

The summer went by quickly – too quickly – with so much stress at an unfullfilling job as we rolled out a new website, with little or no time to sew, and no mental energy left if there was time.  We had a family wedding to attend in August, and I literally had nothing to wear that would fit my growing waistline, so sewed for 5 days straight, letting everyting else in the household go to pot, while I made this unsuccessful attempt to copy a spectacularly beautiful Dolce & Gabbana green velvet dress (which I cannot find anywhere except in print advertisements).

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The dress seemed a lot worse to me on the day I wore it than it does now.

Of course I washed it afterwards (I always launder my own clothing, if I possibly can, instead of sending it to the toxic dry-cleaners), and the hem went wonky, mostly because I didn’t support it with flannel bias underlining.  So it’s still hanging up, waiting for a do-over, or alterations, or disection and reincarnation.  Then everything came crashing down in October, when I became an ostomate and was diagnosed with Stage III colorectal cancer.  No wonder my waistline had been expanding so I had nothing to wear to the wedding!  The sad part was, even as I was waiting for emergency surgery, all I could think about was, “Thank God I don’t have to go to work for the next few weeks.”  It took me until the third week of recovery to realize the shocking absurdity of that being my first thought, given the situation.

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These front bands make me so happy!

I have had so many ideas going through my head for sewing over the last three months, and no energy or mental strength to do any of it until this past weekend, partly due to recovery, partly due to rethinking so many parts of my life.  I guess coming face to face with a potential death sentence sooner than you expect does that to one’s thinking.  Re-evaluation and change are inevitable. Crossing the half-century mark in December brought several things into sharp focus, too, as a milestone will.

When I first began this blog a decade ago, it took a lot of courage to post pictures of my makes out there for the world to see, despite the fact that I’ve been wearing them since I was in my teens on a daily basis.  It was so much fun for the first few years, but slowly negativity crept in from voices close to me, and the joy of making disappeared into the pointlessness of making garments that were not likely to be worn, given my lifestyle of a SAHM.  That negative voice was given it’s proper perspective, although it is, unfortunately, not silenced, and still a part of what I hear now and then, through an excellent support service provided to my dear daughter #2, who has Down syndrome. It was her crisis that brought me the help I had desperately needed for years.

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Two years ago I was introduced to the concept of choosing a defining word for each year.  In 2017 it was ‘baby steps’ for me: baby steps forward into independence of thought and being; baby steps into health and freedom.  Last year I struggled with a defining word, although ‘commitment’ was persistent, particularly because I really became aware of how making decisions is easy, but follow-through is difficult due to constant reassessment – sometimes hourly – on my part.  ‘Courage’ became a rallying cry, too, early in the year, due to a friend’s struggle and hardship as she watches her husband disappear into the void of aggressive early onset Alzheimer’s.

And this year, I wasn’t going to bother thinking of a word, as I just want the next 6 months to have good reports and scans and results, and learning to look after myself (even at the expense of others’ demands) is still a daily decision and takes a lot of my strength and courage.  But this quote really reverberated with me a few days ago, attributed to Muhammad Ali:

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” 

Risk.

That is my word for 2020. Here’s to taking risks in sewing up my stash and sewing up patterns I’ve wanted to sew for years, regardless of their ever getting worn or used.

dk edge: Vogue 1175

Lavender Tops

Back in the spring DD3 expressed frustration with the lack of choices in her wardrobe, specifically in the tops department. I must confess, after the last few unsuccessful projects that I made for her, I wasn’t very keen on risking more failures. They have seriously affected my sewjo.  BTW, this post was originally drafted in May……

I sent her shopping for RTW a few weeks ago,and told her to try on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. she saw, even if it looked silly on the hangers, just to get her ideas flowing, and to take a lot of pictures so I could we what she liked. She came home with a $100 top from Wilfred, made of beautiful Japanese polyester, but the fit was off, and I didn’t care for the cost:product ratio. So she returned it, and went off to see what she could find that tickled her fancy in the Burda magazine collection housed in my sewing nook.

And I, browsing through my local Fabricland while purchasing thread for several new jeans projects for myself (I may not be trendy and stylish, but I love my me-made Jalie jeans and made three new pairs recently) stumbled upon a pretty lavender polyester satin crepe with a hammered finish. I purchased a 1.5m length, as it was the right shade of lavender i.e. not very pink, washed it, and set it on one of the sewing tables.

And she noticed it. And liked the colour. So I cut out two of the designs she had ear-marked, and suggested one that I had made for myself a while back, which she liked after she’d tried on mine.Burda 4-2016-114The first one is BurdaStyle 04/2016 #114, a very simple top with cut-on sleeves and a deep V neckline in the back. There is a band across the back shoulders which helps keep the wide neckline in place. There’s not much to say about this top. It’s very simple to make,  the most difficult part being the adjustment of the back band to a length that sits properly. In retrospect, it would fit her better if I’d done a square shoulder adjustment for her swimmers shoulders.Burda 4-2016-114 backThe second top is a repeat of Burda 04/2015 #103, which I’d made for me in 2017.  I had her try it on and she liked the style. Burda 4-2015-103It’s another simple sew, although getting the centre front V to sit properly took some very careful cutting. I have plans for at least two of these tops for myself. Burda 4-2015-103 frontThe last of the lavender tops used up some stash silk: lavender chiffon and a darker habotai for the longer layer.Burda 5-2014-128 silk It’s BurdaStyle 05/2014 #128, and DD3 wasn’t very sure of the design, but I loved the longer gathered back, and thought I’d take a risk while sewing up the stash fabric. I was prepared to thrift it if she didn’t like it in the end. Burda 5-2014-128 backThis top is short: I added a full 10 cm to the length.  Burda’s instructions are good and easy to follow, for once! I followed them to the ‘T’.

Burda 5-2014-128

I hand rolled the hems.

Burda 5-2014-128

And there we are: three new tops for her to wear. Funnily enough, the one she reaches for the most is gathered-back top. She’s going to wear it out first, mostly because the chiffon is rather fragile.

Winter Coat: Burda 1/2016 #123

So, one of my goals for 2018 was to make jackets and coats: I had declared it “The Year of the Coat”.   I managed to make one.
Green CoatI finally got around to the project at the end of April. I pulled two pieces of fabric out of stash:  a lovely green/brown ‘bubble’ wool from EmmaOneSock in 2013and a piece of velvet linen, purchased randomly from Scalamandre’s Third Floor around the same time. I had this from BurdaStyle’s January 2016 in mind for both: Burda 1-2016-123It’s a ‘tall’ pattern, but I wanted something long and dramatic.  So I left the length, and adjusted the waist length by 2 inches (5cm). Here’s the back: green coat back
I did not like the tie collar (and the linen would not have worked for it, imho), so I frankenpatterned Vogue 2590 (an OOP Montana military-style coat). collar collageI love the high collar, and I must say, working with a Vogue pattern vs. a Burda magazine pattern in the same project was a sober reminder (and an elated reminder) of why I love Vogue patterns so much: there were more markings on the collar pieces than the entire front coat pattern piece from Burda.  A clearly marked pattern makes construction so precise, and easy construct with (relative) perfection. Well, I am happy with it, anyways!

The coat does not have buttons. I debated doing the hand worked buttonhole exercise, but opted for the large snaps Burda suggested. I like them! And, no, I did not bother to try to choose a fabric that would match the coat so they could be covered. I just put them on. Finis!

Some details of the interior finishing:lining

There are in-seam pockets. green coat pockets
Here’s the side view.
green coat side

A loooong belt tie. green coat tie
A tall, statuesque drink of water I am not, which is perhaps accentuated by the tie belt. But I love the length and drama of wearing such a coat.

Crosshatch Denim Collection

It’s not very often I find fabric in my local Fabricland that I totally fall in love with, but this was one. It’s a brown-white crosshatch cotton-poly-elastene lightweight denim that I circled around for weeks until it went on clearance, and then I bought the entire bolt for $5/metre. I can’t remember exactly how many metres I purchased, but I knew it would give me several pieces, none of which I planned to wear together, but would provide a nice collection for other pieces.

The first piece in this collection was a skirt, Burda 02-2006-114sewn last summer. I’ve made four of these, in lime green, black, khaki, and now, brown. I don’t have pictures of the black one, but it’s made from the same beautiful cotton denim as these jeans. I don’t have any photos of my wearing it, so this will just have to suffice. I’ve worn it a lot over the last couple of summers.

Image result for Burda 04/2010 #143Then I wanted some capris, and decided to try Burda 04/2010 #143. These were an experiment in Burda’s plus sizing/drafting, and I’m surprised at how much I like to wear them. They have more wearing ease than a typical stretch denim pant pattern, as they’re drafted for non-stretch fabrics.  I made a curved waistband, not the elastic one as in the pattern.

I love the little tab details on these. The front tab is like a little built-in belt, and the hemline tabs are fun. These have been in constant rotation through my wardrobe since last summer.

Burda 4-2010-143 front tab

I did make up a jacket in this fabric, but didn’t like it much, so I gave it away.  It was my mistake in shortening the back waist and grading it into the side front that caused the fail (I did do a pattern fitting session on my dress form… in my defense…   It was the execution that was subpar…) and in the end I just didn’t like the fabric enough in a casual safari-style jacket.

WheBurda 5-2010-112n I purchased this massive length of goods, I initially thought of doing a safari style set of garments.  This dress is probably the only things that would actually qualify as having typical safari elements: big patch pockets, lacing, buttoned tabs, etc.  The pattern is Burda 5/2010 #112.  I only have a German copy of the magazine, so it was a bit fun translating a word here or there in order to get the gist of Burda’s construction suggestions.  Between reading the instructions aloud (my ear can hear hints of English sometimes) and studying the magazine photo, I managed to put it together without pulling my hair out.

safari dress

I underlined the back of the dress with a cotton batiste.

Burda 5/2010 #112 front detail

The front interior is a bit messier than I like with all the pockets (total of four) and the laced opening.  See?  Mess on the inside.

Burda 5/2010 #112 insides

This is a construction pic, and, no, you’re not looking at it upside down. I’m in the process of doing the welt pockets with the flaps in this photo.

B 5-2010-112 front pockets

And a back view.

Burda 5-2010-112 back

It’s dartless, and I wanted to keep it that way… loose fitting and cool in the summer. And one last view from the side. The sleeves are long, and after playing around with rolling them or just gathering them up into the tabs, I decided I liked the ‘careless casual’ vibe proffered by the latter.  Hmmm…. maybe it could use some shaping in the back.  We’ll see…

Burda 5-2010-112 front

2017, 2018 and other tidbits

2017 makes 2
Vogue 1491, DD3’s middle school frankpattern formal, Burda 04/2010 #112

I’ve been enjoying all the year-end reviews that have popped up in my reader over the last 6 weeks or so.  It’s crazy how 6 weeks seems like it’s a lifetime ago, and obsolete.  One reason I really hate social media these days.

I haven’t blogged very much this past year for a variety of reasons, and it seemed to be a reflection on what I’ve actually done creatively in my sewing life.  But after reading Naomi’s wrap-up post I thought I would set up a similar Excel workbook to track my makes. And my fabric inventory.

Lo, and behold! I actually sewed 62 garments during 2017!  I was so surprised! Only about half got photographed or blogged, some were thrifted, and only a handful haven’t been worn yet, as I decided in December to sew up a collection of short-sleeved summer tops.

2017 screen shot

I must say, compiling this list was encouraging.  I sewed a lot last year!  It makes me feel  I can move on to 2018 with a right good will to getting some of the larger projects going that I have been purposely avoiding out of fear for the last couple of years (fear of fitting, fear of less-than-perfect execution, fear of garment-lifestyle clashes).

And speaking of 2018, there has been a lot of kerfluffle in the sewing universe about the 2018 Burda Challenge.  I’m sure Burda appreciates all the variations on this challenge every single year, although each iteration to date hasn’t gotten a lot of social media attention.  When I participated back in 2013, only a few bloggers were interested, but this year, I guess the right person with enough clout in the sewing blogosphere decided to get on board, so everyone’s talking about it.  I think credit should be given where credit is due, however, and so here’s to ReadyThreadSew and Pattern Review with the idea of a year-long challenge from waaaaay back when.  I always find it amusing when the masses jump on a bandwagon that’s been around for a while simply because they hear a louder or more popular voice talking about it.  No rant intended!  It’s just my observations from the sidelines. 😉  Ideas need persistent, loud, popular voices in order to take root and get people on board.  But that smacks of politik, and I am not going down that rabbit hole.

Anyways, I’m looking forward to actually getting photographs of all my 2018 makes – both successes and failures – and sharing them with you this year.  I’ve tried IG for the last year, and it is sooooo not my thing.  I’m a sideline girl, and although I occasionally like to scroll through my feed and see what you all are up to, posting prolifically is not my style.  Of course, this article went a long way to explaining why, never mind that I like my neurons and my privacy.

That said, this year I have resolved:

  • to actually blog and share my makes this year, and not get dopamined-up and depressed on my IG feed.  There is a small part of me that screams, “But you’ll be missing out on so much!”, and I’ve decided to ignore it and stay true to my watching-from-the sidelines self.  Sharing all my makes is also not really in my comfort zone (I often feel I have nothing interesting to say, or any pretty pictures to share), but I have also resolved this year to…
  • take baby steps.  Baby steps in healthy activity, in French, in social settings; permission to be creative, including TAST (an embroidery and stitching challenge); and..
  • sewing up some of my prolific stash, including ticking off the
  • 2018 Burda Challenge box and a
  • Year of the Jacket personal challenge with each make.  I have so many beautiful coatings in my stash, and I really want to attempt a French jacket, so I have set this as a many-birds-with-one-stone step.

And here’s a teaser, although I probably won’t blog any of these, as they were last year’s makes.

2017 makes
Collection of lace and silk tops from BurdaStyle & Vogue; brown skirt Burda 02/2006 #114; blue linen trousers Burda 12/2011 #133; and a stack of tops from Simplicity 4076 and BurdaStyle

 

Burda 04/2017 #106: Joggers

Burda 04-2017-106 side

I made these for DD1 earlier this year from a medium-weight 100% tencel fabric, as she needed basic black pieces for a job this past summer.

Burda 04-2017-106

I made no changes to the pattern except to omit the waist ties, at her request, and she agreed to let me share them with you on the condition her face wouldn’t be seen. *sigh*  Her only other request was that they would be ‘loose’.  I cut the size to match her hip measurements.

And I managed to find black zips for the pockets, which made me very happy. Fancy zippers are not easy to source here. Here they are zipped….

Burda 04-2017-106 details

…. and unzipped.

Burda 04-2017-106 pockets

They turned out to be a little too casual for work, so she’s only worn them a couple of times. They were fun to make, and I’m pleased with the zipped pockets.

Burda 04-2017-106 back