Thoughts on finishing seams

I’m still referring to David Page Coffin’s Making Trousers for Men & Women.  Sorry to bore you all!  But here’s my quote from page 13:

A curator of a costume collection pointed out to him

very minimal overcasting and the lack of a lining inside a couture bustier, remarking how dramatically it disproved the home sewer’s traditional conviction that well-made clothes must look as beautifully finished on the inside as on the outside.

Tell me, as a fellow home sewer, what do you think of this one?  Do you finish the inside like a RTW garment, fully line garments or do you leave things in a state of unfinishedness à la couture?  I’ll confess, I do not like the unfinished looks of a finished couture garment without lining.  I know pants and even evening gowns may not have linings with their overcast seam allowances exposed for the wearer to see, but I’m just not comfortable doing a garment that way.

I’ll never forget, as a 15-year-old aspiring singer, being shown a formal gown of ice blue silk made by a local couturier.  It was a strapless, full-skirted floor length gown.  When I looked into the interior (to check the label!) I was SHOCKED to see that there was no lining.  All the seam allowances with their hand overcasting were there to be seen in all their state of unfinishedness.  And you could see the hand stitching that held the facing of the bodice top to the interlining from the inside!!! I distinctly remember at the time decreeing (in my 15-year-old sewing wisdom) that I would have at least lined the darn thing if it had been up to me!

I do prefer a fully lined garment: pants, skirt or dress, and I like the cleaner look of a seam finished in anything other than pinking shears or hand overcasting.  I just feel like the garment isn’t f.i.n.i.s.h.e.d. if you can see the interior messiness of seam allowances.  And I think it hangs and wears better if it’s lined.

What do you think?  Are you a bear for finishing a garment so that you could wear it inside out, beautifully finished, if you had to?  Do you drive yourself crazy making sure the inside is as nice as the outside, or do you leave things visible?

Thoughts on trousers

….or pants, as I usually call them.

I’ve been reading David Page Coffin’s Making Trousers for Men and Women since it was the only thing I took on vacation that was sewing related.

It’s given me a lot of food for thought about the construction of pants. If you don’t own this book, you should get yourself a copy, or at least borrow it from your local library for a read.  He’s got a fascinating look at the construction of pants from YSL couture to vintage 1932 to L.L. Bean.  The variety of construction techniques, pockets and zippers is amazing.  And I had never heard of a “hem stay” until reading this book.  Have you ever heard of a hem stay?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pair of pants with them in my life.  The one thing that I disagree with him on is lining.  I always prefer my pants to be fully lined regardless of how nice the fabric feels next to my skin.  The least I’ll do is line them to the knee.  And I always prefer to have my linings hang free instead of being sewn into the seam allowances.  Even if I’m purchasing pants that aren’t either khakis, corduroys or jeans, I always look for a fully lined pair of pants.  I guess I feel like I get my money’s worth that way! He he he….

Now I just need to make my choice regarding the pattern I’m going to make up.  What do you think?  Here’s a pic of the wool…

wool crepe

Very basic caramel coloured wool crepe from And here’s my pattern choices so far – both BurdaStyle.

b 1-2011-134 B 10-2010-104

I’m personally leaning towards the ones on the left (Burda 1-2011-134) for a couple of reasons: the shaped high waist and the shaping in the legs (just a bit of boot cut); and the interesting seam down the centre of the front.  The inseam pockets are a nice feature, too.  I’m always up for something a little different…

What’s next?

Good question.  I’m staring at a stack of fabric as I write this.  Do you do New Year’s resolutions?  I don’t.  Never have much.  I always thought if I really wanted to do something, then I’d just do it.  I didn’t need to make a resolution.  However, I’m thinking that I need to do some planning.  Here’s what’s on my hope-to-get-done-before-it’s-spring list (which is sometime in May around here).  In order of importance…. Winking smile

  • Muslin and fit a Cinderella dress.  Ha!  I bet you weren’t expecting that one.
  • Finish yet another version of Burda 09-2010-111 in paisley and the wrap skirt mentioned in this post.
  • Start and finish my Cavalli coat.  It’ll make a nice new coat to wear in February when the winter wardrobe is starting to feel tired.
  • Camel wool crepe high-waisted pants for the HepburnHepburn project which seems to have been high-jacked all around by the Christmas sewing rush.  We’re all back on track, though!
  • Make that darn trench coat…..  spring will arrive eventually.
  • And one more shirt, wrap-style, for the HepburnHepburn project.

It’s been fun reading all the plans that you have, dear readers!  One jacket per month over at Gigi Sews.  One item per week over at Sew Convert.  I’m amazed at the ideas and the time commitment of you all.  I love to sew, but I seriously cannot imagine making one garment (object) per week.  I love the jacket idea, but I really cannot justify 12 new jackets in my closet.  So I’ll just putz along with whatever wallops me upside the head as a great idea, and leave all the intense planning and doing to those of you who are far more dedicated that I!

But all of this will have to wait.  I’m off to ski in beautiful British Columbia and Lake Louise for a couple of weeks.  We’ll make good use of that turtle fur….


Lessons from a furrier

On my trip downtown on Monday, I had the time to hunt for spotted lynx so I can make up my Cavalli coat.

One problem.  Spotted lynx in a faux fur complete with the long guard hairs is not available on Queen Street anywhere.  I want the long fur, not the short.  Plenty to be had in short faux fur, but I want the long.  I did find some interesting sculpted tiger faux fur.  It’s in my mental stash for future reference!

Anyways, back to the fur.  Dear reader, you know I’ve been watching eBay, but the price on a full coat that I’m going to cut up is way more than I wanted to spend.  I was hoping to pick up something for around $100 at the top end.  Dreamer…..

And no real spotted cat fur to be had at a furriers anywhere in the fashion district.  One furrier had two printed red fox collars and a headband that would have been perfect, but he wanted $300 for both collars.  Uh….. I don’t think so.

So I went to our trusted friend.  My DH had suggested going to the furrier we’ve done all our… well…. ahem…. my… fur business with to see if he had something.  And boy, am I glad I did.  I probably didn’t get the best deal on the fur…..


…. but I learned a TONNE (yes, I spell it that way – I’m Canadian!)  First of all, I felt and saw what the $$$$$ spotted lynx pelts are like at $300 per pelt.  (It takes an average of 11 pelts to make a coat).  I didn’t even ask the price when I he brought them out for me to see.  I knew immediately they were more than I wanted to spend. “I don’t want these pelts.  They’re more than I want to spend,” I told him.  He laughed.  “You don’t even know what they’re worth!”  “Yeah,” I said.  “But I know they’re more than I want to spend because they’re so beautiful!!”

“Well, tell me exactly what you want to do with this coat,” he asked me.  So I gave him the whole spiel about the Cavalli coat and that I needed the trim for the collar and cuffs (even though he’d told me last year that fur on cuffs is a liability because it wears too badly) and possibly the facing of the coat if I had extra; that I’d been looking on eBay, but hadn’t found what I wanted, so I was asking him for help.

He brought out the trimmings from a coat he’d shortened, which is in the picture above, and a very well-worn used coat which he said I didn’t want.  So I got the trimmings of the coat.


And one hour’s crash lesson in spotted cat fur, which is worth more to me than the price of the materials.  It was just a smidgen more than I wanted to pay, but well worth my time and money.  He helped me plan out where to cut the fur to maximize the spots on the collar and cuffs.  He showed me how to cut the fur carefully and how to stitch it on my little home sewing machine.  And gave me two blades.  My DH, when he saw them tonight, was impressed with them.   “You be really careful with these. They’re very sharp.”  Surprised smile ??? You don’t say!

BTW, I told my furrier that I’d love to learn how to “do” fur.  It’s on the list of things I’d like to try before I die.

And the information…!  Did you know that the wider the pelt, the whiter the spotted area and the spottier the pelt the more money?  Or that there’s more spots at the bottom of the pelt that the top?  And that the spots only exist on the belly?  And the trimmings I got were the bottom of the coat, which means I got the spottiest part of the coat!  And if I’m able to follow his advice on cutting, I’ll have the non-spotted fur to play around with on another garment.

I have to say, I love fur.  I’m a northern Alberta girl, y’know.  Fur is the only thing that keeps you really warm in winter.  I was reminded of this on Monday walking around the Fashion District in –2o0 winds.  I have fox trim on my coat collar and hood, and when I put my hood up around my face the long guard hairs on the fur kept the wind from reaching my face.  Amazing.  My DH looked at me like I was out to lunch when I told him this.  “Well, dear, the animals do stay warm outside, so the fur’s gotta be doing a good job.  They don’t die from the cold!”  Spoken like the truly practical wise man that he is.

Plugging away at the red Burda dress

Well, today I was able to do the muslin fitting for the red Burda dress (11-2010-119). Tomorrow I shall cut the red wool crepe and lining, and start stitching.  It was one of those really nice fittings where there’s not a lot of re-drafting to be done, only a few minor take-ins or other adjustments.  Yay!  Here’s a pic of the fabric I picked up in my Fashion District meanderings yesterday.


It’s so interesting a crepe with the variegated texture.  It’s lightweight and will drape and sew up beautifully.

And, out of character for me for the longest while (I’ve been very very good for the last few years.  I used to go on shopping binges and add 27 yards of whatever at a time to my stash.  I still have all that fabric, although I’m slowly starting to sew it up and I’ve not been going overboard like a fabric junkie), I added impulsively to my stash with some very interesting wools.  I guess I jumped at them just because they’re so unusual.  Check it out…


This is a reddish-chocolate brown wool jacquard challis, if that makes any sense.  It’s lightweight and has loose threads in a muted turquoise in a scallop pattern running lengthwise on either side of the green-turquoise jacquard you can see above.  I have absolutely no idea what this will end up as – it was just such a stunningly interesting fabric that I couldn’t pass it up.  And I whined about the price, so they cut $20/m off it.  I couldn’t refuse!  And then I thought I this wool boucle would look nice in a Chanel style jacket….


I think the current picture on Vogue Patterns website got stuck in my mind, because I really liked it.  I don’t have enough of this boucle to do the vintage design that Vogue used, but there’s enough to do up a jacket.  Love it.

Sigh.  I must say I had no intention of adding to my stash, but when I stumble upon something unique, I really enjoy the shopping part…… he he he…. Winking smile

What’s your style?

In a previous post, I mentioned BurdaStyle’s Party Through the Decades competition.  You had to pick your favourite fashion decade and whip up a party dress inspired by the styles.

Well, I really wanted to do this, but there’s just not enough hours in my day to accomplish everything I want to do.  But I did do something thinking about what styles I like best.

As you know, I’m participating in the HepburnHepburn project, and have finished some of the items on that list.  And I love Chanel.  I’ve actually been reading and studying her drawings, styles and life a lot lately, mostly because I find it so incredibly inspiring.  I couldn’t possibly hope to imitate (never mind emulate) the craftmanship that goes into one of those designs, but I love looking at the details in the pictures.

Then it struck me….. all the ladies mentioned above were the exact opposite of me physically.  They were all very thin.  Need I say more?  I’m not thin.  I’ve never been thin.  If I starved myself for 30 days, I would still be more solid and shapely than a thin person.  It’s just not in my genes to have that gamine figure.

So, I thought maybe I should go a-studying styles that were more conducive and flattering for a curvy figure like I’ve got.  Like, maybe, the ‘50’s.  And look at how people like Elizabeth Taylor or Marilyn Monroe dressed (not to mention the current craze thanks to Mad Men).


Anyways, I never did get this dress made up (or even cut out!) so I could participate in the BurdaStyle competition, but it’s given me some food for thought about what would suit me best.

What about you?  Do you hanker after a certain look or a certain decade for your clothes?  Are you confident in your own style, or do you try to keep “on trend”?

My excuse…

… is that there was a sale – a full-blown Member’s sale of 50% of anything in the store…. yep…. that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

I went to my local Fabricland on Friday last week to see what was available and for how much.  Well, actually, I was in there the Friday before that looking for some trenchcoating, and the clerk whispered, “There’s a 50% off member’s only sale next week: November 26, 27, and 28th.”  O, golly, said me.  Winking smile I guess I’ll just come back next week!

So I did, and here’s the new additions to my project list.

fabrics 1

On the right is a very heavy poly satin, which cost me all of $20 for the yardage to make this intriguing little number by Guy Laroche.


On the left is upholstery fabric which I’m hoping to make up into a Cavalli-inspired lynx-trimmed number.  Here’s my inspiration:

red cavalli coat fall 2010

I have to say, the minute I saw this coat, I ripped the page out of Vogue’s September 2010 issue and put it into my “inspiration” notebook.  I just loved the embroidered look with the contrasting fur.  Never mind that the “price-on-request”  couture version (you KNOW you can’t afford it if you have to ask, dahling!) in the picture is actually fully lynx-lined.  I found this smaller picture of the $5,000 RTW version, that just has the lynx trim on the collar and cuffs.

cavalli red coat 2

I’ve been keeping my eye on ebay – a great place for vintage and second-hand furs if your local thrift shop doesn’t have any.

Next on my newly-acquired project list is a taffeta shirt made of this crinkle bronze-coloured taffeta to go with an iridescent purple taffeta skirt made in pre-blogging days.  We play dress-up for Christmas at my house. Smile


Next we have a woven paisley number, which I’m thinking will do very nicely for a second go at Burda 09-2010-111.  We’ll see how the blouse sews up in a non-stretchy fabric.

fabric 2

Then, when I had paid for my purchases, I noticed this lying on a table on my way out the door.

olive sequins

Umm…. what can I say?  How could I possibly resist sequined silk chiffon?  And it’s heavy!  I only wanted 1 metre for a tank top, but then there was this pathetic little amount of 60 cm left.  So, after some haggling (!!!) I got the “leftovers” for $20.

Tell me, dear reader, do you “punish” yourself with new ideas and projects before you’ve finished the already 35,000 that are on your to-do list?  Do tell!

My Marfy stash

I thought I’d write a post about Marfy patterns in my stash in response to Becki, who asked me why I hadn’t posted anything about Marfy projects, since I have a page titled “Marfy” on my blog.

Well, I started a dress back at the end of August – Marfy 1313 – but then I got busy with DD1’s winter coat, thinking about blouses and mulling over the HepburnHepburn projects (sheath dress, crisp blouse and trench coat are on my list still waiting to be cut out).  And then I’ve been mulling over the Burda “Party through the Decades 2010” competition (which may or may not happen, but that’s a topic for another day).

But I thought I’d share my Marfy stash, since it only numbers about 10 designs so far.  You can tell me which you like and what you think I should tackle after (during?!) the construction of the Interrupted Dress.  Here they are, in no particular order….

Marfy 1458
Marfy jacket 1637
Marfy coat dress 1713
Marfy jacket 1711
Marfy jacket 1625
Marfy coat 1401

Anyways, the Interrupted Dress is now back at the forefront of my sewing mind.  I’ll tackle that after I finish the blouse I’m working on.  And the pencil skirt in Harris tweed…. the trench coat… DD2’s Christmas dress… the sheath dress….. LOL!

I’m joining the trenches

Yup.  On Saturday I finally made it down to my lovely little Burberry store and tried on a few trenches.  Like I’ve mentioned previously, I need a trench or rain coat, and I’ve always had a hankering for the big label “classic” trench.  Well, I learned a few things in the 15 minutes I spent in that store.

First, I am not the size I thought I was.    Clothing companies must be grading clothing sizes up every 5 years, because the last time I fit a size 8 anything, I was about 17 years old and 20 pounds underweight.  Now I’m a healthy 40 something and a size 8 fits!?!?!  What’s up with that?

Second, I don’t care if it’s the classic trench to own if you’re a somebody or a fashionista.  No way is a little 3/4 length 100% cotton trenchcoat worth $1395 + 13% HST just because it’s got those cute little buttons with the horses on them or that distinctive plaid 100% cotton lining.  That decided me right there.  It’s time to sew my own trench and to hell with the big label.  I mean, for that price, I could go crazy on the fabric and still not spend close to one third of the RTW purchase price.  And what in the world is better than a custom tailored trench coat?  🙂

So I went looking, and found a few interesting things in sewing blog land.

I know this project is about 18 months along, given the dates of the posts, but I had a great time reading about everyone’s ideas and progress.  I’m thinking I should join.  But what pattern to use?  If I’m going to make a classic trench, then it needs all the details:  the back shoulder shield, the buttoned bands on the cuffs and the shoulder, the front yoke shield… Y’know… all those little tiny details that add pizzazz.  So I went pattern hunting.

S 2311
OOP Vogue 2449
Marfy 1038

But none had all the details that I’m wanting on the coat. The S2311 is missing the front and back shields, as is the Marfy 1038, and the Vogue pattern is just not available anywhere for purchasing on the wonderful WWW.  And I just don’t have the know-how or the time to fuss with drafting my own details.  Then I remembered my first Burda magazine, and all the lovely trenches that came with that.  Lo and behold, I’ve found the one I’m going to use.  Stay tuned!  I’ve got to track down that perfect piece of fabric!

SSS Day 20 and 21

SSS Day 20:  I’m sad to say that I’ve nothing to report as self-stitched for Monday.  This particular Monday required jeans and t-shirts for grungy type stuff, and unfortunately I’ve no pair of self-stitched jeans or a self-stitched t-shirt.  But let me tell you about my day, because I’m so excited about what happened in the morning!

My DD2 has Down syndrome.  She is 10 years old and we are always thinking ahead about things she can do as she grows older and what she can do to keep active and learn new skills.  I was told about CARD – the Canadian Association for Riding for the Disabled – years ago, but our schedule never allowed us to apply for a space.  They use horsemanship skills to improve muscle tone, social skills and self-confidence in children and adults with disabilities.  A good friend of ours whose daughter has CP (cerebral palsy) has ridden there for years.  Anyways, we were going to the stables on Monday for our assessment by their resident physiotherapist, who would decide if DD2 was a suitable candidate for their therapy programs. She is!

Needless to say, DD2 is ecstatic to be able to ride horses.  We had the opportunity to meet the horses and see the stables.  Now, I had some reservations about DD2’s enthusiasm when she actually got close to the horses.  She can be very sure she’s not trying something if she doesn’t feel 100% safe.  (She’s the only daughter of mine who has not suffered stitches or broken bones because of this obsession with feeling ‘safe’.)  All the horses were outside in the pasture, so the three of us wandered out to meet them.  What a wonderful experience.  I was so sorry I forgot to bring my camera!  DD2 wandered down to the fence and all the horses walked over to say “hi”.  DD2 chatted away, petting their noses and treating them like they were old friend.  This sort of thing only happens in movies!  BTW, the horses couldn’t be bothered with us adults – they were only interested in making friends with DD2!  I have never seen her so confident to try something new.  Maybe all those (not again!) Hannah Montana episodes with Blue Jeans the horse helped prepare her for this….  Anyways, it doesn’t seem like much, but small victories are what make life exciting!

Then in the evening on Mondays, my three girls and I pop over to our local church to set up tables and cook dinner for 80 women who come for Bible study.  So you see why I needed get-down-and-dirty attire – I’ve added “jeans” to my sewing list.  😉

SSS Day 21:  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I volunteer at DD1’s elementary school in the library.  Shelving books, cataloging books….. and reading with dear little people who just don’t get enough reading done at home and need some extra practice.

shirt Vogue 7340 - skirt Vogue 1093

It was finally warm enough to wear some summer self-stitched!  And blustery – don’t ya just love the hair?