Blackwatch Plaid Coat: Finale

blackwatch twirlWell, the skirt was fun!  As mentioned before, it’s six quarter circles, and it twirls magnificently.  Perfect for a dancer, no?  I didn’t hem it.  It’s faced with a 2 inch self-fabric facing which is stitched 1/8″ from the lower edge and catchstitched on the upper edge..  The hem edges are left raw.

blackwatch side frontIt’s above the knee in length, at her request.  She doesn’t care for long “dowdy” dress coats.  I did not match up the plaid on the skirt with the CF panels deliberately.  I thought with the ample folds of the skirt, it would be nice to not have the edges match – sort of a continuation of the broken plaid lines in the skirt. I did match all the plaid horizontally at the seams of each quarter circle.

blackwatch backBTW, I didn’t get any pictures of her wearing it with her hands out of the pockets, so the sleeves all look completely wonked in these photos.  You’ll just have to believe me when I say they are the perfect length and hang properly!blackwatch coat
Whew!  I’m so happy this project was a success and that DD1 really likes the coat.  I had to wrestle her into agreeing to have it made (stylish leather jackets look ridiculous in the middle of winter with a party dress), and I think she’s happy she did.  She’s wearing her silk & spiderweb lace LBD with it today, on her way to a school semi-formal.  Happy dancing!

Blackwatch Plaid Coat: Sleeves

Short post, but these sleeves were a trial for me.  You see, I decided to cut the skirt before cutting the sleeves, and the skirt is h.u.g.e., comprising six quarter circle panels.  So I was left fitting the sleeves on to what was left.  Not a big deal, really, because I did have enough fabric, but matching the plaid was a challenge without yards left to use.Marfy 1005 sleeveAnd it looks like that green stripe is running forward of the centre of the sleeve, but it matches up perfectly with the forward shoulder adjustment, and hangs straight on DD1.  The dress form doesn’t have a forward shoulder, so it looks off.  I don’t handle ‘I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing’ and out-of-my-depth sink-or-swim learning situations very well, and trying to decide how to match the plaid, with enough ease for the shoulders left me with a shorter sleeve that I really wanted and cost hours of draping, hemming, hawing and one or two mental sewing sessions at 3 a.m. This is the sort of crux I come to and wish I had more theory under my belt, or at least someone to teach me as I do it.  However, trial, error, and a what little experience I have had to make it do.  shoulder match plaidThe plaid is matched all ’round the sleeve through upper and under pieces.  DD1 and I had planned to add a bias cuff, so I wasn’t too worried about the inch or so of sleeve length I was missing by the time the plaid-matching decisions were made at the upper/under sleeves were cut.   I wanted a deeper cuff, but I was literally working with scraps by this point, so they’re only about 6 inches wide.  I lined them with the same lining used for the coat in order to keep bulk at a minimum.  We also added a short peplum, cut on the bias, to break up the plaid and add a little of the McQueen silhouette into the garment.  It just seemed to ‘finish’ the look.  There are side seam pockets underneath the peplum.bias peplum and cuffWell, the next (and last) post on this project will be with a live model.  I’m hoping she’ll give us a twirl so you can see how lovely the skirt on this coat is.

Blackwatch Plaid Coat: Collar

backMatching plaid is always a challenge.  This plaid is slightly irregular, which made some matching really hard to wrap my head around.  I had to choose between matching horizontally, vertically or both.  In some areas, I was able to match both ways, but when I had to sacrifice, I chose to match horizontally (except when I chose to not match at all).  I had to re-do this CB seam three times before it lined up.  I found the topstitching pulled the fabric slightly askew.  The bodice back is completely interfaced with bias hair canvas.  The shoulders have an extra piece, padstitched together.front

The shoulders were a big challenge for me.  DD1 has both wide and broad shoulders, and she wanted the pagoda look.  So I researched how to make pagoda shoulders, and, after learning it’s the most difficult shoulder to tailor, decided I’d focus on getting her wide-broad-forward shoulder adjustment just right instead.  I made several toiles, but here’s the results in a nutshell:

  • one inch broad/wide shoulder adjustment
  • one inch forward shoulder adjustment

These looked quite extreme on the pattern pieces, and I doubted my eyes (until she put the toiles on), but she wanted her shoulders accentuated as much as possible, as well as growing room built in.  Once I show you the pictures of her wearing the coat, you’ll see it isn’t extreme on her at all.  For the record, the dress form modeling the coat in the last picture has totally square shoulders.

As an aside, I referenced Fitting and Pattern Alteration extensively, but which alterations to do for DD1 was a little difficult to determine.  I tried broad shoulder, broad-wide shoulder and protruding shoulder blades before I realized which one worked for her.  Does anyone else struggle with “reading” toiles to determine the correct alterations?

I cut the collar completely on the bias, both top and under collar and interfacing.  The stand is on the straight grain.  The collar is a detail from Burda’s Talea. coat pattern.  It’s quite deep – about 3 inches.collar front I really had to take breaks trying to match the plaid across the shoulders and sleeves.  I started going cross-eyed from staring at it so long.  I ended up second-guessing myself and cutting an extra (different) front piece, but discarded it the next day when I saw (with fresh eyes) that my original cut had matched up just fine.There were a lot of things that made the construction of this coat a messy business for me.  I used 1 inch seam allowances, which totally messed up the side bodice pieces (every other step of the construction went fine with the larger allowance- d’oh).  I have no idea what I did, but once I trimmed everything back to the standard 5/8″, the armscye and princess seam went together like a charm.  Lack of experience, I guess.  Next up: the sleeves that made me cry.

Blackwatch Plaid Coat: Closure

I have been working furiously on making a blackwatch plaid coat in Harris tweed for DD1, as she does not own a dress coat, and needed one for a family wedding earlier in March.  I made a toile of Marfy 1005 and a coat called Talea from Burdastyle’s website which I downloaded a couple of years ago.  Neither one was quite to her taste, so we went back to the original Harris tweed coat I’d made for her a few years ago from Burda 9/2010 #101, and put together a frankenpattern for the blackwatch coat.

I have completed the hidden button opening, complete with hand-worked buttonholes instead of the snap buttonholes I used last timeBurda 09-2010-101 hidden closureI just felt like practicing buttonholes this time ’round.  Need I say that the fourth one is significantly better than the first!hand-worked buttonholesBTW, if you google “blackwatch McQueen coat” (runway version) you can see the inspiration behind this one.  I am not a master cutter by any stretch of the imagination, and this project has both frustrated and challenged me.  It has whet my appetite for more tailoring, and I truly wish I could just sit and learn somewhere on Saville Row, or at a tailor in my own city.  Projects like this make me realize just how little I know and how much more I need to learn.  It’s been a big project, and I loved every minute of working on it.  More details soon!

BurdaStyle 09/2010 #101

Well, here it is!  Finally finished and modeled for the world to see!

I think she’s pleased!  I cut this pattern one full size bigger than her measurements dictated as I want her to wear it for a couple of years before I have to make another one.  I must say, this coat was a LOT of work.  Sometimes I get impatient for the finish line, but that always makes for regrets, so when I started to get impatient, I’d do something else.  Five or ten minutes here or there took care of the seemingly endless hand sewing in this pattern.

But the hand sewing was my choice, and is not suggested in the instructions.  The hidden button closure was a bit intense – you can read about it in a previous post – and required topstitching on the outside to hold the facing in place.  I wanted the stitching to be as invisible as possible, so I did it by hand.

This coat was a bit labour intesive.  I underlined the bodice with silk organza and used a light-weight horsehair interfacing on the facings, shoulders, armscyes, sleeve cuffs and hem.  I originally thought I’d just use a fusible wool interfacing, but IT WOULD NOT FUSE TO THE TWEED.  Yup.  Go figure.  Then I thought I’d fuse it to the underlining.  Nope.  So that made me wonder if the fusible glue of interfacing deteriorates with age. I was surprised it wouldn’t fuse to the organza, although I wasn’t surprised about the tweed.  Have you ever had this problem?

Anways, here’s some more pictures of the coat for your entertainment!

~ coat open ~

You can see in the shoulders here that I’ve cut the coat a bit big for her to grow into.

~ front closed ~

And the ties are wonderful – although the difference in length once they’re tied is slightly annoying to the perfectionist in me.

And the best part?  Fell-stitching this wonderful label into the coat.

Are you superstitious in your sewing?  If you have labels, do you sew them in as you go along à la prêt-à-porter, or do you hand sew them in after the garment is completed à la couture?  I must confess, I follow the couture rule.  I am not a superstitious person by anybody’s stretch of the imagination, but there’s just a special something about hand-sewing your labels in once a garment is completed. (And what if some disaster befell the project prior to completion just because I did sew in the label early?!?)

Hidden button closures (are difficult)

Yup, especially when reading instructions from BurdaStyle magazine, which seams (ha ha! Did you catch that?) to be excessively concise.  However, just in case anyone else out there wants to make this lovely coat, I thought I’d actually post pictures of the steps of the hidden closure to help you decipher the cryptic instructions.

my mini trial run

I did actually make a small model to see if the instructions would work.  They did, but I was very glad for the practice run!

1.  Hand-baste along slash line on facing so it’s visible on the right side of the fabric.  Mine is in pink thread below.  You’ll have to excuse the crookedness of it.  I basted the slashing line after sewing the dart and shaping the front, so of course it went off.  I realized this when sewing it (step 3 below), so I just used the interfacing edge as my guide to straightness.

2.  Lay lining strip centred over marked line and pin in place.

3.  Work from wrong side to stitch a rectangle, about 7mm (1/4 inch) wide around the marked opening.

stitched and slashed opening from wrong side

4.  Slash between lines of stitching and clip diagonally into corners at top and bottom end, as seen above.

5.  Turn lining strip to inside and press ends of opening.

lining strip turned to inside and pressed at the ends

6.  On lengthwise edge which lies next to marked buttonholes, turn lining strip into opening and fold it so that it fills the opening.  WHAT?! In other words, BurdaStyle, like a narrow welt pocket.  Sheesh! In the picture, the facing is on the right side of the welt; the coat front is on the left.

welt edge formed for hidden closure

7.  Pin lining strip in place and stitch in place, along line of joining seam.  Or, in plain English, stitch along the right edge of the welt “in the ditch”, like this:

lining strip stitched along original (joining) seam

8.  Work buttonholes as marked.  I did Spanish snap buttonholes, directions for which I will post tomorrow.

Spanish snap buttonholes

9.  Lay lining strip at front edge of opening toward inside edge of facing.  Baste opening closed.

Well, I couldn’t do this, because the purpose of this step is to “face” the back of the buttonholes, which I couldn’t do because the lining strip was narrower than the width of the buttonholes.

lining strip too narrow to face buttonholes

So I trimmed the lining strip to 1/2 inch wide, turned it under…

trimming away lining strip

…and fell-stitched it into place along the entire length of the lining strip. (Sorry, I took this picture after it was finished.)

fell stitched lining strip


10. Stitch small triangles at ends of opening to lining strip on inside.

stitched triangle ends

11.  Baste lining strip to facing.  I used pins. (Except the pins should be at right angles to the opening, not like below!)

pin basted strip to facing

12.  Stitch across opening, centred between buttonholes. I marked 3/4″ (roughly 2 cm) on either side of the buttonhole as my starting an ending points, as this was the distance from the top/bottom of the opening to the top/bottom buttonholes.

centre-stitched opening between buttonholes

Et voilà!  Completed hidden buttonhole closure.


Well, after that, I had a glass of Bailey’s on the rocks.

Working with a dream fabric…

…. makes all the difference.  Wow.  I’m LOVING Harris tweed.  (Yup, that’s purple, bold, italicized and capital letters love!)  It’s got a lovely woolly fragrance when it’s pressed.  It shapes beautifully and sews easily, and it’s super easy to to hidden hand-stitches I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything much lately.  It’s really hard to find time to sew in my household sometimes.  However, I was able to sew up a storm Monday this week and today, so I’ve got something to show you all!

I spent Monday underlining and interfacing BurdaStyle 09-2010-101, which I’m making for DD1 out of lovely Harris tweed.

B 09-2010-101 underlining

Here’s a back piece ready to be hand basted into place.  I used silk organza to underline the tweed and a light-weight horsehair interfacing.  Here I am, busy as a bee….Sorry it’s blurry – DH took the picture.  I think I’m catchstitching the interfacing to the hem of the undersleeves.  You can see how far I got on the coat on Monday, as it’s on the dress form behind me.  I managed to get the fronts and back stitched, and the sleeves put together and steam shaped.  All the pieces are pinned to the dress form separately, as I’ve not put them together at this point as I needed to complete the hidden buttonholes, and I didn’t have the buttons.  Needless to say, no buttons, no buttonholes!