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!

A Harris Hat

tweed hat

I made a hat from remnants of various Harris Tweed projects that have been languishing in my scrap box for the last few years.  Just a little project to ease myself back into sewing after the holiday lull.

tweed flower

The pattern is Vogue 8440.  I stole the idea of turning up the vent edges and adding the flower/trim from a review on PR, since it adds a lot of interest to this very basic pattern.

Harris Tweed hat

I chose to underline it with washed muslin, so it has a softer silhouette and feel than a felt hat.  I lined it with a heavy-ish rayon bemberg, and didn’t bother to put petersham ribbon around the interior band. I’ve worn it several times, and it’s so toasty warm!  It’s also super happy to repel snow and sleet and all other kinds of wintry precipitation.

tweed V8440

Vogue 8626: Classic Harris Tweed

Vogue 8626 pockets (523x800)I wore my new tweed coat for the first time a couple of days ago when it was -11°C.  My fingers were numb after five minutes of trying to take photos outside, but the coat kept me toasty warm. It’s a very simple coat – nothing super fancy or head-turning about it.  The coat is wonderfully comfortable, and I’m glad I interfaced the back on the bias because it gives the feeling of moving with me instead of being separate from me.  Like it’s hugging me and keeping me warm.  I’m sure I’ll get a lot of wear out of this garment.  Here’s a shot of the back pleats.  Vogue 8626 backI’m a little disappointed in the way the pleats fall during wear.  When the coat front is open, they fall perfectly.  Vogue 8626 unbuttonedWhen it’s buttoned, they spread.  The side hangs vertically in a straight line while either buttoned or not, so the pleats should hang properly during wear, but they don’t. Vogue 8626 side If you look at pictures on the web and read reviews of this pattern, you’ll see that this is a problem on all versions made of this coat.  Personally, I think it’s because I assumed the empire back and pleats would eliminate the need for a short back adjustment of 2 inches, and there’s some tweaking that needs to happen with the pattern to get the pleats to lay perfectly flat.  The side back pleats need to be much deeper and shaped over the hips, imho.  Here’s a view, buttoned, on my dress form.Vogue 8626 back pleats buttonedAt least it mimics me in shape and drape!  And now the interesting collar: View C with the very high collar.Vogue 8626 view C collarI don’t have a particularly short neck, but you can see how the collar is too high for me.  Here’s a shot of it unbuttoned and folded over at the CB, which I think is much more flattering.  However, in a gale, the high collar will definitely keep frigid winds away!Vogue 8626 vie C unbuttonedAnd here’s the last finishing details.  I finished the hem edge with bias taffeta.hem bindingI added a hanging chain loop.haning loopAnd, of course, an extra button along with the wonderful Harris Tweed label that accompanies every length purchased from one of the mills in the Hebrides.harris tweedLooks a little 70’s, don’t you think?70s style

Vogue 8626: sleeves

I wanted the nicest possible sleeve head for this coat, so I cut a bias strip of tweed and interfaced the top 4 inches of the the sleeve head.sleeve capThe cuff is interfaced with a wide strip of bias horsehair.sleeve interfacingAfter fitting prior to sleeve insertion, I decided to put in a very small 1/4″ shoulder pad.  Here’s the front of the shoulders.shoulders frontHere’s the back view.  The shoulders of this coat are quite sloped and designed with no shoulder pads in mind.  shouldersI think this coat looks like it’s been in my closet for a while. Y’know – already broken in.sleeve head