Monday, December 29, 2014

A Classic Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat

I made a trench coat, ya'll!

This is definitely one of my proudest and most challenging makes of 2014 (the top slot, of course, goes to my wedding dress!) so prepare yourself for photo overload.

This is the Sewaholic Robson coat, made in a straight size 8 with no adjustments.

The fabric is a water-resistant cotton blend in "pumice stone" color from Mood Fabrics. The buttons also are from Mood. The buckle is from G Street Fabrics. Bias binding for the seams was purchased at my local JoAnn Fabrics.

Normally, I talk about the pattern first in blog posts, but the biggest challenge with this coat was the fabric, so I'll start there today.

The main quality that made this fabric desirable for a trench coat -- its water resistance -- made it a bear to sew. I used a heavy duty needle (several of them, actually -- more on that in a moment), and the machine really tried to make a go of it, but this pattern includes a ton of layers in some parts, such as the shoulder seam, so there was much cranking on the hand wheel to start those parts.

The fabric also tended to produce a kind of waxy dust when sewn, which I can only assume comes from the water-resistant coating.

Oddly, the fabric didn't seem to have any issues with ironing and lots of steam, although the fabric tended to trap steam, another hazard, I suppose of water-resistance. The main issue with ironing, though, was that the fabric refused to hold a crease.

The absolute biggest challenge with this coat was the buttonholes. They were a NIGHTMARE.

I had the coat all done up to the buttonhole stage, and I was feeling pretty proud of my work. I really took my time on making this coat nice. Up to the buttonholes.

The machine was just NOT having it with these buttonholes. It kept skipping half the buttonhole and making huge jumps in its stitching. I tried messing manually with the tension, with the stitch length -- with everything I could think of.

In despair, I posted a picture on Instagram and the ever-brilliant Brooke suggested that perhaps I needed a new needle. All of a sudden, my problem was fixed! I think I needed two more needles before the project was done. If I had to guess, I'd say that the coating on the fabric dulled or gummed up the needles.

It all worked out in the end, though.

Except for the part where I incorrectly placed all of the buttonholes, so there are some buttons sewn on top of buttonholes and some buttonholes that go separately through the main fabric and facing.

I think by the end, I was just exhausted. This project really took a lot out of me.

The only "change" I made to the pattern was to pick up a buckle for the belt. The buckle came from G Street and was fairly inexpensive. I just sewed it on to the end of the belt.

It doesn't exactly match the buttons, and looking at these photos, either the beltloops are uneven, or I didn't pull the coat down correctly. I'll fix it sometime. Maybe. Never.

One of the coolest things about this pattern is the opportunity to use a fun contrast bias binding on the seams. The coat has no lining, which I appreciated, because the number of layers I had without the lining was enough for me!

I used a bright blue for a pop of color. Don't tell anyone, but there is a slightly different bright blue on the insides of the sleeves. I bought the wrong color on my third trip to JoAnn for more bias binding.

I definitely needed much more bias tape than the pattern recommended, that's for sure.

The pockets seemed oddly placed to me at first glance, but I started surreptitiously examining the trench coats on my morning commute (creeper status!) and I discovered that most trench coats have these pockets. I had ample opportunities to examine a large variety of trench coats because it seems as though they are the go-to for commuters in the fall here.

I had a bit of trouble getting the sleeve to ease nicely, but at this point, I'm just calling it a feature.

I am super proud of this project -- and glad to finally have my own trench coat -- but boy am I glad to call it finished! Do you ever have projects like that? I made a nice, simple skirt after this and it felt like a breath of fresh air!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Christmas New Look 6223 in Winter Cardinals Fabric

Happy holidays, readers! 

Over Black Friday, I shopped a bit online, including at Modcloth, which so helpfully let me know it was having a sale.

Now, we all know that nearly all 100 percent cotton dresses at Modcloth are made from easily attainable quilting cotton, right?

I saw a dress made from this winter cardinals fabric and just had to have it. I found the fabric online at Hancock's of Paducah (which had the best price -- $5! -- but did trigger a fraud warning on my credit card since it's apparently a local store in another state!) The fabric is Timeless Treasures Season's Greetings Winter Cardinals in ivory.

It's a lovely drapey quilting cotton.

The bodice is lined in plain white lawn, which I buy at least 5 yards at a time. I line nearly everything with white cotton lawn!

All in all, the fabrics were perfect for a structured dress like New Look 6223.

New Look 6223 is a favorite basic pattern of mine -- though I may need to buy a second copy the next time New Look patterns are on sale, because I seem to have misplaced the sleeve piece. Originally I wanted to do this dress up with cap sleeves, similar to my Oscar de la Renta dress, but I went without after I couldn't find the sleeve piece. (I know, I know, Frankenpattern, etc., but as I've said before, homegirl ain't got time for all that! it's just not fun for me.)

The pattern is exceedingly simple. It's a six-dart bodice with a pleated skirt. In this case, I gathered the skirt instead of pleating. I also forgot to put in the pockets (I now have two white lining-fabric pockets on my cutting table). Woops. 

I cut an 8 at the bust and graded to a 10-12 at the waist. I left a bit of extra ease in the waist since I wanted to wear this dress dancing. 

I didn't bother pattern-matching in the back or at the waist (I am of the opinion that matching a pattern like this across the waist just looks wrong and I just didn't feel like matching on the back seam and wasting fabric). The only pattern adjustment I made was to be sure I wouldn't have two red cardinals placed in, shall we say, compromising positions on my chest. 

This dress was an easy make -- I spent my afternoon in my sewing room on Saturday and worked on it while watching "Rehab Addict" on Netflix and I was finished in no time. 

In fact, I wore this dress for the first time Saturday night to a ballroom dance. We have monthly social ballroom dances at the place we take classes. With my small cotton crinoline underneath, it was perfect for an evening of dancing. (I know it probably seems strange to wear a sleeveless dress with no stockings in the middle of winter, but trust me when I say that after a couple hours of dancing in a well-lit art gallery, you'll be sweating!)

I plan to wear this again with black tights and a cardigan for a Christmas Eve showing of The Nutcracker as well.

When I wear it, with the red, green and gold colors, I feel festive!

Even when it's cold outside!

Do you have Christmas sewing plans? I'd love to hear about them!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all. <3