McCalls 7520 – pauline trigere coat – remake a coat to a coat

McCalls 7520 - pauline trigere coat - remakea coat to a coat

When I saw this coat – I was so pleased as there is a lot of fabric, so I probably overlooked both the fabric quality and a few stains (the trims of leather in it seemed to have put the original owner of cleaning it!)  The original coat  very much of its time, with lapels and different fastenings, the lining was anchored, as opposed to bagged (it was curious to see all the hidden bits of sewing and detail).  I took the coat apart and brushed it well, and steamed the pieces heavily with the iron and laundered the lining (I had decided to reuse it, as it wasn’t too bad and I couldn’t find a shade like it easily).

When the pattern was laid out, as usual there was compromise, the front of the coat was nearly on the straight so I lost a bit of space there, as the button detail tab on top used up extra fabric space.  The full sleeve would not fit, so I would have to take a chance with a cuff.  I was sure everything would fit, but I completely forgot about the underarm section. This just about fitted, but then the pocket seam would be tight.  I had thought if there was enough fabric that I could make it the original length which is mid calf, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it especially as there is only one button, so I decided on a finished length of 90cm/36″, as this length is good with trousers.  In the illustration, the coat looks shorter than it is, the actual length of the coat is about 30cm/12″ longer – mid-calf. In the end, I had to put a cuff on the sleeve to get the length, a small inset for the pocket recess, and shorten the coat overall.  

McCalls 7520 - pauline trigere coat - remakea coat to a coat

I interfaced all the sections, in the original coat, the fabric was supposed to drape so only the front was interfaced and the back interlined.   This coat is a wool cashmere mix (45% cashmere!) I don’t think it was best quality cashmere and for that matter, wool, and also the patch pockets had left marks on the front, so i was also wondering if it would clean up sufficiently for a public outing!

The sleeve heads were very uncooperative this time around (as opposed to the jacket), and I was progressively getting more and more suspicious of the ‘less than lovely’ quality of this fabric, to the point of I didn’t know who was having the attitude over ease, me or the fabric.  it was only when the coat was at the lining stage, I decided to try and match them once more and curved the point (the design element) on the rhs so it matched the other.  I don’t know how noticeable the difference is, but I suppose if I can see it, then it will always bug me.

It was only when the coat was finished I realised I could have and should have inserted the sleeves  in on the flat, and then sewn the sleeve seam and shoulder seam as one.  I wore the coat out to lunch to ‘road test’ it.  Its a nice warm coat and worked well with a black polo and jeans.   I am also considering taking the sleeve off and re-doing if it is going to get out more, and will wait till the marks on the front (where the pockets were) become less noticeable (or see if they will).  

McCalls 7520 - pauline trigere coat - remake coat to a coat

There was only one real issue and that was when we left the cafe, some big droplets of rain fell from the awning outside on to the coat and it soaked immediately and made the coat look very stained, the marks dried and disappeared off in 20 minutes but looked so so grubby when it was wet – and as it rains a lot here, I was wondering on the practicalities.  The coat was fine when it drizzled so I don’t know if somehow this coat was washed with detergent of some sort to make it so absorbent? or if this can happen anyway with camel shades …… coat is now resting in my wardrobe for a few weeks and I will steam it again to see if the pile lifts up from where the pockets were, if it does, then I think I will consider re-setting sleeves………..

pillar to post, cardigan to poncho

Some years ago, I learned how to crochet properly.  and the one thing about crochet, for me at least is, it instills patience, and shows that all mistakes can be undone.  Another nice thing about crochet is that you are making the garment and fabric up at the same time and if you crochet in the round, you can try on as you go and wear when you do the last stitch!  

Crochet turned out to be easier than I thought, the big bit is learning to hold the yarn correctly, its like the tension control of a sewing machine, (thanks to Collette Burke for showing me that) and after mastering that and the chain stitch, my sister Eithne (a left handed crochet-er) showed me the double and treble stitch – all you need is to know are the 2 stitches, and everything else is a variant after that.  

I was very precious of all pieces crocheted at first but over time, if I didn’t wear them, they were frogged and remade to something else,all garments becoming functional storage for yarn!  It is not to difficult to unmake a homemade item, but its a bit trickier to undo a store bought, so I rarely try.  When I saw this cardigan in the charity shop I was drawn to the quality of the yarn , the cardigan was a bit pulled in places, and also.had a stain, but when you unravel yarn, these parts can be taken out then.  This cardigan yarn was quite luxurious being a mix of cotton, silk and linen, so it would drape well (cotton) and have some warmth to it (silk) and yet have a coolness (linen) – the best of all three, so worth a try.  

It came apart well enough, there was some yarn lost due to a strange stain on sleeve that didn’t come out.  The cardigan was machine knitted with two shades of yarn (you can see there is a small piece beside the balls of yarn), the darker yarn stayed at the front and the lighter to the back so when it unravelled, I got the two yarns together so its more of a tweed effect.  I could have split them back into two, but that would have halved the amount so I thought the tweed would be fine for a multi-functioning poncho wrap, and perfect for my sister Eithne who is blond and suits these shades, and also dislikes wool (in scarves as they can be scratchy), and likes the drape of cotton, and has some very early morning starts this winter.

so with the help of buttons,  its now a shrug, poncho, cardigan, scarf combo…………………the photos below were taken in natural light, so are slightly darker, whereas the ones on top were taken with flash so are lighter.  the silk in the yarn reflects light easily.

If you wish to have a copy of this pattern, please use the contact form and include your email address and I will forward it to you –please note this pattern is a first draft.  I have put it in chart format as I prefer charts. I have done some small charts of the pattern, and not the full thing, so you can increase the diamond pattern to the amount you would prefer.  There are written instructions for the charts on the last page.


the dreamstress deco echo – scarf to top

the dreamstress deco echo - upcycle scarf to top

the dreamstress deco echo - upcycle scarf to top

Strictly speaking this was not a scarf to a top, but it was an intended scarf/wrap and then it languished in the stash.

I had seen this blouse/top a few times on line while I was looking up 1930ls blouses and came across this lovely site – The dreamstress.

It is a very effective pattern for using up small amounts of ‘precious fabric’.  I had a metre of tie dyed silk devore, and I had cut in half along the centre as at one time I intended to make a wrap (this has been in the ‘curated’  stash for over 10 years – good grief).  I used the devored half to make this top. (the other half will be a  used for a smocked top – I hope).  

Its a cute top, and as its made from rectangles – pretty quick to assemble – which is a nice change as I seem to have found some lengthy projects lately which are taking longer than they should!

issey miyake – one and one more (dress to a top)

issey miyake vogue 1142 refashion upcycle dress to top pleats

There are so many brilliant blogs online, and some many tallented makers, more often than not, I want to ditch what I am making and make what they have shown, and this happened after I saw the Issey Miyake top some time ago on Handmade by Carolyn..  The fact that it wears well tucked in and out, was a bonus, and it had an effortless quality about it.  I wasn’t sure it it would suit me, but it had such a simple look, I figured it was worth a go.  

I made the blue top some time ago,   It was an inexpensive polyester, and has a peach-skin finish.  I top stitched the folds, as in Carolyn’s blog, and while it was tedious, it is also very practical.  It launders a dream, the top photographed on mannequin is just out of laundry with no ironing.  It is incredibly comfortable to wear (and I would agree with Carolyn comment of it looking very ‘arty’), and I have worn it a lot, and thought it could be good to try and make up another, my sister had commented that the front opening would look better if the opening was not as low down, and I also had the tension a bit tight on the top stitched pleats. 

issey miyake vogue 1142 refashion upcycle dress to top pleats

 When I re-read the post from Carolyn’s blog, and read the comments,  one comment mentioned permanent pleating and showed a photo of her own pleating (which looked amazing), so I decided I would make another one with no top stitch in silk (bit risky on silk as it seems its not the easiest to perma-pleat)

I had a purple silk dress to refashion.  Its a dress I got years ago, and haven’t worn for a long time, so thought it would make a good candidate for another top.Basically it is a pinafore style dress with soft pleats at top and each side of the dress was the exact amount of fabric I needed for top!

issey miyake vogue 1142 refashion upcycle dress to top pleats

I made the purple top, hemmed, and put the front and back opening on each side, basted the pleats and pressed them (see below), I bar-tacked the pleats and did the side seams, the shoulder seam, and removed the basting.  The pleats move so beautifully and the fall of the pleats work so well, and really shows the fabric at it’s best.  I am now trying to find an excuse to make another polyester top with permanent pleats, as in the ‘pleat test’ this came up the best.  

The Pleating

issey miyake vogue 1142 refashion upcycle dress to top pleats

The solution I used is about 50:50 vinegar to water.   After basting,  I spritzed the silk well, put a press cloth over and spritzed that, and pressed till dry, and repeated.  Both pieces were done flat on a folded duvet cover on the kitchen table, and both pieces were left for a few hours resting after pressing.  I did a quick press the following day on a polyester scrap and silk scrap – they got half the treatment of the silk and then only rested for 10 minutes before being gently hand washed .  The polyester held the crease very well (i gave a final press at a high temperature), the silk not so well, but the crease marks could be seen, which meant they could be placed back while the silk was damp.  (As I tend to spot clean/hand wash and steam clean silk – bought a whirlpool steam clean unit years ago, probably indulgent at the time, but after having it for more than 10 years, its brilliant – I figure the purple top should be easy enough to maintain?

felted school jumper to toasty toes

Some years ago, some school jumpers in my sister’s house got a bit too small too fast, my sister sourced another school jumper with less wool content (no wool), and I said that I would make something out of the felted ones – 4 years ago….. and I finally have.

make pair of slippers from felted jumper

I tried out some slipper patterns, and found a very good tutorial online (link here).  The first pair I used a school jumper and the sole was more jumper, 2 layers of curtain interlining, and a mock suede upholstery swatch I was also given a long time ago.   The tutorial online, the maker used some wool insulation, which looked brilliant, but I haven’t a clue where it could be got. 

make pair of slippers from felted jumper

These slippers were too light!  My toes were frozen, so I had to up the ante, especially a my old slippers I had been wearing were falling apart.  But when I looked at the old slippers I noticed they had a plastic-y underlay type layer in them, so slippers #2 had extra linings and underlay.  

make pair of slippers from felted jumper

Slippers #2 are super cosy, there is a layer of wool, interlining, underlay and suede and they are also wool lined.  As the soles were getting a bit thick, I machine stitched an outline on the base to keep all layers in place before I sewed uppers and soles together.  I blanket stitched one and machine stitched the other. The blanket stitched ones are probably more comfortable but now that I am wearing them I notice the difference less and less.  The became incredibly comfortable incredibly quickly and they are now the slippers I wear.

I was explaining to my nephew Alex how I had made slippers from old jumpers on the phone. Alex (10) was very skeptical so I asked if he wanted a pair, and slippers #3 are for him – I used some of slipper#1 so I would have 2 monograms (on very obviously off),  lined in the plaid from last weeks overblouse, and an extra layer of wool in the sole (so that is 2 layers wool, one underlay, one interlining, and one mock suede sole) should be super cosy.