burda hi-viz purple coat

There were three reasons to make this coat –

  1. its a coat – I love coats
  2. the sleeve / elbow detail is unusual, and I liked the casual cut as well as it being sufficiently different from my other coats
  3. I had this purple hand-woven tweed, probably from the 80s for a long time. It’s a fairly full on shade, and I never knew quite what to do with it .

The pattern is from Burda September 2020. both the coat and the trousers made last Christmas caught my eye. I really liked the styling on the white one, as it had a sporty outdoorsy quality and perfect for my pretend outdoorsy aspirations of balancing on a boat somewhere on a river. One of the reasons I like to look though Burda patterns is they are nice simple cuts with not too many pieces. Tracing the patterns can be a bit inconvenient but still, its easier to me than sticking a4 pages together on a downloaded pattern.

Cutting –I had done a rough calculation, and was sure there would be just enough fabric….. However, there is always something I forget when laying out a pattern, and in this instance it was the facings and when it came to the cut, I did not have enough fabric. I ended up doing them in two pieces which I don’t really like doing, but ‘needs must’ and it did thankfully work out. I thought I had far more photos of the make but it turns out I only have this one of the joined front facing

Interlining – in the sewing press, I also had some knit interlining. I have it for years as I had a thought to try some outer wear (ie a sweater) with it, only to change my mind as it’s so flimsy. I decided to add interlining to the front and back only to give the coat some extra warmth.

Sewing – the sew was fairly straightforward. The sleeve is the main detail, and as I was sewing wool, sewing the curve was easy enough as wool is such an agreeable fabric. The closures are poppers so I covered the black poppers I had with the lining fabric. The sleeve is supposed to have a faced hem. I found the sleeve was longer than I anticipated, so I just turned it up. The faced hem would have been an option, but I can be a woeful lazy se-wer if I can ‘get away with it’. Having looked at the photographs, I can see that the sleeve hems still need to be steamed and rested.

Verdict – The overall cut of the coat is rather big, I cut a 14 but this did come out larger than expected – on the other hand I can wear large winter sweaters with it. If I was to make it again, I would probably make it a fraction smaller on the shoulders to bring up the curved seam detail higher towards the elbow, although I have been told (by friends) it’s fine, and it’s an 80s style cut. (I am still not fully convinced) I do find the coat very comfortable to wear, and don’t think it’s as ‘big’ as when I first wore it. Although now that I look at the photos, I still think it could be bigger than I want…. (the colour of this is hard to describe – the indoor photo with orange sweater is probably nearest the true colour)

That being said, I find the coat so comfortable to wear and just the right weight, so am happy to leave it as is for the moment. I am also glad I waited for the right pattern for the fabric. The funny part is I have received random compliments on the street which I now find amusing – the ‘norm’ now when strolling around the town, can be to have random casual short conversations./passing comments (ie lovely day etc) with strangers and its totally okay and rather a comfort in these isolating times…. and some of recent ones have been random compliments in passing ‘that coat is a gorgeous colour’ ‘I just love your coat’ etc which I am obviously chuffed with. I have taken to calling it my ‘hi viz’ coat, as it really is bright, and a nice colour for this time of year.

I was also glad to get the coat made – as this whole lockdown turned quite a lot on its head, including my making and buying habits, it was good to just make something in a whole new style and colour and use up fabric I already had. I had slowed down making in the past few years, as I like what I make and wear it, so subsequently my wardrobe is pretty much fine (except for perimenopause effect on dress size – where I have been altering or tweaking).

These lockdowns, and especially recently working from home have shown a few home truths. It turns out I am not as resilient as I thought and I am a bigger hoarder than I admitted. I had gotten into the habit of just picking stuff up from charity shops justifying I could redonate, whereas all I was doing was shopping, redonating and hoarding. I was rather surprised on how the time has passed these last 11 months…or should I say drifted. I thought I would use my time differently (only got to lesson 4 on beginners French). I still have not recovered the sofa (the project that is now going on 10 years) but do have it half covered since August. so who knows, maybe 2021 could be the year of the covered sofa – it really better be – especially as I have picked up a second-hand armchair online (which cannot be collected until April as it’s 100 miles away) which appears to also need a new cover.

Other than that – the last finished sew was pants…. I tried the jersey shorts from the ‘Secrets of Sewing Lingerie’ book from old tee shirts that were to go to the textile recycle (they were pretty raggy) – I used some colour elastic I had here as I didnt have stretch lace

New Coat New Year

I have been working on some upcycled knits for Fashion Revolution week this year, so a lot of sewing is getting put to one side for ‘after April’.

I had been meaning to make a new coat for a while and had a navy 80s ‘Jimmy Hourinan’  (high end Irish clothing brand) coat that I was looking forward to remaking. I had bought the coat 2 years ago in the charity shop. It was a generous 80’s cut and beautiful fabric (wool cashmere – so light and so warm) and sadly it also would have originally been at least 12 inches longer. Someone donated the coat cut to a shorter length and pins still in it!

Its hard to describe the cut and the photograph does not fully show (as I took these photos late evening 2 years ago). The sleeves were a low cut doman/raglan, and there was a generous collar. The front of the coat shaping is a ‘princess seam’. When I took the coat apart and there was less fabric than I had hoped. I had hoped to get a funnel neck coat or asymentric coat (and few contenders), but as the length was no longer there my options were limited.

I always think it is ultimately best to find a pattern with similar lines and work from there.

The Butterick pattern I had seemed to have this as it has a simple cut, raglan sleeve and I could potentially ‘squeeze’ in the neckline. The neckline here is a subtle funnel neck with a nice front detail. The sleeve heads were shorter because of the neckline (and the original sleeves were shorter because of the big cuffs).

I adapted this butterick pattern to include a seam down by moving the ‘french’ dart to a bust dart and then put a seam down from the dart point, and incorporating the coats original seam here.

I graded it out a bit here and there as the fit of the coat is slim. I used the front seam to keep the pockets in-seam as in the previous coat. The pockets are smaller than the original coat as one panel was moved up to accommodate the neckline.

win_20181201_14_38_17_pro

 

One the pattern was drafted and cut, it was relatively straightforward, except for

-there was a notch/cut in the previous centre back seam which I did not notice until after so I had to darn it after.

-the sleeves needed a small cuff added to make it longer.

Took these photos of it a month ago on Christmas Day

 

there were five buttonholes and five buttons when I got the coat. I took the coat apart and had everything stored well.

The cut incorporated the original 5 button holes but could only find four buttons!

so I omitted the lower one and I am waiting for it to reappear in my workroom, which I do hope is soon as anytime someone admires the coat I inevitably point out the missing button…. why do we do this!!!

 

so many plans – so many patterns

It is also technically still winter  (Met Eireann/our weather board class December January and February as winter in Ireland) so I also see it as a time of semi-hibernation and taking it easy – January is definitely my tiredest month, probably because if also feels like the darkest one.

So rather than try and make a tonne of stuff (as if) I figured it would be a lot more productive to get all my favourite patterns that I actually own (as opposed to covet on etsy) and make a top ten to sew for the year from comfort of the sofa. So gathered em up, and then whittled down to a few that I have clothes that could be remade this year. (I do also have plans for a few self drafted ones too).

And the top picks werevogue 1

I am not too sure if I will get a make with this one. I love this era of Vogue illustration, and had been thinking of a high neck blouse as an alternative to polo necks. I also have a flimsy chiffon ‘play suit’ which may work if I try a sleeveless version of this? otherwise I am sure there a few other contenders I can try.

hollywood

The hollywood pattern I have a long time. I was full sure I was going to make it straight away when I got it, but no….it has languished. The main attraction was that the top uses little fabric, and I have some of my ‘precious’ silks that can get used here.

vogue 2The Vogue blouse I got before  Christmas. I was also given this stripe skirt by a friend, I am not too sure if I will make the sleeved version from the stripes, so I am also thinking of maybe a plain colour ……..vogue sybi

Sybil Connolly blouse, I have wanted to make a Sybil Connolly pattern sometime. I am a bit fascinated by her (especially after seeing her tweed patchwork full length 1950s skirt) so I am trying this blouse as I have an odd polka dot dress which I have not got a clue what to do with.

coats and jkt

Style Arc – Katherine Daze made this coat, and when I saw her coat I thought the ‘Jimmy Hourihan’ coat I had waiting could be used. I really have not a clue if it will work as I took the coat apart ages ago and its folded away…..

Vogue Moto Jacket – I thought some wool mens jackets could be upcycled with this one.

Simplicity Coat Pattern – I have a navy wool coat which is waiting a long time, and it has similar lines.

blaire

Style Arc Shirt – I only picked up this pattern to save on some postage when I bought the other. I have some cream silk shirts to re-cut, and thought to use them here, and a chance to use up more of the squirreled away silks

vogue 3

I hope to try this vogue pattern with a taffeta bridesmaid dress I was given

advance

I also have a charity shop wedding silk suit…….Its amazing the amount of flouncy-fancy-only worn-once-pieces that are in the charity shops, and I thought this Advance pattern could work here.

simp

The one I am working on (slowly) at the moment is this cute top- The pattern was a gifted trace that I have been meaning to make up for ages. I got this raw silk bridesmaid skirt (I assume) last month. I adored the colour and was rather impressed with the amount of bias in the fish-tail skirt, perfect for the collar.

I have a few more self drafted patterns to test out and share….but for the moment, I am in no rush!

It has been a good way of getting a plan going for the year, as I got to tidy away the pieces and patterns I won’t be working on and have the ones I will work on to the fore….

And I also got to fold my stash of charity shop buys….(a good start is half the job)

sew cupboard

 

embroidered wool coat

I don’t know if this is a general habit for others, but often if I am working on a long/boring/difficult project I start to plan a nice/interesting project in my head and this project becomes the treat that I can look forward to.  So while I was plodding away with the Irish dance costume, wondering when it would all end….. I was planning to embroider this coat on the left below.

embroidered red coat

The coat is a nice quality wool, and in its day, it would have been a mid-range coat with a basic (ie not satin) lining, although the wool by contemporary standards is excellent.  It had the 80s shoulders (big), a generous cut in all (I think everyone wore big jumpers in the 80s too).  It didn’t sell for €20 didn’t sell for €10 and I bought it at €2.  I was never too sure on the colour as it was a dull rust red so I left it for a while until I figured what pattern to use for it.

I used simpliciy pattern 6733.   The cut is similar to the one I drafted last year, but the simplicity pattern has no darts, and a bit more generous in the cut, and I managed to squeeze it in.  The cut was quick enough – centre front and buttonholes and pockets carefully lined up and cut (and useful to have them all done) – back equally easy to line up.  The sleeves were a squeeze and I find this each time I recut a coat, so as long as I got 2cm past hem line, I could do a faced hem!  The collar was part cut from collar and I cut as short as I could so I would have sufficient fabric for a hood.

I dithered over the design.  Originally I was going to go with one colour only and do a grid of this motif, but it did look and feel a bit bland – a friend of mine suggested the scale of the design was insignificant got me thinking a bit more and I went searching for a another motif so with some other tiny scraps I did another test using this new motif, and loved it as the red and pink seemed to lift the colour and I could do some borders also.  I used motifs from embroideryonline.com.   Originally I was going to try and do a tiled design but once I did the finished the large motifs and placed the half motif I figured it looked a bit busy so left it.  The coat  has 2 borders – one in red, and the other in brown, and there are 8 large motifs around.  The sleeves just have the borders, and I used standard sewing thread for the embroidery.

embroidery  samples

final motifs for embroidered coat

Out of the left over fabric, I recut some back and side facings, and reused the lining, and also cut a hood.  I did not re-cut the lining as the cut was so similar to the coat itself, I just took it in a bit at sleeve head and sides.  I did use some gross-grain ribbon on the hem to give a make a bigger hem, and I like the way the ribbon looks on the inside – I also put my label on the lining with the original! (these are school labels – and I am finding them useful especially for knits so I know the back and front!).  The hang loop was reused.

 

 

The hood was a tighter cut, and I had tried to make it more dramatic originally, but when I tried it on I did not like the bigger hood at all, and as the idea of the hood for me is practical, the bigger hood has less weight and would probably blow off occasionally so I trimmed it and had to use some embroidered scraps in the edging.  I put poppers along so its not detachable.

embroidered coat with hood and without

Verdict- so delighted with the coat and wearing it loads.  This red, despite my original misgivings,  is a perfect shade, and the embroidery seems to ‘lift’ it.   It nicely replaced last years red coat which I did not wear that much as the red was a bit overwhelming for me.

I did a stall at a local market and sold some makes and last years red coat was sold.  It a great shade but too bright for me.   The stall was a bit of an experiment as sometimes donating back makes to the charity shop potentially increases their workload, and it could be interesting to find out what people think of the remakes directly.  I priced the makes at secondhand clothes prices – as charging labour time would have been unrealistic,and I wanted to clear the excess makes.  I see these makes as sample sews and considering doing a stall occasionally in the future as I like the making but sometimes I make more than I wear and and sometimes, I make for an experiment.

 

a coat for a fiver

So theres a coat, reduced from 20 to 10 to 5….. its wool cashmere, no pocket shaping dart getting in the way, long, navy, and although a mans coat, there was sufficient fabric around the hips for a remake.  I got this coat last spring and put in to the ‘to do’ side.

remake a coat upcycle a coat



There a a few things I have found useful in remaking wool coats

1.  A size 10 will never make a size 12.  This is an obvious one, but sometimes my enthusiasm makes me think I can.  For me, generally, the best way to use up the fabric effectively  is to work with the same style, and also the easiest.  A raglan sleeve is best left a raglan sleeve. I also choose in this case to keep the pockets.  I had originally thought to take these out and try and conceal a dart in this line, but I also thought why not just do it the easiest way.  


2.  Steam and rest fabric.  After taking the coat apart, I brushed and steam ironed each piece.  I sometimes use a water vinegar spray to help lift the pile and flatten some pressed seams and creases.  Then if the fabric is rested overnight, so it can relax back into shape very well indeed.  This I should have done, but I was a bit impatient and only left it for a few hours, and paid for it when I put in the facings!


3.  New lining is probably best.  In general the lining is often not worth reusing and it is difficult to recut, and I can reuse it in smaller projects.   I reused this as it looked so warm and was in good condition, and had loads of inside pockets.  However, I did have a twist in the recut sleeve linings, it doesn’t show when wearing, but the seam is skewed on the inside and I only found this out after it was sewn, so I unpicked the sleeve lining hem, and let it hang naturally, repinned, resewed.  Who knows if this was my cut or the old lining, but if faced with same dilemma again, I would re-cut the sleeves from fresh lining..  The last jacket I tried a cotton sheet for lining and it was not warm . Also, the slash for the slit in the original coat was left and I just did a patch repair.  As its a ‘casual’ coat, I am not overly bothered.


4.  Press and rest as you go.  It really makes a difference.  It was an Ann Ladbury tip from ‘Clothes that Count’ where she suggested when you have finished making your coat, to give it a final steam and light press, and then to put it on a dress form overnight so it could relax into its new shape.  I tend to do this as much as I can after each sewing session also, and had to do extra for all the in-betweens for this coat to compensate for the rushed start.

I had rushed the beginning of this coat as I had hoped to wear it to a lunch with my sister and in the end, I didn’t as I had to rework one or two areas over my rushed start.  The facings were a problem as it was a mans coat so I used the buttonhole facing on the button side (ladies side) so I zig-zag closed the small bit of button hole that was visible as the popper covers it pretty much..  I decided to go with covered poppers as closures.  As the one with the silver sticky out bit was more attractive, I left this facing out, and I have poppers done both ways on various coats. 


I used the collar for the neck facing and its clunky but serviceable.  I was trying to save as much fabric as I could for the detachable hood.  


so the coat was a fiver, I reused the lining, and the poppers cost a whole SIX euro!!!.  I love the coat, its perfect.  The hood is great, but as the autumn weather has been bright and dry I have been wearing it without, and I prefer the coat without the hood, but if its raining, hoods are much handier than hats or umbrellas so its great to have the option.

and finally, my friend Cathriona took some photographs…. a gazillion thanks as I am a rather impatient subject!