Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Turning your Maya into a coat!

So, this post is back tracking slightly to my recent Maya coat and explaining a few things that are going on with my pattern development right now!

The sleeves on this coat modification are far from perfect as there are drag lines on the top sleeve seams and the more I looked at it, the more I wanted to correct it and turn this into an actual coat pattern. I have had such great feedback on this garment, so it seems like a natural progression to take, but at the same time I am also mindful of the fact that some of you may own the Maya pattern and want to make these same modifications still. Sooo, it is only fair that I run through how I got from a dress pattern to a coat!

Here's a few things you should know!
  • Additional to the main fabric, I also used iron on interfacing (medium weight) and bias binding
  • From the original pattern I used the dress front piece at the longest length with button placket, the dress back piece (same length), the button front neck facing and I made a front facing from the dress front. To do this I marked a line approx 15cm away from the centre front all the way down and cut it away from the pattern. I did this after cutting my coat fronts from the fabric, so I wouldn't be needing this pattern piece again (I sellotaped it back afterwards)
  • The centre front of the front pattern piece is still going to be the centre front of the coat, so snip into the edge of the fabric to mark where this should be. The overlap will be large enough to accomodate coat buttons.
  • Construction wise I sewed together all the pieces with plain seam 
I adapted the pattern to have sleeves using this guide I put together for the jacket. Mark a straight line from the shoulder down to create your desired top sleeve length. Square this line off and draw down for desired sleeve width (remember to include your seam allowance on both sides). Square this line off again and return back to the bodice blending into the side seam and creating a new underarm. Make sure to mirror the sleeve on both front and back pattern piece. Include enough of an allowance at the end of the sleeve to create a hem. I generally aim for a 3cm hem. The measurements on the below diagram were what I used for the jacket, so don't follow these exactly unless you want really short sleeves!

Once you've cut out your fabric from all of the pattern pieces listed above, iron on approx 5cm deep strips of interfacing to your bottom hems and sleeve hems. Interface the front facings and neck facing also at this stage. Do this before you sew (unlike me...). Do as I say not as I do!!!!

Machine stitch your top sleeve seams and press.
Machine stitch your side seams and underarm seams and press, but make sure to snip the underarm curve. You need to do this to release the taughtness. For pressing tips go back to the original post here.

You will want to bind your seams at this point. I do this after joining everything together so that I can catch those snipped bits between the binding. It is probably easier to use shop bought binding, but I used self-made binding in the exact same way as I am about to show you for the facings.

I bound everything with self-made binding, which is relatively simple to do. For the neckline facing I cut strips of fabric on the bias grain approx 4cm wide and sewed it to the outer edge of my piece right sides together.

I then pressed the seam flat and  turned it towards the back of the facing piece.

I then secured it all down by topstitching from the front for a really neat stitch.

This is how it looked front and back...

 I repeated this process for the long inside edge of the new coat front facing and then started attaching them to the coat. All seams were sewn with a 1.5cm seam allowance.

Lay the front facing on first, right sides together, and pin down the length of the coat followed by the neck facing on top. Line up the centre front notches (as per the original instructions) and machine stitch in place from the bottom hem, up, around the neck and back down the other side.

 Snip off corners and into curves on the neck edge.

 Bind the sleeve hem edges in a similar way to the facings, but start with a folded edge.

When you come back round to the folded edge overlap this with the binding and when you turn it back round the folded edge will be the join.

Like this...

Continue to press the seam, fold over and topstich in place as done previously on the neck facing.

I machined a few key areas down like the join of the front facing and neck facing. I have made use of existing pattern pieces as much as possible rather than create a traditional type of facing that would have combined the neck and front facing in all one piece, so I have machined the joints for added structure. I lay the coat flat, pinned where they overlapped and machined it down (only stitching through these pieces and not through to the front of the coat).

I also did this for the hem/front facing overlap.

I machine stitched the back neckline facing down too from shoulder seam to shoulder seam. I didn't continue to machine stitch the facing down on the front, but instead opted to hand stitch it down for a nicer finish. I wanted the strength on the back to support the hanging loop I had sewn on.

The only thing left is to press and hand sew the front facings/hem down and add buttons and buttonholes. Button placement and quantity is obviously down to personal preference, but just make sure that the buttons are sewn on the centre front line.


As previously mentioned, I am also working on this as a pattern. It's not far from being finished and although born from this idea is alot more refined and features a drafted lining, seperate sleeves, pockets and an optional collar, so if you don't want to make these mods and would like a proper pattern to follow then you won't have to wait too long!

Anyway, the rules I have applied to my pattern mods can be used for any dress pattern really if it has enough ease to be worn over clothes, so go and have a look at your pattern stash and see if they can become coats too!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Yellow denim delightful Delphine

I made a skirt this weekend and it makes me so happy, I'm almost scared to wear it for fear of ruining it!

Forgive the smug look on my face, but I found yellow denim!!! This to me is like the holy grail of fabric. I love bright denim and it don't get much brighter than this and all provided courtesy of my local fabricland (I don't mean that this was a freebie, as I did hand over cold hard cash). I bought it with a coat in mind actually, but as soon as I got home it's destiny became clear. It couldn't be anything other than a Delphine! For those who are unfamiliar, this is a skirt pattern from Tilly's book. It is so simple and perfect for a good hit of colour.

I cut a size 4 and made it without doing a toile, but tried on once seamed together and the fit is perfect! Well, actually, the waistband needs a little bit more shaping to the sides on me as my waist goes in a bit, but other than that it's just what I wanted. I did add 6cm to the hem I think, as I don't do above the knee very often and wanted to be able to wear it in the summer without tights

 I did not refer to the instructions for this, which is pretty standard for me, but instead ploughed on ahead as I would for anything made from denim. I drafted some pockets which are cut rather square and basically topstitched everything I could. I actually bought matching thread (something I NEVER do), so wanted to use as much of it as possible. The side seams are lap and fell whilst the back seam is plain and raw edges are bound with some bias strips. The binding and pockets are cut from a work shirt of my husbands which came out of the wash this week with a hole in the sleeve. I can't pretend I was too unhappy to relieve him of it!

The light was dreary when I was taking these photos and all colour was sapped, so I quickly went into photoshop to try and added some yellow back in. As you can see, a master of photoshop I am not, hence the strange hue.

Some divine inspiration hit me when I was installing the zip and I decided to sew it like this! I don't know why, but I just did and I like it! The zip is vintage and from my stash and was one of those great moments when project and zip combine! Unfortunately the inside is a bit of a car crash and I was going to cover those messy bits with some binding, but then went to bed and woke up in the morning and realised I could live with this as it is. If I were going to do a zip like this again, I would sandwhich the waistband section between the layers of fabric, but I'd already stitched these down when I started the zip and was apparently too lazy to go back and unpick. I wish I had now though!

Inside detail...

Apart from the zip, I'm pleased with the finish. Oh, except that maybe I regret slightly making my pockets blue and not white. The denim isn't see through as such, but there is a very slight shadow where the pockets are, but I don't think this will matter at the moment as I plan to only wear it with dark tights in the winter.

This is my second make from Tilly's book, although I'm surprised it's taken me so long to get around to this. Time seems to be flying by at the moment!

As for the yellow denim, it turns out there wouldn't have been enough for a coat anyway...

which meant I had to go back on Saturday and buy another couple of metres!!!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

My uh...Maya coat!

One word...Coat!

Warning, this a coat of extreme awsomeness! Not only does it create yet another use for my Maya pattern, but it is also the most 'actually' wearable coat I have ever made and the cheapest. Oh, and it's 99.9% completely sustainable too.

Past coats include this black, hooded number and my Albion, both of which are completely wearable, but the black thick wool coat is just a bit too chunky and warm for actually wearing sometimes, so often gets passed up. I walk everywhere as I don't drive and find it a faff to carry this and push a buggy if I get too hot! The Albion is another perfectly servicable coat, which I have worn, but it is not quite me. I've got a really nice Navy Petit Bateau jacket of a similar shape, so that one wins every time I'm afraid! Here's some more pictures of coat, before I start going on!

Could have pressed the back a bit first!

Although I had planned this coat in my head before starting, alot of things kind of fell into place along the way.

I used a vintage bedspread for my main fabric, which was picked up at a car boot sale for £1. It's one of two (£2 for the pair), so I've still got the other in the airing cupboard. I was planning on lining it (and did line it) with some of my market stall haul, but close to the point of finishing decided it looked too cheap and cut the whole thing out. The problem with this kind of bold design, I've found, is that it can start to look a bit 'dressing up box' if you add too much colour into the mix. Taking out the lining did affect how I was going to finish the inside of the coat though (obviously). Originally the seams were unfinished, but I ended up binding them all whilst the coat was assembled with some self made binding. A bit of a nuisance doing it this way, but not impossible!

Ooh, look at my hanging loop! It's made of leather and is from Merchant and Mills (my current favourite sewing shop). I ordered two, so still have another one to use, but feel I need a whole lot more!

Finding buttons was a big decision. I didn't want to use anything that wasn't already in my stash, but alot of my vintage buttons that were in the green/blue colour group seemed a bit too vintage looking. The ones I went for seem quite subtle to me and have a nice worn, scratchy surface. Also, there were 4 of them and that's what I wanted, so realistically that's what swung it! I contemplated bound buttonholes and handsewn buttonholes, but decided to use my machine. I'm more than happy with them, as the stitches really sink into the fabric. I was worried they make look a bit naff, but they are nice and stable, which I like. Can you see how I positioned the buttons with a motif? Nice!

 Another after thought was to add inseam pockets. I literally did this just before taking photos, as the thought of a coat without pockets just didn't seem right. The fabric was too chunky for patch pockets (I did try) or welt pockets, so I opted for inseam, made from the same brown voile I used for the binding. By using this thinner fabric I hoped to reduce the bulk on my hips and I only use them to put my hands in anyway. I rarely carry more than a tissue in my pockets.

Yes, I did sneak a little label onto the facing!

I love the vintage shape to this coat, which is formed by the loose a-line shape and the wide neck. This neckline may not be for everyone, but I always wear scarves in the winter, so won't let the chill in.

Sorry if I sound like I'm patting myself on the back a bit too much, but this is the most exciting thing I've made for ages (or since last week).

Now, I haven't done a tutorial as such for this, as I wasn't sure if there was much point, but if you have the pattern and would like instructions/pattern add-ons for turning it into a coat, then let me know and I'll pull together some seperate (free) instructions. I have several tips from this process I would like to share with you though.

First of all is the pressing of the seams. Thicker fabrics can bounce back on the seams when you press them, which is what a clapper is for. Basically you pump steam over the seam and then press the clapper straight onto it to force the steam out quickly leaving a really nice, flat seam. I don't have a clapper, but recently learnt that you can do this just as simply with a piece of card. Do exactly the same and blast the seam with steam and quickly cover the area with the card to push the steam out. Honestly, this is such a neat trick and you'll have amazingly well pressed seams.

 Next tip is to snip the underarm curve if you're adding kimono sleeves. It will pull awkwardly and not look right if you don't do this. I just made snips and pressed it and look how much they've stretched out!

Next up is how I added my self made binding. I don't know if this is what other people do, but this is how I did it for the facing.

I placed my 4cm wide strip edge to edge with the outer edge of the facing piece and stitched a 1cm seam allowance.

Next I pressed the seam flat from the top...

 and folded it back under the facing piece. I didn't press it again after this!

I just took it over to the machine and topstitched it down from the front. So stitched in the ditch???

So, it's nice and neat from the top and the raw edge on the back will eventually be hidden.

Ta dah!

I did handstitch the neckline facing, the front facings, hem and sleeve hems down so they wouldn't flap about, but decided to machine stitch the neckline facing down on the back of the coat only. I was just concerned that if I hung it up with the coat loop that it would pull on the fabric too much.

So there you have it! If you do want more information about turning a dress pattern into a coat then let me know in the comments and I'll rethink things!