Sunshiney Coat Sewing {Vintage Simplicity 8591}

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Do you remember that episode of The Great British Sewing Bee when Jade made that awesome vintage coat with 3/4 sleeves, cute collar and covered buttons? No? Just me? Well, from that moment on I had to have a coat like that. It was love.

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So when I was raiding my friend Phoebe’s pattern stash in Melbourne the other week and found this beauty, I almost did a little happy dance on the spot. Or maybe I just muttered ‘Heck yes’ to myself. I’ll never tell.

Since then my insta sewists have informed me that this pattern has been reissued as Simplicity 1197, so you can get your hands on it if you are that way inclined.

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As soon as I saw that pattern, my fabric stash flashed before my eyes and I knew exactly what I would use. This amazing yellow wool blanket for the outer and cotton sheet for the lining. Both vintage, both scored from op shops. Match made in heaven.

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Then, to complete the holy trinity, I found these vintage green buttons at another op shop on Monday. Bigger than anything I had in my stash, I knew they would be ideal for the coat. But how cool would it be if I could cover them in the sheet fabric? Could I? A quick google told me that I could and here we are in cute button heaven.

And even though it was still stupid hot today (hello, autumn) at a balmy 34 degrees, I just tortured myself by sitting with a woolen blanket in my lap most of the day. Sweating it out, sewing this beast. Once I have an idea in my head, there’s no stopping me. I’m stubborn that way.

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So, details. Every piece of the coat is vintage and scored from op shops, which I think is kind of special. As far as fit goes, it has its quirks. This pattern is for a 38 inch bust, which falls short of my 42 inches. But again, knowing how vintage patterns love their ease, I risked it and it’s completely fine. I love the fit actually. It’s quite possibly designed for a climate much colder than ours, therefore needing room for multiple layers. But since the most I’ll wear under this is a long sleeved t shirt, we’re all good there.

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Can we talk pattern matching? Because I was pretty successful with the front and sleeves, but failed on the back. Oops.

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See those raglan sleeves? They puzzled me at first, but I love them. They fit really well on my shoulders. I thought the darts were a bit weird, but they’ve grown on me. The only major change I made was to the length. If you look at the pattern illustration, it shows the coat hitting just above the knee – when I tried this baby on it was hitting about 10cms above my ankle. Um, what? Were women of the 60s amazing amazon women? I looked like I was wearing my dad’s dressing gown. So off came about 40cms. I could have made it shorter again, more just below waist level, but I’m happy enough with how it turned out.

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Welt pockets. OMG. First time attempting those sneaky bastards. I was trying to follow the directions on the pattern, but because vintage patterns assume errrrrrybody knows how to sew, the instructions left me throwing them and saying all the swears. I had a little google and found some good tutorials, but I figured the best way to learn was to just jump in. Jumping in is hecking scary when it involves slashing your fabric. So they aren’t the best. But they’re in. And I learned something. Sort of.

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The pattern calls for a lot of hand sewing. Basically the entire lining is hand stitched to the outer. LOL, no. I machine stitched it to the facings and then hand sewed the sleeves and hem. Again, sort of. I don’t really know what I’m doing and probably should have used a blind stitch, but I’m happy with how it turned out.

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My machine refused to auto do the buttonholes due to the thickness of the fabric, so they’re a heady combo of machine hack job and hand sewn hack job. Also I think maybe the sleeves should be shorter? Are they in the ‘oops she cut her sleeves too short’ zone? They look in line with the illustration, but I’m not sure.

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Thanks for reading such an epic post and sorry I look slightly drunk in most of the images today. Not sure what’s going on there. It has been an epic couple of weeks.

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The Great British Sewing Bra

I’m honestly not a reality show person, at all. Never have been. But there’s something so heart warmingly delightful about GBSB that drags me back in, season after season. The contestants are so bloody lovely and clever and NICE to each other. They could be having to hem a circle skirt and insert a zip within two minutes, but if someone else is struggling they drop what they’re doing to help. Or that’s what it looks like anyway. It might be the magic of TV. I love Claudia, the host who seems to know nothing about sewing but is absolutely hilarious. I love Patrick, because hnnngggpphhh. I find the newest judge, Esme, equal parts terrifying and amazing. I want to be her when I grow up.

In the latest season, the contestants had to sew a soft cup bra. In truth, this is what finally nudged me into actually opening the Pin Up Girls Classic Bra pattern I’d bought about 12 months beforehand. It was really inspiring to see the process behind sewing the bras, even if it was packaged into a neat 20 minutes and Joyce made a comment about who the hell would want to sew their own bras (me Joyce! ME). Knowing all this, you could imagine my excitement when I discovered there was a GBSB book, with lots of patterns included – even the bra! Woo! It had to be mine. So today, after having the book staring at me for about 4 months, I finally decided to give the soft cup bra a go. I’ve sort of been putting it further down my ‘Need To Sew’ list because I’m honestly more a wired bra kind of gal. Well, my boobs are. But since I’ve been getting into sewing swimwear lately, I thought I should try it out so I could potentially adjust it a bit to work as a bikini top. If nothing else, it can be my Sunday bra – you know, for the times you really should get dressed but can be arsed with proper stuff like wires. Or pants.

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Here’s a list of the stuff I used:

Great British Sewing Bee Book (and patterns).

Bra Kit from Measure Twice, Cut Once – containing lace, power mesh, picot elastic, strapping, metal findings, clasps etc. Fun side note: In a weird twist of small worldedness, Susan from Measure Twice is credited in the GBSB book. I KNOW.

Stretch dark grey tricot from Remnant Warehouse. They call it ‘Storm Cloud’. Fancy.

I traced out my pattern the way I always do – on cheapy interfacing first. You can get it in Spotlight as Trace and Toile. It’s around $2/m but they often have it on sale at $1/m. Totally worth the hassle, I guarantee it. I used to just cut my patterns, but inevitably something would be the wrong size and then I’d have a cry because I’d already cut into it. This way I have the original intact and can trace off any other sizes later down the track, whether it be for me or because I’m making a nice gift for someone else. I do that occasionally, I swear.

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Before I’d even started, I knew that I wanted this baby fully lined – both for extra support and so the seams would be enclosed. Previously I wouldn’t have cared, but I’m getting weird about that sort of stuff the further I get along in my sewing journey (I’m fully aware of how wanky that sounds). The scalloped edges of the lace are obviously not enclosed by anything, so I had to have a bit of a think about what to do about the raw edge of the tricot. In the end I just folded it over and stitched along the edge to create a little hem. Worked out quite well because clear elastic ends up being sewn along that edge anyway. Another type of elastic that fits into the category of ‘Not My Friend.’

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Something I found really odd was the lack of notches etc on the pattern pieces to tell you what matches where. I was glad I’d already sewn a few different bras, otherwise I would have found that really frustrating. First I sewed the cups together, lining and lace separately and then after that basted the hell out of everything and treated them as one piece.

Two lower cup pieces:

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Lower cups attached to upper cup portions:

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And then attached to the band:

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I will admit I read through the instructions once very briefly before running off on my own tangent, but after attaching the cups to the band I felt very blah about those exposed seams. My sewing isn’t the neatest, which I know doesn’t help and my machine was pretty keen on eating the lace so it all looks a bit like a dogs breakfast. I decided to take matters into my own hands and conceal them with underwire casing, as I have done in all the other bras I’ve made. The casing gets sewn to the cup seam allowance, then you trim the allowance before sewing down the other side of the casing. I finished the bottom band with elastic before I sewed down the rest of the casing though, otherwise I would have had trouble flipping up the picot elastic on the bottom band (because it’s so narrow). I thought the casing would make everything a bit sturdier too.

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Time for the elastic, which I find quite relaxing. Followed by attaching the straps and the clasps. I was eyeballing the back strap and it looked a bit long, so I wrapped it around myself and found it overlapped quite easily without the clasp. I took about an inch off either side of the band before attaching it. Bullet dodged.

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Done! Looks just like the picture if you ignore the insides. Ha.

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You can see the underwire casing here and I also ended up adding it to the side seams too. Covers my blerky raw edges.

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And on. Betcha glad you scrolled right to the end, eh? Sorry. Just had to prove that it works quite well. Glad that I lined the whole shebang. I promise I haven’t drooled on myself, that darker patch is a trick of the light.webdsc_1835Or is it? Guess we’ll never know. Would have been better if I’d actually faced the light, like you know, a photographer. Speaking of which, I’ve had a request for a ‘How to take better pics’ post. If you’re keen, let me know.