Archive for the ‘Coats/Capes/Wraps’ Category

Folkwear Wearable Blanket

January 14th, 2021 2 comments

It’s winter, it’s Covid, it’s time to huddle, and wearable blankets, otherwise known as “ponchos”, are everywhere, and mostly meh and so large as to be unmanageable. Like a lot of people now, I, too, want to hibernate until it’s all over — define “all” however you like — so obviously I needed a day wear blanket.

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Categories: 2020, Coats/Capes/Wraps, Covid Tags:

Copy Caftan

November 29th, 2020 2 comments

In a mis-guided attempt to lean into the leisure-at-home that characterizes this Covid year, I decided to make a caftan. I dreamt of gliding gracefully through the day — or at least an evening — wrapped in a flowing cloud.  Serene.  Relaxed.  In, as it were, another world.  A not-2020 world.

This did not entirely go to plan.

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Categories: 2020, Coats/Capes/Wraps, Covid Tags:

Papercut Sapporo Coat

September 28th, 2020 No comments

First of all, this is a review of the old pattern, and the corrections to it made by Papercut, not the re-issued new version. Secondly, the coat is wonderful; the pattern (and “correction”) is a hot mess. Let me count the ways.

I was dreading making this pattern. By the time I began thinking seriously about using it, Mie of Sewinglikemad had written an extensive critique of it, detailing a batch of critical errors and omissions. These included pattern parts which didn’t match up, missing seam allowances, a useless lining pattern, and poor instructions. In the aftermath, it became clear that Papercut had been deflecting previous criticisms, and had otherwise ignored these issues as they were brought up by customers.


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Categories: 2020, Coats/Capes/Wraps, Covid Tags:

Simplicity 1775: Cape

February 23rd, 2014 4 comments

This is one of those patterns with two numbers.  Here’s 1775, with a cluttered, uninteresting envelope graphic

and here’s 0311, with the trendy buffalo plaid, and the silly accessories marginalized

I made my cape out of PUL, the laminate that JoAnn sells in their strange little diapering department.  PUL is a polyurethane laminate; in this case, it’s probably bonded to polyester; the fabric itself is a knit.

Instead of making the tie, I shortened and interfaced the belt, added wide hook-and-loop fastening, and used two over-sized buttons as a faux closure. The belt’s a little loose here; it’s a very nice feature, though, and gives the cape a slim line.

The length and proportions were right for me.  I wanted the cape to cover my tush, so that I could wear leggings with it. Tall people might want to alter that — the length is the same for all sizes, and if it’s just right for 5’2″ me, it may be far too short for average height, or taller, people.

The pattern calls for a lining, but I wanted this cape to be as light as possible, to make stowing it in a bag easy. To finish it, I turned the edges, and coverstitched:

The white laminate leaves the impression of a lining, and the coverstitch makes it all look deliberate.

I thought that the PUL would be difficult to work with; it wasn’t, except for turning the belt casing. In that case, the material tended to cling to itself. Folding and stitching could have solved that problem, but, as the belt is wide, I was able to turn it by keeping at it, patiently.

Pinning is a bad idea when sewing PUL, though theoretically possible if you stick to the seam allowances, as you must when sewing leather or leather-like synthetics. For the hem, I used binder clips:

These are “smalls” and “minis”, which I used liberally, to make sure the hem curves stayed in place.

This method worked perfectly, and the clips left no marks. I found this container at the office supply store, which lets me keep the clips sorted by size, and minimized the mess while working with them:

The pattern has some nice features: the facing pieces have only two sizes, so it’s actually possible to see the cutting lines; the ink on the tissue pattern is dark, and very easy to see and use (unlike the very pale inks sometimes encountered with the rest of the big four companies); and there’s an extra, appreciated, touch to the design — belt loops in the back:

The belt circles around the back, goes through the loops, and then into two “buttonholes”, along the torso, then out two more “buttonholes” in the front. This holds the cape close to the body, making it much easier to wear than an unrestrained cape. The sides are wide, enough, though, that my arms don’t feel too constrained while wearing it.

The PUL material is somewhat breathable, but we’re not talking Gore-Tex here. It is light and flexible, which made it a good choice for a cape that will spend much of its life folded, only to be brought out in an emergency. The pattern called for topstitching all around the bottom edges of the facing, but the PUL was  not going to cooperate with that, so I settled for edgestitching around the neckline.


In another concession to the fabric, I didn’t do machine-made buttonholes; instead I faced (and interfaced) rectangular, buttonhole-sized cuts in the material, turned the facing, and edgestitched all around. It’s a cleaner look, and should wear better.

The inside facing just floats; that works fine in this material.


I wasn’t brave enough to do the same for the button at the neck edge, though (or for those on the belt). At the neck, I simply made an ordinary buttonhole. I doubt it will wear as well, but dealing with all the layers of cape, interfacing, seam junctions, and facing was just too daunting.

There’s a separate hood pattern included, but it’s basically a rectangle, and I wasn’t tempted to make it. If I want a hood, I’ll draft one myself, or I’ll look for one with shaping.  An over-sized rectangle isn’t very pleasant to wear, or manage, in rain.

Printing two envelopes is kind of a waste of ink, isn’t it? And/or effort? And using two numbers is confusing, isn’t it, especially if you’re looking for reviews . . .

Categories: Coats/Capes/Wraps Tags:

Decades of Style 5006: 1950s Stole

January 22nd, 2014 6 comments

For a long time, I’ve wanted something stole-like that I could wear to spruce up basic travel outfits, and which would work as a personal wrap on a plane.  When I saw Decades of Style’s 1950s stole, I knew I had to make it.

dcstlSee that cool little arm flap on the right?  That’s what sold me!  However, as you’ll see, things didn’t turn out exactly as I expected, though the end result is very much what I wanted.


The pattern has only four pieces — one of which is sewn to the border of a large piece.  So there’s the front, back, and the wrist flap; the only tricky part is keeping the pieces sorted out once they were cut.  I took a tip from Jillly Be’s excellent post about her own Decades of Style stoles, and marked each piece (and its right side) with tissue paper.


This is particularly important because the pattern pieces aren’t symmetrical.  Nor is the construction intuitive, so I highly recommend not skipping this tip! Also, it’s very important to note that the main fabric is cut RIGHT side up, but the lining is cut WRONG side up; a rather critical instruction that was apparently left out of earlier printings.

My fabric is a lap robe rescued from an IKEA “as-is” bin.  (Gotta love IKEA!)  In some respects, this material is the worst possible for a stole — it’s extremely subject to pulling and forming awful loops, so I’ll have to keep my eye on it and catch them as they occur.  On the other hand, I fell in love with the fabric’s light weight, its soft texture, and the excellent tones, which will work perfectly with every color in my winter travel wardrobe.


The flap that I was so thrilled about (so 50s!) covers an opening in a seam between the upper back and the lower back.  You’re meant to wear the stole with a wrist slipping though it.  As well as that may have worked at social events in the 1950s, when women may have delightedly posed for effect while conversing — cigarette poised in holder — at cocktail parties, that wasn’t going to fly in my life in the 21st century.  I need that arm!


dc-nk(Yeah, that lining hasn’t recovered from being crumpled in a packing cube.)  Jilly Be also wrote about being concerned about the wearability of this stole.  In an amazingly courageous act, Jilly added buttons and buttonholes to one side so that the wrap would stay in place.  I followed her sensible example, but sewed over-sized snaps under the buttons.  No way was I brave enough to put buttonholes in this material!

A secondary advantage of adding the closures is that it makes it much easier to figure out how to put on the stole.  That’s surprisingly difficult the first few times it’s done, but using the buttons for orientation is very helpful.  (The lining is a satin backed with cotton, for a little extra warmth and heft.)

Mr. Noile and his mother — we were visiting the parents when I sewed this up — took one look at the flap and suggested I turn the opening into a pocket.  Brilliant!


That’s exactly what I did.  It was an after-market hatchet job, and not at all elegant, but it worked perfectly anyway.  I cut the pocket from lining material, added a zipper so that nothing would fall out (and to support that seam when the pocket was in use), and tacked it into place behind the flap by hand.

My e-reader just fits in the pocket; I wouldn’t walk around with it in my pocket, but it will be really convenient to have a safe place to stash it while traveling, since I’ll be able to put the reader down safely while briefly doing something else, like eating.  I hate using airline back-seat pockets, not only because they are probably filthy (used diapers, anyone?), but also because stashing anything there increases the chance I’ll leave it behind.

The pattern is terrific, and I highly recommend it.  Beware, though, that this is a midriff-hugging stole; the drawing is quite accurate.  It will cover your bust, but nothing below.  If I make it again (and I might, in a more durable linen), I may increase the front length.

Sizing is atypical, which you’d expect from a vintage pattern.  Following the chart, my correct size probably should have been A, but I made B instead, which was just right for my slight-ish C bust frame; size A was right for my frame, but a little tighter than I liked across the bust, and there wasn’t enough difference, otherwise, between the sizes to require alterations.

Categories: Coats/Capes/Wraps Tags:

Burda 6992 — Asymmetrical Cape with Bat-Wing Sleeve

December 7th, 2013 1 comment

This is one of those garments I really should have drafted on my own.  It looks simple, and it is. But Burda offered a few details I really coveted, and wasn’t sure I could get right without a lot of experimentation, so I bought the pattern.


I love the bat-wing sleeve (it’s on the left in the photo below).  I wear mine reversed (and that’s how it is on my dummy, too) since I am right-handed and would rather have the fitted sleeve on my dominant arm.  There’s an opening in the drape on the right for the left arm of the wearer, but no sleeve, and it’s this asymmetry that I found so appealing.  There are just two pattern pieces: a rectangle, which, optionally, can have a longer, slanted, hem, and a triangular piece that forms the sleeve for the right arm.


Here’s a side view of the sleeve.  I really like the geometry of this wrap, and the added interest from the angled hem.  On the right, the garment ends at the high hip, but dips to below the knee on the other side.  Or much longer:  I removed several inches all around.

bsw-slvThere’s a drafting error or two: one set of notches does not meet up, and one side seam is longer, not intentionally, and doesn’t end where its mate does.  Correcting this is simple; just lop off the longer edge.  (This is a different matter than the intentional, extra, length of View A.)  That’s very sloppy, especially considering how simple this pattern is in the first place.

Because of the way the sleeve falls, the back looks quite a bit different from the front.  Eventually, I’ll try to get some pictures up showing the cape worn; I’m not sure these really do it justice.


One thing to keep in mind when making this pattern is this:  It looks as if varied sizes are included in the envelope. In fact, there’s even a size/yardage table on the back. But this is a one-size-only pattern; close scrutiny reveals that the yardage is the same for all sizes.

I half-followed Burda’s directions, until I realized that they seemed to be complicating what was, in reality, a pretty simple project.  I found the directions completely baffling — which is really ridiculous, since there’s nothing very complicated here at all.

No, Burda, one size does not fit all from size 8 to size 24 — especially if it’s an over-sized pattern to begin with!

I don’t wear the smallest Burda size, but if I’d left this pattern unaltered, I would have found it unwearable.  I trimmed this baby everywhere, and raised the neckline, too, so I wouldn’t swim in it.


However, when I altered the neckline, the combination of the one Burda direction I followed and my alteration left me with an opening in the neck edge, on the left shoulder.   Since it didn’t look terribly out of place, I could have left it.  Or I could have sewn it shut, which would just have continued the seam line on the rest of the garment.  Instead, I decided that a decorative button and loop were called for.


That’s a hair band, cut to size, looped around the button.  (Hair accessories:  Best source of colored elastic bands anywhere!) I’m not sure whose mistake this was, Burda’s or mine, but it worked out just fine.

The fabric is a bouclé that’s very similar to a silk and rayon one I love.  This one has the same weave (though different colors), but is probably an acrylic blend.  The texture is visually interesting  (and there’s some rayon there in the bulky yarns, which are softer than the rest of the weave), but it’s ever so slightly on the stiff side. That’s probably a plus, since it’s also less fragile than my beloved silk/rayon bouclé.

Before assembling the cape, I carefully zig-zagged all around the edges of each piece, to prevent ravelling and distortion. This probably isn’t the “right” thing to do if you’re doing couture sewing, but was a sensible thing to do for this project.


All the seams are bound with a Hong Kong finish, which lends some structural stability to a fabric that inherently has little.  In order to reduce the appearance of bulk on the outside of the garment, I lightly hand-stitched the seam allowances to the body of the garment, ensuring that they would lie flat instead of bunching.  For this fabric, simply pressing the seams open would have been ineffectual over the long term.


The stitches are very loose so that the seam allowance will “float” instead of pulling at the material and distorting it.

The verdict:  The pattern is pretty awful, but the results quite satisfactory. I’m not sorry I bought the pattern; I just think it’s a little ridiculous that I still had to essentially re-work the whole thing in order to use it.

Feet I used to make this cape included:


the seam guide with IDT;


the quarter-inch right guide foot;


and the narrow edge foot for stitching-in-the-ditch.

I thought I’d like this cape well enough, but it turns out that I love it!  However, anyone tempted to make it should be sure to check out the sizing before cutting, check the neckline (too big for me, but I suspect too small for the larger end of the size range), and beware that there is one point (marked “2” I think?) where the ends of the two pattern pieces will not meet correctly.  A tissue fitting will identify all these issues, and all are easily corrected.

Categories: Coats/Capes/Wraps Tags:

Guest Garment

September 5th, 2012 6 comments

I’ve been a bad blogger; I’ve been sewing, and there are items in my queue going back to April, but life has interfered, and computer glitches mean that I’ve also lost access to a lot of images. Sigh. One day, I’ll get things back on track.

In the meantime. I’d like to share this marvelous coat, made by Sandra V. It’s the Au Bonheur des Petites Mains 20013.  (The company, sadly, no longer exists.)  Sandra has done a fantastic job with this pattern, and I’m thrilled to share her version here, with her permission, as she doesn’t have a blog.

Here’s Sandra’s finished coat. You might think it looks a bit like my version — which is correct, sort of — but a look at the details tells a different story.  Sandra’s taken similar elements, and made a very different, really wonderful coat!

Here’s the back view:

And the hood:

Sandra’s used two beads and a bar on the adjustable line on the hood. I love the way she’s made a utilitarian feature into something so attractive.

A similar bead turns up on the sleeves, along with a leather button:

Sandra’s welt pockets are trimmed in leather (tricky, and a beautiful job!):

Love, love, love Sandra’s closures!  She’s used unmatched leather buttons (tying in with her pocket trim, of course), and beads across the front:

Sandra’s collar is a lot softer than mine, and it’s a marvelous look.

One element both versions share is the combination of a rather traditional fabric with the quite-untraditional Au Bonheur styling; the combination is absolutely great . . . as is the opportunity to change things up with creative closures and accents.

Sandra’s in Australia; it’s still cool enough in spring that she’ll be able to wear her coat a bit before the summer arrives. Temperatures are still very high where I am, but Sandra’s version of this wonderful coat has me longing to wear mine.

Categories: ABdPM, Coats/Capes/Wraps Tags:

My Minoru Jacket

March 5th, 2012 13 comments

It’s finished!  I wore it out today, and I loooove this garment!  It’s everything I hoped it would be, and next year I plan to make an actual parka from the pattern.  Here’s the front view, with the hood inside the collar (my poor dummy is a bit tipsy, and I generally forget this when I take pictures — please forgive us both):

As designed, the Minoru has no pockets.  I added very large exterior pockets (and a floating pocket on the inside,  too).  There’s no way I was ever going to adapt to a jacket with no outside pockets.  Mine are too big, probably, and  I had to reduce the size of the hem because the pockets interfered with the top-stitching.   (My jacket is about an  inch longer than the pattern should have been.)  This length is prefect on me, though, and I’ll keep it for the next one.

The fabric is a dark purple corduroy from JoAnn’s (with no apparent flaws!), and the lining is a print poly from stash.  I’ve had it for a long time, and have no idea where it came from originally.  Why did I buy it?  No clue at all.  But, hey, my new jacket counts as stash-busting, so I’m not complaining.

Here’s the back view, with the hood rolled into the collar:

I worried about those shoulder gathers, suspecting that they might be bulky, or look frumpy, once the jacket was made up.  They don’t; not on mine,  nor on any of the others I’ve seen.  Tasia did something clever in the back, too:  The gathers don’t extend all the way across the center back.  As  a result, there’s no extra emphasis there.  Nice if you’re round-shouldered!

Here’s the front view, with the collar open:

The pattern calls for an unlined hood, and that might be fine, but, for me, part of the fun of this jacket was the wacky lining, and, anyway, the thought of a single layer of corduroy for a hood just didn’t hold any appeal at all.  The hood is over-sized — really over-sized  — so some people might want to alter that.  I love the Jedi look,  though, so I left it as-is.

All of my knock-around jackets have shock cords so that the waist can be cinched, but, no matter what, when I wear them, they still look like chunky rectangles.  I LOVE that the Minoru has a defined waist!  Although Sewaholic’s patterns are designed for the pear-shaped woman, there was so much ease in the bust of this size 10 that I was able to make it without an FBA.  The hip is really roomy, but since I wanted to add a pocket for my wallet in the “skirt”, that worked in my favor, too.

I added the red shock cord and toggles (details below).   I’m  not sure how you’d get the hood to stay up without them, but this was also a great chance to use some colorful hardware I had lying around.

Here’s a glimpse of the inside of the jacket:

The corduroy pocket above is part of the pattern; I added a floating pocket, large enough for my wallet, to the other side of the jacket, below a small pocket identical to this one (details  below).  I was hoping this would be a “no bag, just throw it on” kind of coat, and that has worked out perfectly, thanks to my additional pockets.

The most critical things you need to know about this pattern:

~ This jacket uses a ton of thread.  I bought two 500m spools of Gutermann Sew-All, and there’s not much thread left.   I don’t even remember how many bobbins I wound.

~ The pattern illustration shows the jacket zipper level with the bottom edge of the jacket.  You’ll need a longer zipper if you want that look; the instructions are for a zipper that stops well short of the hem.

~ I love me some long sleeves, but the Minoru’s are gorilla long.  Normally, I add sleeve length; not in this case.  I shortened these sleeves.  Check before you cut.

~ If you follow the pattern directions for the collar, the interfacing on the lining side (or on the wrong side of your fabric, if you don’t interface) will show when you wear the hood out.  If you don’t want that look,  you’ll need to line both sides of the collar.  Allow enough lining; the collar’s big.

~ The hood itself is humongous.  If you intend to line it, plan for that when you buy your lining material.

~ As designed, the pattern has no pockets.  If you want  them, plan for them when you buy your fabric, unless you choose to add in-seam, hidden pockets.

I made a lot of modifications to my jacket, but not to the pattern itself  (other than adding the exterior pockets).  Below are some of the details, followed by a list of all the changes I made.

Instead of making a self-fabric loop, I used a piece of flat cord.  I use loops to hang my jackets all the time, so I wanted something super-sturdy, and also something thin enough to slip onto small hooks:

This type of braid is hard to find.  Sometimes it’s available at office supply stores, attached to identification sleeves meant for use by people attending business meetings, and sometimes it’s attached to really, really bad hooks or “charms” meant for use as key chains (think any junk store like Walmart, Kmart, dollar stores).  I stock up when I see them, as I frequently have use for the braid.

The seam line in the center back, above, isn’t  in the pattern.  It’s  the pleat I added to the lining for wearing ease.

For the hood, I added elastic shock cord (red!) threaded through a tiny, interfaced, button hole.  The bead at the end keeps the compression toggle from sliding off..

Where did I find the toggle?  I always check the clearance bins in electronics departments — they are a treasure trove of dumped cords, hardware, etc., for iPods and the like. This particular toggle is from a set of six different colors which came with matching cords.  The set was a dollar, which made this perfect little piece a real bargain, even if I never use the several fluorescent colors that came with it!

Apart from all the extras I can’t help but add, there was one serious blip in the design of the pattern.  If you follow the pattern instructions, but choose to interface the collar facing, this is what you’ll see when the hood is pulled out, and not on your head:

Uuuuugly, non?  That’s interfacing looking at you.  Too bad I didn’t think this out before I sewed the lining to the jacket. When I realized what was going on,  I hadn’t done the final turn, so I cut another collar piece of my (fortunately very thin) lining, and hand-tacked it in place.  The final topstitching will hold it where it belongs, but this is sooooo the wrong way to do this.  Add the lining to the inner collar when you add the interfacing.  It’s much better that way.

Here’s the zippered, internal, floating pocket I added to hold my wallet.  It’s supported by an interfaced corduroy band (sorry about the pins — at this point I hadn’t attached the small pockets that are part of the pattern:)

This pocket really is symmetrical.  I don’t know what’s up with the rumple!   The pocket just floats inside the coat, easily accessible, but totally secure.

Here’s the list of changes I made to the Minoru pattern:

~ Shortened the loooong sleeves (if you do this, remember to alter the lining, too)

~ Added a shock-cord drawstring, and toggles, to the hood

~ Customized the interior pockets to conform to the way I use them (sewed the included interior pockets a bit larger  than the pattern piece, and made a floating, zipped pocket in the lining).  I can’t remember if the pattern calls for two small interior pockets, or one.  I made one one each side.

~ Replaced the self-fabric neck loop (cute!) with a more practical one made of nylon braid (I use these loops a lot)

~ Added a center back pleat to the lining for wearing ease (I goofed this up, and made it too narrow)

~ Added biiiig exterior pockets

~ Added a loop inside each exterior  pocket to secure keys, subway passes, etc.

~ Used a two-way separating zipper.  When I sit down, to drive, for example, the last thing I want is my coat bunching up around my hips.

~ Altered the too-long zipper I had to buy to get the length I wanted

~ Took the zipper to the lower edge of the jacket, since it can be opened from either end

~ Raised the waist elastic by about 2.25 cm

~ Took a smaller hem because my big pockets turned out to be tooo big!

The sew-along, my first, was kind of a bust.  It started in mid-January, and was supposed to conclude about a month later — a nice leisurely pace.  It still wasn’t finished when I posted this, on March 5, and Sewaholic’s Tasia has indicated it will finish around mid-March.   I probably won’t do a sew-along again — for me, the point was to maintain some sort of momentum, and this one didn’t meet that goal very well.  Although I started late, waiting for the next installment got very frustrating.  Tasia’s directions are excellent, though, and her tutorial (start here with step #1) should be a perfect supplement to the generally more spare pattern directions.  I’ll add a link to it once the sew-along is over.

Pocket details here:  Exterior Pockets for the Minoru

Various pocket options here: Minoru Pockets

Shortening the zipper here:  Minoru Zip

Related:  Minoru Sew-Along

Buy the Minoru Pattern here (I don’t get a cut!  It’s a great pattern, though, and you should own it!)

Categories: Coats/Capes/Wraps, Jackets Tags:

Vogue 1277 – Koos Lite

January 10th, 2012 20 comments

My version of this coat (?) jacket (?)  is “Koos lite” because I changed a bunch of things to make the construction and planning simpler. For me, at least.  Your mileage may vary.

My duct tape dummy lists a little bit, but you get the idea.

Here’s the back:

I was in love with the Snow White collar at first, and may still love it when I’m wearing it in a brisk wind, but Jilly Be cut hers down, and that might be a good idea.  It’s one tall collar.  Folding it down makes it more human scale, but reduces the drama a lot.  Here it is with the collar turned down, reducing the size and showing some contrast:

Patternreview bizarrely describes this as a “cape/coat” or something along those lines, but it’s not any kind of cape. It’s an open swing coat.  It’s not at all difficult to sew, but the construction of the primary side is time-consuming, and requires some care:  For instance, nearly every piece of this coat is bias, so stay-stitching is absolutely critical.  Here’s the photo from the pattern envelope:

I wanted the look of the Koos design, but not the bother, so I did quite a few things differently from the Vogue instructions.

~ I made the two sides of the coat entirely separately, treating the solid side as a reversible lining.

~ This allowed me to top-stitch instead of flat-felling.  I have vowed to never do another flat-felled seam, not just for 2012, but forever.

~ I did not quilt the two layers together.  This makes my solid side much less interesting, but saved me hours of aggravation. I’m not a quilting fan, either.

~ Although I made a special trip to New York to find bias trim (make-it-yourself bias trim is also on my “nyet” list), I decided not to use it, or any trim, along the seam lines.

~ I didn’t make the welt opening on the pieced side, because I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the fabric.  The pattern calls for a single pocket, attached to the solid side of the coat, with openings on both sides.  I attached the pockets on the solid side of this open coat, but skipped the access from the pieced side.  Not having pockets on one side may drive me crazy, but, if so, I’ll deal with it later.

My reverse solid side, front:

My pockets are larger than the Vogue ones.  I always use a narrow seam for patch pockets, and since I love over-large pockets, I didn’t alter these to reflect my seam size preference.  I always line my patch pockets “patches”, and these were interfaced, too.

The Vogue instructions call for quilting along the seam lines on the pieced side, so that the solid side gets quilted.  The quilting looks fantastic in the Vogue photos, but I have neither the patience nor the skill to attempt anything that ambitious, so my reverse side is much simpler.

Here’s the back:

I’m not thrilled with the finish on the cuffs, so I may re-do them (it’s Noile issue, not a Vogue issue), and I made a horrible  mistake that I was unable to correct (after three tries!), which I’m not going to confess to.  Not in detail, anyway.  I’m hoping it will go unnoticed by all but the most observant sewists.

Vogue made things unnecessarily complicated by using two different numbering schemes for the pattern. One is for the pattern pieces themselves; the other is for the contrast panels. The pattern pieces for the largest, lower, coat band are numbered 5A, 5B, 6A, 6B, but the band is meant to be cut of a single fabric choice.

Several other pattern pieces have different numbers than their corresponding sections.  Why?  Why not make the numbers identical?  Visualizing that bottom band would have been much easier if both the section on the coat, and the pattern pieces, had been named “5”; why not name the tissue sections 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D?

Vogue calls the reverse, solid, side of the coat “Contrast 1”.  Why not call it “reverse”, or, if they must, “reverse contrast”?  If you’re using different fabrics for each section, surely simplifying the process would be a boon.  I ended up photocopying the relevant illustration (above), and making my own road map, which was a bit of a pain that could have been avoided with a little more thoughtful editing.

Although I wasn’t using contrasting fabrics for each section, I did still have to keep the individual pieces in mind as I cut and sewed, so calling each by a single, consistent, number was far more useful than trying to deal with two different designations.

I did want something of the Koos crazy-quilt, wonky-contrast appearance, but didn’t  trust myself to choose fabrics.  I’m seriously design-challenged, and Mr. Noile would tell you that I’m not very good at color selection, either.  However, I had this in my stash:

I fell in love with the colors (no knowledge required!), at least partly because it’s like nothing I’ve ever worn.  There’s a lot of textural variation woven into the fabric, which is impossible to see here. It’s “Richloom Studio Valliant Spice”, from JoAnn.  Yes, “valiant” with two lls. Classy.  Incidentally, I see that the price on the website is over 10% higher than the store’s regular price.  Plus shipping, of course.  Don’t do buy it online; it only encourages them.

It’s 58% polyester, 42% rayon (no label in the store, naturally, so I found this information on the website), and washes, gently, in cold water, just fine.  I dried it in the dryer, too, being careful not to over-heat or over-dry.

Washing created a bit of puckering in a few (consistent) spots, which just added to the interesting texture, of which there’s a lot already.  The price is JoAnn ridiculous, even in the store, but that’s why the deities invented coupons.  And remnant bins.

I didn’t have enough to make the coat face entirely in that material, though, and, in a stroke of amazing luck found this:

It’s also upholstery fabric, with a light backing, from Jomar.  JoMar is a Philadelphia-area institution; bargain prices, and often, fantastic finds, but the stores are filled with junk.  Lots and lots of junk.  Did I mention that you’ll score fabrics, even luxury fabrics, at JoMar that you can’t find anywhere else?  For pennies?

JoMar’s best for stash-building, though, since you can never know what you’ll find. This was a JoMar miracle, as I walked in desperately needing a second contrast for my coat, and didn’t want to resort to corduroy.  On this particular day, I found exactly what I needed, immediately.

I never let the fact that something’s technically “upholstery” worry me.  I tossed both fabrics into the washing machine to soften them up (and make them less sensitive to liquid in the future), and they were set to go.

Vogue calls the reverse side of the coat Contrast 1; I think it would have been better to call it “reverse” since there’s already so much “contrast” to track here.  Mine is a luscious rust from Kashi at the wonderful Metro Textiles; it has a burgundy note which isn’t at all obvious here, but works perfectly with the my main fabrics.

There’s nothing really to fear when approaching this pattern.  (At least not once you’ve made your fabric selection.)  You do end up sewing miles and miles of seams that involve attaching inside curves to outside curves, but a little diligence and care (and some careful basting or pinning) will make short work of that.

The reverse side couldn’t be simpler, and this coat would look wonderful made with two solid sides, as well as work up very quickly.  Since I made the two sides separately, I started with the reverse, just to be sure there weren’t any basic construction challenges.  There weren’t; it went together quickly and easily.

However, there are some unusual challenges to the overall project.  Assembling the pattern is a whole step of its own; you’ll need space and a fair amount of time.

The sleeves have a wonderful bias seam, so shortening them requires some creativity.  I shortened the sleeves by about an inch (I like my sleeves quite long, but I have short arms) by  pinning the pattern together, drawing a horizontal line at the lower bicep (JillyBe did hers at the wrist), cutting, slashing, adjusting, and  redrawing the side seam.

Laying out and cutting the material requires a huge flat space.  You’ll need to clear the floor in a large room, unless you have an amazing sewing studio.  (Alternatively, borrow a conference room from your workplace or the local library; you’re going to need the space.)  In my case, I also had to wait until  it was naptime for all five cats.  Need I mention that they were all exceptionally alert on the day I’d chosen for the big event?  Naptime is 2 PM; they finally crashed at nearly 4.  How did they know?  I might as well be herding toddlers here.

Then things get complicated, if you’re following the Vogue directions and going Koos all the way.  His design is fabulous, and will yield a result that is much grander than my coat, so I recommend it highly.  But, for those who, like me, follow the virtuous programmer* approach to life, this was too much.

Instead of quilting both sides of the coat together, I constructed them separately, sleeves and all, and joined them all around the hem, sides and neck, leaving an opening at the side hem to turn it.

Since I wasn’t using bias trim, I simply sewed each section together, right side to right side.

I trimmed and hand-tacked every single seam allowance.  I thought this was a good idea for two reasons:  one, because the bias tape would have supplied some (possibly quite necessary) support for all those bias sections, and two, because that helped to keep the seamlines smooth, and reduced bulk inside the coat.

Then I finished the sleeves by turning the hems in along a stitching line I’d previously made, and carefully hand stitching them closed.  With practice, this can be done invisibly by catching the machine-sewn stitches.  Top-stitching ensures that everything stays in place.

One last tip:  Buy the giant spool of thread.  I didn’t do any quilting, and this was still a five-bobbin project.  Admittedly, my Pfaff has smaller-than-some bobbin capacity, but you’ve been warned.

Jilly Be and Jan are in the middle of constructing this coat, as it’s meant to be constructed, and their coats look as if they’re both going to be beautiful.  Check them out for a different take on making this marvelous jacket.

*The three great virtues of a programmer, as described by Larry Wall, are laziness, impatience, and hubris.  I’ve incorporated these into this project in this way:  Laziness — I wanted the best result with the least effort; Impatience — I wanted it done in three days; Hubris — I determined to do this my way, no matter what those silly Vogue instructions said.

Needless to say, you can get into a lot of trouble following this credo, but it will be fun trouble.

In the Noile family we have one programmer, and one cat, who believe absolutely in this credo.  It’s rubbed off.  Literally, in the case of the cat.

Categories: Coats/Capes/Wraps, Jackets Tags:

Vogue 8675

September 4th, 2010 No comments

As many bloggers have already noted, the illustration for this pattern evokes a big “ho hum”;  it looks like just another boring Vogue basic:

Then, a lot of us saw this photo, and took a second look:

Much better, isn’t it?  When I looked at the actual pattern, I loved the sleeve shaping, which follows the shoulder curve.  The side seams also provide some extra, flattering, shaping.  I saw this as my chance to make a jacket that offered some of the geometric edginess of a Marcy Tilton pattern, but without the boxy, unfriendly-to-humans shape that Tilton’s jacket patterns almost always feature.

Did I get my wish?  Well, kind of:

I originally made view B, the long version, with pockets.  Vogue says I’m a size 14, so I cut a size 10, which fit perfectly, except that view B was way, way too long for my 5’2.5″ height.  I was drowning in this thing!  (Vogue’s sizing chart is a joke, but that’s another post.)  I ended up cutting about 3 inches off the length — not quite enough to make it as short as view A, which looks awfully boxy in the line drawings.  My sleeves are also 4 cm shorter than Vogue’s.

My pockets are larger than Vogue’s — that might not have been the best choice, but since they’re hardly visible in this print, it’s not much of an issue.  I don’t know why anyone uses a 5/8ths inch seam on patch pockets, but that’s because I always line (and usually interface) mine.  Then I use a much smaller seam and turn the pocket.  This gives me better control on a curved edge, and a neater result.

I used a completely unnecessary Hong Kong seam finish because I just love it, and, since this jacket is unlined, I wanted to see more than a raw edge every time I wore it.

Because I was seduced by the photo of the coat closed with a pin, I added a jumbo button with an extra-large snap underneath, to give the effect of a pin without the fuss.

This was a “wearable muslin”, so I used a stable knit that I had around.  (The pattern calls for a lightweight woven.)  I knew that if I didn’t make another one, I’d still probably like using this on a plane, where I often want a blanket, but need to bring wear my own.  This could be a perfect “carry-on” coat/sweater.  Wearable on a trip, but cozy like a blanket on planes.

The knit actually worked very well, except that mitering the two angled corners at the hem was a bit iffy.  I think using a lighter woven would give a better drape, too, although this fabric actually falls nicely on my body.  The knit fronts cling a bit to each other, which turned out to be an asset when the jacket is closed; the under layer of a tighter woven would likely need some kind of anchor (a tie or snap or something of the sort) to keep it in place if the jacket were fastened closed.

Because I didn’t want to do any hand-stitching on this project, I used this accessory foot to “stitch in the ditch” to attach the neck facing to the shoulder dart:

This is the first time I’ve used this foot, and it worked amazingly well.  The blade separates the sides of the seam just enough to hide the stitching perfectly.

Vogue’s directions were simple and clear; the pattern pieces look wonky, but go together perfectly.  Was it a success?  Well, I think so — I do get some of the geometric flair from the angled hem, and the cut of the jacket is much more flattering to a real human shape than that of most unfitted jackets.  But it’s probably time for me to face the fact that over-sized garments, however well-cut, are just not flattering on someone of my size and height.  This jacket is perfect for tall, willowy Auntie Allyn.  It’s merely OK on short, petite Noile.  Sigh.

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