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Chiffon Wrap

November 18th, 2013 8 comments

This wrap couldn’t be easier to make:  one rectangle, two seams! Here’s the front:

The pattern is by Rhonda Buss, of Rhonda’s Creative Life, who made it part of her weekly free pattern posts.  My version isn’t very exciting, featured as it is here, on my duct tape dummy, but it’s wonderful to wear.

Back view:

Because I never wear anything remotely formal, a wrap like this has a lot of appeal.  Slip it on over a black top and slim pants, and, voilà, I can almost look dressed-up.  Also, it packs up into nothing at all; if I had to look somewhat elegant, this could be a good fake.  Or it could be one fantastic beach wrap!  Here’s a sneak preview of Rhonda, modeling it quite romantically:

to get the full effect, you’ll need to check out Rhonda’s post where you can see it in its wondrous, flowing, glory at the beach!

I used my rolled hem foot to finish all the edges.  It did a beautiful job, and was a quick and easy way to knock off the project.

Rhonda’s instructions are here.  If you don’t know her blog, do take a look around.  Rhonda consistently posts clever and imaginative ways to think about, and manipulate, fabric — her Fabulous Free Pattern Fridays are incredibly inspirational, but so is the rest of her blog.  Go visit — you won’t be sorry!

Categories: Jackets, Tops Tags:

Customized Zipper Pull for My Minoru

April 5th, 2012 6 comments

I like to have an extension on the zippers I use, particularly if I may wear gloves when trying to open them, or if the pockets are inside, and a little tricky to get to.  But the plain black tabs that can be purchased at places like REI or EMS are sometimes just too boring.  I like a little hidden pizazz:

These tabs are actually very easy to customize.  Here’s what the they look like, straight from the package:

All you do is pry open the tab, pull out the cord it came with, and then replace the cord with whatever color you wish, and pinch the tab back together.  You’ll have to set the cord in the channels in the tab precisely, but that’s easy to do,  with a little care.

If you’re replacement cord is too thick to pull through the zipper pull  in a doubled loop, run a single strand of cord right through the hole in the zipper pull, then pinch the tab together.  That’s what I did for the inside pockets on my Minoru jacket.

Categories: Jackets, Tops Tags:

Minoru Jacket Around The World

March 9th, 2012 32 comments

More Minoru Jackets! Scroll to the bottom to see (updated 17 March) (and again on March 20)

Two more (September 5); Scroll to the bottom to see.

Ever wanted to make outerwear, but didn’t know where to start?  Sewaholic’s Minoru  jacket is spectacular for inspiration.  Don’t believe me?  Look at all the different variations people have made over the last few months since the pattern was released.  It’s a wonderfully drafted pattern, and within the reach of advanced beginners.   I love, love, love this pattern!

Click on associated links to go to each sewist’s blog to get all the goods on the Minoru choices each made.

Here’s mine (USA), to start things off, of purple corduroy with a red floral lining and added external pockets.  I made many small changes and added a few features; you can read the details beginning here:

KristenMakes (UK) a perfect country coat, updating a traditional classic with corduroy elbow patches and collar facing, and adding a flannel lining:

Damselfly’s Delights (Canada) put a batik lining in her Minoru, and added  inseam pockets:

four square walls (USA) Andrea B’s version is tweed, with a bold lining, and cute pockets from remnants (this is where I got my own pocket inspiration):

Sophia Sews (USA), with re-drafted lower front, vertical pockets (take a look; they are incredibly RTW!), and zebra lining:

Savory Stitches (USA) used a bold cotton print with dark gray rayon lining:

Beau Baby (USA) made hers in bright orange denim, with a print contrast (she lined the hood, but otherwise made the pattern exactly as designed):

Sew I Think I Can Sew (Canada) made hers with a splashy floral cotton lining and side seam pockets:

Did you make that? (UK) Minoru, the luxury version, made with camel wool and a silk lining:

JuliaBobbin (Australia) proves that  luxe doesn’t have to be silk, with a gilt skull and crossbones lining, and a whimsical button on the pocket:

Nikol, of Hubbahubbadingdong (USA), made her Minoru of scarlet velvet (re-purposed curtains!  you go, girl!) with a golden silky lining:

Sewly a Harpist (USA) went for iridescent polka dots and a pink lining:

Stitch and Witter (UK) made hers of gray corduroy with royal and white polka dot lining:

My Own Inspiration (Australia) is charcoal marle gabardine with a nifty cotton lining, and welt pockets:

biblioblog’s (USA) is of uncut rust cord and leopard lining (go peek — it’s wonderful):

SewMentalMama (Ireland) made hers waterproof (click the link for great advice on waterproofing), of bright coated cotton, and put the hood on the outside, using hook and loop tape at the bottom of the collar, instead of pulling the hood through a zipper (she also shortened the jacket above the waist):

How good is that? (Australia) added additional zipper pockets to her Minorou; check her blog for tips (great idea for travel!):


MalleQ (Denmark) made  Minarou the Parka  with a faux fur-trimmed hood, faux fur lining, thinsulate for warmth, and hot pink zipper trim:

Rocket Sews (Australia) did a serious job of making proper outerwear of her Minoru, with waterproofing, reflective piping, welt  pockets with flap, hood toggles, and a zipper underlay (she also chose to leave the cuffs off):

The Traveling Seamstress (USA) denim made chic, with coordinating cozy plaid flannel lining:

Needles and Haystacks (Ireland) choose a gray and rust print corduroy with a polka dot lining, and made a cuff-less version without the hood:

Nette (Germany) made her Minoru of camel-colored linen, and added a cotton floral lining:

It’s a Sewing Life (USA) used raincoat fabric, added side pockets, and decided against the interior pockets:

Alison Rea Mason (Canada) went for bright red with a metallic zipper (and says she’s ordered fabric to make another Minoru):

Sew Fearless (USA) made hers in a rich, blackberry corduroy, with a matching zipper, and a marvelous striped lining (you can just see a hint here):

sew make believe (UK) used cotton drill with piping down the front, a striped lining, and in-seam pockets:

Sew Well (USA) made this smashing version, and has a pocket tutorial on her blog, as well:

bubala’s (Australia) Minoru is denim, with a flash polka dot lining, and glorious topstitching:

Wendy, of west 38th (USA) made a canvas hooded raincoat with a great cloud lining, and a zipped interior pocket:

PepperTreeRoad (Australia) made hers in crisp red and white, and added in-seam pockets:

Last (for now), but by  no means least, is Miss Jackson’s version (Japan) which also goes all the way to parka, made in grey, with faux fur trim, plaid lining, faux-flapped pockets, strapped cuffs, and a buttoned flap over the zipper:

More arriving!  I added this latest batch on 17 March.

Here’s Christina’s from this, that, the other thing (USA).  Hers is tan, with Kelly green zippers (for the side pockets, too!), a subdued plaid lining, and Kelly green rayon bemberg sleeve linings:

From Mama Pluis (The Netherlands), a raspberry version with a tiny floral print lining (made with a hood but without pockets):

VickikateMakes (UK) a version in waterproofed cotton canvas (using NikWax), and with the body lined in an argyle cotton flannel, and (whoo-hoo!) reflective zippers.  (She also did an FBA, and shortened the torso and sleeves)::

La Petite Chouette (Canada) made her Minoru jacket of red polyester, with a a polka dot lining (black mini dots on white)

New additions, March 20:

From Steph A, at escapades in sewing (Canada), a Minoru with super polka dots lining (or maybe they are bubbles?  glorious, in any case!).  The fiber is a micropolyester/cotton blend, and the lining is quilting cotton; sleeves and collar are lined in black Bemberg; lined hood and side seam pockets:

From Stitch me Softly (UK), red cotton twill with a brushed plaid lining, side seam pockets, and no hood:


LEC’s Miscellany (USA) made hers out of red wool crepe, with a joyous starburst (or are they chrysanthemums?)  lining of quilting cotton, and metal zippers:

scuffsan (Sweden) used nylon for the exterior, for water repellency, a floral cotton for the lining, and black polyester in the sleeves to make it easy to get the jacket on and off.  She added outside welt pockets, using a bit of lining for a cute touch beneath the flaps:

Tasia does not recommend plaids for this pattern, but take a look at what Pauline of Dessine-moi un bouton (France) did, using a subtle wool plaid (she calls this her “Sherlock Minoru”) and gold Bemberg lining:

Added March 29

Susan (USA), of Knitters Delight finished her Minoru.  It’s got a hood, and a gorgeous abstract lining (you might have to look for an earlier post to get a good look a the lining.) She made side seam pockets, and pleated the neck instead of gathers.  She’s also planning her next Minoru:

Adrienne (Canada), of All Style and All Substance, made hers of black oil cloth.  She calls it the “Catwoman” Minoru — whoo-hoo!  Check her blog for tips on working with the fabric; she skipped the cuffs as an accommodation to the material.  Adrienne made her Minoru in one weekend!

CherryPix (USA) made hers of black twill, lined with poly polka dots with a gingham lining for the hood and collar:

Lindsay Pindsay’s (USA) Minoru is gray twill with a bright yellow and black lining, slippery fabric in the sleeves, an unlined hood, and side seam pockets:

Annabellebumps (USA) chose pink cotton twill with a pink and green mini-print lining, and a two-way front xipper:

Sew Brusnwick (Australia) wanted a light summer jacket, and used a “pale pink/beige/mauve” cotton and metal (!) crinkle fabric with a Japanese cotton lining:

Suzy (UK) of Suzy Patterns used Leopard fleece, with a pale yellow poly lining. She kept her Minoru simple, skipping the hood and inside pockets when she made this cozy (and sexy!) version:

Two more, from Susanna (Sweden).  Here’s the first, in a vibrant red (Susanna’s lining, in keeping with Minoru tradition, is excellent — go to her blog to see it):

Susanna’s latest Minoru is this mixed print version. Love the way these prints pop!

This is my inspiration archive — I know I’ll be making another Minoru!  I hope all these marvelous jackets inspire others, too.

Got a Minoru you’d like added to the list?  Leave a comment, and I’ll put it in the post with a link to your blog.

These examples don’t include Tasia’s pattern testers:  Click over to Sewaholic and search on Minoru to see even more brilliant jackets.

Categories: Jackets 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:

Minoru Zip

March 4th, 2012 4 comments

I couldn’t find a 28-inch (or 30-inch, for that matter) jacket zipper  in dark red for my Minoru jacket, so I bought a much-too-long one in New York, and shortened it myself.  Generally speaking, nylon/plastic zippers are pretty easy to shorten; just chop them off, and tuck the cut edge into the seam, or whatever finish you’re using.  That leaves a bulge at the top, but it works .  .  . sort of.

My jacket zipper needed a stop at the top, but I didn’t want that bump, so  I experimented using a left-over piece from the zipper I cut to fit for for the Minoru hood.

First, I cut the teeth off the top of the zipper to the length I wanted:

(This is the sample zip; on the one I actually used you’d see the plastic bar at the top that serves as the zipper stop if it were unaltered.)

A daub of Fray Check, or the equivalent, is probably a good idea right where the cut ends.  I didn’t do that on this experimental piece.

That gave me the right size, but no way to keep the pull from sliding off when the jacket was zipped up.  After experimenting a bit, I discovered that this worked as a zipper stop:

That’s a tiny seed bead, in a matching color,  hand-sewn to the wrong side of the zipper, between the teeth.  It doesn’t show on the front, but it prevents the zipper pull from flying off at the top of the jacket..

The excess tape, above the zipper teeth, just goes into the seam allowance, the way an unaltered zipper would.  The cut area has been thoroughly Fray Checked, for extra security, though virtually all of the cut bits will be in the seam.

Neat and tidy, no?

Categories: Jackets Tags:

Exterior Pockets for the Minoru

February 12th, 2012 4 comments

I’ve been dithering, seemingly forever, over what to do about exterior pockets on my Minoru jacket.  I even wrote a blog post rounding up choices other sewists had made, in an effort to sort out what might work best for me.  They were all good options, but I quickly decided that patch pockets were the answer.  It took a lot longer to figure out what kind of patch pocket I wanted.

Andrea B’s pockets were the ones  I kept remembering.  I really like the way she incorporated the pockets into the side seams, and decided I wanted to do the same thing.  I copied that feature, squared the corners, curved the top edges, and added cross-grain trim:

It’s difficult to see here, but the left side is curved to match the Minoru’s side seam.  The right side will be parallel to the front placket on the jacket, about an inch and a half from the placket seam.

I always line my patch pockets, and interface them, too.  Both steps increase their durability, and help with shape retention if you use pockets as avidly as I do.  Instead of cutting the lining in one piece, I used the trim pattern to make a self-facing of corduroy — my main jacket fabric — which is not only nice to touch, but also adds to the stability of the pocket.

Here’s a closer view of the crosswise trim.  Dark purple is nearly as hard on detail as is black, but you can probably get the gist:

(The raw edge — the one that goes into the jacket side seams —  is on the right,  here.)

Stitched together, these pockets are about 12 inches by 10.5 inches.  They’re big, but that’s no accident!  The Minoru pattern allows for far more ease than I needed in the hip area, so I don’t anticipate the size will be a problem for me, but hip ease is something I would have had to think about if the tolerances had been smaller.

There’s a loop inside each of the pockets.  If my pockets don’t have a closure, I like to be able to clip things inside them, so that I don’t find that I’ve lost something when tossing the coat around.  When I’m in New York, my MTA pass case will be clipped onto this loop, and the other one will be useful for keys or my pocket camera or whatever else.

Here’s the pocket set in place on the front of the jacket:

I still haven’t added the front plackets or, of course, or the zipper, and I won’t be able to tell how these work on the jacket as a whole until I can baste the side seams together, but, at the moment, I’m pretty pleased with the way they’ve turned out.

This is what the pattern pieces look like.  (I did this on the fly; can you tell?)  There’s a 5/8ths of an inch seam along the joint between the pocket and the trim, and another 5/8ths inch seam along the side that lines up with the sides of the jacket.  Everywhere else, I used a 1/4 inch seam; I prefer this when making patch pockets, as it means I can turn them without having to trim anywhere except at the corners.

There’s one last structural dilemma to resolve before I can do the final assembly of the coat shell:  how to handle the drawstring I want to add to the hood.  I’ll probably never use it, but I’ve got both red elastic cord and purple toggles, so how can I resist?  But that’s for another post.

Categories: Jackets Tags:

Minoru Pockets

February 5th, 2012 2 comments

I’m supposed to be participating in the Minoru Sew-Along, but a variety of things have conspired to keep me from tagging along as Tasia leads the group.  I’ve cleared the decks, mostly, but am stymied at the moment because this jacket really needs pockets.

Tasia provided a link to Amy’s tutorial for in-seam pockets (which includes a downloadable pattern for the pocket), but I really am not crazy about the idea of having the pockets in the side seams.  It can work, but . . . eh.

So I’ve decided to do what any good researcher would:  Survey the literature.  Here’s what I found:

Michele, of My Own Inspiration, added welt pockets to her Minoru.  They’re beautifully done, but I’m not so sure that I’m in the mood at the moment for something so fiddly.  I think the welt style works perfectly with the Minoru, though, and probably suits it best.  I like the  Minoru lines very much, and the welt preserves them nicely.

Rocket Sews is making a rain jacket from the Minoru pattern, and made a welt pocket with a flap; she  matched her lively print so well that the pocket is almost invisible!

Andrea B, of four square walls, made patch pockets, using an accidental shape that’s rather cute.  She used scraps, and ended up with a fun and funky touch on her jacket.

Sophia Sews took a look at another pattern, and re-cut the bottom of the Minoru’s front to make a different version of in-seam pockets.  Clever — and also puts the pockets into a very natural position for use.

All good ideas, but what do I want?  I’ve got some thinking to do .  .  .

Categories: Jackets Tags:

Vogue 1277 – Koos Lite

January 10th, 2012 16 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:

Minoru Sew-Along

December 23rd, 2011 5 comments

Tasia, of Sewaholic, is hosting a month-long sew-along, beginning January 16th,  featuring her latest pattern, the Minoru jacket.   Here’s the illustration from the pattern envelope:

Tasia’s patterns seem geared more toward pear-shaped women, and my body type is nearly the opposite.  That shouldn’t matter a lot for this style, though.  I’m sure I’ll be doing an FBA for this jacket, but I like its lines, that great tall collar, and the hidden hood.  Also, I’m in the mood for a sporty new spring jacket!

I’ll be making mine out of a mid-wale purple corduroy, and lining it with a red poly that is printed with, among other things, purple flowers.  I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought the print, but I’m expecting that it will be fun, not horrific, as a lining.

Both cord and the print look blue here, but they’re actually a deep purple. According to my Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool, the corduroy is 14-17, or, on colorhex.com, it’s f1865:

I’ll be using bright red zippers; in for a penny, in for a pound. My jacket is meant to be fun, not safe or arty.  (Stash-busting that poly is going to feel good!)  Matching thread was impossible; I settled for a slightly darker Gütermann, which isn’t photographing any better than the corduroy:

I’m not sure about the gathers at the neck, but I’ve seen so many marvelous versions of this jacket already that I’m willing to give it a try.  Google “minoru jacket” under “images” and you’ll turn up a bunch; Tasia also has a number of them on her website.

The Sewaholic blog is already full of tips for using the pattern, including a tutorial on sewing with waterproof outerwear fabric.

So far I’ve seen this jacket made in poplin; twill; canvas; a linen-cotton blend; a jersey; and a fine-wale corduroy, every one with a wild and wacky lining.  Inspired?  Stash-busting?  You could make this jacket from almost anything!

Categories: Jackets Tags:

Five More Versions of ABdPM 20013

February 18th, 2011 4 comments

I found five amazing versions of my Au Bonheurs des Petites Mains jacket while tooling around amongst French blogs.   Here’s what the pattern looks like when it arrives from ABdPM:

I’m not sure I’ve got sorted out whose coat is whose, but I’m giving it a shot here anyway.  You can see all of these on Passion Plaisir, with links to the others.  For some reason, canalblog (the French blogging site) doesn’t let me pick up perma-links, so you’ll have to scroll down on each blog to 7 December or 3 December, 2010, to see the images.

So that  you can drool in the meantime, here is a fake (I think) leather version by Danielle, of Passion Plaisir:

and a brown faux sheepskin version,  that goes to the knee (Danielle removed the center front panels for this one, as well as lengthening the coat):

Sophie, who blogs at Phisso, made this blue version, just for fun, with fake fur lining the hood, and white fleece lining the body:

Sophie also made this white version, which is really stunning:

Sophie’s blog has really detailed pictures of the white version, and quite a few of the blue one.

Danyelle, of So Girly, made a gray quilted version, long like Danielle’s faux mouton:

It looks as if she may have removed the center front panel, too, but I can’t be sure, since I can’t see most of the images on So Girly.

As a refresher, here’s mine:

I’ve got another one planned for spring, that isn’t like any of these.  What a great pattern — you can take it in any direction you might imagine!

It seems that I got the hem right, after all, as Sophie’s jackets also have the short center panels that I worried were a mis-calculation on mine.  And there’s not a bubble hem among this batch, so it’s probably safe to say that the swing-like flair of this pattern is intentional.

I loved seeing these; there’s some really interesting stuff going on out there in ABdPM-land.

The website for Au Bonheur des Petites Mains is here; click on “Modèle pour femme” and then follow the “Patrons de veste” link to find this pattern.

I wonder how many more of these I could turn up if ABdPM didn’t have such an odd numbering system?

Related: See all my Au Bonheur des Petites Mains posts by clicking here or on the ABdPM category in the right-hand column on this page.

Categories: ABdPM, Jackets Tags: