Sunday, December 30, 2012

We have a bodice!

Setting in the sleeves did a number on my sanity. There was shouting, swearing, a tiny bit of crying, and a whole lot of existential self-doubt. My Janome 415 could not handle the thickness of the intersecting seams and I had NO clue what to do.  After googling industrial sewing machines for rent... and contemplating throwing the whole thing in the bin, my boyfriend suggested that I try his grandmother's New Home machine.  Amazingly, miraculously, she flew threw the sleeve seams... making it look easy! I hope my Janome feels suitably chastised.

I did the lining as per "Tailoring."  The back has a pleat to accommodate movement.  Look at that lovely facing, almost perfectly applied!  So proud of myself...

Sleeve head getting steamed up about something

No wonder I was having trouble!
Note that I used flannel for the bias strips (that are used to ease in the sleeve)  a slightly loftier fabric would have resulted in better sleeve heads, but this is fine.  I'll try to source a better fabric next time. 
Not pressed yet.  Neither of these sleeves are perfect, but they are still pretty good!

The back will hang better once the skirt has been sewn on.  I am going to add some shoulder pads to correct the slope in my shoulders a little.

The triumphant New Home machine.  Quietly patting itself on the back...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Longest Slog.

The coat trudges on. I'm at the stage where i seem to do as much un-sewing as I do actual sewing. I have managed to assemble the lining-and it looks pretty good. I've experimented with the sleeve setting technique I first saw on  Gerties blog (and which is incredibly satisfying and gives a great result).  Basically this has been a huge project, Burda calls it a "masterpiece" for good reason, and I'm being a little burnt out on a garment I will have very few chances to actually wear.... Because the cruel joke is that the coat is a true winter garment and real "winter"is in short supply here in Los Angeles. Better progress shots to come!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Vronsky Inspiration

...except I forgot the shoulder tabs...
and of course I am not a caddish Russian calvary officer from the 19th century.

Some detail / progress shots...

Coat making is turning out to be surprisingly satisfying.  Lots of little, important tasks, all very unlike each other.  If you get fed up with catch-stitching you can sew on some buttons.  If your bored of stitching then there's hours of pressing to catch up with.  I would LOVE any feedback, good or bad, especially on whether I'm using the correct techniques or not.

Lessons from Coat to date:
#1: Be easy on yourself.  I'm framing this coat as a "learning exercise." I've made tons of mistakes (my interfacing seems too short now, which I don't understand) but I'm not worrying too much about it.  This is my apprentice coat.

I've catch stitched the interfacing to the fashion fabric, used long running basting stitches to attach the facing to the body of the coat... not sure if this is right or not, but it seems to work. I was confused about whether you want your hair canvas to catch in the sleeve allowance or not. 

Can you see how much structure and shape is now built into these pieces?  It's really exciting.

Lesson #2:  Understand your fabric.  I didn't realize how thick my fashion fabric really is.  It has an almost cartoonish, Marc Jacob's quality.  Like the fabric has been slightly exaggerated.  It would have been smarter to either go with a simpler design (boring) OR play up the fabric with bigger buttonholes and buttons.  As it is this bound buttonholes are ridiculously thick.  But it's my apprentice coat.  I'll work with it.  Question:  Should I catch stick my seam allowances to the fashion fabric?  They are super thick and spongy.  Worried I should tack them down to help the coat keep it's shape over the years.

A finished sleeve, ready to go.  
 Lesson #3: This stuff isn't as hard as you think it will be.  I've never ventured into the Four Dots category in Burda.  But really if you have basic skills and are willing to refer to a few good books or videos you can do this.  I'm pretty proud of my vented sleeve, I've always loved them, but I've never had the nerve to try and make one before.  I did make a major fuck-up when I mitered the underlap as well (don't do this!).  I ended up recutting that piece.

What fun eh!

Monday, December 24, 2012

We have a sleeve!

Not too many tears,a little swearing and a stiff cup of coffee....

Christmas Coat, who would have guessed it?

Every year I say, "This Christmas break I will sew a coat."  It is a long running statement; I have lengths of coating from, oh, three boyfriends ago.  They sit and they sit and they sit.  Each too beautiful and too expensive and generally "too" to be cut.

This year I did a little mind-fuckery on myself.  My favorite coating is this winter white wool, woven in a basket weave with a line of what looks like plastic raffia running through it.  It's special, trust me.  My boyfriend bought it for me from Mood the summer before last (he's still my boyfriend, so the boyfriend dating system doesn't work).  I saw it folded up in a corner and thought, "I should at least store this properly on a cardboard roll (stolen from Michael Levine's dumpster).

Very "Vronsky" ish coat in December's Burda
Ohhhh... how did that happen?

The two front pieces taped together to draft a shoulder reinforcement

Then I thought, "it's rainy, I should at least trace out that amazing military inspired coat from December Burda."  This coat is my idea of a modern Vronsky. Chic, dashing, glamorous, and totally impractical in white.

Over exposed pics of front...
And lo and behold, two days later, I have made a muslin, discarded it for being too small (apparently wishful thinking alone is not enough to make me a size 38 again), traced out a 40, thread traced the pieces, cut out hair canvas facing for the front pieces, made shoulder reinforcements out of bias hair canvas, made four acceptable bound buttonholes, made a heavy muslin back stay, sewed the back bodice.... and whew!  Maybe I will be sewing a winter coat after all.

I've used the classic Tailoring book that everyone relies on, but also have referred heavily to Gertie's book, her Starlet Suit Jacket video and her Lady Grey tutorial.  I've made a bunch of mistakes, but none too terrible, the only meaningful one is that my bound buttonholes are monstrously thick.  I would have done better to use Julia Bobbin's technique.

Onward and upward!  I'm going to tackle the sleeves today.  Oh, I made another mistake with the sleeves, cutting them with a 5/8" hem, rather than the 1 5/8" hem. I'm thinking of stitching some grosgrain ribbon to the bottom of the hem to extend it, thoughts?