Monday, 27 May 2019

spring sewing: a bright purple coat, and bonus Ruska

I was completely certain that I was back on track with my normal schedule, but this post took me much longer to write (and photograph) than I'd thought it would. When I first finished this coat I was completely thrilled with it, but now that a couple of weeks have passed, I'm feeling much less enthused.

I'll start off by saying that I know this looks cute. It's a nice shape, a great colour, and aside from being a little wrinkly it photographs well. People are always keen to reassure that an item is totally wearable and I appreciate it, but a lot of the issues I have with this coat are things that aren't really apparent from pictures. 

A few weeks after I made my spring plan I happened to come across this purple wool crepe at my favourite stall in Walthamstow and got really excited. I thought it was a great weight for a light coat and a perfect colour for me for spring. I also chanced upon Simplicity 8554, an unlined coat pattern designed for lighter fabrics in a wrap style with a proper collar. The pattern arriving through my letterbox was the final push I needed to actually start sewing again after a very unpleasant month. I'm therefore reluctant to be too hard on this coat because it did get me my sewjo back, but in retrospect, these two elements are both nice individually but don't go terribly well together.

The more I wear (or attempt to wear) this coat, the more I'm aware that I whiffed the fabric choice. This stuff is slightly too thick and slightly lacking in the right drape for the garment to fall nicely. It also led to a bunch of issues with the seams, but we'll get on to that in a minute. On top of that, it's not quite soft enough to work as an unlined coat generally intended to be worn over short sleeves in the spring. It's not super itchy or anything, but it's just that tiny bit irritating, enough to put me off wearing it.

The other problem with this fabric is the colour. It's a great colour, and I really did want a brighter coat for spring, but it literally doesn't go with anything. The reason this took me so long to post is that I took at least four runs at photographing this coat with different outfits, trying to find something that looked OK, and kept coming up short. It doesn't help that I have a bit of a thing against wearing a rainbow colour on the top and black on the bottom (I could not tell you why, I just never like the way it looks on me), which I probably should have considered before I cut this out. This is the closest I get to liking it - leaning in to the contrast and wearing it with full-on bright mustard yellow. I think this looks good, but I really don't want to have to co-ordinate my outfit around my coats.

This would be an incredibly quick and easy sew (by coat standards), except for one thing: it's unlined, so there is a crapton of seam finishing to do, and for some reason the pattern instructions don't mention this at all. They tell you to finish the raw edge of the facing and that's it. I muddled my way through most of the finishing - I used bias binding on all the seams (Hong Kong finish on the main seams and normal binding on the pockets and armholes) because I wanted it to look nice, but really had no idea which order to do things in to get the best end result. Honestly, it's not worked all that well. The fabric, as I mentioned, is slightly too thick for the style of the coat and as a result it all feels a bit bulky and unwieldy. I wanted to use a Liberty bias binding for cool floral insides, but then that would have cost about £40 and I didn't want it THAT much. I used a not-quite-matching purple for most of the seams, and a grey for the sleeve seams because I ran out and the sleeves seemed like the least conspicuous place.

This coat also has in-seam pockets, and I'll be honest, I just hate them. They're awkward, they're not comfortable for me to put things in, and they bulge when I cinch the waist in. I knew I was going to hate them before I even started, but I didn't know what I could switch them out for in an unlined coat and a coat with no pockets is just stupid. I don't desperately need everything to have pockets if it doesn't work for the pattern, but I bought a pocket-free coat once ages ago, and it drove me absolutely nuts. Where else can I awkwardly shove my hands?? On second thought, don't answer that.

Beyond the seams I made very few adjustments other than to shorten the pattern to knee length (partly because that was my original intention, partly because at mid-calf length this thing gives off a slight air of bathrobe). I was intending to just sew up the side seams rather than having the splits, but aforementioned lack of bias binding forced my hand and in retrospect I'm glad. This is a super-simple coat and it's nice to have that little detail there.

I still really like the style of this coat and if I could find my way around the bits I didn't like, I would definitely make it again. I would definitely want to switch out the pocket, so if anyone could recommend an alternative pocket type that won't look like ass in an unlined coat, please let me know! I would also want a lighter, drapier fabric that would allow me to just French seam the whole coat, skipping all the stupid bulky seaming bits, and a slightly more workable colour. I'll be on the lookout.

While we're here, here's a proper look at the dress, which I don't think requires its own post as I've covered the Ruska dress pretty thoroughly:

This wasn't at all what I intended to make (I wanted a waist seam and a slightly roomier skirt) but I used most of the fabric trying out Vogue 9023, which I hated. I should have dealt with it long enough to take a picture, but it's one of the most unflattering things I've ever seen on me. Part of that is just personal preference, but a chunk of the credit also has to go to the sleeves, which were HUGE. I have never seen sleeve caps that big. They were so much higher and wider than my usual well-fitting jersey sleeves that I was able to literally cut them off the dress (leaving a decent amount of fabric behind in the seam allowance), lay the Ruska sleeve over the top and comfortably cut new ones. Which in a way is good, because I wouldn't have had enough fabric for a second full dress otherwise. This isn't my ideal dress, but it is good enough to be wearable, and I don't have to be sad that I wasted this SUPER soft ponte. It's from Fabric Land and it's lovely.

My summer sewing plans will be up next. Spring didn't go well for me at all (in terms of ability to actually sew and success rate of the finished pieces), so I'm excited to move away from it and start thinking about a fresh set of projects, hopefully with overall better results! I am still intending to make the bag set at some point soon, though.

Simplicity 8554 coat

Fabric: Violet wool crepe from Walthamstow Market
Cost: £9
Pattern details: Drapey unlined wrap coat with collar, tie belt and side seam pockets
Size: 18, 20 in the hip
Alterations: Shortened to knee length
Would make again/would recommend: Maybe/Maybe

Monday, 13 May 2019

chill projects: Zadie jumpsuit

I'm back! It's been a pretty unpleasant time, but doing Me Made May these past couple of weeks has invigorated me somewhat and I've been able to make things again. I was intending to come back with a Big Project, but I need a bit more time to write that up, so here's an unplanned palate cleanser instead:

This is the Paper Theory Zadie jumpsuit, which literally everybody has made already and so it doesn't really require a review. But I'm going to do it anyway because this is my blog and I can do what I want.

I actually wasn't that convinced by the sample garments the first time I looked at the pattern. The fit looked - not really bad, but not the way I prefer to wear my clothes. I was quite resolute in not making it until a couple of months ago, when half the people I follow on Instagram suddenly all posted amazing versions and I decided what the hell, I was going to go for it it too. My initial thought was "ooh, maybe this is the pattern for my raspberry red linen from Mood" but I wasn't just going to cut into that for an untested pattern, regardless of how little fitting it claimed to require, so I picked this viscose up from Walthamstow for a trial.

There is a lot of ease in the finished pattern, and bearing in mind my thoughts on the product photos I decided to size down (16 top, 18 hips) for mine. It's still super comfy and has plenty of room, but it's not as oversized as I think is intended. For me, I like this fit a lot better. I took about a centimetre off the length of the bodice as my waist is super short, and that's worked well. The jumpsuit is meant to be cropped but I'm really not sure about that length on me, so I added as much as I could to the legs, which was maybe a couple of inches; the layout is SUPER efficient and there was barely any space at all to add length. While I very much appreciate the lack of fabric wastage, I also hate single layer cutting - we have a very long, thin kitchen floor which allows me exactly the right amount of space to cut fabric on the fold, but for this I was shifting things all over the place and it made it much harder to see how much space I was going to have. That's not a complaint about the pattern, just the reality of choosing to live in London. Sigh. I pieced some cuffs together out of the few scraps remaining at the end so that I didn't have to hem any of the length away. 

Construction was incredibly simple. I French seamed all of the insides apart from the bodice seam with the hole in it and the front crotch seam, since the bias binding starts and ends there. Making the bias binding was the only really fiddly bit of the whole process; if you have a bias tape maker it's probably fine, but since I do not, I used my hair straighteners instead. I do NOT have the dexterity to do pressing that small and precise with a regular iron (I've tried, I burned my fingers), so hair straighteners it is. I picked up that tip from a "what's your bad sewing habit" post full of women going "tee hee sometimes I only turn my jersey hems up ONCE, what a naughty naughty sewist I am" and decided that it was genius. It makes small fiddly bits so much easier to handle and if it's wrong I don't care to hear about it, frankly. 

This is astonishingly comfortable to wear. It's completely non-restrictive but allows me to have a waist at the same time, which is perfect. I will almost certainly make another couple over the summer. I really want to use my Mood linen for one of these, but I'm a little bit worried about fabric requirements as I only have two and a half yards and I'm really not sure about making a cropped leg. I'll experiment a bit with the layout and see what I can come up with! 

 Zadie Jumpsuit

Fabric: Printed viscose from Walthamstow Market
Cost: £7
Pattern details: Wrap-front jumpsuit with cropped legs, big pockets and bias bound neckline made from self fabric
Size: 16 bodice, 18 hips
Alterations: Added length to legs, reduced length of bodice
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes

Up next: I actually made the coat I wasn't sure I'd be able to do! It's purple!