Thursday, October 27, 2011

Coat Notes

   Since I plan to sew some more coats using the same Burda 8292 pattern, I thought it would do me (and hopefully any sewing novice) good to take note of some tips and tricks to make the future process seamless (no pun intended).

1) Pretreat fabrics.
Wool Coating Fabric

Flannel-backed sating lining (Kasha)

I love shopping for fabrics. I hate pretreating them. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. But there is no getting around this initial step. There are so many helpful info online on how to pretreat fabrics. I chose to preshrink my wool fabric in the dryer instead of steaming it on the ironing board or bringing it to the dry cleaners. I threw it in with two damp bath towels and set the dryer to medium heat for 30 minutes. I did the same thing with the satin lining.

2) Interfacing

Pro-Weft Fusible Interfacing

   To be honest, I have never thought about preshrinking interfacing. I've been lucky so far. None of the interfaced yokes of my past skirt projects did not seem to pucker after washing. But I decided to do it differently here. I was committed to prewashing my interfacing until I learned about Fashion Sewing Supply. The owner has great tutorials on her website and she sells professional grade interfacing that don't require any pretreatment at all. So I was sold!

3) Tools

   Unlike Ina Garten who does not recommend buying kitchen tools that don't multitask, I like gadgets, sewing gadgets that is. As long as they will help make my sewing look more professional, I don't mind investing.

Walking Foot

   This foot is probably one of the more versatile ones in my sewing closet. I originally bought this for my quilting projects but I find myself reaching for this more often than not while sewing apparels. It makes sewing slippery fabrics like silk less frustrating. Same with wool. My fabric was quite thick and using this walking foot ensured an even feeding.

Buttonhole foot

   I was dreading the part where I had to start sewing buttonholes on the coat. The fabric frayed easily and I knew there was no room for ripping any stitches at this point. I knew I would end up with a mess and I was sure my coat would end up in the bin of failed or never-finished projects. I considered doing bound buttonholes but I've never done it before and after reading tutorials on it, I thought my fabric was not suitable. But to my pleasant surprise, all the buttonhole stitches turned out perfect!

Buttonhole Cutter and Snip Scissors

   Of course, no matter how perfect the buttonhole stitches are, if you don't have the right tools to cut, it will still end up in a mess. I have had this buttonhole cutter set for the longest time. And the super slim blade of the snipping scissors is perfect for making small precise cuts through the threads.

   It goes without saying to use the appropriate machine needle and thread. And of course, one can never sew without a good iron on the side.

4) Seams

   I did not bother to finish the seams of my coat or lining as they were going to be hidden inside the lining anyway. But next time, I will definitely finish the seams on the hem. When it was time to sew the hems together, the wool fabric started fraying and I am not sure with time how well the fabric will hold up to the pull of the lining.

   It is also important to press open the seams after stitching. I used a scrap piece of fabric for my pressing cloth and the wool responded to ironing with steam beautifully.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Think Pink

My first attempt at sewing a winter coat was inspired by the "Think Pink" contest of Pattern I've always pined after Natalie Portman's pink wool coat in "Black Swan." Hers was a double breasted peacoat but I prefer the classic cut so I used Burda pattern 8292. This is my first time using a Burda pattern and the only thing I don't like about it is the lack of detailed instructions and illustrations. But sewing a muslin eliminated the need for any seam ripping later on. That would have been disastrous as the fabric I used for the coat frayed easily.

I didn't want to splurge on my first attempt for a wool coat so I purchased a dusty wool coating fabric that went on sale at Fashion Fabrics Club.

This is no Italian wool coating. It is a bit rough and has a basketweave like finish.
 For the price I could not complain.

For the lining I used a flannel-backed satin. This was a pleasure to work with as the backing eliminated much of the slipping and sliding one encounters with regular satin linings.

 Kasha satin in mink purchased from Vogue

Since the smallest size on the Burda pattern was 36,
I had to do some adjusting on the pattern before
cutting the fabrics.


I used Pro-Weft fusible interfacing on the fronts, collars and hems. I was so glad this brand of interfacing did not require any pre-treatment at all!

Before I show the finished product, here are some more pics illustrating some of the steps in the sewing process. To me, the only confusing part was the collar section. I found out that by pressing the seams open after each step, it was easier to figure out how the undercollar and collars attach to each other.

Attaching the pocket and pocket facing.

Sewing the front seams.

Sewing the back side seams.

 Sewing the front self facings.

Sewing collars.

Basting undercollar to collar.

Finished collar.

Collar attachments to be sewn together.

Bottom hem.


Lining assembled.

Lining attached.

 Hemming the lining.

Buttonholes finished

Attaching the buttons.

I attached smaller buttons on the wrong side of the coat to anchor the outside buttons.

Overall I am happy with this project. But I think my daughter is happier as she ended up with the coat. Although I originally intended this challenge to come up with something I could wear, I decided to let her have it as it fitted her better.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Crescent Skirt

Hot off the sewing machine is my latest sewing project.
 I started off sewing this skirt for my favorite client (my daughter) but after trying it on, I fell in love with it and decided to sew one for myself!

Typical of my "fabriholic" ways, I purchased this polka dot cotton twill stretch fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics after falling in love with the colors of the dots even though I had no particular project in mind. As fate would have it, the website had a pattern suggestion and one thing led to another. I ended up buying the Crescent Skirt pattern from Tasia of Sewaholic.

The pattern was multisized from 0-16 and I traced two sizes, one for me and one for my daughter. I decided to sew the version with the least amount of gathering.

Attaching the single-piece side pocket to front skirt.

Assembling the yoke front and back.

Topstitching on yoke.

Yoke attached to the skirt.

Zipper attachment.

Twill tape applied to seam.

Back view of finished skirt.

Close-up of side pocket. Love the pockets!

Stylin' my skirt with J. Crew Jackie cardigan and shell and Stuart Weitzman "Blog" pumps.

 Skirt worn with sweater shell tucked out.

With shell tucked in to show off the yoke.

 Back view of skirt.

 Side view of skirt.

This pattern is definitely worth its price. Sewing the skirt is a breeze and the techniques included make for a professional looking end product. You will probably see more of this silhoutte from me in the future!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Monique Dress

I haven't posted for such a long time! Visiting relatives and son going to college got me distracted. I still managed to sew several outfits for my daughter but just did not get the chance to post them here. So let me introduce "The Monique Dress."

I loved sewing this dress. The pattern was so simple, yet it gave me the option to be creative and mix several different fabrics to make a unique, one of a kind dress. I’m sure the chances of my daughter bumping into somebody wearing the same outfit are nil!

 Fabrics and pattern (Boutique Chic by Serendipity Studio) were purchased from Jackman's Fabrics.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The One-Hour Top (Jali 2444)

After hours of toiling on the prom gown, I needed to work on something easier to give me time to recover and restore balance (sort of yin and yang). So I decided to finally bring my collection of knits out of storage and put them to good use.

For the past six months, I have been alternating two L.L. Bean activewear tops for my three-day a week workout. Needless to say, they are now both worn out from frequent trips to the washing machine and dryer. Every time I see a pretty workout top from the store or online, I am tempted to buy it but I don’t because: 1) it probably won’t fit me (usually too long), 2) it is too flimsy and 3) I am not willing to shell out $35.00 or more on something I can easily whip out myself. In my search for moisture-wicking fabrics, I learned that duo-dry, dri-fit, dry-flex, and performance fabric all refer to the same thing.

   I was lucky enough to find some really pretty prints from on sale. I only needed half a yard for a top but the minimum purchase was one yard. I used Jalie pattern 2444 which is now out of print but still available online for download. This was a quick project. The only delay was figuring out the right size. I constructed two tops from some scratch knit fabrics using two different sizes and determined which one worked best for me. Once I decided on the right size, it was pretty much like assembly line sewing. One can easily finish this top in an hour without any interruptions. But alas, people in this household have to eat. So I have to cook!

I love this pattern as it allowed me to mix and match fabrics. I used twin needle stitching on the first one. On the last two I just topstitched with a single needle as I noticed that the fabric tended to bunch up in between the two lines of stitches.
Next time, I will try to extend the armhole and see if I can make a cap sleeve. As for now, I have one outfit for each workout day of the week.