The Lace Trench Coat Part 4: Construction and Details

After I got all 108 pieces (yes 108!) cut out, underlined and interfaced, things began looking more like a coat. Marfy patterns do not have any instructions, or seam allowances and limited markings. They are a “challenging sew”. They are the most magnificent patterns I have ever used, but they are not a lunch time project.

We must begin with the constructing the gorgeous pocket flaps. These, along with the pockets are inserted into the princess seams. So, pocket flaps and pocket construction should be done even before interfacing the front panels.

The pocket flaps are basted along the princess seam. The pocket bags are sewn to the side panel and the center front panel. Under stitch the pocket bag on the pocket bag side of the seam. After this step, you can connect the pocket bags right sides together. 

The side panel and center front panels are sewn together, stopping at the pocket bag stitch line and continuing again at the bottom of the pocket bag. The back panels are also sewn together at this time. We now attach the horsehair canvas to the front and the back as I laid out here. And we pad stitch, pad stitch, pad stitch. For women out there, you will want to have this interfacing go up and over your breast tissue, hence the unusual curve below.

Here you can see the front lapels before they are closed up. All the belting hardware for the jacket came from Pacific Trimming. It is fantastic! They have a great weight and professional finish.

For a great hem finish, I use a canvas interfacing, known in the States as Wigan bias interfacing. It is whip stitched into place. Given all the handwork already in this garment, I decided to had finish the hems instead of “bagging the lining”

All that is left are buttons and button holes!

Happy Sewing!

The Lace Trench Coat Part 1: Planning

Ahhh, October. The leaves have changed, the air is crisper, the nights are cozier and we in the sewing community focus on slow or sustainable sewing. It took me a few days to decide how to celebrate this slow sewing season, but as I was reaching for my wool overcoat this morning, it hit me. I have been wanting to make a Burberry inspired trench for a few years now, but full disclosure, I have been a little intimidated to begin. I wanted to do it correctly and build a beautiful coat that lasts. I also know how much time a project like this takes. For me, this is not an afternoon and done project. This Slow Fashion October project will most likely also move into Slow Fashion November.

The Pattern

I have always loved the clean, classic and traditional Burberry Tench, but I also appreciate how the brand isn’t afraid to remix the classic into something new and modern. I absolutely fell head over heels for the lace versions that the brand launched a few years back. It has been on my sewing dream team for a while, but I had a very specific vision for this garment. The vision is so specific that even with all the trench coat patterns out there, I could not find one that was a classic Knightbridge silhouette. I decided to added an extra challenge to this project and choose two Marfy patterns to combine. I will be using Marfy 3511 with Marfy 3201. Even with these two patterns, I will still need to make a couple of modifications. Neither pattern has a back storm flap and I would like a slim sleeve like the Burberry version, so I am thinking I may need to do a three piece sleeve. I will know for sure once I make up the toile.

Mary 3201
Marfy 3511

The Fabric

In my stash, there is a cobalt blue lace, originally meant for bridesmaids dress (totally different story) that I wanted to use. The issue became what to use for the backing. I finally settled on this Kaufman Ventana Twill. It is not waterproof, but I heard that a local dry cleaner may be able to apply a waterproof coating to the fabric. It is certainly something I will consider. I am also planning to underline the coat with a cotton flannel for a little extra warmth. I do have a slight concern that this is going to make the whole thing too bulky, but we shall see. Now that the shell and underling fabrics are all sorted, I needed to focus on the internal structures. I will need, hair canvas, fusible interfacing, pellon Sew-in canvas and muslin. All of these extra inner pieces are used in traditional tailoring. Craftsy teacher, Alison Smith, is the brilliant teacher holding my hand through this process. For the trimmings, I am needing to source buttons, clear under buttons, buckles, and  D-Rings.

This is my Sewing Planner page for this garment:

My next step will be making my toile. Stay Tuned.

xoxo Kathryn

Sew Over It: Betty

The other day, I was in an Instagram rabbit hole, where I stumbled upon a fellow sewing instagramer who had made the cutest summer dress. It was just the garment I was craving to fill my closet. The photo is tagged as a “SOIBetty”, so I did what any reasonable person would do and binge watched the Sew Over It You Tube channel. I feel a little late to the Sew Over It Party. I did not know what I was missing! After watching video after video of Lisa Comfort do everything from introducing her new patterns, to walking to work, I decided this little lady was so adorable I had to try one of her creations.

The Pattern

I downloaded the .pdf Sew Over It Betty dress and put the pattern together as soon as my two children, Queen B and Little Coyote, would allow. I cut out the what I would call the size 11. I was between the size 10 and the size 12. At the first muslin fitting, I made my standard fitting updates to the bodice. I usually have to narrow the shoulder, shorten the front armhole, adjust for a fuller bust and length the front body. I also took off about 7 inches from the skirt. These are all standard updates for my body shape.

 I made one additional change to the pattern, by adding a cut seam at center front of the skirt. I chose one of the Rifle Paper Co. fabrics with a subtle directional print. Due to the circumference of skirt the layout would have had the flowers growing sideways at center front. I typically don’t read the instructions, but as I was waiting for the pattern to print, I gave them a read through. They were all very clear and the pictures were detailed. I loved working with this pattern. With the basic body fit changes I made, it fit very well. It is also a lot of fun to wear. I feel feminine, summery and fun.

The Fabric

The fabric I chose for this make is Cotton + Steel Rifle Paper Co Amalfi Herb Garden Navy. At the time of writing this, there is still some more available. In the description, the fabric says that it is a “navy”, but I see a lot more green in it than you would see in a true navy.

The Process

I decided to do an underlining in a basic cotton muslin. I like the feeling that an underlining gives a garment. It just makes the body feel more substantial and durable. I did not line the bodice, but instead finished it with the facings included in the pattern. Since I was not lining the garment I added a large facing to the hem. Since the skirt is so full, there is a lot more opportunity to see in inside of the skirt as I walk or even just sit. This gave it a much cleaner look and added a fun, secret pop of color.

This dress is a little different than most that I have made or purchased, but I love it. I can see myself wearing it summer after summer.

Happy Sewing!

xoxo Kathryn

Classic French Cardigan Jacket: Sew Along Part 3

It is almost unbelievable, but I had a moment to finish this jacket. It is an accidental example of the #slowsewingmovement. I am not entirely sure why, but she feels like butter to wear. I think it has mostly to do with the armhole. Since it is high and tight, I have freedom of movement, and as any active woman knows, this is vital to wearablity.  The time and the attention taken to this piece really made a world of difference. When wearing it, there is no pulling or tugging or slipping. It is light weight and the chain at the hem really does make a world of difference. As you can see, I did not do any buttons on this jacket. With all the new skills and the new fabric, I wanted to get a little more experience with the button holes on this kind of fabric before I went whole hog. I am planning on a second attempt in the future and there will be buttons with that design.

My only complaint about this jacket is the trim. I have changed the trim three times and I am still not satisfied. Finding the perfect trim might be one of those things that just has to stay in the back of my mind on future shopping trips.

Now enough gushing and on to the details of construction. All the internal seams are hand closed, which is not as tedious as it sounds. Sit down with Netflix and fell stitch away. There are no shoulder pad. Since the seam allowances are so wide, they excess is kept and used to shape the shoulder of the garment.The sleeves are set by hand. This gets the sleeve to sit just right in the armhole and helps the over all comfort and mobility. All of the lining finishing is also fell stitched. And finally the chain is attached.

All of the effort was well worth it. The jacket is very wearable. I would like to make my next one with a center front button closure. For the moment, I am going to move on to a project that does not take me years to complete. In fact, I am in the planing stages of a new project, with a slightly shorter construction time. Stay tuned.

XO Kathryn

Classic French Cardigan Jacket: Sew Along Part 2

Much like sailing, couture “is so not the fastest way to get anywhere” (Summer Roberts, OC), but like sailing the journey and experience are far superior.

The second muslin fitting went well. I added about an extra 1/2″ to the sides to achieve a more relaxed fit, but still keep structured feel. Due to this, the armhole needed another small adjustment. I can not stress how important the shoulder and armhole shape is to this garment. Paying extra attention to have this area of the jacket fit properly will truly make all the difference in overall look and feel.

Next came the usual couture techniques, thread tracing pattern pieces and stabilizing with silk organza. While in most couture garments, there is an underlining, usually in silk organza, to help the stabilize the garment and keep its shape, on this jacket the quilting acts in a similar manner. However, there are a few spots that deserve extra attention and reinforcement.

 The front and back side princess panels have a small amount in the shoulder and armhole area for two reasons. One, the quilting does not often reach up into this area. Two, most woman carry things on their shoulders and the organza helps to keep the shape in this area and as mentioned before, shoulders are so important to this garment.

The second spot that I added the organza to was in the center front panels. For this iteration of the jacket, I added it to the entire front panel and also included a strip of organza stay tape to the center front. The will keep the center front hanging perpendicular to the hem. You want to be careful not to go overboard on reinforcement for this jacket. To achieve the proper look and feel, it needs to maintain a certain amount of “softness”. If too much silk organza is added, you lose the cardigan properties and lean too far into true jacket territory.

After thread tracing the pattern pieces and stay stitching the silk organza into place, I started to quilt the lining to the fashion fabric. Everyone seems to approach this just a little different, but there are a few principles to be sure to adhere to. Start and stop 2″ away from the top of each piece and 2″ from the hem. Place each of the quilt lines about 1″ apart. Due to of the variegation of color in the fabric that I am using, I started by basting the pieces in a standout color to help guide me along the grain of the garment. After quilting and sewing the vertical seams together, I learned an important lesson. The quilting will alter the fit slightly, making it just a little smaller. Keep this in mind when you do you initial fit.

Happy Sewing,

XO Kathryn

Classic French Cardigan Jacket: Sew Along Part 1

There are a few fashion staples that have lasted the test of time. The classic french jacket, brought to life by trailblazer Coco Chanel, is at the top of this list. The magic of this jacket is hard to deny. It should fit like a dream and work in all occasions and for all personalities. It can be paired with a ball gown to attend an opera or it can be thrown over a tee shirt and a pair of jeans to run to the grocery. It is simple in design, but complicated and rich in construction. It is the perfect juxtaposition. In the next few weeks (hopefully, not months or years, but with a young child, who can say), I want to take you on a journey with me as I build my first.

After weeks of obsessive, and I do mean obsessive, research and study on everything from fit to sleeve reinforcement. Every free moment, and even those that where allotted to a different task, I watched and rewatched online videos, googled pictures, watch tutorials and read and reread articles on the subject. I was thinking about it so much during the waking hours, I even dreamt about it at night. It is actually quite remarkable the amount of information that is available to something so elusive. It took weeks, but I finally feel ready to tackle this spectacular wardrobe staple. I am combining a few different methods from what I have found on the subject, but I am starting with a pattern from the very talented Susan Khaljie. The online course Susan teaches is also very informative.

Susan’s pattern is the closest pattern I have found because it includes the the elegant three piece sleeve. There could be sonnets written about the Chanel jacket armhole and, by extension, sleeves. Coco Chanel was obsessed with the proper fit on a sleeve and it shows in her work to this day. It is said that she would fit and refit a sleeve many times to achieve the desired fit. As a designer and seamstress myself, I can agree with her wholeheartedly that the importance of this portion of the garment can not be underestimated. A proper armhole and sleeve not only impacts the fit and wearablity, it impacts the the overall look. The proper shape can take the ho hum to stunning. It the case of the this french jacket, the secret is to keep  the armseye high and the shoulders narrow. This gives the jacket a cleaner, streamlined look. Since the actual sleeve pattern has three pieces, there is more opportunity to create a narrow sleeve that still allows for movement and without creating drag lines.

After determining the best size for my shoulder width, I started tracing that pattern pieces to my muslin. I have sewn for myself for many years and I am keenly aware of my “unique structural difference”, as I like to call them. I have narrow shoulders, a large, high bust, and a long torso, so when I cut out the pattern I left plenty of fabric in these areas to use in the fitting. 

After tracing, marking, and cutting out the muslin, came the thread tracing. This portion was very straight forward and certainly made fitting the garment easier. Knowing what I do about my “structural differences”, I did my first fitting with just pins. You can see just how much I had to add to the bust line in the picture below. The pink thread line is the original pattern. The red pencil line is the new seam line. I only needed to add to the side front panel. This kept the princess seam crossing my apex perfectly. I am certainly glad that I had all that extra fabric! Because I also have a short length between my shoulder and apex, I was also required reshape the armhole. 

When fitting the muslin to get the right fit, be sure that the waist point starts high, the shoulder point is correctly placed and the armseye is high. For my muslin, I began bringing the waist in just below the end of the bust curve. This jacket is a second layer piece, so it should not be skin tight. There should be ease when finished. The shoulder point is at the edge of your shoulder as it becomes your arm. To find this point without a dress form, hold your arm straight out to your side palm down, run your finger from the other hand across the top of your shoulder until you hit a small dimple between your arm and shoulder. The shoulder side of this dimple is your shoulder point and the seam line should fall here.  

Next I will be sewing up the muslin and doing the second fitting. I cannot wait. Stay tuned.

xoxo Kathryn