Made by Me!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse - Finished!

It's a dark Sunday evening and I am cocooned in a snugly jumper and a pair of handmade Margot pyjama bottoms from Tilly's book, 'Love at First Stitch', trying to forget I have to get up for work tomorrow. I want to sew but I can't quite gather the energy to move so I thought I would type up my review of the Pussy Bow Blouse from 'Sew Over It' instead. It's a lot more glamorous than my current get up (although having only just made pj's for the first time they are so much nicer than shop bought ones and made in a lovely bright Liberty Tana lawn for some added luxury).

This pattern has been around for ages. How have I not managed to sew this beauty up before? It is in essence a pretty easy make, though I chose to make it in the most annoying fabric. I decided having never sewn anything in silk I would make an effort to rectify this and bought some of the most beautifully patterned and coloured dobby satin silk from the lovely Dragonfly Fabrics. Now I bought this a good few months ago but they still have some in stock so grab it here if you like it. The fabric features tree branches and lovely splashes of pinks, blues and other colours in the background. It is truly sumptuous. If you have not heard of dobby before then the first thing you notice about this fabric are the lines of  thread that punctuate throughout, which look slightly like small stitches in lines across the fabric.

The fabric is very fluid and drapey and so great for this shirt pattern but so difficult to cut out. I know now that there are much better ways to cut silk than laying the expensive fabric on carpet and cutting out with my scissors, but I am like bull in a china shop and just got on with it choosing to learn from experience rather than the warnings of others. I would avoid this technique as it is only by the skin of my teeth that the pieces I cut out were OK and if they weren't so great the mistakes were often hidden in the seam allowances. I spent ages laying it smoothly on the floor, carefully lining the fabric up and trying to pin the pattern pieces on without pulling the fabric all over the place. It took FOREVER!! The lines on the dobby silk were actually quite useful for positioning the fabric correctly and about the only reason the pattern pieces weren't all stretched out disasters...!

I went to the effort of hand sewing the pieces together, with a double whammy of pinning them with silk pins as well before putting them through the machine as I was worried they may slip all over the place. This worked well and everything sewed up nicely. It was especially important for the front of the shirt which is made up of two pattern pieces. I wanted to pattern match the tree branches and general pattern across the front. I am actually really surprised it looks this good due to the inaccuracies during cutting out, but it worked and looks pretty great if I do say so myself.

I sewed up the version with the lower neckline. The ties are sewn right to the bottom of the v-neck in this version and the tie hangs low on the shirt. You can style it with a big bow or leave the ties hanging down. I think it's a really flattering style. I love the way the sleeves pool at the wrist, the cuffs are small and delicate and the closure is a button and a loop of fabric. It is the epitome of feminine style.

I finished off the the seam allowances using a french seam to avoid fraying and to neaten the edges in a nice way. Silk deserves the classiest of finishes, don't you agree?! Annoyingly I managed to snip the fabric in one place whilst trimming the seam allowances back and had to quickly fix it with a small piece of iron on fusible interfacing. Its like you try so hard not to snip you involuntarily cause yourself to make mistakes.

I would like to make this up again in a more stable fabric as I think the finish would be better. I am not sure after hanging it in my closet that the hem isn't a touch wonky and on close inspection the v in the neck where the tie is attached wasn't easy to finish neatly with this fabric. Thankfully its hidden by the tie when its done up. And hey I am being critical as I am proud of this shirt. It is my first wearable silk item using a fabric I have been nervous of sewing up, forever. 

So what do you think? Have you made a pussy bow blouse before or are thinking of lining one up on your sewing list? Happy sewing whatever you are making!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Wear Lemonade Dita Dress - Finished!

The Dita dress from Wear Lemonade has been on my 'must do' list for a while, though I only recently bought the pattern. I have been hearting this pattern company and their uber cool French style and the effortless chic of their designs for a while and eventually I had to give in and buy this pattern.

I think you can tell from my previous post about the gorgeous Elskan dress from Charlotte Kan that I love a good old batwing dress. The Dita is another dress that utilises this eighties silhouette but also features a really flattering wrap design. The dress is made to wear either with the v-neck at the front or the back which gives the dress a lot of versatility. I personally prefer the dress worn in the traditional way with the low cut wrap at the front, though this is only because I don't think high necks are my thing.

The reason that prompted me to eventually buy this pattern (other than loving the design) is because I was venturing to the posh bit at Ascot racecourse and needed a dress. I don't have loads of Ascot worthy dresses as my going out clothes rarely get more exciting than jeans and a top and loads of things from last year are frankly too small (sad face). The dress code for Ascot is pretty strict - dresses to be at least knee length, no strapless, halter neck or spaghetti straps and no exposed midriffs.....pah like any member of the public is going to get a glimpse of my midriff any time soon! But in all seriousness I was out of work and needed a quick, simple, cheap make that feels glam. So in walks Dita.

I wanted a drapey, flowing fabric but originally wanted something with a little body. I thought crepe would be a winter ready dress fabric that would have a lovely drape and would work well with the dress. I looked everywhere as I had specific ideas of what I wanted, which always means you can't find anything at all...! Long story short I came across the gorgeous digital tapestry crepe fabric on the Sew Over It website. It wasn't quite what I was thinking of but I liked its bold colours and in narrowing down my search I kept coming back to it. When it arrived, whilst I loved the colours, I was a little disappointed that it was more like a polyester silk type fabric - I also thought it was black not navy in the background though that is probably due to my computer monitor giving me a false colour representation. The fabric is very smooth, swishy and drapey but also really thin (should have read lightweight on the fabric description and believed it!). I didn't think a crepe was like that though so it was a real surprise, I always assumed it was a slightly heavier, rough feeling fabric. This meant I went through lots of pre-sewing thinking about whether to interline the fabric to give it more body or just to get on with it and sew... In the end after buying some black lawn to interline it with I decided not to bother because I wasn't sure whether it would work well and in honesty I was in danger of running out of sewing time before the big event.

Cutting this fabric out was a little annoying as it stretches slightly when you lay it out but with time and perseverance it was OK in the end. I think the skirt section on one bit was a little uneven but nothing that couldn't be hidden in construction. Sewing it was such a pleasure. I assumed it may slip all over the place but actually it was super easy to control and sew. The overlocker didn't really like it that much but to be honest sometimes it just throws a hissy fit and I have no idea why...

The construction is super simple as there are so few elements to sew together and there are no tricky techniques, so its perfect for beginners. In the end I whipped it up pretty quickly. The thing that took time was hemming the skirt as there is quite a lot of fabric. Things that you should be aware of with this pattern. The skirt is shorter than I would normally cut and sew, I lengthened it to the longest length available on the pattern and it was just right for me (just above the knee) but I would say if you are tall you may find it comes up a little short. The tie needed sewing down rather than just pressing, but this is likely due to my fabric choice more than anything. Without topstitching it looked a little 'baggy'. The biggest thing with this pattern is that the front falls open which can be annoying and the facing can pop out a little. I found that even when securing the front facing at the shoulders and at the waist it popped out and this is mostly due to the fact the front naturally sags which is part of the design. Wear Lemonade suggest a pin at the bust but I think this looks a little like it doesn't fit plus I wasn't sure this fabric would take kindly to having holes put in it. My preference was to purchase a lacy slip from M&S. Works a treat. So if the front falls open a little it doesn't feel like I am exposing myself to the world.

The best bits about this pattern are that its a really flattering design, it sews together impeccably and it has English translation alongside the French sewing terms. OK not all of it is perfect but its 99.9% perfect and so much easier than trying to decipher the French! Basically I love it so much and think after all my worries the fabric is just perfect for this pattern. I feel like I have a proper going out dress now. Just have to find another occasion to wear it!!

I hope you liked reading about Dita. What is on your sewing table today?

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Elskan Jersey Dress - Finished!

I'm back! It has been a while ..... but I have very good excuses, promise! I got married and became a Mrs, had a lovely honeymoon and in the middle of all of that lost my sewing mojo with the sheer amount of logistical planning and stress inherent with planning your big day.... I didn't think it would create so much pressure!! Plus my camera broke but that just gave me an excuse to upgrade! But back to sewing...

After coming back from a hot, sunny Sri Lankan holiday I was immediately freezing cold as autumn had descended in my absence. I have a decided lack of winter clothes in my wardrobe and I seem to have put on weight since last year, though this could have been helpfully aided by the 3 weeks of constant curry eating..! I have been searching around for some cozy jersey makes to whip up and keep me warm in the cold season when I came across the beautiful Elskan dress from Charlotte Kan. Love at first sight!

The Elskan has a very eighties vibe to it which I am all over. I am loving the cowl neck and batwing sleeves (which I remember falling in love with when I was about 8 or 9). The way the top of the dress falls over the belly and comes down into a fitted skirt helps cover the extra curry podge but show off your better assets. It's basically super flattering, meaning its fast becoming a staple of my wardrobe because it makes me feel great. Until selling them on eBay recently (to buy more material) I owned a few jersey dresses from a few years ago that I will never wear again as the silhouette is straight up and down and I just feel pregnant in them. This has the opposite effect and I think it's a bit of a sexy minx of a dress!

I have actually been wearing my Elskan so much I didn't get round to photographing it until just now so its been in and out of the wash several times. I am happy to say that the Isabella wool jersey purchased from one of my fave fabric shops, Fabric Godmother, is brilliant for this dress and has lasted the test of time so far and still looks brand new. It hasn't pilled yet and I can wear the dress a few times between washes without it feeling like it has gone out of shape. Win, win. I hate making things up in what feels like gorgeous quality fabric only to take it out of the washing machine and find it looks old already. And I am not one to handwash...ever! I admit I am scared of buying jersey online as I rarely feel I know what I am buying and have often bought things that are not fit for the purpose of the garment I want to make up so it was a little bit of a gamble but it paid off. You need a single jersey with at least 50% stretch for this dress as there is a need for a lot of movement in the skirt and not all online companies mention the stretch for each fabric so hard to make confident buying decisions.

This dress requires a lot of fabric for what looks like such a small thing - about 2.5 metres. I made the long sleeved version but you can also omit the tighter sleeve section at the end of the batwing and finish the cuff at the elbow. I love both views. It can also be made into a top and I think I may make this next as I am pretty confident it would also be a flattering comfortable make. Although maybe I will make it in something a little brighter and more colourful next time. I went for black thinking it would be aid the illusion of a svelte silhouette!

The construction is very simple, it has a front and back and two sleeve sections (for the long sleeve version) which are easy to piece together and sew with the overlocker. The trickier bit is the back of the collar which requires sewing on a section of folded over jersey and finishing it with a twin needle topstitch. This is something that I have never done before so the chances of messing it up and having to live with it were high, but it turned out quite nice in the end. The only other elements of any nervousness for me was the hemming of the sleeves and skirt as I never been able to avoid wavy hem so I went into this part of the process with some trepidation. I found following a tip from another seamstress very helpful; lengthening the stitch and then pressing to set the stitches immediately after sewing helps avoid this problem. And it worked! I also made sure to baste all of my pattern pieces together before using my overlocker to avoid the use of loads of pins and to stop the fabric slipping apart in the machine (which it did in practice runs). I feel I may have turned a corner in sewing jersey with this dress and overcome a lot of fears. I feel raring to go on another jersey project now!

So what do you think? Will you be giving the Elskan a whirl?! I think she is a thing of beauty and hope to have many more of them in my life sometime soon!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Adrift Skirt and Wrap Top Finished!

This is the second Papercut patterns make from the Ahoy collection, the Adrift skirt, made in a vibrant African wax print of dazzling primary colours. It feels so summery! I am also wearing a handmade black wrap top which is a version of Megan Nielson's maternity wrap top, just slightly lower cut at the front and with shorter and thinner wrap sections. This was mainly due to lack of fabric. I hadn't really planned to make this top but having made it for a very pregnant friend a few years back it had been playing in the back of my mind that it would work really well as a normal (no baby bump) top! Plus I thought an African wax skirt and a black wrap top was the outfit for early summer that I was after. I was bored one day when I was off in between jobs and just decided to rifle through my stash and the outfit idea  just came together when I found my last scrap of black jersey. This was one of the first pieces of fabric I bought way back when I first started sewing a few years ago. It's kind of nice all this time later to finally make something I will wear out of it.

Have you ever tried to choose African wax's sooo difficult! So many bright colours and patterns to choose from. I bought mine on EBay in the end but it took for blooming ever! Scrolling and scrolling and scrolling,  I just could not make my mind up. In the end you have to settle on something though don't you!? I do like what I chose but now I am salivating over all the other patterns and I want something else!! Originally I wanted to make a pencil skirt with a big tie belt and I think I may well do that on another make soon...

The Adrift skirt is a really simple make. I think it took me about 4 hours in total. The most annoying bit was the rolled hem. I tried my rolled hem foot again (after using it on the Moana top). It was used with mixed success again, mainly because the fabric was a little too thick at the seams to go through the foot without jamming it. I had to do those bits by folding the fabric under by hand and sewing it down with the normal machine foot. You live and learn. I should have seen that coming really but its sooo quick when you get a good run on it.

I thought that the frills would fall with more frilliness but I expect that's due in part to the stiffness of the fabric and I do like the shape of the cross over front and slight waviness of the fabric. And it does look just like the version on the front of the pattern packet. I guess it's just the whole skirt isn't as fitted as I would like, well not in the right places anyway. I am looking forward to trying the dress version in a soft flowy fabric as I think it may fall much better.

When putting on the skirt the waist neither sits properly on my true waist or well actually anywhere. I tried it lower, above the hip, on the waist and anywhere in between and it just doesn't quite work. The top I am wearing tucks in the gaping bit but it still bugs a little and honestly not sure how to rectify it. I think a straight waistband may have worked better for me here.

Instead of the hooks and eyes I used buttons and sewed buttonholes. I just felt like hooks would rub and possibly come undone super easily. That's not the sort of wardrobe malfunction you want walking down the street! I think its a good alternative and it looks nice.

So do I think I will wear it? Yes but possibly not as much as I would like. I think this is in part due to the fact the waistband feels annoyingly off and ill fitted and in part also because the fabric is sooooo super flashy, blingy, here I am can you see me and I am by nature someone who wants to blend... I know you are asking yourself, why choose fabrics like this if this is how I feel?, but I don't regret using the fabric for this project because its exactly what I imagined when I made it. And it's an outfit for a day when I want to be confident and taken notice of. And whilst this project may not be 100% I don't mind. It would be boring if everything you made was super perfect. Its a learning experience after all. The most exciting thing about this pattern is that you can get two such different looks from one pattern and I am really looking forward to making the dress.

Would you like to try this pattern and if so is it the dress or skirt you prefer?

Sunday, 10 April 2016

My Papercut Moana Top - Finished!

You will have seen a number of these lovely Moana tops popping up on bloggers pages in the last few weeks following the Spring release of the Ahoy Collection from Papercut patterns. I have bought four of the patterns from this collection so far, three immediately to take advantage of the early bird discount and then I kept on looking at the Bowline Sweater and couldn't hold off for much longer before buying that and the Waver jacket from a previous collection to boot....Not sure when I will get the time to make all of these things though as my boyfriend has now roped me into making him a shirt, well two shirts now he has seen the Grainline Archer I just whipped up. Anyway you should check out the patterns as the whole collection is a winner and they are steadily becoming one of my favourite pattern makers.

The Moana is a dress pattern with an option for a top which has a dipped hem at the back, is slightly cropped at the front and has a lovely floaty frill at the bottom. I love the dress but the silhouette is not for me, I have a feeling that it will just make me more 'hippy' which is not what you want when you are pear shaped. If I am honest I am not 100% sure that this top is truly the most flattering shape on me but well I started so I finished...! My main issue is that the top doesn't cover my belly...In my head I still think I have the tummy of a 20 year old but its makes such as this that remind me I really don't! Definitely need to get back on the regular!

The fabric is by far my favourite part of this top. Its spring and summer all rolled into one! I got it from Fabric Godmother but unfortunately they don't seem to have any left in any colourway. I have a little bit remaining from the 2 metres I bought and I am thinking about what I can do with it. Maybe a vest or a short skirt, underlined to make the fabric sturdier. Fingers crossed I have enough for something nice.

The construction of the Moana was pretty simple. Maybe not something a total beginner would want to take on but it wasn't overly difficult. I like the way the facing was sewn on, it involved rolling the fabric up and then sewing the pieces together which felt a little counter intuitive and it took me a good five minutes to work out how it would work.

This is the first time I have sewn a zip in this way and I like the look of it so plan to do this on more projects in the future. It makes the zip more of a feature and I am a little bored of invisible zips. I up-cycled it from an old Topshop top and it has worked quite nicely. The only bad thing was there wasn't enough fabric left at the top of the zip itself so it was hard to sew in neatly and the frayed edges poke out a little. Minor really but still annoying.

I have only made a couple of small alterations, and honestly this is why you should do a toile but I am pretty lazy so I kind of do fitting as I go. When I tried it on initially two things stood out - the arms were gaping like hell and the back neckline gaped a little too. Nothing too bad but it was enough that I just didn't feel comfortable in it and I knew it would bug me when wearing it. I ended up taking in the armhole by about 2cms each side. This worked brilliantly and it fits so much better now but the only way I could think to make the back sit properly was to insert a couple of really, really small darts. I wonder if this means my shoulders are sloping forward as this has just created a slightly more fitted effect, curving round the back of the neck. I am hoping it isn't overly obvious.

The hem of the frill is a small rolled hem. I was so close to finishing this top and then I had to contemplate whether to do the hem the long way,  fold over a small hem, sew, clip and then repeat or do it with a rolled hem foot. I tried this foot once before and it made me want to throw the machine out the window so the long way was looking more appealing but I bit the bullet and gave it a go! This time I can't say that it went swimmingly but there was a reasonable stretch of stitching that I didn't mess up. This foot is not as easy to use as the You Tube videos would have you believe but once you get the knack it gets a little easier each time. It seems to be all about feeding the fabric through at a certain angle so the fabric curls under itself. Starting and stopping is very annoying if you end of loosing the fabric part way through but I got there eventually.

I really like the top but may lengthen it slightly next time. I worry too much about my belly bulge!! With a pair of high waisted jeans its just about fine and actually the cropped part of top isn't that cropped especially with the frill but I think a longer one may be more versatile. What do you think? Is the Moana on your sewing list?

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Chambray Grainline Archer Shirt - Finished!

The Archer Button Up Shirt by Grainline Studio is a much blogged sewing pattern but this is for a very good reason. Its awesome. It's the shirt I have been looking and longing for, and I admit it was love at first stitch. By far the easiest thing that looks hard to sew that I have made for a long time. People think you are clever if you can sew a collar stand and collar...but I know the reason isn't my sewing brilliance its the amazing pattern, which is clear, concise and easy to follow. It makes me come across as a seamstress twice my skill and really I have to ask myself why have I not made something from Grainline before? Crazy....Crazy but rectifiable.

This shirt has taken some time to make - about 3 - 4 slow days of sewing - not that any of the stages were particularly difficult but I took my time, enjoying every moment of the process. Its not often I feel a project from start to finish is so pleasurable. The only bit I found hard and is probably not the best part of my shirt are the sleeve plackets. It was just tricky to sew and catch the fabric of the shirt in the placket. I had to re-do one of them just before putting on the cuffs as it kind of came apart.... Now I understand the process though I think the next one will be better.

I chose a chambray as I have wanted, lusted, desired a denim style shirt for AGES!! But alas all of the shop bought ones I have tried seemed to be awful, not my style, too dark, too light, not right. I never found a sewing pattern that fit the bill either. And I have looked for years for the right type of shirt. Now I have to admit the thing that really swung this shirt for me is the party behind. Looks like a shirt from the front, funky and frilly at the back. Its a little more girly, a little bit different and I just thought that it adds a little something to a plain shirt. I didn't even realise that I was missing this feature from all the other shirts I have tried on.

The one thing you do have to be careful of on this pattern is to be slow and steady with your topstitching as there is a load of it to do and dodgy topstitching is an obvious give away that it is a homemade garment. I have been building up to make a pair of jeans but I still feel nervous about the amount of topstitching involved. This shirt helped me to practise that's for sure! It also helps if you press the hell out of everything as well so you get lovely crisp edges. This fabric was just perfect for that and so easy to sew with as well, especially in comparison to the last project!

To add a little colour to the shirt I decided to embroider a few little triangles on to the pocket. I chose bright colours, red, yellow and blue, and then just went for it. I did a couple of practises beforehand and although they aren't perfect I think they look quite nice. I am thinking a lot about embellishments on clothing - I love good embroidery, and no I don't class this as anything like good but it was fun and it added another element to my top. I also added a few little triangles on the button band and may or may not add some on the cuffs. Still thinking about that. But I think I may want to practise something a little bigger and better. Flowers, leaves, something summery...I will have to see if I have the patience!

I am so happy with the results of this shirt and I think I will be making this one again. My only issue with it is I wish I had done French seams on the sleeves as you can see the overlocking stitches in white when I roll up the sleeves. I am not sure I will worry too much about this but it means it isn't perfect. Plus the sleeves are probably an inch too long to wear them down and buttoned but I would rectify that next time. Since making this I have been spying how other people interpreted this and there are some lovely versions out there! Maybe a dress version or a floaty silky version next time. Who knows! Have you made the Archer Button Up? Be great to know how you would sew this one up. Happy sewing to you all.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Why Raymond You Are A Handome Devil!

I present my Raymond coat from Republique Du Chiffon - he's a real looker don't you think? Made from a teal coloured boiled wool from Dragonfly Fabrics (my fabric of choice for coats this season it seems) and a dotty lining from Fabric Godmother which was beyond annoying to cut and work with but I think is very pretty. I chose to make this coat as I wanted a shorter, more casual silhouette than my previous winter coat - check it out here - and I thought this was lovely. The patterns came out last year and I bought it immediately, and without any knowledge of French.... Now buckle up its a long post this time - apologies in advance.
I think teal works really well with my colouring and is pretty complimentary for me - I should make more things in this hue. I am so glad I bought loads of swatches as it’s hard to tell what the best match is for you over an Internet page - and its cheap to do as well so well worth it. They seem to keep the stock of colours in constant circulation so if you order your favourites you can keep them for future reference too.  I am sending a warning out though that it will make you want to buy more than you need!!

This jacket in reality is of a relatively simple construction but I chose to make it into a rather long winded umming and erring process by deliberating over a million and one decisions! Not only that but I broke two needles, screamed at my machine a couple of times and looked perplexed at the instructions on more than one occasion.

One of the decisions that stalled me was whether to use Thinsulate. Thinsulate is a material used in a number of outdoors jackets to provide some wind resistance and warmth - apparently it is one and a half times as warm as down. I tested it yesterday before photographing it and I have to say it does the job along with making the coat feel a little like a dressing gown in cosiness! My last coat proved that whilst it keeps me warm in cold weather, when it gets windy or down to zero the fabric isn't sturdy enough to keep the chill out. That suits me when moving between the tube and street on a daily commute when I get overheated on a regular occurrence but for weekend casual wear or super cold days I wanted something that I could reliably know was going to be a little warmer.

Thinsulate is not easy to find in the UK - I eventually got it from Profabrics after a protracted Google search. I deliberated a long time about whether it was the right thing to use after reading loads of reviews which say its bulky, hard to clean etc.... but in my opinion it isn't that weighty and this coat pattern is designed to be loose enough in fit to accommodate some extra padding. Whilst it may not be dry cleanable I can stick it in the washing machine (and I washed the fashion fabric at a low temperature to make sure it wouldn't shrink when I did - I didn't wash the thinsulate as I am pretty sure it would shred and as a synthetic I don't think it would shrink anyway). In terms of thickness when new it does puff out to about 5mm wide; to visualise the material think of the batting you use between the layers of a quilt, it is essentially the same thing with one side covered in a papery feeling layer with thinsulate written all over it. Now from reading about how others have used it I went against the grain and decided to pin the outer fabric to the thinsulate and use it as one, so using it as an underlining. This allowed me to use the sturdiness of the Thinsulate to add a more heavy and structured appearance to the coats fashion fabric, which isn't very thick at all. Other people suggest quilting the Thinsulate to the lining which I did think about but I found the fabric so difficult to manoeuvre I thought it may look a little bit amateur when finished!

I didn't use Thinsulate in the arms as I was worried about bulk in a tight space, although I sat on that decision for about two weeks, flipping between grading the Thinsulate down at the shoulders so only my torso is covered or using it everywhere for continuity. In the end I used some left over fleece from my Rigel Bomber which I felt would be a thinner alternative whilst still keeping me warm - I now debate whether its thinner but it seems to have worked. It also meant there wasn't a really obvious transition between padded and none padded areas of the coat. The back arm pattern piece goes right across the back of the coat and so I think without another fabric backing the boiled wool you would notice the difference in thickness.

I am not going to lie, some areas are a little too bulky for my liking. When I was putting the front of the coat together I realised the combination of the Thinsulate and facings when the coat was buttoned up would essentially make me look a little like the Michelin man!! I therefore cut out the thinsulate from underneath the facings and it worked a treat. Well until I finished the coat and realised the way you tack the bottom of the coat up means there is a definite change in thickness at the front of the coat and it kind of juts out a little now. Bit sad about that. It could be rectifiable by unpicking the lining and the bottom hem and cutting out the excess thinsulate but I am happy for it just to be a live and learn exercise - life is way too short! I also still think this coat possibly at some angles makes me look HUGE!! Ha ha!! Not sure. I keep walking past mirrors of all kinds - in shops, shop windows, in car windows (I think you get the picture) and taking a peek at myself to make sure I don't look like a loon...I still like it though. And it seems that's how everyone else is wearing them this season....still it doesn't mean that it always suits you does it...! I think sometimes it takes time for my mind to readjust to new shapes on me.

Top bulkiness points go to the collar which was machine struggled like hell here even with a walking foot and I had to unpick it a number of times due to the stitching going crazy. It wasn't perfect when I finished but I was so annoyed at sewing and re-sewing that seam I couldn't bear to unpick it again - I think I probably should have done as I look at it in disappointment every time I put the coat on but maybe I see it more than others. Here's hoping!! When it was done I had to do some serious seam grading - there were so many layers!! However I think I have managed to keep it from showing through on the outside. The sleeve openings are a little bulky too but it was a little difficult to cut out the fleece from this area as I had sewn the fabric to the wool to keep it together. I decided to just leave it and again hack away at the seam to grade them down a little. I think overall it looks okay.

Lastly the buttonholes were a nightmare - the machine didn't want to sew them at all to the point I thought I may have to take them to someone to do for me. In the end I had to pull and push the fabric through as it just wouldn't feed properly. It went wrong a zillion times until I managed to get one right (this all being on a practise piece of fabric) and then I went for it. All but two worked. I unpicked one 20 times!!!!!!!! It just would not work. And then I realised I hadn't put the foot down for more than several attempts and I kicked myself. At least the fabric doesn't show the amount of times I unpicked the damn thing!!

As you can see my desire to get another winter coat sewn up has created some minor hurdles for me during the making process. I wont lie aside from my indecision on fabrics it’s been a rather frustrating experience - a self-created one admittedly - but I couldn’t really work out all of the sewing terms in the pattern so it kind of stalled my ability to sew it up quickly, requiring me to rely on Reverso or Google translate a little too much - FYI Reverso was by far the more reliable. I think the fact the instructions were in another language just made me unsure of each step. Google translate is a brilliant tool but when you realistically have to rely on common sense and pictures more than the translated instructions (some things Google just can’t translate and I suggest it updates its sewing terms!!) you know you just have to plod on and hope for the best. You kinda know you are doing it right from previous experience and by logic but it doesn’t really help much when you are so used to being told how to do it!! Or maybe it’s just me doubting my own ability!! It reminded me of my early experience with the book drape drape and the many other Japanese books out there - so many cute patterns and so little understanding of what’s going on in each step!

I could tell by looking at the pattern that it wouldn’t be a hard make in the sense that I wouldn’t encounter any really difficult tailoring but without it being in English I just questioned my every move. Now I would have bought the pattern in English but the translations take a little while to trickle through and I have a feeling this one won’t be available for a while - and by nature I am impatient so I saw it, wanted it and bought it as soon as it hit the shelves - to hell with sewing confusion later down the line!! If the whole instruction booklet had drawings in it then I would  have been fine as you can kind of decipher the meanings, but the part after sewing the collar in is a little too vague for me as translation tools just spouted gobbledygook!! I even tried to see what other people had done with the pattern and checked a few blogs to try and see pictures of the lining to work out how it was inserted but alas I couldn’t find anyone who blogged pictures showing anything of the insides of their coats until after I had inserted it! Boo! Eventually (after a lot of slow sewing!) I realised Republique Du Chiffon have really good tutorials on their site which if you look at the Michelle coat you can see similar steps. Now it is only in French but the pictures are awesome and that's all I needed to take me to the next step. Take a look here. Its only after looking at this that I realised that they are bagging the lining which is actually very easy - you essentially sew the right side of the lining to the right side of the facings/ coat and leave a section open to turn it out the right way round. The only slight struggle was the second sleeve.... I hand sewed part of it in the end but its definitely a new skill learnt! Yip!

So this coat took a little while to finish as a result of indecision, misunderstandings and translation issues but as you can see I worked it out in the end and you know maybe the fact I had to stall a few times wasn’t a bad idea as I think it is sewn up in a more thoughtful manner. If anyone out there is as rubbish at working out French sewing terms as I am then I can help a little on this pattern! Just ask. I can also point you to a few web pages that cover the basics which are enormously helpful.

My favourite part of this pattern is the collar. I think it is a really lovely shape. The whole coat is quite flattering and teams well with skinnies and heels, my outfit of choice. I feel I may not get as much wear out of it now its getting warmer and that is such a shame. Its been on and off my sewing table for the last two months as I deliberated with it but if I don't use it fully this year it will always serve me well next year. I think its by far my favourite coat pattern so far. What do you think?