Nevermind the wonky pockets: 9 things I learnt making my first coat

I have wanted to make a coat for absolutely ages.

coat1

Much like trousers, they’re one of those garments which seem hella daunting. It’s taken me years to finally brave it. But just before Christmas, I got there! Hurrah! Made from a fuzzy wool tweed and a satin lining, it’s the perfect slouchy coat and has certainly got me through the Winter months. The pattern is the Gerard by Republique du Chiffon. Marketed as a ‘boyfriend’ coat, the slouchiness makes it the perfect beginner coat. (Sadly the instructions don’t, but more on that later)

coat 4

Basically even though I’ve just noticed the pockets are wonky (I MEASURED AND EVERYTHING WHYYYYY) and I had a minor social media meltdown over the pattern pieces, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve achieved.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Instagram will have seen all the ups and downs already, but here’s a little more about what I learned:

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Sewing sequins – some inspiration

With the festive season over and done with, you’d think I’d missed the boat on the sequin front – but there’s nothing wrong with a spot of glitz to kick off the first month of the New Year.

As I mentioned last time, I’m trying to concentrate on one of my Can’t Jar entries a month. I’ve never sewn sequins before and I’m currently without a sewing machine, so it seemed like the perfect place to start.

It can be fiddly work for sure, but, as you’ll see from some of these projects, the results are well worth the effort. I’ve gathered five sequin tutorials from around the web

Sequin clutch

This is definitely one you’ll need to set a bit of time aside for, as well as about 40 yards of sequins! Again, no sewing machine needed here right until the end when you put all the pieces together. Kris from How Did You Make This has a great tutorial for this evening clutch bag here.

Paillette sequin collar

Really simple idea from A Pair & A Spare to update a round neckline. Geneva added paillette sequins to the neckline of a refashioned white dress. Best of all, you won’t need a sewing machine at all. But if you do have one handy – why not make a version of this BurdaStyle peplum top with the embellished neckline?

Embellished headpiece

Embellished headpiece | Everything Oz/Mollie Makes

Embellished headpiece | Everything Oz/Mollie Makes

Excuse the dodgy picture on this one, as it’s actually from issue twenty of Mollie Makes magazine! This hair clip is made from sequins, beads, gems and stones with the starbust design sewn onto sinamay in an embroidery hoop. It’s from Everything Oz by Christine Leech and Hannah Read-Baldrey, which you can get here.

Sequinned shoe clips

How cute are these little bow clips?! They’re pretty easy to make too. Alternatively, there’s a tutorial here for a pair of heart-shaped sequin shoe clips, if those should take your fancy.

DIY Sequin Maxi Skirt

Being the shortarse I am, I’m not sure I could pull this one off, though I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who could rock a full-length sequin skirt. This YouTube tutorial is definitely for you.

Any of you spotted some good sequin tutorials? Or have you tried sewing with them? Do let me know in the comments below.

Featured Pledger: Adriana (Adriprints)

Adriana was on her way to giving up mass-made clothing when she discovered the Seamless pledge. Since then, she’s cut down on her consumption and sewn some amazing garments, including her bombshell dress featured as one of 2011’s inspirational makes.

Name: Adriana

Website: http://adriprints.blogspot.co.uk/

Pledging until the end of 2012.

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge?

The Seamless Pledge made a lot of sense to me. I started sewing really young, and both my grandmothers sewed as a means to stay in fashion and still have tailored clothing at an economic price. So, I looked at sewing and making as a means to having unique items of clothing as well as self-expression. I took the Seamless Pledge because I was already a crafty do-it-yourself kind of gal, and the pledge solidified my choice to make things myself.

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life?

The pledge has made me a more observant consumer. I really look at other people’s clothing both for inspiration, and for construction. After taking the pledge, I’ve definitely made more time to sew and I sew pieces that are practical and wearable as opposed to some of my crazier sewn-because-I-loved-that-print projects of the past.

Taking the pledge also meant that I really had to look critically at my wardrobe and come to terms with some of the excesses of t-shirts and cheaply made goods I had purchased in the past. It was an enlightening thing to do, and I haven’t bought anything except some specialty compression running socks and the running shirt that came with the price of enrollment into a 10k run in June.

 Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-made clothing?

I was already on my way to giving up mass-made clothing and the biggest thing that led me to this decision was a need for better fitting garments. Start by looking critically at your wardrobe and looking at your favorite items as well as the items of clothing that look best on you. These may not be the same pieces.

If you’re looking to replicate favorite items through knitting or sewing, start simple with attainable projects. Break down the skills you’ll need to have to make that awesome whatever-it-is you want to make. Don’t skip the basics.

And, it’s great to have high expectations of oneself, but do it whilst also highlighting the skills you already have, and adding 1 or 2 new skills you’d like to attain per project.

Make sure you check out Adriana’s blog. She’s not just busy sewing clothes, she’s been making some amazing quilts lately. You can also follow her on Twitter!

Coveting a dressmaker’s dummy

There’s something human-shaped missing from my sewing life. I’ve been coveting my very own adjustable dressmaker’s dummy for some time now.

Once upon a time, I found a ratty mannequin at a flea market in Germany. I snapped it up for 25 euro and got some funny looks on the way home, clutching this tea-stained dress form as the metro whizzed underneath Dortmund.

I ended up naming it Sally, as you do. Sally was a bit broader in the back than I was, so I couldn’t really drape accurately using the form, but it was so handy to have a general idea of what a garment would look like without having to put it on and inspect it in front of the only full-length mirror in the house.

At the moment, fitting a garment is an odious case of trial and error as I guesstimate how much needs to be taken from a waist of a dress for it not to look like a potato sack. I often feel like a human pincushion as I wiggle my way in and out of half-finished items in an effort to get the fit just right.

So I guess it’s safe to say I’m in the market for a new Sally. There are a few options I could go for:

Buy new

Probably the most expensive and un-Seamless option, there are plenty of places I could get a brand-new dress form. John Lewis have a whole host of dress forms on sale starting at £139 for the Easyfit model. Not my first port of call as you’d imagine, but John Lewis do sell some good quality sewing wares so might be worth checking out.

Second-hand or vintage

Much more Seamless-like, don’t you think? Ebay always has a few vintage or second-hand dress forms on sale, but the price will fluctuate depending on how much competition there is for your chosen dummy. You never know, you might just get lucky. Also, I spotted a few ads for second-hand dummies on auction site alternative Preloved.

Do it yourself!

Yup, it’s possible to make your very own dress form. There are several tutorials available on the internet, the most popular being the duct-tape method. A more time-consuming but potentially rewarding method involves making a plaster mould of your upper half. You’ll need a good friend to help you out with either one – needless to say, it’s far cheaper than either of the first two options.

Personally, I’ll probably go on the hunt for a second-hand dress form if I can get a good price. Sad to say, I once passed up an amazing vintage wooden dress form I found in a charity shop in Swansea. It was the worst timing really, I’d just packed everything to move out of my flat and there was definitely no room for it, but I still wonder if it would have been worth the hassle anyway.

Do you own a dressmaker’s dummy? I’m dying to know if anyone’s had any success with the duct tape method!

Would you ever sew a wedding dress for someone?

Sometimes, I forget how few people actually sew these days – at least, in comparison to those who regularly buy from the high street.

Unsurprisingly, it often leads to a request or two from friends and acquaintances to fix a pocket here, hem some trousers there or just sew on a button. I’m more than happy to help out with a loose notion or two, but there are some projects just too big for my sewing machine alone to handle.

Picture by Beamillion

Hands up who’s had the wedding dress conversation? You know the one, where a friend jokes they’d like you, you stitchery type, to whip up a beautiful gown for their special day. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily undertake such a project for any of my close friends – so long as they don’t go Bridezilla on me when they realise sometimes I have a hard time sewing in a straight line.

But, every now and then, the “joke” comes from an acquaintance and you think… oh wait. They’re being serious, aren’t they?

I can see why it’s tempting. Wedding dresses are bloody expensive. With a talented pal and a sewing machine on your side, you can cut costs and spend that money on more wine at the reception. And I am always, ALWAYS, in favour of more wine.

But this is a task so phenomenally huge – what if you were to get it wrong? I’m not sure I could handle the weight of one bride’s expectations on my amateur sewing. I suck with slippery fabrics, I don’t *do* buttonholes and me and lace aren’t talking at the moment. I would be the WORST wedding-dress-maker candidate, really.

The only serious wedding-related request I’ve ever had came during a curious conversation with a friend from school who’ll be getting married soon enough. Up she popped on my Facebook chat, asking if I still made my own dresses, then how expensive it was… and then how expensive it would potentially be to make say two or three bridesmaid’s dresses.

Perhaps she was genuinely curious about if it would be cheaper to buy fabric and get them made, but she fell silent as soon as I asked her if she was trying to hint she wanted me to make them for her.

Long to the short, I won’t be taking any wedding commissions anytime soon. That is, unless some fella manages to keep me still for long enough to put a ring on it (not bloody likely) – then I’ll probably nab some lace curtains from a charity shop to make my wedding dress for the princely sum of £5. It does mean more money for cake and wine, after all.

Me Made May ’12 – Sharpen your sewing skills!

This month, I feel like I’ve been here, there and everywhere. Not content with a placement in York, I’ve nabbed myself one down by the seaside in Brighton.

I’m currently sat on the hostel bunkbed tip-tapping away and possibly annoying the girl who sleeps in the bunk below me. Well, hey, we all know – when it comes to hostels, you get exactly what you pay for. This one happens to be right next to Brighton Pier as well as being above a bar and a nightclub.

I definitely thought this through.

Since I lost track of the daily blogging yesterday, I thought it might be better to write about each Me Made Day (see what I did there?) the day after, especially as all my blog posts were going out so blooming late at night. Alas, photography remains an issue, but luckily I have a backup:

The eagle-eyed blog followers among you will know I haven’t blogged about this skirt, but it has been duly documented! In fact, if you like the Facebook page, then you may have spotted the wee t-shirt to skirt tutorial I wrote for The Cardiffian’s Arts supplement a while ago.

This was, quite possibly, the quickest bit of sewing I have ever, ever done. I kid you not, I think I did it in about twenty minutes. Honestly, I’m amazed it’s still in one piece.

But, despite the SUPER QUICK turnaround on the skirt, I really don’t wear this skirt often at all. Except for on Me Made Day Five, I think the last time I wore it was when we papped the photo for the article.

You see, the thing is about t-shirt material, is it doesn’t really work that well as a skirt. In fact, I complain about not being able to get the lovely double-knit fabric I crave on a regular basis. The unfortunate thing about this skirt is it shows every little lump and bump, whether it’s my comfy pants (thongs are the devil, more on this another time) or the outline of my tights.

I guess sometimes you make something kinda nyeeeh and you just have to roll with it. In my case, I whacked a longer t-shirt over it and didn’t bother tucking it in a la the photo above, because the fabric really does show all.

Sometimes. Me Made May is all about showing your runt creations a little bit more TLC.

On the plus side, when it came to laying out the page for the physical copy of the article, my lovely friend Phil came up with a genius headline:

SHARPEN YOUR SEWING SKILLS WITH A PENCIL SKIRT

Oh, journalism. I love you.

Now, blogosphere, tell me about your sewing runts! You know the ones, the ones you’re hiding in the back of your cupboard out of SHAAAAAAME. Or maybe they’re out for Me Made May too? Sharing is caring!