Secret Selfless Sewing: Testing the Goldstream Peacoat

While pretending to tidy up, move house, celebrate Christmas, and tidy up again, what’s really been keeping me busy is that I got to test the Goldstream Peacoat Pattern by Thread Theory.

peacoat flats

I really wanted to make the coat for Andy’s birthday, and this heart-warming cause was enough (with a bit of perfectionism and coatmaking experience) to win Morgan and Matt over. Yay! The pattern arrived in November, and most of the coat was finished by early December. But between moving house, Christmas and spending a lot of time on the sofa, it didn’t get finished until the second week in January. Woops. That was a little later than his birthday (mid-November), but hey, he had the fabric on his birthday. That counts, right? It wasn’t actually a secret from Andy. I figured I needed to measure him, and he is picky with what he wears, so he definitely needed to pick the fabric himself. Andy had surprising amounts of fun choosing the fabric – I took him to Goldhawk Road, and after a lot of fabric touching, we settled on a dark, almost-black wool with polyester (confusingly, it’s called ‘cashmerette’), and a blue lining (silk and viscose, with quite a lot of body). I got away with 2.2m of the main fabric, and have a lot of lining and nice interfacing from the English Couture Company left over (oh, what a shame. I’ll have to make myself a coat to use it up!)

Now it’s finished, I thought I’d share some pictures with you and sing the pattern’s praises. I really enjoyed making the coat; I love love love coats and jackets in general, and with this one, I learnt lots of new tricks. Here’s the result:

Coat on coathanger

Coat on coathanger

And in action:

Coat on Andy. If you want to pose there yourself, head to Holland Park!

Coat on Andy. If you want to pose there yourself, head to Holland Park!

Inner Pocket!

Inner Pocket and Lining

Side shot

Side shot

With a few detail shots:

Shoulder Epaulets and Collar

Shoulder Epaulets and Collar

Sleeve Tab

Sleeve Tab

Pocket and sleeve tab

Pocket and sleeve tab

I made Andy the classic version of the Peacoat. The whole coat came together beautifully – I particularly enjoyed the sleeves (once I’d figured out how to set them in. I don’t recomment trying it with a massive cold!), since I’d never sewn two-part sleeves before, and I think it hangs really nicely and gives a great shape. The collar, too, was great fun to sew, and the sleeve tabs, and the pockets, and… Lots of little neat teachniques to discover on this coat!

The wool itself behaved very nicely, once I’d figured out that it didn’t like being ironed from the right side. I steamed it before, as several sources on the internet suggested, to make sure that it wouldn’t shrink during construction and later on at the dry cleaners.

I eventually persuaded myself to hand-stitch the hem – I was very very tempted to machine-stitch it, but am glad to say I actually handstitched my first invisible hem. I know. It took long enough, huh? And no, now that it’s finished, you can’t actually see it.

Since finishing this, I’ve gone on a post-big-project jersey quick sewing spree, which was very satisfying, but not quite as satisfying as sewing this label into the coat:

Labelled Coat

Labelled Coat

The main issue I had with the coat where things didn’t go smoothly were the button holes – the fabric thickness meant that it was out of the comfort zone for my machine, which meant it was out of my comfort zone, too. For every buttonhole, I had to do a) maths to figure out where to start sewing b) lower the feed dogs c) put the fabric in, try to shift it into the right place, with everything where it’s meant to be, and so the button holes would be straight and d) remember to both raise the feed dogs and lower the presser foot. This simple combination of things to do before sewing each button hole was somehow beyond me. Oh, and to lower and raise the feed dogs, you have to take the free arm extension off my sewing machine, but in order for the fabric to feed properly underneath the feet, it needed to be in place, so I had to put it back… There was a lot of swearing, almost a lot of tears, a very strong wish to throw an epic tantrum, and finally button holes I can live with, but only because they’re hidden by buttons. I learned that button holes by my new machine rip out much neater than those by my old machine, but frankly, I could have lived without that knowledge. Next time I make this coat, I’m going to attempt bound buttonholes. There, I’ve said it. Maybe that’ll be easier to do for my machine (and me).

I can highly recommend this pattern – I’ll certainly make it again. Next time, like I said, bound button holes, and maybe I’ll also do a small shoulder adjustment, since it’s a bit wide for Andy. The shoulder pads (I know! I used them for the first time, and it was exciting) hide the fact well, but he says movement upwards is a little bit restricted, so that’s something to work on for the next one. Other than that, I’m sure I can keep up the one coat a year pattern. Maybe a little break first, but then? Bring on the next one! Special thanks to Morgan and Matt for having me as a pattern tester, and to Andy, for happily modelling this so I can share it with you 🙂

IMG_5494

New sewing corner and stash diet 2014

As hinted at in my last post, my stash is getting a bit out of hand. I had some time this week to sort it out and start getting a sewing area organised, so I’m mainly set up now, and also realized just how much stash I have. Yikes. Hence, the stash diet!

Back story to the tidying up: I’m making Andy a coat, handstitching was required, and I was looking for my beeswax to make sure the threads don’t get tangled. I know I had some, but couldn’t see it, and it wasn’t where it was meant to be (story of my life, har har). So, I started digging around my sewing boxes, and figured I might as well tidy them up while I was at it. I found a lot of boxes with a lot of fabric in it. It was somewhere between very motivating and very scary. And yes, I did find the beeswax eventually, but since I couldn’t find it in the flat, I tried to find some in shops while running errands. After I’d hunted for an hour around West London (no, Holland and Barrett does not sell it, nor does Boots, pharmacists, flower shops or shoe shops) I found some in the hardwear shop around the corner from our flat. The irony. And then, of course, as soon as I walked through the door, I found my other beeswax.

But I disgress. Here’s my new sewing space – ta daaaa!

New sewing corner.

New sewing corner.

I’m quite surprised that it fit so well. I don’t even mind that I’ll have to set up/tidy away every time now, since the sewing machine is so close to the table. Generally, it’s still not quite as tidy as I’d like it to be, and I really need to get rid of the shoe cartons. But hopefully I can fix that in the next two months. If you look at it from the doorway as above, you don’t notice, but walk around the table and you will find two large bins full of fabrics:

Fabric galore, oh, and look, my new thread rack!

Fabric galore, oh, and look, my new thread rack! My sewing machine has a plan of things to sew stuck to its cover so I don’t get  distracted when sewing stuff from the stash.

My aim of the stash diet is to get this down to two very comfortable bins. They have to close, and I’d love it to include the quilt of slowness (or for me to finish that). No, I don’t get to swap the blue bin for a bigger one. No impulse fabric purchases that jeopardise this aim until they fit into the bins. That’s rule number one. Rule number two: no new patterns until at least February, potentially and progress dependent even March. And then I only get to buy new patterns if I have a realistic chance of making it in the foreseeable future (next year does not count!). Only exception: I desperately need some loungewear, so I can make an exception for both fabric and pattern for that, if I must. Come March, come spring, I should have most of my big pieces of stash sewn up if it goes to plan, so I get to reconsider then. As long as I keep it to two bins.

Apart from that, you might have noticed I am now the proud owner of a thread rack thanks to my lovely sisters – it actually really helps my organisation of sewing stuff. I never realized I owned three bog spools of navy thread before… Bonus: I think it looks pretty, and it makes the corner a bit more sewing, and a bit less just another corner.

And lastly, one of the little boxes in sewing corner now houses these little cuties, which were a Christmas present from Andy:

Better get my hand sewing skills up to scratch...

Better get my hand sewing skills up to scratch…

Now I’m all organised and set to go, I guess I’d better start on some sewing and stash busting. And hey, we’re only a week into 2014, so it still feels vaguely as if I’m hitting the ground running. Yay!