Breaking news: The Very Slow Quilt is finished!

Breaking news: The Very Slow Quilt is finished!

Readers, I hope you fell off your chairs at that. You read it right: The quilt-guilt got the better of me, and I finished the Very Slow Quilt. Lo and Behold:

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Just for context – I started this quilt at least in 2012, if not 2011. It’s losely based on Elizabeth Hartman’s book, “The practical guide to patchwork”. Mind you, I could have read more of her book before actually starting the quilting, or the binding, or… Anyways.

In the end, it didn’t take as long as I’d thought it would to put the quilt top together. When sorting through my fabrics (yet again), I found it and realized I was being ridiculous: a) I had almost everything ready cut out to finish it, b) it was really getting on my nerves, c) it was the perfect size to finish up as a baby blanket, in happy colours, and d) I had a nephew on the way. Happy coincidences!

But, of course I couldn’t just make my life easy. First, I finished off the front, which was fine, apart from the fact that I used scraps, and some of them were very very soft and became distorted in this process. Grrr. Secondly, I decided that just using plain fabric on the back would be boring. So, I settled on some left-over fabrics I had from pj-bottoms (nice and soft), but wanted it spruced up with colourful things. So, I took some cookie cutters and traced them off and appliqued this to the back:

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Now, this would have been easy, had I bothered to read the instructions on appliquing in my great quilting book first. Spoiler: I didn’t, so they were a little misbehaved. We got there in the end, and I hear babies aren’t all about the detail, so we’re probably alright. And who knew I had so many bizarre cookie cutters? Or that they’d be so useful for sewing?

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But, the biggest hurdle was actually the quilting itself. My sister and husband live in a flat with wooden and tiled floors, so I wanted this blanket to be a super-soft crawling-and-lying-on-the-floor blanky. So, I picked extra thick wadding in John Lewis. Now, while I can attest to the fact that it’s supersoft, let me tell you, when you’ve never quilted before, starting with something superthick is probably not the best way to learn. The stitches sunk in so much they distorted the fabric, the back puckered, there were folds, then the fabric didn’t match up. I don’t think I’ve ripped out so many stitches in a long time. It probably didn’t help that this was my first time working with a walking foot, and I’m not sure that my walking foot and my feed dogs feed the fabric through at the same rate. In the end, I stitched around the animals to hold everything in place, stitched around the rim, and realized that pins are my best friends ever, apart from when they disappear into the very soft cotton with loose weave I should never have used in the first place. I had nightmares about my nephew choking on the one needle I might accidentally loose track of. I also walked around for a few days with a lot of pinpricks and scratches in my hands from trying to get the quilt all done (and not loose needles). Once it was vaguely well-behaved and together, I then quilted in straight lines along the seamlines. I was a very happy bunny when I was done. It’s still not perfect (you can see the sides and corners are a bit wobbly), but I decided that it’s perfect for my nephew-blanket, and it didn’t have any leftover pins in it in the end.

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The stitching around the animals from the front

I used some leftover wax print cotton for the binding. Stitching this down by hand to finish it off was also a challenge – I’m not convinced it’ll hold up, because the fabric on the back is very soft, and it didn’t seem to be very tight. I assured my sister that the blanket comes with a lifetime guarantee, so I hope it’ll be ok. If I ever do another quilt, I’ll need to work on my corners though – they’re a bit wonky. Ahem.

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Overall, I’m really happy with it though – I wanted it to be supercheerful for my nephew, and happy colours, and I think that worked. It’s fluffy and cosy for him to lie around on, colourful enough that a few babyjuices won’t ruin it immediately, and hopefully a little bit robust as well. It even matches his new mobile plaything over the bed:

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He’s tested it and given it his approval. Horrah! And the very slow quilt is now no longer in my stash. Double Hoorah!I have a nephew – Many Hoorahs!

This quilt, even though small, made me appreciate what my mum told me: Quilting is a lot of work. (Hats off to all you quilters!). If there ever is a next quilt for me, I’ll stick to very big squares. And instructions.

Now, I can’t be the only one with a project that took multiple years (and wasn’t couture) – which skeletons lurked in your closets that you eventually finished off?  How many years did you manage to drag it out over? And was it as bad as my quilt-guilt and Very Slow Quilt?

Spring is coming, so I’ll show you my winter jumpers!

I don’t know about where you are, but here in London, my Minoru jacket has taken over regular duty from my winter coat over a week ago, a good sign that spring is on the way. I’m already dreaming up lots of spring outfits, so I thought, what better things to write about on my blog than my winter jumpers? Here they are…

The Blue Jumper

Look, I found some daylight for you! In February!
Look, I found some daylight for you! In February!

Fun things to do with your jumper

This is very loosely based on Francis Revisited, but I think it’s fair to say that the end result doesn’t have much to do with the original inspiration. From the beginning, my gage was off, but this being my first ever knitted jumper, I had no way of fixing it that I understood, so it was a lot of trial and error (loooots of errors) to get it to fit. I think I restarted the jumper three times, then knit it down to the bottom band, bound it off, realized the fit around my chest was way too lose and looked bizarre, opened most of it up again, and started again. This time round, I then started the decreases straight below the armholes – turns out that for my body, the widest point at my chest is my shoulders, not my chest. Let’s not dwell on that 😉 This time round, it fit. By the end I had made it to the bottom of the main body, I was out of energy though, so I just stopped. No arms, no collar. I unceremoniously gave up for the time being, and started Miette instead.

And then? Miette taught me that hey, I can knit sleeves. I started to understand a little bit more about taking up stitches where before, there was only a bound edge, decreases and so on, which alltogether just made me more comfortable tackling the sleeves. So the sleeves I knit. It was slooooow, but I got there eventually. Then I tackled the collar, and I finished it over Christmas – it took far longer than expected. In total, this jumper took me nine months (!) to finish, but at least I finished it. I am glad to report that I actually also wear it. Somewhat disappointingly for this jumper, this winter was not as cold as last winter, but the jumper still filled the chunky-jumper shaped hole in my wardrobe a little bit. Given the current weather, it might be out of the rotation soon though for another, hmm, nine months? Maybe only six.

As you can see, the front and back differ in exactly... nothing. I didn't even block it, and the only way I can tell which way round I'm wearing it is from a small mistake on one of the arms.

As you can see, the front and back differ in exactly… nothing. I didn’t even block it, and the only way I can tell which way round I’m wearing it is from a small mistake on one of the arms.

Last picture of the blue jumper, I promise

 You can see the arms are not as fitted as they could be, but I really didn’t care anymore by then.

So, before really finishing this jumper, I knitted Miette. This was much easier to jump into – Rachel (at MyMessings), at last year’s summer blogger meet-up in London, let me try hers on, so I knew it would fit (she inspired at least three Miette’s to be knit that day! Mine, Ela’s, and Rachel’s.). The instructions were easy to follow, which definitely was a bonus. I didn’t really make any changes, apart from making the sleeves full length.

The daylight above was short lived. Sorry! But, can you see how nicely it goes with Mrs Ladyskater?

The daylight above was short lived. Sorry! But, can you see how nicely it goes with Mrs Ladyskater?

Not much to say about this – the body knit up really quickly, the sleeves took forevaaaaaaaaa (and then longer). I used DROPS Nepal wool, which I’d used before for Andy’s scarf, so I knew my gauge would be spot on without even knitting a proper test square. Yay! I wish I’d made it an inch longer – I do this with my sewing patterns, but strangely didn’t even think of it for Miette! I’m currently thinking of re-blocking it to make it longer, but really, I haven’t done that yet, so apparently it’s not that important. The next one will be longer. And yes, I’m boring and predictable enough to want another one of these (D’uh, I bet you expected that. After all, this is me!).

Better view of the lace pattern

Better view of the lace pattern. The wool was fairly thick, so you don’t see the pattern as well as on some of the other Miette’s I’ve seen.

Miette neatly fills the gap in my wardrobe for short jumpers and cardigans – I’m pleased to report that it works excellently with my Cambie dress, as well as with my lady skaters. Sadly, that’s about it, and it doesn’t really work with anything else. Woops. At least it does one thing well, and will probably force me to make more cambies/other high waisted dresses.

I’m currently blocking and seaming and then knitting the last bits of my new knit. When working on it in my lunchbreak, my colleagues have been joking that by the time it’s finished I won’t get to wear it much. Being out of synch with the seasons in knitting and blogging seems to be a pattern for me – anybody else do that? Are you still finishing a winter coat, jumper, scarf or hat? Some nice warm wooly skirts? Or in Australia and just getting round to that summer dress or those shorts? Spill the beans, and we can share some motivation!

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 🙂

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Sewing Frustrations 2: The monster bag

Readers, I give you the monster bag. The monster bag was my attempt to make myself a bag similar to the one I made my sister (see the post here), but sadly turned out nothing like it. I started by maybe being overly ambitious, and continued by massively overthinking everything, so instead of creating a nice bag, I made a sad, wrinkly mess.

wrinkly bag

The wrinkly bag…

swimbag wrinkles

Wrinkliness, weird pulling and lopsidedness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted the bag for swimming, and therefore wanted one dry and one ‘wet’ compartment, so my clothes won’t get wet, with a few extra things thrown in like easy organisation for my swim kit. So, I measured said swimkit excessively, then made a very complicated plan.

The original pattern is still the weekend-get away duffle from Gingercake. My fabric is a lavender-blue heavy cotton twill, the same weight as my Minoru; for the bottom, I picked a waterproof bag fabric, since it hangs out poolside. My plan was to sew two separate bags minus the dividing wall which they would share, and then sew it into both bag parts, and close up the small gap that would inevitably form (sorry if this makes no sense. It no longer makes sense to me, either!), but the inside looked like this:

Massive internal wall mess

Internal Wall of Mess

Alas, it did not work so well, as you can see above. To start with, the waterproof fabric was a nightmare to sew into curves. This already broke two needles, and my patience, so it is not terribly evenly sewn on, and there were some wrinkles in both part bags. Then I attempted to sew them together, but this plan also did not work very well.  First of all, my two bags were not exactly the same, and this now showed, especially in the contrast colours. Also, I should have sewn the internal dividing wall on the other way round. Now there was fusible interfacing facing the outside of the bag, and it was glaring and white, and I was not happy. So I sewed it shut, which was another nightmare, and just didn’t really look very nice (just, you know, all the pictures).

And lastly, going around round corners in a massive bag with stiff fabric and lots of layers and awkwardness to fit underneath equals wrinkly, uneven sewing together where all the previous unevenness shows. You can see the wrinkles quite clearly above. And the top of the bag is not stiff enough – I should have used a different interlining to make it crisper.

Since I’ve done this, almost a month ago, I haven’t really touched it. The wrinkles made me unhappy, and for the lining, I would have had to sew awful corners four more times; I just haven’t had the energy. I was wondering whether starting again would be acceptable, but couldn’t be bothered to do that either.You know, sometimes you mismatch the pattern and the fabric, but I think in this case, I was just clearly overly ambitious and wanted the pattern and fabric to do something they really couldn’t. And yes, I could have probably lived with the wrinkles and everything, but every time I would have looked at the bag, it would’ve made me unhappy.I know that’s perfectionistic, but I guess that’s me.

So now that I know what I can do with it, what’s going to happen? Well, there’s parts of it I really like – I think the outside bag has come out well; and the fabric choice is good in terms of colour. I also really like how the straps have come out:

Nice straps, weee!

The small bits I like about the bag…

The second good part is that I went to a sewing meet-up organised by the lovely and highly efficient Claire, which was amazing and lovely and inspirational and all that, and I bought some more bag fabric, determined to tackle the monster bag. I then came home inspired, ripped the bag apart and figured out what to do with it. I’ll probably keep the outsides, the straps and the wider bag top with the zip already in, and swap out the bottom for just one bag compartment.  So, with a bit of patience, it’ll be ok, and I can share some more updates soon. Since I’ve taken it apart again, I can also share some more construction pointers if you’re keen.

I promise that despite my silence, I have not been hung up about the bag all this time –  it has been summer here, so cue lots of being outside, and apart from rescuing the bag, I also do have lots of other sewing to share, as well as exciting sewing plans, and new fabrics. And I’ve actually almost finished the silk dress, so hopefully within the next week, I’ll share good sewing news (or very bad ones, if I accidentally now cut a hole into it ’cause I’ve jinxed it. Cross your fingers?).

Completed: The ‘Look, it’s not a Sewaholic!’ Miette Skirt

I finally, having downloaded it ages ago, made myself a Miette skirt from Tilly and the Buttons. I downloaded the pattern particularly for a fabric which one of my most-lovely-friends-ever had given me. It’s an amazingly blue-brown-golden batiked cotton from Indonesia which is amazing up-close – really really detailed – and I wanted a pattern that would enable the pattern to be almost undisturbed (sorry, unironed pictures!):

Lots of really small patterns…

Spot the birds hiding in the pattern and the many different small patterns in the fabric!

 

The Miette fit the bill, being simple, but cute. The only change I made was to cut the front piece on the fold, instead of seaming it together, to keep the pattern in one piece. Beyond that, there’s not much to say – it’s nice, it’s cute, it was superquick. The fabric pressed really nicely and was a joy to work with, and I love the result. The only change I would make in the future would be to cut a larger size – I cut this skirt based on my waist size, but when I wore the skirt for the first time, I realized I don’t really like wearing a high-waisted tie-skirt, because I don’t like tucking shirts in. And if I don’t tuck in, then the bow stands out, and the shirt looks funny because of the bow underneath, and… you get the idea. I can still wear this lower on my hips (like in the photo below), no problem, but the seams are slightly in the wrong place. Still: no danger of flashage even when worn lower – very well-designed, and I’m fairly certain there’ll be more of this skirt at some point!

Miette Skirt - sadly, not our garden! It was actually the first day I wore a skirt and no tights. :-)

Miette Skirt – sadly, not our garden! It was actually the first day I wore a skirt and no tights. 🙂

In other news, the British summer has crept up on my, and beyond the Miette, I have yet to make any summer clothes. If I don’t hurry up, the nice weather will be gone by the time I have any, so before the weekend, I’m aiming to get my sewing skates on, and cut a skirt and t-shirt today. Wish me luck!

How is your seasonal sewing going? Are you ill-prepared like me?

Completed: Selfless-sewing birthday bag

My youngest sister (I have three sisters, for I am very lucky!) asked for a weekend bag for her recent birthday, and I kind of jumped at the chance of testing a pattern I’ve had for a few weeks now. I got together with my other two sisters to pick some nice fabrics and notions, then whisked it all away to the UK for some secret sewing.

The pattern I used was by Gingercake, the Make-your-getaway duffle which can be found here. I could have probably drafted my own, but I figured, for $7, I would much rather somebody else did the maths for me 🙂

The pattern worked out pretty well – I only made small changes: the handles were a bit longer, I didn’t do any quilting, and I interfaced the parts which hold the zipper (I figured they’ll be under a bit of strain). Also, I didn’t add a lining, but I interlined instead. I wanted to have small bags on the inside, but I didn’t want that to be visible from the outside. So, I cut some lining pieces, added the pockets, and then treated it as one with the outside fabric. I then hid the seams in some polka-dot bias binding. I also added a big side bag for magazines etc., which I just cut like a side panel, but a bit shorter. I even matched the stripes! It was a very satisfying make – the pattern came together well, it looks nice, and my sister loves it. Score!  It’s pretty roomy, but I think still within most european airline regulations for hand luggage, so another win. Without further ado, here are some pictures.

the bag in its entire beauty. You can see the outside pocket here. I used denim for the pieces with a lot of strain - handles and bottom.

the bag in its entire beauty. You can see the outside pocket here. I used denim for the pieces with a lot of strain – handles and bottom.

Detail shot of the inside: Bias tape at the seams, and bias tape to finish the pocket edges. I figured the orange would make it easier to find the pockets.

Detail shot of the inside: Bias tape at the seams, and bias tape to finish the pocket edges. I figured the orange would make it easier to find the pockets.

Inside and outside of the bag at the same time

Inside and outside of the bag at the same time

And the inside - the bag photographed really well with some sofa cushions inside. You can see the bottom is made of denim - I used some old jeans to reinforce it.

And the inside – the bag photographed really well with some sofa cushions inside. You can see the bottom is made of denim – I used some old jeans to reinforce it.

All in all, it worked a lot better than I expected – I already have some materials for another bag for myself sitting on my shelf 😉 Oh, and did you notice it’s not a sewaholic pattern? But hey, I still had somebody holding my hand. Babysteps…

Completed: Minoru!

So, I started writing this post once, then my PC crashed and deleted it. Then I re-wrote it, and couldn’t upload any pictures. Third time lucky? Sorry for the long silence!

I finished my Minoru about two or three weeks ago, but I couldn’t blog about it before because first, I didn’t have any pictures; then I had too much work and too little time, plus I was busy running around and gallivanting and generally being in love with my Minoru, then it was Easter and I had to eat chocolates, and then my PC crashed.

Making a Minoru was my Sewlution for 2013 (see here for Karen’s original post). I dithered for a long time of what material to make it from? Wool? Cotton Twill? Something else? In the end, I settled on a cotton twill, because I wanted quite a heavy jacket that would be perfect for transitioning between summer jackets and my winter coat. It turned out just as I wanted:

Very very snuggly jacket

Very very snuggly jacket

I found the perfect heavy twill on Goldhawk Road (£3/m), then bought some flannel for interlining for added warmth. It was arctic here while I sewed this – I had a hard time persuading myself I didn’t need to add two layers of interlining! The lining is a silk I had in my stash (I thought it might make a blouse/top, then realized just in time I never wear patterned tops, like, ever), also bought at Goldhawk Road for £3/m. I would love to tell you from which shop it was, but I can never remember the name – it’s the one where the cellar is an Aladdin’s cave, and the top floor has the wools and suiting, and the lovely lady answers all my questions with infinite patience. Classic Fabrics, maybe?

Making it took a very long time, and before making it, I planned it in my head for an even longer time. I started it in February, and then sewed in very small increments. I started with the small things – secret pocket, hood, collar and zips – and had a few small hitches where I waited for different zips and a zipper foot to arrive. My original 18” hood zip turned out too short, so I re-ordered, and then also decided, after much dithering, that I didn’t like the idea of a black and metal zip I’d originally bought for the front.

Zipper time!

Zipper time!

Now the front zip is navy-blue that goes with the lining, and opens both ends. Thank you to my friend Ines, who patiently listened to my colour confusion and recommended the blue zip, as well as dispelling my doubts about the buttons.

I did make a few changes.

  1. You might have noticed – I added an additional front placket to hide the zip. I didn’t like the idea of an exposed zipper, that was reason one. Also, did I mention that it was really cold here while I sewed this?The thought of a little bit of extra cold air stealing in through the exposed zip was unbearable. On went the front placket. I cut it exactly twice as wide as the normal ones, interfaced it (not sure it was needed – it’s maybe almost too stable now), sewed three sides shut,
    Front placket, close-up from the inside.

    Front placket, close-up from the inside.

    and understitched the inside of it to make it behave,which worked a treat – the placket is now very well behaved. Therefore, it also got some top stitching. I then added buttonholes before adding it to the jacket together with the front right placket. It worked perfectly fine – I was just extra careful when putting the lining and the jacket together, as there’s a slight danger of stitching the placket to where it shouldn’t be, but it all worked fine. It also changed the topstitching a little bit, but nothing major.

  2. Pocketses!

    Pocketses!

    There’s pockets in the side seam. They are lined with silk, and make me very very happy everytime I put my hand into them. In the last two weeks, with the cold winds, they’ve been a lifesaver. I used pockets from the Crescent skirt, I think – it was lying around – and just smoothed out the corners. I interlined the silk with cotton to give it some warmth stability.

  3. It’s interlined! Flannel at the front and back, and cotton in the sleeves (I didn’t want it too warm). Beyond adding warmth, they also added some body to the silk – without this, the combination of slippery silk and massively heavy cotton twill would have been weird. Sewing the collar pieces together was hard work without the interlining!
  4. The seam allowance on the sleeve side seam and side seam to just below my breasts is only 1cm, instead of 1.5cm. I basted it first, and realized there was just a touch of not enough room for my massive shoulders  and arms (hello, swimming). Also, with interlining, I was worried about extra thickness. I’m glad I did this – it still doesn’t look massive at the arms, and I can move.

    Bias-taped seam

    Bias-taped seam

  5. Both pieces of the collar are lined (in the lining and the outside), and the seam stitching the hood into the collar and to the body of the jacket, I finished with some left-over bias tape, so that there is no raw seam in the hood (see also Karen’s words of warning about this, here and here).

There’s a lot of things I learned during this project – for example,

  1. I can sew zips into things! My £3 amazon zipperfoot works! I was very skeptical about this when the foot arrived, but it works just fine. I didn’t have to rip out any zips at all. Amazing.
  2. Topstitching is really really hard. I do not like it much. Mainly because I’m a perfectionist and get really upset about small irregularities. I cheated in some areas on this jacket, and added a second row of topstitching, so the irregularities would be hidden more. I think it worked. There’s a few detail shots below where you can see.
  3. My seam ripper is my very best friend, like, ever. Honestly, it did so many minutes with me… so many seams it became acquainted with intimately. There was a lot of ripping out in this jacket, most of it due to my occasional idiocy. I should really stop misplacing the thing, or at least buy two more.
  4. Speaking of which… I learnt that it takes two seconds to mess up a button hole, and half an hour at least to take it out again. I practiced my button holes, to make sure the size was right, and the thread tension and stitch length and overall look… I practised cutting them open, and measured obsessively where they should be. Then, on the first button hole, my machine had a hiccup. The next half hour, my seam ripper and me hung out.
  5. Patience pays off. There were many times I wasn’t convinced it was going to be a jacket I love, but I persevered, put it away when all my wonky topstitching was getting on my nerves, and kept giving myself time and not rushing it. It really worked – I’m glad I took the time over it, for now I absolutely love it. And hey, even the buttonhole turned out fine eventually!

The biggest challenges for me:

  1. Buttonholes. D’oh. They were my first proper ones.
  2. Patience? Cutting out three layers of fabric for ten hours, even though I hate cutting?
  3. Putting in zippers. Again, first ones with new foot – I am amazed!
  4. Topstitching. It’s haaaaaard, did I mention? I also tried a triple stitch for the top stitch, which felt like my sewing machine was cantering, with the results similarly wonky to me trying to sew on a horse cantering. That also took a long time to rip out!
  5. Topstitching curves. My hood almost had me in tears.
  6. Stitching in the ditch for the hood – my lining kept getting caught in this. Eventually I topstitched my first collar topstitching again to keep the lining in check, then added the stitching in the ditch. It’s not perfect – I might go back and change it later on, but for now, it’s ok.
  7. Choosing the buttons. Man, can I dither about the details. Actually, just make that detail obsession/perfectionism.

Enough lists. Here’s more photos.

Lovely details: Stitching in the ditch and the result of the slight failure, topstitching on the hood, also slightly wonky. amazing hood zip which worked, lining and secret pocket, and the hem, with some beautiful, unintended tucks.

Lovely details: Stitching in the ditch and the result of the slight failure, topstitching on the hood, also slightly wonky. amazing hood zip which worked, lining and secret pocket, and the hem, with some beautiful, unintended tucks.

And yes, I love it to bits. When it all came together, it was amazing. I wanted to sleep in it (apparently, that’s not acceptable, said the boyfriend). Also, I’m getting a ton of compliments on it, which is really really nice for my sewing confidence! And now it’s finally a bit warmer, I can wear it without freezing to death 🙂 It’s perfect for the current conditions.

So, in March 2013, I can say that my sewlution is done, and that I’m very very happy with it! Also, though, I’m happy it’s done. I didn’t pick up a project for quite a while afterwards. I needed to recover a bit 🙂

Completed Sewlution