Sewing Classes and Lessons

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Vogue 1479 Isaac Mizrahi Coat


Last week, my oldest daughter came over and saw this coat nearly completed on my dress form.  She said "Wow, that was fast!".  What she didn't know was that I had started this project back in December of 2015, when Pantone announced that their 2016 Color of the Year was actually two colors- Serenity Blue and Rose Quartz. I was so excited because I had the perfect fabric- this pink and blue plaid coating.  I remember getting this wool coating for $1.99/yd from Fabric.com when they still had great sales.  Oh, those were the days....sigh...

When Pantone announced the 2016 two color winner,they explained it with this:


Ahhh.  Such good intentions.  Maybe had we all joined forces and wore these two colors together, 2016 might have been better!  I was going to do my part after all.  I got my coat cut out in December of 2015, got the interfacing fused, and then the unthinkable happened- carpal tunnel struck!  To someone who loves to do things with her hands, carpal tunnel is a nightmare.  Now, looking back, I can see where I was getting some signals from my body that I ignored.  But when it really hit, it was like a lightning bolt, and I couldn't do anything with both hands without extreme pain for several months.

I did get better by summer 2016, but by then I had completely forgotten about winter and coats, and even the color of the year that I so desperately wanted to make something from.  It wasn't until I saw a gorgeous version of Vogue 1479 on EliCat's blog, that I was reminded- "Hey!  You've got this pattern too, and you even have it all cut out!"

So, here is the Vogue cover:






I really liked the oversized stadium look of it, and could see wearing big chunky sweaters under it.  Of course, this was in 2015, when we still had real winters.  Lately, it's been so warm, that I think I'm going to give all of my big sweaters away.  It was almost 70 degrees last week in Illinois!


Well, I'm digressing here, back to this coat- I call this my "coat of many pockets", and I love it.  I love every single pocket of the 7, yes, that's right, 7 glorious pockets.  How can that be?  Well there are two welt pockets, 1 inside pocket, and then the patch pockets are actually two in one- you can put your hands in the side or from the top. 

Here is the inside pocket. I used a hot pink grosgrain ribbon for it, and the finish between the facings and lining.


I even put in a hang chain and label!  There's a story behind these labels, but I won't go into it here.  The hang chain is vintage and so are the buttons.


I found these leather buttons on Etsy at kabooco.com.  They are vintage Japanese buttons and were very reasonably priced for leather buttons.  They came wrapped in a beautiful handkerchief along with a small assortment of other interesting buttons.  I highly recommend checking this source out if you are in need of interesting buttons! 



 I won't lie, this was a complicated project!  And one that I would not recommend for beginners.  A few sections had me scratching my head.  They used very, very small illustrations of very complicated steps!   I know that I did the inside pocket wrong, but hey, it works, which is all that matters.  I did take photos of the patch double pocket construction, so I'll share those with you.

First, the gray lining, is piece #4, the Lower Pocket Lining.  You sew this to the pocket, but leave an opening for turning, shown by the chopstick in the photo below.  The black lining is piece #5, Lower Pocket Facing.  (I ran out of lining fabric, so didn't intentionally choose different colors, but it may help in visualizing how to do this step).  You pin the WRONG side of the facing to the RIGHT side of the Lower Pocket and baste.


Next, you fold down the lower pocket lining to cover the lover pocket facing and stitch.  (The wrong side of my gray lining is darker, so don't get this confused with the black facing piece.  What you are seeing is the wrong side of piece #4.)

Then you turn this right side out, through the opening. Give it a good pressing, and this is what it will look like.  You are seeing the wrong side of piece #5 on top here.


Now, you need to go in and handstitch the opening closed. 



Then you place it on the coat.  and slipstitch the wrong side of piece #5 to the coat.  Now here is something very important that I messed up- the "placement line" on the coat, is actually for the top of piece #5, not the top of the pocket!  There are circles that are for placing the top of the pocket.  Then you stitch around the pocket, leaving an opening on the outer sides.  This is what allows it to be a double pocket.  SO clever!


When I first put the top of the pocket on the placement line, my plaids didn't match.  I was so bummed, but then I thought, "Oh well, I guess I didn't have enough fabric to match the plaids".  After all, it had been over a year since I cut this thing out!  So I sewed them in place and completed the rest of the coat anyway.  It wasn't until several days later, that I pulled out the instructions and realized my error.  Then I had to undo the lining, take off the pockets, and move them up to the correct position.  Duh!  But thank goodness, the plaids matched, which would have eventually driven me crazy if they didn't.

The back of the coat is rather plain, although there are two piece sleeves. EliCat added a back belt with buttons that jazzed hers up nicely.  But after repositioning the pockets and sewing up the lining again, I didn't have the energy to add any extras.  You can see the dropped shoulders clearly here.


I cut the medium, which is plenty big.  I did add about 1-1/2" to the length on the body and sleeves.


If you enjoy a challenging project, I really recommend this pattern.   Just be patient, get all of the pocket pieces straight in your mind, and allow yourself plenty of time.  Even if it takes over a year, like mine!

Happy Sewing!
Ann 


Monday, January 23, 2017

Winter Travel Wardrobe for Barcelona

In my last post, I showed you my travel wardrobe and a few hints as to where I was going to wear it.  And the correct answer was:  Barcelona, Spain!!!   My family and I were in Barcelona for 11 days at the end of December.  It was our first time ever in Spain, and we were very excited because we were going to get to see our daughter, who has been in the Peace Corps in Madagascar for the last 10 months.

The first two days it was raining, and I definitely needed the centerpiece of the wardrobe, this coat- made from a double knit, trimmed in leather, using Butterick 6384.

The above shot is at an outdoor Christmas market where they were selling all kinds of greenery, flowers, nativity scenes, Caga Tio's and Caganers.  Caga Tio and Caganers are very unique Catalonian traditions.   I won't go into them here, but definitely check it out if you don't mind a little potty humor.

When we travel, we always stay somewhere where we have a kitchen, so that we can cook one or two meals a day at home.  We could spend hours in supermarkets, just fascinated by the different foods, and deciding what to cook. Wine figures predominantly in the Barcelona culture, and you can buy really good wine straight from the barrel for $2 a bottle at the supermarkets.  I love how they've wrapped the wine barrels in garland for the holidays.


There are crazy sculptures everywhere you turn in Barcelona.  This picture is in front of a very famous sculpture called the "Barcelona Head" which is on the waterfront. Barcelona is on the Mediterranean and is a historical port.  After the first two days, the sun shone every day, and I really had no more need for the coat!  The weather was gorgeous, but still a little chilly, so I was really reliant on the fleece vests. This red one is made from a quilted knit and Butterick 6388.  It doesn't have any pockets because I didn't have enough fabric, so I liked wearing it with this striped top that had patch pockets.  When traveling, pockets are incredibly useful.  As long as something has pockets, you feel secure!  I did carry a purse, and never felt like I was a target for pickpockets, but that might be different in the summer when there are more tourists.  Audrey from SewTawdry did a great post about how to add hidden pockets, which I would like to do for future excursions. 




I wore each outfit 2-3 times, so here you see it again in the Els Quatre Gats bar, having Spanish hot chocolate and churros.  Their hot chocolate is really like a hot pudding.  Out of this world delicious, and muuuyyyy fattening!  We tried to have this every day, it was so good.  Els Quatre Gats means “The Four Cats,” which is derived from a Catalan expression which means “only a few people", or nobody important.  This is where Picasso hung out when he lived there with his cool artist buddies. It's ironic that many of the "cats" that hung out here became really important.


Here I am in the same outfit at the Boqueria Market on the Rambla, eating fresh scallops still in their shell.  Seafood is really popular here, as is paella.




There were quite a few fabric stores, and really nice ones too!  I think that Ribes and Casals is like their Mood- two stories, lots of really beautiful sequined fabrics, laces, etc.  You could spend some serious dinero here.  And this place was hopping- lots of customers and activity!  The business hours in Spain are frustrating for Americans.  Many shops open at 10, close at 1, then open again at 5, and stay open until 10 pm.  This gives the employees a chance to go home, have a nice lunch and be with family and friends.  We would often seek out a cafe and have more coffee or hot chocolate during this period.  Which was good because it gave us time to catch up with our daughter who has been in the Peace Corps in Madagascar for 10 months.  Barcelona was a halfway point between us, so she met us there.  Here we are catching up while the Barcelonians are on siesta.  Notice, here is my brick tunic, from Simplicity 8265. 
 



Now, I do have a funny story regarding this daughter.  Coming from Madagascar, she didn't have any clothes appropriate for the cooler climate in Spain, so before we left, she asked if she could wear my clothes.  Even though she's smaller than me, she has always loved wearing my clothes.  I said, "I've gained weight since you saw me, and my clothes would be way too big for you now, so no, you can't wear my clothes!  I'll pack a suitcase full of some of your old clothes that will fit you."  The very first morning, I went to wear the dress that I had made, and it was missing- and I found it on her!  She said "You really didn't think that I wasn't going to wear your clothes, did you?"  So the travel wardrobe got worn by both of us, the whole trip! She hardly wore anything that I had brought specifically for her.   Here she is in my brick dress with her sister, having some sangria and tapas.  This dress was probably in use more than any other piece in the wardrobe, mainly because she kept wearing it!


 And this is what tapas look like in Barcelona.  Tapas are little snack plates that you eat in between lunch and a late dinner at 10 pm or later.  They are pretty economical- usually between 3-5 euros a plate. 


And here I am in the same dress at Parc Guell, the masterpiece park of the architect Gaudi. Gaudi's work is all over Barcelona, in apartment buildings, parks,and an incredible cathedral.  Barcelona has 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and most of them are designed by Gaudi.  He is truly one of a kind.



Here my daughter and I are in front of one of Gaudi's apartment buildings in the "Block of Discord", so named because of many unusual buildings just in that block.  I'm wearing the black fleece vest and brick tunic.  The black fleece vest got worn equally as much as the red one.  Both were smart picks.


I  brought the black tunic for wearing when I felt like something a little dressy was needed, and on Christmas Eve, I wore it to a Flamenco performance at the Palau de Musica, another must see spot in Barcelona.  Flamenco is a traditional Spanish dance, and the costumes were gorgeous.


And I wore the black tunic again when I went fabric shopping in our neighborhood. This is in a store that was filled with beautiful woolens, floor to ceiling.  I haven't ever seen such a selection of wool!  Which is kind of surprising, as I don't think it ever gets very cold there.  But based on the clothes I saw in second hand stores, wool, leather, and fur are all quite popular.  I came home with the blue and purple piece that my arm is resting on.



The most spectacular place in Barcelona is the Sagrada de Familia- the Gaudi cathedral that has been being built for over 100 years. Words cannot describe it- you really have to be inside it to appreciate it.  Our apartment was just a couple of blocks away from it, and this is the breathtaking view that we had at night.



Regarding the other items, absolutely everything got worn at least twice, most 3-4 times.  My one regret: I should have taken more comfortable shoes.  I really was being vain not bringing tennis shoes, and I paid the price for that with sore feet!  The only thing that I would change regarding the clothing is to have made everything out of synthetic fabrics.  We did do laundry a couple of times, and there are no dryers there- everything has to be line dried.  So, my cotton french terry tunic took almost 24 hours to dry.  Everything else dried quickly.

I was pleased that the color palette I chose was spot on.  Just about all of the stores were featuring some combination of black, grey and red.  Here is a look at a wall in the Barcelona brand- Desigual:


I wish that I had the opportunity to do more snoop shopping for ideas, as the city is really filled with interesting boutiques. A lot of the apparel that I saw was made in Spain, and the quality was a notch above what I see in stores in the US.  I brought home some incredible second hand finds, cuts of fabric (of course), and some issues of the Spanish pattern magazine- Patrones.   And best of all, I am still wearing the heck out of this travel wardrobe here in Illinois!

So, all in all it was an incredible trip, and I feel so lucky to be able to have all of our family together for the holidays.  If you've never been to Barcelona, watch the movie "Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona" for a great view of the city and Javier Bardem!

Happy Sewing!
Ann

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sewing a Winter Vacation Wardrobe



Happy New Year!  I haven't blogged for almost 3 months, but I have definitely still been sewing!  Almost all of my sewing has been geared towards some exciting vacation plans and a wardrobe that I can wear on vacation.   This is part 1 of a 2 part post, and I'm keeping our destination a surprise until the 2nd post when I plan to show you the wardrobe on location!  I will give you a few hints, and maybe you can guess.

It's a big city, and the temperature is in the high 50's during the day and the low 40's at night.  I read where the people in this city dress mostly in black, grey and brown during the winter months.  So, to fit in with the locals, I decided to go with a black/grey/brick red color palette.  All fabrics are from FabricMartFabrics.  I figured that I would be outside and wearing a coat on most days, so the coat had to coordinate with everything.  To do this, I chose a printed double knit that had a black background with red and gray accents.  This fabric was heavy enough to be a midweight coat, and I chose Butterick 6384 for my pattern.  I trimmed it with real leather, and found this great toggle on Ebay to use as a closure instead of a belt.  I realize that using a print for a coat is a bit crazy, but this city is used to avant garde artists and architects (hint #1).




I then set my mind to making everything else.  First up, (since I still had black thread in the serger), was a very basic black turtleneck.  This was a fleece lined knit and I used Butterick 6389 for the base, but then lengthened it and made it more swingy.  I think it looks super dressy with these pearls that I picked up at a local resale store.  But really, it feels like a sweatshirt, so it is crazy comfy. I'm showing everything with a black skirt, but I will likely be wearing leggings with everything.




 For my second tunic, I chose a grey french terry type knit and used McCall's 7435.  This is a great tunic, because the cowl is actually also a hood!  It also has a really nice shaped hem.  I figure that I will wear this on the plane so that I can pull it up over my head and sleep during the long plane ride over the Atlantic ocean (hint #2).


 For my 3rd tunic, I used a brick heathered knit  For this one, I used Simplicity 8265.  Just a very basic tunic with side slits.  I like how it gives a nice canvas for necklaces.  Also, this city serves a very popular alcoholic beverage with fruit that will blend in with this color, should I spill any on myself.  (Hint #3)


And for my last tunic, I decided to go with a striped charcoal grey and white pique knit. I used McCalls 7020 for this one.  I thought something sporty would be appropriate, as this city is crazy about football (hint #4)! This is lightweight, but it has both silk and wool in the fabric content, so I think it should still be warm.  I decided to place the stripes vertically and added patch pockets at the front and a fold over neckband.


Here's a closer look at the fabric:


I'm a little worried that the coat will be too hot during the day if the sun is shining, so I decided I should take some fleece vests as an alternative.  I had purchased a quilted red fleece and a black corded fleece during one of Fabric Mart's fleece sales.  For the red one, I used Butterick 6388.  I like how the color on the wrong side shows with this design.


 For the black fleece vest, I added patch pockets to Simplicity 8217.
 The bands are made with a faux suede knit, that I also used to make leggings.


And lastly, I had enough of the brick heather knit to make a dress, so I decided to make one that I have been wanting to try for a while Butterick 6241.  Some would say that this shape is "gawdy", but that would be a very high compliment in this particular city (hint #5).



Here's how it looks with the opened coat:

And lastly, here are the charcoal grey faux suede leggings, and jewelry to "tapas" off the looks (hint #6!).  My other pair of leggings will be a basic black.


To sum it all up, my destination city is known for it's unique architecture, modern art, sports, delicious (but small) foods, and stylish citizens.  Can you guess where I'm going?  I'll be back next week with photos to see if you guessed right. I'll also let you know if my wardrobe plan worked well or not!

Happy Sewing!
Ann
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