This week we began the actual sewing of our coats! After lots and lots of pattern tracing and cutting, we were excited to get to work at our sewing machines. Here's how it went this week...
Ok, so I didn't actually jump right to the sewing machine after cutting. First, there were a plethora of pieces to be fused with their interfacing. I developed a double-iron technique where I use two cordless irons at the same time for maximum fusing power. It was awesome. Also, I spent some time this week altering my pocket pattern pieces. I decided to change the Cascade's patch pockets from plain rectangle to a slightly taller rectangle with an angled side for more convenient "hands in pockets". I kept Jen's details of a slightly smaller lining piece so that the lining pulls in and doesn't peek out on the front of the coat. I used a similar construction as the original pockets, where the wool fabric folds down inside of the pocket hiding the lining seam. These changes made a slightly more complicated pattern piece, but the result is exactly what I was looking for!
The construction of the front and back of Cascade is really simple, with straight seams that are pressed, graded and then top-stitched. I found my 1/4" foot really helpful to keep the top-stitching even. I'm using a dark brown thread to tie in with my toggles and zipper, so straight and even stitching is a must. I used the 1/4" foot again when attaching my pockets. An added square of stitching at each end makes the pockets more secure at the stress points.
I got a good start on my zipper construction, and, heeding Sara's advice, I interfaced my zipper band pieces although the pattern doesn't call for that. I like that this stabilized the fabric and kept the fabric from stretching while sewing, and I think it will make the coat sturdier at the zipper which will be nice.
Next week I hope to finish my coat outer shell, which means front bands, toggles, sew side seams, sleeves and hood. Full steam ahead!
Today we started sewing! I started sewing the outer shell with the Pendleton fabric. This particular Pendleton is quite thick, although I've worked with the Jacquard weight fabrics before so it wasn't new to me. It is important to press the heck out of the seams. I used my iron on high with steam and press the seams from both sides - inside first to get the seams open and then from the outside. Using a sewing ham and sleeve board will be very helpful when constructing a garment like this to fully press all the curved seams and narrow sleeves.
The construction of this has been pretty straightforward so far. One reason I chose this jacket was the raglan sleeves which I knew were going to be easier than set-in sleeves and they went together without any hitches. The sleeves are each two pieces and the back sleeve has a small dart for easy movement which I love.
The raglan seams are topstitched to add strength and secure the seam allowance down. I was supposed to use seam tape in the raglan seams as well, but I didn't have this so I stay stitched the seams per her recommendation. Hopefully, it will hold up!
For next week I need to finish the outside by adding the large cowl-collar and then work on the lining!
WOW. What a week! Last week, I traced my pattern and cut out my fabric. I went with a size XS because I have a 38" bust and by my calculations, the XS with a chest measurement of 117cm should be about a 46" bust - which SHOULD be 8" of positive ease on me.
NOT SO. :( Fortunately for me, another sew-a-longer showed up this week with a muslin of the XS that she had made. So, I got to try it on. As I'm not planning to wear this as a coat over sweaters and such, more as a jacket over shirts, I don't need large amounts of ease. I tried on the muslin, and the bust and shoulders seemed to fit OK, but the hips couldn't pull down over my hips [sad face]. There aren't any other body measurements indicated on the envelope other than chest measurement. And, this is a pretty boxy pattern. If the hips are the same as the chest - 46" - then they should fit over my hips which are 41". We double checked and she's definitely made up the XS. And with my fabric already cut out, I had to figure out what to do.
I decided to draft a new pattern piece. I had minor freak outs over that for a minute or two and then got down to drawing. I decided to add a triangular piece at the sides starting above the drawstring and going down to the hips. The piece is 6" wide at the hips, narrowing to nothing at the waist. I also had to add little pieces to the waistband facing since the new piece continues above the waistband. If you remember, I've decided to do patch pockets AND side seam pockets on this for maximum utility. This new piece interferes with the side seam pockets, so I had to figure out how to make that work. I've not sewn them yet, but I think that it's going to work. I'm attaching one side of the triangle gusset to the back of the jacket just flat. The front of the gusset has a flap on it for attaching the pocket (I just copied the one that was drafted on to the back of the jacket already, then cut the one off the back of the jacket since I don't need it anymore).
The other thing I realized after trying on the muslin is that the jacket is going to be really much longer on me than I really would like it to be. I'm only 5'3", so this isn't much of a surprise to me. Looking at the patch pockets and the hem made me realize that if I take a couple of inches off like I want to, then the pockets are too big. So, I shortened the pockets by 1.5". To decide this, I laid my phone on top of the pockets and figured out how much to take off and still allow my phone to sit in the pocket. Since we all know that phones fitting in pockets is the most important part of sewing! Ha! I marked a line where I wanted the pocket to be cut off using the pointy pattern tracing wheel and then serged the bottom off of the pocket. I also serged the vertical sides of the pocket before folding them in and stitching them to the jacket. Finishing the sides of the pocket wasn't called for, but I felt that it was a good idea. Using the tracing wheel to mark where the fabric should fold worked really well since this waxed canvas can't be ironed.
I used large brass grommets that I had in my stash for the drawstring holes on the front of the jacket because I was having a lot of tension issues using top stitching thread, regular bobbin thread, and several layers of the waxed canvas. I didn't want to even attempt a button hole after seeing the mess the threads were making. Grommets are really easy! Most come with a setter sized just right for the grommets you bought. I did test it out with an extra one on a scrap of my waxed canvas. I'm testing everything on a scrap of canvas before I do it on my actual jacket. It's getting a little obsessive, but it's saved me a LOT of heartbreak and seam ripping so I don't mind it at all.
After installing the grommets and shortening the pockets, I sewed the pockets and flaps and sewed them onto the jacket. I used a contrasting gold jeans top stitching thread to sew my pockets. I'm really happy with how they have turned out! You can see that I finally got the tension to play nice with my thread and fabric. But, I think I'm going to see if I can find some shiny brass snaps for the pocket flaps instead of buttons and button holes because I still don't trust this machine's button holes.
I think that the one other thing I'm going to change about the pattern is to use a slightly smaller seam allowance. The pattern calls for 1.5cm (about 5/8"), and I might use .5cm (a scant 1/4"). That would give me almost an extra inch all around.
I'm excited for this Friday to come around, some sewing friends from around the area are supposed to be stopping in AND I should get more sewing than cutting done!