Friday, 17 December 2010

The madness of the last week of term

Obviously, when I said last week that I would catch up with the construction posts on my winter coat this week, what I really meant was 'next week is the last week of term before the Christmas holidays and I won't have time to breath, let alone post on my blog!!'

Along with christmas parties, ballet shows, the excitement of père noël hiding round every corner and decorating the house we have had coughs and colds, builders, plumbers, electricians (oh yes, les travaux continuent!) and the manicness of catching up on homemade christmas presents to contend with. Oh yes, and I have ten people for a meal tonight!

Despite, or maybe because, of this I have lots to showcase over the next week or so. The advent calendar continues and the to-do list slowly gets smaller.....and Christmas approaches.........

Here is a sneak preview of some of the things (in addition to the catch up on the coat posts - which are nearly done) you can expect to see over the next couple of weeks.

Hope you are all enjoying the build up to Christmas as much as I am - the holidays are nearly here!




Friday, 10 December 2010

A sneak preview....

I will catch up on all the construction posts next week.

In the meantime, not much to say really - except.........IT IS DONE!!!!

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Winter Coat - Progress Report Week 4

OK, so I didn't get round to posting this at the weekend as things have been a little hectic round here. In addition to three little people getting more and more excited about Christmas I have the bonus of having builders, plumbers and electricians in and out of the house all day - not massively conducive to getting large amounts of sewing done (particularly with intermittent electrical supply and heating!).

But, despite all this, the winter coat has progressed and, dare I say it, should be completely done, buttons sewn on and all by the end of this week - I am so excited!!

But before I get ahead of my self a little catch up on the construction process. Progress Report Week 3 detailed the interfacing of the front and back sections and then it was on to the sleeves. Again, reports seemed to vary as to how much (or how little) interfacing should be applied to the sleeves - some people seem to interface the entire sleeve but more common was some interfacing of the lower sleeve which is the part that gets the most wear. Hmmmm, this is all very well but when your sleeve pattern is made up of a front sleeve pattern piece and a back sleeve pattern piece it is not easy to isolate the 'lower' sleeve! I started therefore by interfacing the lower halves of both of the sleeve pieces with canvas hair. I daigonally basted the canvas hair to the interlining, as for the front pieces but didn't extend the canvas hair into the seam allowances so as not to add any bulk. Once I had done this I basted the sleeve pieces together to see if it looked ok - as I was worried that the top part of the sleeve would then look a bit saggy. (I should have taken a photo at this stage to show you but I'm afraid I forgot - the amount of handstitching in this coat was bound to addle my brain at some stage!)

Although it had added a step to baste the sleeve sections together to see how it looked I was glad I had done it as only interfacing the lower section of the sleeve did cause the top section to sort of fall into the arm, if you get my gist. This could probably have been rectified by using more flexible interfacing for the lower sleeve but instead I decided to interface the top section of the sleeve as well with the canvas hair.

As for the front coat sections I cut the interfacing out of the hem allowance and used some more flexible fusible interfacing for the hem sections.

Now it was time to start assembling! I sewed the front sections to the back sections at the side seams, pressed open the seams and catch stitched them down to the interfacing.

the side seam pressed open

the seam allowances catch-stitched down to the interfacing

 I then attached the front sleeve sections to the back sleeve sections, firstly by the upper seam and then by the lower seam. As I sewed each seam I pressed it open and catch stitched it down to the interfacing....amazing myself completely at my ability to do each step meticulously without cutting corners! (my normal "full speed ahead and press everything at the end" habit miraculously absent!)

Once the sleeve was assembled I decided to hem it before turning it the right way round and so I pressed up the hem allowance, basted round the bottom to hold it in place and catch stitched the hem allowance to the interfacing.

sleeve hem catch stitched in place

sleeve ready and waiting to be attached to the coat body

At this point I couldn't wait any longer  to see what it would look like and pinned everything together on my dress form to see whether it did actually look like a coat and............ta da!!

coat in progress

 More to come very soon.........xx

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Winter Coat - Progress Report Week 3

So after the relative success of the bound button holes (progress report 2) it was on to interfacing.
The pattern just called for the facings to be interfaced but following the 'couture' methods described in the Clare Schaeffer book and the Vogue book called for significantly more.

Now, my run ins with interfacing to date have been solely of the fusible variety. Cut it out, put it on reverse of fabric and hold hot iron on it for a few seconds. Job done. The Winter Coat though I decided deserved something better so 3 metres of tailoring canvas hair interfacing was acquired and I set to work. (I should probably confess at this stage to ordering the canvas hair online from here - not that there is anything wrong with ordering from Rascol - in fact I use them a lot as our house is not very conveniently positioned for fabric or haberdashery shopping - but mainly because I really didn't know what canvas hair looked or felt like and I knew that if I tried to go and buy it somewhere I would be presented with a range of options and made to choose which I needed which is not easy when you don't know!)

Reports vary as to where you should interface (all or just part of your front and back sections) but as the fabric that I am using is quite supple I decided that I would completely interface the front sections and that I would sew a back stay onto the back section (see below for further details on the back stay). My reasoning behind this was that the front sections get more wear and tear than the back and the "look" I am going for on the front of the coat is a slightly more stiffer look than is currently the case with the drape of the fabric.

Despite extensive research in my books and on the internet I struggled to find anything that particularly dealt with interfacing a coat with an extended front facing (You can see from the photo below that the pattern I am using has the facing section attached to the front section and it will then just fold back rather than a separate facing which you would then sew to the front section of the coat - does that make sense?).

Extended facing on front section of coat
There are lots of articles and tutorials dealing with jackets and coats with lapels and so in the end, as with the interlining (blogged about here) I had to come up with my own solution. Basically the interfacing should be cut out of the sale pattern pieces as the fabric and then they are basted together. I decided though to interface the front section of the coat as one section and then the facing section as a separate section so using two pieces of interfacing and leaving a gap where the facing will fold over so as not to add bulk there.

Interfacing front section and facing section separately
I cut off the hem allowance so as not to double up the canvas hair in the hem and then interfaced the hem section with a lighter fusible interfacing. In order to attach the canvas hair I drew chalk lines approximately 3 cm apart vertically and I diagonally basted it to the interlining. (Gertie basted her canvas hair with more straight lines and I doubt it really matters (please read that in hushed tones as I imagine it is not the sort of thing you should say when talking about "couture") - I just liked the diagram in the Vogue book showing the diagonal basting. The book also says that diagonal basting is the same as padstitching just on a bigger scale so I also thought it would be good practice!)

diagonal basting to attach interfacing

You don't need to baste into the seam allowances and I cut out the interfacing round the bust darts and pulled the fabric through so it could be catch-stitched to the interfacing

cut interfacing round dart and catch stitch fabric to interfacing
And, finally, in relation to interfacing the front sections I cut out holes in the interfacing behind the bound button holes.

Onto the back section.
As I said above I decided to apply a back stay to the back section. This effectively means interfacing the top part of the back section from the neckline to about 10 cm below the arm holes. I cut the interfacing out using the back pattern piece and then drew a curved line, going up slightly in the middle, from a point approximately 10cm below each arm hole to the other side.

For the back stay I followed Gertie's lead and machine sewed it to the fabric just within the seam allowance all the way round from one side, up the arm hole, across the neckline, down the other armhole and down the side.

Then, just when I thought I was done with the interfacing for the front and back sections I turned the page in the Vogue book and read about tailor padding. This is effectively an addition layer of interfacing with a layer of flannel below (sandwiched between the two layers of interfacing) that goes round the armhole sections as shown below to provide extra support in this area. The tailor padding should not extend into the seam allowances and is diagonally basted to the underlying layer of interfacing as before.

tailor padding on front section

tailor padding on back section
Finally, for the front and back sections I applied twill tape to the neck line and armholes and the fold line where the facing will fold over on the front sections. I catch stitched the tape by placing it just on the seam lines, in relation to the neck and armholes with the rest of the tape on the actual garment side of the seam line (rather than in the seam allowance), and by placing it just inside the fold line on the front section, rather than on the facing section. I also placed a line of twill tape on the edge of the facing section so that this section will not sag.

twill tape catch-stitched

twill tape applied round neckline and arm holes

twill tape on fold line and outer edge of front facing
Next I am interfacing the sleeves and then it is the moment of truth as I can finally start to sew the pieces together and see if they look like an actual coat!

I realise that I am running almost a week behind with my weekly progress reports but hopefully that will be rectified this weekend by me posting the next instalment - stay tuned - oh and don't forget to have a look at my advent calendar!! 

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Christmas is coming......

and I need to get a wriggle on with my winter coat - I know.

In fact I have been working hard on it but just haven't had time to get it all documented - but that will all be righted tomorrow.

In addition to my new dress (yesterday's post) I succumbed to the pleas of the little people and made some more advent bunting - photos will follow as the ones I took late last night are too nasty to show!

I also 'had' to make 24 BLUE little bags for petit garçon's advent treats - he told me he liked the bunting but it was too pink (he had a point) and he wanted ONLY BLUE. The boy-thing continues!

You will see, if you are attentive!, that I have added a page at the top there, under the heading - titled Advent Calendar 2010. Check back each day to see a little bit of what I am loving this December.

And, to start the festive period off I will leave you with a little bit of glitz....