I was hoping that by now my coat would be finished and ready to share, but I think it is good to be realistic and honest about how life and sewing don’t always neatly combine! If you looked at the blogs and Instagram accounts, you could be forgiven for thinking that everyone manages to make something new each week and for every special occasion, birthday present and new baby that they encounter. I know however, that that is not the reality, certainly not in my experience, so I think it is good to share the slower sewing, lack of progress, process orientated thinking too.
So what have I been up to in the last couple of weeks? My sewing time has taken a bit of a back seat for the last two weeks as I have been juggling going back to work with my life as a mum. It takes a lot more planning and organisation to get myself out ready for work, and Toby to nursery or to his Grans, so my evenings have consisted of a lot more packing lunches, bags of spare clothes and less sewing! By the time it is all done I don’t always have the energy for sewing.
I have managed to make some progress though, and it is still so satisfying seeing this coat come together. Each stage feels like a milestone and sitting down to sew even for a short time is so relaxing, especially when time to myself and for my hobbies has been in much shorter supply.
The outer shell of the coat is pretty much complete. It still needs buttons and buttonholes once the lining is in, but I can get a good feel for how it is going to look now. The hood also needs constructing separately, but that might be the last job I do because the hood is detachable so I can wear my coat without it until it is finished!
The lining is well underway now too. It does take quite a while sewing and preparing the quilted sections because they can’t really be pressed very well (the insulation melts), and I have been carefully clipping the insulation away from the seam allowances too to reduce bulk. I still need to sew and set in the sleeves, but once that is done, I will be ready to join the outer and the lining.
Hopefully this gives a better insight into the realities of sewing progress. It’s not always plain sailing and finished projects, but I will be all the more proud of my coat when it is complete for the time, energy and perseverance that it took.
It feels so good to have made progress with a more complex project! I have made a lot of pretty easy knit garments in the last year or so and very few woven ones. I even found the cutting out each piece on a single layer strangely satisfying, when usually cutting out is something to be avoided.
I’ve made some good progress on the construction now. My first welt pockets since making Matt a waistcoat about two years ago are looking pretty good.
Some of the standalone pieces are complete too like the belt. This still needs some extra eyelets installing to give me the holes to tighten through, but I want to check where they need to go before I commit.
I have been taking my time with this. It’s actually quite easy to press and very well behaved to sew. I’m using a new needle, but otherwise no other special preparations. I’ve ended up with a double row of top stitching on my shoulder and sleeve tabs which I’m calling a ‘design choice’ because I got the seam allowance muddled and didn’t want to unpick as this fabric does leave holes where is was stitched. I decided instead to just stitch a second row instead.
I decided to baste the darts into the lining before stitching them. My lining is pretty bulky with the thinsulate. They still haven’t stitched perfectly, but I’m hoping that it is good enough.
I’ve reached about the halfway point I think now. The outer of my coat is pretty much complete and looking good. Now its all about the lining and finishing touches. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out!
I think one of the reasons that I didn’t get any further than choosing and preparing my fabric for my Taylor Trench last year, is that I was a bit scared about cutting into my fabric. Some of that fear came from worries about the actual sewing, but I think more of it came from choosing the ‘wrong’ size and not ending up happy with the finished fit.
This time though I was determined not to have any reasons for putting this coat off, so I decided that the solution was to sew a quick toile of the outer coat from some cheaper fabric. In my stash I do keep things like old bedsheets and duvet covers just for this purpose, so I had no excuse not to give it a try.
When sewing my toile I went for a size L because I want to be able to fit jumpers underneath, and my quilted lining will also take up a bit of extra room. It did mean that even with my toile I needed to use a bit of judgement about how the actual coat will fit because it is going to feel a bit snugger. I’m happy with my decision though and now there is no more procrastinating allowed!
In fact, to make sure that I didn’t let the fear get to me again, I have cut out the fabric for my actual coat now. There is a sew-along starting tomorrow and I’m hoping to use it to give me some extra confidence and purpose, even if I don’t manage to stick completely to the schedule.
I love the new year for having a chance to reflect on where you have come from, and where you hope to get to. Last year I set myself some sewing and blogging related goals so I thought I would see how I measured up.
I created myself a make 9 list last January, though it actually started with just 5 patterns on it and room for some wildcard pattern additions. This did really work for me because it gave me room to review during the year and adapt my planning as I went along. By the end of the year, I did have 9 patterns on my list and I completed 8 of them.
The only one which went unfinished was my Taylor Trench (top left) which was definitely the most ambitious project, and while I did lots of the prep work sourcing fabric and notions, I knew long before the end of the year that it wasn’t going to get finished (or even cut out)! I am planning on adding it to my plans for this year, and I think Rebecca Page will be hosting a sew-along so hopefully that will help me to get going on it.
The other patterns were all pretty successful. Continuing clockwise we have- Brindle and Twig baby clothes, Sew Over It Lily, Poppy and Jazz Dandelion Dungarees, Megan Nielson Amber, Grainline Archer, Seamwork Paxton, Sew Over It Penny and a Seamwork Oslo. I like that they represent a range of pattern companies and levels of complexity so I’m aiming for a similar balance again this year.
I also made plans to reduce my sewing consumption. I think it is very tempting to buy more fabric and patterns than are likely to get made, especially as my sewing time has reduced over the last year. I think I did manage to keep both in check, though I definitely bought more in the second part of the year than the first. I think in total I only bought 6 patterns, most of which were for baby clothes and the Penny dress. I think it proves that they were more carefully selected patterns because 4 have already been made up, and I am definitely planning on using the others shortly.
My aim was to keep to a similar blogging schedule, posting every Sunday with occasional extras in between. This was pretty successful too, though there was a month or so when Toby was very tiny that I had a break. I have the same asperation this year, and already have a few blog posts in the bank part written so hopefully I will get a bit ahead! Thank you to all my lovely readers who have made it such a fun and worthwhile year.
2019 Plans- Make 9
I have a new make 9 planned out, though there might be a bit of change throughout the year again. Provisionally it looks like this….
First up is that Taylor Trench. I want to get is cut out asap so that I don’t have any more excuses to procrastinate.
Next is the Grainline Alder. I’ve made lots or Archers, and wanted to branch out so I had the Alder printed by Sprout patterns before they stopped trading. It seemed like a great way to save myself some time in the cutting out phase, and I’m hoping to be able to wear it with leggings and a t-shirt underneath, and on it’s own in the summer.
It only seems fair to make Matt something. I’ve made him lots of Metro tees in the last few years so I want to try out something new. This is the Eugene Henley from Seamwork and should be a fun quicker project to break up the more complex ones.
This first Seamwork Oslo was always intended to be a wearable muslin, but I never got to making any more. I want at least one more in my wardrobe and have some grey and black jersey ready to go.
A couple of years ago I made some Virginia Leggings, but they weren’t too successful. I have some grey and black jerseys ready to make some basic everyday pairs.
I made some Ginger jeans a couple of years ago, but they don’t fit my post baby body. I have some red stretch corduroy to make a new wearable muslin, and if it works out well I would like to make some in blue denim too.
I was given this gorgeous book– the fox the bear and the bunny for Christmas. It has some lovely playful clothes inside and I would like to make Toby a coat- possibly the bunny one before he is too old to object!
One of the patterns I bought last year was the Honeydew Hoodie. I haven’t got to make it yet, so I’m making it a priority this year. It should be another quicker make, and is super cute.
Finally, I’ve left myself a wildcard again to let me choose something during the year that takes my fancy. I’m sure there will be other projects too. I would really like to wear some jersey dresses again so it might have to be another amber dress if it’s while I’m still breastfeeding. I have suitable fabrics in my stash for lots of these, so I’m hoping to use those first before buying anything new.
As part of my sewing plans for the year I have divided up some of the steps involved in sewing up my Taylor Trench. In the last post I included all my materials and planning. I have everything that I need ready now, and have started some of the pre-prep work for the coat. I have spread the tasks for this coat across the next few months. I don’t want to overload myself, or end up rushing it so I’m planning to have all the final touches complete in time for autumn. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t fit my planned size very well at the moment anyway!
The first steps have been relatively simple, but also a little time consuming. I have pre-washed and shrunk my lining fabric, and as I explained before I wanted to make this coat a little warmer by quilting the lining to some thinsulate, much like Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani did with her Kelly anorak. I don’t need all the pieces of lining to be insulated, so I tried to work out how much quilting I needed to do by laying out the pattern pieces that I did need on the fabric and measuring along.
Quilting the two fabrics together is a very slow process! I decided on a 1.5 inch diamond grid pattern, and used a walking foot and guide to try to keep it even. I found that the layers ‘stick together’ pretty well by themselves because the backing of the thinsulate is almost like cotton wool. I did use some extra pins and safety pins to keep them from moving about during sewing, though I didn’t need loads. It was pretty tricky manipulating such a large piece of fabric on my domestic machine and sewing table. I think next time I would be tempted to send it in to my local quilting shop and get them to do it for me.
I looked at a few different thread colour options for the quilting, but in the end I settled on simple white. Pragmatically, I already have a massive reel of white cotton, so I was ready to go, but I also didn’t want the quilting to detract from the print in the fabric.
It took absolutely ages to get the fabric all quilted and prepped. I was expecting it to be slow, but I do think it will be totally worth it in the end. The quilting is definitely not perfect, but I doubt anyone would ever notice. I did invest in a better walking foot partway through which helped enormously. I had been using a cheap unbranded one, but the actual Brother foot and guide was just so much better at drawing the fabric through evenly.
Next steps are to cut all the pieces from both my lining and my outer fabric, which will be another time consuming part because there are quite a few pieces. I’m really looking forward to actually getting to the sewing though now!
I figured that we are a good chunk through the year now, and it would be a useful exercise to see how I was getting on with my resolutions for the year, while I still have time to get back on track if it was all going awry. Amazingly, sewing-wise it seems to be going pretty well so far and I’m feeling fairly on track to achieve the things I was hoping to, despite feeling like a whale at the moment and waiting for baby to arrive! This is what my make nine plans looked like at the start of the year:
Since then I have decided on, a couple of my wildcard patterns, and have also made up quite a few of these patterns too, some of them several times.
Another of my plans was to be less impulsive with buying new fabric and patterns, and to use more of what is already in my stash. So far it has been a roaring success! I’ve not bought any new fabric so far this year except for my Trench Coat project, despite being very tempted at a couple of moments by various sales! It means that all the projects that I have been working on so far this year have come from stash fabrics, some of which I had forgotten even existed. I will need to buy some fabric soon for the Penny dress because I don’t have anything suitable stashed away, but I think I’ve done amazingly well to come so far without a single impulse fabric purchase.
Pattern-wise, my only purchases have been the Penny Dress, the Brindle and Twig Patterns, and I did get Tilly and the Button’s new book Stretch when I recently subscribed to Love Sewing again. Again, pretty restrained so far! Turns out I have quite a few patterns in my stash which can be hacked or modified to make some lovely and enjoyable sewing.
So in terms of what I still have to do this year, it seems to be going ok! 5 of 9 of my make nine completed, one in progress, and another at the planning stage. Still two choices to make, but I’m starting to narrow down what they will be. Fabric and pattern buying under control, and I’m thinking I should do some more sorting out of my stash to give away some of the things which will never see the light of day otherwise. There are definitely some pieces which just don’t inspire me anymore, but might be just the thing for someone else. I would like to narrow down my stash so that it contains just fabric that I can’t wait to sew.
This is the first of several posts about my journey into sewing the Taylor Trench by Rebecca Page. This is one of the plans from my make nine, so it feels good to be getting the materials ready for this more involved project. So how do I approach a project like this? Here is how I have been getting started.
While I love the instant nature and lack of tracing involved in PDF patterns, I don’t have the patience to stick together the millions of pages in more complex patterns! I have been using netprinter to order my patterns printed on A0 with saves all the tedious cutting and sticking and means that I can get straight to the cutting out. The pdf files for the Taylor Trench are layered, so you can save the pdf’s again with just the sizes you need visible and make life as simple as possible when it comes to the pattern preparations.
The Taylor trench has quite a few options with the pattern. I will be making the shorted coat length and will definitely be adding the removable hood. I will probably also use the back yoke piece, welt pockets, shoulder and sleeve tabs, but will omit the front yokes. I am planning to add a buckle to my belt, rather than just tying it up.
I want this coat to be a real investment piece for me. Something which will last for years, so I have been taking my time to choose some quality fabrics. In rainy Devon, waterproof is a must, so I have selected some waxed cotton for my outer fabric. This should give a balance of being pretty classy, and also practical on damp days out. I managed to get some of last seasons colours of some British Millerian cotton in a beautiful vibrant red which should give me a high quality and long lasting finish.
I wanted this coat to be relatively warm too, so I’ve decided to quilt the lining with thinsulate, a bit like Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani’s Kelly Anorack. I have ordered 2m of the thinsulate from Point North which should be plenty to have the hood and main body of the coat quilted with it as it is a full 1.5m wide. I haven’t decided yet whether to quilt the sleeve lining or not. I don’t want them to get too bulky, but I do want this coat to serve me all winter. I will use un-quilted linings for the pockets and other odds and ends though.
For my lining I have chosen some lovely Liberty Tana Lawn from Abakhan. I’m so glad that I did because it feels gorgeous and silky, but has the ease of working with cotton. I managed to buy mine during their Christmas sale, so got 15% off the already fantastic £10/m so I snapped up Estella and Annabelle for just £8.50/m which is an absolute bargain! I also got to use my birthday gift voucher from my parents on it, so it felt like even more of a treat, and I like that it picks up the red of the outer too. I have the blue colourway, which they have now sold out of, but abakhan do have it still in green.
With a coat there are quite a few notions to be collected. I have decided to go for silver fixings, because that should be easier to match, even when I am getting things from multiple sources. I have ordered a few things, and have more in the planning. So far I have:
I haven’t decided on thread yet, but will probably go with Gutermann threads in white and red because I know that they are great quality.
It seems to all be coming together pretty well. I am planning to prewash the cotton lawn just to sort out any shrinkage and to keep it nice and soft, but I think I will leave the other fabrics unlaundered. A coat is unlikely to be put through the washing machine once it is complete anyway. I think that is as far as I have got, and I’m not quite sure when I am going to get to the cutting out stage because I have a few other projects to finish first but it is lovely to be planning away!