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F2570: Baby, it’s cold outside!

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Or at least, it was when I started making this coat. I got a bit worried at one point when the sun started actually coming out during the day, but now we’re back to being super chilly again, so all is well! (?) Serves me right for making a coat towards the end of winter, eh? No matter – I’m totally in lust with this creation anyway – to the extent that my gripes about Marfy patterns not coming with lining doesn’t even impact my cheshire cat grin. (No lining pattern? WTF?!?!) 

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That issue aside, this project was obviously a LOT more complex than my first Marfy pattern – the pleated front blouse which had a grand total of 4 pattern pieces. I tackled this pattern by sewing up a toile and practising the bits I was unsure of until I got them right, in addition to getting the fit right. I used this process to develop a bit of a construction order running sheet too – after all, methodical is my middle name. Although I’d be lying through my teeth if I said there wasn’t at least 3 times where I threw my test run on the ground in frustration and griped to Mr poppykettle about how un-enjoyable and frustrating sewing can be!

But the best part about dealing with all the issues during the toile phase is that when it came to actually making the final version of the blasted thing, I could afford to just concentrate on sewing, safe in the knowledge that a) it fit me well and b) I knew how to put it together. Good thing too, because it required a mammoth effort.

What I really love about the finished garment is the pockets – unlike normal coats where pockets are a part of the side or princess seams, these pockets are totally ergonomic. I don’t even have to look or think where to place my hands into these babies – they just slide in! Not to mention that the pocket bags are deep and extra spacious – I can practically dangle my arms around in them without meeting any fabric resistance. Tick!

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The hardest thing I find with sewing a pattern from an ‘untried’ pattern company is knowing how much ease they include versus what you consider to be appropriate. I bought a size 46 pattern which is designed for a bust of 96cm. Made up to specification before I altered the pattern to fit, the bust measurement of the finished garment was 111cm. My bust measurement sits at 99cm, so the ease was just on the larger side of being perfect for me here – I took it down to about 106cm. Our winters might be cold, but not cold enough that I need to wear excessive layers underneath :) As the pattern seemed to have minimal shaping at the waist and hips (in comparison to my measurements anyway), I took in all of the seams around here to prevent it taking on the appearance of a paper bag. It still looks pretty straight up and down without the belt though.

The sleeves also caused significant headaches. They are absolutely my point of contention in sewing. Had I been using one of the recommended fabrics (cashmere, vicuña – drool) the amount of ease allowed for in the sleeve head wouldn’t have been an issue to include. But the canvas I used was significantly more unforgiving in this regard, and there didn’t seem to be a way to incorporate the ease without some significant and unsightly puckers and gathers. After altering and resetting the sleeve on my toile multiple times, I gave up and went back to my tried and true sleeve pattern from V8333. Can I just say yet again how much I LOVE this sleeve? It’s the third time I’ve appropriated it! I still had to altered slightly, and the result isn’t perfect, but it’s a bucketload better than Marfy’s sleeve.

And as always, it’s the little things about sewing a garment that draw me in. So now that you’ve had a chance to view the forest (so to speak) – shall we look at the leaves? 

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The main fabric is an oatmeal coloured canvas, the yellow detailing is from the leftover stretch cotton from my Caramel Slice Marfy and the lining is a striped viscose/acetate (Fendi Lining #8) – a Tessuti Trifecta! I bought the canvas yonks ago in the thought that I’d be making the iconic McCalls 5525 trench coat – for some reason I though I needed 6m of fabric for this (I must have done something stupid in the conversion from yards to meters…) I ended up using 3.1m for this coat. And to think I was worried I might not have enough. What a dill!!!! Good thing it was inexpensive, but still the wastage from my lapse in reasoning really ticks me off. I might have to make the 5525 for a friend to use it up…

In other matters, this coat was an absolute thread HOG. I’m talking nearly 3 whole 100m thingies of normal thread, quite a bit of silk thread and 2x30m thingies of topstitching thread (Do those thingies have names?). Sheesh! Its the first time I’ve used proper top-stitching thread – it’s like rope in comparison to your standard everyday stuff. I had to hoick my machine’s tension up to 8 before the bobbin thread started to behave though – thats totally hardcore.

The buttons are vintage horn in a pale tortoise-shell, acquired from L’ucello. I was actually on my way into Buttonmania to see what they had to offer, but the entrance to this little shop (on the same level) caught my eye and I’m super glad I went in – it’s really beautiful and full of all sorts of yummy vintage haberdashery. They don’t have a website yet but their blog gives you a good indication of the yummy things they stock. Do stop by if you’re in the area – you won’t regret it! I used some small transparent buttons on the reverse side to stabilise the buttons you actually see – its a good way of taking some of the stress away from the fabric (and I totally copied it from one of my RTW garments).

I made a few changes to the pattern – like making the sleeve cuffs long enough to go around the entire sleeve, changing the belt to a longer style (and adding in belt loops at the side) and including at the centre back seam a knotted thread connecting the jacket and the belt, an idea I stole from my RTW green trench coat. It was the first time I’ve used by automatic buttonhole foot too and it worked like a charm (I used this on the cuffs only) and the end result is really good. I used bound buttons holes at the front. Drafting the lining was a new challenge – and it seems to have worked successfully too. Win!

The yellow curved welt pockets needed a partner in crime – it looked a bit odd and unbalanced with just a single splash of colour. Having a matching trim around the sleeve cuffs evened this out nicely I thought.

Even after all the hard work and frustration, this coat has been totally worth it. I just know I’m gunna love wearing it! Will it replace the spot in my heart where my green trench coat resides? Only time will tell… 

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F2570: WIP

I’ve been having a ball getting stuck into this Marfy coat pattern, but it’s thrown me a few curve balls, to use that universally understood American euphemism. Namely:
 – There are no pattern pieces for the lining;
 – I need to figure out how to do curved welt pockets,

Yikes. Thankfully, I’ve been able to find a lot of information on the interwebs around drafting lining pieces (like this resource by Sherry from Pattern Scissors Cloth), and it took many practise versions (and abject failures) to get a good finish on the curved welts. There was one blog post by Jilly Be Joyful who did a curved welt on a Japanese-style robe, which got me started. Still confusing as all hell though!!!

My first attempt at the curved welt pocket (photo on the left) – used the bias strip pattern piece included and just doesn’t sit flat – there’s a very definite ripple along the fold line of that bias strip. I attempted the same style again with different types of interfacing and that didn’t work either. For the final acceptable result (on the right) I drafted a pattern piece to match the curve and sewed them together so there’s a seam on the welt edge – giving a much nicer, flatter and more stable result:

Initially I completely over-thought the curved welt pocket process – it’s actually very simple once you get your head around the process. The single welts I’ve done in the past have had the same backbones as a double welt pocket, whereas these are a true single welt – the kind you see on RTW coats (funny that). 

The main difference is that previously the welt’s I’ve made (like on my Sweet Shorts and Crimson Clovers) have been underneath the fabric, whereas these welts sit on top of the fabric. 

Thankfully I’ve also been able to work on things other than welts, so here’s where we are so far :)

F2570: Marfy on my Mind and my Mind on my Marfy

It must be the week of Marfy… because not only have I been able to get excited about their Autumn/Winter collection release (blogged here), I also received my pattern haul from them (after a significant kerfuffle with Australia Post who originally lost it. Nice work there, Aus Post). So, all my sewing projects have come to an abrupt halt because of this:

It’s from their 2011/2012 catalogue (sadly not available online) and it’s just what I’m after in a coat. The little english description under it says:

“This form fitting coat has a double wrap with arched cuts trimmed in leather, patent leather or velvet. It has pockets set parallel, a rounded sporty collar and strip cuffs. Suggested fabrics: plain fabric, vicuña, cashmere”.

Well, at least thanks to my time in Peru, I actually know what Vicuña is (the little squiggle on top of the N means you add a Y after it, so the word is pronounced vick-oon-ya). Until I saw this I was intending to make the iconic McCall’s 5525 trench coat, so I’m hoping the lovely oatmeal coloured canvas I bought for this will be enough. And to stick it to the super dreary weather Melbourne is experiencing right now, I’m thinking of using some of the left over stretch yellow cotton from this top (Marfy, of course) for the contrast arched trims, but I’m not 100% on this yet. We’ll see. Whatever it ends up being, it will be bright!

By golly gosh does this coat has big shoes to fill. I’ve had a green Trench-coat from Jigsaw in winter wardrobe circulation for a few years now which I just adore:

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand

I bought it back in 2009 because I was travelling to Iran and needed a coat-like garment that covered my backside and thighs. It ended up being a lot warmer than I thought so it only got one or two days wear before I bought an inexpensive, lightweight royal-blue Chinese-made version: 

(and some gratuitous holiday snaps if you don’t mind). I also borrowed a manteau which is basically just a form-less shift great for warm weather (but still ‘modest’).

Since then that green trench has travelled with me to 3 other countries (Jordan, Israel and New Zealand) and been witness to countless events that will one day be stories for the grand kids… But after four winters in circulation, I’m kinda getting sick of wearing it. Surprisingly, it’s still in completely wearable condition – a testament to Jigsaw quality I suppose. 

Has anyone else got a favourite garment that even after years of wear still gets pulled out regularly? And more importantly, have you been able to replace said beloved item when it finally reaches the end of its tenure? Do tell !