Category Archives: Sewing

Monday Outfit: More Perri Pullovers

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Good morning, friends! I should just call this the month of tees and be done with it. It’s all K seems to wear and they’re so easy to whip up that I default to sewing one form of knits-based top or another.

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These two tops are sewn from the Cali Faye Perri Pullover pattern. I’ve used this once before in an impractical metallic faux leather combo, which of course has never been worn since last May. I actually made the burgundy one back in September of last year and completely forgot about it. I must have thought it was too plain jane and not blog-worthy at the time, but I’ve clearly gotten over that hang-up since all I seem to share with you are these types of garments now.

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To give the all-white version some oomph, I tried to add piping. “Tried” being the operative word here since I’m incapable of proper piping insertion. Shallow depth of field photography is awesome because a lot of mistakes can be artfully blurred out. If you look very closely, you’ll see there’s some puckering at the neckline because my serger ate into the seam too far, and when I undid the offending stitches, it left indentations and a teeny tiny hole.

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These minor blunders don’t bother me much, but what does bother me is how lazy I am when it comes to certain things. I haven’t added piping in a long time, and I couldn’t really remember how to deal with the two ends that meet. Did I look it up, which would have taken five minutes? No.

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So the back is funky with the cord sort of showing, and the sleeve pipings don’t match up evenly. Oh well. Isn’t that a cool glittery lizard tattoo? We are going through a huge reptilian phase, if you haven’t noticed. I’m sort of on the fence about this white top. Does it say “mormon temple clothing” or “insane asylum patient” to you? Not that there’s anything wrong with either, but there’s a vaguely pious or medical feel to it, don’t you think? K is also uncertain about this one, made out of the same sweatshirt knit as the much beloved tennis dress.

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On the other hand, the burgundy one in your standard knit jersey doesn’t evoke any unexpected associations. The color looks great on K, and it’s nice and casual with just enough interesting details like the asymmetrical hem and in-seam pockets.

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I have to give special thanks to K for modeling because she’s been under the weather. A bit sniffly and sore-throat-y, she was in bed for most of Sunday morning, then cheerfully agreed to take photos in the Perri Pullovers in the afternoon – I think she was bored out of her mind just flopping around.

Before she consented to shimmying into the tops, I was just going to show this:

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But then you would have missed out on this money shot:

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I’m sure I’ll be paying for a lot of therapy in a few years for forced child labor.

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Way off topic, but on Saturday, I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to a fascinating party filled with authors, filmmakers (plus an actor from the movie “Wild“, though I didn’t meet him), illustrators and all manners of making types over the weekend. I noted with interest that my impostor syndrome is alive and kicking, and very robust indeed. I enjoyed the eclectic group and met quite a few lovely folks – my favorite was a photographer whose father worked for the CIA so he grew up around the world. It was heartwarming to see such camaraderie and a spirit of helpfulness all around. I found that people were encouraging about my children’s book, but as soon as I mentioned that I like to sew, eyes started to glaze over….I might have been imagining it. Then again, when you’re sewing up t-shirt after t-shirt like I am, I suppose sewing doesn’t seem all that alluring.

Anyway. Perri Pullovers. It’s a good pattern, but I think I just haven’t nailed the right fabric for it. I could have gone with my first instincts and chosen a striped jersey, but sometimes I like to try something I’m not sure of just to see. Back to the drawing board!

Monday Outfit: Frogtastic

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Happy MLK Jr. Day to those of you in the US! K has the day off so I’m quickly rattling off today’s rather crafty garment.

Post-Christmas, K became the proud Mama of two fire-bellied toads. Meet Camouflage (or maybe this one’s Muddy, we can’t tell):

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Here’s K pretending to be amphibious:

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The frog craze has set in, and K is all about these little green critters. Speaking of critters, no one warned me that they eat crickets. This has made me very unhappy, particularly when we had a dramatic cricket mass exodus (okay, it was only three of them innocently chirping on K’s many strewn books on the floor, but still). Crickets on the loose. I didn’t handle it well, I’m afraid. Below is where the frogs live. Notice K’s demanding warnings.

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Anyway. She’s been a fabulous froggy mama, and has been taking very good care of them, emptying out the water dish regularly and carefully scooping out the frog eggs with a spoon to preserve them (yes, we ended up with a boy and a girl and there’s a lot of impassioned croaking going on every evening). We have yet to see a tadpole, but she has high hopes. I read that fire-bellied toads lay up to 200 eggs. Again, not happy about this.

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I keep getting sidetracked, but K asked me for a frog t-shirt. She had, as always, very precise instructions, so this called for busting out the fabric paint.

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I used freezer paper stenciling for the “I” and the heart and the general shape of the frog. I hand-painted the details on the frog – pretty cute, no?

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K adores it.

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The tee pattern is my go-to pattern these days, and is the same one I used for the black stripey and floral here. Those t-shirts get worn every week, and I know that she’ll reach for this froggy one frequently too.

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But I actually had a different version in mind, so I carved a little stamp. I did, in fact, sew another t-shirt in black and had grand plans to try to stamp the frog in gold, but I used a weird fabric that didn’t stretch much, and K said it was too tight. You win some, you lose some. I’ll show you a stamped version if I get around to it. (I should point out that this frog design was inspired by something similar I saw in a Japanese stamp carving book – mine is not nearly as darling as the one in the book).

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Sigh. I think these guys are growing on me. Sort of.

 

Monday Outfit: Seeking the Comfy-Stylish Factor

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Good morning! It feels like it’s been a very long time since I’ve sewn for K. There are many things I need to sew for her: more pants, warm cardis, hats, mittens. But I wanted to set the tone for the new year with this first garment — something that blended comfort with style. Or so I hoped.

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With that in mind, I sketched out some ideas, and decided on a half knit, half woven tunic. Which somehow turned into a dress.

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This little raglan dress is entirely self-drafted, using one of her tees as a base. It’s probably not very noticeable but I curved the front bodice and ended up with a sort of baby doll (or baby mama) look. I just realized that the Elsa’s Frozen dress has this same design element. Funny how those things sneak into your brain when the karaoke version of “Let It Go” continues to blast in the background (K is still very much enamored with her Christmas present).

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The lovely floral is from here, and it feels like a gauze. I’m usually not a huge proponent of flowery prints, but this one I like. It’s fairly sheer, and I toyed with the idea of leaving it as is, but I happened to find a thrifted women’s size sheath with a lining that worked perfectly, so a little snip and a little cinching and presto, a quick skirt lining. The navy knit jersey is a remnant from this post, I’m pretty certain.

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Total time spent from initial drafting to completion: 2.5 hours. I messed up when serging the raw edges of the back piece to the skirt, then the skirt hems were uneven, and the neckband stretched out a lot more than I expected. Despite the errors and seam ripping and adjusting, I had such a good time making this dress. So fun to go from this:

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What do you think? Did I manage the comfy-stylish combo?

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P.S. 96 participants for SVE!!!!! Ute and I are blown away!

2014 Retrospective: Sewing for Me

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Before I put this collage together (thank you Rachel, for the Mosaic Maker recommendation — it saved me about a zillion hours!), I had it in my mind that I didn’t sew much for myself last year. And compared to 2013 which clocked in at 37 garments, I definitely sewed less at 36 garments for 2014, especially since I didn’t start sewing for myself until May in 2013.

So overall, my sewing output has been decreasing, but 36 items of clothing is still a pretty decent number, and what was significant about 2014 was that my first ever participation in Me-Made-May radically changed my attitude toward my handmade clothes. Up to that point, I was more of an abstract sewing enthusiast. You know, I loved the idea of creating custom clothing for myself and I was learning a ton, but there was still some niggling part of me resistant to actually wearing them. Everything I made looked great on K, but grown-up curves are trickier to navigate. I was a little embarrassed that my stitches weren’t perfect, that the fit was off. Even though I knew the clothes looked fine for the most part, I couldn’t help but feel like I had “HOMEMADE” stamped on my back when I sashayed about town in my me-made clothes. And not in a good way.

But after 31 straight days of pulling out my handcrafted apparel to clothe my body and spend the day in said apparel, I noticed that I became more and more fond of my less-than-perfect wardrobe. Make no mistake, certain items were undoubtedly fails and I quietly stashed them in the back of my closet once I determined they just didn’t work (though my recent tidying frenzy finally motivated me to say heartfelt thanks and I let them go). Maybe it was because I’d spent so much time on them, but the garments I made felt…familiar and friendly. That probably sounds weird, but even the clothes that didn’t look all that hot on me added a little pep to my day. And I have to say, I’ve never gotten so many compliments as that month in May — I’m certain it was because I learned to appreciate and felt happier in my friendly clothes. Through the Me-Made-May exercise, I discovered a love of dresses and my knits became hardcore wardrobe workhorses. Nowadays, it’s rare for me not to be wearing something handmade. The craziest part is that except for an extremely dire situation necessitating two t-shirts and a pair of capris, I still haven’t purchased any clothes for me or K. It’s been two-and-a-half years!!

How do I want to proceed for 2015? I really really want to focus on quality over quantity. I want to sew wardrobe staples made out of beautiful fabric that will last a long, long time. I want to take my time making things and savor the process rather than continue my default mode of whipping out easy projects for a quick fix (though those will happen too, I’m sure). What are your thoughts on sewing for this year?

Below is a list of the sewing posts in chronological order…that’s a lot of links! Oh, and on a side note, I’m over the moon that we already have more participants for the 2015 Secret Valentine Exchange compared to last year!! If you haven’t joined in the fun already, sign-ups end this Friday, January 9th!

JANUARY
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Vogue 8511 Grey Dress
Simple Style Dress Khaki Linen
Yellow Silk Tunic

FEBRUARY
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Simple Style Dress Blue Chambray

The Sumo Wrestler Top

MARCH

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Summer Concert Tee
Lady Skater Dress
The Easiest Top (aqua)

APRIL

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Really, More Grey?
Sew Chic Moss Green Linen Jacket

MAY

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Simplicity 1463 Purple Batwing Top
Wiksten Tanks

JUNE

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Staple Dresses
Simplicity 0403 aka 2147 (A Very Japanese Top)
Burda 7659 Grey Dress
Nani Iro Mountain View Dress
Nani Iro Water Window Wiksten
Basic Black Top + Maxi Skirt

JULY

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McCall’s 6751 Pinafore Tank
Coastal Breeze Dress
IKEA Blouse

AUGUST

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Summer Salvation aka Tent Dress
Darling Ranges Dress
FrankenIkat Tank

SEPTEMBER

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Skippy in Abstract Indigo

OCTOBER

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Wool Zip-Up Vest
Julia Cardigans
Striped Renfrew + Hudson Pants

NOVEMBER

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Grey Dotted Button Down
Simplicity 1538 Plaid Shirt

DECEMBER

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Bronte Top

 

 

 

 

2014 Retrospective: K’s Outfits (Part 1)

Good morning! Before I get all misty-eyed about K’s outfits from this year, I wanted to let all the folks who entered the giveaway last week that rather than selecting just 10 winners, I’ve decided to paint a free custom illustration to everyone that answered the question. I started to do the random number generator thing and it just didn’t feel quite right for some reason. You should be receiving an email from me shortly if you haven’t already!

Okay, let’s move on to the smaller-sized sewing I did from January to June. I broke it up into two parts since it’s already too long, and what I noticed was that I’ve really cut down on sewing for K. As I’ve mentioned time and time again, she truly has too many outfits, and I’ve been trying to find a way to reconcile my need to practice sewing with the guilt I feel from the resulting glut of clothes — I’m not having a lot of success. I have some thinking to do for 2015 and I’ll do more of a recap with part 2, but for now, here are the projects I pumped out from the first six months of 2014:

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JANUARY
Koi Top + Grey Stretch Pants
Undies
Origami-Inspired Dress
Imagine Gnats Meridian Cardi and Coat + French Sleeve Tunic

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FEBRUARY
Fanfare Jammies
Bicycle Dress
Un-fur Trimmed Coat Dress
Pink Cityscape A-Line Tunic

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MARCH
Geometric Knit Cardi + Improved Khaki Pants
Bleu et Bleu
Oliver + S Hide-and-Seek Dress + underskirt
Oliver + S Garden Party Dress + slip
More undies

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APRIL
“Artist” Blouse + Cargo Half-Pants
Frozen Dress Take 1
Sew Chic Kids Pintuck Dress + Tunic

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MAY
E & E Spring Showers Jacket
Rosy Knits
STYLO Mint Cadette Coat + Pintuck Dress
STYLO Metallic Perri Pullover
Vintage May Dress + Rompers
Robinhood Dress
Willow + Co Aster Cardigan

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JUNE
Frozen Dress Take 2
Refashioned Top + Shorts
Scraps Tank + Matcha Shorts

***

I’m not sure whether to count each pair of undies as a single garment, so leaving those out along with the super easy upcycling, I made 36 garments from scratch the first six months of 2014. That’s almost half compared to last year (71 garments) for the same duration. Wow. I didn’t realize I’d sewn so much less! Or maybe I was just out of control last year.

Now I’m curious to see how the second half of 2014 compares to last year…be back Wednesday!

Monday Outfit: Alpine Coat Take 2

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Good morning! Part 3 of the Debt-Free Life installment is in development, but friends, I was unprepared for how much it took out of me to write part 1 and 2. So I had to take a breather with some Christmas sewing and also put final touches on a coat over the weekend. Turns out, it’s far less mentally taxing to wrangle fake fur than it is to look through all of my old journals during that period in my life to form a coherent post. So Wednesday for sure. As K likes to say, I pinky promise.

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Let’s have some outerwear talk, shall we? I worked on this coat bit by bit over the course of a week to see if I could instill a more leisurely style of sewing instead of the manic, all-at-one-go methodology I normally employ. Leisurely sewing is lovely, but I discovered that by the time I finished it, I couldn’t really rustle up any details about the process. In the best of times my memory is sketchy, but I’m hopeless after a week. It’s a major reason I keep a journal and enjoy recording my projects here — otherwise, I would see a vast emptiness where my memory bank should be.

If you have better memory retention than I do and the coat looks vaguely familiar, it’s because I made a modified version of the Alpine coat recently. Here’s an image to remind you:

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K has been wearing the “homeless” coat religiously every day, and I finally had to admit to myself that I couldn’t stand looking at it anymore. Even M commented on its weirdness and he rarely comments on the clothes I make. Naturally, I had to make a replacement stat.

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This time I wanted to make the Alpine coat with the intended hood instead of my improvised collar. I chose a khaki stretch denim for the outer shell, and used a combination of fleece for the bodice lining and silky fabric (polyester?) for the hood and sleeves lining because I was short on the fleece. I also went one size down and cut the 8, which is still very roomy — in fact, so roomy that it’s almost the same size as the 10.

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alpine-coat-khaki4You’d think that sewing the same pattern the second time would ensure a perfect outcome, but nope. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever managed to make anything without a single flaw or mistake, and that would be a no. Anyway, the error is pretty minor and not really obvious: I put the pocket flaps facing the wrong way, so it’s a little awkward and counterintuitive to get the hands into the pockets, but it’ll do.

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I love this coat!! The quilting took about seven years, and I had to make do with synthetic batting instead of the uber warm wool batting I used for the homeless coat, but it’s still an eminently respectable winter garb, I’d say. Do you like the way K styled it? We were heading to a friend’s house for a holiday party and she insisted on wearing the blue recital dress I made…

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But it had to be twisted and safety-pinned to a rather strict specification on her part…we had a few hairy moments when the dress wouldn’t stay twisted the way she liked. Very exacting standards she has, my girl.

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The coat is a success, and a small part of my handmade Christmas gifts have been completed, so it was a good weekend. I’m off to go down memory lane once again to cobble together how I was able to dig my way out of my money mess — I’ll be back on Wednesday!

Monday Outfit: Recital Dress

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Good morning! We had such a jam-packed weekend, it’s actually a relief to have the quiet of a weekday routine. What with a school ice skating event, K’s first ever piano recital, a holiday cookie party (which was as drool-worthy as it sounds) and an impromptu sleepover at our house, I helter-skeltered all weekend.

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I also whipped up a recital dress because c’mon, how could I not? I received this velveteen fabric in a peachy-pink from my mom years ago, and until this past weekend, I wasn’t too inspired by it.

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The color is truly lovely on K, and I should make her more clothes in this hue. The whole dress is self-drafted and although the hem is slightly puckered, overall, I’m happy with the outcome. K wanted the dress to sweep the floor, but I felt it wise to avoid any tripping accidents during the recital, so I figured tea length would be a decent compromise.

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This fabric behaved exactly like a knit, so I treated it as such. The dress is shimmery, fancy (thanks to the added silver lace trim that never got used for Halloween) and comfy. What’s not to love?

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Here she is, smiling nervously just after she finished her performance.  We were so proud! The lighting was horrible, so this was the best I could do, but I love how she accessorized with her “lucky ring necklace”. I thought of including in this post the video of her playing “March” by  Tchaikovsky (or, as K likes to joke “Chai Coffee”), but K begged me not to.

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Actually, I made two recital dresses because I was gripped with indecision the night before. That was serious fast sewing I executed Friday night. This one is self-drafted as well and I made it first. You can see that I used the same silver trim — I wish I’d gotten some photos of her in it because it’s a sweet frock. I was sure that K would choose the blue dress, but a niggling voice told me I should also sew up the peachy fabric. I’m so glad I did, because she looked so pretty and happy in it:

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I hope you had a fun weekend, friends!

 

 

 

 

Sewing for Me: Bronte Top

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I know I’m knocking your socks off with this dark grey top. With its sleek, chic silhouette in monochrome, I dare you to tell me that you’re not overcome with the desire to spend an hour (or two) making one for yourself too. What’s that? You saw something strikingly similar at H & M for $5 at the Black Friday sale? Point taken.

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You’ll see, though, that on closer inspection, this top has so much going for it that blows fast fashion out of the water. The lapped shoulders up the stylistic ante, and the cut is quite flattering (I was worried that it might make me look overly buxom before I tried it on, but I don’t think it does). And it’s actually a super fast project if you don’t let it sit around the way I did. I received the Bronte Knit Top pattern as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel tour I participated in a few weeks ago, but I quickly lost track of time so I wasn’t able to make this top back then.

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So glad I hoisted my mojo back into place to get this one done. It might be one of my favorite tops I’ve made to date. I realize it doesn’t look all that special at first glance, but it feels very me — I look for simple and unfussy in clothes.

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That’s not to say I wouldn’t change a few things. I cut the size 12 and the fit is almost spot-on, but there’s a bit of extra pulling under the arms and above the bust; I also need to invest in better fitting bras. I think I’ll grade between a 12 and 14 next time. Love the long sleeves that reach to my fingertips when I pull them all the way down, but I want to add a few inches to the bodice length. You know how I like my tops to be on the long side.

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As per instructions, I hand-stitched the overlapping sections of the shoulders in place. That was a meditative last step, and it does help prevent excessive bunching. As for the fabric I used…don’t hold me to it, but I’m pretty sure this is a cotton/poly blend with some spandex or lycra. I just love working with knits that have a teeny bit of lycra or spandex in it because there’s no curling, and it’s a breeze to sew. Surprisingly, it’s not very stretchy, but this knit is on the heftier side in terms of thickness so it doesn’t accentuate the lumps and bumps in a glaring way.

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This is a sewing project akin to the sorbet that comes between courses to cleanse your palate (or so I’ve heard. I’ve never had a fancy multi-course dinner involving palate cleansers). It erased the lingering albeit slight malaise I felt about the unsuccessful coat (which she wears daily, but still) and it’s helping me gear up for one of the most challenging garments I’m about to undertake. I’m talking about skinny jeans, of course. Which one should I try first? Here are my three options:

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Ginger by Closet Case Patterns |  Vogue 8774  |  Jalie 2908 (skinnified)

Hmmmmmmmm. On a side note, anyone know where I can get good rivets for jeans? I’m getting motivated, folks!

Monday Outfit: Hooded Knit Cardi + Sew Sweet Giveaway [CLOSED]

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Good morning, friends! I thoroughly enjoyed the long weekend, and I’m feeling rejuvenated. We ended up at a Chinese restaurant on turkey day after all, and I believe this will have to be our annual tradition because it was so stress-free. I don’t mind cooking, but the clean-up is a sore spot for me, so not having to while away time sudsing up dishes was a huge bonus. We also went to see the movie Big Hero 6, and it’s an all-ages pleaser (and yes, I cried — it was very touching)! To add spice to the weekend, we had yet another one of our unplanned trips and found ourselves at a Comfort Inn in Bellingham on Friday, swimming in their minuscule pool. It was awesome.

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As promised, I have a little giveaway today. I was gifted this stellar book by Tuttle, and I was excited to add it to my arsenal of sewing books because I’ve been waffling over whether to buy it for years. It was originally published by Nihon Vogue, and I have hemmed and hawed over acquiring it for various reasons, and always left it at the bookstore because I felt like I had too many books. I thought “score!” when I received the newly translated English version, but oh, the sizing goes up to 120cm, which K has pretty much outgrown.

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Undaunted, I wanted to make at least one thing out of it before I passed it along to someone with a smaller girl-child to sew for. So I traced pattern L which looked generous in sizing, added two inches to the sleeves and hem (though I forgot to lengthen the plackets so had to shorten the hem back to its original length), and pieced together some scrap knit fabrics, making sure to use the stretchiest knit I could find for the top portion. Too-tight shoulders never feel good. I’m really liking the sporty look. Note: because the stretch factor was vastly different between the light grey and blue-grey knits, I couldn’t get the gathers below the yoke to form. The gathers would have been sweet, but I’m fine without them. This is what the cardi looks like in the book:

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With the color-blocking, gathered sleeves, pockets, hood and plackets, this cardi actually took a little longer than I expected. All in all, it’s a good cold-weather staple to have, and I’m glad I sewed it up. As you can see, K got bored of modeling and insisted that she read while I snapped away with my camera:

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She did oblige by dancing a little, and then we tried a different prop, which she quickly abandoned:

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So, onto the giveaway! This book comes with 22 patterns for dresses, pants, skirts and tops (plus a bag and a hat). Super cute. And of course, the book is filled with the signature beautiful styling and photography of all Japanese craft books. You can see more of the book here.

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To enter the giveaway, please answer the following question: if you were guaranteed the time and resources to acquire any new skill or improve upon an existing one, what would it be? I myself would like to learn how to invest and understand how the market works. I’m fairly money-challenged, and I’ve never really invested, and it seems like a solid skill to have. On the flip side, I would also love to learn pottery/ceramics. How about you?

I will leave the giveaway open until this Thursday, December 4th and I will announce the winner the following day. Yes to international entries! Good luck!

 

Monday Outfit: We’ll Call It A Muslin

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Good morning! I hope you had a fantastic weekend, friends! I spent a good chunk of it making a puffy coat. Or at least attempted to.

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After a hackneyed research process, I stumbled upon the Alpine Wonderland Puffy Coat pattern, and it was exactly what I wanted to make for K. But wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have quite enough of the fabric that K picked out of my stash, so I nixed the hood and improvised with the collar a bit. It’s a take on the chinese collar, and I quilted the piece just for the heck of it, but the whole vibe is whispering “construction worker” to me. I was striving for Parisian chic, but missed the mark on this one.

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I don’t love it. One of K’s all time favorite coat that I’ve made is the Cadette Coat, but she outgrew that one in a nanosecond so I went up a size for this pattern (I cut the 10). So yes, she’s drowning in pseudo-puffiness:

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On the plus side, this is a seriously toasty coat. I used wool batting and thick fleece for the lining, and with so much room to spare, K can layer about seventeen articles of clothing and still button this coat on top of ‘em all.

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“Homeless…..I look homeless,” she started to sing while wearing the coat, which leads me to believe that she is not in love with the coat either, though she likes the snuggly blue lining:

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We’re going to call this a muslin. The outer fabric is twill, I think, and it has some sheen to it. Though the screen makes it look a blah beige, it actually has more peachy undertones to it and I can see why K likes this color so much. The collar and sleeve cuffs are a taupe-y stretch polyester blend of some kind, and I think this wasn’t the best overall choice. The coat is quite easy to assemble, though it’s tricky to get all those layers through the sewing machine — I had to push and pull a lot while sewing. I am, however, pretty keen on the pockets and the vintage gold buttons (from my mom, of course — and you should ignore the pink chalk marks I used to quilt the pieces):

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Ah well. At least she has a truly winter appropriate coat now, and winter is definitely here in Seattle….Plus, I flexed some sewing muscles and I’m confident that the next one will be awesome. More than anything, where in the world did K get the “homeless” reference from? So mysterious.

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