Tuesday, 18 November 2014

I am stuck

This is a Minecraft creeper face
I'm in a sewing slump at the moment, and it's because I'm stuck. I'm kind of sick at the moment (the annoying return of the Medical Mystery Illness, which is, alas, still mysterious over a year later) so I can't really get on with the (easy) gift sewing that I need to finish up before early December. I'm making a Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan for my sister-in-law (my own purple one being a MAJOR hit with me, as wearer, and also receiving many unsolicited compliments from other people) and backpacks with Minecraft patches for the kids. (They are OBSESSED with Minecraft, so I am making them Creeper backpacks using patches I ordered from the internet.) Neither project is particularly difficult, but I'm a bit movement restricted this week due to illness and so I can't busy myself with those projects while I mull over the thing I am stuck on.

Part of the problem is that at the moment I only need a very limited wardrobe. I try to be quite strict with myself and keep my wardrobe inside a maximum number of items, and only make things that I need and know I'll wear. At the moment, as I spend most of my time at home, all I really need is stuff to lounge around in, plus jeans and sweaters for when I go out to the shops etc. I am reasonably well supplied with most of the above, especially after making a whole pile of knit tops and trousers suitable for lounging recently. I really don't need to make any of the kinds of things I made through the first half of the year (skirts and dresses for work) or any other more formal wear. Plus, while I do love the two Ottobre 05-2012-07 and the Carme blouses I made and wear them all the time, I really don't need to make any more, even though I have some nice fabrics in stash ear-marked for exactly that.

What that leaves me with in terms of active projects is: making a casual winter jacket or coat to wear with jeans; finding a couple of great casual stretch and non-stretch trouser patterns suitable for stretch denim and cord, and non-stretch cord and twill; and making two new bags, one for day-to-day and one to take to the gym. I figure I can only work on two out of the three of these projects in what remains of the year, and, as I have almost no bottom weight fabric and would need to buy some, and I already have 90% of what I'd need to make the coat and bags, I've decided to push any consideration of trousers to next year. (I've already decided to use that Jalie pattern that everyone loves for the stretch fabric version, but I am still in search of a great non-stretch bootcut pattern -- there is one in Ottobre, for sure, and loads in Burda...).

I'll talk more about the bags another time. For now, where this leaves me is thinking about coats, and this is where I am stuck.

Here are my constraints/thoughts/ideas.

I have a great cotton moleskin fabric in... well, it's either navy so dark it's almost black or actual black, I honestly can't tell. Moleskin, if you're not too familiar, is a densely woven napped fabric and it's often used for outerwear and/or alarming hunting trousers (which I will not be making!). I also have a really nice lining fabric in dark green and purple which has a sort of furry backing. It's heavier than a regular satin lining, just enough to add a bit of extra warmth. I have 3m of each, which should be plenty for any kind of coat pattern, nap notwithstanding. I still need to buy buttons, but I'm holding off until I know what I need.

My new coat has to add something to my coat wardrobe. It's definitely going to be a cold weather coat, and at the moment my cold weather coats consist of:
a. A grey wool fit and flare coat, which is more on the dressy/formal side of things.  It looks a lot like Burda 6921 view A (except slightly longer, falling to about knee length. I actually bought that pattern because I'd like to make a raincoat version).
b. A long black coat that is also fit and flare. It's super dramatically cut -- really tight through the bodice and then a wide skirt -- and it's definitely also on the formal/dressy side of things. (Think Vogue 8346 View C, except mine is single-breasted). I don't wear this too often but I adore it because it flares around me dramatically when I walk. Why yes, I am a total drama queen.
c. I have a heavily insulated ski jacket (hip length) that I wear on the (very rare) occasions that it's really very cold in the UK. It's very casual and far too heavy most of the time for the UK weather, so I wear it maybe two days a year at most at home and also if I go skiing, obviously.

I feel like the most useful addition to my wardrobe would be something that fit somewhere on the formality spectrum between my fit and flare coats and my ski jacket. I'm kind of envisioning it as being a coat that looks really great with jeans or cords, over a sweater. I'm thinking sort of just below the hip in length, and probably not fit and flare. I'm not crazy about belting coats, especially when the coat is made of a heavy fabric, so it either needs to take shape from the side seams or else be a boxy shape I can live with. I kind of love the classic pea-coat look, but I can't be doing with double-breasted anything, as top heavy as I am. I am finding it really difficult to take inspiration from the high street because everyone is into these 80s style over-sized cocoon coats, and they're somehow not quite what I want.

My current top contenders are:

Ottobre 05-2009-18 Coat
This is probably my top choice at the moment (to nobody's surprise at all, it's an Ottobre pattern). I like the upper yoke detail, the A-line shape and the pockets. However, I can only find a couple of reviews of it and both people were making it in a much smaller size than me, and that's a little concerning. Another downside is that the bust shaping is from a single side dart. I'm not sure how well that will work for me. It's also a bit longer than I wanted.

Vintage Vogue pattern

I bought this 1960s Vogue pattern a while back now. The big plus of this for me is that I LOVE the back of the coat and it's the kind of length I was looking for. Downsides: the equally vintage instructions (full of pad-stitching etc and therefore significantly more complex than the Ottobre pattern to work with. I don't love the very plain and unadorned front of the coat and I am not a fan of in-seam pockets in jackets -- they tend to bulge oddly when you put anything in them. Again, bust shaping is with a dart only, and that dart is from the armhole, just to complicate things.

Burda 7735 (the yellow version, except obviously NEVER IN YELLOW, omg)
I picked this pattern up for £1 from my local fabric shop from their discontinued table. While its double breasted, it looked like the wrap over was quite minimal. When I got home I checked the reviews and found this fantastic version in a review on PR, which looks amazing. Obviously, again, the sewist in question is making 2-3 sizes smaller and has a very different figure type to me, but I really love her version of it. And MEGA plus, it's a shoulder princess seam, so fitting would be more straight forward. However, I am a little put off by the double breasted-ness of the pattern, and also concerned that this is a MUCH more demanding project than the Ottobre coat (bound button-holes, the cuffs are really complicated, etc etc.)

Other than that, I have a half a million patterns in Burda and Patrones (Patrones is really big on coat/jacket/blazer patterns) but I feel like I can see the woods for the trees in the magazines at the moment.

So, overall, that is where I'm stuck. I need to make some kind of decision soon, just so that I can get a muslin started at least, but I really don't know what to do.

What coats has anyone else made? Am I insane for even WANTING to make a coat?


  1. I like the Burda coat pattern the best, and my guess is that you'd be happier with the shaping from the princess seams. I like the open neckline of that coat better than the Ottobre, as well.

    1. Yes, I agree with you about the high neckline on the Ottobre coat. I missed it out of my blog post, but one of the things that made me keep looking for a pattern was that I am not sure that kind of up-to-the-throat buttoning is a good look. I may have to look at the Burda coat instructions in more detail I think, just to see how complicated it is.

  2. The Burda is my fave too. It's good to know what you need to sew and to stick to that.

    My son was SOOOO into Minecraft and we still call each other 'creepers' to this day :) Can't wait to see the bags.

    1. Yeah, I feel like the Burda coat might be a good idea. I just skimmed through the instructions and while there's a LOT of different things to do and different processes involved, no individual thing is especially alarming. I mean, I've never done bound buttonholes, but I can't see that they'll be horrific or anything. Once I feel better and I've got my SIL's cardigan done I might have a look at the FBA and then do a quick muslin. :D

  3. I am actually in the process of sewing up that Ottobre coat! I've not blogged about any of it so far, of course. I started with a 42 and graded to a 46 at the hip... but after muslining I'm basically back at a 42 overall because it's a pretty full aline... I normally go up 2 sizes for my bottom half too. I am using a heavy wool blend coating (I actually started with the fabric, then went on the lookout for a pattern after the fact--- I chose the Ottobre b/c my fabric is patterned and I like the simple lines of the pattern). I tweaked the overall fit slightly. I'm busy with other projects at the moment but I've cut out most of the pieces of the fashion fabric, gotta get my interlining, lining, etc etc etc all cut out still.

    Yeah, everyone is on board with oversized and cocoon coats... they aren't flattering for me at all. I want a more on trend coat as well but the coating I have (for the Ottobre one) screams for a more classic style. I feel like I'm going to do a trendier one later.

    1. Oo! I definitely look forward to seeing your version of that coat! It does have really nice simple lines.

      I sort of go back and forth on the oversized coats. There are some nice versions of the oversized/menswear coat shape that's really big in the shops right now in recent issues of Burda, but I don't know, I find it difficult to imagine them looking good on me. I may have to do a bit of a coat related trying-on session in the shops. :D

  4. I'm just starting to follow you but I like your style, writing, etc. I, too, like the Burda but why not make it your own? Skip the double breast style and embrace the princess seams? The lapels are great...maybe a 40's style? oh no, so many choices...this is where I get in the weed!! ;) Good luck!

    1. Thanks! Hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

      I think part of my problem with this coat I am choosing is that there are going to be so many things new to me in making a coat that I don't want to be off-piste from the pattern as well. But then, because I can't find the ~~perfect pattern, I've ended up so far not making anything, which is just as unhelpful!