Thursday, 1 November 2018

Catching up

It's been a while since I last posted -- since mid-August (which is somehow 11 weeks ago already!!) . Last time, I said I had few easier things on my autumn sewing list left to make, and also I was about to start a major project: a raincoat using a Burda pattern.

In the eleven weeks since then, I have: (a) been away on vacation for a week; (b) suffered a major sewing mojo deficit on and off ; (c) spent a couple of weeks feeling extremely unwell (just for a change); and finally, (d) moved on from autumn into winter sewing.

My sewing apathy is still hanging around. I just feel kind of unexcited about everything. Tracing patterns seems exhausting, cutting fabric out seems exhausting, and sewing stuff up seems exhausting. I guess even writing a blog post seemed exhausting, so I didn't do that either. I am feeling a little less apathetic this week though, so maybe my positive sewing energy is coming back. In the meantime, I am going to catch up this blog up on a few things I did manage to finish during this extended period of blah.

Grey spotty 3/4 sleeve tee
First up, just to mention some little stuff: I made one spotted three quarter length t-shirt, one pair of my go-to ponte trousers using the StyleArc Barb pattern in navy and two pairs of PJs using my new favourite PJ pattern from Burda 01-2017. I didn't take any photos of any of them except for this t-shirt, because nobody cares about PJs or plain navy trousers except for me, and I can see them any time.

On the list of things that people might care about more is this knit tunic from Ottobre 05-2018, pattern #14. It is a raglan dress with cuffs and (although I didn't put one on) a bottom band, but more to the point, GIANT BALLOON SLEEVES.

The magazine page showing the dress (left) and the sweater version, taken from the Ottobre website
I was entirely taken with the dress in the magazine, and I think the model looks adorable in it. However, for me personally, I felt like the fabric they chose to make the samples, especially for the sweater version on the right, did this pattern no favours. I absolutely do not want a sweatshirt with balloon sleeves in a pastel colour. She looks like a children's TV presenter from the 1980s. NOPE.

Ottobre 05-2018-14 raglan dress technical drawings

The pattern actually comes with both the two-piece sleeve with pleats, and also a normal one piece sleeve, in case you want to opt out of the pleated version. For my version though, I thought just making the pattern up in a soft, drapey knit would make the sleeves look full and flowing without making my sleeves look so balloon like. Also, the pattern calls for ribbing which (a) I just don't generally like when I've had RTW garments with ribbed knit bands; and (b) don't know where to buy anyway even if I loved it. I left off the bottom band altogether as I was making this as a tunic and wasn't worried about the length, and made the neckband and cuffs in self fabric. It was very straightforward to trace and cut, and it's loose-fitting so my usual size 44 worked out perfectly, even maybe a little too big.

My version: on the right is the pleated sleeve detail which you can't see at all, really, but it's there, honest!
One problem I had with it was the pockets, and this was mainly down to my fabric. Originally I put the pockets in, but when I tried it on: NOPE. In this light-weight knit, the pockets dragged horribly and the whole dress looked mis-shapen around the hip area. I ended up cutting them off. If you made it in a more stable knit that probably wouldn't be such an issue, but I think you'd want to be careful about how much bulk you were adding.

I've worn it loads since I made it which is always a good sign. In this fairly light-weight knit, it's very drapey. Yes, there's a lot of sleeve, but it just looks like a full sleeve rather than like "And now I will pull an ENTIRE FAMILY OF CHINCHILLAS from up my sleeve! TA-DA!" I would definitely make it again, but if/when I do, I need to make the neckline quite a lot narrower. It's wide enough on me that it tends to slide around and even off my shoulder at the end of a day of wear (not helped by the not-entirely-brilliant recovery of my knit).

Pattern envelope and technical drawings of Burda 6772

Finally, the BIG thing I made back in September but never blogged, which took just about 10-14 days at the start of September, was a navy raincoat using Burda 6772. I made view B, with the fake pocket flaps, wrist and back details, and the longer length skirt with an inverted pleat. I used the pointy collar from view A because I have an irrational horror of round collars. Don't ask why, I just hate them.

Finished navy raincoat - front view
To make this I used a "shower proof" cotton that was (allegedly) a factory over-run for a famous designer. It's actually a great fabric, in the sense that it sews and presses beautifully, and the colour is my favourite neutral of very dark navy. I originally planned to make it with a violently green lining, because I had an inspiration navy coat image with a green lining that I loved. Then, as I was scrolling around a favourite fabric shop I saw the patterned lining fabric and immediately bought that to use instead because I loved it so much.

Problem one with the coat: in practice, this fabric CREASES. I already knew that from the red version I made from the same fabric in another colourway, but somehow the navy fabric is SO MUCH WORSE, or so much more obvious at least.

Finished navy raincoat - back view
It's a while since I made this coat so I don't remember all the details of construction, but I know it was very Burda typical in the sense that the pattern went together as you would expect, and it was an excellent match to the technical drawing. Fit-wise, I am very comfortable now with what I need to do with Burda patterns (rounded back, square shoulder, narrow shoulder, raise the armhole, lower the bust, lower the waist) so the adjustment process was pretty straightforward.

This is the most accurate version for the colour
In theory, this coat had everything going for it, but I have to admit I am not wildly enthusiastic about tit as a finished garment. Normally, a couple of months after I've made something, I've forgotten why I disliked it when I finished it and/or discovered something is so catastrophically wrong with it in wear that it's essentially useless. With this it's just... it's not the best coat. There are loads of little fit issues. I made my usual size (44) and the fit is OK provided I do only wear it in the way I originally planned, which is to say, over a shirt or top without a sweater. I rarely wear fitted tops but when I do I usually add to the width of the pattern at the waist as I don't really have a waist worth mentioning. I thought when I muslined the bodice that the waist fit was going to be OK but now it's finished, it fits but it JUST fits, and for sure I couldn't wear it over a sweater and do it up without straining the waist button.

Lining, pre-insertion. I love this so much as a contrast to a plain navy exterior!
The whole fit is like that: I should have raised the underarm just a little bit higher; I should have lowered the waist just a little bit less. Also, and this is not the fault of the pattern so much as a failure of expectation, the skirt is not as wide and swingy as I really wanted. I don't hate the width of the skirt, but in a perfect world I'd have made something less straight below the waist. None of it is BAD, but nothing about it GREAT either.

The finished inside of the coat
The sewing is the same. There's a lot that went well, but there are loads of places where the sewing is just a little bit wrong in an annoying sort of way. The worst problems I had were with the darts, which I just couldn't seem to sew or press nicely, and also the collar. The collar comes as two separate pattern pieces -- upper and under -- and the under collar is, as is usually the case, just a little bit smaller. I always do this with shirt patterns and typically the difference is very minimal, like 3mm all round. On this pattern piece though, the difference was much more substantial, more like 6mm, and I really struggled to stretch the fabric to fit it together. The end result is that the collar is kind of wrinkled/warped. As I was making it I debated whether or not to re-do the collar but I thought I had steamed into submission. Once it was on the coat and it was too late to fix I realized that was only a temporary fix. Annoying.

In conclusion: this is not a bad coat, it really isn't, but it was enthusiasm sucking. I wanted so much to make a really great raincoat and I got a long way towards that goal but not quite there in the end.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that my worst sewing projects are always the ones I've had planned a really long time and feel very invested in. Nothing ever quite lives up to the mental image I have!
Terrible mirror selfies... and I'm wearing a sweater underneath so it's too tight. I know, it's dumb, what can I say.
Next up: I am not sure. I have some plans for winter but also I am ready to admit I am not super excited by anything. I don't really NEED anything right now, so I might wait to see if the blahs recede rather than force myself to make something and not really enjoy it. When/if my enthusiasm makes a reappearance, I have a few ideas for what to make, but nothing I am really committed to.


  1. I laughed out loud at your description of the model wearing the Ottobre sweatshirt with the balloon sleeves. I thought the same thing when I saw those photos and was kind of surprised at the styling choices since they seem so out of step with what Ottobre usually does. It completely turned me off the sweatshirt (I didn't even realize that it came with a one-piece sleeve) and the pants. The line drawing for the pants looks totally normal/reasonable but I can't get over the frump enough to seriously consider trying the pattern. Your dress looks great though. I didn't think I could ever like the pleated sleeve, but it makes so much sense with a more drapey fabric!

  2. I love your jacket! Can you put it away until spring??

    I like the Otto sweatshirt and don’t mind the SLEEVES! but that pastel color is

    I’m finding myself disliking bands finishing the hem on tops.

    Glad you’re sewing though even if you’re not blogging :)