Monday, 31 May 2010

BWOF 09-2007-104 Houndstooth Coat

I only have one day left of my holidays *sob*.  As usual I set pretty lofty goals for what I wanted to achieve - clean the house from top to bottom, finish 6 projects, iron everything in the house that needs ironing, have a nutritious meal on the table at a reasonable hour every night etc etc.  I'm sure you can guess how many I achieved!  I guess I am not the domestic goddess I have always dreamed of being.  So back to work on Wednesday at least until we win the lotto!

In my defence I was sick with a cold for the first few days and am still in ongoing battles with the insurance company over my car (guess how I spent 1 1/2 hours today?), at least I have my new car though and as soon as my windows are tinted (tomorrow) and I get the refund on my registration (no idea when that will happen) I can sit down and write a very therapeutic letter to the general manager of the company and tell them exactly why I will not be continuing my relationship with them.

Don't worry I am posting about some sewing today, it's just a particularly winding road today.

So it was my birthday the Thursday before last, and the fact I am only mentioning it now indicates what a non-event it was.  I was sick with the aforementioned cold, spent a good hour or so battling the insurance company, which was just sooo frustrating and then spent the afternoon at the stitches and craft show with my Mum.  It was nice but there wasn't much there that caught my eye this time, pity because it's usually the highlight of my crafting year.  I bought a kit to knit yet another scarf though, so it wasn't a total let-down.

Things got a lot better on Saturday, when my fella and I went out for dinner with a bunch of friends.  It was a great night and I got to unveil the houndstooth coat, which in true form I finished that afternoon.

It's looks okay considering I didn't make any alterations to the pattern.  Ordinarily I would cut a 38 to the armholes, a 40 or 42 at the waist and a 44 at the hip, then would make a 2cm fba, narrow the upper back by 5cm (2.5cm on the half pattern) and shorten the centre back above the waist by 2.5cm.  By comparison, this coat is made from a straight size 38.

You can see the worst of the fit problems on the back, see how it's way too wide across between the sleeves?  And it's quite snug around my hips, but it's okay if I wear it open.

I sewed the buttons on the outside but it is really fastened by large snaps.  I am particularly proud of the welt pockets, something I don't do often, and the spotted lining, which is just cute.

If you have the patience for one more story here goes...

My fella is from the north-east of England, it's very cold there and they seem to stay warm by shouting about football (soccer) a lot.  In this particular part of the country there is a fierce rivalry between two cities, divided by a river.  One side is black and white and the other is red and white, my fella's family is from the red and white side of the river (when I want to wind him up I taunt him with 'blood and bandages').  Even in Australia (he has lived here for nearly 20 years) the passion doesn't wane.  One time I innocently suggested that black and white bed linen might look stylish, my fella replied that I could buy whatever bed linen I wanted, just don't expect him to sleep under a black and white quilt cover.

He was very complimentary about my houndstooth coat, but I knew he would find it hard to truly embrace the black and white.  Because I am a nice girlfriend I bound the hem and facing edge in pink satin bias, so now he can like my new coat without feeling like a traitor to his family!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Playing catch up

Wow, I am really behind on my blogging!
The weekend before last my fella and I went to another wedding for one of his school friends - that's four in the past six months - weddings I mean, we haven't been to all of them.  It was a pretty cold day but clear and sunny so I needed to layer up the Gossip Girl dress since I am always the first to get cold!

The hem looks a bit wonky but I promise it isn't  - it must be the wind.

I also realised that I never posted a picture of me actually wearing this coat.

I made it for my birthday 2 years ago now and have had so much wear from it.  It's McCalls 5525, which has been a bit of a winner all around - loads of people have made it Erica B was one of the first I saw (although I thought she made a fab yellow version as well but I can't find it now), Gertie made a black version which is coincidentally quite similar to mine, and the Selfish Seamstress has made two awesome versions here and here.  And those are just the versions I can remember off the top of my head.  If you don't have this pattern then I would advise you do so, it's so versatile!  I just wish I'd used heavier interfacing in the collar, and made the dinky pockets bigger.  Oh well, live and learn I suppose.

I am on holiday from work at the moment with the aim of having a proper sewcation.  All I seem to have done is housework though...although that is not entirely true since I did finish the houndstooth coat, I'll post some pics as soon as I can arrange a photo shoot. I've also cut out two tops and traced two skirt patterns.   I set myself the rather ambitious goal of completing six projects while on holiday - it's doable, as long as I don't do any more housework!

In other news I think my new car arrives on Thursday.  It is not quite what I had before, since that was a limited edition, but I have had to battle every step of the way.  If the insurance company had their way I wouldn't have even been able to replace my brand new car with 6,000kms on the clock with a 3-year old one with 100,000kms... but I'm not angry - much.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Dressage Jacket

I am usually pretty good at not having sewing UFOs hanging around the house, of course there is the odd exception but whatever I start usually ends up either in my wardrobe or my bin pretty quickly. I am generally on a schedule which motivates me to finish what I start before going on to the next project and I am able to walk away when things aren't working out (even if I love the fabric and/or pattern).

That is certainly not the case with my knitting projects. I tend to have at least two or three things on the go at any given moment and some projects can hang around for ages waiting for me to be motivated to finish them off. I think one of the reasons for this is that I like to have a challenge in all my projects but in knitting especially this doesn't translate particularly well.

Challenging myself by making a beautifully finished dress with unusual seamlines results in a garment I'll get a lot of use out of, not so much for complicated knitting patterns (see for example the meatball cardi!). On the other hand acres upon acres of plain stocking stitch is not stimulating enough to keep me interested, just like making simple tees and pyjama pants would not keep me sewing long term. This is just me, others are rewarded by different aspects of crafting and I am not making a judgement on the relative merits of one over the other.

So anyway, I am always on the hunt for knitting patterns that have an aspect of trickiness to keep me interested but that are fairly simply styled so they mesh with both my body type and personal 'look'.

Enter the Dressage Jacket, from the Third Sublime Aran book. My featherweight cardigan is still on the go but it's currently blocked in by flood stuff and therefore I can't work on it right now. Desperate for something to knit (as if I ever needed an excuse to buy more yarn!) I picked up some of the Sublime Aran in Wicker at 10% off. Originally I had in mind to make the Peacoat (sorry I can't find a picture of it - it's really cute) but I decided it would be too boxy for me and finally settled on the Dressage Jacket.

The pattern is quite nifty. A single cable runs along the front edges, and the side seams are shaped to form the diagonal wrap fronts. Here is the first front I completed.

Since I took this picture I have finished the other front and am up to the armholes on the back, but you get the idea. Between the relatively thick yarn (10 ply, whereas I generally prefer 4 ply) and the simple-but-interesting pattern I am flying along! The yarn feels beautiful and I have had no problems working with it. I did read one review that complained about the yarn not wearing well - apparently it pilled with only light wear - so i am a little apprehensive, but so far I am loving it.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Houndstooth Coat Part 1

I agonised for some time over what to make for my first project after so long, and finally decided to make something completely impractical but really fun, a houndstooth coat.  It's still warm outside, and won't even start to get cold until late May or early June so it'll be a while before I can wear this, but I do love making coats!  I have had this houndstooth in my stash for probably two or three years.  Every winter I want to do something with it and every winter I get distracted by other projects.  Well, it's cut now so no going back!

The pattern I'll be using is model 104 from BWOF 29/2007.

The only change I'll make is to use the full length sleeves.  Personally I love 3/4 length sleeves but my arms get super cold!  I guess one item that really needs to be practical is a winter coat, so long sleeves it is.

I have done some clever things and some dumb things on this project already:
Dumb thing #1 - I didn't mark the size when I was tracing the pattern (which was ages ago).  I am guessing it's probably a Burda 38 which is my top-half-size.
Dumb thing #2 - I didn't do any of my usual alterations (narrow upper back, short centre back, fba, big hips) so I am hoping the style lines will be forgiving.  Regardless, it'll just fit 'like a bought one'.

Clever thing #1 - This fabric frays like a beotch so I fused the underside of all the pieces with sheer weft (I think it's called perfect fuse sheer in other places).
Clever thing #2 - I stabilised all the curves (armhole and necklines) with fusible bias tape.

Clever thing #3 - I stabilised the hem lines with a bias strip of fusible interfacing, and ironed a patch behind where the pockets will go.  This was in addition to the front facings, welts and collars as directed by the pattern.

Okay, so the clever things weren't that clever and the dumb things were pretty dumb, but give me a break - I am just excited to be able to sew again!

I haven't cut it yet but this will be the lining, isn't it cute?  It's actually satin but I took the picture without a flash.
Wish me luck with the welt pockets - not something I've done a lot of...