Friday, June 13, 2014

Easter came and went a while back.....
I think Easter may be my favorite holiday to sew for. Last year I made dresses and bonnets. 
This year I did fun fancy coats! I am so excited about them. They both came out really well and the popsicle coat Althea is wearing will definitely fit both girls for a long time to come. 
      This picture was taken on Easter (both girls wore last year's bonnets and Fern even insisted on wearing last year's Easter dress- this girl is not afraid of pattern mixing - I love her strong sense of very true-to-herself style). I was finishing them up last minute the night before (of course), and realized the zippers I was planning on using were not going to work (closed bottom, not separating zippers....ugh. I don't have much zipper experience and learned quite a bit on this project). So they don't have zippers in this picture.
      They do have silky linings. Flannel heart side-seam pockets. Flat felled seams throughout except for the upper reaches of the arm seams. And beautiful little girls to wear them.
     I was heavily inspired by both this coat (which completely took my breath away when I first saw it!) and a hand me down coat that we have that was lovely at one point, but is now stained. It was also a little bit small for Fern by the time we got it, and it does not seem to suit Althea's taste.
     I drew sketches of both coats as I envisioned them. Fern's is a twirly trench coat with a hood, an off center closure and a large belt / sash. Althea's is a safari coat with an elasticized rear waist and a hood - and a total of six pockets (because I ran out of time to add the secret interior pockets I wanted to add).
      After I decided what I wanted them to look like, I began looking through some Ottobre magazines online, searching out an issue that would have two patterns that would work for me. I had never used an Ottobre before, but had been reading so many good things about them I figured I had to try it out. Ottobre is a great Finnish fashion magazine aimed at sewists that includes patterns for everything in the mag: about 40 patterns per magazine! So it is a steal, even though shipping and the conversion from Euros to dollars means that it cost me about $20 as opposed to the $10.95 it lists at on the website. I went with the winter kids issue 6//2013. There is a pattern that I used almost exactly for Althea's (the "melange"), and also a little moto coat/sweater with an angled off-center zip (the hunstman) that I modeled Fern's from. I think the final thing that really motivated me to try an Ottobre was this tutorial from Sew Straight & Gather. Her idea to trace the patterns with a crayon and iron them onto paper is genius. I used plain white packing paper that my husband brings home from work for me when they get large deliveries. The sheets are huge and we use them for painting and I love to use them to make pattern pieces. Gotta love the price point on that!
I will dissect them in more detail one at a time. Let's start with Fern.
The outer fabric is from the home dec section at JoAnn's, just like Althea's overalls. It is covered in stylized lollipops. Perfect for a little girl and I just love the color scheme that it uses. The lining is JoAnn's anti-static polyester liner. I used the Ottobre pattern pieces for the bodice of the pattern. I shortened them quite a bit to hit at her true waist (so I could add the skirt there) instead of at the hips. I also straightened out the left front bodice piece - in their pattern it starts off center at the top and then angles down to the center by the bottom- so that it remains off center all the way down. I also used the hood and sleeves as is from the pattern, and drafted an a-line skirt to attach to the bodice to complete the trench look. 
Unfortunately, I neglected to add seam allowance when I cut the pattern pieces from my fabric. I had some choice things to say to myself when I realized that. The good thing is that I had read that these patterns tend to run slightly large and I was trying to err on the side of overestimating when I calculated their sizes. I do think it is a good thing that they don't include seam allowance - there are so many options of types of finishes; I tend use a larger seam allowance than recommended, especially if I am going for flat-felled seams or french or something. I hate having small bits to work with and would rather give myself a solid 3/4"-1" and have more to trim and a larger space between my rows of stitching than to struggle with it. I find I do much neater (and faster) work this way. With much less muttering and swearing. Anyway, if I am in charge of adding seam allowance myself, then I can add as much as I please - so long as I remember to add it. 
In the end, the sleeves and hood were fine the way I cut it. What I did add was a ~3" panel to the front left bodice and skirt piece to allow it to reach far enough across her body and to overlap the right panel enough to close comfortably. I had to make this panel with scraps (the panel attached to the skirt portion is actually two pieces itself), and please note how beautifully they lined up: 

There are on-seam side pockets made out of cozy heart flannel, and pretty interior seams.
And there are two wide sash pieces attached at the side seams to tie in a large bow in the front of the coat. I was inspired by the trim Falafal and the Bee used on this dress to try out a fancy stitch my new machine offers to top stitch the sash and I love it. 

Fern picked out the button that we used to close the top:

It is plastic but looks like an antique glass button. The colors are slightly off but she loved it so it was the winner. She likes to wear it closed with only the button and call it a cape. I think it makes her feel like she is in Frozen when she does that.
I still have yet to add the zipper to her coat. She likes her "cape" without a zipper, but I do plan to put one in eventually. When I do finally install the zip, I will be referencing this tutorial about shortening separating zippers. I ran into some trouble winging it on Althea's coat, but I will discuss that later on.
The only thing I regret about her coat is that I did not include a casing for a drawstring around her hood, or at least some elastic in there around the top. It does not stay up on her head very well, especially with her fluffy hair and that silky lining. 
She isn't fazed by this though, and has actually continued to wear it and chooses to wear it on her own which I love. It is a great weight for a spring / summer jacket. Here she is again:

Thanks for stopping by!

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