Vogue 9043 in classic black

This is my first coat of the season. I’m still debating with myself over whether I’ll sew another this year. I know there’s time. I have the fabric. There’s a few months of coat weather ahead of me here. I’m just not entirely sure that I want to build further on my own Winter wardrobe this year, or perhaps wait until next year when I’ll definitely need it more.

Meanwhile, I’m glad to say that this little black coat is going to get a lot of wear. The pattern I used was Little Vogue 9043. I cut View B in a size 8 for my very tall seven year old. The black wool coating and silky vintage lining was all thrifted from estate sales, aquired several months earlier. The buttons were excrutiatingly picked out from Joann’s by the littlest sister, specifically for Miss Seven and this coat. In equal parts, they are the cheapest, and yet most expensive buttons I own, and yet so much selfless thought and true love went into their selection that I just couldn’t say no.

The size 8 fits Miss just-turned-Seven reasonably well right now, but at the rate she’s growing, I’m not convinced she’ll fit into it next year. Of all my girls, she’s probably built the most similar to me; tall and slim, with broad shoulders (great for swimming ;-)). She doesn’t measure up as a size 8 through the chest, but her shoulders are broader above this. I know (from personal fitting experience) that if I sew a pattern to fit her bust/chest measurement, the shoulders won’t fit without adjustment. An easy kid-fix is to simply size up, as I did with this coat. It fits her perfectly across the shoulders, but there is extra room through the chest area, and a lot more ease (than intended by the pattern design) at the waist and hips. There is also extra length in the coat, but that actually works well in our favour. The fit isn’t perfect, but it is perfectly acceptable for a child and a child’s Winter coat at that.

She’ll get a lot of wear out of this coat over the next three months. The wool coating is thick, but it’s probably still only best suited to Spring here. It would be a perfectly suitable coat for Winter in Australia though.

Before I sign off on this one, I should also mention the beautiful lines in the design of the pattern. It’s one of the reasons why I love Vogue patterns and why I was drawn to making this particular one. It’s a little hard to photograph the details in black fabric, but the pockets are integrated beautifully into a princess seamed bodice. The two-piece sleeves are also shaped so that they curve forward.

I love the classic, dressy shape of this coat. It will be a very nice coat to keep and hand down to the last daughter (assuming it survives the wear and tear of this middle child!).

 

 

 

Reversible wool cardi wrap

The great thing about double faced wool is that you can completely hide the seams for a neat finish. After you pull apart both sides of the fabric, you can fold them in on themselves and stitch in place. A concise picture of the process is here. It’s the perfect fabric to create a reversible cardi wrap like this. You can revisit the sewing tutorial here.

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DIY draped cardi wrap

Firstly, I want to send out a big thank-you to everybody who commented on the coat in my last post. I hope you realise how much I love to read them all. I’m afraid to admit that sewing trumps replying on occasion (oh, and it probably trumps kids too at times… is that bad?). However, I’ll always do my best to answer any question thrown my way – anything to encourage and inspire people who sew! 

Now we can talk about this garment. I’m actually not sure what to call it. It’s not really a cardi, or a poncho, or a wrap for that matter. It’s really just a big rectangle with holes, but it does make for such a nice Winter cover up. I’m going to call it a wrap.

The idea for this wrap came from a gorgeous cashmere RTW cardi I tried on recently. It looked amazing on. I twirled in front of the mirror a few times before I realised exactly what it was… a giant rectangle and nothing more. So I held it up to my body, took a few mental measurements, and went home to make it myself.

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I didn’t have any cashmere on hand. A stable wool knit would have worked beautifully but I didn’t have that either. What I did have was a very large length of pure wool cream suiting that I’d picked up from a garage sale for just 50 cents (it was discounted from the original price of 75 cents – bargain!). I could see that the fold lines of the fabric were discoloured with dust and light (with a few tiny holes in those areas as well) so my plan was to wash it quite aggressively when I got it home. I knew the hot wash and dryer would change the texture of the wool, but I was ok with that because a wool suiting, once felted by the washing machine, is still quite lovely and perfect for casual loungewear and kids clothes. As expected, the wool ended up with a very slightly fuzzier texture than before. It’s not actually fuzzy, but it no longer has the sleek, smooth feel of a suiting anymore. A by-product of the aggressive pre-washing also means that the fabric is now machine washable, dryer friendly, and pretty indestructible.

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But, let’s get back to the making of this wrap. The two diagrams below should be all you need to make your own. It’s the easiest sew up ever!

STEP 1: Measure your fabric according to the instructions below.

wrap tutorial

The length of fabric I used was 180 cm, or approximately my height. For the width, I measured from my mid-section (mid-sternum) to the tip of my fingers. My chest width was measured in the front, from shoulder point to shoulder point.

My fabric was a woven, with no give at all, so I used 11 inches for my armscye gaps. In a knit, I’d probably shrink them a little to have them fit closer to the body. If I had bigger pippies, I could have easily increased the width of the armscye.

The centre line is where the seam line needs to be, and where you need to leave holes for the arms. To make a longer wrap (ie. to fall below the hips), you could widen the bottom panel. Keeping the top panel the same would maintain the original front drape.

STEP 2: Sew the two pieces of fabric together, wrong sides facing, and leaving gaps at the two positions you marked as the armscye. (The stitches are represented by the dotted line below.) And that’s pretty much it.

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The last thing you need to do is finish the raw edges nicely. If you chose a fabric that doesn’t fray (like boiled or felted wool, or some jerseys) you could leave the edges raw and just reinforce the stitches around the armscye. The RTW version I fell in love with had been narrowly hemmed on an overlocker. Because I was dealing with a woven, I double turned all my edges and sewed a narrow hem. It would also be possible to bind the edges for a pretty contrast.

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I’ve been wearing mine loose as well as belted. It’s hard to believe that such a simple rectangle can be transformed into a cool Winter outfit! Let me know if you decide to make one. And if you’re on IG, I’d love it if you tagged me (@lilysageandco).

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A few thoughts on RTW and a vintage faux-fur score

I don’t buy a lot of RTW. Most of my wardrobe is handmade, as is a large percentage of my daughters’. However, I’ve drawn a few lines in the sand as to what I see value in making and what I don’t.

I generally won’t make knit tops and leggings for my girls, unless of course I already have the fabric in my stash (most likely a remnant from something else I’ve made – nothing goes to waste here). These items are just so easy to buy for next to nothing (ethics aside) and they get trashed by my kids anyway. I’d much rather spend my time sewing more interesting garments.

For me, the same applies to jeans and faux fur. I view jeans as a technical make, but not due to the sewing (I agree with all the pattern makers out there – don’t be scared of sewing jeans if you are so inclined). It’s the hardware and denim fabric that I don’t have the time or inclination to hunt down myself. And the same goes for faux fur. The location I reside prohibits me from visiting a well-stocked bricks and mortar store where I can pat and caress all the fabrics. It gets wearisome and costly relying on swatches for everything, and this definitely impacts my choice of textiles.

But back to the outfit of the day. I present you with one of the very few complete RTW outfits in my closet. The jeans are DL1961 and I love them for a few reasons. The colour is great and the fit is superb. I love the leg length (I’m 5″10 so the legs are long). The denim is pretty amazing too. It’s lusciously soft and stretchy. The composition is 64% tencil/modal, 34% polyester, and 2% lycra. Nope, not cotton, but they do look like it! Now perhaps if I could get my hands on some of this fabric for a decent price, I’d reconsider my stance on sewing jeans.

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The vintage coat is mouton fur, which is sheepskin that has been processed to resemble smooth, glossy beaver fur. This is an old coat (circa 1950?) with a gorgeous cropped style. I love the shape of it and the fit is perfection. The front fastens with a hook and eye. I need to re-stitch the eye in place, but otherwise the coat is in excellent condition.

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I’m not going to delve too deeply into the ethics of purchasing or wearing fur. There are justifiably strong feelings on the matter. I love the look and feel of real fur but it doesn’t sit easy with me. Lamb/sheep/goat/cow products are a different matter. I don’t eat a lot of meat (for health and sustainability reasons) but I’m still partial to the occasional steak or lamb chop and I definitely won’t turn my nose up at slow roast goat or a platter of cheese. Therefore, it would be quite hypocritical of me to shun the hides of these animals. With that in mind, I can assure you that I will be giving this old coat the love and care that it deserves.

 

 

 

Review // Blue Suede Shoes

Note: I received these shoes for free from Rhea Footwear in exchange for a review on my blog. I selected the shoes myself, and of course, the opinions here are all my own.

When Rhea Footwear contacted me to review their shoes, I’ll confess that I had no idea who they were. I definitely had to do a bit of research before I agreed to the collaboration. First and foremost, I wanted to make sure that their products were relevant to me (and therefore this blog). I’d consider shoes to be a very valid consideration when styling an outfit.

I selected the Classic Flats in sapphire blue and had a lot of fun pairing them with a few of my handmade outfits. I think they go very well with my husband’s ratty old Thread Theory Henley and my favourite leather blocked leggings (which I recently pegged and cropped for a more skinny pant look). They’d also look fabulous with skinny jeans or a midi skirt.

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There were also some cute booties, flip flops, and men’s shoes on the Rhea Footwear website, but these blue suede shoes were the ones that caught my eye. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I like them. They’re a little bit dressier than my go-to gold Vans, but equally as comfy. I’ve taken them on a test run to do the school pick up, and by school pick up, I mean a 3mile fast-walk/half-jog alongside a kid on a scooter and another on a bike. The soles feel quite cushioned and the leather wasn’t uncomfortably stiff (as new shoes can be). They feel a little narrower than the sneaker slip-ons I’m used to wearing but not in a bad way. I’m sure the suede will continue to mould to my feet as I keep wearing them.

So what makes Rhea Footwear different? All their shoes are designed to be stylish and functional at the same time. They use a signature anti-slip tread to prevent slipping and sliding when walking on ice and other wet surfaces. I probably wouldn’t have cared much in Sydney, but in Kansas, I LOVE the idea of a non-slip sole, particularly since I’m pretty much like Bambi as soon as the ground freezes. The suede is also treated to be water resistant and remain spot free, which makes sense if you plan to wear them in damp conditions.

It’s been a little dry here lately so I haven’t had a chance to test out the slip factor, but I’m sure I will over the next few months. It will be nice to have a slip on alternative to snow boots when I’m dashing out for a quick errand in Winter.

Meanwhile, here is the last look I put together. I’m wearing a white ponte knit playsuit that I made eons ago, paired with a vintage throw I picked up at an estate sale over Summer. I saw blankets and ponchos being worn a lot in the Southern Hemisphere over Winter so I thought I might give it a try too. What can I say…I’m wearing blue suede shoes and a granny throw. If that isn’t a bit of fun fashion, then what is!

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McCalls 5870 // A tailored coat for Miss Seven

I had a very specific idea in mind when I started planning for this coat. I wanted to make Miss Seven a nice Winter coat that she could wear out for special occasions. She’s old enough now to have a few special items in her wardrobe and I’m hoping this will also help educate her on how to appreciate, respect, and treat special garments.

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The outer fabric of the coat is a woven wool blend. It is extremely beautiful in real life. It has a nice, coat-worthy weight, with little threads of gold and tan woven through it. Both sides of the fabric are useable, with the rose and background colours simply reversed on the underside. I thought about incorporating both sides of the fabric into this coat. I also though about keeping this coating fabric entirely for myself.

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It’s probably not the best choice of fabric for a child. The weave is not exceptionally tight, but it is still quite stable. I suspect it may get a few snags during it’s lifetime, but the slightly motley mix of threads through the weave is forgiving enough to disguise any repairs that may be required.

The fabric frayed horribly while I was working with it. There was a lot of hand-stitching and basting involved in the tailoring of this coat, which made the unravelling quite an issue. I used a LOT of Fray Check. I ended up painting it around the edges of every pattern piece. It was also essential in making the bound buttonholes.

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In retrospect, I think bound buttonholes were not the best choice for this fabric because of the loose weave. Hand-worked buttonholes (a la Claire Schaeffer’s French jackets) would have been the sensible option. But the heart wants what the heart wants. The buttonholes worked out wonderfully in the end, but ended up being much smaller than planned. The size reduction was due to my scaredy-cat conservative cutting, in trying to handle the fraying and loose threads as best I could. This is the reason why the buttons are so small. I had to find smaller ones than I’d originally planned. Larger, self-covered buttons would have suited the style of this coat better.

To keep Miss Seven snuggly warm, I partially underlined the coat with Thinsulate, which reportedly has more warmth for less loft, than wool or even down feathers. Keeping the bulk down in this coat was important because of the close fitting design.

The vintage pattern specifically states that the design is “not suitable for chubby girls”. It’s basically just a slim fitting style with no ease around the tummy area. The sleeves are not set in. They are joined to the back as one piece with a separate undersleeve. This design makes for very pretty style lines, but quite a challenging sew.

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All of this was underlined.  I didn’t underline the undersleeve or the side panels of the coat as I was afraid it might end up making the coat too bulky and adversely affect the end fit. To further reduce the bulk (or loft) of the Thinsulate, I partially quilted it to the lining. I think this makes the inside of the coat look lovely too.

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The design and fit of this vintage pattern is beautiful. It is a style that fits tall, slender girls very well, which means I will probably use this pattern again in the future. However, it was also quite a challenge to sew (not helped by my difficult choice of fabric) and there are a few things I will improve on when making this coat next time.

* My pad stitching of the undercollar was not “aggressive” enough in creating the collar roll. I would like to see the ends roll down a little better. I would also cut the undercollar a little smaller next time.

* My buttonholes should be appropriate for the fabric, or maybe I might just take a break from loose weaves.

* I was careful about thread marking the buttonholes. A great way to do this is to machine baste two parallel lines down the front and mark the buttonhole positions between those lines. However, with my difficulties in making the bound buttonholes (with all the unravelling of threads), my buttonholes ended up smaller. I also made the mistake of positioning my buttonholes on the inside of the basting thread, rather than on top of it. My buttons look too small and off centre in the coat front.

I think I can live with all this though. The coat is adorable. It fits well, but is ever so slightly too big (which is exactly what I was aiming for with my growing girl). I think it is deserving of a trip out to the theatre.

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