Sunday, October 27, 2013

More Progress on the Coat Sew-Along . . .

I spent today taking care of those last steps before the coat lining and outer coat are sewn together.  The first is step 17 in the instructions, where you cut bias strips from your interfacing and fuse them to the hemline of your garment fabric.  Instead of cutting the bias strips when I initially cut out the pattern pieces, I waited until the skirt of the coat was constructed so I would know how many I needed.  Most patterns have the finished lower width of the garment printed on the back of the envelope, but Butterick 5824 doesn't.  

So I cut the 3 inch strips on the bias, and the instructions tell you to fuse the strips 5/8 of an inch below the hemline on the wrong side of the coat skirt.  Given that the hem on this coat is one and half inches, I did the math and that means that you need to place the bias strips 7/8 of an inch from the edge of the skirt like so:

I used my seam gauge to measure the 7/8 inch and then I pinned the interfacing strips with silk pins to the coat skirt.  I probably didn't need to do such careful measurement and placement - getting the strips a little above or a little below 7/8 of an inch isn't going to make much difference.  

I used plenty of steam to fuse the strips, pressing over the pins initially, and then removing them after the strips were fused well enough.  Then I used a lot more steam for the final press:

You can see that the ripples at the top of the interfacing strip were completely eliminated by the pressing:

The interfacing strips are going to provide a stable surface for the coat's hem, and reinforce the coat's bottom edge.  (In hindsight, I probably should have used black interfacing for this step as the lining of this coat is free-handing, but I wasn't going to put this project on hold just so I could order black interfacing and wait for it to arrive on the off chance that a breeze might cause my hemline to show one day.) 

The second step was hemming the lining.  The instructions have you hem the lining now before you attach the lining and outer coat together because it is easier to deal with just the lining.  Hemming the lining just means folding the lining edge up 5/8 of an inch, and then folding the raw edge towards the folded edge, and then top stitching.  It's simple, but not easy.  My polyester lining needed lots of heat and steam to get a good crease for both folds, so I experienced a lot of burned fingers.  It was fussy work, and this coat skirt is, as I have mentioned before, really, really voluminous.  I spent an hour and forty-five minutes getting the lining hem pressed, pinned, sewn, and pressed again.  

I took a break at that point, and contemplated going ahead and attaching the lining and outer coat together, but I decided to wait for another day - one thing I have learned on this project is that sewing when you are fresh and energetic yields much more pleasing results.  And it is more fun.

I've been reading and re-reading Gertie's posts on the final steps which are really helpful and contain tips that aren't in the pattern instructions, i.e. how to grade the seam allowances depending on the collar roll line, etc.  Hopefully, I'll be able to complete step 32 of the instructions next weekend.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

It's That Coat Time of Year . . .

For most of September and October I was in a sewing funk, despite the fact that I made a dress (which I haven't blogged about yet) and I half-heartedly began cutting out a new dress (which I haven't even finished laying out yet).  I think the funk was because of two things:  1) we were in between seasons and I couldn't seem to get much enthused about sewing for summer or winter; and 2) work has been exceptionally busy and I've gotten so behind that my mind is too cluttered to sew.  And here I thought I sewed to escape work, but it turns out that I'm one of those people that needs to be caught up at work and on top of things in order to free my mind for sewing.  So having experienced our first frost, and feeling pretty good about work last night, I announced to the Carpenter that Saturday would be The Day to return to my personal coat sew-along, Butterick 5824, the coat that Gertie designed.  

When we last left off (on June 23rd!), I had completed the outer shell of the coat, and I was feeling pretty good about the whole project.  My bound buttonholes weren't perfect, but they functioned, and I was starting to hope that this project might actually happen!  Then I did what I usually do - I continued to research it ad nauseum by Goggling the pattern number and reading every single blog out there that made this coat.  And I found that a lot of bloggers seemed to cease progress at this exact point, where the outer shell of the coat was constructed.  This was puzzling because so many of the bloggers were amazing seamstresses - how could this be?????

After exhaustive reading, I could only surmise that Perfection had reared its ugly head.  Many of the bloggers seemed stuck on - what appeared to me - imagined imperfections in their work.  There were beautiful coats in progress, but I think a lot of the coats just weren't coming together according to the vision of the maker.  I suffer from this malady as well, and I try to remember that sometimes art happens when you create something that you didn't intend.

I think the other reason that some sewers stopped making progress was the realization that the next step was making the lining, which was basically making the entire coat all over again.  No small feat, given the amount of skirt on this coat. 

So the very next day, on June 24th, I decided to cut out the lining.  I figured that if I didn't get the lining cut out, I could procrastinate on this thing 'til spring, and by finishing the cutting out it would boost the odds that this coat got done.

Fortunately, I found that the lining pieces could be cut in a double layer lay-out, contrary to the instructions.  I also found that I had bought seven yards of lining fabric, which is the twice the amount I needed.  That was puzzling - did I click "add to cart" twice when I bought it from Gorgeous Fabrics?  I don't know, but having that much fabric allowed me to stop worrying about conserving fabric, and I just laid down the pattern pieces and got everything cut out that Monday evening.  Yay.

And there the lining pieces sat for the next four months.  It felt good to pick them up this morning and put together the bodice lining, and the skirt lining, and then join the two together.  Here is the finished lining:

I finished my skirt seam allowances by pressing them together, rather than open, and trimming them to 3/8 inch.  I then used my overlock stitch on my Bernina to keep them from unraveling.  I had no troubles with the lining construction except for joining the lining to the outer collar at the pivot points:

For the life of me, I couldn't get everything to match up, and my lining kept bunching up on me.  I tried sewing with the collar on top AND with the lining on top.  Finally, after repeated attempts, I just called it done and moved on.  It a lining anyway.  No one is going to see it but me.  But it is perplexing because I had no trouble with this step on the outer shell of the coat.  Beginner's luck, maybe?

But other than the pivot points, the slippery lining wasn't that bad to work with, and I think it is going to be perfect for this coat.  I'm getting excited about getting it done (again), and I hope to have it done in time for the opening of the Hollywood Costume exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  I would love to wear it to see this exhibit which was organized by the V&A Museum in London.

The next step is to join the outer shell and the coat lining together, but first, I want to hem the lining before attaching it to the coat (it will be easier to hem with less coat to deal with), and I need to cut my bias strips from the interfacing and fuse them to the outer shell hemline (which is step 17 of the instructions).  

So onward and upward.  I have to remember not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good; or, done is better than perfect!